By Stephen Gowans
The mass media’s near universal defamation of Hugo Chavez, presumably to counter the outpouring of eulogies and tributes that attended the Venezuelan president’s death, illustrates the lengths to which the wealthy (in whose hands the mass media repose) will go to vilify anyone who commits the highest international crime: curbing free enterprise.
To say that the anti-Chavez obloquies have been over the top would hardly be an exaggeration. Author and journalist Terry Glavin, whose credentials as a propagandist on behalf of the capitalist faith have been solidly affirmed by his loosing possibly the most extreme diatribe against Chavez ever written, assures us the Bolivarian revolutionary was “a sadistic, egomaniacal thug,” a “megalomaniac” at the center of an “autocracy,” who left “millions of Venezuelans living in fear of the knock on the door in the night.” (“Hugo Chavez, incompetent fake socialist,” The Ottawa Citizen, March 7, 2013.)
Sparing no slur, Glavin adds “strongman” and “hysterical paranoid” to his Himalaya of affronts against the deceased Venezuelan president, at the same time accusing Chavez of creating a police state where “an off-the-cuff remark could land you in jail.” Glavin, needless to say, doesn’t trouble himself to marshal any evidence to support his slanders, and his editors apparently didn’t ask him to either.
To explain away the difficulties of smearing the four-time elected Chavez as a dictator, Gavin invokes the concept of the “glorious contradiction, as in “…a deep contradiction was always at the heart of the Chavez pathology. Venezuela under his rule became ‘a glorious contradiction—an autocracy with a popular, elected megalomaniac at its center.’” This is the same glorious contradiction that once turned Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, an ardent friend of free enterprise, the wealthy, and Wall Street, into a champion of democracy. Here’s how it works: If the characterization contradicts the evidence, so much worse for the evidence.
In the hands of the mass media, then, a popularly elected socialist is demonized as an autocratic thug, while a servant of the super-rich who comes to power in a military coup that topples a socialist government is hailed as a democrat. The same logic allows the United States and its circle of free-enterprise, free-market-promoting allies to rail and plot against a secular Arab nationalist in Syria on grounds his rule is an affront to democracy, while propping up Arab autocracies in the Persian Gulf who are running guns to religious fanatics bent on bringing down the same secular forces that happen to put local interests ahead of Wall Street’s.
The contradictions—hardly glorious—should disabuse leftists who haven’t already been disabused of the illusion that securing a popular mandate at the polls confers an immunity against defamation by the wealthy class’s ideological prizefighters, an important element of which are mainstream writers and journalists. By the same token, failing to secure a popular mandate will hardly earn you a thrashing in the Western press so long as you subordinate local interests and those of the oppressed, afflicted, and exploited to the foreign interests of comfortable bankers on Wall Street and oil company executives in Texas.
No matter how they come to power, effective leftist and nationalist leaders will be smeared as “thugs,” “strongmen,” “autocrats,” and “paranoids,” by Wall Street’s ideological handmaidens. Ineffective leftist leaders and false messiahs (Polish trade union Solidarity and Mikhail Gorbachev come to mind) will be celebrated. In southern Africa, Robert Mugabe, who democratized patterns of land ownership, has received the same demonizing treatment at the hands of imperialist ideologues as Chavez has, while Nelson Mandela, whose revolution left property relations intact, is celebrated.
It might be worthwhile, then, to consider whether other leaders of popular causes, who themselves have been run through the mass media demonization machine, are as bad as the imperial class’s ideological prizefighters have made them out to be. If the four-time elected social reformer Chavez can be turned into a sadistic, egomaniacal thug at the center of an autocracy, imagine the extremes that defenders of capitalist privilege will go (and have gone) to vilify leaders who, in their championing the interests of the poor and exploited, pose (and have posed) an even greater threat than Chavez did to free enterprise, free markets and domination by capitalist masters from abroad.
8 thoughts on “Chavez’s Enemies Hand Him His Greatest Tribute: Defamation”
Death Of A Bogeyman – The Corporate Media Bury Hugo Chávez
the media need to cover their imperialistic servitude by demonising their target
Even “public” broadcasting engages in the same kind of demonization when the government that funds it is an ally of the worldwide neoliberal junta : http://99getsmart.com/the-french-media-bury-chavez/
I don’t necessarily think it is the fear of the death that motivated the elite; more likely the preservation of their status and political influence. They used the latter to hoodwink the masses about the “superiority” of capitalism and the alleged economic maladies of socialism.
Good article! Not so much about Chavez as about the media and it’s tricks. The last paragraph especially.
Do you know why the media made you all scared of communism during the cold war? Because the poor people in Russia killed and kicked out their entire ruling elite and the elite’s money and power didn’t help them; so the ruling elite of the world was scared that the poor of your countries could do the same. Simple as that.
He wasn’t even a bona fide a socialist (like Gaddafi) and the imperialist media still reviled him for his left-wing economic nationalist policies.
I wonder how he improved the lives of the Venezuelans through his policies.
RIP Hugo Chavez.
Bertrand Russell once wrote about the American revolutionary Thomas Paine;
“He had faults, like other men; but it was for his virtues that he was hated and successfully calumniated.”
I think the same can be said about Hugo Chavez. RIP, El Comandante.
Actually, quite a bit of humor has been had in what we might call the hipster media about the Establishment’s Chavez-frothing, the favorite vehicle being, of course, satirical parody. It must be pretty hard for the r.c.’s mouthpieces to take themselves seriously these days with all the giggling going on in the back of the room.
Even an otherwise conservative journalist like Johann Hari knows that, “To the American ruling class, you are a democrat if you give your resources to US corporations, and you are a dictator if you give them to your own people.”