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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Hugo Chavez Test

Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela is 55 today. Over the last decade or so, Chavez has not only radically transformed his country, adopting economic policies which benefit the majority- not the minority, but he has also played an important role in international affairs, unequivocally denouncing neo-con aggression and imperialism.
He opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq, the Israeli assaults on Lebanon and Gaza, the Georgian aggression against the people of South Ossetia and the current menacing of Iran.

Chavez also provides a fool-proof litmus test- by which we can differentiate genuine socialists and true progressives from faux-left Mike Blogger types. The latter can't stand Chavez because he pursues proper socialist economic policies (nationalisation not privatisation) and opposes the neo-con war agenda. They routinely describe Chavez as a 'populist' or a 'demagogue'.

But for the former, Chavez is a hero, one of the few world leaders who genuinely deserves the epithet 'great'.

Where do you stand on the Hugo Chavez test?


Charlie Marks said...

Chavez is a true democrat.

He came to power trying to make capitalism with a human face and his pursuit of a third way led the oligarch's to oust him in a coup - like is happening in Honduras.

It was the masses that rescued Chavez and he has served them well ever since. He realisated that economic development and the extension of democratic participation was not possible if the government serves the wealthy and ignores workers.

Far from centralising power, the Chavez govt has revolutionised local government, giving power over to the people by handing funds to neighbourhoods - including those where Chavez is opposed - to spend on improving their conditions.

In the economy, the Chavez government has promoted cooperatives and he himself has spoken of the need for greater worker participation in industry.

Obama needs to heed Chavez's shift to serving the workers. If Obama wants to sort out healthcare and the US economy, he's going to have to take on the power of the insurance companies and big businesses - and that means siding with workers in struggle and giving them vocal support.

Chris H said...

I think what Chavez has managed to do has been great. But with all movements where the figurehead is such a large personality, can the movement continue under it's own steam?

Adam said...

We really need someone like Chavez in Britain to sort things out.

Anonymous said...

Alas, I fail, as I believe Chavez is a thug who is not only wrecking a once free and prosperous country, but exporting his lunacy abroad as well to countries like Honduras.

President Obama would pass your test. He loves Chavez. That's the new Axis of Evil. Obama-Ahmadinejad-Chavez.

Neil Clark said...

adam: agreed.
douglas: tell me that you're trying to wind me up! You can't seriously mean what you wrote. Can you?
best wishes, Neil

Janos Kadar's Goulash said...

1 There is massive inflation in Venezuela because Chavez insisted on boosting spending power even when the economy was working at capacity.

2 Productivity has been slashed in certain sectors of the Venezuelan economy because the Chavez administration imposed statutory price controls.

3 When workers at Venezuela's leading oil company had the temerity to go on strike, Chavez sacked them all and replaced them with Bolivarian placemen.

4 When opponents of Chavez exercised their constitutional right to campaign for a recall referendum, they lost their jobs if they were employed in the public sector.

5 Chavez shut down the country's most popular television station and replaced it with a state-owned company which broadcasts wall-to-wall Bolivarian propaganda.

6 Chavez has been outspoken in his support for the semi-fascist government in Iran. At a time when the Iranian regime is murdering pro-democracy protesters, Chavez defends its right to develop nuclear weapons.

I could go on. Would Mr Clark care to explain why these and other measures represent a victory for socialism?

jolies_couleurs said...

I completely fail the Chavez test - another self-important 'saviour' masquerading as a 'friend of the people' who singularly fails to transfer power away from the executive and who uses a resource (in this case oil money) to subsidise fantasies of ' improving the lives of the poor"!

Anonymous said...

Am I serious? Alas, yes. You see, I still believe Obama stole the 2008 election with a mountain of illegally raised campaign contributions. So it's not a big shock that Obama would have affinity for other stealers of elections like Chavez, Ahmadinejad (Do you still believe that election wasn't rigged?) and Zelaya, and antipathy towards the Iranian Freedom Movement, the legitimate government of Honduras, and the Tea Party protesters here in the US.

Anonymous said...

Im a Chavez admirer, for the reasons you give, Neil...