[News] Chavez's Historic Call for a Fifth Socialist International

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 30 18:16:49 EST 2009

Chavez's Historic Call for a Fifth Socialist International

November 30th 2009, by Frederico Fuentes

Caracas -- Addressing delegates at the 
International Encounter of Left Parties held in 
Caracas, November 19-21, Venezuelan president 
Hugo Chavez stated "the time has come for us to 
convoke the Fifth International." Faced with the 
capitalist crisis and the threat of war that is 
putting at risk the future of humanity, "the 
people are clamoring for" greater unity of left 
and revolutionary parties willing to fight for socialism, he said.

Like his call in 2005 to build "21st Century 
Socialism" and his call in 2006 for the creation 
in Venezuela of a new, mass revolutionary party - 
the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) - 
Chavez's call to unite the left in a new International is historic.

It builds on the experience of the four previous 
socialist "internationals", the first created by 
Karl Marx in 1864, which collapsed. The Second 
International was formed in 1889, but fell apart 
when representative parties sided with their own 
governments in the bloodshed of World War I.

The Third International was founded in the 
aftermath of the Russian Revolution. However, as 
Chavez said, it "degenerated" under Stalinism and 
"betrayed" struggles for socialism around the world.

Leon Trotsky founded the Fourth International in 
1938. However, Trotsky died in 1940 and his 
followers never succeeded in building mass support.

This call for a new international is also 
historic because of the political authority of 
Chavez himself: the leader of a revolutionary 
movement made up of millions struggling for a socialist society.

Following the approval by a majority of the 
delegates, of a special resolution in favor of 
founding of the "Fifth Socialist International as 
a space for socialist-oriented parties, movements 
and currents in which we can harmonize a common 
strategy for the struggle against imperialism, 
the overthrow of capitalism by socialism," Chavez 
reaffirmed his call, this time in his opening 
remarks as president of the United Socialist 
Party of Venezuela to the party's 1st 
Extraordinary Congress, which began on November 21.

In front of 772 delegates elected from the 
grassroots in an unprecedented process involving 
close to a million party militants, he requested 
that the proposal be included in the agenda of the Congress.

"I call on this First Extraordinary Congress of 
the United Socialist Party of Venezuela to 
include in its agenda for debate, the proposal to 
convene political parties and currents to create 
the Fifth Socialist International as a new 
organization that fits the time and the challenge 
in which we live, and that can become an 
instrument of unification and coordination of the 
struggle of peoples to save this planet."

The Congress, which will last until April 2010, 
the month that the founding congress of the Fifth 
International has been set for, will now discuss 
the proposal. This discussion "must go out to the 
people, to the social organizations and other 
forms of popular power in the country," according the plan proposed by Chavez.

Likewise, this decision will be discussed by left 
parties around the world, who will have to take a 
position in the face of this transcendental 
proposal, which undoubtedly will be taken up will 
full vigor by a mass revolutionary party in construction.

Unity in the face of imperialist counter-offensive

The central discussion on the first day of the 
Encounter of Left Parties was the issue of the 
new imperialist offensive in the region, 
exemplified by the expansion of US military bases and the coup in Honduras.

Present were delegates from 55 parties from more 
than 30 countries, representing elements of the 
old and new emerging left, including a number of 
Communist and social democratic parties from Asia 
and Europe, national liberation forces from 
Africa and the Middle East, new left parties such 
as Die Linke (Germany), Left Bloc (Portugal), 
Left Party (France), and radical and left forces 
from Latin America, some older, such as the 
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and 
some newer, such as the Movement Towards 
Socialism (Bolivia) and, of course, the PSUV.

Almost all attempts to create a new model of 
society in the 20th century were destroyed by 
imperialism, explained Nicolas Maduro, PSUV 
leader and Venezuela's foreign minister. "There 
was only one experience that had the sufficient 
political, military and popular force, together 
with a revolutionary leadership, which was able 
to overcome all of imperialism's plans: the Cuban Revolution."

With the turn of the Century, new revolutionary 
movements and political leaderships emerged, 
changing the face of the region. The election of 
Barack Obama created many expectations and hope 
among vast sections of the population that new 
relations with the US, based on dialogue, would 
be possible. But this illusion was quickly 
shattered by the actions of thenew administration Maduro said.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our 
Americas (ALBA) - "a solid project of integration 
and union of our countries and peoples" - 
advanced this year, incorporating Ecuador and 
various Caribbean countries; however the first 
blow by imperialism was dealt in Honduras with 
the June 28 military coup. The coup was aimed at 
ALBA and carried out with US support, he said.

Shortly afterwards came the announcement of the 
US-Colombia military agreement to hand over 7 new 
military bases to the US, "a powerful threat 
against the revolutionary movements in our continent," Maduro added.

In this scenario, the unity of progressive and 
left forces is necessary in order to create a 
movement for peace and justice in the region with 
the power to convert the continent into a 
"territory free of US bases," he argued.

Jorge Marti, head of the International relations 
department of the Communist Party of Cuba, noted 
that currently, "the left is not up to the 
challenge it faces"- the reason why it is 
necessary to clearly delineate a strategy for united struggle.

While it is quite possible that right wing forces 
could win elections soon to be held in Chile and 
Brazil, Nidia Diaz from the Farabundo Marti 
National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador 
pointed out that, "if we only think about 
electoral victories and not in the accumulation 
of social forces for change, it is easy to paint 
a negative picture." It is essential that the 
left promotes Chavez's proposal of establishing 
peace bases as focal points for agitation, action 
and mobilization of our peoples, she added.

"We are merely spokespeople for our people who 
today are resisting" explained Honduran Foreign 
Minister Patricia Rodas. Our responsibility is to 
construct a common space for parties to come 
together and consolidate the union of our peoples 
"and make possible the creation of a never before 
seen, diverse force" because they want to destroy 
"the very same democracy which we laid down our arms for," she said.

Rounding off the day's contributions, PSUV leader 
and Education Minister Hector Navarro affirmed 
"the problem is not the bases, the problem is the 
structural crisis of capital...what we are 
confronting is the question of the survival of 
humanity." Therefore this scenario, which brought 
together some of the most important left forces 
in the world, must be seen as a theater of 
operations from which to unleash a struggle in defense of humanity, he argued.

A Socialist International of the 21st Century

The second day kicked off with a discussion about 
what type of coordination was necessary.

Valtar Pomar, international relations secretary 
of the Workers' Party (PT) of Brazil outlined his 
party's position, putting forward a strategy 
focused on unity around regional integration, or 
in more classical terms ‘anti-imperialism'. If we 
made socialism our lowest common denominator for 
unity, this would inevitably lead to division; 
Pomar contended saying for this reason the PT 
would continue to prioritise the Sao Paulo Forum (FSP).

Aristóbulo Isturiz, one of the regional 
vice-presidents of the PSUV, responded that the 
left needs spaces that are more dynamic and active that the FSP.

The FSP was formed in the early nineties as an 
initiative of the PT to regroup the Latin 
American left in the context of the collapse of 
the Soviet Union. Today, the Forum, much like the 
PT, has drifted far from its more radical roots 
to becoming a talkfest dominated by reformist forces.

While differences began to emerge in discussion, 
it was Chavez's interventions that night which 
marked a dividing line. "Yankee imperialism is 
preparing a war in Latin America...it has almost 
always been the case that the US has pulled 
itself out of a situation of crisis via war" he warned.

At the same time, the conditions to build 
socialism are ripe, he argued. "That is why I 
ask...that you allow me continue to go forward, 
together with those who want to accompany me, in 
the creation of the Fifth Socialist International."

A new international without manuals and 
impositions, explained Chavez, and where differences are welcomed.

He sharply criticized the example the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union which imposed its 
dogmas such as "socialism in one country" on its 
satellite parties internationally. This led many 
Communist Parties in Latin America to turn their 
backs on Che Guevara due to his rejection of Soviet dogmatism, Chavez said.

In rejection of the failed projects of "real 
socialism" and social democracy, a new 
International should embody the spirit and 
accumulated heritage left to humanity by the 
founders of the first four Internationals: Karl 
Marx, Frederick Engels, Clara Zetkin, Rosa 
Luxemburg, Jose Carlos Mariategui and Leon Trotsky he stated.

It should also incorporate the ideas of Latin 
American radicals and liberators such as Simon 
Bolivar, Francisco Morazan, Maurice Bishop and Sandino, Chavez contended.

A new project of left coordination has to be an 
international to confront imperialism, defeat 
capitalism and struggle for 21st Century 
Socialism. It is necessary to work together in 
the elaboration of a manifesto around which to 
unify criteria in regards to 21st Century Socialism, he continued.

Chavez's response to the interjection of one 
delegate who stated that there already existed 
other organizations for coordination among 
political parties was swift and sharp: there 
exist many spaces for discussion, but none for 
concrete action, which is why today many of them are finished.

"We have wasted a lot of time, we continue to 
waste time, looking for excuses to justify our 
inactivity. I consider such behavior to be a 
betrayal of the hope of our peoples". What we 
need is a unity of left parties, "but parties that are truly left."

"It is up to us to assume the role of the vanguard"

While various parties expressed their 
reservations the following day, arguing that 
within such a meeting it was only possible to 
reach unity over specific points and that a deep 
programmatic debate was necessary before any 
deeper unity was possible, the response in favor 
of the proposal was very strong.

"We cannot continue simply debating.... we need 
to clearly define what it is that we want, and 
the alternative project for Latin America is 
socialism" affirmed Salvador Sanchez Ceren, FMLN 
leader and vice-president of El Salvador, speaking in favor of the proposal.

Sanchez's comments provoked a reaction from El 
Salvadorean president Mauricio Funes,  an 
independent elected on the FMLN slate, who 
distanced himself and his government from any 
support for 21st Century Socialism.

The Bolivian delegation from the Movement Towards 
Socialism relayed to the meeting the news that 
they had phoned the national leadership of the 
party, as well as president Evo Morales, who all 
agreed to come onboard the project and 
participate actively in all the preparatory 
commissions for the founding congress.

Country Alliance leader and Ecuadorian Minister 
of Government, Ricardo Patiño also announced his 
party's decision to participate.

Pledging the active support of the Honduran 
"resistance", Rodas added her voice to the chorus of support for the proposal.

That is, the actually existing political 
leaderships of the most important movements for 
change - to which must be added the Cuban 
Communist Party who did not express a formal 
position in the meeting - expressed their will 
and desire to work towards an organization of international coordination.

Together with a special resolution to create a 
"working group comprised of those socialist 
parties, currents and social movements who 
endorse the initiative, to prepare an agenda 
which defines the objectives, contents and 
mechanisms of this global revolutionary body", a 
document entitled the Caracas Commitment was also approved.

The document affirmed that faced with "structural 
crisis of capital, which combines the economic 
crisis, with an ecological crisis, a food crisis, 
and an energy crisis, and which together 
represents a mortal threat to humanity and mother 
earth", the only alternative possible is "Socialism of the 21st century".

Once again highlighting the lessons of the first 
four internationals, this time in the PSUV 
Congress, Chavez pointed out that all of them had 
been convoked from Europe, "where the thesis of 
scientific socialism emerged with force in the 
heat of the great popular, workers struggles, and 
the domination of the bourgeoisie".

Today, however, "the epicenter of revolutionary 
struggle is in our America. And Venezuela is the 
epicenter of this battle. It is up to us to 
assume the role of the vanguard and we have to 
assume it, so that we realize and become aware of 
the huge responsibility we have on our shoulders."

(Federico Fuentes participated in the 
International Encounter of Left Parties as 
representatives of the Socialist Alliance).

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