Marxist Theories of the State Played out in Venezuela
Date Written: 2017-10-15
Publisher: Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21500
The implications of Marxist state theories developed by Nicos Poulantzas and Ralph Miliband are useful for framing issues related to leftist strategy in twenty-first century Venezuela.
The implications of Marxist state theories developed by Nicos Poulantzas and Ralph Miliband are useful for framing issues related to leftist strategy in twenty-first century Venezuela. A relationship exists between each of the theories and three issues facing the Chavista movement: whether the bourgeoisie (or sectors of it) displays a sense of 'class consciousness'; the viability of tactical and strategic alliances between the left and groups linked to the capitalist structure; and whether socialism is to be achieved through stages, abrupt revolutionary changes, or ongoing state radicalization over a period of time. During Poulantzas' lifetime, his concept of the state as a 'strategic battlefield' lent itself to the left's promotion of 'strategic alliances' with parties to its right. The same concept is compatible with the 'process of change' in Venezuela, in which autonomous movements play a fundamental role in transforming the old state and the construction of new state structures.
What makes the Venezuelan case insightful is that conditions in the nation for achieving socialism in a democratic setting were in some ways immensely more propitious than those facing the Eurocommunist movements that inspired and were inspired by Poulantzas. In fact, they were undoubtedly unmatched by any other country whose government has been truly committed to democratic socialism. These circumstances make the examination of Marxist state theories against the backdrop of Venezuelan events particularly compelling.