Venezuela's Chavez and the Holocaust

By Daniel Duquenal

11.08.06 | Today in some event shown through Globovision Chavez again called Israel a fascist state and affirmed that there is a Holocaust taking place in Southern Lebanon.

I will pass on discussing what is going on between Israel and its neighbors and focus on the fact that Chavez is consistently using words such as Holocaust, Fascism, Genocide, in conjunction to whatever his enemies do (in the case of Israel, which is not an enemy of Chavez the reason is to hit the main ally of Israel, the US, the perceived real enemy of Chavez).

Since Chavez is an ignorant of the real meaning of historical events one can conceive that the first 2-3 events where he used such words so lightly were a mere moment of irrationality and ignorance due to the length of his fiery speeches. But we cannot afford to entertain this benevolent hypothesis anymore: there is now a pattern. We are not even allowed to hope that his entourage is so scared of Chavez that they have not dared tell him that certain words are not to be played with. The vice president Jose Vicente Rangel knows better and he has had plenty of time to explain the subtleties to his boss. The trivialization of words such as Holocaust is a deliberate ploy. Soon we might even hear “Israel is holocausting Southern Lebanon”, becoming a verb as the ultimate descent into banality.

I have been trying to fool myself for too long but no more: such abusive use of hallowed words is on purpose. A goal is sought. I have come up with an explanation that I do not like at all.

For better or for worse the West has been building its current civilization over the ashes of the Holocaust. Civilizations start with a conjunction of events. The one that preceded us started with the French and Industrial Revolutions. It ended somewhere around WW1 and the Great Depression. Our present civilization is built on the WW2 consequences, namely the Holocaust and Hiroshima. At least the moral and ethical basis of our civilization, from Japan to Venezuela, from Iceland to South Africa, comes from these events. All civil rights movements, all democratic beliefs, all economical ideas from the democratic lefts and rights were founded on the ideal that such as thing as the Holocaust or Hiroshima mass murders should be avoided at all costs. We got the UN. Most abolished death penalty. We got tribunals for crimes against the humanity. We got many more things, more or less successful but we got them.

Aragon reveals very well these 1945 revelations as our civilization litmus test in a poem to Robert Desnos murdered by the Holocaust and not even a Jew:

Là-bas où le destin de notre siècle saigne
(Yonder, where the fate of our century bleeds)

But our present civilization like all civilizations is challenged. What we built in the 50ies and triumphed with the fall of the Berlin Wall, perhaps opening unrealistic expectations, is now challenged. The excluded are the challengers. The excluded are those who either do not think they can access to our civilization, or were deliberately set apart, or do not want to join our civilization for their own motivations, thus self excluding themselves. Chavez is in this last crowd, as the autocrats and their followers who today seem to enjoy a strange revival from the Baikal to the Lake of Maracaibo, passing through Pyongyang and Teheran.

What do these challengers want? A world of certainties and not a world of collective resolve married to individual responsibility for our actions. We are in a world where science and rationality allied with empathy are supposed to solve all ills and allow all of us to make the right choices on our own and thus join society and its benefits. We are thus forced to establish a world of diversity where many solutions must coexist. However these challengers aspire to uniformity, at least within their own realms of power and action. They aspire to world of conformism even if their rallying cries are against the conformism of McDonald and Disney. Be they fundamentalists of any stripe or plainly angry folks, they all fall easily prey to a limited elite that promises them a world with certitudes.

And a world of certitudes requires the end of doubt. By force, through repression if necessary. Repression of diversity means exactly that, repression, death and deliberate murder.

That is why the sacred founding words of Holocaust and Hiroshima must be made banal so what was tried in the past can be tried again, without raising annoying outrage. That is why Chavez makes banal the Holocaust. That is why Iran makes banal nuclear energy. They have a plan and we are not a part of it.