Conflict and Political Change in Venezuela

Conflict and Political Change in Venezuela

Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 303
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    Conflict and Political Change in Venezuela
    Book Description:

    Venezuela has had a long and bloody history of military dictatorships. Yet, since 1958, it has developed one of the few effective, competitive democracies in Latin America. To explain this transformation Daniel H. Levine analyzes the development of modern mass-based political parties with pervasive organizations and commanding strong loyalties; the changing structure and content of social and political conflict; and the gradual emergence of common norms governing political behavior.

    This book does not pretend to be a general survey of Venezuelan politics. Rather, it is an attempt to understand, for both theoretical and practical purposes, the development of shared "rules of the game" for political action in a heterogeneous society. Once these norms are accepted by key elites, and then imposed on recalcitrant oppositions, they provide a means of controlling and managing political conflict without eliminating it.

    Mr. Levine's conclusions are based primarily on case studies of specific political conflicts. His study of conflicts over educational reform uncovers the conditions in which a traditional sector of society-Catholic groups and institutions-moved from violent, total opposition to the political system to a position of accommodation. In the second case study he examines the role of students in politics, with special reference to the integration of students in national patterns of conflict and opposition.

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7004-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Problem
    (pp. 3-13)

    Venezuela presents a continuing paradox to the political scientist. With only three years of civilian rule in the first half of this century, it has built since 1958 one of the few effective, competitive, democratic political orders in Latin America. Hidden with conflict, civil violence, and systematic guerrilla warfare since the early 1960’s, it has nevertheless managed three peaceful transfers of power in recent years (1958, 1963, and 1968). These were the first consecutive transfers of power through mass popular elections in the nation’s modern history, and the 1968 elections marked the first time power had ever been handed over...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Setting
    (pp. 14-26)

    Modern political life began for Venezuela in 1936. The forces unleashed, the organizations created, and the positions assumed in that year set the pattern for subsequent political change and conflict. The relative youth of most social and political organizations means that the past is present in many aspects of contemporary life—the issues that define its conflicts, the organizations that guide them, and the institutions that contain and channel them are all of recent vintage.

    The contemporaneity of the past in Venezuela thus obliges us to analyze the origins and evolution of the structural setting which defines the situation for...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Party System: Conflict, Conciliation, and Exclusion
    (pp. 27-61)

    Throughout the López Contreras period, the Communists and the PDN operated underground, concentrating on the formation of leadership cadres and the elaboration of programs for future action. There was no real change in the effective structure or distribution of power during the period López Contreras was in office, and the organizational base slowly being created by the clandestine groups found no expression in political power.

    Toward the end of his regime, however, López Contreras grew more lenient, and the PDN was allowed to participate de facto in the presidential elections held in April 1941. Its candidate was Romulo Gallegos, the...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Catholics and Seculars: Toward Polarization
    (pp. 62-93)

    The Revolution of October 18, 1945 unnerved many groups in Venezuela, but few saw their interests so immediately and gravely endangered as the Catholic Church did. The threat perceived by the Church, which provided a motive force for conflict throughout thetrienio,lay in the educational policies of the new regime. This chapter will describe and explain the conflict over educational reform that dominated Catholic-secular relations in this period.

    The conflict was one of traditional defense. A weakly organized traditional institution (the Church), faced with the new political forces and criteria of power embodied in the revolutionary government, responded with...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Catholics and Seculars: Toward the Isolation of Conflict
    (pp. 94-144)

    The experiences of thetrieniohave weighed heavily on the Church and the political parties since the restoration of democracy in 1958. The memory of old conflicts and their role in undermining thetrienioregime led the parties to explore avenues of accommodation with the Church, sidestepping, if possible, the sensitive subject of educational reform. A prominent educator, also a high-ranking member of AD, summed up the impact of past experience this way: I believe that the entire experience, any experience of such importance, creates an impact on the forces acting in it. If someone going along a path stumbles...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Students and Conflict
    (pp. 145-176)

    Contemporary Venezuelan students are heirs to a deeply felt tradition of political involvement and struggle. Before the emergence of modern political parties, student organizations often stood alone against dictatorship, repression, and political terror. The tradition of student political action has been modified by recent history, for as political parties developed and organized broadly based mass support, independent student power and hence the possibility of an autonomous role for student organizations, simply disappeared. Students became firmly tied, in ideological and organizational terms, to party organizations.

    This is to be expected. For autonomous student power reflects organizational weakness in the rest of...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Students and Conflict: The Role of Political Parties
    (pp. 177-208)

    A useful way to grasp the full meaning of party-student linkages in Venezuela is to take a close look at the place provided for students within regular party organizations. Through an examination of these structural ties, this chapter will describe the organizational bases for the fusion of student and national politics. The impact of these ties on the structure and scope of conflict, and the pattern of change beginning in the mid-1960’s, will be explored through the study of several key issues. The organization of youth in general, and students in particular, is of concern to every party. Students are...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Conflict, Organization, and Change
    (pp. 209-230)

    The preceding chapters have looked at a complex set at experiences. At this point, it may be useful to move toward synthesis, bringing a more general and unifying perspective to the analysis of Venezuelan political processes. One way to approach this integrating task is through examination of the alternative political models presented to Venezuelans in this century. These have been four in number: a Gómeztype regime, a military-technocracy, a revolutionary system, and the democratic-reform model embodied in the present party system. These alternatives may be compared on four dimensions: basic criteria of power, fundamental organizational vehicles for control and mobilization,...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Conflict and Consensus: Operative Norms
    (pp. 231-254)

    A major theme of this book is that elite norms have changed profoundly since the introduction and consolidation of the party system in Venezuela, above all after 1958. Part of this change lies, of course, in the altered composition of the political elite.¹ But more is at stake than this, for perspectives on conflict and opposition, and the fundamental norms that guide party elites have also changed. This chapter will describe and explain the system of shared norms developed in Venezuela which has permitted social and political conflict to be carried out on a regular basis without institutional breakdown. These...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Conclusions: The Future of Conflict
    (pp. 255-260)

    In drawing conclusions about Venezuela’s political system, it is wise to consider the future not as a path determined once and forever after by forces beyond human control, but rather as a set of alternatives. Building alternative futures into analysis provides a healthy antidote to determinisms of any kind (racial, economic, or cultural) for it forces us to consider the role and capacity of leadership in moving systems on their way, simultaneously designing and implementing the future.

    In studying the Venezuelan experience, a number of basic questions have been raised for the theory and strategy of political change. In theoretical...

    (pp. 261-266)
    (pp. 267-278)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 279-285)