Like yesterday, I am devoting today’s post to responding to the stimulating comments sent by Vera Vratusa.* We will be discussing these themes in future posts, but I think it will be useful to discuss them succinctly now, in order to indicate the direction in which we are going.
If we look at the cases of the revolutionary processes that have had significant gains in Latin America (Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador), the key to unifying the people was a clear explanation of the causes of their concrete problems combined with a clearly formulated program of action. The revolutionary discourses were patriotic: they identified with the historic national movements for true national independence; they accused the global powers and international bourgeoisie of disrespecting the sovereignty of the nation, in violation of the norms that the global powers themselves proclaimed; they portrayed the national bourgeoisie and the traditional political parties as traitors to the nation, for their collaboration with the global powers; and they promised to lead the people in the construction of a dignified and sovereign nation that would be committed to the wellbeing of all and to solidarity with other nations and peoples.
In addition, the revolutionary discourses were characterized by concrete plans to take power. The idea was not merely to protest existing conditions, but to substitute a government that responded to the interests of the national and international bourgeoisies with a government that responded to the interests of the popular sectors. The plans to power involved a guerrilla strategy in the case of Cuba and electoral strategies in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. In the three cases involving electoral strategies, all three formed new political structures that were alternatives to the traditional political parties.
The petty bourgeoisie is a diverse class that includes: bureaucratic officials; small-scale business persons; doctors and lawyers; teachers and academics (from pre-school to higher education); researchers and scientists; military officers (except for the highest ranking military officers); priests, nuns, and ministers (including the highest officials of national religious associations and organizations); local politicians; and journalists. Unlike the national bourgeoisie (owners of large-scale economic enterprises), which has an interest in maintaining neocolonialism, the petty bourgeoisie of the neocolony has an interest in revolutionary transformation. The revolutionary project involves overcoming the legacy of underdevelopment, thus raising the standard of living of the people, thereby expanding the need for the goods and services that the petit bourgeoisie provide. But because of their relatively privileged living conditions, the members of the petit bourgeoisie are often confused by bourgeois ideologies that distort reality in order to justify privileges for the few. Thus, some members of the petit bourgeoisie are active in the counterrevolution. At the same time, many of the important Third World revolutionary leaders are members of the petit bourgeoisie who have come to understand that the fate of their own class is tied to the fate of the popular classes and sectors. The petit bourgeoisie is a divided class, but an integral part of the revolutionary process.
Thus the unification of the popular classes and sectors in opposition to the national and international bourgeoisies is accomplished on a foundation of significant intellectual work that has enabled the emergence of a leadership that grasps the structures of domination, that formulates concrete plans of action for the construction of a more just and democratic society, and that understands the people so profoundly that it is able to find the discourse that strikes a responsive chord among the masses.
Each nation must find its own road to revolutionary transformation. But we can learn important lessons from those nations that have developed relatively advanced revolutionary processes.
Vera and I encourage all to participate in the discussion.
Greetings from Havana, Cuba.
* Vera Vratusa is Professor of Sociology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia (former Yugoslavia). Visit http://veravratusaesociology.wikispaces.com/
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Latin America