The Venezuela/Soviet Union Analogy: does it hold water?
Some people, such as sonia-belle, do not like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez or his attempt to setup a socialist state based on democratic principles. However, we must remind ourselves that Chavez is wildly more popular within his country than President Bush is in his.
Opposition to and critiques of Chavez take several different forms. Some people create an analogy between the current Venezuelan state and the Soviet Union. Analogies are nice when the economic and political conditions, circumstances, and actions are the same. What we have here is an analogy that does not work on any of those levels. It would appear that those who use the analogy are trying to create a polemic that causes fear in those who do not have a surface level understanding of either event—the creation of the Soviet Union and the rise of Chavez. The reactionary attitude that eschews all observation and evidence as the basis for premises in an argument against Chavez is self-defeating for those who wish to demonize Chavez. Let us say that Chavez is a demon, a point I grant only for the sake of persuasive argument. Not understanding and acknowledging the conditions that give rise to his popularity and his socialist program will do nothing but enhance his chances for success unless one feels that misunderstanding and rancor will carry the day despite their almost universal shortcomings.
Every large-scale experiment with regime and economic change is dangerous. The Chavez experiment is much less so than most. First, Chavez is playing off the global economy for Venezuela’s own purposes. Being an oil rich country he has the wisdom to sell it to the highest bidders rather than let neoliberal regimes bribe and corrupt him, and exploit the Venezuelan people. This bone sticks in the throats of neoliberal/neocon throats. Global trade is always wonderful right up until the point you are not the obvious winner.
Chavez is also building a grassroots participatory democracy to enhance local and regional economies. This has also made him very popular with the Venezuelan people.
The global capital game is played by bribe, corruption, unfair trade practices, and assassination if need be. This is another point that grates upon those who hate Chavez. Thus far, the Washington Consensus folks have not corrupted him nor deterred him from establishing a different kind of socialist state where the worker’s interests hold top priority.
We can expect all manner of scare tactics when it comes to Chavez. The Soviet Union analogy is the one that holds no water.