Since 2006, Venezuela has witnessed an explosion of different forms of popular power and participatory democracy. Over 47,000 grassroots neighborhood-based communal councils and 3,000 communes have been constructed. In Communes and the Venezuelan State: The Struggle for Participatory Democracy in a Time of Crisis, Anderson Bean offers a critical analysis of these experiments in popular and workers' power and their potential for societal transformation within and beyond Venezuela. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research, Bean demonstrates how workers and peasants, through networks of popular power, exercise agency over their own development while facing challenges from the capitalist state. Most importantly, this book connects with the far-reaching implications that the communal movement in Venezuela has for building a society responsive more to the needs of ordinary people than to the desires of the elites.
Anderson Bean is teaching assistant professor of sociology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Chapter One: Communes in Theory and Practice
Chapter Two: Theorizing Participatory Democracy, Popular Power, and Counter-Hegemonic Globalization from Below
Chapter Three: Popular Power, Participatory Democracy and the Communes from Punto Fijismo to the Present
Chapter Four: Networks of Popular Power: Communes as Globalization from Below
Chapter Five: Crisis, the Decline of the Pink Tide, and the Future of the Communes
Few contemporary political phenomena are more widely misunderstood than Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution. In this book, Anderson Bean helps set the record straight, offering a crucial glimpse into Venezuela's flourishing, if besieged, experiment in grassroots democracy. A signal contribution to the expanding literature on Venezuelan politics from below.
Over the past decade, democratization globally has been waning. Anderson Bean’s gem of a book sheds hopeful light on one contemporary struggle to institutionalize democracy from the ground up, and in a place few people in North America or Western Europe would expect to find it: Venezuela. While food and medicine shortages, runaway inflation, rampant violence, political corruption, and general economic turmoil in Venezuela have grabbed the lion’s share of attention in the press, Bean’s rich ethnographic account of Venezuela’s communal councils and communes takes us deep inside one of this century’s boldest contemporary democratic experiments. His analysis of worker and peasant-driven development within the communal movement, and their alternative vision for the Bolivarian Revolution more generally, challenges the common misperception that the failed policies of the Maduro Government reflect and drive this process. This book will forever change the way you think about Venezuela and democracy.