Wednesday, March 06, 2013

RIP Hugo Chavez

From a purely human point of view, I would never wish a lingering death from cancer on anyone. So on that basis, my condolences.

He was of course the most prominent face on Latin America's general leftward tilt over the past decade. The fact that he looted the nation's economy while being fawned over by First World proggs is a banality at this point, after the 20th Century's long and disgraceful history of the same phenomenon in other workers' paradises.

Give him this, though: he was indeed conspicuously un-murderous, for a socialist maximum leader. And who knows, maybe he would not have later instituted gulags, had he lasted and had a free hand. Unlike most of his marxist predecessors, he never used the pretext of This Present Hour Of Armageddon to institute mass jailings and executions of opponents, nor random terror to keep the people off balance and in political disarray. (If I missed it, someone please let me know.) So low has the bar been for socialist Second and Third World governments that this minimum, this simple refraining from launching a blood bath, seems like an actual achievement by contrast.

So why does Latin America keep throwing up people like this? Blessed as I am with near perfect ignorance of most details of the continent's history, I'd say that it's founding was awry. Instead of a sturdy, independent anglo-protestant yeomenry as in northern North America, Latin America was settled by a thin scum of violent, sleazy Iberian nobility, lording it over a vast sweating under-mass of suffering peons, with very little in between. It's rather as if all of North America had consisted of a small aristocratic planter class, slaves and indentured servants, and little else. The imbalance has perturbed Latin America's course ever after. They don't need revolutions, they need a free, robust, enfranchised middle class, with a rule of law that inspires respect.

He survived a coup attempt, and he was re-elected a couple of times. But I'd still rather be governed by my last twenty county commissioners than by someone like him. When politics is dictated by a single person, whether or not under the guise of some -ism or other, political life withers into simple alignment for or against him. It barely matters if he's Idi Amin or Frederick The Great--Dear Leaders are bad for democracy.

Here's hoping for the best for Venezuela's future, may God guide her.