Building 21st Century Socialism from Below

Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela

Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela
Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela
Building 21st Century Socialism from Below

Author: Dario Azzellini
Publisher: Brill
Pages: 266
Published in November 2016
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    In Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela: Building 21st Century Socialism from Below, Dario Azzellini offers an account of the Bolivarian Revolution from below. While authors on Venezuela commonly concentrate on former president Hugo Chávez and government politics, this book shows how workers, peasants and the poor in urban communities engage in building 21st century socialism through popular movements, communal councils, communes and fighting for workers' control. In a relationship of cooperation and conflict with the state, social transformation is approached on 'two tracks', from below and from above. Azzellini’s fascinating account stands out because of the extensive empirical examples and original voices from movements, communal councils, communes and workers.

    Out in November 2016 with Brill and a bit later as paperback with Haymarket.


    Table of contents


    1. Introduction
    1.1 Venezuela’s specific path
    1.2 The dilemma of the state
    1.3 Two-track construction
    1.4 Local self-government, communal councils (CCs), and communes
    1.5 Cooperatives, co-management, self-management, and workers’ control
    1.6 The revolution without Chávez

    2. Class, Constituent Power, and Popular Power
    2.1 Updating the concept of class
    Theoretical notes on class and multitude
    Class composition and breadth in Venezuela
    2.2 Socio-territorial segregation and class formation
    2.3 From taking power to process: Constituent power and popular power
    Crisis as a motor of history: Constituent power vs. constituted power
    The popular constituent process
    The simultaneity of foci: Resistance, insurrection and constituent power
    Popular power: The knowledge of resistance

    3. Movements and Alternative Construction in Venezuela
    3.1 Social movements or popular movements?
    3.2 The historical current for change and the ruptures of the continuum
    3.3 The new framework of action
    3.4 Popular actors and autonomous construction
    The Bolívar and Zamora Revolutionary Current
    The Settlers’ Movement
    National Network of Communards

    4. The Communal Councils: Local Self-Administration and Social Transformation
    4.1 Participatory budgeting
    The failed CLPP initiative
    Metropolitan Council for Planning Public Policies (CMPPP)
    The Municipal Constituent
    The Local Work Cabinets in Caracas
    4.2 The communal councils
    The genesis of the CCs
    Makeup and structure
    Rigid law and flexible praxis
    Financing and financial administration
    Decentralisation or centralisation
    Development, situation, and contradictions
    Relationship between CCs and institutions
    CCs and popular movements
    Relations between CCs and communities
    The appropriation of CCs by communities and the question of the state
    4.3 The CCs as a means of participation in the barrios of Caracas
    The ‘Emiliano Hernández’ Communal Council, Magallanes de Catia, Caracas
    The CC as a body of self-administration
    Participation as a process of development and of social recognition
    Participation as a process of democratisation and of building collectivity
    The CC ‘Unidos por el Chapulún’, Parroquia Nuestra Sra. del Rosario, Baruta
    CCs in Caracas: Conclusions
    Relationship between communities and institutions

    5. New Collective Business Paradigms
    5.1 Cooperatives
    Roots of cooperativism in Venezuela
    Governmental policies of support for cooperatives
    Limitations of state support for cooperatives
    Internal organisation of cooperatives
    The problematisation of cooperativism
    5.2 New entrepreneurial models
    Private enterprise and co-management
    Co-management in state businesses
    Social Production Companies

    6. Workers’ Control, Workers’ Councils, and Class Struggle
    6.1 Recuperated companies and nationalisation
    6.2 Workers’ control and workers’ councils
    The movement for workers’ control
    The Socialist Workers’ Councils
    The CVG and the 2009–19 Socialist Guayana Plan
    6.3 Workers’ control: The example of Inveval
    From the struggle for pay to the struggle for the factory
    The workers abandon the cooperative and form a council
    6.4 Alcasa: Class struggle for productive transformation against bureaucracy and corruption
    Revolutionary co-management
    The victory of bureaucracy and corruption
    Workers’ control returns
    The organisational structure of the new Alcasa
    Worker inventiveness workshops
    The Alcasa initiatives and the institutional embargo
    The attack on workers’ control and the negation of the Socialist Guayana Plan
    6.5 New struggles for workers’ control
    6.6 Approaching the issue of new worker subjectivities in the context of participation and class struggle
    Horizontality in the factory and change throughout society
    The new collective self

    7. Communes, Production, and the Communal State
    7.1. Communes
    Origin and form
    Communes and constituted power
    7.2 Companies of Communal Social Property and the construction of a communal economy
    7.3 Communal state: State or non-state?

    8 Local and Worker Co-Management, Two-Track Construction, and Class Struggle: A Preliminary Assessment
    8.1 The Bolivarian process and class struggle
    8.2 Communal councils, communes, and communal state
    8.3 Property models, the administration of the means of production, and class struggle
    8.4 Nationalisation, workers’ control, and the Socialist Workers’ Councils
    8.5 The relation of constituent and constituted power to class struggle