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The combination of nationalism and socialism is arguably the worst duality of ideas in modern history. Nazism, for short, is not dead, nor has its endless toll against peace and prosperity for those who embrace it, been paid in full. Venezuela under Chavez is a case in point.

In humanity's immediate past, nationalism brings to mind Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Hirohito - the Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan of a half century ago; while socialism brings to mind Stalin and Mao - the Soviet Union and China of several decades ago. Both nationalism and socialism produced astonishing failures for the people the ideas were proposed to serve in the 20th century, but especially when they were combined, and today, all six nations mentioned above have largely abandoned those ideas, separately or in combination.

Global institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank - however faulted by being given responsibility but not authority over their focus - were put in place to encourage peace and prosperity in the world. And to a remarkable degree they have succeeded in the last half century.

But in Latin America generally, and Venezuela in particular, national socialism, or Nazism, has an appeal which is nothing less than frightening, especially when perceived through the lens of 20th century history. With the military loyal to the Chavez revolution running many of the nation's institutions; and with independent justices, ministers, prosecutors, governors and mayors largely a thing of the past; and with new 'laws' restricting the freedoms of life, liberty, speech, press, and assembly under the façade of democratic lawfulness, Venezuela is sinking into Nazism very rapidly.

Countries fall into Nazism for subjectively 'rational' reasons: frustration, inequality, resentment or rage against the past. In Venezuela's case, the rise of Chavez as an antidote against the failures of the past is understandable, but his rule thereafter is not. Chavez is a soldier at war with past demons, whose solution to oligarchy is military nationalism plus failed socialism in the name of Simon Bolivar. The Chavez 'solution' for the 21st century is the most glaring failure of the 20th century: Nazism. 

Rowan's column is published every Tuesday.

On the Cover

Venezuelan government gives aid to farmers hit by rains

02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.

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