Hugo Your Way And I'll Go Mine


You didn't take it seriously when I suggested Hugo Chavez's big, goofy socialism wasn't turning him into the all-powerful bogeyman pundits thought, did you? Well, what if a Fulbright scholar says so? Take it, Dorothy J. Kronick.

Even as some Venezuelans balk at Chávez's anti-Americanism, though, others buy it, and the percentage of Venezuelans who have a positive view of the United States has declined in recent years. Still, Luis Christiansen, director of the public opinion firm Consultores 21, suggests that this adoption of Chávez's view of the world is fragile. "When you think of socialism, you think of something different from what the average Venezuelan thinks of," he says in an e-mail. "Since this is not a debate of ideas but rather a very basic debate (under what system can I live better in the short term?), Chávez has been able to define capitalism as egoism and socialism as solidarity. It's likely that there are more Venezuelans that would say they prefer socialism than that would say they prefer capitalism, but not as a result of ideological reflection, rather as a result of Chávez's analytic reduction."

Not that Chavez's opponent Manuel Rosales is actually going to win. Yes, we've seen the pictures of his monster "avalanchas." The 2004 recall rallies were pretty big, too.

To be sure, Chávez is likely to win Sunday's election; his generous social spending, mesmerizing charisma, and empowering rhetoric appear unbeatable for now. But, despite commentators' fatalistic predictions, this is not a sign that all of Latin America has tumbled into an anti-American ambit. Felipe Calderón won Mexico's presidential election after linking his opponent with Chávez, and Ecuadorian President-elect Rafael Correa moderated his anti-business stance after falling behind in polls. And, in Venezuela, Rosales's strong performance suggests that his compatriots may share the views not of Chávez, but of his hero, Simón Bolívar, who, while warning against blind imitation, still admitted that the United States was often "an example too seductive not to be followed."

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  1. To be sure, Ch?vez is likely to win Sunday’s election; his generous social spending, mesmerizing charisma, and empowering rhetoric appear unbeatable for now.

    I suspect that what truly makes him unbeatable is his control of the police and the election machinery.

  2. R C, I suspect that it also has a lot to do with the fact that the majority of the voters want the free stuff he’s offering. Politicians with goodies will always have an advantage.

    And they believe he can deliver it.

  3. Y’know, it really doesn’t matter which slimy bastard wins down there. They can’t afford to stop selling the oil, and there is absolutely nothing else there of interest to us. Personally, I think Chavez is very entertaining–he’s nailed the Peronist egomaniac role perfectly. He just needs a more garish military uniform and a blonde wife to complete the role.

  4. I hate it when these jerks start using revisionist history to get history figures who died before socialism was invented on their side. It really pissed me off when they started celebrating Eloy Alfaro’s birthday in Cuba. Eloy Alfaro was a liberal capitalist.

  5. Oh, my comment was caused by the mention of Simon Bolivar in the post and Chavez continuous proclamations about his “Bolivarian” revolution.

  6. I agree with ChrisO. If the Venezualians want to turn their country into some socialist shithole, let them wallow in their own shit. I really don’t care. The only thing I care about is that Chavez is so chummy with the Iranians. But, the people down there’s continued willingness to elect him just means that I will have no sympathy for them if the U.S. ever stomps the place into a greezy spot. That of course is exactly what will happen if there is another 9-11 in the U.S. and it turns out the terrorists got support and transit into the U.S. through Venezuala.

  7. You didn’t take it seriously when I suggested Hugo Chavez’s big, goofy socialism wasn’t turning him into the all-powerful bogeyman pundits thought, did you?

    True, but a bit of a straw man. Any flavor of aggressive socialism can cause quite a lot of death and pain without becoming “all powerful,” the USSR and German National Socialism being the prime examples.

  8. Chavez has given international socialists a new hero. Venezuela’s oil wealth enables Chavez to implement the type of wealth sharing programs socialists dream about, but aren’t able to put into practice in countries like Cuba or North Korea.

    Bush’s war in Iraq has driven up oil prices and made Chavez even more powerful.

    The Cato Institute website ( has an article by a Venezuelan on corruption in Venezuela made possible by state control of oil revenue. Worth looking at.

  9. And of course Jimmy Carter will be there to rubber stamp every bit of it.

    Nevermind that Chavez has refused to allow his opponent’s plane to fly (due to a lack of “forest survival equipment”), that he blocked all the roads into Caracas before Rosales’ last avalancha, and that the electoral commission (as mentioned above) reports to him rather than being an independent body (or, better yet, a diffuse localized system of bodies).

    Glad to see Weigel’s doing his part to help Chavez steal the election. There, there Hit & Run readers – don’t be too optimistic, and don’t believe the charges of fraud when he “wins.” Venezuelans just can’t see the value of liberal ideals, and they don’t give a shit that Chavez is using the recall petition to force people out of jobs, decreasing oil production while oil’s high on its value range, and that corruption is rampant.

    Free and fair..right..

  10. methodman- what are your sources? We have a local idiot editorial writer who heaps praise on Chavez. I would like to have some ammo for a letter to the editor.

  11. “Glad to see Weigel’s doing his part to help Chavez steal the election.”

    i know we live in manichean reductionist universe #4 and all, but c’mon. are you really this vacant?

  12. John: you really do have the most interesting fantasies. The 9/11 terrorists, as I recall, “transited” through Germany because a lot of Middle Eastern flights change planes there. They also “transited” through US customs without too much trouble. Why in the name of God would they stop over in Venezuela, which isn’t a hub to anywhere? Why would they have to?

    What “support” could the Venezuelans possibly offer to guys who showed up in the US with a wad of cash and a crazy dream? The terrorists don’t need state funding: the 7/7 bombers financed their thing by running local credit-card scams.

    But in your imaginary world, every critic of the US, foreign and domestic, is in league with “Them.” Chavez is just some guy who uses resentment of a rich neighbor for domestic political gain. So did the Canadians in their recent election, albeit much more subtly. I know, I know…you’ve got your eye on those shifty-eyed bastards, too.

  13. Juan Arteaga

    The article you linked to said he died in the early 20th century. Not exactly “before socialism was invented.

    Besides that, I think you probably have a good point.

  14. > The article you linked to said he died in
    > the early 20th century. Not exactly “before
    > socialism was invented.

    But Simon Bolivar was, unless I am more mistaken than I think I am.

  15. Simon Bolivar, 1783-1830
    Eloy Alfaro Delgado, 1842-1912

    Early Socialism,

    Utopian Socialists
    Count Claude Henry de Saint-Simon (1760-1825)
    Charles Fourier (1772-1837) – phalansteres (cf. Kibbutzim in Israel]
    Louis Blanc (1811-1882)
    Pierre Joseph Proudhon

    Early English Socialism
    Robert Owen (1771-1858) – New Lanark
    The Grand National Consolidated Trade Union

    Socialist Philosophy – Marx and Others
    Karl Marx(1818-1883)
    Fredrich Engels(1820-1895)
    The Communist Manifesto 1848
    Das Kapital 1867

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