Paul Jacob

And Chavez is an unabashed socialist, which has made him the darling of many on the Left in America, and in Europe. And for years we’ve all heard America’s leftists deny any ties to tyranny — leftists are for the little guy, after all! — but they still manage to go gaga over tyrants like Chavez’s buddy, Fidel Castro. And for Chavez himself.

Another socialist has become a dictator — more proof of socialism’s direct connection to tyranny. The Venezuelan legislators gave Chavez his special powers so that he could enact sweeping reforms. Socialism is so sweeping that it is almost impossible to accomplish by the cumbersome, limited method of political representation.

Dictatorship is just so much more “efficient.”

And the Soviet style of Chavez’s agenda seems fairly clear. If all Chavez were up to was taking “no less than 60 percent” of oil revenues from the oil industry “partners” that elect to stay in country, why the dictatorial powers? Britain and other social democracies in Western Europe managed to extort such chunks of wealth (and ruin their industries in the process) without quite resorting to such drastic means.

Chavez should be an embarrassment to all who lean left. And yet his defenders sometimes go to great lengths to defend him. I particularly admire the effrontery and numbskull sociology that Chavez’s challenge calls up in the ruminations of one Joseph P. Kennedy II, founder of Citizens Energy Corporation.

“Before we accept the characterizations of him as a socialist threat to our way of life, we ought to look at our own country,” Kennedy wrote in December. He describes America’s current system as, “ironically, a system of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.”

Oh, nonsense and poppycock. America’s flirtation with socialism has led to government regulations and thievery and nannyism at pretty much every level. To say that it is uniformly a “socialism for the rich” and freedom for the poor is idiotic.

And it’s beside the point anyway. Freedom is better than coercion, and socialism is society-wide coercion with the state unfettered by its citizens’ liberty.

In ancient Rome, the Senate periodically granted limited terms for dictators, in times of crisis. But, after Caesar, the limited terms became moot, as Rome congealed into an empire.

We’ll see how long Chavez dictates. But note: he’s already come out against his own term limit.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.