Sunday, February 06, 2005

German Liberals criticise Chávez

German MP Dr. Karl Addicks issued a press statement on 31 January 2005 criticising Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for his disastrous policies as well as his statements at the World Social Forum. Mr. Addicks is a member of the FDP, the German liberal party, which is a minor party currently in the opposition. (The FDP is a natural coalition partner of the CDU/CSU, the main right of center party. A left of center coalition of the SPD and the Greens currently holds the majority in parliament and forms the government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.)

Here is the original text of the press statement, translated into English:

FDP criticises statements made by Hugo Chávez at the World Social Forum

Only a few years after many nations shook off the communist yoke, statements by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who said that it is necessary to overcome capitalism and strive for socialism with a human face, were enthusiastically celebrated by participants at the World Social Forum. In response, Karl Addicks said:

There has never been any such thing as socialism with a human face. Mr. Chávez does not waste any thoughts on democracy. He is in the process of leading his country towards the abyss of civil war. He wants to remain president until 2021.

He is investing the wealth of the country, its oil revenues, in expanding his electoral basis with gifts -- instead of investing in the infrastructure of the country and driving sustainable development. Individual initiative, entrepreneurship, accountability to the parliament are words that don't exist in his vocabulary.

Anyone who has been obliged -- in accordance with or against their will -- to follow his radio and TV broadcasts, synchronised on all channels and lasting for hours, anyone who sees how the capital, Caracas, once a flowering metropolis, is descending into murder and mayhem, anyone who sees his planned expropriations, anyone who experiences how this man is polarising his country just to maintain his grip on power, can in no way celebrate such an individual.

The global community would be well advised to identify this man as what he is: a dangerous agitator who is leading his country into chaos using populistic measures. Anyone who cannot distance themselves from this process or does not want to do so should at least get ready to confront the next crisis region in Latin America.

Critics of globalisation, with their recipes from the old collection of socialist relicts, will not reduce poverty in the world.
Mr. Addicks is obviously someone who does not let anyone pull the wool over his eyes. I just hope he doesn't suffer Cassandra's fate of predicting the future accurately -- and not being believed. Predictably, the loony left are all abuzz about Addick's statement, accusing him of malicious agitation ("üble Hetze"). When will they update their vocabulary, I wonder?

Added later: I strongly recommend reading Zuckerman's editorial in the online version of U.S. News and World Report. The editorial backs up Addicks's statement with further detail and reflects an increasing awareness of Chávez's intentions in the USA.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cassandra Syndrome
The Cassandra Syndrome is a term applied to predictions of doom about the future that are not believed, but upon later reflection turn out to be correct. This denotes a psychological tendency among people to disbelieve inescapably bad news, often through denial. The person making the prediction is caught in the dilemma of knowing what is going to happen but not being able to resolve the problem.

The key concept in this definition is "tendency among people to disbelieve inescapably bad news".
We all know It happened to Churchill before Hitler's Poland invation. They only believed him when it was too late, 60MM people died in Europe alone, for this disbelief.
How long will Venezuelans wait, until they believe the growing tragedy of their people.
Don't we learn anything from history?

5:59 pm  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

John - is this Liberal Party about the equivalent of 'Libertarian Party' of the US? I don't know how much you know about the US, but I have an Italian pal who tells me Liberal and Radical are terms in Europe that mean 'libertarian' in the US. For instance, this group favors minimal government and likes the writings of Hayek. Are they the same?

4:19 pm  
Blogger John said...

Hi A.M.,

the political spectrum is somewhat different in Germany (and, I assume, most of Europe) than in the USA. I will try to give a brief description of my perception -- grossly simplified, of course, and hopefully more or less accurate.

The U.S. Republican party would be considered far right in Europe (at least economically and probably in many social aspects as well), the Democrats would be considered slightly right of centre. Amazing, isn't it?

The German governing coalition are considered to be slightly left of centre here, but would be completely off the map in the USA. There's even a small party further to the left of the governing coalition: the PDS, successors of the communist SED of former East Germany. The PDS has two seats (out of over 600) in the national parliament, and is represented in several state and local governments.

The main opposition parties here are the CDU, who are considered right of centre, but probably share a lot of positions with the U.S. Democrats. The FDP is a small, liberal party to the right of the CDU, but their positions are still quite moderate when measured on the U.S. spectrum. They are certainly not as far right as the U.S. Libertarians/Radicals, and perhaps not even as far right as the U.S. Republicans (with whom they share a lot of positions).

There are some extreme right groupings in Germany such as the NPD, but these are considered right-wing not because of their economic/social policies (which are a bit murky and hard to pin down), but rather because they are xenophobic and nationalist -- heirs of the Nazis, cousins of the KKK. They don't really belong on the spectrum I am drawing for you, but it's good to know they exist. The NPD and its allies are luckily not represented in the national parliament, but have unfortunately managed to win some seats in the Saxonian state parliament, where they are irritating the hell out of the other parties, as well as the rest of Germans.

Graphically, you'd get something like this (the C refers to the German centre -- not the U.S. one, obviously):

Left <---------------------C------------------------> Right
Germany: PDS - Greens - SPD - CDU - FDP (---- NPD)
USA: XXXXXXXXXXXXX Greens (?) - Dem - Rep

This picture explains a lot about why the U.S. and the EU have trouble seeing eye to eye in so many areas...

Hope this clears things up a little.


7:31 pm  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

John - thanks for an interesting description. But I am not so sure I agree with you that the GOP would be considered 'far right' in Europe - in many ways they are more 'radical' than resembling someone like Jean Marie Le Pen. For instance, only a tiny group of freaks among the GOP (joined by the labor-union Democrats) would oppose immigration. I tend to be very liberal on immigration, to me it's a good thing, so I would have a hard time thinking I am in the same league as a guy like Le Pen. In fact, that French voters elect such people is cause for snickering among the GOP.

I definitely agree with you that the political lines are not parallel, there are such different histories and different strains of thought that it's really hard to match parties. I am amused that Chirac is considered conservative in France - you never met two groups of people who loathe each other more than the GOP and Chirac's people! Yet both are considered the conservative ones! It's too funny! And unbelievable! On the other hand, we GOP people don't get along with the Tories of UK anymore and this is cause for grief.

I'd say the people we get along with best tend to take a lot of flack and stick to their guns, sort of a reflection of our current US leader. They would be: Thaksin of Thailand, Berlusconi of Italy, Uribe of Colombia, Sharon of Israel, Howard of Australia, Blair of UK, Koizumi of Japan, Saca of El Salvador, Allawi of Iraq, some others. Lots of respect for Putin, Lula, Lagos, the Dutch PM, the Korean PM, Kwasniewsky, Yushchenko, others, even if not parallel in historic significance.

Oddly enough, though, I think a US reconciliation with Chirac is possible. I have a lot of reasons, empirical ones, ones I have seen with my own eyes, for thinking this. It's an extreme intuition but I really think it will happen. Absurd as it sounds!

7:58 am  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

I study your fascinating chart, John, and I think to myself - maybe the GOP really doesn't have peers in the rest of the world! I have often marvelled at how such creatures don't exist in Latam though I can often find a few Ludwig von Mises type libertarians around the continent. But no GOP types of cowboy people. They just don't exist outside the US. Though there are definitely counterparts we get on with famously, nevertheless - e.g., Thaksin and Berlusconi.

It's very thought-provoking.

8:04 am  
Blogger John said...

Berlusconi is viewed as a right-wing Chávez by most Europeans...

9:32 pm  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

Even the people who voted for him? I understand he is popular in the country that elected him. What the non-nationals think of him is rather irrelevant, don't you think?

Must Italians give opinions about Schroeder? Can't they just respect him as Germany's choice? I don't have a high opinion of him but I don't dispute that Germans have a strong right to elect him if that's what they want. Same deal even with Zapatero, who makes me very mad indeed. I have such respect for Spaniards that I can't hurl anything anti-Spaniard as an insult to them, even though their choice of Zapatero kind of makes me sick. I just reserve judgment about the people who elected him and say to myself: in time they will come around. I just can't compare Berlusconi to Chavez. Berlusconi is cutting taxes and standing up for western civilization. The guy excites me. Chavez is raising taxes and taking Venezuela back to the dark ages. FWIW, they seem different to me. Of course they both centralize power - but that is because there are certain conditions that are similar in both countries perhaps - it's a radicalization. Actually, that's what we went through in california when we elected our wonderful Arnie. We were doing an in-your-face to the world and the establishment by electing him. And much to our joy, we were right and the guy has made us happy! FWIW.

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