Freedom to vote and participate in political processes is fundamental to socialist states.
Both locally and nationally, democracy is enshrined in the law of these states. This democracy is “a democracy of the toiling masses, directed against the exploiters.” When the institution of democracy is threatened, the ruling socialist party must act to protect it at all costs or risk losing the revolution.
Recently in Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro decided to act to preserve the legitimacy of democracy by banning some right-wing opposition parties in the next presidential election. The parties banned were Primero Justicia (Justice First), Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) and Acción Democratica (Democratic Action).
The ban came after mayoral races across the country on Dec. 10. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, known as PSUV, won a landslide victory, taking over 300 out of 355 mayoral positions. Going into the elections, three of four opposition parties refused to take part. They claimed that the elections were “biased” and “unfair.”
Maduro responded by saying, “The other parties … have disappeared from the Venezuelan political map and today disappear totally.”
“Parties that did not participate today and have called for voters to participate in a boycott cannot participate anymore,” he announced. “That is the criteria the National Constituent Assembly has put forward, constitutionally and legally.”
The ban on opposition parties in the upcoming elections is due to their call for citizens to boycott Venezuela’s legitimate and well-observed elections. These parties are well-known for their support of violent tactics to destabilize the Venezuelan government. They have supported violent street protests, which have led to streets being set on fire, roads being blocked and government buildings being attacked.
They have even gone as far as burning a Black man alive simply for “being Chavista.” Of course, First World media ignore the fact that much of the violence that takes place in Venezuela is due to the U.S.-backed opposition parties organizing these protests.
Many in the First World, including First World leftists, consider the PSUV to be the cause of Venezuela’s woes. Media outlets consider the decision to ban some parties as a way to consolidate Maduro’s power and continue his so-called “authoritarian regime.” But recent and previous election results continue to prove that more Venezuelans stand with Maduro and the PSUV rather than the right-wing opposition.
While the move to ban these parties receives backlash from the First World, for Third World socialists, this is a step forward. From the perspective of the PSUV, opposition parties have continuously made attempts to destabilize the government and harm the people of Venezuela.
Their violence has hindered the development of the Bolivarian Revolution and has worsened the economic situation of the nation. Yet, the PSUV in Venezuela still allows some opposition parties to continue participating in political processes despite their harmful actions.
Petty bourgeois segments of the population aligned with the opposition continue to exploit the unstable Venezuelan economy and paramilitaries funded by the opposition are still attacking those associated with the socialists. The PSUV allows the opposition to participate because it seeks to adhere to Western democratic values, but so far as the opposition continues to support policies that harm the Venezuelan people, this adherence to Western values is negligent and harming the masses.
Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin explained how the transition from capitalism to socialism requires “the suppression of the exploiting minority by the exploited majority.” He further detailed in “State and Revolution” how capitalist democracy is “a democracy only for the rich.”
The bourgeoisie exclude the exploited from the democratic process, but socialists seek to undo this by giving democracy back to the exploited masses. Lenin claimed that in this process, the bourgeoisie will fiercely oppose the transition — thus, suppression is the only way to ensure that the revolution succeeds. And this claim is one made not from a purely theoretical perspective, but one based on Lenin’s experience in revolution.
Following the writing of “State and Revolution,” Russia was launched into a civil war between the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and reactionary bourgeois parties such as the Whites, who wanted to stop the revolution at its capitalist stage. These notions are well understood among Latin American revolutionaries.
In Cuba, the Communist Party banned all bourgeois parties in the country’s 1976 Constitution. Fidel Castro demanded that sectors of the populace with petty bourgeois or bourgeois interests adhere to the revolutionary socialist line or leave the country. The Communist Party was quick to suppress bourgeois elements of society, as they understood the potential dangers of counter-revolutionaries and reactionary groups. Parallels are seen today in Venezuela, though not nearly to the same extent as seen in Cuba.
The PSUV has given opposition parties a chance to partake in the country’s political process, but they continue to rebuke this offer. Instead, they seek to retain neoliberal policies aiding imperialist countries like the United States. The time has come to suppress bourgeois elements within Venezuela that continue to place a strain not only on the government, but on the people of the country as a whole.
However, it is important to remember that the PSUV has not completely banned the opposition from the political process. Whether they have the popularity and ability to do so is still up for debate. But there is no doubt that removing the troublesome parties that refuse to partake anyway is a step forward for the Bolivarian Revolution.