Our Common Cause: Venezuela reviving socialism

July 20, 2007

[Abridged from a presentation by Raul Bassi, on behalf of the Socialist Alliance, to a conference hosted by the Venezuelan embassy in Sydney on July 7.]

Venezuela is proving that our campaigns here in Australia are possible: the privatisation process can be reversed, and defending people's rights, including taking control of basic utilities, energy and ensuring democratic use of the land, are also possible.

What is happening in Venezuela is democracy in action — President Hugo Chavez received a 63% majority last election — defended by powerful mass movements of workers and small farmers.

Venezuela is building up organisations to strengthen and sustain the democratic process, including communal councils and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

The revolution has been built on international solidarity, starting by support for democratic and anti-imperialist movements in Latin America, particularly its alliance with socialist Cuba and the support of indigenous-based government in Bolivia. When US imperialism attacked Iraq and Lebanon, Venezuela campaigned against the wars and occupations. The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) initiative, aimed at helping poor people, including in the US, is well known.

Socialism has become a bad word for many, but Venezuela is reviving the idea again as the only alternative to capitalism and its profits for the few and misery for the majority.

Socialism for Venezuela means solidarity, real democracy, community ownership, defending and repairing our environment and ending wasteful spending on repression.

We are learning from the revolutionary process of Venezuela, even if we don't agree with everything happening there. We are not so arrogant as to tell the Venezuelans what to do: it is up to them to decide what, when, where and how to do it.

But we cannot support the Venezuelan revolution if we're isolated from the struggles in Australia. That's why the Socialist Alliance is active in the movement against Work Choices, and for the right to strike. We're also active in the campaign to support Aboriginal people in defence of their rights to land, health and self-organisation.

We also oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are defending our ever-diminishing human rights under the so-called "anti-terrorist" laws. We are active defenders of the environment because otherwise the world will be made uninhabitable.

Neoliberal globalisation has divided the world in two: us and them. There's the minority — US President George Bush, PM John Howard and Halliburton — that brutally control the world politically, socially and economically, and there's the majority — the exploited, poor and dispossessed.

We stand with the majority, including the indigenous peoples throughout the world, the workers and small farmers, the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples struggling against their occupiers, the Latin American people's movements, the Cubans and, of course, the Venezuelans struggling to carry out the Bolivarian revolution, the first revolution of the 21st century.

The Socialist Alliance believes in the "Che Guevara principle", which is: "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine".

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