Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hugo's there

What could be more appealing to our literary hopes and wishes than President Chavez's friendly advice to the young of the USA: set aside Superman and Batman to read authors like Noam Chomsky? ("[Hegemony or Survival] is an excellent work to understand what’s happened in the world in the 20th Century, what’s currently happening".)

Not much, I'd imagine. However, it prompts that other tireless promoter of world literature and literacy to call him a clown. How sad. Unfortunately this is not the first time it has sneered.

This is yet more evidence to back up Medialens' analysis Ridiculing Chavez, an examination of techniques used by the corporate media to marginalise this unique icon of living socialism. It has a significant task to complete. As Chomsky himself explains:
At issue in [South America], as elsewhere around the world, is alternative social and economic models. Enormous, unprecedented popular movements have developed to expand cross-border integration — going beyond economic agendas to encompass human rights, environmental concerns, cultural independence and people-to-people contacts.
And we daren't encourage that do we?


  1. Bravo. Chavez is getting slammed over here, especially on television news (not that I watch it mind you). But the clips they show are so small and only show the sulfur comment with nary a word on Chomsky.

    Not surprising in the least.

  2. Anonymous5:37 pm

    What prompts me to call Chavez a clown is not his book-recommendation (I'm all for the book recommendation) but the way he presents himself: his speech at the UN (the entire webcast is available online), beginning with his refering to the jr. Bush as the devil and then making the sign of the cross, relied far too much on performance over substance for my taste: it's a form of rhetoric that may be effective but that I find obnoxious (and, in the political arena, far too dangerous (it's the school of Hitler and Mussolini, after all) not to be ridiculed at every occasion). That said, I chose my word carefully -- like Shakespeare's fools, etc. the clown can often speak wisely even as he conducts himself like a fool .....

    Nevertheless, I find Chavez's Chomsky-championing highly suspect: you would figure he would at least know the guy is still alive. I fear that, like many politicians, he is more show than substance (certainly as far as his reading goes).

    And as to the previous sneer: taking into account the source's obvious bias, I still find the idea that there's "one constant on his bookshelf. Chávez often refers to maxims by military or guerrilla leaders, admiring their rise to power through the barrel of a gun" deeply troubling and not a recommendation for the guy.

    You call him a "unique icon of living Socialism" -- which also sounds to me like you are choosing your words very carefully .....

  3. Chavez just needed to raise the intellectual stakes, now that Dubya's belatedly got into Camus (the irony that L'Etranger is about a social retard being tried for killing an Arab is apparently lost on him). What are the odds on T Blair insisting that his Caribbean break was elivened by reading Aristotle in the original Greek.

  4. I'm disappointed you (MAO) are following the line of the corporate media in looking down on Chavez. Remember, he did not gain power through the barrell of the gun. His US-backed opponents are trying to do that. He's been able to resist it so far. No doubt this is reprehensible to polite society.

    And I don't see any problems with his UN speech. It continues to impress me. Bush is indeed a (strategically shaved) devil. Seems fairly uncontroversial to me. And my tongue is not in my cheek.

    As for his reported belief that Chomsky was dead, I can't see the remotest significance to it, though I suppose it might help if pedantic point-scoring is one's political arbiter. Anyway, FWIW, it seems the original report might have been fabricated:

    Chavez's words seem ever more apt in the face of the coverage of this speech: "The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It's not that we are extremists. It's that the world is waking up. It's waking up all over. And people are standing up."

    Deeply troubling indeed.

  5. Anonymous7:23 am

    Actually, to speak to one point, Chavez did NOT say chomsky had died, he was speaking of another author (see newest post) who he also recommended who had indeed died. One reporter revised for some reason, mistake or otherwise, and the other (either lazy or malicious) took it from there. Chavez is far from perfect, but he has helped millions improve their lot in life. Plus Citgo (Venezulan Oil Co.) through Chavez has provided more reduced price and free fuel for poor Americans then any American company. One example of many of the depravity going on in the US. However, power should always be questioned, but it is foolish to view someone as entirely a force of good or bad, it is more nuanced. Unfortuately the only way crtics of the current power in this country get heard at all is to be outrageous (and then ridiculed, but at least heard).



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