Here’s a welcome departure from mainstream Chavez-bashing, via the Monthly Review. I think it’s very sober in its appraisal of the pitfalls and the promise attached to HC’s surging popular support, and his purported radical turn.
All the dangers that obtain to radical democracy loom large here. Chances are the Bolsheviks didn’t form their party thinking it’d end up a strong-arming, monolithic elite. Laclau reminds us that such is the price of populism and radical democracy – one cannot be sure that the risks taken will yield the results on has in mind at the start.
The other danger, of course, is a booming capitalist class in Venezuela, which runs the media and enjoys powerful U.S. support. Chavez must retain the support of the small but crucial Venezuelan middle class, which’ll be easier said than done as the ‘Chavez = Egomaniac Dictator’ barrage continues. The more steps Chavez takes to curb this assault, the more he’ll come to embody the very anti-democratic posture he’s trying to renounce.
I’m still sticking to my ‘Not Crap, with waffle factor’ vote on Hugo, but I want to know more. I look forward to reading this book when Cassidy’s done with it.