Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chavez and the Arab Revolutions

Nice post on this topic over at American Leftist (see here). I largely share the views put forward in the post, which is to say, I'm not at all pleased with Chavez's recent moves vis-a-vis Libya. At a moment when solidarity is crucial, and massive outpouring of revolutionary energy is unfolding... self-proclaimed revolutionaries cannot be the ones putting on the breaks and asking for reconciliation. Whatever realpolitik-oriented reasons there may have been in the past for Venezuela to cultivate foreign relations with countries willing to cooperate with (rather than undermine) ALBA, the fact is that the world has changed. The revolutions in the Arab world have shattered the old configuration to pieces, and the only genuinely progressive, socialist orientation toward these movements is one of solidarity and excitement. With so many shared interests and political goals, it's a huge shame that Chavez, in many ways the leader (for better or for worse) of the South American Left, is driving a wedge between Latin America and the Arab revolutionaries. I hope that some counter-veiling event or movement will reverse this trend.

Of course, the capitalist media is going to spin this as "yet another" reason to believe the myth that Chavez is a no-good "dictator" who will do anything to maintain his own power. They will seize upon this in ways that they haven't seized upon the hypocritical bumbling of Blair, Biden and Giddens. It doesn't take much reflection to see the imperialist apologetics woven through these sorts of stories. But rejecting the tenor of the mainstream media hardly means that leftists should withhold criticism of Chavez. As far as I'm concerned, Chavez is blowing a huge opportunity to forge a progressive tie between ground-up revolutionary movements in Venezuela and the Middle East. If the goal really is a left-wing alternative to US imperialism and global capitalism, he's completely failing to pursue it right now.

In Chavez's defense, there is something to be said about attempting to counter-balance the recent spout of calls for intervention in Europe and the US. I don't think that Euro/US powers are capable of doing anything progressive in Libya- their motives are self-serving and motivated by geopolitical/economic interests. A recent survey of their international activity makes this painfully obvious. The problem, however, is that Chavez would do better to be silent than to pursue a last ditch attempt to help his "friend". At least silence would give some measured of respect to those losing their lives in the struggle to overthrow Gaddafi (and, as I say, I think silence isn't enough; the only genuinely socialist attitude here is one of solidarity). But, alas, the so-called leader of the Left in Latin America has likely lost a great deal of credibility in Latin America and abroad. This is a shame.


Richard said...

yes, it is a shame, and, potentially a catastrophic political error that will shape the future to our disadvantage

hope I'm being too pessimistic about it

t said...

Here's a little optimism to balance it out: Maybe after Gaddafi and Ahmedinejad are overthrown by revolutionary left movements from below, Chavez will be forced to change his position and support emancipatory movements in the Middle East...