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    Welcome, Mr Hugo Chavez


    by Sunny on 15th May, 2006 at 1:02 am    

    The President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez is coming here today (or already here) and I will admit I’m a fan of his populist politics. Despite lame articles such as this, and Gene’s own attempts, I’m yet to be convinced this man is bad for the Venezuelan people. And you know who else I really like? Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia who I recently wrote about here. Too bad he isn’t here otherwise I would have headed to Ken Livingstone’s event to hear him speak.
    Update: Schmoo has pics! And see this documentary.



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    65 Comments below   |  

    1. schmoo — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:17 am  

      I agree! I was riding up the Euston Road today and bumped into President Chavez coming out the side door of Camden Town Hall. He was really friendly, hung out on the street for a while, and let me take some pictures which I have posted at: http://www.schmoontherun.blogspot.com

    2. Rohin — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:21 am  

      I don’t mind Chavez sometimes. But his comments about Mugabe have damned him forever in my eyes, that’s a product of us vs. them thinking. He can’t surely think Mugabe is a good character?

      Looking at Daniel Duguenal/Gene’s questions, whilst some of the questions are not useful nor to be blamed on Chavez, there are some valid points. His politics are riddled with contradictions. However I think he can still be a positive influence for Venezuela and I support his efforts. It seems half the flak he receives in the Western press is because he isn’t ‘our guy’.

      Evo Morales is a style icon. Too cool for school.

    3. Refresh — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:43 am  

      Sunny - you may have already seen it, but the documentary covering the US-backed failed coup is worth publicising. Its called ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. http://www.chavezthefilm.com/index_ex.htm

      It really shows what he and we are up against, and how solidarity can transform lives, and nations.

      You want progressive - you must see this.

    4. Sunny — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:45 am  

      Haha Schmoo, funny pics! That has to be linked to. Rohin - ok I’ll give you that. Mugabe really is vile and it’s bloody annoying Chavez fell for that.

      But given that President Bush has said nice things about the Egyptians, Chinese and Saudi Arabians, I wonder if Gene is going to organise a rally about that.

      And I’m looking forward to Amir and telling me why Chavez is a bad man.

    5. Tilling — on 15th May, 2006 at 7:25 am  

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2179115,00.html

      A great man indeed.

    6. Sid — on 15th May, 2006 at 9:58 am  

      Just finished reading Ian Buruma’s book Occidentalism. Its a catalogue of anti-Western and anti-Democracy ideas and individuals from Biblical times. Very dijointed and utterly lop-sided with no attempt at equanimity in addressing *why* such ideas might have developed as if to suggest thes were anomalies which existed out of time and space.

      No doubt thats how he regards Chavez with an offensive line on guilt by association for anyone who doesn’t share with him with the moral contempt he has for Chavez. The same old “with us or against us” binary worldview so depressingly common from the muscular liberal line, whilst completely oblivious to their own intellectual inconistencies.

      As for Hugo, the man’s boss!

    7. Refresh — on 15th May, 2006 at 10:39 am  

      ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is history in the making. Its been a long time since I saw it - I caught it on TV late one night. It was one of the most moving pieces I have seen.

      It made me angry, but what was most interesting was how incompetent the coup leaders are and their backer in Washington really is.

      In places their action are so infantile that it had me laughing hysterically. I still laugh when I think about it.

      A particular scene to watch out for is when on a privately owned TV chat show where all the key players fronting the coup are sat round with the host asking questions like ‘when did you decide to do it?’, and the reply (I think it was an admiral) ‘You know! We decided round at your place’. And they all laugh in that knowing way.

      I can’t possible do it justice - its a must watch.

      Here’s a bit more on the coup:

      http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,688071,00.html

    8. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 11:11 am  

      :-) yes i think he likes to get up other ppl’s noses by using their us vs. them rhetoric against them.

      still he’s a very popular man in his own land and that’s what counts. and not many people have the guts to stand up to interfering “imperialists” aka the USA/.

    9. Don — on 15th May, 2006 at 11:33 am  

      Amnesty reports over 6,000 extra-judicial killings in the last five years. So I won’t exactly be cheering. As for his social and economic reforms, it’s results that count.

    10. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 11:43 am  

      Sid

      I have also read Occidentalism and am somewhat dismayed by your reaction to it. Which parts of it irked you? Which parts of the prejudice, irrationality and bigotry it described did you want placing in context and ameliorated?

      I simply don’t recognise the book you describe and they certainly cannot be caricatured as having produced a simple binary ‘us and them’ piece of propaganda as you seem to suggest.

      I would in fact say it is an excellent book and reccommend it to everyone. Get hold of a copy!

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1843542889/qid=1147689761/sr=2-2/ref=sr_2_3_2/026-8593458-7745208

    11. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:04 pm  

      Refresh - you’re absolutely right, that documentary needs to be more widely watched.

    12. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:07 pm  

      Indeed, a very good doc.

    13. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:10 pm  

      hmm ill have to read this book to find out for myself.

      i do think find it funny when people imagine they have ‘different values’ to others - all this nonsense about ‘eastern’ and ‘western values’ as if somehow they weren’t human universal values. of course its even funnier once someone’s got up an idea of themselves as ‘exclusive’ then must needs someone ‘else’ will come along and come up with an idea that is opposed to ‘that’..anti-anti-anti… ..regardless of the fact that they probably have a lot more in common than they realize.

    14. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

      @ Sonia, yep, I find it puzzling that people think we all don’t have the same goals of a decent life, health and well being for our loved ones etc…we really aren’t that different when it comes down it.

    15. Sid — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:20 pm  

      Jay

      None of it irked me in the sense that I was compelled to fling it across the room and shout “Fuck Off!”. It was a great read with illuminating points.

      I just thought it was disjointed, imbalanced. No mention at all was afforded to contextaulising these western-antipathetc ideas but given that it had 200 pages to present its thesis could be one reason why. It had a couple of great chapters, particularly the idea of the City of God and the suspicion the city has afforded to reactionaries. One of my ideas of the 7/7 bombers was that anti-London feelings were as much to blame as anti-Western by the provincially minded Leeds boys.

      No mention was given to say the selectiive anti-democratic and parochialist ideas that have influenced instances of western realpolitik in the last 200 years. No mention of how colonialism might have had a hand. Just flash points - Qutb, bin Laden, Japanese traditionalism etc.

      The Us vs Them idea was a comment on reading Buruma’s Times article which was a distillation of more of the same.

    16. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

      Leon you’re so right. of course i guess most people are too busy listening to what their ‘leaders’ are telling them about other people - ( ooh be scared! they’re different) to bother going out and finding out for themselves.

      or actually, if you listen to the rhetoric, the danger seems to be actually couched in the form ‘ah they want what you have.’

      hmm thereby perhaps indicating that everyone wants the same decent standard for themselves and loved ones..

    17. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 12:50 pm  

      Sid

      Well, it is a valuable polemic in the sense that it makes those points well. The thing is you can always qualify everything - you can even qualify the sins of ‘the West’ with points about what they were trying to do, intention, reaction etc

    18. Sid — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

      Jay

      Its valuable up to a point. When the British Raj clamped down on the anti-Britsih agitation of Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose et al - who should we ascribe the Raj’s anti-democratic ideologies to? Buruma does not even provide even a causal pretext to the anti-Democratic machinations of the French in Algeria. Why? Perhaps because it would break his thesis?

      You see for Buruma, the West is all-good and all the best lines are by Western philosophers/ideologues. The Occidentalism he points at might have root in the West, but its fashioned and perfected always by Non-Westerners. The same “crimes” when perpetrated by Western powers on the Orient just happens in a vacuum.

    19. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:09 pm  

      But does it invalidate the account it makes of Occidentalist thought and ideology? I dont think it does.

    20. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

      “I’m a fan.” “Really friendly.” “Too cool for school.” So he’s a hero- remember: Unhappy the country that needs a hero.

      Chavez has done some good things. The problems are whether he will continue doing good things, whether he will do good things that aren’t quite so noticeable but need doing anyway- infrastructure maintenance, for example, whether he will run the country so that things will improve for most of the people and whether he can create a movement which will continue and be effective without his presence. One of the problems of South American politics has been the dependence on charismatic heroes who can turn around or vanish. If he can persuade people to accept that things need to be done even though they aren’t popular, it’ll be a sign that he’s more than a rhetorical populist. It’s policies that matter and long-term policies especially. The company he keeps isn’t a good sign for the future, but it’s only one aspect. Once he’s stopped thinking that anyone the USA hates can’t be all bad he may think rather than react.

    21. El Cid — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

      The jury’s out on Chavez as far as I am concerned.
      Yep, he does rep the disenfranchised from the Caracas slums and he has broken the discredited two-party stranglehold on Venezuelan politics. Venezuelan society, although polarised, is also not on the brink of civil war.
      However, he is a strong man with a Mafia gangster’s instincts. He is also a boorish big mouth who wants to ruffle feathers on the international stage, while his referendum-based democracy owes more to Napoleon III than it does to JS Mill.
      I like him but I don’t trust him. I also think it will all end in tears because his instincts, while outwardly noble are ultimately self-serving. I hope I’m wrong. But yep, people on the left are vulnerable to his charms — he’s a bastard but our bastard, as the Times article said.

    22. El Cid — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:13 pm  

      P.S.
      Given our yearning for more positive Asian ‘voices’ on TV — Jay and I, I remember at least, thoguht it would be very positive — I am very VERY surprised that PP has chosen to gloss over this:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-5819820,00.html

    23. Rohin — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

      “Too cool for school” was in reference to Evo Morales, not Chavez. Specifically, his spiffing sweaters.

    24. Rohin — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:22 pm  

      El Cid, what can we really say about Mrs Patel-Nasri that hasn’t been said? It’s a terrible affair but we don’t really know anything about what happened yet.

    25. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:32 pm  

      El Cid

      It’s terrible but also can be patronising to give a round of applause for Nisha Patel because she was a brave and concerned public citizen - why? Because there are millions of Asians out there like that. We know it, most Asians know it, but it only comes as a surprise to mainstream society because they are so saturated in negative and idiotic stereotypes of Asians that they are flummoxed when a normal brave and heroic person like Nisha is brought to light through tragedy.

      Here is the news - that is the norm for hundreds of thousands of Asian people in Britain. Her example speaks for itself, and there are hundreds of thousands like her getting on with life. At a certain point, it is not worth bowing and scraping to mainstream society to persuade them desperately of your reality. It just exists out there on the streets. Nisha represented that. She is a typical North London Gujarati girl of the kind we all know, have met, are friends with. That this is even an issue at a certain point says more about mainstream society/media than it does about Asians.

    26. Sunny — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

      I like Eva Morales more than Chavez, and people are right in saying that sometimes he gets caught up in his own rhetoric.

      Tilling - I already linked that article in my original piece. I thought it was laughable the writer had put Chavez alongside Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. I wouldn’t even do that with Bush despite his tendency to start chucking bombs on people in the name of democracy, and you expect me to take that analogy with a straight face?

    27. Rakhee — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

      I kinda share El Cid’s view that it would have been appropriate to have acknowledged the awful event in some way.

      Here’s a thought Sunny/Rohin, perhaps we could have a news round up page or link which highlights issues and events sphere which are important for PP bloggers to know about? Needs more thought but just an idea.

      On another note, has anyone read ‘Made in Texas’ by Michael Lind or ‘Vietnam, The Necessary War’?

      Have been invited to a debate chaired by Michael on ‘Giants in the Earth: China, India, the US and the future of world politics’. Although I’m familiar with his work as a journalist/editor, I haven’t read his books and wondered if any of you have?

    28. El Cid — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

      I’m just thinking
      a) she’s Asian, b) she’s a copper, stands for law & order, the establishment, etc

    29. Sid — on 15th May, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

      Sunny
      I think Buruma is guilty of Oriental Hyperbole when he draws parallels between Chavez and Pol Plot, Stalin and Mao. What he would like to say is that here is another popular hero, borne on the tide of yet another Latin American left-wing revolution which is bound to end in tears because he’s Anti-Western, an Occidentalist.

      Buruma likes to use the word Occidentalist in the pejorative sense when applying it to “niggers” but can’t bring himself to use it on anti-democratic tendencies perpetrated by the West such as the USA’s involvement in the 2002 Venezuelan coup.

    30. Sunny — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

      Ok so I did consider blogging about Nisha, but then I don’t think it works. We highlight stories when there is a political agenda or something bigger at work (race related murders for example). I rarely see the point of highlighting anyone’s murder just because they are Asian. That would be a bit lame… that is just my take on it anyway.

      Rakhee - I did actually do a news and blogs roundup every week but for the past few weekends have been so busy as to not have the time for it. Just for you, I’ll start it again next week.

    31. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:12 pm  

      @ Sunny, that’s fair enough as far as I can see…

    32. Chris — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

      I like Eva Morales more than Chavez…

      Good grief, I thought you were all much more sensible here.
      What should assets should be stolen - sorry, nationalised - in the UK??
      Or is economic idiocy only for Latin America?

    33. Chris — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:16 pm  

      Sorry - I mean what assets should be…

    34. Stephen — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

      “I think Buruma is guilty of Oriental Hyperbole when he draws parallels between Chavez and Pol Plot, Stalin and Mao.”

      That’s not fair. It’s a far from intemperate piece in which he clearly highlights that Chavez is not in that league. Discounting these rogues he compares him instead to Berlusconi and Peron- populists which is I think fairly accurate.
      He mentions it to show the extremes that Western intellectuals have gone in the past not to blacken Chavez.

    35. Rakhee — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:33 pm  

      Thanks Sunny!

    36. El Cid — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

      Nothing to do with the fact that she’s plod, and we don’t want to sound like the Daily Mail, just for once, by siding with Babylon. There are no underlying anti-establishment, anti-tory, anti-middle england biases?
      She may be plod, but she’s your plod. Ring a bell? Does anyone know what I’m getting at? If you do, please help me because I have to leave the computer for a while.

    37. Sunny — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:51 pm  

      I don’t understand what you’re getting at El Cid.

      Chris - if you want to talk about the economic idiocy of the World Bank and the IMF in Latin America, let’s do it.

      Morales came to power with such a big vote (with a promise to nationalise energy) because previous economic policies to lift those people out of poverty did nothing. Now you’re here repeating the same, tired neo-classical economics line that privatising everything will help the poor people, when it clearly has not. Why not tell that to the Russians who still control Gazprom? Or are Latin Americans the only people still left willing to believe that rubbish?

    38. Nyrone — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

      I trust him.
      and the cut-price oil deal to America was a stroke of absoloute genius. He presents an alternative and people seem genuinely baffled by this notion, so they line up to take fire with all types of absurd arrows of criticsm.

      He seems to have come out from the darkness with a series of robin-hood humanistic policies that rightly call for a socially progressive reform, in which the wealth of the country is more equally distributed amongst all the people.

      I hate the way people label him and others as ‘far-leftists’ for simply driving through compassionate policies, and opposing criminal bandit acts like Iraq and opposing minority big businesses that plunder the resources of entire nations…I think that makes him a decent, sane, person.

    39. anonymous — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:43 pm  

      How ignorant are you! You like a person, but you don’t even know the name? It’s Evo Morales! Actually, calling him “Eva” (a female name) on his face will probably get you a punch in the nose… Even if in your ignorance you only say nice things about him.

    40. Nyrone — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

      well, actually I was talking about Hugo Chavez.
      You know…the guy who did the cut price oil-deal….are you not in tune with politics? Isn’t this site called Pickled politics? hey, what are you doing here? I thought this would have been fairly obvious considering his name is the centre of the article/thread, but I guess some people like to start typing before thinking.

      Please refrain from being a complete idiot in future, if possible.

      cheerio:)

    41. Sunny — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:29 pm  

      Nyrone, relax, anon was referring to me. Well noticed, I wrote this in a hurry last night and didn’t even see the mis-spelling. All sorted now.

    42. Ravi Naik — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:06 pm  

      Hugo Chavez wants to extend the presidency to a 25-year term. That is all you need to know about this man.

    43. Nyrone — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

      Oops! man do I feel stupid.

    44. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

      —————————————-
      “The Venezuelan Head of State gave instructions in order to meet with partners of two oil English refineries, where PDVSA is a shareholder, to sell cheap heating oil to the poorest

      During the event held with British personalities and organizations, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, called for integration between England and Venezuela.

      “I propose for us to be more creative, and to integrate into London and its experience, into Caracas and its experience, beyond papers and declarations, just as Mayors Livingstone and Barreto are doing.”

      President Chávez suggested the audience attending the event held at the Camden Center to supply the poorest with cheap heating oil by making the most of two refineries located in England’s north and south, where PDVSA is a shareholder

      “We are going to make some estimates and see how far we can reach with these two refineries and our shares and, with the help of the London’s Town Hall and poor communities, we could start to make some donations and sell at discounts in some parts next winter.”

      The Venezuelan president added that a special fund can be created to take care of social matters. He can grant microcredits to wheat small producers so that they can directly sell their product.

      ”These mechanisms can comprise the Peoples’ Trade Agreement. Fidel Castro, Evo Morales and I named it. Evo was the one who proposed the idea and made up the term. Instead of the Free Trade Agreement, which is a capitalist model that benefits the transnational companies and a minority, and exploits workers, Evo Morales called it People’s Trade Agreement.”

      President Hugo Chávez said that he would like to start a People’s Trade Agreement with London “in order to open channels.”

      “We could also work on many cooperation programs in the social and health fields. It is the ALBA (Bolivarian alternative for the Americas) linking to Europe.””
      —————————————-

    45. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:35 pm  

      Gesture politics is the phrase.

    46. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:49 pm  

      “He is also a boorish big mouth who wants to ruffle feathers on the international stage”.

      come come El Cid - let’s not pretend he hasn’t had enough incitement on the ‘ruffling feathers’ front..for goodness sakes, what have the US being doing apart from seeking to antagonize ( and arrange dodgy coups - but even if you ignore that..)

      wouldn’t you?

    47. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:51 pm  

      He’s a fascinating character.

    48. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:58 pm  

      @ Roger: really? You read much of these “gesture” politics in relation to the US? The reports of Mayors from various cities being grateful for the cheap fuel to help poorer people project.

      If it helps people and gets to the right people I can’t see much wrong with it.

    49. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:20 pm  

      If.

    50. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:45 pm  

      An important difference between Morales and Chavez that people haven’t considered is that Morales is the leader of a long-established political party. He is its voice and representative, there to carry out its policies. Chavez is the creator of the party- the party exists to carry out Chavez’s wishes/policies. Unless that changes Chavez will only be part of the long tradition of South American caudillo/demagogues- a well-meaning and populist one, by the look of it, but that could easily change- look at Peron. More important, his good policies can only take effect if such a party can be created. If Chavez needs to become President-for-Life he has failed.

    51. Don — on 15th May, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

      I tend to agree with Roger. I’m not too bothered by the anti-American attitude, given the situation, and he has put forward some interesting and worthwhile initiatives. But committment to human rights is a valid test of a government’s worth and his record is not great. Not major-league bad, but not great.

      His economic reforms, backed by oil money might come off, but so far the jury is out.

      Despite his apparent concern to bring women into the political arena, there is still a situation (according to wikki, not exactly deep scholarship) where the judiciary deems;

      ‘ If a man’s wife is suspected of adultery, then within the grounds of being reasonable, physical punishment is acceptable. If a woman has refused the advances of her husband, that too, is subject to physical punishment. Other grounds for physical punishment include the woman failing in her duty as a mother.’

      And the Mugabe thing stinks. I’m not writing the guy off, but he does seem convinced that what Venezuala needs most is his own self. Indefinitely. Never a good sign.

    52. Ravi4 — on 15th May, 2006 at 10:20 pm  

      I always join these discussions too late; the horrors of having an employer who’s tough on “recreational” use of work PCs.

      Anyway, I tend to agree with Rohin, Ravi, El Cid, Don and Roger on this. Like all politicians, Chavez is neither unambiguously a “good” or “bad” guy.

      The good stuff:

      - Massive increases in health, education, and social welfare (eg free food) programmes, particularly in the Barrios, for the first time making better use of Venezuela’s oil money, and having a real impact on welfare of the poor.

      - Defeated a totally illegitimate and at least partly US backed middle class coup attempt.

      - Using Venezuela’s oil money to help many less well off South American neighbours and others.

      - Has lots of genuine popular support.

      - Not willing to be led/ pushed about by the USA.

      And the bad stuff:

      - Extra judicial killings and other abuses as reported by Amnesty (http://web.amnesty.org/library/eng-ven/index; http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/ven-summary-eng) – I hope we can agree Amnesty is not a tool of the neocons.

      - Uncritical support for Castro, Iran, Mugabe (at least US and UK make faint criticisms of China, Saudi etc).

      - wasting oil money on soviet style state industries producing stuff nobody wants to buy (eg the T shirt factory producing Chavez t-shirts bought by the government for use in government demonstrations) when lots more should be spent on eg micro-credits, training and advice for small and medium sized entrepreneurs.

      - running down the oil industry by cutting reinvestment, chasing away foreign investors, moving towards nationalization (Russia’s oil industry still has private oil companies and lots of private investors; no Western country has a state owned oil monopoly; high performing poorer countries have based their success on greater private industry – eg India, China etc).

      - Stuffing up relations with several key neighbours – eg Mexico, Colombia, trouble brewing even with Lula’s Brazil.

      One thing that hasn’t changed is corruption – still about as big a problem as when the oligarchs ran the place pre Chavez; same with crime.

      All this talk about Chavez’s new model socialism frankly shows the economic illiteracy of much of the UK media and left wing. Chavez has not discovered a new economic model – he’s making more egalitarian use of a very old economic model: big oil money.

      The risk is Chavez (and much of the Western left) are making the same mistake that the Soviet Union (and much of the Western left) made in the late 70s and early 80s: seeing massive oil revenues subsidizing wasteful state owned industries and mistaking it for economic success. I’m not saying that’s the whole story. But the question is, what will happen when the oil price falls (as it will one day) and/or when Chavez goes? Will he leave behind an autocratic government, inflexible soviet style economy, and population dependent on state handouts? Or will it be a country healthy, educated and economically effective enough to carry on growing? And how about a “Pickled Politics Test”? Pickled Politics could now still operate in Venezuela; it couldn’t in Cuba. Where will Venezuela be in a few years time?

      The jury’s still out on all that. Let’s hope Chavez and his crew make the right choices (and make fewer of the wrong ones). But please, less of the starry eyed idealism and hero-worship.

      By the way Sunny, aren’t you a bit out of date with your characterization of IMF and World Bank as raving neo-liberal radically small-state institutions? For some years now they’ve given a high priority to loans/ funding for state spending on education and health, and also anti-corruption and transparency initiatives, although they’re still very much in favour of private industry. As I said before, all the major diverse successfully developing economies – including India, Brazil, China etc – base their success on balancing state social spending with encouraging private enterprise.

      (There are more than a few Asian economists working for the IMF and IBRD – although that was also true back in the nasty 1980s…)

    53. Sunny — on 16th May, 2006 at 12:45 am  

      Ravi4 - to answer your last question, a good friend of mine has just come back from Bombay and has been doing research for the past three months on the impact the World Bank has had in India, and the influence it commands through various channels. From the few conversations we’ve had confirm my fears but when the report is out I will let you know.

      The main point being that both organisations have tried their best to give the impression they are no longer the neo-classical enterprises they were in the 80s. But fundamentally they remain the same - funding govt pet projects rather than stuff that would actually help improve poverty at grassroots.

    54. Ravi4 — on 16th May, 2006 at 6:34 am  

      Sunny - Thanks, I wd be v interested in your friend’s report when it’s out, as I’m sure would other PP fans. As I understand it, the size of IBRD projects mean that some from the 80s and 90s have only recently finished (which your friend will know all about).

      Your second point’s important - there is a real problem for the World Bank in funding Govt pet projects; it can’t after all fund projects without the agreement of a recipient govt. But that doesn’t mean it’s neo-classical. You can be all for state spending on education and health and still end up funding wasteful pet Govt education and health projects.

      From what I see, the World Bank (and IMF) tends to follow the current academic economic consensus whatever it is. In the 1980s it was neo-classical, balanced budgets, low inflation, radical minimum state. Now that’s overlaid with the infamous “endogenous growth” and “human capital” theory (ie importance of education, health, rule of law & anti corruption). I was cursed enough to study economics at Uni just when this shift in the consensus was happening.

      My point is you don’t need big conspiracies involving multinational corporations, neo-cons and Machiavellian US foreign policy to explain IMF and IBRD policy. An organisation driven by economists (of all races) - and thus highly influenced by the prevailing economic consensus - but also unable completely to override the pet projects of recipient Govts (particularly big ones like India) can make quite enough of a mess of third world econmomies on its own …

    55. mirax — on 16th May, 2006 at 9:17 am  

      This article by Denis Mcshane is a balanced and fair assessment of Chavez imo. But it sent the cretins commenting at CiF into a real tizzy - if that lot is the british left, then they are all a bunch of adolescent wankers.

    56. S — on 16th May, 2006 at 11:26 am  

      Yes that article is fair. The 2 most important things to remember about Chavez are
      1. Yes he is a bit of a Caudillo but many of his political opponents are worse.
      2. He was the victim of a coup in 2002 — but instigated a coup himself in 1992. Mentioning the 1992 coup is usually deemed a terrible faux pas and CIF commentators are likely to pretend they didn’t hear you or change the subject.

    57. El Cid — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:24 pm  

      There’s another issue here: Ken Livingstone and his misuse of the office of London Mayor.
      I did vote for him but I will not in future.
      He is a dick. London is an international city — it is the global city, and he is acting like a tinpot wannabe rabble-rouser.
      If he wants to rail against Jews (Whether Iranian or employed by the Evening Standard) and Americans, then that’s fine. But he can do it on his own time. I don’t expect my mayor to do that.

    58. Jay Singh — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:31 pm  

      I doubt Ken will be unseated as long as he is the Labour Party candidate, although he is a bit of an idiot, running London like the fiefdom of the local save the lesbian Nicaraguan whale collective.

      By the way, good luck for your team for tommorrow!

    59. Sid — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:59 pm  

      if that lot is the british left, then they are all a bunch of adolescent wankers

      Oh God I couldnt agree with you more. The whole fucking lot of the factionalist tossers.

    60. Ravi Naik — on 16th May, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

      I must say that I am somewhat dissapointed to see the Left treating Chavez as a hero of some sort. It will be incredibly difficult to remove this person out of power, and Venezuela will revert back to its dictatorship years.

      As much as I hate Bush (and it took me 3 days to get over my depression over his re-election), I don’t think Chavez has much credibility to criticize him, given his record.

      And yes, I will not vote for Ken Livingstone any longer.

    61. El Cid — on 16th May, 2006 at 3:13 pm  

      thanks Jay, i have my magnum of champagne and montecristos at the ready.. but i shall be consuming most of them beforehand.. well, i want to enjoy the occasion, innit. at 11/4, we’re clear outsiders, which is fair.. but… i’m positive.. as that great sage Kevin Campbell once said, if you believe, you can achieve.. anyway, oops, no more mention until weekend, seeing as this is a political blog

    62. leon — on 16th May, 2006 at 3:27 pm  

      Champagne? Montecristos? Sounds like my kind of party!;)

    63. leon — on 16th May, 2006 at 3:31 pm  

      @ mirax, interesting article although factualy incorrect about the US gov role in the attempted coup. Watch the documentary linked in the update of Sunny’s post and you’ll see why.

    64. JordanR — on 17th May, 2006 at 12:27 pm  

      You guys support Chavez, a man who is cozying up to North Korea… a country where people are 8″ shorter because of state enforced starvation?

      I thought you guys were for human rights.

    65. Steve K — on 18th May, 2006 at 12:43 pm  

      Ravi Naik, Don and Roger are right. Chavez is creating parallel security forces and a parallel budget over which he will have personal control. Think Charles I or Wilhelmine Germany. This story never ends happily.

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