Popular, successful “dictators” and authentic democracy
By Arthur Shaw
Jan 11, 2007, 23:39
“Dictators can be popular. [Fidel] Castro has been immensely popular, he has been in power for 50 years, and the same could happen with [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez. If he perseveres in his policy to promote his Bolivarian revolution by investing his petro-dollars, he could attain more successes than those achieved so far, which are not just a few.”
These are the words of Mario Vargas Llosa, the famous Peruvian novelist and literary critic.
So, Mario Vargas Llosa wants to babble or battle ideologically about the popularity of alleged “dictators” and the “successes” of Hugo Chavez.
Vargas Llosa in the early 1960s was something of an admirer of Fidel and the Cuban Revolution. But tragically he later fell under the influence of the reactionary bourgeois US economist Milton Friedman, a leading and half-baked theoretician of neo-liberalism, who advised privatizing of everything in the country; abolishing social security programs for the workers, middle class, and the poor; paying half or more of gross domestic product to imperialist creditors and international financial organizations; and granting abject concessions to lure investment from foreign capitalists. The essence of neo-liberalism is the policy of enriching a few by greatly decreasing the purchasing power of the vast majority of the people.
In 1990, Mario Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru on an insane neo-liberal platform which was more extreme than the crackpot theories of bourgeois economist Milton Friedman; he lost in a run-off to Alberto Fujimori. In the 2006 presidential elections in Peru, Mario Vargas Llosa was lavishly paid by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US Agency of International Development (USAID), to support their neo-liberal candidate Lourdes Flores. Flores ran a sorry third in a field of three main candidates — revolutionary patriot Ollanta Humala and bourgeois opportunist Alan Garcia were the other two. In the run-off, Vargas Llosa, in step with the wishes of the US regime, supported Alan Garcia whom Vargas distastefully endorsed as “the lesser of two evils.” Garcia won, amid fraud charges..
During the last twenty years, as the quality and quantity of Mario Vargas Llosa’s artistic work as novelist and literary critic shrunk to pathetic levels, he intensified and expanded his political and ideological services … for handsome fees … to US imperialism. Vargas Llosa, rigid and mechanistic, has no talent for ideological struggle; he merely exploits his prestige as a novelist. Although his artistic gifts are clearly fading, he should stick to art.
A CONCEPT OF DEMOCRACY
Dictatorship, like democracy, admits to a number of definitions. The most widely held definition of dictatorship is some kind of negation of democracy. At the most rudimentary level, democracy, we are sometimes told, is a form of state in which:
1. Supreme power over a territory and people resides in the body of citizens entitled to vote. This sometimes called the sovereignty principle.
2. These citizens elect at least the key representatives who actually exercise power or the so-called electoral principle.
3. These representatives are accountable to the citizens through such institutions like recall elections, reelections, separation of powers, independent judiciary, free press, etc. This of course is the celebrated accountability principle.
4. Finally, these elected representatives exercise power in accordance with the rule of law; obviously this is the often cited and extolled principle of the rule of law.
So, the most widely held definition of dictatorship seems to entail the negation of one or more of these four rudimentary democratic principles.
Generally, bourgeois democrats based their judgments about dictatorship on only three of the four principles — negations of the electoral or accountability or the rule of law principles or some combination of the three.
Read all of it here.