The ideological basis of Chavez’s regime has little rational, philosophical components. Few, including Chavez, know much about the so-called “socialism of the XXI century”. The efforts of Ceresole, Harnecker, El Trudi, Carlos Lanz, Muller Rojas, Izarra senior or Heinz Dieterich (all of whom tried, one time or another, to give the term some content) have been abandoned, failing to dress the gorilla with a respectable suit.
What exists as a Chavez policy, for all to see, can be expressed in a phrase. In Latin it would sound like: “Elemosina Omni Vinci”. Alms are irresistible. Was it Ambrose Bierce who said that “Mexican generals cannot stand a $10,000 cannon shot”? . Sounds like him. In a similar manner few Chavez’s followers can resist the promise of a house, an icebox or a TV set.
It is as simple as that. We must accept that the handout produces a sensation of well-being in many. But is also true that this feeling has a short life unless a new handout is forthcoming (remember Maslow?). Whoever receives a gift today will miss it tomorrow, unless a new one come along. If a diabetic gets insulin today but not tomorrow he reverts to being a diabetic. This is why we think of diabetes as incurable, unless he has a daily supply of insulin guaranteed for life. Poverty, on the other hand, is not like diabetes, although Chavez pretends to treat it as such. In the case of diabetes the patient is unable to generate his, her own insulin. In the case of poverty it is possible for the poor to learn to generate their own wealth. This makes poverty curable.
Chavez has decided, as a strategy to remain in power, to deal with poverty as an “incurable” disease, on the basis of recurrent handouts that mask its symptoms. This is easier, quicker, although is not a cure but the illusion of one. He has built a “happy” society on the basis of monetary handouts, one which is unsustainable in the longer term and is made at the expense of national impoverishment. For him it does not matter that whatever favors half of the population and harms the other half is bad for the nation.
This is what is going on today in Venezuela. To say it is unpopular, even among the opposition to Chavez, because it would imply a low social quality in the country when we know that many are good quality humans. However, it must be said because it is what is happening before our very eyes.
Of course there re genuine, idealistic Chavez followers. Those who follow him for rational, intellectual reasons can probably hold their meeting in a Volkswagen. The bulk of the poor follows Chavez because he is the source of the iceboxes and the TV sets, even a house if you are lucky and follow him on twitter. These masses feel “taken into consideration”. In contrast a government that builds sewages (underground), school, hospitals, roads, is not perceived in the same favorable light because the impact of these programs on their well-being is not immediate nor as intimate as getting a cash bonus for “being loyal to socialism”.
It is not that giving fishes away is necessarily a sin. It would be only if, in parallel, you don’t teach people how to fish.