Tuesday, March 05, 2013

It's never about one leader

I'm very sorry to hear of the death of Hugo Chavez (http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13928049), in precisely the way I won't mourn the passing of Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Windsor or (for that matter) Tony Blair or David Cameron.

I rarely touch on international issues on this blog because I prefer to concentrate on issues I know at least something about and/or can do at least something about.

But I can see, as anyone can, that Chavez stood as a representative of the poor, the oppressed and the working class in Venezuela. Socialists should share their sorrow at his passing.

He was a charismatic leader and plainly something of a populist and, were I Venezuelan, I imagine that my support for him would have been critical to the point that might have been worrying for me. As an old Bennite, I understand that we must always mistrust and criticise all leaders (Benn included!) - a lesson which many of my more leftwing comrades would do well to learn.

Nevertheless, Chavez stood in opposition to US imperialism (and if that led him to questionable alliances he never gave support to the most reactionary nations - such as Saudi Arabia - which are lauded by our leaders).

Sometimes there is no more a "third camp" than there was ever a "third way" and - in general - the popular opposition to US dominance which Chavez expressed and exemplified has been a positive and progressive political force.

And that's the point.

Chavez did not personify opposition to imperialism. He expressed it.

Chavez himself may not have agreed with Lao Tzu on leadership (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/10627-to-lead-people-walk-beside-them-as-for-the) but the truth is that the "Bolivarian revolution" was and is the property of the people and not of one President.

I'm sorry that Chavez is dead, not because I mourn him as an individual but because I am in solidarity with Venezuelan workers who do have that sorrow and do mourn.

But, of course, it's never about one leader.

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