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Friday, January 26, 2007

Venezuela's democratic revolution

Here's a wonderful piece in today's Guardian by Calvin Tucker on the democratisation of Venezuela which is currently taking place. Adolf Hitler once claimed that if you have democracy, sooner or later, you'll get socialism (which is why he opposed it). For once, he was right. Conversely, if you introduce socialism, you'll also get democracy, because it restores political power away from the wallet and back to the ballot box.
But democracy means far more than asking the electorate to cast their votes every four of five years. It means active participation of the entire populace in the decision-making process.
Chavez' introduction of a more consultative democracy- described in Tucker's piece, is a model which has also been adopted by Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
Venezuela and Belarus are at the forefront of the new democratic offensive, which empowers people at the expense of global capital and wealthy elites. Why is why of course, Henry Ford democrats have done so much to demonise the leadership of both countries.


Anonymous said...

Hi Neil, Right on. There's a good blog by an American guy living in Venezuela writing about Chavez's revolution here:

Also, I wondered what you thought about Nick Cohen's piece about the Left in The Observer last Sunday? I wrote what I thought of it here:

Anonymous said...

Anti-Americanism is the socialism of fools

I don’t think Chavez should be taken very seriously because his body language and rhetorics indicate that he is not a man of reason. What, I think, makes him so popular among people who seek for alternative policies in a supposedly neo-liberal environment is his communicative charisma to hit the headlines every now and then.

Chaves brings to my Greek mind another controversial politician who bore lots of similar characteristics with him, my compatriot Andreas Papandreou. Papandreou had been a very popular and charismatic personality in the political history of Greece who played a significant role in the reinforcement of democracy after the collapse of the military junta in 1974. His socialist agenda inspired great hopes and expectations to the unprivileged section of the Greek population, that is, all those people who felt marginalized by the past corrupt and anti-communist right-wing governments as well as the military junta. His popularity in the 70’s grew so big that within seven years time –from 1974 to 1981- he managed to become Prime Minister. In his first two terms (1981-1989) he brought in some important socialist reforms, created the Greek NHS, modernized various aspects of the then extremely conservative greek social life and as many of his followers would say (I’m too young to remember) “he filled people’s pockets with money”.

Papandreou managed to become popular by being populist in a cold war environment, thus creating more problems for the future generations than those he solved. His opponents argue that he was an opportunist, demagogue, arriviste and adventurist politician. A recent documentary in History Channel even suggested that he was such persuasive a personality that he could sell ice to the Eskimos.

What I perceive as the biggest flaws in his time in office is that with his charms he instilled in Greek society an insular mentality and a hostile attitude towards profit making (of others, not theirs) and free market economy.

Greeks have been nurturing very negative sentiments against the western world and especially the USA in the last few decades. Statistics indicate that Greeks are the most anti- American people in the world, even more than Middle Eastern countries and the Serbs, who I suppose they have more obvious reasons to be anti-american. Popular belief or myth wants Greece to be alone in a hostile world where everybody envies us and wants to harm us. You’d be surprised by how much prone to conspiracy theories the Greeks are… This is paradox and sad at the same time because Greece has profited a lot from the western world.

This mentality unfortunately along with the pro-state attitude of Greeks has negative repercussions in the Greek economy, since it rendered Greece an unfriendly environment for foreign investment. The state is cumbersome, taxation high and bureaucracy more tiresome than ever. And yet the Greeks still oppose to any kind of reforms designed to minimize the intervention of the state in the economy. They still have a love-hate relationship with the state, they expect too much from it but they don’t want to give anything back to it. They perceive the profit making of the companies as immoral whereas public money appropriation, corruption and tax evasion are the most common practice in our society.

Sometimes socialism goes hand to hand with corruption…

I’m afraid my English is not that good so I can make myself 100% clear but I hope that I have managed to express my concerns about leaders who “sell” big ideas quite comprehensively.

By the way, despite all those negative things that i might have said about the late Mr Papandreou, i still vote for his socialist party which is now run by andreas papandreou son, Giorgos.

Don't dear to say that we are a country that favours nepotism 'cause i'm gonna do some serious harm...

Oops, i forgot to tell that Andreas' father was a prime minister too!

I’m sorry if I said too much

ogbasel said...

Hi Neil,
Please spare 2 minutes and watch this video. It shows how Lukashenko deals with those who dare to challenge the legitimacy and fairness of the elections held last year.

Is this the 'new democracy' you are talking about? The one where power is taken from the wallet to the people? And where demonstrators are beaten down by the police because they commit the crime of protesting peacefully?

You dream of a society were the freedoms that you enjoy, e.g. the very freedom of speech that enables you to keep this blog, are denied to citizens, and where critics of the 'democratically elected' government are beaten down by the police. That you support such a regime is beyond belief.

I thought that Stalinists had died out long ago. Reading your blog showed me I was wrong.