Tuesday, June 20, 2006

# Posted 1:07 PM by Patrick Porter  

BIRDS AND BANDITS: Personally, I quite like pigeons. On the other hand, I dislike Venezuela's ruler Hugo Chavez, mainly because he threatens to jail people who criticise him.

London's mayor, however, thinks differently on both issues. I can hear Nelson weeping from atop his column.
(14) opinions -- Add your opinion

You can hear Nelson weeping? I'm impressed!

I too hear H.G.Wells, Oscar Wilde, Vida Goldstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, William Cobbett, Blake, George Orwell, ALfred Deakin, Francis Bacon, Beatrice Webb AND Mary Wolstonecraft - not only weeping, but knashing their teeth and spinning in their graves, nightly. I don't get much sleep, dammit. You're lucky you've just got Horatio.
PS. yes, Chavez IS a dodgy fellow isn't he. But nationalisation of resources is a good idea, especially for poor countries where neoliberal economics has not worked. The 'Left' would just be wise to applaud the relevant policies and not play up to the man. Similarly, the 'Right' would do well to realise the reason his policies appeal to so many and the failure of neoliberalism to alleviate poverty which has given opportunities to men like Chavez. He may be a populist demagogue, but populists succeed because the old elite has left a vacuum for them to step into. Thus speak the voices in my head, anyway.
personally Aron, when a ruler imprisons people for criticising him, I blame the ruler.

Instead of throwing argument-substitute, shudder-words like 'neo-liberal' about. instead of trying to change the subject into economics 101.

if its social democracy you really want, there are solidly democratic versions of it throughout Latin America, alternatives that all the left should embrace.
But the voices, Patrick! What about the voices?? I get John Meynard Keynes of a morning too, over breakfast! Lately Galbraith has been joining him for tea ...

God Save The Queen - Officially 80, Bless Her!

PS. Trust me, I'm not making 'excuses' for Chavez's dictatorial behviour. As a historian yourself, you know everything has a cause, and a cause does not an excuse make! One only has to look at Australian history to see that much.

the voices indeed.
on Chavez, I accept that there are causes for his dictatorial behaviour. Though the fact that some leftist leaders in other Latin American countries have not embraced dictatorial methods suggests that there is not an inevitable slide from 'neoliberalism' to dictatorship.

You may be offering explanations rather than excuses. But your explanation risks diluting the force of the condemnation of Chavez. It is a classic case of 'apologetic discourse.'

I denounced Chavez for imprisoning dissidents, and you responded by making so many qualifications, criticisms and cautions about the west's responsibility for the conditions in which Chavez rose to power that by the end, it served to temper the moral censure of Chavez's appalling conduct. And to deny him responsibility for policies which are voluntarily his.

It wasn't just explanation. In effect, it was moral neutralisation.

I'm not convinced that you would be so understanding if a right-wing dictator behaved in a similar fashion. There is a time to explain and interpret, and a time simply to say that something is wrong and should be opposed strongly.
Apologetic discourse indeed! I am offended. And I never mentioned 'the West' - a thing which I believe does not even exist as such.

The fact that Chavez, Bush, Blair and Howard et all are democratically elected does not in any way absolve any them of moral culpability for their actions. I am equally generous and severe to all, the demogogues of both 'Left' and 'Right' are all crazy in the coconuts. We know that.

'Moral neutralisation'? My dear Patrick, you suggest (and assume) too much.

Best wishes for your upcoming birthday too! :) Oh, the duke of Wellington sends his regards. I know him well - too well, the bastard. :P
"I met murder on the way... He had a face like Castlereigh"!

Shall we count the dead ascribed to each of these wicked leaders? That would be a game of pointscoring that would suit the moral equivalence of the Australian prime minister! And tickle the fancy of many an academic - a veritable forest made not of timber but of whole PEOPLES - crucified for a cause, every one!
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sorry, in that comment I called you Sonic, another of my sparring partners. I don't want you to think I'm mad...

Now. Chavez. I'm distressed that you won't just agree that Chavez is a dictator who imprisons his critics, and that this is a bad thing.

If you had put up a post claiming that the USA tortures people and that this is abhorrent, I would have immediately agreed and said nothing else. Full stop. I wouldn't have tried to relativise it or dilute it.

But since you want to play the "broaden the subject to the USA and its allies" game, I don't know how many of their political critics Howard, Bush and Blair have put in prison lately.

I do know that if the Australian Democrats had been listened to in 1991, Kuwait would have become the 19th province of Iraq, with all that would entail.

After Chavez spends another decade in power, we'll see just how much like his heroes Castro and Mugabe he might become. There won't be a shortage of corpses then, I assure you.
Oh yes, Patrick, I agree with you about Chavez. But one is allowed to say more, surely! Chavex isn't JUST a (democratic) dictator who imprisons his critics, just as Bush isn't JUST a (democratic) incompetent who tortures people. If only it were that simple we could easily be rid of both of them!

I don't know what you are talking about re. the Dems and Kuwait - I was barely a teenager then! :) But that's beside the point.

I hope however that we are wrong about Chavez leading to corpses, as you say. The precendent is certainly not good - I don't trust anyone who gives 3 hour speeches. My one criticism of both 'Left' and 'Right' is that they take a little too much pleasure in war and catastrophe when it befalls the other side. The luxury of the so-called 'West' has always been that they feel they can meddle without facing consequences. But Senator Fullbright was right about that fallacy.
LOL re: 3 hours speeches, :)

not meddling also has consequences: Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur.
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