The United States--Is Revolution Possible?

For the third time in a year and a half, I've come to Venezuela to take part in important international encounters and festivals: I was part of the World Social Forum in Caracas in the spring of 2006 and the International Poetry Festival in the fall of the same year. Now I'm an invited guest to the 3rd Caracas International Book Festival, slated for November 8 until November 18. Interestingly, I'm part of a several-day forum and dialogue--the central theme of the festival--posing the question: Is Revolution possible in the United States?

Venezuela has been in a revolutionary process for some time, personified in the country's president, Hugo Chavez, who has been duly vilified in the US mass media--in lock step with the US state department. The country is largely behind Mr. Chavez, but there is a strong opposition--even Caracas' five municipalities are split three to two for Chavez. Most of the opposition are made up of the more well-off Venezuelans, many with ties to US corporations. Students protests against Chavez have largely been from the well-off private institutions. They are protesting the election in December to change the Venezuelan constitution called "the Reform." While many Venezuelans I talked to seem to support the Reform and Chavez, there are also legitimate concerns. The opposition, however, is against the Reform in total. Their protests are essentially "No to Reform."

Venezuela, like all of Latin America, is undergoing deep revolutionary changes, something all revolutionaries must welcome in a time when US Empire has sucked the life juices out of most 3rd world economies and has carried out illegal and costly wars--in lives and in dollars--in Iraq and Afghanistan (and many other sovereign states over the past 150 years). The world needs deep and lasting social change--with deep-rooted imagination and encompassing the great capacity of the world's poor to envision and shape their own futures.

Other Americans in the US forums (there have been five distinct panels and discussions) include Ward Churchill, Amiri and Amina Baraka, William Blum, Tufara LaShelle Waller (the Highlander Organization in Tennessee), Antonio Gonzalez (the Southwest Voters Registration Project), Jimmy Massey (the Irag Veterans Against the War), Hector Pesquera (of Puerto Rico), and many others that, unfortunately, I can't name all here. I will say that some of the invited Americans include those currently residing in Venezuela--Charles Hardy, Eva Golinger, Chris Carlson, Dada Maheshvarananda, and others.

The discussions and debates were serious, informative, feisty at times, and important. A few actually said there can never be revolution in the US--it is too dulled by consumerism and privilege. Others claimed revolution is possible, although no one claimed it would be emminent.

My presentation covered the various key aspects that indicate a growing and deepening revolutionary crisis in the US. For example there's the growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest (today one percent of the population controls a fifth of the country's wealth, which is as bad as it's ever been since the 1920s). In addition there are more than 40 million people living below the poverty line (this is the official numbers; I'm sure it's far worse). There are 45 million people without health care. There are 4 million Americans in jails, prisons, parole or probation (the majority are African Americans or Latinos). And there is a growing credit and housing crisis, with the average American carrying more than $18,000 in debt, which is driving more people, including many whites, into the poverty levels.

In LA alone poverty grew 17 percent between 2002 and 2005; some 500,000 households can't get enough to eat or have limited acccess to nutritious food (Susannah Rosenblatt, LA Times, September 23, 2007).

The present crises, however, are predicated on an important development of world historical significance: the transition from industrial production to electronics/digital production that we've undergone most heatedly within the past 30 year. Globalization is an essential aspect of this development--it's capitalism in the age of electronics.

There is already, then, a revolution in the productive forces of society laying the basis for a political/social revolution. What people need in the US is an orientation of this and the class forces at play, a clarity of the objective realities we face--with a vision of where to go and a strategy of how to get there. That's the job of revolutionaries. Something that is also in the early stages of developing.

Is revolution possible in the US? Yes. Will it happen tomorrow? No. The United States is a large, multi-layered and complicated society. It is also the heart of empire and war in the world. Social revolution is possible, but it will entail serious, long-range and fully engaging efforts on the part of revolutionaries in relation to the maturing objective conditions.

Of course, Latin America will not wait for the US revolution to transpire. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and other countries are already in various stages of their own revolutionary developments. There are, of course, key links that must be forged between the revolutionary process in the US and that of Latin America.

The fact is we are already linked. Globalization has brought the continent, and most of the world, that much clsoer. Each country's revolutionaries must do the vital and essential work with the very forms of struggle that history has handed us in the diverse regions of this truly revolutionary continent.

This dialogue, therefore, is far from over. We've only scratched at the surface. I'm honored to be part of this important international debate. I know that what happens in the US is vital for the whole world. An imaginative, democratic, worker-rooted, and visionary process in the US would be necessary if we are to success. It must also include all Americans--all races, all sectors--especially the growing number of Americans most effected by the unfolding systematic crises within capitalism. Still, while the discussions are good the reality of what lies ahead is more complex.

I will report more on my trip and the parameters of this discussion in future blogs, including what I perceive to be the root and essence of these complexities.

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