Propaganda in Action: More anti-Chavez attacks dressed up as “news”

From Reuters:

CARACAS (Reuters) – A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism then struggling to explain how his luxurious clothes square with his socialist beliefs has become an instant YouTube hit in Venezuela.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreno was momentarily at a loss for words when a journalist interrupted his speech and asked if it was not contradictory to criticize capitalism while wearing Gucci shoes and a tie made by Parisian luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton.

“I don’t, uh … I … of course,” stammered Carreno on Tuesday before regaining his composure. “It’s not contradictory because I would like Venezuela to produce all this so I could buy stuff produced here instead of 95 percent of what we consume being imported.”

The video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDsdXkY4UlE) had been viewed more than 15,000 times on Thursday, a day after it was posted on the YouTube Web site.

Despite the best efforts of left-wing President Hugo Chavez to instill austere socialist values in its people, the oil-rich South American nation remains attached to consumerism.

This article makes several uncritical assertions which deserve some attention.

First,

“A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism… has become an instant YouTube hit…. [having] been viewed more than 15,000 times on Thursday.”

This reads as if it was written by somebody like my co-worker who is not familiar with Youtube and thus calls it “The Youtube”.  Anybody conversant in the social video site would know receiving 15,000 hits nowhere near qualifies a video as being ‘a hit’.  Just to demonstrate this fact, I’ve highlighted the most popular videos on Youtube today in green:

youtube-popular-videos-december-14-2007.png

So the this putative Youtube “hit” has received less than 4% of the hits of a Brittany spears music video and a video of a guy holding his camera sideways.  Hmm……  Do I smell a Hollywood deal in the making?  If you accept that 15,000 views does not an internet sensation make, then one must ask oneself:  irrespective of all other charges in this piece, what is the newsworthiness of this story in the first place?

Second,

The article asserts that there is something hypocritical or unsavoury about a politician who’s well dressed yet attacks capitalism and advocates for the poor.  Besides being an ad hominem attack (which we seem to be seeing a lot more of these days when it comes to socialists), this seems to suggest that Minister Pedro Carreno is somehow less hypocritical or less unsavoury than a politician who’s well dressed and working to ensure that he gets to keep all the capital he’s accumulated while the poor can do without government assistance and just pick themselves up by their bootstraps.

In fact, we don’t even need to go as far as the Venezuela opposition to find examples of this former type of politician, we in the West, and especially our American neighbours, have plenty of home-grown examples.  While I despise comparing John Edwards to the genuinely progressive Bolivarian Revolution, a fair example could be made that Edwards has likewise been criticized for his luxurious living while using working-class rhetoric while others such as Mitt Romney who’s net worth tops $200 million (USD) and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes who’s net worth is $500 million (USD) both can advocate tax cuts or even a flat tax while not being subjected to similar charges of unsavouryness or hypocrisy.

Now, to be fair, while I support the Bolivarian Revolution, it should be pointed out that this is does not exactly live up to the Paris Commune ideal that Marx praised wherein the maximum salary available to a Commune official was 6000 Francs per year (although, in honesty, I haven’t the slightest clue what that would work out to in today’s currency after inflation).  But the point still stands that the argument made by Reuters is untenable.

Third,

The article asserts that “despite the best efforts of left-wing President Hugo Chavez to instill austere socialist values in its people, the oil-rich South American nation remains attached to consumerism.”

This is misleading on a few fronts.  First off, the socialist project is largely dealing with the horrible fact that workers don’t have enough money to feed themselves yet work in society only to have the surplus of their labour disproportionately usurped by a class of non-labourers.  Thus, socialism is not the same thing as anti-consumerism which is concerned primarily about people who buy too many things and are controlled by their desires for conspicuous and fashionable consumption.

chavez-supporters.pngSecond of all, this quotation attempts to suggest that the left-wing drive in Venezuela is being directed by Chavez in a top-down fashion.  While Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution is not nearly grassroots enough for my liking, it is nevertheless a complete distortion of the situation to say that it is Chavez who is making, or attempting to make a receptive public embrace socialist values.  Clearly, if the socialist drive was coming from Chavez and not the populace, then when Chavez was removed from power in the 2002 coup, the public would have either rejoiced or proven apathetic instead of the amazing popular uprising we actually witnessed to restore Chavez.

9 Responses to “Propaganda in Action: More anti-Chavez attacks dressed up as “news””


  1. 1 johnnypeepers 14 December, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Why does Chavez seek perpetual rule, nationalize productive enterprises, eliminate media outlets that counter his propaganda, and imprison those who exercise their fundamental right to free speech?

    I’m just wondering.

    Vote No!

  2. 2 martinp 14 December, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t know if thats a troll but its easy to reply. If you are canadian then of course you know that politicians can run for election as often as they want. Having to run for election isn’t the same as perpetual rule. In fact, you can ask why Venezuelans aren’t allowed their basic right to choose who is President.

    And of course why not nationalize productive industries? Watch ‘the corporation’ to see more on that, there are numerous benefits to nationalizing industries.

    Not granting a license is not the same as banning free speech. THere are still lots of outlets for free speech. This private company was complicit during the coup, if a company behaved like that in the States not only would they lose their license, they’d be put in jail.

    For imprisoning, again, it depends on what is being talked about. You can ask the same question in the US and Canada as it goes on there as well. It depends on the nature of the offense.

    But your a little late to vote no.

    Thought I’d put that in before Paul had to waste his time stating the obvious.

  3. 3 paulitics 14 December, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Martinp, of course you’re right to point out that refusing to renew a license for a station involved with a coup is not anywhere near the same as banning free speech. But it goes even further than that. RCTV only failed to have its license to broadcast over the airwaves renewed (because the airwaves in Venezuela just like in Canada and the U.S., are owned by the public and only rented to corporations). RCTV was not banned from Venezuela altogether. In fact, RCTV still has several holdings in cable news just like CNN or Fox News. So by the argument of johnnypeepers, the U.S. federal government somehow must being discriminating against Fox and CNN and MSNBC because they only let them operate on cable. Of course the argument is completely ridiculous and could only seriously be held either by people who are either woefully ignorant or willfully ignorant.

  4. 4 daisydeadhead 15 December, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    OMG! I had *no idea* Romney was so loaded.

  5. 5 paulitics 15 December, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    daisydeadhead – That’s nothing, Romney’s looking to buy ClearChannel. If he succeeeds, he’ll directly own almost all of the right wing talk radio programs in the US including Hannity, Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Mark Levin.

  6. 6 martinp 15 December, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Keep in mind that its fair to say that the politician IS hypocritical. It’s not hard to ‘walk the walk’. There’s a reason Castro always wears fatigues. Its one thing to dress nice, but its another to be ostentatious. I have no doubt that viewers revelled in that kind of hypocrisy, and many will remember it at election time. Symbolism is very important and the fact he was flustered means he gave so little thought to it that hypocritical can indeed be used. I find it as ‘unsavoury’ as Paul Martin showing up during the ‘slash and burn’ budgets wearing old shoes instead of the (stupid) tradition of wearing new shoes on budget day. As if anybody thought a cabinet minister couldn’t afford new shoes. Yes, the media attention is over the top, just because its Venezuela, but there is nothing wrong with pointing a finger at a politician like that.

  7. 7 Golden Boy 20 December, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Wow, what stellar investigative powers this Paul guy has. The article clearly says the Youtube video is a hit IN VENEZUELA. So Paul then shows how Britney Spears video has a bigger audience across the entire planet.

    Paul then goes on to inform us that Mitt Romney and Steve Forbes are rich guys, and John Edwards is a flaming hypocrite. There’s some groundbreaking journalism!

    I must have missed the part where Paul addressed how many “..workers don’t have enough money to feed themselves..” could have been fed with the money spent on Carreno’s fashionable ensemble, but I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. Also, Paul’s Socialist Investigations surely must have addressed Carreno’s insistence there are no Venezuelan made clothes and shoemakers.

    Or maybe this Paul guy is just a douche.

  8. 8 paulitics 20 December, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Actually I never said that there was nothing unsavoury about Carreno’s fashion style. Indeed on the contrary. Read the article again. What I said was that it was no more hypocritical than Forbes or Romney.

  9. 9 Cesar 13 January, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Really asshole?

    That’s why Chávez lost the referendum.

    You just know a shit!


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