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REYNOLDS On Tyrants: Chavez, Castro, and Islamic Radicals
John Mark Reynolds [author, academic] 9/25/06

Hugo Chavez rolled up to the podium at the United Nations and did what modern tyrants in the making do.He ranted and he roiled up the crowd by hating George Bush, but he fed nobody, helped no one, and gained nothing.

He is the people’s god, of the moment, hated by the worthless rich of his own nation, though the fact that bad men hate him does not wash him clean of his sins. Stalin’s hatred of Hitler did not make Hitler one bit less wicked, though Stalin was a very wicked man. And yet there is some part of America that wants to believe in Chavez . . . our home grown left moans after him this generation as their grandparents did after Castro. He is so forthright, so manly in his bright uniforms, and so sure that he can flog the rich and help the poor . . . and everyone knows the poor in Venezuela need helping.

John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University. His personal website can be found at www.johnmarkreynolds.com and his blog can be found at www.johnmarkreynolds.info.

If we just overlook the manias, the egotism, and the insane ranting, then Chavez will save us. He had such promise and he still says the right things and that is enough. Surely. Right?

Did this in Chavez seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Chavez hath wept:

I heard this before, someplace, and then I recalled. This summer in Stratford I saw a first-rate “Julius Caesar” and the Bard had taught me a lesson that applied just now.

Stratford is a strange place, indeed. It is the one place on Earth where Platonism seems incarnate as the ideas on which the city is built are much more real than the visible town. I have been there several times, but I can never remember anything about the badly done Disney city center (”Shakespeare Land”). I can remember the shows perfectly, because they are the reason to go. Shakespeare is alive even if Stratford isn’t.

Stratford was in the midst of doing all the plays when I was there, one after another. . . and whatever the merits of the idea, the cast looked wiped out when I saw them. It was a splendid show in many ways, but the Brutus mumbled and the director kept doing clever stage bits and getting in the way of the play. Like all directors, he forgot that we go to Shakespeare to see Shakespeare.

But then someone would get off a line in a quality of delivery never heard in American theater like:

Give me thy hand, Messala:
Be thou my witness that against my will,
As Pompey was, am I compell’d to set
Upon one battle all our liberties.

When all liberty is gambled on one battle, then the stakes are too high and reasonable men worry. I am reminded that killing any Caesar is inevitable . . . only a few tyrants like Castro escape it and even then Castro will die in terror of his own aides forcing him to Et tu in their direction . . . but that this tyranicide, even if done by good men with good intentions only leads to more killing and to greater tyrants on the throne.

Killing a tyrant only breeds worse tyrants. When Pat Robertson suggested America kill Chavez, he was wrong in every way. . . especially pragmatically. But just as bad are the foolish men who pump up such tyrants and set them up for their fall in the first place and who begin the cycle of violence by allowing their idol of the moment to kill in the name of liberty and crush rights in the name of the poor.

Having taken up utopian dreams, the American left has no choice but to turn to tyrants. No man could ever live long enough to see world peace and an end to all poverty done by secular statist power in the hands of libertine men. As a result the American left grows fearful and looks for someone to cut corners and give them paradise on earth now. They long for Stalin, Castro, or Chavez to save them. And such men always let them down. . . as this months people’s revolutionary becomes next month’s Daniel Ortega wearing designer shades as he attacks Republicans at the UN.

But some ambitious rhetorician will come to praise these men, even if it means an end to liberty.

Of course, Chavez is no real Caesar because Julius had real accomplishments before he developed a paunch and a swagger. Chavez developed Caesar’s ego without his deeds. Julius could write and would never have attacked an enemy merely by calling him a devil. Shakespeare’s Caesar is admirable and it is hard to tell whether the Bard loves him or hates him. He defends him and attacks him because such tyrants who wish to help the poor are hard not to love. They promise to cut through all the bull and free the people and who has not wanted to see the rich get theirs in some foolish moment?

But the revenge of the masses falls mostly on their own heads. . . and so the left calls up a strongman and gets a tyrant.

Howard Dean is such a weak shadow of a passionate man that this is the demon he calls up: Hugh Chavez to admire and to fear. The Democrats have gone from Stalin to Castro to Chavez matching their decline in leadership from Roosevelt to Kennedy to Dean.

Having failed to help real people in reality, they retreat to the hope that some brave man will end all the conspiracies that have hampered liberal plans from working and bring on heaven. It could not be the ideology, so it must be the oppression that caused the failure.

And Chavez knows what to do.

It is so simple to hate the Senate or the Americans or who ever else you can blame for your problems. And the man on horseback in the military uniform will help. Nothing could shake him, after all his trade is in courage. Right?

But greater men that Chavez have been destroyed by naked power.

The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power: and, to speak truth of Caesar,
I have not known when his affections sway’d
More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round.
He then unto the ladder turns his back,

When Chavez returns in triumph from his trip to New York City, the people of his poverty stricken land should ask:

Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home?
What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!

The little man struts in uniform before the adoring mob now, but where are his victories? How long before his verbal victories over Bush encourages him to imprison more of his foes to gain physical wins? Castro is dying and Chavez may take his place, but we have seen how it ends in Stratford . . . the people have short memories and when their god fails to please, when oil can no longer save them all, the populace will rumble and groan. Catching the clue, the rich will act and no good will come of it. Chavez bluffs and blusters now , but should beware his own Ides of March. CRO

copyright 2006 John Mark Reynolds



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