Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Venezuela's Chavez - he's not Marxist, but fascist(in the original sense of the word)

In this excellent article in the New Republic, Enrique Krauze discusses the philosophical background of Hugo Chavez, his successful appropriation of the personality cult surrounding Bolivar, his contempt for liberal democracy, and the anti-Semitism of Argentinian sociologist Norberto Ceresole, a longtime Chavez adviser. Also mentioned are the importance world oil prices have had in allowing Chavez to buy the affections of the masses, and the potential consequences if they remain at their current levels or lower.

The one thing I'd take issue with is that Krauze follows the conventional practice of describing fascism as "right-wing" and Marxism as "left-wing". This distinction usually seems to be made on the basis that Marxism is supposed to be internationalist in its outlook whereas Italian fascism and German National Socialism were obviously nationalistic. While true, I think that these ideas all had in common socialism, commitment to revolution, and contempt for liberal democracy, and that generally the label "right-wing" precludes at least the first two common traits.

It's interesting for me as well to think about what differences exist between the USA and Latin America that could be traced almost entirely to the fact that the 13 colonies had George Washington leading them to independence, and Ibero-America had Simon Bolivar.

A lot of revisionist history has criticized Washington and some of the other founders primarily on the basis of their continued ownership of slaves, and raised Lincoln far above him in the pantheon of American presidents; but this obscures Washington's real contribution to American politics. The office of the Presidency was created specifically for a reluctant Washington, and the precedents he set gave the position the stability which has lasted 220 years uninterrupted, with peaceful transitions of power throughout.

In contrast to this, Bolivar enthusiastically sought to be president for life, and to unite all of the former Spanish empire under his leadership. I suspect that his actions justified more than a little the many future Latin American dictators, presidents-for-life, etc. who desired similar positions for themselves.
blog comments powered by Disqus