This occurred three years ago. Someone told me that a movement named Zeitgeist, which is allegedly based on Ron Paul's ideology, was a right wing movement. Almost immediately after, the same person associated Zeitgeist being right-wing, with the Zeitgeist chapter in Venezuela supporting Hugo Chavez, as an additional support for his is-right-wing argument.

My question is not about the movement, but about the Hugo Chavez side. My question is because, at least in Latin America, there is a trend to point every unliked (by the pointer) policy and politician as being in the right-wing.

So: To what extent could Chavez/Maduro government be considered a right-wing one?

Disclaimer: I don't know how many people in this site support Chavez and how many people here consider right-wing as a bad adjective; I don't support Chavez, nor I support the association of his govt being right-wing. It is not my intention to offend anyone here. If I should reword my question, suggestions are welcome

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    We had the "what is the definition of right/left wing" several times. Usual conclusion: These terms are so vague, broad, over-simplifying, badly defined and differently interpreted in different political cultures that they are an unsuitable as a description of political orientation.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 21:00
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    You seem right. Besides, what I finally understood is that a guy implying that Ron Paul and Hugo Chavez are similar (!!!) is not a guy to take seriously in the topic. He implied that support to Chavez given by Z movement in VZ was a consequence of Z being led by... Ron Paul's ideologies. Perhaps I was missing some points and that is why I asked here. But I understood here that, in the specified context, comparing them is quite a nonsense. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 21:28

3 Answers 3


Perhaps right wing in this case has little to do with economics and more to do with the organisation of authority? Because Chavez and Maduro are both authoritarians who send orders down, rather than being directed by grassroots going up, he is argued to be right wing. Perhaps also because right wing movements in Latin America have typically been dictatorships or juntas, this is what is meant by the commonality; since he could be said to be both as well.

This kind of argument may come from someone who is anarchist; and therefore regards capitalism and state, especially authoritarian states; as inherently right wing. And only those states and systems which decentralise power to grassroots elected councils and some such, are truly leftist. It's not a broadly held view, but it's definitely a possible explanation for the comment.

Unfortunately it doesn't make much sense given Chavez's overtly socialist economics, and indeed his own television show where he "repatriates" a privately held shop on the spot. The charge also doesn't make sense given that Latin America's left wing governments also tend to be highly authoritarian dictatorships; namely Cuba. If Chavez is right wing, is Fidel also right wing?

However, that said; Venezuela's "socialism" has always struck me as odd. On the one hand there is a lot of state involvement with the economy which is traditional socialist stuff. On the other there's a lot of problems with calling it orthodox socialism. Chavez's regime was not anti-religious, indeed that was something that was used, along with appeals to history (Bolivar) to gain legitimacy. And we have again, overtly capitalist goings on, like the beauty pageant industry in Venezuela, being run by an exceptionally wealthy media mogul; which again does not chime exactly well with either socialist or Christian values. Venezuela's alliance with Iran also makes no sense ideologically. So there's a few ways Chavez and Maduro's regime could be said to have right wing characteristics as much as left wing. Especially if he is viewed as populist rather than leftist.

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    I understand the messing between right and left in authoritarian arguments, and the messing between extreme leftism but holding a religious approach. His arguments would make sense if the compared right-wing style was like Donald Trump... but the zeitgeist movement is based on Ron Paul's right wing style. That was why I asked the answer in first place. Your answer makes sense in the scope you thought, which makes me think the other guy did not make sense in his point when comparing. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 16:50
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    i thing it's other way around, right wing means free market and power to the people, left winged say central planing, government knows better what people should do, buy, say, think, feel.
    – user14816
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 5:57
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    @inappropriateCode you can't compare what Franco did with Mao, Lenin or Polpot. Franco's regime was full of liberties, left winged regimes always aim to create a new progressive human beings.
    – user14816
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 10:02
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    @inappropriateCode you don't understand what it means to live in a left winged regime. When you turn 18 government send you to work, gives you place to live, you go shopping just to stay in the queue to buy basic goods, you don't choose what to buy because there is nothing to choose from, you can't travel, you can't go to a pub, because government didn't build one, you can't start your own thing, you read the books government allowed, watch the tv the government runs. Right winged regime mean there are not free elections, but otherwise you are master of your live.
    – user14816
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 10:32
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    @Tlen I understand just fine. Do you understand that the consequence of saying the wrong things and belonging to the wrong groups in Franco's Spain, and much of Latin America's right wing juntas during the cold war, was death? Additionally it is not true that "there are not free elections. but otherwise you are free". Protestants were persecuted in Franco's Spain AND East Germany. If what you are saying was true this would not be the case, but people were murdered and persecuted in right wing regimes because they didn't do what the government wanted. What you are claiming is not factual.
    – user8398
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 10:45

While the term 'right-wing' is not always well-defined, if your idea of 'right-wing' is something along the lines of Ron Paul, Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro is about as far from that as possible.

Ron Paul is a libertarian. He is a very staunch supporter of both economic and social freedom. Chavez and Maduro are pretty much the opposite of that. Libertarians, including Ron Paul himself, frequently cite Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro as an example of why socialism fails in the long term and should be avoided.


Only if one associates authoritarianism exclusively with the right wing, which simply isn't the case.

In general, people who disagree with a political movement tend to view it as authoritarian (because it doesn't respond to their desires), while those that agree with the political movement think of it as good. I would surmise that the person who made that statement is left wing.

Chavez rose to power on a populist movement that made great promises to the poor of Venezuela and a movement towards a socialist government... a very left wing platform.

Far from the socialist paradise funded by oil revenues that the Chavez government was originally touted to be, Venezuela's leaders have moved towards a dictatorship by bridling the independent judiciary and jailing opposition political leaders. That, while the country accelerates towards economic collapse, despite their substantial oil reserves. In the end, that's about the only equality that Chavez brought to Venezuela... now, all of it's citizens are poor. Bang up job, Hugo.

If people on the left are now trying to label Chavez as 'right wing', it's because he and Maduro became an embarrassment to the left who pinned such hopes on the socialist policies that Chavez originally promised.

It would be more accurate (and generous) to say that Chavez and Maduro have strayed from leftist policies into dictatorship. The siren's song of total power has once again proven to be too alluring to resist.

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