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Venezuela – voters were not ‘mistaken’

So the social democrat who promised the people more government health care, education and welfare, higher minimum wage and so on, has been defeated. Even taking account of Chavez rigging things it seems likely that (with a claim of some 60% of the vote) he really did win.

Chavez promised the same things as the social democrat of course, but he offers more entertainment value. Jumping about the world and allying himself with anyone (Putin in Russia, the mad Mullahs of Iran and so on) who hates Uncle Sam.

At least Chavez understands that these people do hate America (and Western values in general), unlike so many people in Washington who think they can ‘talk’ to the Iranian regime (what would be there to be talk about – whether the evil infidels of the world should be buried or cremated?). Or President Bush who “looked into the soul” of Mr Putin and discovered that he was a “good man”.

As for the elections: I am often attacked for saying nasty things about the way people sometimes vote, but the case of Venezuela is a tough one for the “the people may make mistakes but they mean well” crowd.

President Chavez was first elected in 1998. He had previously led a military coup effort (which, on its own, should have sunk bid for the office of President of the Republic). He was up against a rather boring social democrat type – but there was nothing evil about that man. Venezuela was at peace (so there was no “it was the war stupid” factor), and no one could seriously believe that Chavez would be less corrupt than his opponent or that he would be any better at what is now called the “management of the economy”.

So why did the majority of people vote the way they did? They voted that way because Chavez played class war “the poor against the rich” – forget that the Venezuela government had spent vast sums of money, it still was not enough.

Why was it not enough? Was it because there were still lots of very poor people? Certainly, but in their hearts these people knew that they would still be just as poor under Chavez (and if they did not know in 1998 they certainly knew last Sunday – when they voted for him again, in spite of all the billions that have gone on his overseas alliances and in corruption). The majority vote they way they do because they see that there are well off people – and they want these people to suffer as much as they do.

A vote for Chavez is not a vote to make oneself better off (and it never was), it is a vote to make other people as poor and as unhappy as one is oneself.

Voting for people like Chavez is not a ‘mistake’, it is something very different.

15 comments to Venezuela – voters were not ‘mistaken’

  • Freeman

    A vote for Chavez is not a vote to make oneself better off (and it never was), it is a vote to make other people as poor and as unhappy as one is oneself.

    Just like voting for Blair/Brown really.

  • Nick M

    I assume the CIA have access to Polonium-210?

  • methodman

    I don’t know if it was a vote to make others worse off. I don’t think the people of Venezuela are really that nasty, and I really just don’t think that cuts the mustard here.

    It seems more plausible to me that the tide of public works projects and government jobs (handed out to those who support Chavez, and more opened by opponents of Chavez – those who signed the recall petition – being forced from their jobs), funded by the high price of oil (certainly not helped by current military adventures in the middle east).

    That said, I’m worried for Venezuela. He’s already made comments about banning some private media outlets that deigned to criticize him, and Telemundo Spanish language television was shut down during the election by the regime. There is worry about him sealing the border a la the great nutjobs: Castro, Kim Jong Il, and the rest.

  • MarkE

    “A vote for Chavez is not a vote to make oneself better off (and it never was), it is a vote to make other people as poor and as unhappy as one is oneself”.

    The same could be said for any communist, socialist or redistributionist candidate, anywhere. It is this destructiive envy that makes me despair of human nature; why won’t they see that we could all get richer and that would be better than trying to make us all equally poor?

  • MarkE

    And destructiive means it’s so obvious you can see it with both eyes (or maybe I’m typing with mittens on).

  • Nick M

    Ah, MarkE, you clearly don’t understand the critical importance of equality . You know, we’re all the same under the skin. Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Chavez!

    Chavez isn’t the same as the old school nut-jobs like Castro and the Dear (now upgraded to Great) leader. He’s more like Admadasahatter in Iran, he’s media-savvy.

  • gravid

    A quote from George at Urbansurvival.com-
    “It seems to me that what Chavez is planning follows the path blazed by the neocons: Huge deficit spending, central government control and spinning events this way or that. Chavez has a long way to go in order to equal the financial mess the republicorps in the District of Corruption have foisted on America under their false flag of “conservatism.”. Run us to bankruptcy and then turn it over to the democorps to sort out. Same old, same old…”

  • Gabriel

    America should engineer a coup, install a Capitalist dictator who protects western business interests and then GTFO. It would be good for the west, it would be good for Venezuelans and, most importantly, it would cause large numbers of Guardian readers to have heart attacks.

  • Paul Marks

    When there was a coup effort against Chevez the Americans (from President Bush downwards) jumped up and down saying “do not kill him” – thus dooming the coup to failure (in spite of saving the life of Chevez the Americans got blamed for the coup anyway).

    Whether a coup is a good or a bad idea in theory, it is not practical. President Bush has nailed his colours to the democracy mast.

    That is what the “neo cons” are really about, they are not all big spending social democrats (although I admit that most of them are), but they are all pro democracy – and so is President Bush.

    And one can not be pro democracy and support coups against democratically elected governments.

    As for “people support Chevez because of the spending”.

    There has been plenty of government spending in Venezula since that Free Mason Blanco was President back in the 19th century.

    True (with the new oil money) President Gomez paid off the national debt back in the 1920′s – but later Presidents (both military, and after 1958, civilian) spent lots of money.

    In fact Chevez has most likely spent LESS on the poor than the social democrats would have done – because he has spent vast sums on his overseas adventures (O.K. so has President Bush) and his regime is actually much more corrupt than the social democrats (and he is vastly more corrupt than any “neo con”).

    The majority of voters are not stupid – they know that they would actually (if anything) have seen more of the oil money with the social democrats in charge than they have seen with Chevez in charge.

    But what they would not have seen is the well off people scared (very scared). Sorry but it is possible for the majority of voters in a country to be nasty (i.e. to want to make other people’s lives very unpleasant – even if this in no way benefits themselves).

    “But if they drive the rich away the general population will suffer – especially when the oil money begins to drop”.

    Yes they will suffer, and here I would accept they have made a “mistake” because I do not think they know they will suffer, they do not think their suffering can get any worse than it is already – but it can.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Are you sure about the Americans’ reaction to the coup, Paul? My recollection was that the US government was quietly pleased that Chavez might be out of power.

    What struck me was that up until the failed coup, the world’s media was disturbed by Chavez for trying to pack the courts, changing the makeup of the legislature, and other things problematic for human rights; but as soon as Chavez came out against the Bush administration after returning to power, the media have been in suckup mode to Chavez.

    (Apologies if this comment appears twice; Movable Type gave me an error message the first time I hit “Post”.)

  • Ron

    If I remember correctly Jack Straw welcomed the coup that temporarily ousted Chavez for 10 days. Hark at the democrat!

    I dont give two fucks who the people of Venezuela elect as their leader, but please try and keep in touch with reality or the planet is doomed.

    If this sort of bullshit is making you some money then I understand and excuse my rant, but if it’s not – bless us and save us.

    It’s simple. A nobrainer really. Chavez has shown some hostility towards neoliberalism. This is beyond the pail, hence the threat of coups, assassination , and propagandising that he is a corupt devil & dictator.

    Of course this is complete bullshit.
    Neoliberals and their more irrational fascist sect of neoconservatives believe Chavez is limiting their ability to make profits in Venezuela. This is sufficient to be vilified and made an official enemy of the US.

    Governments that use significant amounts of their income to help their less well off citizens have traditionally been made enemies of the US and either attacked directly or indirectly.

    The greatest fear of the US and other neoliberal elites is for an economy hostile to neoliberalism to succeed. So lets be prepared for all sorts of bullshit and tantrums from the neoliberals about Chavez being the devil incarnate. You get a sense of it from the contributors to this site, who are not elites, just deluded middle -class freeloaders who shit themselves about themselves that they or their kids might have to do hard work to earn a living, and need an enslaved and impoverished class to do it for them, and provide them with all the crap they must have for their meaningless consumer binging lives.

    So cut the bullshit its boring, no one is
    listening including the population of venezuela.

    Hopefully Iraq has so fucked up US agression and shown it to be what it really is that invading or sponsoring a coup in Venezuela is just not possible anymore. But I wouldn’t put it past the fascists that have immerged under Bush to lead the US. Fascists are irational.

    Note: “nutjob” is a word only complete chumps would use.

  • Put down the crackpipe, er Chomsky Ron.

  • Paul Marks

    If “neo liberalism” includes social democrats who want to increase the minimum wage, increase spending on government health care and education and hand out what is left of the oil money directly to each person – well it must be a rather broad doctrine.

    Yes the Americans did demand that Chevez not be harmed. They did a similar thing with Norega (sorry for my spelling) in Panama. There was coup the Americans made vague noises, but did not give any practical support for the coup – and demanded (or so I have been told) that Norega not be killed. And so he was soon back in power. So the Americans had to act themselves (later) because they had prevented local people doing the job.

    Actually Chevez and Norega (old “pineapple head”) look very similar, they might almost be twins.

    However, Norega never made speeches denouncing the concept of money (suggesting that a combination of state direction and barter would be a better system) and claiming that collective ownership of land (which Chevez is under impression was the practice in preColumbian times) would work better than private ownership. Even if there was collective ownership of land in preColumbian times the population is rather bigger these days and the ecomomy (including farming) is a much more complicated undertaking.

    Chevez is a nut, and the people who voted for him are going to starve (as soon as the oil money starts running down).

    As H.L.M. used to say “Democracy is the system by which people get to ask for what they want and they deserve to get it – good and hard”.

  • Ron

    In theory neoliberal economics is a narrow doctrine. In practice it doesn’t work. However, the G8 led by the US impose it on poorer nations so they can rip them off.

    Neoliberalism is certainly not for the US which adopts huge deficit financing and makes massive subsidises to industry to gain competitive advantage.

    The minimum wage is fuck-all, and any rise above inflation will, even using gross exageration, make it
    almost practically fuck-all.

    Fattening the Health and education services for privitisation: yes that’s neoliberalism.

    Oil revenues! The UK blew them a decade ago. We are actually net importers of oil now.

    Which social democratic government are you fantasising about Paul Marks?

  • Paul Marks

    Well Ron I am not a neoliberal – I am libertarian.

    The social democrats I was writing about were in Venezuela (the policy of their candidate). You might have guessed that I was writing about Venezuela because of the word “Venezuela” in the title of the post (and in the post, and in the comments).

    On economics I am (although not all libertarians are) an Austrian school man – start with Lugwig Von Mises “Human Action” and go on from there (you might try the Ludwig Von Mises institute website for information).

    As for the G8 – well I see no point in these expensive meetings.

    I also support getting rid of the I.M.F. and the World Bank.

    Doubtless you say you are against the actions of the I.M.F. and World Bank – but would you get rid of them, or would you just prefer to be in charge of ripping off the taxpayers and giving orders to various places?