Venezuela's Transition to Illiberalism, Vol. 1: Hugo Chávez and 21st Century Socialism


The first volume of Venezuela's Transition to Illiberalism focuses on the second term of Hugo Chávez. By tracing its projects of governance in multiple domains, as well as the conflicts they produced, I will show how his government addressed real issues of inequality and genuinely improved people’s lives, at the same time that it contained the historic flaws of Leninist projects, generating centripetal forces that made these projects atrophy. To do this I develop what I call “full conflict theory” using the work of neo-Weberian sociologist Michael Mann. I analyze Venezuela’s turn to socialism in terms of constellations of power networks based on the four sources of social power Mann outlines: ideological, economic, political, and military. Using this framework I analyze multiple domains of governance including the economy, electoral politics, participatory policy, citizen security, and foreign relations.