Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela by George Ciccariello-Maher

By George Ciccariello-Maher

Latin America’s experiments in direct democracy

Since 2011, a wave of well known uprisings has swept the globe, taking form within the Occupy circulation, the Arab Spring, 15M in Spain, and the anti-austerity protests in Greece. The calls for were different, yet have expressed a constant dedication to the beliefs of radical democracy.

comparable experiments started to appear throughout Latin the United States twenty-five years in the past, simply because the left fell into decline in Europe. In Venezuela, negative barrio citizens arose in a mass uprising opposed to neoliberalism, ushering in a central authority that institutionalized the communes already forming organically. In construction the Commune, George Ciccariello-Maher travels via those radical experiments, chatting with a vast diversity of neighborhood contributors, staff, scholars and executive officers. Assessing the tasks’ successes and screw ups, Building the Commune offers classes and proposal for the novel hobbies of this day.

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Extra resources for Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela

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Do some communes produce more than others? Yes, some produce more material goods—corn, plantains, coffee, sugar—while others, as we will see in later chapters, don’t produce much of anything at all. ” It would be a mistake, Rojas insists, to define the commune in too rigid a way, to straitjacket it from above when its ultimate form needs to be determined by the grassroots participation of millions from below. He insists that, if anything, the commune is best understood as a sort of revolutionary myth that, rather than prescribing a fixed form, can instead help to mobilize the masses to do the impossible and create something altogether new.

Given the brutal failure of neoliberal reforms across the region as a whole, the Caracazo would soon be followed by a string of rebellions elsewhere on the continent and beyond. Only a year after the Caracazo, indigenous movements in Ecuador responded to neoliberal reform with the Inti Raymi uprising (1990), unleashing a chain reaction that would eventually see three sitting presidents unseated from power by street mobilizations. The Zapatista rebellion in southern Mexico (1994) exploded into history on the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, provoked by the Mexican government’s abolition of communal land rights to please the United States, and has since helped to inspire struggles worldwide while undermining the legitimacy of a corrupt political system.

7 So where is the commune? When Chávez asked the question in 2012, the future of this ambitious communal project was far from certain. But since then—in large part due to the momentum provided by his “Golpe de Timón” speech—the communal project has advanced by leaps and bounds. After Chávez died on March 5, 2013, the newly elected president, Nicolás Maduro, named Reinaldo Iturriza commune minister. A radical with deep roots in barrio and youth movements, and with a militant emphasis on popular participation and culture, Iturriza oversaw the revitalization of Chávez’s vision and the dramatic expansion of the communes.

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