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The nature of Hugo Chávez’s appeal on the American left?

Does Rich Lowry get it?

Chávez got his first political break in a failed military coup and never lost his taste for militarizing politics. Fidel Castro was his mentor, and he propped up the Castro regime with Venezuela’s ample oil. He funded guerrillas warring against the democratically elected government of Colombia. He praised every heinous dictator around the planet as a brother-in-arms. He was hell on the plutocrats, and also on the Jews. “Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews,” he warned his countrymen, in a sentiment worthy of the 15th century.

All of this should make Chávez an unsympathetic figure for everyone in America. Not so, sadly. For some, all is forgiven if you hate the rich with a white-hot passion and talk the language of populist redistribution, while wrapping your program in a bow of rancid, paranoid anti-Americanism. Then, every allowance will be made for your thuggery. Everyone will obsess about your colorful and charming personality. And praise you when you’re gone.

Emphasis added.  Via Powerline Picks.

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24 Comments

  1. It’s the same repellant moral-nihilism that enamors the Left to images of Che, while ignoring his crimes and blinds them likelihood that if he had succeeded that they would be the first he’d have sent to the camps….or the Wall.

    First to the Wall would be his oozing-sycophant Edward Kennedy…extolling Chavez’ virtues and “free” Citco heating oil…for his inherited hundreds-of-millions and membership in the “parasitic oligarchy of the past”.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — March 8, 2013 @ 2:29 am - March 8, 2013

  2. The Progressive Left hates the notion of people making choices they disagree with. That’s why they lust for powerful men who impose their will on entire countries.

    Hugo Chavez was just Michael Bloomberg with an army.

    Comment by V the K — March 8, 2013 @ 5:40 am - March 8, 2013

  3. Many folks on the left liked him because he stuck it to Bush whenever he could.
    Folks in the minority often like it when someone offers any hope, even pyrrhic hope.

    Some other folks on the left liked him because he championed the poor and work to correct the outrageous conditions in the slums. All should have been outraged at the way he stifled dissent.

    Comment by mike — March 8, 2013 @ 5:42 am - March 8, 2013

  4. #2 – Very well put, V.

    God forbid we should ever allow Bloomie to recruit his own posse.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — March 8, 2013 @ 9:48 am - March 8, 2013

  5. I’ll admit that I was guilty of praising people like Chavez during the time when I identified as more of a socialist. I even looked up to Vladimir Lenin for a time. In the end I realized that I was trying to fit in with the wrong crowd, and now I ask myself how I could have been so naive.

    I agree that the biggest reason that people look up to Chavez is the individual’s hatred or disdain of the capitalist system. It is fun to jump behind the individual who is challenging the status quo and giving the finger to the establishment. The terrible acts performed by the political figure can be forgiven because they were fighting for the overall destruction of an oppressive system. Unfortunately, atrocities are viewed as permissible by these individuals if it means establishing a new order that brings all people closer to what they view as some form of economic and social equality. The hypocrisy is evident.

    Comment by B. Long — March 8, 2013 @ 10:26 am - March 8, 2013

  6. Capitalism is not the status quo and hypocrisy is the only attitude possible if you are an altruist, where others are always more important than you are. As an altruist, you will always feel guilty that you haven’t given others enough of your life, and socialist governments use that guilt against you to extract ever more amounts of your life and your assets, which, they will claim, “should have been given anyway voluntarily, if you were really thinking about others rather than about yourself.” Thus the guilt. It is an evil system.

    Comment by Tom Anderson — March 8, 2013 @ 11:47 am - March 8, 2013

  7. I’ve heard that Chavez will be preserved for public viewing and adoration a la Lenin. What is this human need to worship?

    Comment by Ignatius — March 8, 2013 @ 12:40 pm - March 8, 2013

  8. It will be interesting to see who will fill the vacuum as the socialist leader in South and Central America. There will be a contest of wills between Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, and Daniel Ortega. Chavez besides having been President of Venezuela he was the CEO of ALBA (Alianz a Bolivariana para Las Americas.) This is the company that sells petrolium at below market, to those socialist nations, as well as, Honduras, Cuba , the Domican Republic, and a couple of island nations close to Venezuela on credit with five years to pay. I see its presence every day, here in El Salvador, with ALBA having contracts with towns whose mayors are of the (Communist) FMLN. ALBA has branched out. Every day on tv I see commercials for ALBA Alimentos, which is basically rice and beans. My money is on Ortega, because Chavez built an oil refinery in Nicaragua.

    Comment by Roberto — March 8, 2013 @ 1:16 pm - March 8, 2013

  9. What is this human need to worship?

    Not human, leftist.

    The leftist denies God, and has to come up with Earthly Idols to try and fill that spiritual vacancy. It doesn’t work, which is why they remain bitter and angry all the time time.

    Comment by V the K — March 8, 2013 @ 1:30 pm - March 8, 2013

  10. I agree that the biggest reason that people look up to Chavez is the individual’s hatred or disdain of the capitalist system…The terrible acts performed by the political figure can be forgiven because they were fighting for the overall destruction of an oppressive system.

    That’s interesting. I think I know what you’re saying. But I agree with Tom A: Capitalism is not the status quo (and hasn’t been, for decades).

    Leftists today are, functionally, supporters of the corrupt status quo. They call for ever more government control of the economy… but government control of the economy *is* the status quo. Leftists act either as reactionaries trying to preserve a failing system (as we see with the left-wing protests against benefit cuts, in Europe), or as supporters who complain merely that the system should give more to *them*.

    Either way, lefties are in-system, and real capitalists are on the outside. It’s the laissez-faire, Austrian-school capitalists (like Peter Schiff, say) who are the ones really giving the finger to the system. So we have to ask: What is a leftist talking about, really, when they claim to be fighting an oppressive system?

    Perhaps what they find “oppressive” is the system’s remnants of capitalism, truth, personal responsibility, rationality, decency, etc. For example, the fact that leftists (like everyone) are expected to wear clothes in public, to repay the student loans that they chose to take on, to not smoke pot in public, etc. I know that at least a few have called those things oppressive.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 8, 2013 @ 3:58 pm - March 8, 2013

  11. (continued) Some say that there is only one political fight going on, and has been for centuries: Locke vs. Rousseau.
    - Locke stands for the primacy of the civilized, rational individual; the individual as member of a polity which is limited as it respects the natural rights of its members who successfully support and control themselves.
    - Rousseau stands for the primacy of the savage, irrational individual; the individual as member of a polity which is tribal, collective and totalitarian as it expects members to support the tribe/polity unreservedly, but NOT otherwise to support or control themselves.

    In that light, we can say that leftists would feel oppressed by anything Lockean. Even when leftists run things (as today), they still feel oppressed if there is anyone left to look at them as if they ought to be more Lockean.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 8, 2013 @ 4:52 pm - March 8, 2013

  12. The reason I said status quo was mainly due to my own thoughts that I used to possess during my anti-capitalist phase. At the time I did feel that capitalism was not only the status quo, but a failed system. I would point to the Wall Street bailout, and the housing crisis as evidence of this failed system. Of course, this whole phase of mine ended when I took an economics course during my first year of college, and actually learned about capitalism.

    Anyway, ILoveCapitalism, it certainly makes sense that real capitalists are the ones who are going against the status quo. Through my academic study of the history of economic thinking it has become quite clear that the current system that exists is a far cry from what Adam Smith described in the Wealth of Nations, and to an extent, the Theory of Moral Sentiments.

    I have never thought of political struggle as one between Locke and Rousseau. Your explanation certainly seems intriguing.

    Comment by B. Long — March 8, 2013 @ 5:46 pm - March 8, 2013

  13. Thanks, BL.

    The Locke vs. Rousseau insight is from others; it’s been popping up at me lately, from several sources. The most recent is a speech by Jonah Goldberg, of which I just posted a summary: http://www.gaypatriot.net/2013/03/08/cheer-up-for-the-worst-is-yet-to-come/

    If you’re still reading books about economics, I recommend Schiff’s How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes, a very easy (but still insightful) ead.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 8, 2013 @ 6:41 pm - March 8, 2013

  14. If book recommendations are on the menu, ILC, may I toss in a few?

    ANYTHING by my hero, Fredéric Bastiat is good. He was a genius, and kind of snarky before snarky was cool. His take-downs of what passes for “thought” among socialists are hilarious. Start with “The Law.”

    “Free to Choose,” by Milton Friedman. Lord we need another one of him right now.

    Comment by Bastiat Fan — March 8, 2013 @ 7:03 pm - March 8, 2013

  15. Amen! (Though, as a hard-money guy, I officially disapprove of Monetarism ;-) )

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 8, 2013 @ 7:05 pm - March 8, 2013

  16. Chavez was a communist fascist, and the far left loves command and control of people’s lives. Look at comrade Bloomberg in NYC.

    Comment by davinci — March 9, 2013 @ 9:54 am - March 9, 2013

  17. Tom Anderson
    Chavez didn´t use guilt, he used his dictatorial powers, as granted to him by his constitution, to expropiate lands. I heard him tell land owners,, if you have 5,000 manzanas, as of now you 1,500 manzanas which is sufficient for your use, , the 3,500 that you had now belong to the government to distribute to those who don´t have any land. Chavez nationalized a super market chain and the day he did it his henchmen went in and threw out all the management staff and installed Chavez´s hand picked replacements. The resisters were beaten. I hardly think the victims felt guilty, anger was probably more like it.If they held it in it was because the chose to keep on living and in hopes for a change.

    I have an uncle by marriage who lives in Venezuela and is an anti-chavista. During his visit last month,he said the country is in ruins. The shelves in the super markets are bare, and delinquency is at an all time high.

    Comment by Roberto — March 9, 2013 @ 11:48 am - March 9, 2013

  18. Roberto,

    I have a friend who is a quite wealthy Venezuelan with the penthouse condo and all the goodies. He is in the hotel business. He has managed to survive Chavez by keeping a very low profile and accommodating the government goons by comping out (vigorish) part of his resort units to them. His main difficulty, besides the loss of income, is keeping the resort trade separated and happy from the Chavez goons who act like pampered pigs.

    He has not, of course, been able to sell of his properties to anyone and the government has had total control over his access to his own money for years. He has been sleeping under the blade of the fascist guillotine for years, always expecting not to wake up in the morning.

    It is not possible for the average free-will American to imagine life in a reign of terror. Sure, Chavez is stuffed and mounted, but his corruptocrat regime of crooks and enablers are now facing losing their power to more powerful corruptocrats or to disorganized do-gooders or just general chaos while a new order emerges. I suspect that China will be far more influential in the coming period in Venezuela than any part of the Obama-Kerry-Brennan triumvirate. It is open season for the kleptocrats in Venezuela and anything remotely resembling colonialism will keep the Obamanauts away. Forget the Monroe Doctrine. Forget the UN. Forget the OAS. China has the geopolitics of minerals, energy and rare earth as its core interest. They will take any entrance available and after they have raped the land, they will walk away without so much as a passing glance. Meanwhile, they can count on the leftists to shoot themselves in the knees by signing onto Kyoto Protocols and other demented “high moral ground” crapola that doesn’t lay a finger on them. Obama and his crowd are the emerging dictator’s and kleptocrat’s best friend. No guts and all phony glory.

    Comment by heliotrope — March 9, 2013 @ 12:20 pm - March 9, 2013

  19. Chavez told land owners, if you have 5,000 manzanas, as of now you 1,500 manzanas which is sufficient for your use, the 3,500 that you had now belong to the government to distribute to those who don´t have any land. Chavez nationalized a super market chain and the day he did it his henchmen went in and threw out all the management staff and installed Chavez´s hand picked replacements. The resisters were beaten.

    This is what lefties mean by “helping the poor.”

    Comment by V the K — March 9, 2013 @ 12:48 pm - March 9, 2013

  20. heliotrope,

    Everything you said is true. Telesur was once the property of Globovision whose owner always criticized Chavez. Today it is only available on the internet. If memory serves me, he is now in exile, Telesur will never show opposition. but then in the U.S. neither does ABC, CBS,or NBC, unless they con give the opposition a negative spin.

    I want to see if the new president will expell the iranians, who are working the uranium mines. The UN is myopc, not to know that the uranium Ahmadinejad is processing comes from Venezuela, in violation of sanctions. China has been expanding its influence in Latin America. Here in El Salvador, Taiwan is the principal Chinese trading partner. I wonder if the the leftist leaders will have a falling out over who is the titular head of the socialist movement, and the CEO of ALBA, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Ortega, or Lugo, of Paraguay or Uruguay. Correa has the most carisma and seems to be the most intelligent, but he has no money. Ortega is not as dumb as he looks, Nicaragua is by far the more prosperous of the group and in Central America, because he has encouraged private capital investments in his country and by the
    courtesy of the late Hugo, an oil refinery.

    Comment by Roberto — March 10, 2013 @ 6:49 pm - March 10, 2013

  21. I think it’s safe to say Mitt Romney helped more poor people than Hugo Chavez. And we know how the left feels about Mitt Romney.

    Comment by V the K — March 10, 2013 @ 11:22 pm - March 10, 2013

  22. The nature of Hugo Chávez’s appeal on the American left?

    He’s a thug. And they like thugs. It’s no more complicated than that.

    Comment by Bastiat Fan — March 11, 2013 @ 12:34 am - March 11, 2013

  23. [...] The nature of Hugo Chávez’s appeal on the American left? [...]

    Pingback by The dead Hugo Chavez Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean | Fausta's Blog — March 11, 2013 @ 12:33 pm - March 11, 2013

  24. The nature of Hugo Chávez’s appeal on the American left?

    Well, not sure of the entire left, but all I can say though experience: Conservative women love a ‘strong man’. Lefty women love a ‘strongman.’

    My 2 cents.

    Comment by AF_Vet — March 16, 2013 @ 12:08 am - March 16, 2013

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