Venezuela and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’: Beacon of hope or smoke and mirrors?


For many people on the left, within and outside of Southern Africa, the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ is seen as a beacon of socialist hope in a sea of capitalist despair [1]. The reason why many leftists feel so strongly attached to this project, and promote it as an alternative, is because they have come to view it as a move by the Venezuelan state towards creating a genuine, free form of socialism [2] or at the very least an experiment that profoundly breaks with the tenets of neo-liberalism [3] [4]. Many articles have, therefore, been written lauding the state’s nationalisation of some industries [5], its land distribution programmes [6], and its attempts to supposedly create participatory democracy in workplaces (through co-management and co-operatives) [7] and in communities (through community councils) [8]. Linked to this, a great deal has also been made of the state using some of revenue generated by the Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to roll out social services such as education, subsidised foodstuffs and healthcare [9]. Much ink has, consequently, been spilt arguing that all of these are socialist inspired moves and passionate calls have been made for other states, like the South African state, to adopt Venezuelan style ‘Socialism for the Twenty First Century’ [10].

Read more: Venezuela and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’: Beacon of hope or smoke and mirrors?

Time to Gatecrash the (ANC) Party: It's the 'Politics' Stupid

There is a very cynical, old apartheid era joke about English-speaking whites in South Africa to the effect that, ”Most supported the Progs (Helen Suzman’s old Progressive Party); voted UP (the old United Party of De Villiers Graaf) … and thanked God for the Nats”.

Meaning that it was okay to be disgusted by the racism and repression, but hell those Afrikaners knew how to run the economy -- and they kept everything functioning nicely.

With the exception of the everything functioning “nicely” part, one is reminded of mainstream responses to two recent events: Pravin Gordhan’s Budget, which received plaudits from everyone from the business media on one hand, to the SACP on the other, and Jeff Radebe’s judicial review that is seen by the same mainstream, as further proof that the ANC is attacking democracy.    

Read more: Time to Gatecrash the (ANC) Party: It's the 'Politics' Stupid

The Threat to Democracy Can Also Come from Other Quarters

Zapiro22NovemberFirst they came for Papandreou - and I didn't speak out because I thought the Greeks are just lazy tax-dodgers.

Then they came for Berlusconi - and I didn't speak out because I thought he was just a racist and sexist old roué.

Then they came for Zuma - and I didn't speak out because he can’t apply his mind, and he’s still running the show.

Then they took away my vote - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Some may feel that it may be a stretching it a bit to compare Pastor Martin Niemöller’s heartfelt reminder of the insidious way we can become complicit with fascism with the growing way we are invited to disdain democracy under the cover of exposing venal politicians, but recent events in the European Union (EU) tell us otherwise. And these threats also have resonance here in South Africa.

Read more: The Threat to Democracy Can Also Come from Other Quarters

A Chronology of Copping Out, COP 17: Durban November 2011- What's the Fuss?


From being seen as a fringe concern to radicals only, and either dismissed outright or pushed to the margins by politicians and industrialists, over the last 50 years “global warming” has became accepted as a major concern to the welfare of the planet’s future. As acknowledgment of the environmental problems caused by ‘business as usual’ increases, calls to change the rules of the game and the ways we relate to each other and the planet, are vehemently opposed by those with power.  The chances of a global agreement to deal with climate change, are on the decline.

Read more: A Chronology of Copping Out, COP 17: Durban November 2011- What's the Fuss?


drawing_protestorsPresented at an ILRIG Public Forum

The central issue of South African politics seems to be that poverty and inequality are growing after 17 years of government by an ANC that claims addressing these are its top priorities. Various attempts are currently underway to build movements of poor people capable of actions to lessen and end poverty and inequality, or at least of forcing the state to take such actions. It is hard. People are depressed to be fighting a struggle they thought they had won. The lack of resources and organisers make movement building an exhausting responsibility carried by a tiny group of activists. Yet the main challenges are political; five issues confront these activists, and the approaches they develop to them will largely determine the liberatory potential of the movements they manage to build. These issues are 1. Racism 2. The political system 3. Forms of protest and organisation, 4. Sexism and 5. Alienation.


On the Quality of South Africa's Democracy

timthumbNow that the dust has settled on the 2011 local government elections and the frenzied one-upmanship of the leading political parties has momentarily calmed down, its time to take a long hard look at the results of the South African people’s most recent exercise in democracy.

Much has been made of the gains that the Democratic Alliance (DA) made on the African National Congress (ANC), but the ANC still won the election and continues to govern all the major cities except for Cape Town.

The latest salvo in the debate on local government elections is President Jacob Zuma’s announcement, during his budget vote in the National Assembly on 14 June 2011, that government is exploring the idea of a single election for national, provincial and local government. This idea has of course raised the displeasure of opposition parties who hold more sway at the local level and perceive the recent shift in voting patterns as evidence of a vote of no confidence in the ANC.

Read more: On the Quality of South Africa's Democracy


Workers World News

Series: Debating Brazil

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