This September’s Socialist Review features a review of Hugo Chavez presents Simon Bolivar: The Bolivarian Revolution:
Today the government and movement led by Hugo Chavez has taken up the mantle with the self proclaimed Bolivarian revolution looking to Bolivar as its historical figurehead; claiming to continue and complete the ideas set out by Simon Bolivar in the 19th century. Despite being a figurehead in the wave of popular struggles sweeping the continent, what Bolivar stood for is less well known, especially outside Latin America. This collection of Bolivar’s writings, in the Revolutions series by Verso, aims to fill in some of that knowledge.
Not only was Bolivar a thinker who grappled with political philosophy stretching from antiquity to that of European republicanism, he was also a military leader who led his forces to victory against Spain and its allies. This rightly places him as a figure of inspiration in Latin America, as the continent finds itself in another struggle against US imperialism; a US imperialism which is also the legacy of Bolivar and his contemporaries’ failure to create a united and independent Latin America.
This collection of texts shows a political leader that wanted to fight against the brutality, corruption and nepotism of the colonial world which favoured hereditary privilege over ability. He espoused many progressive policies from the emancipation of the slaves (initially on the condition that they would fight in his army) to an understanding that equality and justice are the basis of a political programme. He also stressed the importance of education and was well aware of the brutality and discrimination against the indigenous inhabitants.
What we are seeing in Latin America today, from Venezuela to Bolivia, is a wave of popular liberation struggles that aim to take political power from the traditional elite and put it into the hands of the people themselves. This movement needs to have confidence that it is the people themselves who have the power to reshape the world.
Read the full review here.