Amílcar Figueroa: Capitalism today is not permissive even with the reformists

Amílcar Figueroa directs Editorial Trinchera. Photo: Raúl Cazal

Amilcar Figueroa created the Trinchera publishing house a decade ago, although the taste for publishing began in 1976, when Kléber Ramírez Rojas commissioned him to take care of the culmination of the book After the tunnel, by Diego Salazar Luongo. This had been printed in the Sorocaima printing house, owned by Luben Petkoff, but a commercial job caused the book on the San Carlos flight to stall and they ended up transferring the sheets to Agustín Catalá's workshop, where he got involved with the staff in the binding and he got the worm for editorial production.

Born in El Pilar, Sucre, his childhood and adolescence passed between Río Caribe and Carúpano, where he was a member of the Communist Youth of Venezuela. In 1972 he arrived in Caracas and the Party of the Revolution of Venezuela (PRV) sent him to Mérida. A good part of his political life, which in essence is his life, “has had to be in silence” involved, first, with the creation of the Abrebrecha publishing house (1989-1993) and then the Los Heraldos Negros Editorial (1994-2000) , who remembers them as "economic stumbling blocks", which together with the Hugo Chávez gale, gave him an experience and stubbornness, that with the new times and difficulties of the present economic reality, without departing from the printed book, the Trinchera publishing house begins to venture with the digital book.

"From Gap Opener to Trench, what has changed?"

—If something has worried me for a long time, it is the need for theoretical knowledge to push the revolution. Although there are people who underestimate the role of theory, I am persuaded that, if a large group of the population does not appropriate the revolutionary theory and does not have political and theoretical tools to understand the historical and transformation processes, the process will be able to advance with the speed that situations sometimes demand. At a time of many difficulties like the present, it is valid to adjust to the issue of correlations of forces, but as long as the strategic horizon is well in mind. That does not mean that what you do, which is a little thing, is going to solve that problem.

"Is that your" little "contribution?

—In other moments I have had a practical militancy, but at this moment I fundamentally consider that it is a small contribution to the elevation, on the one hand, of the cultural level, and on the other, to the consolidation of the revolutionary project, insofar as I see it intimately related to the problem of ideas.

- Does the process of ideas that converge in Trinchera have any correlation with the current process of the Bolivarian Revolution?

—You cannot make cuts of the processes, such as photographic cuts. The historical process is much more complex. The processes do not develop in straight, ascending lines, but rather have their peaks, of revolutionary momentum, what Chávez called “revolutionary frenzy”, and there are times when people's enthusiasm for the very complexity of things goes down a bit. . In that first revolutionary boom, the increase in reading is impressive, as is the increase in bibliographic production. Later we have been victims of an internal and international counteroffensive that is easier to detect in economic terms than in cultural terms.

The imperial culture. Figueroa has a degree in History (Central University of Venezuela, 1985) and more than five decades later, at the Military University of Venezuela, he obtained a specialization in Military History of Venezuela. He speaks slowly, low in tone and with a smile on his lips. As a historian and politician, he has expressed his vision of the most recent event in the books The Bolivarian Revolution: New Challenges of a Heroic Creation (2007), Reform or Revolution in Venezuela (2009) and Chávez: the permanent creative search (2013). However, the issue of the culture battle is his current concern.

"How was the cultural counteroffensive?"

"Through the coin." The process of dollarization of society has to do with the management of the ideological fetish that has been injected into the population, which runs hand in hand with individualism, with the "for himself who can", went deep and hit rock bottom some time ago. If we join forces we can have a theoretical and political recovery of the process.
—However, the dollar has allowed the circulation of “exchange value”.

—Everything comes together and we have to see it as a totality. It was thought that the imperialist aggression was going to manifest itself in a military aggression and it was much more complex. It is not that there were no military pressures, that there were, that is why I insist that it is very important to have a strategic horizon. If we participate in a process simply and simply to become the government or if what encourages us is the overcoming of bourgeois society, which is the most long-term objective, and if we understand that capitalism in its stage of senescence, what It is going to bring much more aggression against nature, against the salaried worker as a depreciation of wages, against life itself, obviously, we have to consider overcoming that society. For this reason we must encourage collective searches, because capitalist society is based on the exacerbation of individualism that leads to the search for profit at any cost and in quick terms, which lead to phenomena such as corruption. This is a vice driven by a capitalist value that is rapid accumulation and individual improvement in the face of collective well-being. We have been victims of a brutal attack by imperialism, which, unlike esteemed comrades who identify imperialism only to the United States and do not see it as a phase or a moment of the capitalist system, which also has strategic goals. It is not only a matter of substituting "x" for "y" or of removing a political party, but, ultimately, they want to eradicate the content raised by the Bolivarian Revolution.

Is Venezuela applying "two steps back"?

—We are in the bicentennial year of Carabobo, which is symbolically very important for us and we have two serious problems: the Essequibo litigation, which they want to strip us, where there is great natural and mineral wealth; and the cultural positioning of imperialist values ​​in the country, which regardless of what one says and the efforts that the Government can make, is that a sector of the population looks towards the empire. It can be visualized with the migratory current that occurred, but also in the presence of the dollar as currency, which is the symbol of exchange promoted by the hegemonic center of capitalism, and which at some point was the main pattern of exchange in the world, which was left to be, but here we do not perceive it. In that sense, imperialism has gained ground that will be difficult to reverse. When Hillary Clinton was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, she was asked what she intended to do in the face of the failures of different governments in their attempts to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. She replied that she did not intend to invade militarily, but that she was going to send an invasion of dollars, that supposedly would give her better results. In the end they did it against Venezuela with internal support in the middle class that we can place between 2010 and 2015, which had a process of radicalization on the right with fascist behaviors. This segment assumed the values ​​of the American culture, a culture that has had an important presence in Venezuela as a result of the explorations of the first oil fields. When President Nicolás Maduro announced the possibility of creating a basket of currencies, I found it quite interesting because overnight we cannot have an autarky, with the aggravating factor that today's world is increasingly interconnected. Cryptocurrencies have been contemplated, but a greater decision is needed to shake us off that way of cultural political domination, which is expressed through that economic mechanism.

The decline of the system

- Is capitalism in the stage of senescence?

—The contradictions of the current world-system are quite different from those of other times. We are in a stage of senescence, which was captured quite well by the Argentine intellectual Jorge Bernstein, where he speaks of the fact that this latest crisis of capitalism differs from the previous ones, because those were cyclical, but this, on the contrary, marks the beginning of the historical decline of the system. It must be seen from a historical perspective, because the system one sees it as very robust, but it is not in the possibility of flourishing again as in other moments, but a recurrent decline begins. There are no theoretical elements to establish how long it will last, but there are very strong signs, such as what happened at the epicenter of capitalism during the recent elections and subsequent events in the American capital. The center of Western capitalism is manifesting many problems that began with the loss of economic hegemony and is reflected in the decline of its political proposal. This creates conditions to think, no longer in the abstract, as a not too distant proposal, about the real possibility of overcoming this society.

—However, there is a sector of Venezuelan society that maintains the illusion that the United States is going to save them.

- The West has not even had a coherent position in the face of phenomena such as the pandemic, which has affected humanity. If we measure it there, the most efficient responses have been in other development centers, also capitalist, but different from Western imperialism, which is destroying the world in its path.

- Why is it that progressivism prefers to support the interests of global political and communicational hegemony?

—Progressivism suffers from that strategic proposal that is the overcoming of the current civilization. In that the revolutionary position differs from the reformist, progressive one. Consider that a better way of life can be achieved within capitalist society. But this has entered into decline and to survive it needs greater exploitation of labor, to be more politically aggressive, to attempt against all the labor conquests that historically have not been given to the working class, but have been conquered by the world labor movement. As of 2009 in Europe they pushed back a good part of those conquests. In current capitalism, the hegemon is financial, not even productive, it is more violent than in the past. So far from thinking that in the medium and long term to achieve a society more favorable to the majority without overcoming the system, they prefer to make up for it. That is why progressivism has that historical limitation and the capital system not only does not accept the revolution but also does not accept the reforms. There have been reformist governments in Latin America that were attacked with the same virulence as the Bolivarian Revolution itself. Dilma Rousseff had ministers who were liberal, in fact, the economy minister became an advisor to Citibank or Agriculture who worked with Monsanto, and yet capital did not tremble to judge her and dislodge her from power. The current capitalist system cannot afford to be permissive even with the reformist sectors. Therefore, the historical possibilities of progressivism are very limited.

—If progressivism doesn't want any change, why does it bother liberals?

—Something we must review is the accumulation process in this historical stage, because it is more voracious, more speculative. The money in the world is, for the most part, the product of speculation. And that greed in the economic and financial has its translation in the political because it expresses the economic nature. That is why it is becoming less permissive, there is a kind of repositioning of tendencies that we thought were crushed in history such as fascism, racism, but that have appeared in different parts of the planet. But, it is by that very nature, of a system that has gone into decline, that refuses to die, and that of course becomes more violent to try to rebuild itself. Donald Trump is a very clear example. It does not get there by the work and grace of the Holy Spirit, but they are forces of capitalism itself that tries to find a recomposition.

Will Trump be in a position to break with bipartisanship?

–Every day the problems of American society are more evident if we take it out by the number of unemployed that began with the last great crisis (2009), which was first identified as a financial bubble but which led to a global crisis. This put about 6 million workers on the streets and is now complemented by the effects of the pandemic. The critical poverty that can be seen in the United States and the rebirth of racial hatred, with the state of decomposition of that society, it is very difficult not to touch those parties of the status quo, and they will express themselves not only in peaceful ways, but also violently.

—With this panorama, what prospects does Venezuela have?

—There has been a battle to preserve the Government against the multiple aggression of the capital system. However, for the continuity of the revolution, the revolutionary political forces have to position themselves to the left of the state, to put pressure on it, because if you don't leave the criticism to the right. If the criticism is not taken from a revolutionary perspective, it will appear the same. I think we have done serious damage to the process by leaving criticism to the right. But the social movement has to be even further to the left than the political parties. That would give an upward movement of revolution a life of its own. During these years there have been brilliant experiments in social struggle and even experiments in property. Not all communes failed, as has been the slogan of the bourgeoisie and its spokesmen, including our spokesmen who think that there is nothing to rescue from everything that was done from 2004 onwards. I think there is going to be a great theoretical-political struggle and collectivist efforts must be supported, no matter how radical that position may seem, which Chávez raised very well in the Plan for the Homeland with the different types of property that the State could Push. If it is combined with the cultural battle, the rescue of socialist thought, our historical process is studied and conceptualized, that we theorize what we have been building. In this way we will have the bases for a new revolutionary round, because the worst thing we can do is fall into pessimism and prostration.