Lo bueno que tiene es lo malo que tiene


Clive Crook is right, “elected autocrat” really is a confusing category. But Crook does not go far enough. The issue isn’t that Chávez gets elected despite being an autocrat. (If only!) The problem, instead, is the kind of insight that you half grasp and then suppress for fear of its logical ramifications: that to many Chávez supporters, autocracy is a feature, not a bug.

I keep going back to that Reuters report on Fonden – which I still think is possibly the single most devastating document I’ve read against the Chávez way. As I re-read it, what amazes me the most – and let’s be clear, every paragraph in it is amazing – is the absolute lack of pushback from the left.

The basic outlines are not in dispute: Chávez has handled over $100 billion in clear contravention of article 314 of the constitution his supporters wrote and he championed. That’s $3,450 for every man, woman and child in the country spent in secret, with no oversight, no project evaluation, no follow up, no impact analysis, no accountability and no mechanism to quantify, much less combat, corruption.

Now, it’s not immediately obvious to me why this is the kind of issue that should only matter to the right. Ideologically, if I’m devoted to the well-being of the oppressed, it seems to me I should be relatively more incensed by the kind of runaway graft and mismanagement that seems to have attached itself to Fonden.

Prima facie, there’s nothing specifically right-wing (or left-wing) about having your stomach turned by a boondoggle that wastes billions in what remains a poor country, or by a guiso that stuffs the pockets of a handful of bolibourgeois while children go to bed at night hungry.

Yet nobody in Aporrea touches it. Le Monde Diplomatique pasa y gana. James Petras slept through the whole thing. Danny Glover never got the memo. There’s just no pushback at all. Nobody within the government camp even thinks of it as an issue worth talking about, much less a problem in need of solving.

It literally keeps me up at night, this question. And the only semi-coherent answer I can bring to it is that to demand accountability is to assert – ever so obliquely – the possibility that Chávez may err. Just as good catholics do not hold God accountable, because they start out from the assumption that God does not make mistakes, chavistas would find asking Chávez to submit his plans to public scrutiny borderline insulting to a leader who long since burst the banks of fallibility.

Fonden’s whole attraction is that it allows them to throw themselves uncritically at the leader’s discretion. Its lack of accountability is its main attraction. And then I think back to Briceño Guerrero’s rift on the sub-conscious longing of the oppressed for a Good Master, and I shudder:

Accepting a lord and master affirms one’s existence, one’s difference through servitude, guaranteeing one’s cultural identity and safeguarding the channels of creativity. Hegel missed this harmonic variant in his master/slave dialectic, even though history is strewn with examples of it.

The last two hundred years, marked by ideologies and wars of “liberation”, have obscured the fact that the master-slave relationship is not always and necessarily disgraceful. The good master and the good slave have been forgotten. The good slave accepts his lot without rancor and without any sense of sacrifice or injustice; he longs not for the advantages of the master, he wouldn’t know what to do with them, he has other tastes. The good master respects the slave’s culture, his idiosyncrasy, his creativity, he recognizes him as other, he doesn’t butt into his private life and he doesn’t mistreat him.

The master-slave relationship, and the consequent stratification of society, may be in the future – it already has been in the past at various times and places – the most adequate solution to the problem of coexistence in society. These days the clamor of the ideologists and propagandists of equality, the agitation for democracy, hides the virtues of slavery; but he who wants to truly know the reality of this world must dare to look beyond the prejudices of his century. In pre-columbine America, in Africa, Asia, in Europe itself there were successful and satisfactory forms of servitude, far superior as a form of coexistence to the gulag or the worker-owner relationship, whether the owner comes in the guise of a private business or a socialist state.

I must recognize, however, that our good slaves often have not found the good masters needed to build a successful system of servitude on a society-wide level. But they doggedly seek him and at times they find him, at least as an individual solution. There’s nothing exceptional about the loyal maid, who’s like part of the family; the noble farm-hand, who you can depend on always, onto death, even without if you don’t pay him; the devoted and efficient secretary, who remains a celibate spinster through love of her boss, willing to give him her savings and even help him with his erotic adventures; the volunteer body-guard, loyal and sleepless watch-dog, untouchable, undoubting. Isn’t there something profoundly human, moving, beautiful in all of this?

The good slave is anti-western because he rejects the work-salary nexus. The good master is anti-western because he prefers the loyalty-protection nexus, but these terms are poor, insufficient to sketch out the relationship. The good master is like a good shepherd, the good shepherd looks lovingly over his sheep; he will gives his life for them.

In our violent uprisings, one of the motivations is the longing, the painful nostalgia for the good master, the absence of that hard, soothing, paternal shelter, of that trusted destination that the western world has only limpid and inefficient substitutes for, cancerous placebos called political leader, revolutionary leader, manager, commissary, dean, congressman…

We are not impressed by the mean-spirited western slander against slavery; we understand that the path of submission to a good master is not sterile but bountiful for our survival and actualization, so we seek it with indefatigable tenacity.

It was necessary to write at length on this much-maligned path. These days anyone can understand rebelliousness, because it’s fashionable. Only a chosen few understand submission. Believing themselves free and rebellious, most assiduously serve unworthy masters.

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  1. Come clean: the main, principal, foremost, key, crucial reason why you oppose Chavez is because he wants to phase out capitalism.

    Everything else you write is a mere distraction in comparison. When was the last time you heard your compatriots in Miami complain about the disappearance of billions, trillions of dollars in Washington?

    • But see, there it is right there: ONE. HUNDRED. BILLION. DOLLARS…and you can’t believe it would bother anyone that they’re spent very obviously illegally! Chamo…osea, I gotta pinch myself.

      • As much as Washington misspends money at the very least there’s always some level of transparency. Not that anything gets done but it’s nowhere near the Fonden black hole where no light ever shines through. And what’s worse there isn’t any level of outrage from the population at large. I sometimes wonder if people like yoyo even read the articles before commenting.

        • It’s vexing: Pulpaca wastes HALF A BILLION dollars on a boondoggle that creates zero value to anyone, and if you point it out you’re just sore that the guy wants to un-do capitalism!!

          There’s a basic disconnect there, a neural short-circuit I find ineffable even at the best of times. It’s very bizarre.

          • Toro, the thing is that money has no real value for a true marxist. Money is a fabrication of the capitalist system to fool people into slavery. Or you can go the batshit crazy way and say that it’s just a small investment to strenghten the people and whatnot…

          • and no one loves money more than a bolibourgeois. The argument doesn’t add up in the reality world of chavismo.

            I’ll bet not even a die-hard like Arturo ignores money and its importance, say, for the electronic toys he has, and then some. And his idol, Perecito Pirela, my goodness! I can’t imagine him foregoing excess funds, or even donating them to a worthy cause. No sir-ee. Very comfy are these ranting and raving chavistas.

      • I guess the easiest way to explain the contrast is that you are convinced there’s very little to show for those $100b, while others have watched endless inaugurations on live television (the same ones oppos refuse to watch) and have seen much of the results with their own eyes.

        • I don’t think there is any controversy about the enormous amounts of corruption in Chávez’s Venezuela. There simply isn’t.

        • Right. Some fraction of the money is clearly spent on non-boondoggly things that then get innaugurated. Is it $90 billion out of the $100 billion? Or is it $10 billion out of the $100 billion?

          You don’t know, because they won’t tell you. And you don’t think it’s your place to ask!

          That’s what I’m getting at here.

          • Parece que la estrategia “damage control” del gobierno después de la explosión en Amuay rindió frutos. La evaluación de muchas de las víctimas fue que el gobierno sí hizo algo por ellos. Increible pero cierto. No importa que no se haya abierto una investigación seria que podría apuntar a negligencia criminal por parte de los responsables de la refinería. Poco importan los muertos, el trauma de sus familiares, las pérdidas de todo orden (materiales, sociales, etc). Así estamos de jodidos. Y no me hablen solamente del petro-estado dadivoso o de los pobres que conectan con el líder vía una lavadora. Hay algo en el fondo de la psique de mucha gente que está bien torcido. El show va a continuar, total somos uno de los países con el mayor índice de felicidad del mundo.

          • Question to Juan and Quico: Do you think that the average pro-Chavez voter cares about any of this? I think not, while his or her expectations are met, the cost is irrelevant. So fires in refineries, money transfers to Iran or luxury items to the New Class are meaning less as long as the houses, TVs and Cuban Drs. show up…

          • I’m not talking about “the average chavista voter”, I’m talking about any voice within the pro-Chávez left at all, whether inside or outside Venezuela. There’s simply nobody willing to pick him up on this. It’s…bizarre.

          • For me, the most depressing one is Chávez winning in Vargas 61 to 39. Perhaps no other place better ilustrates the incompence of these 14 years of Chavernment… and it’s still hardcore chavista.

          • Facts don’t matter to chavistas. What matter is the mood of the party. Consum has increased 46% in volume according to MA. Santos during the last 14 years, and that’s enough to prove you and the nay-sayers wrong.
            Chavistas, as you points out, are content that they have a magnanimous master that throw them a bone now and them. They are not interested in accountability, much less in being actual citizens.

        • So….as long as some things get done rampant corruption is okay? We’re not talking about money spent on social programs we’re talking about money that was outright stolen. Roba pero hace. Nice.

      • But more than corruption – waste! It’s the waste that makes Fonden so heartbreaking. If a corrupt milico steals $100,000 and buys a hummer, coño, at least the guy gets to enjoy his hummer. It creates some value to someone, right or wrong.

        But Pulpaca, Ciudad del Aluminio, CAAEZ, the Tinaco-Anaco train…the country is full of projects where resources are simply squandered to bad planning. Here in Barquisimeto there are warehouses full of $1 million TransBarca buses simply rusting away because they ordered them with the doors on the wrong side of the bus! One boondoggle after another, one money pit after another…but if you point it out, you’re trying to safeguard capitalism!

        Están demasiado tostaos los panas estos…

      • Phasing out capitalism, as a step in the historical process, is followed by “phasing capitalism back in.” The entire history of the twentieth century should tell you that. Between the two steps, we have the step known as “the dictatorship of someone pretending to represent the people.”

        • When has capitalism been phased out?

          You don’t have to be a communist, but it’s kinda cynical to pretend that the process of the dictatorship of the proletariat that Marx described already happened.

          • Oh right! None of those twenty countries was REALLY a Communist country! It’s a great idea that hasn’t been tried yet!

    • yoyo,
      Compatriots in Miami complain because they want the best for Venezuela. Wasting $100 billion is just a small sample of why Chávez … is not the best for Venezuela.

      Not everyone eats, breathes, and sleeps ideology, you know.

      • First, not all people outside of Venezuela can’t vote in american Elections… second There is more transparency there are a lots of mechanisms that even a foreigner could go to the congress and ask for documents. Third, well The OLD USRR phased out capitalism and collapsed … China embrace it ( After Mao’s death, and well those are a HEAVY DIE HARD CAPITALISTS)… one explanation is one that a taxi driver gave me after I refute every point with facts… I told him well Chavez said he was going to eliminate corruption of the “forty years”and there you have…His answer? Bueno si los otros robaron , ahora les toca ellos!
        The other well if they think that insecurity is their normality and that is nothing it could be done, well “mejor pajaro en mano que cien volando” they live the present (literally) their concept of liberties are different they have suffered abuse of the police forever, they have accostumed to have problemds to get their documents … And well if there is a bus coming to your town on a sunday to give you your cedula….well even part of me will be voting for chavez ( in the very back of one fiber in my head after suffering getting my documents)

        • “Third, well The OLD USRR phased out capitalism and collapsed …”

          Seriously, I’m going to start needing specific historical references here.

          Claims that self-labeled communist regimes have done much to the capitalist system are as credible as claims that they did anything against religion. Did you know that Stalin re-instated the orthodox church in Russia?

      • Do you mean corruption and waste are not problems worth raising among the left? For what it’s worth, in aporrea and other places there is a fair amount of criticism over inefficiencies and graft in the state apparatus. Granted, it’s often coded as “the problems of bureaucracy” and seen as a “deficit of ideological commitment,” and so on and so forth. And perhaps that’s precisely your point, that there’s a reluctance (or blindness or complicity or whatever) to sound an alarm and call a spade a spade. But I’m not sure it’s exact to say there’s no talk of it among chavistas.

      • Ok agree all is generic and not very helpfull. But of those you mention Ramonet, Glover, and Pen are indeed under contract.

        When scandals bubble up in aporrea about the boliburgesie the articles are promptly taken down..

        Perhaps lets look at it the other way around … Who on the left that can bring these issues to the table doesn’t have a vested interest in Chavez continuing to dish out the Petro-Chequera.

        I can’t come up with a single name !!!

        Dont think Noah Chomski, will call this out. He’s more interested in Humanitarian issues.

      • I’ve been slandered by the “left” as a right wing nut for pointing out the Fonden debacle, the Aben Pearl atrocity (had *any* politician in the US paid a fly by night shell corporation to siphon off a half billion dollars the left would’ve gone apeshit).

        Granted, I’m just some small guy and I don’t have a blog or anything like that, so I’m not particularly well known, so if you’re talking about leftist journalists then I can concede that it’s sorely lacking, particularly in the English speaking world.

      • When it comes to the left criticizing the corruption and abuses of the Chavez government, the famous quote attributed to Cordell Hull could be amended to read : “Chavez is An S.O.B., But he’s Our S.O.B.” . That attitude is common to all sides…

  2. I agree! But then, how can you not incorporate the emotional attachment to Chávez as an explanation for his victory? I seem to recall you saying that this has nothing to do with a Schemel-ian romance or something. Yet a few weeks ago, you called the relationship between Chávez and his supporters “a psycho-drama.” You saw it when you visited Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela in La Rinconada.

    What’s love got to do with it? TONS.

    • I agree the emotional element is huge for his hard-core supporters – much less so for the non-ideological transactional voters who made up his margin of victory.

      The question, though, isn’t just about “love” in a generic sense. It’s about the kind of love involved. The far left loves Chávez not in the way a mature adult loves another. Their is the love of a good slave to a good master, a love build on willing submission. Esa es la vaina.

      • Quico, the love of a good slave to a good master involved respect to one another. Re-read Briceño Guerrero.
        The kind of relationship between Chavez and his hard-core supporters is certainly not based on mutual respect. There’s a deep emotional connection because a large sector of our population was abandoned for too long. Those orphans from the cuarta republica were adopted by Chavez. But he’s not an unconditional loving father to them; he’s more of a despotic father in need of recognition to satisfy his narcissisctic ego. He has trained them to flatter him in public which they do to get rewarded, not only with goods but also with a pat on the back.

      • Submission is what would be expected from a militant of this type of movement, if you add to the picture the Cuban influence that permeates the Chavez process, you would than have to add to the mix my friends the Soviets and their way of doing things. I would not expect criticism within the ranks of the Chavista movement any time soon.

  3. I think the big problem in Venezuela is the complete and total polarization of the political sphere. As an American academic, I have a very nuanced view on the situation. When I challenged friends, colleagues and students in Maracaibo about their characterizations of Chavez as pure evil, I was accused of being a Chavista and any number of things (I’m not. How could anyone go to Venezuela and become a Chavista?). A dualistic political system removes the possibility for nuance on both sides. Same thing happens here in the U.S. And it’s tragic.

    • Well it is hard not to see polarization there. I mean you have on the one side a leader that fans class hatred, uses a violent discourse, subjugates the poor to accepting government handouts as a way of life, continues subsidizing the rich (believe it or not) by subsidizing gasoline to ridiculous levels and providing a system for cheaper foreign exchange for the haves versus an opposition that wants inclusion, respect and an actual democracy to function.

      Were I you, I’d be embarassed about the polarization of political discourse in the US.

      WE have an autocrat in power as our excuse, the US has checks and balances, separation of powers and a free press as their excuse.

        • That is what bugs me the most, not that the opposition lost (although, yeah, it hurts!) but more than that, that 54% of the country went and chose to continue.

          How much of that 54% was fear versus really being with the program is anyone’s guess.

          I suspect that a healthy percentage of that 54% voted Chavez because they believed the fingerprint machines would give away their vote, or they were “accompanied” and “assisted” in their vote to ensure they voted “the right way”.

          • Sigh, a fear the opposition fanned (if not started) without really so much as a sliver of proof. And later doubled down on by refusing to participate in legislative elections. How much of that 54% went that way because of the opposition’s hissy fits of old?

            These are imponderables and focusing on them yields no benefits. 54% voted for the man either through fear of their vote not being secret or because they truly believe in the Chavez project. Our US academic friend above hits the nail right on the head when he points at this fact.

            Understanding the reasons why people vote for Chavez despite calamities like Fonden, unsustainable and content-deficient missions, crime, electricity shortages and a big ass etcetera should be the primary focus of any serious effort to provide an alternative to Chavez. I feel Capriles made a first effort to walk that path although the need to still ensure the vote of a (un)healthy proportion of opposition members who want nothing more than a return to pre-Chavez business as usual will ensure we walk, not run, down it.

            This is also to say that I find the good master/good slave theory both seriously flawed and a lazy attempt to explain the social and political forces at work in Venezuela.

    • Of course you are very right. If only more people could notice how easily we fall prey of polarization and how much that benefits Chávez. Many people won’t even start questioning Chavez’s government deficiencies until that ‘ideological war’ ceases to be important.

  4. Right on, Quico. That is at the heart of this entire matter. To even think where this money has gone… as the country’s infrastructure crumbles around us.

  5. Did you mention Le Monde diplomatique by chance, or is it a reference to the article they have on their website right now? Lovely regurgitated chavista propaganda. “And again Chávez saves the day against those evil, paquetazo-wielding right-wingers, en francais!”.

  6. The way I see it, Vzla has always been a cake (make it chocolate). First, were the Spaniards, then the caudillos (paez, gomez, etc), Then during 50-90s Adecos and Copeyanos, all eating the cake and having it too. NOW, from the 90s on it has been the turn for CHAVISTAS…… (I know too simple but the truth)

    • And to back up your point as it says in the Reuters report – “Venezuela’s public finances have never been particularly transparent, and much of the oil industry’s proceeds have been squandered for more than 100 years”.

      Now this is saying that there has always been a culture of corruption over the years and even more so since oil came on the scene. Back in the 1830 crooked land registers “gave” the best land to the new criollo bourgeosie and this was the spark behind the Federal War (1858 – 1863).

      If the opposition ws in power it would do the same and even in the election campaign J.C. Caldera got caught as did Capiles father saying to Zingg that it would be best “to bring cash”. This is also corruption but this is solid evidence.

      Where is the evidence of mass coruption in the Chavez years?. Sure, there’s losts of talk and rumors – PDVAL, CAAEZ and other emblematic cases but this is the Venezuelan way., and always has been I’m not saying it is right or making excuses for anyone . just stating facts.

      You can look at other countries and say that they are better but there is corruption everywhere – even in China where you can face the firing squad if you get caught.

      Instead of looking at a measly 100 billion maybe Quico should use his expertise to look at the trillions of dollars gone up in smoke in the capitalist countries he so admires and the behvaior of the banks to put the whole world economy under threat of collapse. He should be lobbying for more stringent controls to offset deregulation which caused the probelms in the first place – subprime, 600 trillion of erivatives which have yet to be unwound and which are hidden illegally somewhere on a computer as the banks run parallel book keeping exercises.

      Is it correc to privatize profits and socialize losses? Quico? Let’s ask the Spanish about tah tone. What I am saying is that you have bigger fish to fry than a lack of accountability in FONDEN and should be going after the reall criminals who are all walking the street and get away with “apologising” to Congress. When this happened in the 193”s some 300 bankers and employees were jailed in the US. Why not now? There is no accountability anywhere – never mind in chavismo or Venezuela as a whole.

      • Right, and it should be noted that all Reuters “found” in that report was a few factories and other facilities out of 1,000s of projects whose completion has been delayed for one reason of another. No evidence any money was actually stolen, no evidence that there is actual corruption involved, no evidence that once delays in the projects are resolved they will not be completed like 1,000s of others have been. If this is the best they can do, they did a good job of proving that Chavez is vastly better than the entire Venezuelan opposition and previous Venezuelan governments put together.

      • I guess since those chavistas didn’t send us the notarized receipts and detailed accounts of their graft it must not exist then. We should just let them steal everything that isn’t bolted down because honestly, they’re no worse than anyone else. That is just a sick argument.

  7. I think the zoo animal / zookeeper analogy is more adequate than the master/slave analogy, for Venezuela. In this case, the top dog isn’t demanding anything but good behavior, not work, let alone questioning where the money goes…

  8. Quico, the answer is right there; Briceño Guerrero puts it beautifully. The machismo criollo is, in a way, a derivation of this twisted kind of relationship.
    But there’s something else: Venezuelans don’t really understand the idea that oil belongs to all of us. “Chavez te da una casa”, “Chavez te da esto o lo otro…”. Have you ever heard someone question such statements?
    That why I love Torres’s proposal…

    • I love it too, but in a cynical way: because it is politically and administratively brilliant. I never understood how dead dinosaurs can belong to anybody, or how it can be obvious that they do.

  9. Somewhat off topic but… well before Chavez, was the city-state of Singapore and it’s charismatic initial leader Lee Kuan Yew, which has been an ‘elected autocracy’ since independence. The difference? Singapore’s government was and is unabashedly capitalist and a meritocracy. Has there been corruption and abuse of power? Of course – as is bound to occur in any form of autocracy – but far and away less than under Chavismo. And – OMG – the Singaporean government actually works for the benefit of it’s citizenry, turning the island from a squalid sea-port at time of independance into the asian dynamo it is today. Proving that absolute power need not corrupt absolutely – if only the Chavistas would understand that.

    • *shudder*

      I happen to like that chavistas don’t take that “extra step,” and thank our lazy anarchist genes every day. Chavismo only really scares me when I see the crazy-fire of fascism in some government worker’s face.

    • I agree 100% with you… If I have to suffer an autocrat, at least let him be a Singaporean lookalike and not this rancho mentality thug which couldn’t even manage the soldier’s cantina in Barinas.

  10. The jist of this article isn’t about bashing the left or demonizing the right or safeguarding capitalism.
    This is about the incredible lack of psychological incentive to ask “why?.” to plead for a reason or logical process.
    This isn’t about 100 billlion or 10 Million, or how Chavez spent it wastefully or resourcefully. This is about the (at least) 1.3 Million Chavista voters who gave the election to Chavez and whom presented with such facts would choose to ignore or insult, with only their ideology or fanaticism as defense.
    But why do they choose this defensive thought process?
    I’e personally showed that thorough Reuter’s article to two poor Chavistas close to me. Only to burdened by frustration, insults, and my blank face of bizarreness because I am denied enough resources and data to concretely answer:

  11. I wonder to what extent the accountability/corruption dynamic is contingent on scale, at least insofar as electoral choices are concerned. For instance, the kind of corruption/inefficiency you mention at the the level of Fonden speaks of a scale that seems controllable primarily by the sort of institutional mechanisms of a liberal democratic system of checks and balances. (This is what Corrales argues is the link between authoritarianism and corruption, what he calls “social power,” in contrast to hard or soft power).

    However, is it possible that those instruments – perfectly adequate and even necessary to forestall large scale corruption – are ill equipped to deal with the kind of low level, small scale corruption that is most immediately palpable to people on a day to day level? If so, then for me the question is, what kinds of instruments of accountability are better equipped to deal with small scale corruption, and are we seeing any of that in Venezuela? In other words, if the question is why and how folks get past large scale corruption, could it be in part because instruments of direct democracy – communal councils, participatory budgeting, extra-institutional protest, etc (what Peruzzoti calls “social accountability” as opposed to institutional accountability conventionally understood) – in theory at least make it easier to address small scale corruption at the local level, which is where most understandings of politics are formed?

    So I wonder if there may be something to the idea that while the elimination of checks/balances in a conventional, liberal institutional way facilitates large scale corruption, the introduction of direct democratic instruments facilitates accountability on a small scale, and therefore gives both the appearance and a local experience (so it’s not just a “feeling” but palpable, too) of greater control over how affairs/funds are handled in *my* community.

    I realize there are many, many plausible retorts – well, there’s corruption at all levels, so there goes your little theory; small scale accountability is always undermined without large scale accountability., etc

    That’s all likely true.

    But I just wanted to offer a slightly different view on how corruption/accountability might work in terms of shaping voter choices, one that has less to do with ideological blindness (or complicity) or paternalism.

    [Alejandro, meet the paragraph break. Paragraph break, this is Alejandro. -ft]

  12. You are assuming there are true ideological socialists in Venezuela. This is really a personalistic regime. Nobody cares if what Chavez does is against socialist ideals, I really don’t think it matters at all to most voters (who don’t even understand what socialismo is) and most journalists and polititians who have supported this regime. This is not Bolivarianismo, Socialismo, Marximo, or whatever you want to call it. It is Chavismo, it is idolization of one person and any actions of that person or those who do his bidding is accepted as correct without question because he knows best. The only backbone of the “revolution” is Chavez. The truly intelligent and capable supporters are in it for the power and money, and the rest believe in the Cult of Chavez and nothing else. Notice how most political dissidents to the party tend to have a falling out with the Chavez because they feel he has wronged them or excluded them personally (o por que no led dieron “su casita” in the case of voters), not because they think he has ignored any socialist ideals or abandoned the revolution.
    You would think the international left wing media would be more critical, as you say, but they are not.

    • The international left-wing media/intellectuals are not critical of Chavez/Fonden, because he is the only Poster Boy for their fantasized/unworkable ideology, thanks only (up to now, and only for the time being) to an anomalous not-to-be-repeated 10x increase in the price of oil.

  13. ….Getting tired of answering collegues’s comments/ questions why did Chavez win again:
    I have summed it up with some questions back.
    In a context of Over a trillion dollars of income, No accountability, No opposition and total impunity whatt woud you do?
    Perhaps dip you hands here and there for a nice retirement fund,
    put away a few billions here and there for a war chest (literally) should you loose your grip on power,
    destroy the possibilities of being taken out of power by any hopefuls,
    Would you not also buy (at any price) some hi percentage of votes to continue your democratic facade?….
    Tell me, what would you do?
    (Bonus information, the level of income keeps coming in, more or less, as rent with out much work on your part, at least as long some wells, pipelines and terminals/refineries are not blown /damaged due to your incompetence)

  14. I came late to the debate. What a shame. It’s the type of articles I like the most. It would be impossible for me to read all the comments now, so if I repeat something already said, please forgive me.
    I raised the issue not of autocracy, which I think in this case is misleading. The right word should we all use is Ochlocracy.
    Ochlocracy has to be understood as a phenomenon of “minimum democracy”. A majority rules because is composed of individuals who put above the social sphere their own interests. This type of society is called a “discrete society”.
    “As a matter of fact, we can observe a striking increase in a particular type of individuals, who act exclusively on behalf of their own interests with mechanical rationality, but are poorly developed in respect of social awareness and communication, and indifferent to the feelings of others. They may be called isolated men (Einzelmenschen) and a community where they form the vast majority of the population can be named a discrete society.” This is called the Arrow’s paradox.
    Therefore, in these circumstances we must assume the dominance of the majority rule as a minimum requirement for democracy. But, can we call a society that just satisfies democracy at its minimum a democracy? The answer is no, we must call it Ochlocracy.
    There is an interesting paper about it written by Yoshiro Kamitake free on the web called: “From Democracy to Ochlocracy”
    I think this scenario suits better Venezuela than just an “Autocracy”

  15. I think most of the Venezuelan and international left just view corruption and waste in Fonden and elsewhere under the catch-all “bureaucracy and corruption that must be rooted out”. They don’t know how much money gets wasted, they don’t know how much gets stolen because they don’t really work too well with numbers. All they know is someone somewhere is better off under chavismo because the dear leader told them so.

  16. I think it’s important to point out, that between 1998-2010, the opposition’s proposition was basically: Chavez is bad for the country, because socialism is outdated and wrong. Much of the “international left” as well as the Venezuelan population, is still hearing that, they never made a cross over to realizing what shitty management means/does/doesn’t achieve. They sure see on the teevee the U.S. and global media powerhouses still demonizing Chavez’s :”self-styled 21st century socialism”, but that’s the crucial point: “the international left”, socialists elsewhere in South America, and more importantly I think many Venezuelans, really believed that 21st century socialism would be executed correctly, to mean basically a social democracy with much more aggressive and re-distributive policies, definitely an end to U.S. hegemony in the region, and GOOD MANAGEMENT, a real socialism which wouldn’t repeat the authoritarian or economic mistakes of 20th century socialism. A socialism which would put an end to the give-away of the neoliberal era, but still engage the global economy, that would nationalize strategic sectors (including a broader definition to include telecom and water for example, to take into account free speech, organization and communications rights via the Internet and telephony, access to free water as a human right in reality, not on paper), but not create ridiculous or inefficient state companies…. etc. etc.

    Many people still support this socialism, and with the sole exception of Capriles, the opposition in Venezuela seems only to be the old oligarchy wanting to come back and go back to the nineties.

    I opposed Chavez because of his military past, and the ’92 coup which I experienced as all other coups in latin america-no knowledge of his ideology, military goon tried to overthrow democratic president in neighboring south american country-until the 2002 coup which I admit I experienced only through the Internet, but I did large amount of investigation/obsessing and came to the same conclusion as many: there was a right-wing U.S. supported/allowed military coup with participation from the private media and many of the former AD/COPEI elites.

    Now, one hundred billion dollars is a large sum of money.

  17. Judging by some of the poper than thou at aporrea lately, some govt. offices are about to get a bit… orwellish? (emphasis added)

    (from http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/a151991.html):
    “Por eso es sumamente difícil encontrar hoy tan siquiera a un solo escuálido, de los cientos de ellos que están infiltrados en la Administración Pública, que no muestre abierta e impúdicamente SU TRISTEZA POR EL TRIUNFO DE QUIEN LE DA DE COMER Y LE PERMITE VIVIR SIN LAS PENURIAS QUE PADECEN LOS TRABAJADORES EN EL MUNDO CAPITALISTA DE HOY, cuando se supone que su principal tarea es mantenerse oculto para no ser sorprendidos por el réeegimen perverso contra el cual votaron en las elecciones del pasado domingo. No pueden seguir fingiendo una cosa que no son, porque perdieron toda esperanza. Ya no hay camino, ni “flaquito”, ni gorrita con banderita de ocho estrellas… ¡ni un carajo!

    Solo a un disociado in extremis se le ocurre LA INSENSATEZ DE CARGAR ESE DOLOR DE LUTO que arrastran en oficinas, ministerios y organismos del Estado, por la bochornosa derrota de su candidatico de muñequería.”

    shudder away…

  18. Quico is right to focus on the complete lack of accountability and wasted/missing billions. This incredible story should be front and centre regardless of what side of the fence you are on. 14 years with trillions of dollars to play with and Venezuela is falling apart. Not good enough Hugo. (I often wonder if deep down he’s embarrased by the state of the country when foreign diplomats arrive or when he travels o/s and sees how other countries function. )

    In Australia, where I’m from, the scrutiny every minister is under is intense. Politicians aren’t trusted by the public and it is understood that we need to maintain a critical eye on whomever holds power, whether you voted for them or not, to ‘keep the bastards honest’. I was surprised at the complete rejection of this outlook from the Chavistas I met on numerous visits to Venezuela. The blind faith they have in Chavez is more than football fans have in their lifelong team (they at least know the team loses sometimes or plays bad). Chavistas should be the loudest critics of his performance as they are the ones who entrusted him to run the place for another 6 years. I found a real unwillingness by chavistas to even consider putting Chavez and his government under the microscope for even a second.

    As for the international media, they are not interested or doen’t care that an incompetent leader squanders hundreds of billions of dollars without any accountability to his people. They’re happy because thanks to Hugo they can always fill some space in the ‘World’ section of the paper with some comic relief from the “charismatic, controversial, sometimes singing, latino leader” and that will do.

  19. “… a kind of democratic dictator. The Greeks had a word for it, a demagogue. But consider what that shrewd statesman and clever demagogue felt he had to say to stir the people to support him. He gave them an ideal picture of themselves. He played on the (…) popular mind, but that mind was democratic and had to be led or misled in such terms.

    Is it about Hugo Chavez? No. It’s Bernard Crick talking about Pericles. Yes, the context of both is entirely different, but the part about “an ideal picture of themselves” resonates with the things you listen and read from the chavista side: “Chavez taught us to love our country” “We were nothing before Chavez” and so forth…

    I think we are doing things wrong. We cannot be better demagogues than Hugo Chavez. We cannot outspend the petrostate. We need to improve democracy. We need to turn regular folks into actual citizens. We need to use the very own tools that Chavez gave us to defeat him. The political leadership must strengthen the consejos comunales as much as possible. That’s the key to the success of the opposition. The key question is if the opposition leaders are willing to go that way…

  20. Your point is “why nobody ask how is possible to spend that amount of money”, but maybe almost nobody does it because is nessecary a comparison: “That money could have done 10 (or 20 or 30) more things….”. “We spend Bs. 100 to buy an apple, but with Bs. 100 we should buy 10 apples,etc.”

  21. I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a visit this blog on regular basis to obtain updated from latest news.


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