Venezuela - 2nd congress of the Revolutionary Socialist Youth held on November 5 and 6

Last weekend the Venezuelan Revolutionary Socialist Youth (JSR) held its second congress, where it adopted a clear platform in favour of socialist revolution. It aims to gather all the most conscious and militant youth of Venezuela under one banner. On November 5 and 6, around 20 young comrades participated in the 2nd Congress of the JSR (Juventud Socialista Revolucionaria, Revolutionary Socialist Youth). The congress, which took place in Barquisimeto, reflected an optimistic mood and was a big step forward in the work that the comrades are now doing to build the organisation at all levels.

The JSR is an organization that was set up in July 2005, the reason being that there are in Venezuela, a number of revolutionary youth groups, mainly based on a local or regional level, but none of them have managed to appear as a point of reference in the youth movement on a national level and gather together the vanguard in the universities, factories, etc., on a Marxist programme. The JSR was thus launched in order to fill this vacuum.

The JSR was founded mainly by two groups, the CMR (Revolutionary Marxist Current) and the FAR (American Rebel Front). The former is the Marxist wing of the Bolivarian movement, organizing within its ranks workers and youth, working to spread socialist ideas and advance the revolutionary process towards the expropriation of the capitalist class and the setting up of a regime of workers’ democracy.

The FAR is a group in Barquisimeto that is active in the universities and colleges, etc. These comrades publish a monthly bulletin, the “Alba Estudiantil”, which is distributed widely among the student youth in Barquisimeto. The October edition carried an editorial which ended with the words “For a socialist Venezuela – we fight to win!” and with a picture of Trotsky on the front page.

The JSR has also attracted to its banner comrades in Merida, Tachira, Ciudad Bolivar and Falcon, but unfortunately they were unable to attend the congress for reasons of transport, lack of finances, etc. The project is still open to all groups and individuals that want to fight for defence of the revolution and for a socialist transformation in Venezuela and internationally.

Not an isolated phenomena

The first session of the congress was opened by comrades Carlos Mogollon and Pedro Jimenez, who spoke on the international situation. They emphasized that the Bolivarian revolution is not an isolated phenomenon but a product of the general crisis that capitalism is facing on a world scale. The enormous contradictions between rich and poor are accelerating the process. The fact that the government of the richest country in the world, the United States, cannot even make a decent effort to help the victims of the terrible Katrina disaster shows what an impasse the system finds itself in. It shows that they cannot rule even their own country.

On the other hand US imperialism is also unable to rule a country that it has occupied, that is Iraq. Nothing whatsoever has been solved and the heroic resistance struggle of the Iraqi people continues.

In the discussion it was also emphasized that one of the reasons why US imperialism is unable to focus all of its attention on eliminating the revolutionary process in Venezuela is that they are bound hands and feet in Iraq.

The Venezuelan revolution is a beacon for all the oppressed in Latin America and beyond, but at the same time it was stressed that – although having its own peculiarities – the Bolivarian revolution has quite a lot in common with other revolutions and that it is important to study those in order to learn from history.

Organize the vanguard to fight against bureaucracy

The session that followed was about the perspectives for the Venezuelan revolution itself. In his speech, Juan Marchán, the newly elected general secretary of the JSR, pointed out that the coming elections in December 2005 to the National Assembly will are vitally important. It is the duty of revolutionaries to participate in them and support the Bolivarian movement but at the same time advance the demand that a victory in these elections should be used to take the revolution forward by expropriating the capitalists and nationalizing the economy and transform it under a system of democratic planning.

Furthermore he stressed that the revolution is now struggling internally against bureaucratic tendencies. The bureaucracy is trying to consolidate itself within the movement but is meeting firm resistance from the revolutionary wing. In this context it is crucial to develop and extend a network of assemblies in each factory, university and school, etc., in order to develop an alternative power that can replace the old bourgeois state. For this purpose the vanguard of the movement must be organized in a conscious way in order to struggle against bureaucracy and for rank-and-file-democracy.

The workers are advancing

A particular important session was the one on the movement of factory occupations. This session was led off by Jorge Martin, the International Secretary of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign and a leading comrade of the International Marxist Tendency. Jorge gave a report from the first Latin American gathering of worker-recovered factories (see the article First Latin American gathering of worker-recovered factories - Chavez announces further expropriations) He pointed out that it was significant that the Venezuelan government had hosted and actively supported this gathering when all the other governments in Latin America had refused to do so. In this way, the Chavez-government is increasing its popularity in the eyes of workers throughout the continent.

The discussions at the gathering had concentrated on the slogan of “cooperatives versus nationalization”. Workers from Brazil argued the case for nationalisation. Jorge said that Marxists regards workers’ control and occupations as a very militant act in the class struggle that shows that the workers are able to run the factories without the bosses. In many cases workers had explained at this gathering how productivity was raised under workers’ control precisely because the workers are the ones who know best how to run and direct the work themselves. However, Jorge remarked, Marxists – as Trotsky explained – maintain that workers’ control under capitalism can only be a transitional phase. If it is not generalised throughout the economy, and if planning is not organised in a conscious manner, these cases of workers’ control will remain isolated and can be absorbed within the capitalist system. Therefore the slogan for cooperatives is false, as it separates the workers involved from the rest of the workers’ movement and in effect transforms them into individual owners of the factory.

On the contrary, Marxists argue that the big factories and enterprises must be nationalized – under worker’s control – as part of a planned economy that is democratically run by the working class as a whole.

At the end of his speech, Jorge stressed that in general this gathering had shown that the working class in Venezuela is advancing rapidly as an independent force and is giving a new impulse to the revolutionary process that is vital if it is to lead to a decisive victory.

Developing the JSR

There were also some sessions devoted to the building of the JSR. Since its founding congress the organisation has been involved in several important events. On July 20-23 it intervened in a gathering of young people in Merida to discuss the construction of “socialism in the XXI century”. In August it intervened massively in the World Festival of Students and Youth handing out thousands of leaflets and organising public meetings with the British Marxist theoretician Alan Woods. At the same time the JSR participated in an important student struggle of “non-admitted students” in Barquisimeto. This is a good example of the method that the JSR uses, involving mobilisation of the masses on concrete issues.

The JSR has actively supported workers in struggle, such as the comrades of the Parmalat factory and it has published leaflets and also articles in El Topo Obrero (the paper of the CMR) and in Alba Estudiantil (the paper of the FAR). In various schools and colleges, cells of the JSR have been formed and are meeting on a regular basis.

In the organisational discussions it was emphasised that the JSR must begin to work among the working class youth and in particular in the youth section of the UNT. The youth is one of the most exploited layers of the working class, labouring under the most miserable conditions. Among this layer some of the most dedicated militants are to be found.

The congress approved – with some amendments – a political programme that stresses that the JSR is an organisation based on the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky and is open to all young people that accept its programme and are willing to fight for a socialist revolution in Venezuela and internationally. The second congress of the JSR, which adopted a political platform   and with its optimistic mood   was clearly a big step forward. The task is now to organise and extend the JSR to all schools and universities and also to the factories and other workplaces.

Caracas, November 7, 2005

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