Under normal circumstances, I would tell you that 5 March is the date my younger sister was born. And that’s kind of interesting, when you consider what a druid kind of earth mother she is. You see, on this day back in 1938, Lynn Margulis was born. She did some of the most important early work on the Gaia Hypothesis—the idea that the earth itself is a living system. Many years ago, when I was in graduate school, I saw her talk at a very intimate brunch. We were all eating our Eggs Benedict and she was telling us about bacteria. Actually, she was talking about how hard it is to distinguish between plant, animal, bacteria. Personally, I wish I were a plant; people always expect me to move a lot; I’d rather just sit here.
Anyway, Kim and Lynn were born today. And the world is a better place for it. But the world is also a worse place today because Hugo Chavez died. Only plutocrats could think that the man was not good for Venezuela. I understand that the upper classes are mad at him because he cut into their wealth. I understand that the oil companies (and thus the United States government) are mad at him because he nationalized the country’s oil reserves. But why are most of the media (and thus the people) so against him? There is no doubt in my mind that there was more democracy in Venezuela under Chavez than there is in America under Obama.
But I don’t feel up to a whole war about this right now. Let me just reprint what I wrote last October when Chavez shocked the mainstream media by winning re-election:
I suspect that in the obituaries that are coming, Chavez will get a tad more respect than he has. We’ll see things like, “Chavez was very popular among the poor, but many people didn’t like him.” In fact, my colleague at The Reaction, Michael Stickings wrote what I thought was an unfortunately one-sided obit, Hugo Chavez Is Dead. Long Live Something Other Than Hugo Chavez’s Tyranny. I’ve been well aware of Michael’s position on Chavez for a long time. But tyranny? Really?! That’s unfortunate. But you can expect to see a lot more of it. Whitewashing a dead man’s career is something we only do for conservatives.
Update (5 March 2013 8:10 pm)
The argument I’ve tried to make to Michael (Who is very open minded and has a great eye for new talent…) is that a certain level of authoritarianism is to be expected. I think we see more of this from Obama—we just see it in different (very American) ways. One of Chavez’s stated motivations was that the United States government was out to get him. Well, they were. I don’t accept Nicolas Maduro’s claim that the United States poisoned Chavez. But I don’t doubt that they would have if they could have.
Here is former Washington Post foreign editor Scott Wilson talking about United States involvement in the coup against Chavez. It is interesting, as Dan Beeton of CEPR points out, “This information has however never been reported this fully in the pages of the Washington Post itself.”