And with so many brothers already in power, the Chavez clan can look forward to a long career of wealth redistribution. With his father and brother running one state, another brother running a town, and more scattered around cabinets, banks and other high offices, there's enough Chavez's to go around. Lose a Chavez and swap in another one. It works in Cuba, why not in Venezuela?
Yes Chavez's standing isn't what it used to be a few years ago, but socialism is still the dominant paradigm in the hemisphere. From Barack Obama to Dilma Rousseff, and from Daniel Ortega to Evo Morales, the spirit of Marx is strong on this side of the Atlantic. While holdouts still remain in Canada and Columbia, the forces of revolution remain confident of achieving victory. Or at least total international debt default.
The Venezuelan economy has hit a rocky stretch with many of the proceeds going into the pockets of la familia Chávez, but socialism isn't a dirty word yet. At least not everywhere. In Canada, the NDP is debating whether to remove the part of their constitution that says progress “can be assured only by the application of socialist principles”. But it's not so much that they're debating whether that's true, but whether it's politic to say it out loud.
It's the same problem in America where the Democratic party is stuck pretending to be offended every time someone calls their socialist programs by their proper name. After a bout of soul-searching, the NDP decided to keep on being socialists in name, as well as in policy. And the Democratic party has decided to be socialists in policy, but not in name. That may be why the Democratic party is in power and the NDP isn't.
But in Venezuela, there's no need to compromise. Chavez's United Socialist Party is socialist in name and in power. And runs roughshod over the opposition, civil liberties and freedom of the press, the way that a proper socialist party should. As Adan Chavez reminded his colleagues, "we cannot forget as authentic revolutionaries, other methods of struggle". Like using snipers to pick off unarmed protesters from rooftops.
And who better to represent the authentic revolutionary strivings of socialism, than a Chavez. Any Chavez. With an entire family making a living off being in the government, it's enough to make a Kennedy kvell with pride.
Jobs? We don't need no stinking jobs. We're lifetime ruling socialists in the tradition of Simon Bolivar. Or in the tradition we're sure he would have approved of, if only because we say so. Venezuela's unemployment has doubled since 2008-- but the Chavez family will always have lifetime jobs. Either in politics or the prison laundry-- only time will tell.
In most countries, when a leader's health is in question, stocks and bonds slide. But in Venezuela, bonds actually rallied on news that Chavez might be dead. An impressive level of mismanagement is needed to create an environment in which your country's bonds actually go up on the mere supposition that you might be dead. But for a dedicated socialist, this is the finest tribute possible. And when Chavez gets out of his mausoleum, dons his track suit and begins quietly unloading as many bonds as possible, before the financial markets realize he's still alive-- it will be another triumphant victory for socialism.
But to really put one over the capitalists, El Presidente might want to consider playing dead for a year or two. It could do wonders for Venezuela's economy. And maybe that way, he won't need to create yet another new currency to replace the old devalued currency.
If Chavez decides to keep on governing from the hospital bed, at least he won't be the only Marxist strongman in Latin America to do it. The wonderful Cuban medical service could move in another bed next to Fidel and the two human toadstools could rule over two countries side by side, confiscating newspapers and imprisoning dissidents, while being examined for bedsores.
But then what does it say about socialism, when its two leading promoters south of the border can't get out of bed? The Ottoman Empire held the status of the Sick Man of Europe. With two of the leading leftist tyrants of Latin America confined to their sickbeds-- maybe Socialism should be the Sick Man of Latin America.
Karl Marx wrote that that, "A specter is haunting Europe-- the specter of Communism". Today Fidel and Hugo are the specters of Communism haunting Latin-America. And if they don't cut out the fried foods, they might shortly become actual specters.
But what if the unthinkable should happen and Hugo should indeed give up the ghost? The good news is that even if the entire Chavez clan somehow becomes indisposed to take power in his stead, there are great socialists north of the border who would be happy to step into his double wide shoes.
There's no doubt that Obama could do a great deal to revitalize Venezuela. For example, outlaw oil drilling. And redirect all of manufacturing to creating green jobs. Green jobs being jobs that you have to pay bribes to be hired for. And the one thing Latin America needs is another leader who makes constant speeches that no one can stand to listen to. With Fidel out of shape, Obama can fill that vacuum. And his Spanish pronunciation is bound to make him the hit of Miami radio.
If Obama doesn't suit, what about AFL-CIO thug, Richard Trumka. Trumka has said, "Being called a socialist is a step up for me". I guess it beats murderer. The advantage of getting Trumka to fill Chavez's shoes, is that he could actually fit in the shoes, and he comes with his own mustache. Chavez's facial hair deficit has long been a major problem. Trumka will bring mustachioed socialism into the 21st century.
But let's not jump to any conclusions yet. As far as we know, Hugo Chavez is alive and well, and has been photographed in the company of the ghosts of Fidel and Raul Castro. So let us bend our knees in silent prayer to Lenin, Stalin and Noam Chomsky on behalf of their brother in need, Hugo. As Marxism and Communism have fallen in Russia and China, it is up to them to defend its strongholds in this hemisphere.
For if it loses here, then where else can it go? A giant hole in the ground. Mars, the Red Planet. That won't do, not when Chavez recently revealed that capitalism destroyed all life on Mars. So what's left besides a back closet in Michael Moore's estate? There are no more fallback positions left. If Hugo doesn't recover, will socialism?