This is not easy given that Marxism, if it is to be a living and revolutionary method, must be
concrete. Concrete conditions must determine the approach taken to analysing and changing
reality. This is the essence of “praxis.” Guevara’s contribution in Cuba was decisive and impressive
precisely because of his capacity to devise practical policies, which were appropriate to Cuba’s
concrete conditions and operated within a Marxist theoretical framework. For Guevara, the
problem of socialist transition was how to achieve economic development with equity from a position
of underdevelopment without relying on capitalist methods that would undermine the collective
consciousness and the new social relations necessary for socialism and later communism.5
This article does not claim to present a solution to the problem of building “socialism of the
21st century,” nor to present an economic history of Venezuela or predict its future. The purpose is
to discuss the issues that were encountered through my work with the VMCE—just one state
institution among many. It is not claimed that that experience was representative; it was influenced
by the focus and political and ideological commitments of the compan˜eros (as socialists and communists)
of the VMCE. It is important to recognise that within the government, and the governing
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV), there are
significant conflicts and contradictions representing different political agendas and interests.
Nonetheless, given the strategic importance of the CES in the endeavour to introduce socialist
forms of production to Venezuela, there are lessons and implications that merit careful analysis.
Clearly, as my invitation confirms, Venezuelan government teams are interested in, and influenced
by, the experience of socialist transition in Cuba and Guevara’s revolutionary Marxism, so it is
important to understand what this implies for the process.6
She went to Venezuela to teach them how Guevara had aided Cuba’s development.
No, really. And she’s at the LSE….