Hugo Chavez is dead
. There will be eulogies and maledictions aplenty - the disgraceful Guardian
obit, written by a supporter of the right-wing opposition, is typical of the latter - but for now this blog simply mourns the loss of a radical tribune.
Chavez did not invent the diverse social movements
, radical workers' organisations, environmentalists, gay and lesbian groups, community councils and so on that sustained him in power. But he did federate them; he did contribute to their unity and cohesion; he did try to use state power to advance their goals, with ambiguous but generally positive results. Of course, he also amalgamated them in more problematic ways. His hysterical opponents compare him to a dictator, but Greg Grandin
is right to say that if anything he was too conciliatory, insufficiently disposed to fighting the existing power bloc in the state apparatuses. He sought their cooperation or acquiescence, and sections of the old elite were incorporated into an emerging 'boli-bourgeoisie' that has acted as an impediment on further radicalisation. Still, the society that emerges is far more democratic, less unequal, less impoverished, more literate, and more healthy than the one in which he was elected in 1998. For all his limitations and his mistakes - and his support for Qadhafi was a sad moment - Chavez's leadership took the Bolivarian revolution forward.