Chávez’s Nationalistic Socialism vs. Hitler’s National Socialism

"Fatherland, socialism or death" - the ubiquitous slogan for Chávez's "bolivarian revolution"

"Fatherland, socialism or death" - the ubiquitous slogan for Chávez's "bolivarian revolution"

Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez is leading a “Bolivarian revolution” to introduce “21st century socialism” in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America. Adolf Hitler lead the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (commonly abbreviated as the Nazi Party in English) which had on its agenda to nationalize industry in Germany.

Chávez is actively nationalizing industry in Venezuela, with one wave in 2007 and a new one earlier this year (see this article translated from Spiegel). Hitler, on the other hand, privatized businesses, even though it ran completely contrary to his party ideology (which he himself had written). The explanation offered is that he was in desperate need of financing for his grandiose political plans.

By privatizing banks (that had been nationalized as a result of the Great Depression) and some other businesses, he both raised money (1.37% of the total revenues) and increased his political support among industrialists. To prevent capitalism from causing damage to the interests of the state, as he saw them, he instead heavily regulated what private business could do outside of their own four walls. In other words, the privatization was purely pragmatic, the overarching goals being those of the state. Although the Nazis were socialists, Hitler thus came to employ a fascist policy, contrary to what many in the party advocated.

Since Chávez has oil revenues he does not need to borrow; in fact, he can lend money, and uses that as a tool to expand his influence. So he has no worries about nationalization. Why waste money on compensation? He just steals private companies.

Both men use a nationalistic and militant vocabulary. Unlike many other socialists, they are belligerent. They are not, however, nationalists in the sense of a nation-state. The Nation, or Patria, in their case refers to a certain group, not a certain country. For Hitler it was the Germans, and he spoke of Great Germany (Großdeutchland, often translated Greater Germany for some reason). For Chávez it is the Latinos (especially those of African descent according to this Venezuelan blogger), and he speaks of Great Colombia (Gran Colombia; recall that Colombia originally was the name proposed for the continent discovered by Christopher Columbus, i.e., America).

Furthermore, they both have a dedicated enemy, The Soviet Union, and the United States of America, respectively. While Hitler saw bolshevism as waging a war on the Germans, in a conspiracy with the Jews, Chávez sees the power structure behind Washington as waging a war on Latin America, again with Jews in a prominent role.

A further similarity is that both use local committees, on neighbourhood level, that are loyal to the party rather than to the state. In the case of the Third Reich, workers compensation and social services were moved from public to party responsibility. This helped the appearance of the state finances, but it also gave the party goodwill, and a source of corruption money. In the case of Bolivarian Venezuela (Chávez had the country renamed), funds are also diverted from public to party organizations. Although Chávez calls this local democracy, the system does not seem to be based on the principles of democracy, but rather to be a parallel to Hitler’s system.

Both men have also seen to that old friends who initially helped them ended up in a concentration camp, and in jail, respectively. Furthermore, they both exhibit behaviour consistent with cocaine abuse, it has been claimed.

As for trade unions, both started out working with unions, just to later ban them in favor of their own state-controlled ones. They are both demanding sacrifices to the homeland (Vaterland / Patria). In both instances the auto-declaration as a socialist ideology has been questioned from the left, and Chávez regimen has been called out as Nazism of the XXI century.

Both men have also been given extraordinary powers by the respective parliaments, effectively making them dictators. And just like Hitler had his Josef Göbbels, Chávez has his minister of propaganda in William Lara. This blog cites the head of Instituto de Prensa Internacional (‘International Press Institute’), Johann Fritz, as having said that “The communication policies of Mr Chávez are identical to those used by the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Josef Göbbels.” This judgment was based on their 2005 annual report.

Here is an analysis in Spanish of fascism / nazism on the one hand, and chavism on the other. It is from 2007. The “progress” since then has been significant. Outside Latin America, however, the awareness seems to be very low, as evidenced by, e.g., these articles in DN and SvD.

PS: A detailed comparison by a Dutch investigative reporter.

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