By early December, Venezuela seems to start an extraordinary experiment in governing a third world country through “centralised socialism” similar to what India experimented but failed for lack of natural resources. Venezuela may succeed as it has oil, a lot of it for its population and a dedicated bureaucracy of the poor. What they need to sustain is the “character” of Umar, the second Muslim caliph. If the referendum is positive, President Hugo Chávez would have significantly enhanced powers and be eligible for re-election for the rest of his life. Major social reforms like re-distribution of national wealth, a workday of six hours, state-mandated pensions for street vendors, homemakers and maids have been promised. A sweeping revision of the constitution is expected to be approved by referendum on December 2. It is bolstering Mr. Chávez’s popularity among people who would benefit and stirring contempt from economists who declare it demagogy. Venezuela’s previous ruling elite that immensely benefited by exploiting its oil riches are signalling a new instability which says the president is carrying out a populist coup. Supporters of President Hugo Chávez are encouraging people to vote in favour of the referendum. “There is a perverse subversion of our existing constitution under way,” says Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel, a retired defence minister and former confidant of Mr. Chávez who broke ranks with him this month to go to the political opposition. “This is not a reform. I categorise it as a coup d’état.” Chávez loyalists already control the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, almost every state government, the entire federal bureaucracy and newly nationalised companies in the telephone, electricity and oil industries. Soon they could control even more. But this is an upheaval that would be carried out with the approval of the voters. Opinion polls in Venezuela suggest that the referendum could be Mr. Chávez’s closest electoral test since his presidency began in 1999, but one he may well win. “We are witnessing a seizure and redirection of power through legitimate means,” said Alberto Barrera Tyszka, co-author of a best-selling biography of Mr. Chávez. “This is not a dictatorship but something more complex: the tyranny of popularity.” The western secular democratic humanists invariably blame Islam and Muslims for hating freedom and show their earnest desire to bring democracy in the Muslim lands. But they have learned from Iran (1951) and Algeria that democracy in Muslim lands, their emancipation from colonial yoke and loss of cheap natural resources that fuel their economies. They are closely watching how some are doing it in other parts of the world, and will subvert the popular democracy as they did in many countries or impose a blockade as they did in Cuba to contain their infection. Maududi tried it in early infancy of Islamic Democratic Pakistan but the masses failed him. Unfortunately, the Muslim masses in their majority areas, six decades later, cannot follow Venezuela as they are confused by their political elite and religious hierarchy.
Democracy as Dictatorship
By early December, Venezuela seems to start an extraordinary experiment in governing a third world country through “centralised socialism” similar to what India experimented but failed for lack of natural resources.