Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are chavistas akin GOP far right?

OK, once you get past this provocation, watch the video below and think about how different are in real life fundamentalist, be they from left or right....  Courtesy of The Economist.

For those following this blog for a long time, remember my often stated case that chavismo was in fact a retrograde, reactionary movement, afraid of novelty and changing society. In fact, chavismo is nothing else but a reincarnation of the populist side of AD (look at electroal maps of today and 50 years ago), cleansed from its intellectual minority which for all practical matters haas disappeared completely from Venezuelan parties, timidly coming back with some of the movments associated with the MUD.

By the way, some of the stuff that Capriles is doing right and Chavez doing wrong in this particular campaign are spelled out in this video too. Ain't it a grand coincidence?! which tells you that morality is never a clear cut left-right division.


  1. Charly9:50 PM

    Isn't left-right an outmoded concept anyway, especially when facism-nazism is thought of a far right movement. What a joke!

    1. Yes Charly, people are simply losing their mind....

      Chavismo and the far right have something in common: they both look for certainties and unfortunately our current world is unable to offer certainties. So they cling desperately to anything that answers some of their questions or wishes, no matter how unreasonable or unsatisfactory those may be.

    2. Charly1:38 AM

      Daniel, you are getting very isoteric. Having lived in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, I believe Chavez, like Daniel Ortega is just another opportunist. Occam razor!

  2. Daniel This isn't one of your best written essays. It seems that you are trying to link guns and butter here. Firstly Chavismo is an unusual mix of populism, clear cut fascism (trying to take the nation back to a former time period) blended with humanistic philosophy's and a socialism/communism usually associated with radical leftists. If you want to have an honest dialogue about United States politics as well, you shouldn't begin by trying to link the Republican party with the far right. There is an extreme right wing movement in the US. associated with a supposed coming holocaust, racial war scenario, survivalism, end of the world, and linked to German Fascism. None of this has anything to do with the republican party. The socialist liberal press, and Democrats try to discredit the Republicans by attempting to associate them with these extremist groups. The Republican party desires to have a decentralized central government, balanced budget, less government regulation, and lower taxes for all. They believe that the best way to help the poor and marginalized is not through government handouts but through a dynamic economy where each person may earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow. The Republican party is a modern social democratic movement with support for social nets to help the poor, infirm, disabled, and elderly. An interesting thing to me as I read the different Venezuelan blogs is the constant criticism of president Chavez (rightly earned) by individuals that are also ardent socialists. It seems to me the age old socialist argument, that socialism is wonderful, we just haven't the right people managing it yet. I.e. It would have worked in China, Soviet, North Korea, venezuela, or Cuba if only bla, bla, bla.

    1. Oh but I can!

      I am not confusing here the GOP with the McVeigh floating around its fringes. I am talking about the GOP where it has become main stream to be anti abortion, anti gay, and anti a lot of things. Making the GOP a social democratic movement makes Merkel and Cameron dangerous commie regimes.

      On another point: shaming me in "not one of my better" texts is a non sequitur since the said text starts acknowledging its provocation nature. When I write a real assay, people know it.

    2. Daniel If you sincerely desire to have a discussion the best way to start it is not by using debate techniques such as name calling and guilt by association. Routinely the US press tries to link the Republicans with the true far right that I previously described. If there is a far right then there has to be a center right. What you have chosen to refer to the far right is the center right. Center in opinion, and center numerically. I wasn't trying to shame you, just saying, not one of your most coherent pieces. I'm not sure what you mean by anti lot of things. Do you mean anti big government, anti high taxes, and anti government intervention (big brother) in our lives? These are center pieces of American conservatism. The Republican party has no position on homosexuality, and many US homosexuals are participants in the Republican party. It tends to hold to the historic position of marriage between males and females. This is the position humanity has taken for thousands of years. Hence a centrist and traditional position. You are indeed confusing the Republican movement with McVeigh because he personifies the US extreme right. I understand your sympathy's lie in other areas but your feelings do not alter facts. Since the republican party advocates social systems for the poor etc, they do indeed qualify as a modern social democratic movement. Whether you want to accept these facts or not.Name calling is one of the lowest forms of dialogue. But typical of leftist dialogue. If you want to dialogue hazlo, but debate facts not your opinions. And if there are no facts how can we dialogue?

    3. I am cutting this right out.

      The positions on gay rights in general, on abortion and on civil rights such as what to with immigrants good enough to pick the garbage but not good enough to educate their children make the current GOP a political party where there is no room for me. Why would I discuss with them budget and taxes when they question my humanity?

      The current GOP uses some libertarian tenets, which which I sympathize, as an excuse to pass along very unpalatable social positions. For example, I am not particular adamant about gay marriage. But their opposition to it has much more to do about gay baiting, keeping gays as second class citizens than defending sanctity of marriage long undone by divorce. Also, as a scientist I am very concerned about the creationists hidden in the GOP and the refusal by many major figures to come out right against "intelligent design" and such crap, again an excuse hiding other political and sectarian motives. Science is science and the rest is mere denialism and wishful thinking.

      I hope my point comes across clear. Now, can we get back to the points addressed in the video, or did you not bother to try to understand it?

    4. Ken,

      I think extremes on both sides are dominating the dialogue right now, whether or not there are moderates on both sides.

      As for the anti abortion anti -gay issues, there are proponents in both parties .In the case of antiabortionists they also could be called pro -lifers....and in the the case of " antigay" most are not.They are anti-gay- marriage which is different.

      I am pro abortion rights myself, but I do not consider those who are against abortion to be necessarily anti women.We have to make sure of important distinctions in order not to fall prey to falsehoods.

      Remember though Democrats can be conservative, and Republicans can be socially liberal and definitely both can be rigid and both can be tolerant depending.Some people have a hard time seeing their intolerance.

      How many have met those who tell us everyday that the only people you can hate are those whom it is politically correct to hate? I see it everyday....the worse kind of fascist thought in the name of " tolerance".

      It is a confusing mix out there, but what I do insist on is that the dialogue on both sides has become rigid, angry, untruthful, dogmatic, and retrograde...which is reminiscent of Chavez's style, if albeit to a lesser degree.

  3. I think ideology is like a religion.Once we stop looking for practical solutions with the same freedom of thought we might have when we take on the task of repairing our houses, or helping our children though psychological problems or cooking a meal...well, that lack of flexibilty called ideology ( a rigid belief system)will create an almost impenetrable barrier between us and others who think differently, making compromise next to impossible.

    Chavismo is another belief system just like the left and the right or any other religion, with or without a belief in God.

    Right now before election time I have to block most of my US friends from my news feed, simply because there are so many who are lying and slandering the other side in order to feel better about themselves.They really and truly think that they are smart and the other side is stupid.All heroes are on their side and all villains on the other.They are moral and the other side is immoral.

    I grew up in a different world.Republicans and Democrats could be friends and respect each other's views.

    I have arrived to the point where I would rather die than vote for either party.They are too extremist for the most part.

    It is impossible for either side to convince the other because their beliefs are not founded on reason, but rather on emotional identifications and blind beliefs.

    My feeling is: I am not a Democrat, and I am not a Republican...And I want my country back.

    I want Venezuela back too.

  4. "The undevout astronomer is mad" said the great Kepler.

  5. My two cents: there are the (self-assessed) "intellectually proficient," and there are the (self-assessed)"ethically proficient." Unfortunately, reasoned argument cannot persuade the second type (many republicans and democrats) as they tend to classify themselves as "good" and their opponents as "selfish/hard hearted" or "hypocritical/bleeding heart/free rider". For instance, both parties have done away with their moral foundation by destroying the principle of "one law for all." In the end double morality wins the game: "the law applies to you but not to me." But there is no such thing as cognitive dissonance for the "morally proficient," and the double morality is not seen as such.

    1. The Laughing Man7:05 AM

      Actually, a lot of people - from both the intellectual and emotive end - are at least somewhat aware of this 'double morality' as you put it. In fact you can find more than one high-end political operative who are quite open about it and even advocate for it. Of course, then you have the response, "Well, if the other guy wants and is trying to roll my core beliefs and dreams into the ditch, I'll do the same to him and his kin when it is my turn", from the opposition. That is a rather strong driver for this mechanism.

      Although to be completely honest this is (from a U.S. perspective at least since it has come up) somewhat normal for U.S. history as a whole. These days Dem/Rep infighting is still much more covert than it was in the 19th Century. At the 1864 Democratic Convention you had some VERY VERY VERY THINLY veiled threats against the life of Abe Lincoln; of course it was the Civil War at the time and the Democrats had close allegiances with the pro-slavery South, so that shouldn't come as a big shocker. On the Rep side slightly earlier (just before that war) you had John Brown speaking at the Republican convention. Anti-slavery for sure, but to the point where he was hacking people with axes in Kansas before that convention, and *after* the convention raided a military armory to spark a slave revolt (the latter activity did not end well for him). Not even talking about the media itself around that period.

      Even when you remove the specter of the Civil War however, you will read things in newspapers before and afterwards that would make a modern, hardcore, unapologetic political advocate bloggers hair and skin turn white, even if they agreed with the artifact opinion. It is VERY HARD to find on the internet, even in the least trafficked corners, the stuff you could find (left/right/up/down/whatever) in many of the old mainstream (and popular alternative) newspaper prints. I will concede some previous "let's play nice" periods though, including the recent one that extended from the end of WW2 until around 1968 (although residuals of that period did last somewhat until around 1990-ish), but that's more of an exception than a rule.

      As far as the "intellectually proficient" thing...meh. There is a very wide gulf in what people consider "reason/reasonable" to be, and who they consider to have these powers of deduction. For example, if you refer to academics then rather a lot of them seem to fall into "ethically proficient" these days, no matter what they self-report as.

      Speaking of that, are you referring to your self-assessment of others, or what others assess themselves as?

    2. It is indeed interesting to observe that historically periods of relative tolerance alternate with radical discourses. In Venezuela any opposition usually ended up in a civil war. Then, from 1958 until 1990 we had a relative civility which kept degrading today to our near civil war atmosphere. The interesting thing here is that Capriles civility seems to be undoing two decades of violence by himself! In France we also so that, polarization around 1968 until early 80 ies and these days the polite ferocity of the discourse does not represent the civility that in real life the political class seem to have for each other (cf. the recent transition).

      I suppose that radical discourse fits better when countries know consciously or not that change is unavoidable. thus radicalism may hide or represent that fear, according to the political culture it prospers on.

  6. Anonymous5:39 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I have had what seems a life time dealing with insulting comments from chavistas. I am not going to allow it from the opposite side. The more so when they come as anonymous..... Please, stay on topic and insult me on the topic if you must.

  7. The Laughing Man9:25 AM

    Since I wanted to make the one long contribution in response to LT, I will make another one here separately. Both for the original post and the Republican stuff (the latter point MUCH briefer than the former).

    First of all, as far as the video, the guy from the Economist takes a self-defeating stance within the first minute. His comment about trying to persuade his parents, to make them abandon their political beliefs in order to see his "reason" smacks just a little of hubris and even more of hypocrisy on his part.

    As mentioned, and perhaps to expand upon what I said in LT's post, what one perceives as "reason" is more subjective than it appears on the surface. What one person may see as a logical and measured conclusion, someone else may see as an inherently incorrect result. If the input for the logical process is based on a false premise to begin with, it's especially shaky. Side questions involving free will and/or the value of shared premises could also be derived from continuing this line of questioning.

    But back on point, what does the man from Economist view as "reasoned"? Is is actually reasonable? Is is reason actually based off an emotive reaction? I would wager so, as he quarrels with his parents about it. The hubris kicks in with the implication that whatever this "reason" is, that it must be superior to that of his parents. I like the cut of his arrogant jib.

    But, he is a subpar sideshow for the professor. In regards to Haidt I do not necessarily agree with some of his assessments, particularly when it comes with advising - or his personal assessments of - the current US candidates and I am not surprised on that end as he is not in the same business as Pat Caddell or Karl Rove. But in the field that he is strong in, his academic research, he comes to some interesting results in terms of left-vs-right thought (although I would have liked to hear about all 5 modes of thought he's evaluated, I guess the Economist can only afford 256MB SD cards for their cameras?).

    The great thing about authoritarianism is that the more progressed you become on that axis, regardless of your political decisions or convictions (if you have any) is that the lines between left and right are blurred ever-more strongly until they meet up finally in a "total" system, an infinitely dense singularity of trash. A real life example can be found in 1930s-40s (and 50s to a degree), most obviously. While on the surface there are differences between the Nazi's and the USSR, as the surface is further scratched there are not as many. The rhetoric may differ, but you see witchhunts by the state leadership of other personnel within the government, state control of the production and distribution of goods and resources (either through direct control, control through flunkies, or some combination thereof), and the systematic elimination of any threat to the state that the state can theoretically eliminate; internally first and then progressively more to the external, in both.

    And thus has Chavez himself blurred the lines evermore as he as proceeded to dismantle his opposition and the legal means through which he could be removed. He might be a self-reporting communist and he certainly is not against state control of resources, but that doesn't stop him from indulging in cronyism and kickbacks to a wide range people. And certainly the people beneath him in power are of a similar mind, and employ similar strategies.

    So is Chavez a righty or a southpaw? Is Roger McShane overpaid? The answer is "yes", from my own "reasoned" view.
    And as far as the Republican thing, I guess I will devote a small paragraph to that since it's become a point. From my own vantage point, I can determine that regardless of whatever I have concluded about the situation, presenting that determination would be non-productive to the goal of defeating Chavez. At the very least, I will save it for the 8th of October.

    1. 1) Well, McShane as an interviewer felt compelled, I suppose, to bring some melodrama, some "human touch". You know, like Olympics coverage where it is more important to highlight the personal dramas of the gold medal winner than the actual athletic feat. But I digress :)

      2) rightly so after October 8. If Capriles wins maybe I can start writing in earnest about other topics such as the US election :-)

    2. Well I hope there's enough to write about the Capriles honeymoon, without you having to open Pandora's box, aka the hornet's nest, aka the US election.

  8. The website the video comes from has links leading to an article that talks about the possible instinctual drives that underlie our morals. Finally somebody in the msm is making this point and I am thrilled that Daniel has brought it up, though this is not entirely new. Our approach (the general approach) to morality is irrational because we fail to recognize the instinctual component involved here. And that does not mean everyone's instinct-based morality ought to be the same. The instinctual component could work more like an imprinting: a goose may follow a human as her mother if she sees the human when she breaks out of the egg, but a goose born in the wild will follow a goose as her mother: the two geese behave according to instinct, but one follows a human and the other follows a goose. Similarly, it could be that different moral attitudes in humans have an instinctual basis founded on a similar imprinting. A human society's definition of equality may very well depend on whether or not members have the same right to reproduce (monogamy=biological equality for males, at least) or not (polygamy=biological inequality). Polygamous societies tend to recognize equality only among members of the same caste in a hierarchy, so their concept of equality and justice is different from ours at a profound level, if the latest research on monogamy and equality is to be believed. Then there is the imprinting caused by growing up among a group a peers: the disgust caused by incest (and racial/ethnic miscegenation) has an instinctual basis too, to the point that in experiments with trains results depend on the sacrificial victim's race/ethnic group (people tend to push the lever more if the group to be saved is from the subject's race/ethnic group). Not to mention the imprinting caused by the presence of a father in the house while growing up to help build a moral spine (the most effective example of what it means to make a commitment). Our western societies have embarked on a great social experiment without considering instinctual imprinting, as though it could impose a whole new blueprint from above and I am pessimistic about the results. The destruction of monogamy and fatherhood bodes ill for our traditional "christian" values, such as equality, sympathy for others, loyalty to anyone or anything as *we* traditionally understand them... I regard highly the research of Venezuelans in the barrios that wrote the book "Y salimos a matar gente" that is all about imprinting and the moral code: the destruction of motherhood and its consequences in the barrios. Another book that's a good read is: "The natural history of love."

    1. It would help readers if you used the paragraph mark :-)

      In the old system of comments where I could edit comments if i wanted I actually a few times introduced paragraph marks.... But now I cannot, just erase or leave it as is.

      So please, dear readers, the more so when you write interesting stuff, do split your paragraphs.

  9. "gives them a sense of meaning and purpose in life"

    Yep. That's a big part of the problem.

  10. Anonymous4:43 PM

    Regarding the video, the interviewer came off as the stereotypical liberal douche. Luckily, the interviewee actually knew what he was talking about.

    Regarding politics, it all boils down to the difference between solving a problem by understanding the nature of the problem and solving it by repeating the solutions learned in the past. The average person is intellectually incapable of doing the former, so they invariably resort to the latter.

    What I mean is that the vast majority of the people know that 2+2 equals 4, but most of them do so only because they have memorized the solution, not because they truly understand the nature of everything involved in concluding that 2+2 equals 4.

    Same with religion and politics. Maybe a few thousand years ago someone realized that eating his pigs was bad for his health (they had triquinosis), and advised others not to do it. They didn't understand why, but they did it and it proved a good idea, so they repeated it and taught it to their children. At some point it became a de facto "truth" for them that eating pigs was bad. They never fully understood why and they probably invented rationalizations for it ("god said pigs were dirty animals").

    Modern politics isn't concerned with solving problems as much as with solving them "the right way" by applying policies that they consider de facto truths about how to create an utopian society. None of their solutions truly work because life isn't a quadratic equation (it doesn't have a neat little solution that everyone can agree on) but they keep trying them like old wizards using their favorite magic incantations to turn lead into gold.

  11. LT,

    None of our imprints, whether instinctive or social mean much in the face of consciousness, and I think this is what confuses people.

    It doesn't do me much good to repeat the mantra that, because of my history, I think such, and such.On the other hand it could work wonders for me to see the "world " from a distance and actually be able to make a choice.

    But making real choices is something that is simply not done very often,choices are usually made for us as we follow the society in which we live, and politicians know just how easy it is to manipulate that.Do I have to self identify as a typical woman, or typical agnostic, or typical anything? Of course not.I am an individual.

    In a democratic society that is based on the freedom to think what we will, it is paramount to support that ability at all times unless we want to lose the freedom we have.Once we try to badger, threaten ,insult, to coerce others into thinking just as we do( yes, and sometimes in the name of " morality")- then we are behaving in an authoritarian manner.

    In other words, though I am a woman, as a free thinker, I allow you to "hate" me.I don't require of you to approve of me in any way.I do require of you to follow the laws of society in what you can or cannot do to act on that disapproval.

    Yet,as well, I feel it's important that people realize the necessity of a civil tongue that treats the other as one would also desire to be treated within the context of honest self expression.............FIREPIGETTE

  12. As for the cynical sermon about morality presented in the video I could give a thousand example of its errors.One important one:

    Both Democrats and Republicans have a conspiracy of silence about how hard it is to repeal an existing law.
    Not only do you need a majority in both houses, but in the Senate it has to be a 60 seat veto proof majority, which is very rare to obtain.The Republicans promise to appeal Obama Care from day 1 and the Democrats also want voters to believe that this is what will happen if Obama is not reelected. Both have campaigns that run on lies and distortions of the truth.

    There is no morality without truth.

  13. el título y en seguida pensé: "a este Daniel sí que le gusta alborotar el avispero. Ya van a salir"...y salieron.

    Well, it's a common place this thing about extremes meeting. Of course, someone here is also right when he mentioned there are differences between the extreme right and the, let's call them perhaps like that, extreme conservatives.
    At this stage we should be aware the political spectrum can be better described in terms of multidimensional coordinates.

    There are, nevertheless, some clearly common features among such creatures as Chavistas and both extreme right and extreme conservatives. One of them is
    national Chauvinism. These three groups use words such as "fatherland" and "traitor" and "anti-patriotic" very often when they can't come further in their discourse.

  14. There is a revealing book called "Daemonic Males" about the behaviour of animal (not insect) societies, especially apes but others as well (hyenas, lions, baboons, etc.). Among other things the book shows that the difference between animal societies that make use of conquest (expansion into new territory with mass murder of conquered males and infants) and slavery of females (involving frequent battery, infanticide, rape and forced food sharing/deprivation) is male vs. female power sharing. The difference between Regular Chimpanzees and Bonobo Chimpanzees is exactly that.

    Don't get me wrong, societies with a strong female role are tyrannical hierarchies and viciously territorial, but they are never imperialistic or bent upon the type of slavery or the excesses of cruelty against minors described above.

    Macho cultures are always tempted by the imperialistic/slaver inclination. I am not saying Republicans are a macho culture, though maybe they are (who was that republican congressman who was saying that women who suffer a REAL rape don't get pregnant, so if they do, then they really did'nt mean "no"?), but Chavez? No question.

    No matter their discourse, the extreme right and the extreme left meet in the backyard of the Chimpanzee.

    By the way, in the backyard of the Bonobos, misbehaving males are dismembered by rabid female mobs. Nice, eh? Do you imagine Chavez being dismembered by his female ministers? No? Then that's not real power sharing....

    1. Charly2:23 AM

      Is Chavez only a Bonobo or is he a real chimp? That is the question.

  15. Well, I did like your post and I thought the video quite interesting.

  16. Kepler,

    First of all I should reiterate the importance of definition, and the understanding of terms.

    One of the moral values spoken of in this book is loyalty which is the basis of patriotism.A country has to have a healthy dose of patriotism in order to build itself into a cohesive unit capable of caring for its interests.

    National Chauvinism is an extreme view of considering your own Nationality far superior to any other.It is true that the extreme right wing could be accused of this.

    However in the case of Chavez, it is quite the opposite.I would call him:


    He has no qualms in putting the Cubans in charge of his country :)and giving the Chinese , Iranians and Russians their own zones of authority in the country.

    Chavez's dreams is to unify Latin America under his control and then head a multi- National coalition to bring down the West once and forever.

    This dream has more in common with the far left.



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