The events in recent months in Venezuela provide a textbook example of statolatry–the term popularized by Ludwig von Mises in Omnipotent Government about tendencies to make government and its figureheads objects of veneration. This week’s Economist magazine reports (in an article on Hugo ChÃ¡vez efforts to form a socialist ruling coalition in Venezuela):
Now he has hit his first speed bump since the election. It is over the new party, provisionally called the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, whose leader will of course be Mr ChÃ¡vez himself. The largest chavista party, the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR), has already agreed to disband. So have others, including the smaller UPV. “My comandante gives the orderâ€”we obey,â€ said its leader, Lina Ron, without irony. “Who am I to question the second Liberator of the Republic, the messiah God sent to save the people?â€
ChÃ¡vez is a threat to his people, to the extent that he wishes to redistribute wealth, deplete its capital stock, and weaken property rights institutions required for the wealth creation his country desperately needs. Interestingly, he is not only a threat made possible by western actions that have had the effect of increasing Venezuelan oil revenues this decade. He is also now an object of worship.