Chavez: a shimmering model?

Johann Hari: Chavez must avoid the trap of dictatorship.

Personally, I think Hari is right to be sympathetic towards the Bolivarian revolution; he is right to highlight the positive dimension's of Chavez's rule; he is right to emphasize the forces of reaction arrayed against Hugo. But I think Hari does not give Chavez enough credit for his authoritarian actions. By describing the drift into dictatorship as reaction to his enemies' actions ("is there a danger Chavez will play into the hands of his critics, and become dictatorial after all?"). Hari underestimates Chavez's own megalomania and power-lust.

Finally, the notion of Venezuela as a "shimmering model of pro-poor democratic development" is pure hyperbole, and undermines Hari's claims to be an authoritative commentator on the subject.


Roland Dodds said…
Hari routinely shows me how out of touch he is with reality. Don’t even start me on his whole lawsuit nonsense as of late…

Some key points that he is dead wrong about when it comes to Chavez and Venezuela:

“this means that Chavez will be able to run again and again for the presidency, for as long as the people want him. There are cries that this will make him a dictator – but using this logic, Britain, France and Germany are dictatorships too.”

Ugh, what a foolish argument. The only difference between the situation in Venezuela and those countries is that Chavez has not only stacked his nation’s courts in his favor, but has changed the law of the land enough so that his party can control the mechanisms of the country. That is why this move is a threat: it is just one more step towards totalitarianism.

Hari is just like the communists of yore; too stupid to see the wave about to overtake them. He can act like this is just a blip on the radar of this “shinning example”.
jenmabv"he is right to emphasize the forces of reaction arrayed against Hugo."

Such as this?

"In all of these matters, Reporters Without Borders’ offers of dialogue 'met with the grotesque and baseless claim that our organisation was working for US intelligence and was trying to organise a new coup.' "
Anonymous said…
Hari does not give Chavez enough credit for his authoritarian actions?

I'll say he doesn't. Anyone who looks at these pictures and does not see a totalitarian scenario coming 'round the bend is quite naive, in my opinion.

And there are two other more recent galleries of pix in the Telegraph that I don't have time to search for. "Pro-poor?" This is a euphemism for class war. Chavez has embarked on such a war, and it is going to spark rebellion, resistance or exodus -- or some combination thereof. The line
cannot be held without repression, it is impossible. You should try to
find the pix in the Telegraph. Chavez' army/police are frightening. They
are going to be more and more essential to his rule. It is inevitable.

Chavez's government is already almost a de facto dictatorship of the Lumpen, and he wishes to formalize it and make it permanent. The non-Chavez Venezuelans have no illusions about this, even if Hari does.

How can the Chavez dream be accomplished without repressing the
counter-revolutionary classes? The revolt against Chavez is not a revolt of CIA stooges, it's a revolt of citizens. And it's a very serious thing.

Chavez is a major pain in the ass. With farcical instinct, he opened his show by accusing the US of planning an invasion. Well, perhaps this Chavez business might have been a good thing if someone other than Chavez had pulled it off -- someone other than Père Ubu.
bob said…
I agree and disagree. I agree that he is an authoritarian figure, whose regime is edging ever closer into a totalitarian scenario. However, I kind of disagree about the class war thing, in that I think he (like many populist demagogues before him) is using class war to further his own (and his clique's) power. In the short run, he will mobilise lumpen and working class action to repress the counter-revolutionary classes and liberal intellectuals, but ultimately he will use the power of the state to turn against them. This is the classic pattern, from Lenin to Mugabe.

On the suppression of the counter-revolutionary classes, he has so far only suppressed them quite gently! Read this report:,,1947026,00.html He needs them, and he needs the wealth generated by the booming economy to fund his adventure.
Anonymous said…
If Chavez is "the classic story from Lenin to Mugabe" ... do you really want the sequel?
Anonymous said…
This is so Ubu:

When a reporter asked about the aims of his visit to Iran, Chavez quipped: "As the imperialist press says, I came to look for an atomic bomb, and I've got it here. If anyone should cross me, I'll fire it."
Incognito said…
The way Chavez is going... I'm now predicting he doesn't last much longer.

He's a childish bully. Let's see... he's cut off Spain, now Colombia.. he's absolutely certifiable and that makes him dangerous.. but I think enough people are tiring of his idiocy. Let's least.

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