Quite

This symmetry appealed to me because, though Chávez\’s Venezuela is not yet anything like Mugabe\’s Zimbabwe, I cannot help thinking that Mugabe is Chávez\’s possible future, and that the 83-year-old former liberation fighter is the former general\’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Mugabe, like Chávez, took power after elections that were widely agreed to have been fairly conducted. 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).

Aaro.

9 comments on “Quite

  1. Yeah, because it’s not like we can have a good stab at predicting the future by extrapolating from the past, or anything.

    That’s just crazy talk … !

  2. Can I play?

    “Hitler, like Chávez, took power after elections that were widely agreed to have been fairly conducted. 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 Jews), treacherous elites (liberals) and interfering foreign powers (Russia, Britain, etc).”

    …and that is why Justin is right, and why this is a pointless and stupid game…

  3. John B, why is it pointless? Your example highlights why it is not. History hints that the transition from democracy to autocracy has aspects common across countries and cultures. Learning to look out for them as omens of a potential future is scarcely a wasted lesson.

  4. The idea of democracy–the core rendering it the “least bad” of various systems–is that it reduces the impetus for that segment of society which feels itself tyrranized to resort to civil war and the murder and despoliation of their political opponents. Each side gets a new chance–every so often–to be on top. It may not sound like much (and it ain’t) but it sure beats all those others. I think I’m quoting (paraphrasing, actually) Churchill.

  5. Philip – because it’s the same as saying “Hitler was a vegetarian, Greenpeace are vegetarians, therefore Greenpeace are Nazis” – you’re taking superficial similarities and using them to imply that the person you’re criticising is as bad as someone who’s very bad indeed.

  6. I would consider the comparisons superficial in their style, though obviously in their scale. Hitler never used his vegetarianism as a tactic for power, nor was it why people conveyed power to him. Contrast that with your earlier statements about him and see the difference. You are right in that this sort of comparative analysis can be superficial but it needn’t be by definition. Indeed, it is a staple in ecological research, my former field.

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