The question is what will happen if the government that sponsored certain types of organizations loses its majoritarian appeal—if the governing party ceases to be the governing party and loses its access to the resources of the state. The profound changes that took place in the organization of civil society and the state are the result of political mobilization and a series of success moments that challenged the fledgling social-democratic-cum-neoliberal conventional wisdom of the s and s.
But what accounts for the success in making changes, not necessarily that the outcomes were positive of these movements?
This is an important debate for political and scholarly reasons. Correcting this bias is clearly important for establishing the legitimacy of Chavista positions, but understanding the political thinking of supporters is important for scholarly reasons as well. He examines a long process of political rebellion in La Piedrita, a particularly politically activist neighborhood in Caracas.
At the same time, he rejects a purely bottom-up reading in which the people are the only salient actors.
He writes 3 ,. When the official protested, explaining that he was merely there to scope out a possible escape route for the president in the event of a repeat of the coup, the response from La Piedrita was unambiguous: He immediately prompted a referendum to rewrite and replace the constitution. This position helped the organization secure institutionalization, and along with it came national recognition and legitimacy.
But there is more.
It has been utilized by many local actors who have renamed days, streets, or highways posthumously after indigenous leaders or symbols. More important, it has been used by presidents. Perhaps for him it is not that the people have no power but that their power has more often prevailed in the electoral context. Before this, there were many actions of disparate groups but not a movement.
The Bolivarian period constitutes an important time of political experimentation see Hellinger and Spanakos in this issue , an experiment that has consistently appeared precarious Spanakos, , though current conditions are particularly troubling. As these conditions have changed, the institutional context for containing and responding to political conflict has become more polarized and intense.
What will happen when a majoritarian movement suffers an extended period in which it no longer has majoritarian support? Few are claiming that they created Maduro. Or will current efforts to empower popular assemblies and establish a communal state make a return to an opposition-led government impossible or impotent? The books reviewed here give us insight into some of the tensions present when a democratizing movement does not distinguish clearly between state, government, and civil society and the extent to which popular actors might be agents for change.
These are questions that are central to the current political crisis in a Venezuela that provides no easy answers. Anthony Petros Spanakos is an associate professor of political science and law at Montclair State University. Skip to main content. Latin American Perspectives, Inc.
Popular Politics in Bolivarian Venezuela. Vol 44, Issue 1, pp.
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