Venezuela: Leon Trotsky and the struggle against the Madurist Thermidor

Leon Trotsky died on August 21, 1940 as a consequence of the blow to his head by the secret agent of the Soviet Union Ramon Mercader, obeying the direct orders of Iosif Stalin. These days, from across the world, different referents, intellectuals, activists and revolutionary political organizations usually remember the man who dedicated his life, from his teenage years until his murder, to the struggle of the working class and the exploited people.

We do not intend on this occasion to develop the historical data of Leon Trotsky´s life, but we do want to get into in what was perhaps the most important aspect that most defines him as a great leader of the working class, especially in the adverse situation we are living in the class struggle in Venezuela, because Trotsky above all was that: a fighting militant!

Just as Stalin cannot be understood as an individual figure in his role as the Thermidor of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky cannot be understood as an isolated figure who battled alone against the world bourgeoisie and against the Stalinist apparatus. Stalin was the most visible face of a caste that confiscated the great achievements of the Russian majorities that mobilized in 1917, manipulating them and leading them towards the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and some countries in other continents. Trotsky was the spearhead of an anti-bureaucratic current within and beyond the USSR; they were the Bolshevik-Leninists who fought against Stalinism in France, in Spain, in Germany, in China, all over the world. And something very important: they continue fighting!

Therefore, Trotsky must be fundamentally understood as part of a current that, with a program, a theoretical framework and a world organization, fought against the two faces of capital: the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy. This is essential, because we are still in the same stage that began in the First World War; it is a time of crisis and revolutions and the need to build truly revolutionary, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-bureaucratic parties. This is a strategy that cannot be postponed for the future of the human species.

In Venezuela we are living what is probably the worst crisis in our republican history. This situation is caused, in first place, by the government of Nicolas Maduro and the PSUV caste, who consolidated as part of the corrupt clans in the power structures throughout the last twenty years, a task facilitated by the cover-up of Hugo Chávez, among other reasons. But in any case, different groups of the social and political life have been fighting against Maduro and his militaristic/police government; thus the methods and struggles are not the same, as well as the interests.

Confronting Maduro with his own program and for a solution in favor of the working people

Maduro is the Thermidor of a historical process that began in our country long before Chávez, which resulted in economic, social, democratic and political conquests for the dispossessed. But the great weakness of that process was that it did not have a political leadership able to fulfil the tasks that could have promoted the mobilization of the masses in Latin America, facilitating the development of that revolutionary channel, because, if we have learned something about historical materialism, it is that a revolution that does not advance, ends up stagnating and retreating. And that is precisely what we are suffering in Venezuela; It is like an unfortunate law that repeats over and over (Russia, China, Cuba…)

In the context we are in, the Trotsky´s famous quote, “the crisis of humanity is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership of the proletariat”, becomes valid, not only because of the type of leadership that Chávez embodied and because of the impossibility of a current emerging within the revolutionary process in Venezuela with sufficient force, criticism and a program of its to dispute the leadership; but also because right now and in the midst of this catastrophe, the workers and the people, most of whom reject Maduro, do not have union organizations or strong policies with the necessary class independence to organize such unrest and give it the necessary guidance to solve our problems. Many opted for shortcuts and support those who represent the interests of another of our executioners, Juan Guaidó and his “Plan País” at the service of US financial capital.

Here the importance of Trotsky and his comrade´s great legacy stands out. They left immeasurable lessons for future generations because capitalism, in its inability to offer real solutions, will always lead millions of young people, women, native people and workers to seek an answer to the crisis. This is what we often see, currently in the mobilizations in France, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, North Africa…

Maduro has not yet faced a strong mobilization process with its own program democratically built from below, reflecting the interests of the majority, even less mobilizations with a leadership forged in the heat of the struggle. It is a major difference with those who propose to join with anyone to get rid of this authoritarian, repressive, anti-workers and anti-popular government, without delimitations and raising false expectations that only contribute to a greater confusion and loss of trust in those who fall in the trap of the fastest way in the face of despair.

There is no magical solution for those of us who suffer this barbaric situation, but there is a path that can lead us to a safe and achievable alternative, which begins by standing with the greatest clarity in the face of the main issues that explain this catastrophe and those who are responsible for it. “Neither Maduro nor Guaidó” is a radical slogan that invites to take this path to shape the plan we need to fight for a wage equal to the basic basket, to recover our benefits, against memo 2792, to recover our money, to stop the payment of the debt, to recover the national productive apparatus in favour of the people’s needs… It is the plan that annoys the skeptics, economisists and possibilists, but they wrinkle their foreheads from the comfort of a sofa in their homes and that is not exactly where anything gets settled.

Maduro’s regime is based on fear and it is barely understandable that they have managed to sow that feeling in the people, but there are also thousands of reasons not to be afraid. From Marea Socialista, as part of the International Socialist League (ISL), we bet on the latter; because we think that the leaderships are also afraid, because we owe nothing to the powerful, because we are part of the huge rejection generated by the Maduro bureaucracy and especially because the class struggle was the great school that led us to forge our combative character and understand that we are not alone.

We have focused on building a party of militants, with our proposals and policies, to continue debating and consolidating our organization as a vital political tool; training all our comrades, discussing class feminism, workers’ democracy, plans of struggle and getting ready to go to the streets in better conditions. For this reason and so many others, we vindicate Leon Trotsky, one of ours, who never stopped fighting.

Gustavo Martínez Rubio