Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shall we say that I do not regard this Aaro article as a particularly good piece of analysis?

Yes, I think we shall. More to come, hopefully, later today.


Blogger Justin said...

Well it would make sense that the Decent Tardis allows travel into the future as well as the past.

12/11/2007 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a long piece on the British media's handling of Chavez in Media Guardian yesterday:


Chávez is "controversial", "maverick", "demagogic", "populist" (but not "popular"), "overbearing" and "authoritarian".

to which we can now add 'big, fat, sloppy-gobbed', I'm guessing...

12/11/2007 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, reminds me of some other crap I've read about Venezuela. I read a piece about Chavez's land reforms equating that with Mugabe too, and backing Vestey. At no stage was it mentioned that the land reform process is democratically endorsed, as well as protracted and negotiated, involving compensation etc. The Venezuelan govt came to an agreement with Vestey whereby Vestey kept hold of the majority of its land.

There are lot of nonsense talked about Chavez by the Decents and neo-cons, usually involving a deluge of namecalling and little real analysis.

Venezuela involves its citizens in numerous democratic consultations, not least a recall mechanism and a vote on constitutional changes. It has an elected head of state. Brits have less democratic input, have no constitution and have an hereditary head of state.

12/11/2007 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Incidentally it is almost always bad news when the word “Republic” is preceded by an adjective."

What about the Federal Republic of Germany?

12/11/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"Over time his governing philosophy came to consist of an economic nationalism underpinning a state socialist system, mobilised by exploiting resentment towards a privileged minority (the whites), treacherous elites (journalists) and interfering foreign powers (Britain)."

As an analysis of Mugabe/Zimbabwe this is fucking terrible. One of the things I despise about decents/decent-lites, is that they have to simplify everything to these black and white narratives. The world is complex - deal with it morons.

"“Venezuela,” she explains, “cannot be understood through the lens of liberal democracy,” because democracy itself cannot be “judged through reference to the procedural mechanics of liberal democracy.” The implication here is the superior development of some other kind of democracy."

No, it means democracy isn't the institutions, names and offices - but the people actually having control over their lives. Which in Venezuela where the institutions, offices and constitution had been set up in such a way to entrench the elite's power, is pretty damn relevant (one could make a similar observation about the US incidentally). Now Chavez may be using this very real unfairness to give himself dicatorial powers, but so far he has largely restrained from doing so. Most of the changes he has been trying to make are not that unreasonable within the situation that he finds himself, just as Roosevelt's attempts to rig an unaccountable and rigged supreme court were pretty reasonable also. Only bureacrats an ex-Stalinists think institutions are more important than human beings.

12/11/2007 08:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incidentally it is almost always bad news when the word “Republic” is preceded by an adjective."

just to note, of course, that in Spanish the adjective comes after the noun.

12/12/2007 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally I'm not sure it's such a bad designation next to "Reino de España" or "United Kingdom". Aren't these people in favour of modernisation?

12/12/2007 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Tommy Judd said...

This site is great. It allows me to know when and where all my favourite columnists are writing. Thanks Aaronovitch Watch, and keep up the good work.

12/12/2007 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

The French Republic has not just an adjective but usually a number before the republic.

12/12/2007 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last quote from DA is rather unfortunate.
"The alternative to Mugabeism will not be a return to the status quo ante, but - as in Chile - the painful and compromising development of good old, boring old, liberal social democracy. You know, with votes and MPs and stuff."
Does he mean by "painful" the Pinochet coup against democratically elected Allende and the subsequent murders, tortures and human rights' abuses? If so, is he and his decent cohorts readying themselves for some handwashing over a coup, or worse? Bolivia may blow up soon; maybe they will have their chance soon.

12/12/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

the Czech and Hellenic Republics have national adjective modifiers, while (if Wikipedia is to be believed),The Most Serene Republic of San Marino wins the contest, with the "Oriental Republic of Uruguay" (ie it's on the East side of the Uruguay river) in second place.

12/12/2007 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Does Aaro have some information that Chávez has killed and exiled his political opponents? Indeed, are there any Venezuelan political exiles who have fled the country in fear of their lives?

I was wondering why he feels the need to invoke Mugabe - against whom, by the way, he has advocated the use of régime-changing force. Does he feel the same about Chávez? If not, how is the comparison justified?

It wouldn't be that provided somebody is outside certain quite narrow parameters, to wit those described by the term "liberal social democracy", we can say what the hell we like about them and conflate anybody with anybody else?

12/12/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Indeed, are there any Venezuelan political exiles who have fled the country in fear of their lives?

Carlos Andres Perez left Venezuela one step ahead of a mob that wanted to tear him limb from limb, but this is mainly because he presided over extraordinary corruption and ordered the massacre of 20,000 unarmed demonstrators. He remains, however, a key and widely accepted figure in the antichavista opposition, and therefore by using the logical technique of Hoare's Razor, I deduce that Aaro endorses and stands in unity with him.

12/12/2007 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

The other thing - well, one other thing - is that there's a large sense of knowing what's good for people involved in the invocation of "liberal social democracy". This is rather less a Decent thing than a political-centre thing, and it comes up often in discussions of the EC, for instance in connection with the French referendum that didn't go the way the political centre would have liked. Put simply, it's that a given economic and political model is good for all of us in the long run and the process of modernisation entails accepting that and getting on with implementing it eveywhere.

Now it's fair enough, more than fair enough, to believe that - after all, that's what political philosophy is all about. But it's one thing believing that, and another - which seems beyond most of its advocates - understanding that:

(a) to many people, the world does not look like that;

(b) it's up to that model to prove itself to those people and not the other way around.

Liberal social democracy means a whole lot less to people with no money and no property than to people with both. It particularly means less if you are the sort of person who, so far from being a beneficiary of free markets and Western political systems, has been pretty systematically excluded from and by those systems. If, for instance, you're a Latin American of non-European descent.

And if you are a person like that, then what Chávez says is going to see very attractive to you, and for pity's sake, why should it not? And if you're David Aaronovitch, your responsibility is to show them why they should go down a different route - not to mention showing them that that route is actually available and it's not just a choice between an apparently authoritarian socialist and a bunch of rich fascists.

But instead you get this comparison with Mugabe which (see also my comments on the Chávez v Juan Carlos business) would only serve to give the impression, to aforesaid Chávez supporters, that the person delivering them was an arrogant and wealthy Westerner of the sort they had no reason to like or trust.

Which is not the way to go about winning people over - unless, of course, your audience is the sort of people to whom I have just referred, and they don't care.

12/12/2007 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahead of you, Keithy - although I don't have much faith that my comment will get more attention on the Times page, or even necessarily more readers, than yours here.

12/12/2007 08:27:00 PM  

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