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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:08 PM
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Hugo Chavez Embraces the Spirit of Benjamin Franklin

Original Content at

October 6, 2006

Hugo Chavez Embraces the Spirit of Benjamin Franklin

By Stephen Lendman

Hugo Chavez Embraces the Spirit of Benjamin Franklin - by Stephen Lendman

Benjamin Franklin was an "American original," and 2006 marks the 300th anniversary of his birth. He stands out as probably the most noted figure of the 18th century "new world" during which time the United States of America was born on July 4, 1776 known here as Independence Day. Franklin was a quintessential man for all seasons. He was a self-made man, printer, author, publisher, "patriot," scientist, inventor, civil leader, diplomat, congressman, sage, and the only Founder to have been a signatory to all four of the major founding documents of the country: the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Treaty of Paris and Treaty of Alliance with France. He was also arguably the most influential figure of his day as most of the other Founders were younger, and he was the elder statesman they looked up to.

Franklin was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 but served mostly as an advisor because of his advanced age of 81. Still he may have made the most important contribution to the final document that emerged. Earlier he'd studied the Iroquois Confederacy and was so impressed with it he got the other Founders to model our Constitution after much of their system of governance. It was based on a government of, for and by the people according to the notion that everyone has the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It also embraced, in spirit at least, the Iroquois' notion and practice over many millennia that there should be no rich and poor and everyone should be middle class - a real democratic socialist state that worked for the benefit of all their people for thousands of years.

Hugo Chavez may know little of this history, but he embraces the best part of it in what he hopes to achieve for Venezuela nonetheless. In a televised event on October 2, he stated his objective to transform the country into this kind of society saying: "The idea is that Venezuela by 2021, all of us belong to one class, a middle class....where we all live with dignity." Using Venezuela's commonly used five-letter socioeconomic categorization system, he went on to say: "Members of class A, the super rich are a minority, those in the B class are also rich but the C class is the middle class....we should all belong to the C class." He wants no one by then to be in classes D or E which are for those living in poverty or extreme poverty.

Chavez hopes to do this through the letter and spirit of Bolivarianism to build what he calls the "new socialism of the 21st century" which will expand the social economy in a revolutionary protagonist democracy under which the highest priority will be power to the people. He has this ethic taught to his people in the nation's schools and denounces US neoliberal-style predatory capitalism that "wants to turn all of us into robots. Human beings have their own ideologies," he stressed.

Chavez's goals are bold and innovative. He's already made great strides toward achieving them, but he understands it's still early in the process of transforming Venezuela into a truly model democratic socialist state under which the needs and rights of all the people are met and come ahead of those only accommodative to the privileged elite. That was the old way in Venezuela under rule by the oligarchs who exploited the people ruthlessly and ill-served them for many decades. As long as he's President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has vowed his country will never return to that ugly past.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at . Also visit his blog site at

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: I am a 71 year old, retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:24 PM
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1. Why is no one in our party saying this kind of thing?
:kick: & R
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INDIA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:19 PM
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2. Because they want to win elections? n/t
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Because Americans favor a caste system? n/t
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 02:45 PM
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4. A fine article that is more reflective of the truth about Hugo Chavez and
Venezuela than ANYTHING you'll read in our corporate news monopoly press (whose idiocies are often mindlessly repeated by a few DUErs).

I'm reminded of Ho Chi Minh's letters to President Eisenhower in the mid-1950s, in which the leader of Vietnamese liberation from the French colonialists quoted Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. Ho Chi Minh apparently believed, based on his readings about America, that the U.S. government would APPROVE of the Vietnamese goal of self-determination, and realize that their communist idea of government was NOT aligned with those of China and Russia. Ho Chi Minh was offering to be a U.S. ally in the communist world!

What a tragedy it was that our government was already so controlled by predatory capitalists--and, no small matter, by post WW II and post-Korea war profiteers, looking for their next war--and that the country was in the grip of nutballs like Joe McCarthy (who used the word "communists" the way Bush uses the word "terrorists," and for the same demagogic purpose)--that we passed this offer by, and geared up to smash the newly independent Vietnam into dust.

Eisenhower first of all nixed the UN-sponsored elections that Ho Chi Minh would have won. (He was the George Washington of Vietnam--a great hero and unifying figure). Ike then sent the CIA into Vietnam to foment trouble and to ally itself with fascist elements in creating the artificial government of "south" Vietnam, one of the most corrupt governments we have ever been "allied" with--outside of maybe Saudi Arabia, and our Latin American proxy dictatorships. By the time JFK was elected, and had figured it all out, our course in Vietnam was difficult to reverse. JFK tried to. He signed executive orders withdrawing our military "advisers" from Vietnam shortly before he was assassinated. (That, and his refusal to go along with the CIA invasion of Cuba, were likely what got him killed.) Johnson canceled those orders shortly after his succession to the presidency, and thereafter quickly escalated the Vietnam situation into a full scale war, on the false premise of "defending" an "ally" ("south" Vietnam) that was wholly our creation--a puppet government. MOST Vietnamese thoroughly detested the corrupt "south" Vietnamese government, which is the primary reason the U.S. lost that war. There was no "consent of the people." "Consent" would have gone to Ho Chi Minh and the communists, in free and fair elections.

Hugo Chavez is NOT a communist, and not even close to being one. (His government recently squashed a proposal by the leftist mayor of Caracas to confiscate two country clubs/golf courses for low cost housing projects, because it violates the Venezuelan Constitution, which PROTECTS PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS.) He is clearly pursuing a mixed capitalist/socialist economy, with a strong component of social justice, much like many EU countries (and all sensible countries on earth). It is a MODERATE program. Further, the great success of democracy in Venezuela (and throughout South America) should be occasion for joy in Washington DC--much as Ho Chi Minh's overtures regarding Vietnam's INDEPENDENCE should have been applauded by our government and encouraged by it. Vietnam was no dictatorship. Its revolution was truly a peoples' movement, above all inspired by love of country (--they had been fighting off Chinese domination for 5,000 years!), and it was inherently moderate, based on the Vietnamese temperament. A wise policy would have welcomed them as an ally, and encouraged their inherent democratic and moderate tendencies. Venezuela is CLEARLY a DEMOCRACY. Its people are devoted to constitutional government. Its elections have been the most highly monitored elections in history. There is absolutely NO good reason for the Bush Junta's hostility to Venezuela.

Yet here we are again, stupidly following the most unwise policy imaginable. It's no wonder the people of South America are beginning to pity us! They do, you know. They don't pity the Bushites. They know exactly who the Bushites are. They've seen it all before. But they pity US, the people, suffering under this dinosauric fascist regime. And it must be wondrously shocking to the entire world that a people with founders like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson could be so disempowered and so disenfranchised as to sit by, as an illegitimately elected Congress and an illegitimately elected President endorse torture and suspension of habeas corpus. Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the other American revolutionaries put themselves in imminent danger of execution--and many died--to spare us these things. The right of habeas corpus was one of the chief rallying points of the revolution. And that right has been an inspiration to the reformers of justice systems all over the world. And we let these Diebolded politicians just flip it off!

What Hugo Chavez--and many of the new leftist governments in Latin America--are doing is merely extending into the economic sphere some of the notions of equity that our revolutionaries insisted upon in the political sphere. It is--and always has been--a LOGICAL extension of equity. And they are doing it peacefully and democratically--unlike the violent upheavals of previous eras, such as occurred in Russia and China. Indeed, if you extend equity into the economic sphere, you PREVENT violent revolutions. That is what occurred HERE, from the 1930s through the 1960s: the PREVENTION of a violent revolution HERE, through measures such as the CCC programs (gov't-created jobs, to stave off starvation and homelessness, in a constructive way, while building infrastructure and promoting the arts), a living wage, benefits, Social Security, high emphasis on education and upward mobility of the poor, safety nets under the poor, strong unions and the creation of a strong middle class. The capitalist class greatly feared communist revolution here, after the disaster they created in the Crash of 1929. It was put off by WW II (many new jobs in the war economy). But it remained a threat through the 1950s, when the "great compromise" occurred between the labor unions and the capitalists. (Good jobs, fair wages, etc., in exchange for purging "communists" out of the labor unions).

Unfortunately, the "many new jobs in the war economy" syndrome continues in the U.S. But now it isn't so much jobs as it is PROFITS for the war corporations. They NEED war. In the '60s, the labor unions SUPPORTED the war on Vietnam. Guess why? Building tanks, planes and other military vehicles. Outfitting a huge army. Making bombs and bullets--and even more gruesome items like "Agent Orange." A booming (but inflated) economy, based on war. Many American workers benefited from it. Not any more, though. Now most of the jobs are outsourced to cheap labor markets abroad, and the only beneficiaries are the rich transglobal elite (who now have their talons thoroughly implanted in our government).

What would Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson think of all this? They would be siding with Hugo Chavez, whose policy is to curtail, not to destroy, capitalist/corporate power, with mild and equitable policies, such as fair taxation of oil profits, and use of oil revenues to benefit all, not just a tiny rich elite, and also regional policy such as helping other South American countries (Argentina, for instance) to get out from under onerous World Bank/IMF debt. Franklin and Jefferson would understand these things very well. And they would side with leftists (majorityists) and election reformers in the U.S. Time to strongly re-regulate these corporate entities, who are now controlling our elections with "trade secret" programming, and who are gas gouging, undoing all common good programs, controlling the news, dismantling the Constitution, and fomenting resource wars. Jefferson worried about corporate power. He got argued out of including checks on corporate power in the Constitution, and he hoped that strong state powers would protect the people and the government from such financial consortiums and monopolies. I think if he were here now, he would say, "Dismantle them all, and seize their assets for the public good! --after you restore your right to vote!"

About Venezuela he would say, to us, "Are you all idiots? Don't you recognize a bad oil consortium policy, inimical to democracy, when you see one?" And then he might add...

Viva la revolucin!

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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 03:29 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Brilliant explanation.
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 03:28 AM
Response to Original message
5. Great article. Thanks for posting.
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