I think this is a familiar pattern. An economically troubled nation is given broad and miraculous promises by an ambitious, left-wing leader. Centralization of ownership and production is undertaken. There is little progress. More centralization is accomplished. There is little progress and inflation increases. Facing a loss of some parliamentary control, the leader pushes a lame duck grab for even more power so that he can survive an election coming up in 2012.
It's pretty obvious that the leader wants to stay in power and is, himself, ideologically inflexible. Many of the elected followers are simply doctrinaire socialists. Renegades who realize this isn't working are forming an opposition.
I think that in following the daily updates of this ideological and political feud, it is unlikely that there will be clear battles indicating the qualitative nature of Chavez's government. Unlike the libertarians or the Christian right, the left may elude an examination of quiddity. They quarrel. They posture. There is no central diktat, at least yet. So it is a revolution in progress that is open to various ideas and therefore neutral or slightly positive in terms of quiddity. The problem here is simply that in the short run things aren't getting better for the people, but the plans and motives and ideology involved are respectable, probably.
At such a level of discussion, I would still disagree because so many of the crises faced were manufactured. Leaders of good will do not manufacture problems and herd people into predetermined corrals constructed to accretion of power for themselves. Yet this is conjecture rather than proof of low quiddity.
I think there is a better approach, though. Since life imitates art, let's take a look at the approach to art of the left, something central to the desired culture. Let us also look at the history of modern leftist philosophy, something central to the universities.
So for Chris Hedges pillars of the left, we have inroads into two critical areas:
liberal religious institutions
universities (through examining a history of philosophy)
culture (through examining the arts valued by the left)
the Democratic Party
In doing so, we can get away from “dailyness” and quarreling over factoids and being subject to spin and news management. By looking at art and history of philosophy, we may be able to make compelling conclusions about quality and modern liberalism.