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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Michael Rowan: Venezuela and the Power of Ignorance
Latin American guru Michael Rowan on the similarities between Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and USA President Donald Trump.

By Michael Rowan

The news from Venezuela and the USA – that Maduro is planning an election where only he’s running and a crypto currency only he would buy, while Trump proposed to arm teachers for shoot-outs rather than ban assault weapons in schools – makes me wonder if we have passed into a mindless dimension of politics from which we may never escape. Do you ever get jolted by thought links in your brain snapping and crackling when you hear these guys talk?

It used to be that politics had some reality anchors, incontrovertible facts, and indisputable laws. Those were the days when words and numbers had meaning like 1 + 1 = 2, and it was a show-stopper when some self-important jerk said, “Sorry but 1 + 1 = 11 and you know that in your heart,” and then the jerk is not even contradicted when he later tweets, “You quoted me out of context, I never said that, I said 1 + 1 = 111, and a lot of people tell me they agree with me on that, tons of people, so look it up and stop with the Fake News, OK?”

As you probably know, Maduro, Trump and Chavez are true believers in the Great Men Make History theory. Yet a contextual reading of history shows that the “History Makes Men” theory explains the facts much better. Great undercurrents and waves occur in social populations, which caught under the surfboard of a charismatic charlatan, can ride him to the top, the presidency. We know that, right? The charlatan didn’t cause the wave but he sure rode it to shore for all it was worth.

Chavez caught the wave of resentment against poverty, inequality and corruption in a rich country, and rode it into election, back in the day when Venezuela had real elections, which seems a long, long time ago. And even though that wave of resentment has now turned against Maduro, his guns and money are enough to power Chavez’s borrowed surfboard onto a Venezuelan beach where starving people are eating sand.

Trump caught the wave of resentment felt by aging, rural, white nationalists, people who felt the U.S.A .of old was being replaced by yesterday’s slaves or tomorrow’s immigrants who share darker skin colors and strange cultures.
What’s actually happening is that those older, whiter, rural and under-educated Americans are being rendered economically redundant by the knowledge requirements of globalization in the Information Age. That’s a wave they didn’t see coming. They’re nostalgic about the coal mines, diseased jobs and city streets piled one foot high with horseshit from an industrial Age which thank God is gone into the history books.

Waves of resentment are fed by colossal ignorance, mindless conspiracies, racism, and Fake News, all of which proliferate in today’s Internet, seeping into household conversations, sewing confusion and anxiety. When good people do not stand up against such ignorance, it can overwhelm a country, ultimately providing absolute power to the chief provocateur, as already happened in Venezuela, which may never recover. And it could happen in the U.S.A. as well, where the president has gone to war against his intelligence agencies, the FBI, the Justice Department, and virtually any decent person or absolute fact that crosses his know-nothing yet know-it-all, reptilian brainpan.

Michael Rowan is an author and political consultant who has advised presidential candidates throughout Latin America, including Governor Manuel Rosales in Venezuela, President Jaime Paz Zamora of Bolivia and President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica. In the U.S., he has advised winning candidates in 26 states. He has been an award winning columnist for El Universal, The Daily Journal -- predecessor to LAHT -- and the Latin American Herald Tribune since the 1990s. He is the author, with Douglas Schoen, of The Threat Closer to Home - Hugo Chavez and the War Against America.


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