During an inaugural speech to the 772 delegates at the First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on November 21, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez raised a series of proposals to open the debate and discussion over consolidating the struggle for socialism both internationally and in Venezuela.
The global economic crisis should be viewed as an opportunity to accelerate the dismantling of the capitalist system and the construction of socialism, the Venezuelan president said.
He asked the congress delegates to consider his proposal to the international conference of left parties, organisations and social movements to form a "Fifth Socialist International … that can become an instrument of unification and coordination of the struggle of peoples to save this planet".
Another fundamental issue that must be addressed in the congress, he insisted, was the ecological crisis. "The capitalist system has managed to impose a destructive mode of production and development that is destroying the planet and threatening the survival of the human species."
The next decade will be an era "of great definitions" in global politics. He argued that by 2019, Venezuela must be a "socialist country" with "socialist values" based on the "social ownership of the means of production."
Citing Vladimir Lenin's book, State and Revolution, Chavez argued it is necessary to "eliminate the parasitical capitalist state" in Venezuela "in order to create a new revolutionary state from below that is a real mechanism for the construction of socialism of the 21st century."
In order to achieve this, he insisted it was necessary to increase the consciousness of the working class as a fundamental part of Bolivarian socialism, and "to consolidate the alliance between the party and working class".
Chavez argued that the party should debate with the working class to awaken consciousness and revolutionary struggle for the consolidation of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution, which is threatened "by the vices of the elitist class".
"The elitist class culture even reaches into popular sectors, some of whom wear red T-shirts and say they are Bolivarian", Chavez said but "defend the interests of private property". He criticised sectors of the union movement.
He stressed the need for the transformation of union structures and working-class organisation, which he said should "assume the role of vanguard".
Chavez also called for the party to be alert to and put an end to the "vices of the old political class" that "aim to infiltrate the government" and "the centre of the party".
"All of these infiltrations are a product of the capitalist sectors that aim to neutralise and put a brake on the revolutionary movement."
Chavez outlined his view on what the relationship should be between the PSUV's 7 million-strong membership base, its estimated 2 million active members and the 772 elected congress delegates, as well as the relationship between the party and the government.
"Many popular struggles are drawn out; they get worn out and they die off. That's why a good, conscious and articulate vanguard is important.
"That's why I want you [the congress delegates] to be a revolutionary vanguard, and I want to be there with you, but remember this requires a lot of cohesion.
"We will create a true vanguard, and for this we have to work hard. We should be fighters who excel in moral and ethical values.
"[We] must have knowledge of international, national and local issues, because everything is connected."
The president emphasised that the vanguard of the party should organise the popular bases, but should also orient beyond the party membership. The congress delegates "must be spokespeople and have a vibrant connection with the grassroots, social movements and the Venezuelan people".
He said that various regional and thematic commissions would be set up to facilitate debate and discussion.
"These issues should be topics for debate, for discussion between the party and government, with the economic cabinet, with the communities, the workers, with different sectors of country", he said.
[Reprinted from Venezuelanalysis.com.]