August 17, 2007
John Pilger on Hugo Chavez
John Pilger in today's Guardian:
Even the description of him as a "radical socialist", usually in the pejorative, wilfully ignores the fact that he is a nationalist and social democrat, a label many in Britain's Labour party were once proud to wear.
The Telegraph today, reporting a Chavez speech:
"We have broken the chains of the old, exploitative capitalist system," said Mr Chavez. "The state now has the obligation to build the model of a socialist economy."
Social democracy is socialism now, is it John?
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"Social democracy is socialism now, is it John?"
Well, yes: it always was.
While we are at it, do you think Pilger does even the *faintest* doubletake at the combination of Nationalist and Socialist?
Posted by: Cleanthes | Aug 17, 2007 10:43:15 AM
I wonder where the democrat bit is in Chavez's policies. But then Pilger has a track record of supporting some of the worst tyrants in the world, as long as they proclaim themselves to be on the left and anti-American.
Posted by: Helen | Aug 17, 2007 11:13:07 AM
Chavez's overwhelming victories in free and fair elections might win him *some* 'democratic' credentials.
(incidentally, I'm not a fan of Chavez, or any other leader who creates a personality cult - but ordinary Venezualans clearly are.)
Posted by: john b | Aug 17, 2007 2:50:19 PM
I read that Chavez is pronouncing himself President for life, democratic or what? He will definitely go up in Pilgers estimation, probably be the first to congratulate him.
Posted by: Derek Buxton | Aug 17, 2007 3:55:57 PM
The definition of a democrat, for a leader, is not being elected to power. It's stepping willingly aside when the electorate votes against you.
To my mind Chavez is getting ever closer to becoming a reincarnation of Mussolini.
Posted by: Recusant | Aug 17, 2007 4:19:08 PM
That Chavez has read the textbook on "How to be a totalitarian dictator" and is following it to the letter. In today's FT it said that he was going to bulldoze some private housing and relocate people to new "socialist cities" instead.
Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Aug 17, 2007 4:36:00 PM
Does that make Castro a social democrat too, since Chavez says he is following in his footsteps?
Posted by: Chris Palmer | Aug 17, 2007 6:08:42 PM
My leftie mates liked Chavez (because of the predictable thumbing his nose to America). From a purely personal level, the one good thing about his creeping dictatorship will be the moment I can say, "I told you so."
Posted by: Philip Thomas | Aug 17, 2007 8:58:49 PM
How many times have those of us not enamoured of socialism been able to say "I told you so" when our predictions come true? And what bloody good has it done? The buggers never seem to learn.
Peacable chap that I like to consider myself, I am beginning to wonder if education through extreme pain is not the only solution.
Posted by: The Remittance Man | Aug 19, 2007 12:58:56 PM
"I read that Chavez is pronouncing himself President for life, democratic or what? He will definitely go up in Pilgers estimation, probably be the first to congratulate him."
Chavez is proposing no limits on the number of presidential terms. This is no different than Canada and the UK. Secondly, Chavez's proposals must be passed by a popular referendum (a requirement thanks to the constitution his party created). So the final decision is in the hands of the people, not Chavez, and this is due to the new Constitution which empowered the people.
I don't see how that is undemocratic.
@Recusant: "The definition of a democrat, for a leader, is not being elected to power. It's stepping willingly aside when the electorate votes against you.
To my mind Chavez is getting ever closer to becoming a reincarnation of Mussolini."
When has Chavez been voted against? What makes Chavez a reincarnation of Mussolini? He has always won convincingly all elections he was involved in.
I think you idiots need to read more before making comments about issues you're all clearly ignorant about.
Posted by: Tim | Sep 2, 2007 6:43:39 PM
I'd like to add that even if the people pass Chavez's proposals. This does not mean Chavez will be president for life like Derek suggests. Chavez would still need to be re-elected. You people by into the media spin much too easily. Read up on the new Venezuelan constitution which was created by the Chavez party and tell me what's undemocratic about it. In fact, the recall elections utilized by the same party that tried to get rid of him in a violent coup d'etat was legal BECAUSE of the constitution. That's right. Chavez put in the constitution that any elected president can be recalled. This is more democratic that the United States where the current president has an incredibly low approval rating yet remains in power. If this was Venezuela, there would be a recall vote and Bush would be out.
Posted by: Tim | Sep 2, 2007 6:51:23 PM
One last comment. This constitution I speak of is the one that Chavez's party proposed in 1999 after Chavez was elected. Proposed is the key word here. They did not force it on the people, they let the people vote "yes" or "no" on whether they accept the new constitution. This is a first in Venezuelan history. This is why they say the Venezuelan constitution is the people's constitution, because it was voted in by the people.
Not even the US can say this about their constitution. But I guess because Chavez is against US imperialism in Latin America that makes him a dictator. *rolls eyes*
Posted by: Tim | Sep 2, 2007 6:58:07 PM
@Tim: Nothing that he is doing is undemocratic but democracy is not enough. All successful prosperous states are more than just democratic. They also have private property, rule of law, limited governments. Chavez is trying to make his government unlimited. He wants government to have power and control over everything. This is basically totalitarianism. You think democracy is adequate protection against totalitarianism. I don't think so.
Posted by: assman | Sep 5, 2007 9:09:24 AM