My companero and fellow CAJA member Che Bob got ahold of Noam Chomsky to interject in a little discussion we were having over on Che's interesting blog Lonestonerevolutionary. I am the "fellow activist and WFP alum" mentioned below...
CheBob: "Is there a theoretical flaw in Marxism that necessarily leads to the centralization, even authoritarian, concentration of power? Wasnt this what Bakunin predicted? A fellow activist and WfP Venezuela alum asked me: Can authority be eliminated? Should it? I believe, naively perhaps that it both can and should be."
Noam Chomsky: "What's called "Marxism" in the West, and in most of the world, is actually Leninism, a right-wing authoritarian deviation from Marxism that was sharply condemned by many of the most important Marxist thinkers and activists -- those who Lenin denounced as "ultra-leftists." In reality, Lenin and Trotsky carried out a major attack on socialism, at once. The brutal state they created is called "socialism" by the West in order to defame socialism, and they appropriated the term so as to benefit from the association with the authentic socialism that they instantly destroyed. The later movements that called themselves "Marxist" or "socialist" were, for the most part, Leninist, therefore anti-socialist in essence. Chavez might turn out to be an exception, and one should certainly support tendencies that move in that direction. But without illusions.
No one knows to what extent illegitimate authority can be eliminated. Much of it has been dismantled in the past, and it is always a task for the future."
It is certainly true that Trotsky and Lenin tended to conflate the interests of the CPSU with those of the working class in general leading to over-Bolshevikianisation. (my own word!) This party fetish is something the Bolivarian Revolution should avoid but I don't accept an automatic leap from Chavez's calls for a new ,united ,socialist party to a repeat of 1920s Russia. Trotsky was wrong to have favored the forced collectivization of the peasants and wrong to favor bans on factions and extra-party political activity. It allowed a reactionary bureacracy to form with divergent class factions which the workers were then unable to organize against. There are no such bans in Venezuela, quite the contrary, a lively opposition exists, a great deal of political and ideological diversity exists and a strong ,grassroots libertarian streak is vigilant in guarding against coercion and repressive measures.
It is also true , in Trotskys defense, that there is not an invasion and civil war to deal with (as there was in post-revolution Russia, attacked by the US, Britian, Turkey and other Imperialist members of the White Army) and Venezuela has not been recently savaged by the effects of a world war, as was Russia in 1917. From where we live, discerning a revolutionary peoples movement from a revolutionary state can be difficult. The internationalist Left must remain vigilant ( no illusions). But there are plenty of real forces attacking from the Right, hoping to sow seeds of doubt, hoping to divide and conquer. We should have no illusions about them either.
The questions of "theoretical flaws" and "eliminating authority" are crucial and definately need to be adressed at length. ( I hear groans from the theoretically exhausted gallery)