You've probably heard a lot about the Bolivarian regimes in Latin America by now - but have you heard about Venezuela's 1,500 grassroots-lead communes which have been their driving force? In this article, originally published in ROAR magazine's first issue, George Cicciarello-Maher guides you through the political mobilisations of contemporary Venezuela.
George's new book, Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela, is out now and 40% off until Sunday 30th October. Click here to activate the discount.
George Ciccariello-Maher is a writer, organizer, and professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University. He is the author most recently of Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela, and is currently a visiting researcher at the Instituted for Social Research at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM) where he is researching popular self-defense movements. Here he picks 5 essential book for rethinking the history of communal power in Latin America and beyond.
The Latin American commune dates to long before the events of Paris 1871. Never emerging fully-formed—why would we expect it to?—the history of the commune cuts into and across much broader struggles for popular self-government that began before colonization. Just as the Spanish comuna can encompass everything from a local community to a fully-fledged collectivist society, so too do we need to excavate the real, living history of the commune in a nuanced way that does not sacrifice social content to any predetermined form.
Hugo Chávez, military officer turned left-wing revolutionary, was one of the most important Latin American leaders of the twenty-first century. In My First Life, Chávez narrates the story of his life in the years preceding his election as president in 1998. His interlocutor is Ignacio Ramonet, a former editor at Le Monde diplomatique who previously produced a similiar book with Fidel Castro. The post below is excerpted from Ramonet's introduction.
To celebrate the publication of My First Life, the book and many other titles on Latin America are currently on sale at a 40% discount.
At the age of forty-five, Hugo Chávez became one of the youngest presidents in Venezuelan history.
His investiture was held on 2 February 1999. And less than two months later, on 25 April, he called as promised a referendum for a Constituent Assembly. He got 88 per cent of the votes. The Bolivarian Revolution was on the march. In July, members were elected to the Assembly. The Polo Patriótico, the president’s coalition, swept the board again, with 121 of the 128 seats. The new Assembly began work on the Fifth Republic’s Constitution, the text of which had to be ratified by a national referendum on 15 December 1999.
This letter was first published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
As a rule, crises open up the terrain of the possible, and the crisis that began in 2007 with the collapse of the subprime market is no exception. The political forces that upheld the old world are now decomposing — first among them social democracy, which has since 2012 entered a new phase in its long process of accommodation to the existing order. As against these forces, the National Front has diverted part of the anger in society to its own advantage. It has adopted the pretense of an anti-systemic stance, even though it challenges nothing about this system, and least of all the law of the market.
Such is the context in which Nuit Debout was born — a movement that now marks the first month of its existence. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the opposition to neoliberalism has taken various different forms: the “Bolivarian” governments in Latin America in the 2000s, the “Arab Spring,” Occupy Wall Street, the Spanish indignados, Syriza in Greece, the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns in Britain and the USA…. Future historians delving into our era will doubtless say that it was particularly rich in social and political movements.
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For more inspiration check out our FREE e-book sampler with highlights from our 2014 list, including pieces from Arundhati Roy, Benjamin Kunkel, Gabriella Coleman, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Shlomo Sand, Walter Benjamin and Slavoj Žižek.
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