A journey through Venezuela’s experiments in radical democracy, after the age of Chávez
Since 2011, a wave of popular mobilizations has swept the globe, from Occupy to the Arab Spring, 15M in Spain and the uprisings in Greece. Their demands were varied, but what they share is a commitment to ideals of radical democracy, and a willingness to experiment with new forms of organization to achieve this. In fact, the countries of Latin America have been experimenting with such projects since 1989—just as left projects of all stripes fell into decline across Europe—in what was a moment of rebirth. Poor residents of Venezuela’s barrios took history into their own hands in a mass popular rebellion against neoliberalism, much as the movements appearing worldwide are doing today.
Twenty-five years since the experiments began, Latin America is hardly recognizable, with leftist governments consolidating a new hegemony and radical movements surging forth from below. In Building the Commune, George Ciccariello-Maher travels through the many radical experiments of Venezuela, assessing how they have succeeded and failed, and how they are continuing to operate. Speaking to community members, workers, students and government officials, Ciccariello-Maher provides a balance sheet of these projects, that movements throughout the world can look to for lessons and inspiration.