[Marxism] Chavez puts religion into his revolution (Miami Herald)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 6 06:03:39 MST 2006

Knee-jerk atheism is one of those banes of the modern socialist
movement. Some people seem to have forgotten that not only did Marx
say that religion is the opiate of the masses, he also described it
as the sigh of the oppressed. 

Specifically, Marx said: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed
creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the 
spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." 

When this question comes up to me personally, I often say that I am
an atheist, and God willing, I always will be. <g>

For some people, atheism is a kind of inverted religion which can be
used to divide people into two groups, one of which are effectively
the "chosen people", the "select" while others are written off as
uneducated heathens. I've no idea whether or not the leaders of the
Bolivarian Revolution has read Tariq Ali's satirical novel
REDEMPTION, but he probably would get a chuckle out of it if he did.
It deals with a group of individuals and organizations who got
carried away with their own sense of self-inflated importance. So
atheism is another thing which Washington, Bush and Mary Anastasia
O'Grady cannot hold against President Chavez. He uses a similar
vocabulary, but he fills it with quite a different content. Religion
is elastic in that way.

This absence of atheism in Venezuela is one of the reasons why
Washington has had so much difficulty mobilizing public hatred
against the new demon of "Bolivarianism" which they'd like to see
replacing the Godless International Castroite Communist Conspiracy as
the incarnation of the Devil in our times. This is one of the reasons
why Fidel invited Pope John Paul II to Cuba, and has already invited
Pope Benedict to visit, too. Read more about Fidel's invitation:

Chavez also secured an unquestioned electoral majority in each and 
every one of his electoral campaigns (two presidential votes, one 
constitutional referendum and defeating one recall attempt) This means
that Chavez's legitimacy in the only eyes which matter, those of God
her very own self, who, in her infinite wisdom has determined for human
beings which electoral arrangements are permissible to God's own chosen
representatives in Washington, provides yet another thing which the U.S.
cannot hold against Venezuela. Alas, it's this very same phenomenon which
renders Chavez more than a little suspect in the eyes of some of our more
intransigent atheists.

President Hugo Chávez's outright win in Venezuela's presidential
elections sets an agenda of more radical change at home and possibly in
Latin America at large. He promises a "new phase of the revolution" to
consolidate "21st century socialism" - and has the economic resources 
to extend existing social programmes tackling basic poverty in a highly
divided society.

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
Los Angeles, California.

Posted on Wed, Dec. 06, 2006	

Chávez puts religion into his revolution
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who once said 
  he wasn't 'Christian or Catholic,' now calls `the Kingdom of Christ
  . . . the kingdom of socialism.'
sdudley at MiamiHerald.com

CARACAS - It was during a driving rain on Sunday night when newly
reelected Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez took to the presidential
palace balcony in central Caracas and mentioned his latest guiding
figure: Jesus Christ.

''The Kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of love, of peace; the kingdom
of justice, of solidarity, brotherhood, the kingdom of socialism,''
he told the raucous crowd celebrating below. ``This is the kingdom of
the future of Venezuela.''

Hardly words of a hard-core leftist, Chávez's pronouncements were
part of the increasingly religious flavor that he has given his
''21st Century Socialism.'' These days, the president evokes Christ
almost as much as he talks about his other hero, Simón Bolívar, who
led a long stretch of the Andes to independence from Spain in the
19th Century.

It's far from clear what Chávez's newfound religion will mean for
Venezuela, its neighbors and the U.S. government in his next six-year

He still refers to President Bush as the ''devil'' and on Tuesday,
after the top U.S. diplomat here expressed a willingness to seek
better relations with Chávez, the president said he does not believe
the U.S. government is sincere.

''I'm ready to talk,'' Chávez said. ``But if you're going to talk to
the devil, you have to have strong morals because the devil has many
ways to tempt you.''


'During his already nearly eight years in power, Chávez has created a
massive social welfare state using the country's increasing oil
revenue as a buffer. And after winning on Sunday, Chávez promised to
''deepen'' his revolution.

For Chávez, this means the continued expansion and consolidation of
health and education projects that he has begun. He said on Tuesday
that his government will build more health clinics and hospitals.

He added that he also will create new universities and grade schools
to follow his ''Bolivarian'' model. He currently has a commission
working on a new national education curriculum, which includes
turning the students away from ''individualism'' and more toward

Chávez says he will also seek more ''economic equilibrium,'' which he
has hinted could mean more state control over the country's natural
resources such as oil and minerals, as well as an increasing number
of state appropriations of private property deemed ``idle.''

The president also has threatened to nationalize the country's
largest telecommunications company and squeeze the television
industry by revoking private licenses. In addition, legislation
awaits that could further muzzle newspapers, already facing laws that
prohibit criticism of the government or its officials.


''Deepening'' the revolution for Chávez is also an international
project. He has given special emphasis in recent days on Venezuela's
relationship with Argentina and Brazil. The three countries, he said,
form the axis of a new economic, political and military bloc: He said
they could start joint military exercises in the near future.

At the same time, Chávez has promised to continue his estimated $2
billion yearly subsidy for Cuba, which has become the geographical
home for Chávez's effort to forge a regional economic and political
alliance with like-minded Latin American governments such as those in
Bolivia, and soon in Ecuador and Nicaragua, which recently elected
leftist presidents.

At the very least, it appears that Chávez's plan would include him as
president for the foreseeable future. Chávez's second and last term
is up in 2012, but the president says he will eliminate term limits.

This last proposal has worried some who say that Chávez may be
beginning to think of himself in messianic terms, something the
president denies.

''I don't think I'm Jesus Christ, far from it,'' he said Tuesday just
after he preclaimed: ``Our socialism should be Christian . . .
Socialism is love.''

Ironically, the only leader in the region who may mention God more
than Chávez could be President Bush, whose administration has branded
Chávez as a destabilizing factor in the region.


Chávez's relationship with God is as vague and complicated as his
``Bolivarian Revolution.''

His family is Catholic, but he is not known as a particularly
religious man. He doesn't attend church regularly and has publicly
chided the Catholic hierarchy in this country for what he says is its
support of the traditional oligarchy.

Indeed, Agustín Blanco Muñoz, who has published several books about
Chávez, says that the former army lieutenant colonel who led a failed
coup in 1992 before being elected president in 1998, told him once
that he wasn't ``Christian or Catholic.''

''He's religious in the way that it serves his political project,''
Muñoz told The Miami Herald.

The majority of Venezuelans are Catholic, although many also mix
African deities and some historical figures into their beliefs. Some
analysts say Chávez embodies this part of Venezuelans' religiosity.

''What he practices is what Venezuelans practice, which is the
synchretism of the different religious practices and symbols,'' said
Alberto Garrido, who also has written several books on Chávez.

More information about the Marxism mailing list