Some years ago, travelling on the presidential plane of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela with a French friend from Le Monde Diplomatique, we were asked what we thought was happening in Europe. Was there any chance of a move to the left? We replied in the depressed and pessimistic tones typical of the early years of the 21st century. Neither in Britain nor France, nor anywhere in the eurozone, did we see much chance of a political breakthrough.
Then maybe, said Chávez with a twinkle, we could come to your assistance, and he recalled the time in 1830 when revolutionary crowds in the streets of Paris had come out waving the cap of Simón Bolívar, the South American liberator from Venezuela who was to die at the end of that year. Fighting for liberty, Latin American style, was held up as the path for Europe to follow.
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