I really loved this guy, and now that he’s gone, I worry about Venezuela.
There’s a reason for the cult of personality. There seem to be phases, in revolutions and national-liberation struggles, when finding the right person is important. It’s not the only thing, it’s not the biggest thing, but it matters.
I suppose you could say that there any number of right people out there, and one of them will surely come to the fore if conditions are right.
Maybe that’s true. I’m sure it’s true that there are plenty of right people out there — mute inglorious Chavezes. I’m not so certain that they will surely come to the fore, or not any time soon, anyway.
So I’m sorry, very sorry, that Hugo is gone. He was definitely the right person, and immensely likable too, I thought. Remember his encounter with the King Of Spain?
My pensive mood, after I read of his death, was rudely interrupted by a first-class creep on one of my lefty mailing lists — let’s call him Zircon — who took the opportunity to piss on Hugo as an ‘authoritarian’ and compare him with Kim III in Korea — or is it IV now?
You’ve gotta admire these finger-wagging American leftists, if only for chutzpah. They’re quite happy to tell our subjects just how they should and should not go about kicking us out. Along these lines, Zircon has a carefully worked-out list of things the Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan upsurges should have done, and didn’t.
And here’s what he thinks ‘we’ should do:
I think we should defend the sovereignty of countries like Venezuela or Cuba but not fall into the trap of assuming that means we must support people like Hugo or Fidel or Daniel [sc Ortega — ed.]. Instead we should argue for the extension of democratic rights to all.
Not to be too obvious or anything, but Fidel and Hugo, and yes, even Daniel, back in the day, did a bit more than ‘argue’.
And ‘we’ should defend their right to revolt, but not their actual revolutions — unless, of course, they come up to our high universalist standards about ‘democratic rights’, whatever those might be. Don’t hold your breath.
Indeed, this gibberish phrase, ‘democratic rights’, seems to be Zircon’s conceptual touchstone, though it makes no sense at all.
Democracy, on any informed understanding of the term, is the negation of ‘rights’. Democracy means that the people rule. They give rights, and they take them away, as their good sovereign pleasure dictates. If you’re really into ‘rights’, you have no use for democracy; and vice versa.
But probably what Zircon really means by ‘democratic rights’ is the same thing that old Dr Karl called ‘parliamentary cretinism’: the right to cast a vote for your next slavemaster. You’ll be whipped no matter what, but you can collectively choose which hand holds the lash. Ain’t that America, as the song says.
Venezuela, during the Chavez years, was a much more interesting place than the US, in spite of the latter’s devotion to Zircon’s notion of ‘democratic rights’. Certainly more democratic; and in fact, I’d say people in Venezuela had more rights.
Sit levis terra tibi, Hugo.