Where are all the Chavistas? Huh? Where?


#1

And don’t make me go back and find all the praise from those who thought this latest manifestation of socialism was “a good idea.” I particularly enjoy the mindless drivel spewed by Noam Chomsky “America’s foremost intellectual.” Is that sorta kinda like being “America’s Conscious” or “America’s Best Ex President,” or perhaps even “America’s Human Rights President.” One asks because all are on record saying some amazingly good things about Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution. But where oh WHERE are all those supporters NOW? Read on!

Where have all the Chavistas gone? Five years ago, every fashion-conscious Western radical was praising Venezuela to the skies. Sean Penn exulted in how Hugo Chávez “did incredible things for the 80 percent of the people that are very poor.” Oliver Stone made an obsequious film about South American socialism, whose premiere in Venice was attended by the caudillo himself. Michael Moore hailed Chávez for eliminating 75 percent of extreme poverty. His Canadian equivalent, Naomi Klein, proudly declared her support for the beret-wearing strongman.

Suddenly, they have gone very quiet. In the UK, articles by prominent Leftists have started vanishing from the archive. The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, was a passionate defender of Chávez, as were other senior figures in his party. “Venezuela is seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting neo-liberal policies,” he wrote in a piece that has now disappeared from his website. “Conquering poverty?” Venezuela is in a state of unprecedented squalor: blackouts are frequent, food and medicines are running out and most state workers are on a two-day week.

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Socialist selective amnesia is not new, of course: Rewriting the past was a characteristic of Soviet regimes, brilliantly dramatized in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The reason Leftists make such frequent use of what Orwell called “the memory hole” is that their heroes keep failing them.

The pattern is always the same. Socialists take power somewhere. Comfortable, middle-class Western Leftists rhapsodize about their achievements. Then, the regime leads, as socialist regimes invariably lead, to poverty and tyranny. At which point, without a blush, Western Leftists say that it was never properly socialist, and move on to their next Third World pin-up.

First came the USSR. While Stalin was murdering millions in the 1930s through enforced collectivization, the New York Times’s Walter Duranty was filing excited copy about the success of Soviet agrarian reforms. In Britain, the dotty socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, from their comfortable home in Hampshire, extolled the revolution in their 1935 book, “Soviet Communism: A New Civilization?”

Nowadays, no one defends Stalin anymore. Western lefties will tell you that the USSR was never socialist, but practiced a form of “state capitalism.” Yet, they went on to repeat the cycle with virtually every other new socialist regime: China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Albania, Cuba, Nicaragua.

The script never varies. We are supposedly witnessing a new dawn until the moment of collapse – at which point, overnight, we are told that it “wasn’t real socialism”. Here, for example, is Noam Chomsky in 2009:

“What’s so exciting about at last visiting Venezuela is that I can see how a better world is being created.”

And here he is today: “I never described Chavez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained.”

But Venezuela isn’t remote from socialism. It’s a textbook example. Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, set out to replace the market with a system of state production and distribution. Result? Shops are empty, inflation is running at 720 percent and hunger has returned. A few state-run distribution centers offer cheaper food, with rationing by queue rather than by price. Queues, of course, are a feature of every socialist regime.

So is corruption. The bigger the government, the more people’s success depends on sucking up to officials rather than on offering a service to consumers. Expanding state bureaucracies offer new opportunities for nepotism. First, Venezuelan jobs were allocated on the basis of political allegiance; now food supplies are.

And so is penury. When I was growing up in South America in the 1970s, Venezuela was a place that people emigrated to. Now, Venezuelans are stampeding to get out. And – I still find this almost unbelievable – there are recorded cases of death from malnutrition.

It’s true that pure undiluted socialism, like pure undiluted capitalism, exists in theory rather than in our complicated world. Still, we can make some rough comparisons. In 1973, when Chile abandoned Marxism and embraced markets, income per head there was 36 percent of what it was in Venezuela; now, it is 151 percent. Or compare West Germany to East Germany, or South Korea to North Korea, or Cuba to Bermuda.

“That’s not fair!” say Leftists, “You’re citing all the examples of dictatorships!” That’s right, comrades. And maybe that’s telling you something about the way socialism ends up relying on coercive force.

It is not fair to judge socialism as a textbook theory while judging capitalism by its necessarily imperfect real-world examples. Judge like with like, and every socialist state is poorer and less free than its market-based neighbors. If you know of a counter-example out there somewhere, compañeros, let’s hear it.


#2

I don’t think any of those people are Forumosans, though I might be wrong.


#3

I doubt you’ve ever read Chomsky, nor understand anything he is talking about.


#4

Play fair! It’s quite an achievement to have bigger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and still manage to completely fuck things up.


#5

I have read, no doubt, far more than you have. Where do you think I am mischaracterizing Chomsky? He looks at all actions in a vacuum and then judges the US government without ever factoring in external conditions that he is so willing to allow Castro, Chavez and others of that ilk. The irony is that for all his foam, he has been most rabid about taking a bite out of not only U.S. government contracting largesse but from the Dept of Defense no less for his “expertise” in linguistics. Barf.


#6

For example, I have read this… from the Guardian no less… Would that Noam Chomsky were so eager to explain U.S. actions away due to “causes.” haha

RC: Some would say that in the case of Venezuela leftwing thinkers have been reluctant to criticise things that have been criticised by Amnesty International and so on because the government is seen as a champion of leftwing values and basically [has] had a free pass in term of leftwing critiques. What do you think?

NC: Well I don’t [think] there’s an organised leftwing that one can speak for. But my impression is that such reluctance as there is, is because Venezuela has come under vicious, unremitting attack by the United States and the west generally – in the media and even in policy. After all the United States sponsored a military coup which failed and since then has been engaged in extensive subversion. And the onslaught against Nicaragua – against Venezuela – in commentary is grotesque. So I think it’s natural that the leftwing commentators won’t want to join in it. That’s pretty standard. Take the Soviet dissidents: the more honest ones would not have wanted to join Pravda’s and Izvestia’s denunciations of alleged US crimes.

RC: Is this letter the first public criticism that you have made of human rights issues in Venezuela?

NC: I don’t recall but probably not. I am constantly involved in such protests all over the world ranging from Syria to Cuba to Iraq. So there may have been others in Venezuela that I don’t remember.

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RC: Was there any response to your original letter? I understand that in December you sent a private letter to the authorities here over the Afiuni case. Was there any feedback from that?

NC: The [initiative] was jointly with the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard, which actually initiated it. So if there was any response they would know. There may have been an indirect response. Other than that I can’t tell. It is the case that after that letter and other internal discussions that Judge Afiuni was released to house arrest with better conditions and medical care. Whether there was a connection I don’t know.

RC: You have been described as an anarchist libertarian. From that perspective what’s your take on the enabling laws and the evolution of executive power in Venezuela?

NC: I am opposed to the accumulation of executive power anywhere. One would have to ask whether there is justification for them in terms of the security situation and the attacks on Venezuela. I personally don’t think so. But that would be the one consideration that I could think of that would ameliorate it.

RC: So that does mean you think the enabling powers are unjustified?

C: In my view they are not justified. I can see room for debate about it but my judgment in that debate is that the arguments in favour are not persuasive.

RC: In your visit here in 2009 you said a better world was being created. Is that still the case?

NC: Actually what I said is that there are steps towards a better world in Venezuela and as far as I know that’s true. There have been some significant steps – the sharp poverty reduction, probably the greatest in the Americas, the [social programme] missions, and the self-governing communities look like promising initiatives. It’s hard to judge how successful they are but if they are successful they would be seeds of a better world.

Also the international initiatives I think are quite significant. Venezuela has played a significant role in very important developments in South America and Latin America. Particularly the steps towards unification and integration which are a prerequisite for independence. Venezuela played a leading role in initiating Unasur [Union of South American nations] and the Bank of the South, and most recently the formation of Celac [the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States] which is to have its first meeting this July. Celac, if it works, will be the first functioning organisation in the western hemisphere that includes every country in the western hemisphere except the United States and Canada, and that would be quite an important step towards integration and independence. So yes I think these are positive initiatives which have to be balanced against other things.


#7

But it wasn’t real socialism!!!111

Say what you will about neo-nazis, but you never hear them say “that wasn’t real fascism”. They’re a step up from communists.


#8

Better yet, the word fascism doesn’t mean anything when uttered by people I don’t agree with (as Rowland would say).


#9

Well there are legitimate fascists. But legitimate communists are much more worrying - they have more influence, and communism has killed much more people than fascism has.


#10

If you ask a Venezuelan, it is the same burro, just different stripes. The previous administrations were just as corrupt, teh poverty as widespread, the difference was that first of all, the ones that ate at the through left room for people to have the crumbs. Now there is little in the trough and no crumbs left,… or nio one allowing others to eat.

The Chavistas and their kids have mansions and millions. The military is rich from drug money. To even dream that teh country will go back to its previous prosper state, as many middle calss Venezuelans caught in the scramble still think, is an opiod fueled dream. One teh tortilla has flipped, it is flipped.

It is not a matter of Communism or Capitalism. I do not think any of the previous administrations had any ideological support aside from religio and fashion. The ones previosu to Chaves still driove teh country to that point where Chavismo was welcomed with open arms. The rich just joined their money abroad. That si teh issue: all the riches are going out. Once oil goes down, the rest goes kaboom. At this point, not even DHL flies in.

You can say all you want but people do not believe in Communism. They embreace it as a tool. Told you abouty one of my classmates, son of a rich landowner. I remember the day hsi eyes lighted up when he realized how he could get away with anything by displacing “guilt” through Communism. It was not teh ideology, he was not some oppressed martyr. But it gave him power and control. Lo an behold, he became a businessman whose venture cololapsed so badly he fled the country leaving debts and legal issues, so many he waited a decade to go back -after they expired of course. Consequences tehre were none… and last I heard he set up business again. Not that I am buying anything from him.

I can tell you about nmy classmates. My country is in teh hands of people whose fathers’ secretaries did their homework. But they rule because of pedigree. lacking legitimacy, tehy embrace Chavism because they receive money.

The key to all this is where does that money come from? Mostly drugs and other illicit trade… But the money is not held in banks in Caracas. All this talk and the US dollar is held up on drugs, arms trade and blood.


#11

Remind me when around 5 million Venezuelans left the country and millions more were starving because the “corruption was all the same.” Not!


#12

[quote=“Icon, post:10, topic:161731, full:true”]
get away with anything by displacing “guilt” through Communism[/quote]

I take it you mean he decided to tell people who disagreed with him that they were just evil capitalists, whereas those who agreed with him were saints. :no_no: :innocent:


Mr. Smith, since you know so much about this topic, please help us ignorant masses to understand. If Icon is so wrong, then what exactly is it that makes Venezuela the way it is?

Broadly, chavismo policies include nationalization, social welfare programs, and opposition to neoliberalism (particularly the policies of the IMF and the World Bank). According to Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan socialism accepts private property,[14] but this socialism seeks to promote social property too.[15] Chavismo also support participatory democracy[16] and workplace democracy.[17] In January 2007, Chávez proposed to build the communal state, whose main idea is to build self-government institutions like communal councils, communes, and communal cities.[18]

Are all of those policies individually destined to result in failure of the state, or is it only true when you combine all of them? If you support any one of those policies and/or oppose changes, does that automatically mean you’re just an evil socialist or Chavist? :no_no: :innocent::idunno:

I’m not defending the wiki btw, i.e. no surprise if it turns out to be wrong.


#13

Yep. Moreover, that gave him the fredom to spouse policies that gave him more power “on behalf of the people” while pocketing thousands. When you realize he made himself popular as a populist man of teh people while not paying taxes nor health insurance for his workers, among other things, well, you realize that they do not walk the walk, but rather wear a suit. Any suit can be used., as long as it makes you look “good” and your opponents/critics “bad”.

It can be “liberal”, “socialist”, “capitalist”, “pro Brexit”, “anti Brexit”, “pro globalization”, “climate change denier”… anything.


#14

Well, the favelas in the hills of Caracas did not fill themselves up by themselves. And funny thing though, the ones that fled first were the ones with money, first enclaves were in places like Miami, Paris, Berna…before the persecution and stigma really hit.

Now most people can’t leave even if they wanted, as passports are given on a “do you belong to our group?” basis. The powerless, the slighted, placed in middle officialdom and desk tasks, became drunk with power.

As Finley asks, how can people starve when there is so much land? The knowledge is not there. And the people were starved of knowledge before, otherwise they wouldn’t have fallen for that trap. The Cavistas are not the ones starving, but the ones that always have been vulnerable and forgotten and will remain so. Everyone in Caracas knows where to find the stuff they need, and as in every place in the world, if you have the money, they got the honey.


#15

Broadly speaking, Latin America is filled with populist failures not just Venezuela has gone down that route, but I struggle to think of any nation that has seen 5 million people racing for the door, rich or otherwise. The only nation that I imagine would look to doing so would be Cuba but given all of the freedoms its people have to experience “world-class” education and medicine, I guess the government thought free travel would be just too unfair to the rest of the peoples (deliberate) of the continent.


#16

That still leaves the questions of how it happened and how it could have been prevented. According to the wiki, these are the policies:

  • nationalization
  • social welfare programs
  • opposition to neoliberalism (particularly the policies of the IMF and the World Bank)
  • accept private property but seek to promote social property too
  • support participatory democracy and workplace democracy
  • build the communal state, whose main idea is to build self-government institutions like communal councils, communes, and communal cities

Again, which ones are the dangerous ones? Should all countries in the world abandon their social welfare programs because Venezuela is a failed state? Should they all privatize their national assets asap? Should the IMF be put in charge everywhere? And so on.

It’s fine to say Venezuela messed up on an epic scale, but I hope the point is not pure schadenfreude but rather to learn from its mistakes.


#17

Love seeing what is happening to the left in South America…may they all end up either dead or in jail. :sweat_smile:

Lula sentenced to almost 10 years!!!.


#18

Now Lula was a Chavista?

Those wiki people throw you exactly one bone.

Although distinct, it shares characteristics of Chavism and Kirchnerism.

But hey, “social welfare” is an element of Chavism, so I suppose next we’ll be hearing that all developed countries are Chavist, and Chavez and Obama used to have secret meetings at a spa in Taipei… :roll:


#19

Argentina has turned right, Chavez is dead and Venezuela a basket case near collapse (but will take generations to rebuild the left`s damage), and Lula is going to jail. Now, if they could just get that crippled fool out of office in Ecuador. :laughing: Then the circle would be complete.


#20

The only reasonable conclusion is that all varieties of “leftism” are the same, all varieties of “rightism” are the same, and we just need to destroy whichever side is wrong, so then the world will be as one (as a Lennonist would say).

:sleeping:

Try harder.