Atrios once wrote that he hoped the government would cease production of the penny so that pundits wouldn’t be able to write opinion pieces about how the government should cease production of the penny. In a way, I’m glad that Hugo Chavez is dead so that Jackson Diehl and other neoconservative pundits won’t be able to write any more opinion pieces about how Chavez is worse than Hitler.
Yeah, I know we’re in for a week of “Hugo Chavez WAS worse than Hitler” but then it will all be over and they’ll have to find a new Hitler, or maybe just go back to talking about Castro all the time.
He and Franco can now be still dead.
Just Some Fuckhead
You know who else was worse than Hitler?
Ted & Hellen
How many undeclared, illegal wars based on lies was/is Venezuela fighting?
Maybe he’s playing cards with Andrew Breitbart trading tales of being watched by the US Government…..
How long before FDL has a post up wondering if a drone took him out?
Arm The Homeless
Hugo still has martyr cache. A socialist will take his position and they too will become the next Hitler of South America. Same with Cuba. It’s just how the pants-pissers roll, yo.
Now they can go back to demonizing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and comparing them to Hitler and Stalin.
Judging how the GOP has kept on trying to pass bills to eliminate ACORN, I fully expect them to put forward a resolution that we no longer talk to anyone from Venezuela as long as Hugo Chavez is still alive.
Just Some Fuckhead
@Arm The Homeless:
You know who else was a grammar & spelling nazi?
Chavez fed some hungry people, our wingnuts fed some hungry people to the lions. No brainer.
gocart mozart's chain email service
O’Bummer had him killed because he was about to release proof that Che’ was Barry’s real father and also secretly Kenyan.*
*pass it on.
Arm The Homeless
@Just Some Fuckhead: I refuse to abide by your imperialist dictionary.
Nah, but maybe they might latch on the claim by Venezuela’s VP that Chavez was taken out by a bug attack. Bugs, as in plague and cholera.
Well fair and balanced Fox News Latino is already suggesting that Chavez was assassinated by incompetent Cuban doctors:
And if you read Venezuelan message boards right now it seems that Mossad finally managed to kill Chavez.
I guess there is a remote possibility that Chavez simply had incurable cancer and died, like millions of others, but it’s much more interesting to ponder whether he was assassinated by Cuban doctors or Israel.
Arm The Homeless
@SRW1: tainted sopapillas are a constant threat in my life.
Ted & Hellen
OK, I’ll ask: Is it scientifically/technically even possible for someone to be intentionally “given” cancer?
Not that I’m implying anything, of course.
Not sure how I feel about Chavez, but he certainly wasn’t the worst. We just found out that Rightwing “journalists” took money from the Malaysian government to write negative articles about a democratic challenger. Could care less about their opinion on who is the next Hitler.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Who will be the first VSP to declare this “the Venezuelan Spring”?
@Ted & Hellen: Rumor has it that plutonium dust is pretty much 100% carcinogenic.
They always seem to have several Hitlers going at once, so they’ll just move all the others up in the rotation.
Ted & Hellen
Well yes, but wouldn’t that approach result in cancer years down the road?
Y’know… I’m pretty sure that’s a reality show that hasn’t been done yet…
@Ted & Hellen: It works with rodents. Done by injecting live cancer cell lines. How do you think in vivo cancer models in lab animals are generated?
I never got what was supposed to be so bad about Hugo Chavez.
He was a blowhard who didn’t screw over the poor.
Was that so bad?
Chavez wasn’t even as bad as the CIA-approved Pinochet let alone Hitler. The American media/government absolutely adores monsters just as long as they’re our own pet monsters.
Same here. He was a thug with as much respect for democracy as the Bushies. And he made allies with some awful dictators because they also hated the US. To fools like T&H, when the US kissed up to dictators because they were “anti-Communist” it proved how awful we are. When Chavez kissed up to dictators because they were anti-American it proves how brave he was or some such.
He wasn’t a monster, and he did some good, but on the whole he was another tinpot semi-dictator who didn’t deserve either the hate or the accolades he’ll get.
Given how many foreign companies Chavez nationalized, I’m sure there was no shortage of American companies willing to bankroll right wing pundits demonizing him. You didn’t think it was a spontaneous thing, did you?
Chavez was a whipping boy for the right because he failed to roll over to the Bush Administration and the US oil industry. His civil rights record wasn’t significantly worse than any other Latin American country.
I have little doubt that neoconservatives will find us a new whipping boy in short order. My money is on Ack-My-Dinner-Job, since we’re super keen on invading Iran right now. We could always switch our focus to Syria, too. :-p
@Ted & Hellen:
Sure. Marie Curie unintentionally killed herself by sitting on a cancerous toilet seat.
But just google Alexander Litvinenko to learn about how the pros do it.
@Viva BrisVegas: If he starved the poor and threw left-leaning college students out of airplanes, we’d all be mourning the Great Freedom Loving Friend of America.
Does Ladbrokes have a line up yet on who the next Hitler to the right will be? The Kenusurper is off the board, I presume.
@Ted & Hellen:
There are some potent carcinogens available, so yes.
(Alpha emitters like plutonium are probably bad if lodged as insoluble particles in the lung alveoli.)
Our press corps need to anoint a New Castro reminds me of what I’ve read about the rock press’ need to anoint a New Bob Dylan every few years.
Well, there’s alway Obama
Capitalism still sucks
Indeed, and some things never change. Just weeks ago the US was urging Great Britain to assume the ankle grabbing position for Argentina over sovereignty over the Falklands/Malvinas. Fortunately Cameron told the Administration the same thing he told Mitt Romney last summer: go fuck your ass with a broken bottle.
They’re just following the Kennedy School lead. Paul Wolfowitz can’t very well justify Paul Wolfowitz without something/someone to preempt.
Where’s your evidence for that claim?
I’m hating all commentary I have seen on this. The right treating him as if he were Stalin and some on the left pretending he never did anything wrong. Le sigh. Off to get Bolivarian drunk.
I guess Fidel didn’t give him the secret codex which explains how to be perennially “at death’s door” for years without ever dying. (Hint: it has to do with the beard.)
I hope the revolution continues and that Venezuelan socialism outlives ‘chavismo’ by many years.
Well, sorry to hear that, but overall, my reaction is “meh.” While he started off well and had a lot of good ideas, the problem was that after a while he became yet another “leader for life.” Which Latin America has had way too many of in the past.
The Moar You Know
He did a lot of good for the poor in his country.
I balance that against the knowledge that you couldn’t pay me enough to live there.
Net gain/loss to human race: zero, as is usually the case.
@Just Some Fuckhead:
It’s possible he
hashad a cache of martyrs somewhere. Stash a cache of pickled martyrs.
@Valdivia: Wait, are you trying to say he might have been a marginally shitty dictator of a leftish persuasion who did some good and some bad things?
Not worth even the most rabid nutball’s energy to elevate Ahmadinejad to center ring villain status again, as he is term limited and will be gone from office after elections this June.
@AA+ Bonds: Yeah, but I thought someone in this space could explain why Rolling Stone kept doing it with Dylan.
Chavez was a Zionist.
@AA+ Bonds: Your better option is?
Ted & Hellen
Well, hell, if the cancer thing is as easy as all that, I’m guessing the CIA definitely did Hugo in. Why would anyone doubt it?
@Pococurante: What’s that supposed to mean?
Did Hugo die before Dennis Rodman made it down there to visit? That’d be the greatest tragedy.
@The Moar You Know:
Perhaps, but not if you live in Venezuela and you are poor. Even Bloomberg BusinessWeek (!) conceded that:
@Ted & Hellen: What benefit would the CIA gain from killing Chavez at this point?
@Djur: Why are you encouraging him?
@Omnes Omnibus: Because it’s a change of pace from screeching about how Obama didn’t use the bully pulpit to keep that bird from shitting on his car?
@Djur: Carry on then. Sorry I interrupted. My bad.
Perhaps a high fat, low fiber diet and a lack of colon screens did him in.
Meanwhile, one of America’s best friends in the middle east continues to torture people to death. Can’t wait for our intrepid press’s expose of that one.
@Ted & Hellen: Maybe he just got cancer and died. It happens.
Mike in NC
Which will it be tomorrow: “Obama is worse than Chavez” or “Chavez was worse than Obama”? Odds are Bill Kristol and company go with #1.
Just Some Fuckhead
@Just Some Fuckhead:
@Omnes Omnibus: Why not?
@Ted & Hellen:
It’s not reliable, and there is no clear rational motive. (You could assume that the current CIA is rogue or irrational, but there is no clearcut evidence for this.)
Also, cancer is a common natural cause of death.
Just Some Fuckhead
He’s kinda damnedifyadodamnedifyadont. He’ll just keep trolling until he gets a hit so yer pretty much screwed either way.
@Just Some Fuckhead: I actually liked Djur’s own response.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that poor medical care in Cuba played some role in Chavez’ demise. Assassination? Naah.
What Chavez did above all else was disprove Lincoln’s theorem, by fooling all of the Venezuelan people all the time. The average Venezuelan is not better off than they were before Chavez, notwithstanding all the fun they had watching ol’ Hugo tweak Tio Sam’s nose.
Who was the Hitler before Hitler was Hitler?
Uh, Doug. Is this your annual tribute to the Left? Now you call yourself ‘friend of Hamas’
How many posts were generated here on the subject of our recent troubles in Gaza?
They still trot out Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd. What makes you think they’ll let Chavez remain buried?
Trying to do better than capitalism with experimental alternatives rather than throwing up our hands like fuck a duck neoclassical losers who think God made markets happen
to get you started . . .
It will take a long hard process and a lot of exploration but this shit is just not cutting it.
Ted & Hellen
@Ben Franklin: Run a google search and find out.
@SRW1: Easier said than done. Those rodents are typically from completely immunodeficient lines.
Napoleon. Which is kind of ridiculous in retrospect when you compare the two, but it was the same “dictator who randomly arose and tried to conquer all of Europe.”
@Just Some Fuckhead: Fascinating. When did I become classified as a troll?
Friend of Hamas was a fake group used to try to derail Hagel.
He certainly didn’t set out to screw the poor. That much I will readily concede. Whether he actually succeeding in not screwing over the poor? YMMV, but I don’t think the average Venezuelan is better off than they were before Chavez.
^ see above post when it gets out of moderation for a massive amount of links out
@Chris: What about the Kaiser?
Sure thing buddy, I also hear that Democrats have totally fooled black people into thinking that they shouldn’t vote Republican!
The next Hitler is going to be Kim III, is it? He is the one that is going to redeclare war next week by abandoning the cease fire.
Nah. During World War One and in the run-up to it in certain countries, but he never had the iconic and enduring bogeyman status that either Hitler or Napoleon did.
From a republican viewpoint, that’s the worst possible thing you can be.
Ugh, please don’t bait these people.
Yeah capitalism still sucks, and the idea that Hugo Chavez somehow presented a credible opposition to it is like the foreign policy opinion equivalent of wearing a Che t-shirt to your semiotics lecture.
Tell that to the Belgians. You are right though; Boney was a bête noire for years – among certain classes at least.
Christ. I swear Juan Cole’s commentaters could do no better.
He didn’t live long enough to live off his offshore accounts. Only a few of the “poor”, paid demagogues, did well during his rule. Yes the oligarchs needed to be broken. No the country itself has no real improvement in infrastructure or improvements in education and economy to justify the ‘revolution’.
And I’m the troll for pointing out that until three years ago Chavez was a Zionist.
Well on a positive note maybe my household can go back to again being tourists in a few more years. Somehow, given the New Great Leader’s comments, I doubt it.
The plundering will continue.
@Pococurante: Ease up poco. They were talking about T&H.
I didn’t want to disappoint myself more than my assumption, but I looked anyway.
Thanks for the memories.
@Paula: I don’t think AA+ is claiming Chavez was the savior. He has been posting anti-capitalist comments on threads for a long time and I am sincerely interested in seeing what his positive alternative is. Specifically, I wonder if he rejects the idea of a market in its entirety or if he is looking for a severely regulated marketplace. That is, does he really reject capitalism totality or merely lassez-faire capitalism?
Correa is now the sole object of scorn for CANAL and CIA in their South American adventures, now that Chavez is gone.
Sure thing, the average Venezuelan isn’t better off after Chavez, because 64% of them are crazy idiots!
Basically as I said above that claim smells like the claim that 80-90% plus of American blacks vote for the Democrat because of Hillary Clinton mind control/welfare giveaways/etc. instead of a rational understanding of the alternative options available
Hugo Chavez should not be immune from criticism for his short-circuiting of democratic processes but the rich bitch neoliberal brigade here needs to stop reading AP articles/listening to NPR stories about Venezuela where the “reporter” basically goes up and down the hallway of his Caracas hotel looking for English speakers with nice shoes to interview; American coverage of Venezuela is on par with American coverage of Russia, that is, it’s all done by like three people total who have naked contempt for the population of the country they cover
@AA+ Bonds: Any chance of a tl;dr version in the meantime?
So Doug doesn’t have any real interest in the Palestinians after all?
@Pococurante: What does Zionism have to do with anything?
OMG do you really think he’s thought about it that far?
You give him more credit than I do.
Caution ! Image may be more than Balloon Juicers ability to digest.
I think he’s more of a North Korea man IRL.
@Paula: I am giving him a chance to show that he has thought that far. IIRC he approaches thing from a leftist Catholic POV when he isn’t being a douchebag.
@AA+ Bonds: agreed. I sat next to a couple Venezuelans at a baseball game and they said not to believe anything the media here says about Chavez. I know that’s very very anecdotal, but Chavez was popularly elected again and again.
@Omnes Omnibus: My response would be: In the short term, an aggressive welfare state to soften the most horrible effects of capitalism. In the long term, direct ownership of the means of production by workers in most industries, either through worker’s collectives, industrial unions, or government ownership. Goods and services still to be bought and sold on the market, with heavily subsidized access to vital things (food, clothing, housing, health care, education). A universal minimum wage would probably be the approach I would favor.
Hitler? Why Chavez was worse than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, Pol Pot, Castro, and Ernst Stavro Blofeld combined.
@Ben Franklin: Yeah, you nailed me: I’m unable to laugh at that funny graphic the way I just did because I refuse to believe it to be literally true like you do.
Maybe if you patronize us a bit more you can finally win us over!
I managed to keep myself from LOLing in the middle of class at “Ernst Stavro Blofeld,” but I want you to know that it was not easy.
@Djur: Sweden in the 60s?
Me, I would say that your short term solution is the way to go. Try for the best of both worlds.
@Omnes Omnibus: Even Sweden dialed back some of their socialist policies when they figured out selling Volvos and Saabs* actually made economic sense. That and people were still capable of getting by even without so much government support.
*I know you’re still a touch depressed about that.
Did Chavez help poorer Venezuelans vs. the right-wing alternative? Yes. Did he help them as much as a more mainstream left-wing president could have? Dunno. Was a more mainstream left-wing reformer available? Probably not. Are Chavez’s policies sustainable over the medium-term or long-term, and will they survive without his personal presence? No idea, but any good obit should ask those questions.
Maybe if you patronize us a bit more you can finally win us over!
Call me Patron. The obsession with entertainment news makes y’all a kind of Unobtainium. But I would be loathe to forget about the lurkers who are influenced by your peculiar brand of progressivism.
@Yutsano: I blame the fucking non-Socialist Swedish government and GM.
Basically, I think capitalism can work if the government regulates the ever-loving shit out of it.
I’ve never studied Marx, but I’ve never understood how the whole “workers own the means of production” was supposed to work in real life.
@Omnes Omnibus: Capitalism seems to be doing quite well for the Japanese. They are still some of the most aggressive marketers on the planet and they still have the third largest economy in the world. Yet poverty is rather uncommon and all the people are well cared for with a highly respected social welfare system. Methinks they might just be doing things right.
Oh and there are Communists in Japan. Not very many though.
@Omnes Omnibus: The welfare state is still based around the expectation that the default and mandatory occupation of an adult is paid labor. The ultimate goal of socialism is abolition of the wage system, which welfare capitalism can never offer.
Ha! You’re joking, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I’m used to capitalist structures, obviously, so it’s hard to envision how another system would work.
@Ted & Hellen:
How many pedophiles live in Venezuela?
@Baud: Right now factories, computer networks, power grids, natural resources, etc. are owned and controlled by the capitalist class and a government which mostly serves their interests.
All we’re talking about is transferring that ownership to the working class, by way of organizations which represent workers (industrial unions, cooperatives, collectives) and a government which represent workers’ interests (by way of a majority Socialist Party). It shouldn’t be that conceptually difficult, it’s just not the way things are right now — and the capitalist class has a lot of power they can use to maintain their degraded, infantile position of unearned leisure.
@Djur: Well, as it turns out, I am not really a socialist. Social Democrat, probably. But not a real full on socialist. I have too many doubts about human motivation.
@Ted & Hellen: The HPV virus (and some others, too, I think) has been shown to increase the chance of getting cancer, after many years go by. So if you’re willing to think long term, and not worried about guaranteed success, it’s an excellent plan.
Thirty years from now, 2% of our enemies will fall to our devious plans! Or at least require medical treatment.
So, one problem:
The “majority Socialist Party” doesn’t exist because a lot of socialists disagree pretty fundamentally on how exchange will take place.
I’m pretty sure the idea of a “market” is blasphemy for some groups, as would be the existence of any kind of money.
Do you recommend a barter system? Who manages the rates of exchange? If wages are eliminated, how do you allocate for goods and services to be provided and distributed?
Well, the notion of transferring property isn’t conceptually difficult. What’s difficult is envisioning the administration. I’ll assume it’s relatively straightforward to take ownership away from the capitalists, but how do you then divvy the ownership among the workers? There are a billion implementation issues there. And what do you do about new means of production? How do they develop, and what is their ownership structure?
I don’t mean to put you on the spot. I don’t think I could adequately describe all the complexities of capitalism, even though I’m very used to it. But these are some of the questions I had in mind when I said I couldn’t envision how the whole thing would work.
@Omnes Omnibus: Well, as far as the American political scene goes, we’re both far-left loonies. I hope that someday we’ll be at a point where our differences actually mean something!
Though I am a small d die hard democrat, that is mostly for this country I live in. I don’t purport to know what form of government others should partake to meet their specific needs. I think there is always the obvious allure of an empowered people picking their own leadership, but sometimes there are other circumstances that take precedence.
Chavez was a pompous asshole, that may or may not have needed to be that. But the best I can tell, his basic instincts were for the poorest in his country. He wasn’t much of a small d democrat, but then America hasn’t lived under decades of oligarchic/junta rule from a few wealthy people, largely supported by good old uncle sam and his lords of commerce and economic imperialism.
That is pretty much the case across central and south America, and could well be the dial needed to be tuned back into some serious wealth redistribution, before democratic institutions could support a genuine democracy. We started out as a democracy, but have to fight daily the forces of wealth to claim our politics for their own .
But DougJ is right about our right wing and their over the top reaction to the passing of a socialist boogyman. The first article I clicked was from AEI.
Some of this may be true, but my guess is it comes from joy in republican mudville for blaming everything un wholesome on Hugo, for more personal wish than reality.
You can just feel the little capitalist piglets drooling at some prospect of some more fucking and mucking around in Ven.
Mr Stagger Lee
My bet the new baddie on the Western Hemisphere will either be
the indigenous native coca leaf producer, Evo Morales president of Bolivia, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner the president of Argentina, who may be poised to tell American bankers and Financiers to go F–k themselves, or maybe Dilma Roussileff of Brazil who considering building a nuclear sub, and God NO will the Pentagon consider a a contender this side of the pond.
Ideally, that’s how it’s supposed to happen. In reality, you end up with the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, where the government owns everything supposedly “on behalf” of the workers and then doles it out as they see fit, usually to their friends and family members. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
@Djur: And yet I get accused of being center right by some around here. People confuse ends and means.
@Paula: Well, I’m not much of a theorist. A lot of much smarter people than I have written at length about socialist economics. But a few brief points:
First, abolishing wages doesn’t mean abolishing money. As long as we have goods and services to exchange, we’re going to need money. “The wage system” is the economic and social structure that expects and requires able-bodied adults to spend the majority of their lives engaging in paid labor in order to obtain the bare necessities of life. So abolishing the wage system means, to me, that you guarantee access to food, housing, medicine, and education without the abuse and stigma frequently associated with welfare under capitalism.
Beyond that, there’s no reason that goods and services can’t be exchanged in markets, or that individuals can’t be compensated for their work producing said goods and services. In fact, I’d hope that a socialist state would encourage competition between small companies, as opposed to the massive state-supported oligopolies that characterize capitalism.
As far as the difficulty in developing a consensus among leftists goes, I agree! But we have to develop a majority left coalition before we can get down to squabbling about what specific policies that coalition would support.
Okay, now that I’m not in class anymore, I’m going to pile onto you two with this article from Al Jazeera I read last week about Venezuela: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/201312912275351687.html
That’s for his economics. As for his politics: I’m sorry, but as far as I can tell, the comparisons to Castro and Che simply don’t fly.
They WOULD fly if Chavez had remained what he was in 1992, a violent militant trying to seize power by force. He did not. Instead he dropped the violence, ran for office legally, and won because most people voted for him. He stayed in office during the following decade not by creating a Cuban-style dictatorship, but by running for office again, and again, in elections which to the best of my memory were certified as free and fair by the relevant international observers. If people are going to rag on him for remaining “president for life” that way, well, does anyone on this blog have objections to FDR winning four terms in a row? I sure don’t.
I make no defense of his personal character. I make no defense of the fact that he befriended bloody dictators, though I would point out that there’s hardly any government anywhere in the world that doesn’t do that on some level. And I’m sure the guy was plenty dirty, but I doubt he was any dirtier than the average Venezuelan politician or the average South American leader. I don’t think it’s idolizing Chavez, or calling him a “savior,” or saying that he “never did anything wrong,” to point out that the reason he was so reviled in the West had nothing to do with his sins and everything to do with his being insufficiently deferential towards 1%ers who had gotten used to seeing Venezuela as one of their own personal fiefdoms, and his policy of actually sending some of the money downwards for a change.
So, what’s the overall verdict? Was Chavez more good than bad? More bad than good? Neutral in the grand scheme of things? I don’t know: I don’t live in Venezuela. I can only point out that those who DO live there elected him to run their country for an entire decade and a half, and by wider margins than even Ronald Reagan (the most popular American president in my lifetime) ever got. Hey: maybe they know something we don’t.
ETA: I’m starving and off to find pizza. If anyone finds this post worthy of a response, just want to say that I’m not ignoring you or trying to avoid you – just fooding. BBS.
@Mnemosyne: Sure, but just because communist states turned out to be inequitable in practice doesn’t really mean it’s better to embrace a system that’s inequitable by design.
It’s only “inequitable by design” if you consider our current laissez-faire capitalist system where the government throws its weight on the side of the capitalists as the only capitalist system available. If the government took up its proper role in a capitalist system and acted as an arbiter between companies and consumers that intervened to protect consumers as necessary, a lot of our current problems could be vastly mitigated, IMO.
I still haven’t seen a good explanation of how a socialist/communist system is supposed to work in a global market. How does my small collective in the US bargain with a small collective in Japan for goods?
@Mr Stagger Lee: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner the president of Argentina, who may be poised to tell American bankers and Financiers to go F–k themselves,
That isn’t really anything new. What’s happening now is too complicate to type out, but the net is that Argentina is just continuing to tell anyone who didn’t take the offer of a haircut on Argentine bonds a while back that they can stay fucked. People who took the haircut will get paid, though there may be a pause in the payments for a while due to the payment location being moved from NYC to Argentina.
Mr Stagger Lee
@Chris: Well here is a tell Felix Hernandez, is a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, just got himself one of the biggest contract in baseball, is a Venezuelan, and yet I don’t read any stories, of him defecting, or asking for asylum here. Now granted he may have some of his money, parked where Chavez and his minions could not get their hands on it, but Hernandez has better opportunities, to play in the US then say if he came from Cuba.
@Mnemosyne: The same way they do now. “We need ten gross of self-sealing stembolts every month for the next two years, we’ll pay you 10 thousand quatloos a month” seems reasonable to me.
There’d likely be a substantial market for software to accommodate this kind of deal, and it would operate on the government-guaranteed internet. A lot of these problems are easier to solve now that we have international computer networking.
I agree that an activist welfare state mitigates many of the negative effects of capitalism, but I still oppose the wage system, and capitalism requires the wage system. I also think that an activist welfare state is unstable under capitalism — it will eventually be captured by business interests. We saw that in the post-New Deal era in the US.
@Paula: Hey, look what my little question spawned – an interesting and polite discussion of a topic. Sometimes it happens.
@Chris: Thanks for the link and your thoughts on Chavez. I don’t know very much about latin america, tbh, so I appreciate it.
I get that, but I think you really need to dig down a little deeper.
What are the “needs” of a people? Sanitation? Sure? Health care? Sure.
Education? Depends on what kind of education. One can argue that being educated in health care or sanitation work is going to be of more use to the group than someone getting educated in literature.
To continue, all work being equal, who determines what material needs require require replenishment so that workers being brought up should be getting education one kind of work rather than another? You expand this to the state level, it becomes questions of how that state comes to determine what is built where, and what industries are funded rather than others. Who gets to determine those things?
Also, “competition” in the capitalist sense that you are still using should not happen if the idea is that all labor is now compensated equally. Not to mention, it breeds redundancy and waste.
The “wage” system is not oppressive in itself, but an expression of the idea of supply and demand. In the absence of the capitalist market, how does one determine supply and demand for a whole nation? Or should those be abolished as well?
Have they done that before?
Oh please let it be true, I need the laugh.
@Paula: “the idea is that all labor is now compensated equally.” It isn’t. I have no objection to compensation for labor being determined by demand.
@Roger Moore: Given the apparent U.S. involvement in the coup against him, we probably paid for some anti-Chavez propaganda too. Would be wrong for journalists to spread lies for free
@Djur: Honestly, it sounds like a lot of us would just draw the lines for what is provided as a matter of right in slightly different places. I would be cool with a base level of subsistence and housing plus education and healthcare being guaranteed. Beyond that, letting having people work and compete, etc, in a regulated marketplace for other things.
@Eric U.: Despite the influx of US aid to Venezuela’s right wing (name the intermediary mechanism and it’s the same type of setup it’s always been, IRI, etc), so far they’ve proved to be far more unlikeable and incompetent than the Chavez administration and popular party structures provided an opportunity for.
“Demand” is majority rule. There are going to be many social needs that won’t meet a certain criteria for a critical mass of “demand”. Are you saying these services should be compensated for less, or the people who need them pay more because they are requiring something special?
The equations works for, say, luxury goods, but not for medical services.
EDIT: Not to be trolling, honestly.
IOW, they would not operate any differently than companies do now. And we are supposed to change our entire system over so we can re-build it to do the exact same thing it’s doing now … why, again?
Also, too, I’ve never felt particularly oppressed by being paid a wage. I come to the office, I do work, and they pay me for it. I’m not really sure why that system in and of itself is so horrible.
You can argue that there are current inequities in the way it’s set up — power differential between employer and employed, companies colluding to keep wages down, etc. — but I honestly don’t understand why I’m supposed to be upset and insulted that I work 8 hours a day and receive a wage in return for that work.
ETA: I’m not being sarcastic. I honestly don’t understand why a “wage” is such a horrible thing that I’m supposed to want to end the entire system by which I receive one.
Well, forgive the unreconstructed, junior-high version of Marx that’s about to follow.
It’s the inequity. Supermodels get paid more than nurses or teachers because “the market” has determined it so.
The market valuation of “work” is based on a determination of how much “extra money” labor will produce. The extra money ideally goes back into the hiring of more workers which produces more goods which produces more capital which introduces more workers etc. The problem, of course, is that in a lot of businesses, that “more money” just goes into a few people’s pockets instead of expanding an actual industry.
Marxism begins with the idea that “extra money” is made up of what is stolen from the worker = i.e., the worker being denied part of what his labor is worth according to market. The current wage structure is the result of actual labor that produces something being devalued in favor of “labor” that is entirely about the exchange value rather than the product. This creates more money to go around but isn’t actually going into hiring more workers.
For me, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and the rest of these guys remind me mostly of the union bosses, machine bosses and populist leaders we had in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century – think William Jennings Bryan or Huey Long. Yeah, they were wide-eyed demagogues who didn’t play nice, in fact often played dirty as hell. And they were exactly what we needed to overcome a corrupt system where the deck was stacked against the people to such an extent that it wasn’t even funny. It’s for damn sure the 1%ers had no problem at all playing dirty.
Thanks! Neither do I, I’m more into the Middle East, which is how I found that article. But Chavez has been enough of a bogeyman for the last ten years that I’ve read up on him and nothing I’ve read indicates that there’s anything behind our elites’ claims that he’s some sort of Fidel Castro II.
@Mnemosyne: My guess is that your wage is far above minimum.
@jamick6000: Atilla the Hun?
Ghengis Khan? Alexander the Great? Hannibal? the list could go on.
Minimum in California is $8 an hour. I make a little less than 2.5 times that. Does making less than $50K a year make me one of the evil capitalists these days?
Time is definitely money if they are getting paid in Argentine Pesos since their currency is in a state of controlled collapse, and the government refuses to devalue their peso.
@AA+ Bonds: Hell that’s the same way they do it here in the USA. One size fits all
Dystopian projection, much? I mean, it’s pretty much (only) what one would expect from our wingnuts: Hugo Chavez liked Castro, and dissed the US, therefore he was basically Satan, turning his unfortunate country into a suburb of Hell. And worse, most Venezuelans went along with it!
It’s likely going to take at least a couple more generations for a lot of the American citizenry to stop seeing commie reds in their wheaties. When the boomers are gone, and certainly the silent generation, then the red hysteria will wane. It has in many corners, but not in right wingtopia.
Wages aren’t horrible. The system where you depend on them for the very bare necessities of life is what’s horrible. Your ability to get food, shelter, health care, education and security in your old age should not be at the mercy of the market’s fluctuations or your employer’s good graces (because that’s not capitalism, that’s just serfdom by another name).
In the modern world, we mostly understand that, hence the modern liberal state which provides for some or all of these things, depending on where you are. So I don’t think the abolition of the entire capitalist system is necessarily the only solution. Reform is another way to go. But I’m very sympathetic to Djur’s concern that “an activist welfare state is unstable under capitalism” – the last thirty years have proven that painfully true.
In addition, while it may be possible to reach a happy and healthy equilibrium between free market and welfare state – the Scandinavian nations seem to have done it – we in America are a long way off from that point. Our welfare state is notably incomplete in the health care and education departments. Our system has only just now, finally, conceded that health care is a universal right, and it still has a ways to go in that department. And even further to go on education.
Just one other thing, and let me backtrack a little –
I don’t know, but I think the real tragedy is that nobody’s asking for one.
What’s missing in our political sphere, and has been missing for the last couple of decades at least, is the existence of a broad reformist/protest ideology challenging the existing system to do better and daring to think things differently. In the late eighteenth and most of the nineteenth century, we had liberalism. In the late nineteenth and most of the twentieth century, we had socialism. What’s the equivalent today? I don’t see it, and while I lack the imagination to know exactly what it would be, I think that’s a real gap in our politics.
Miss Kitkas's Comrade Wayne
During the 14 years Hugo Chávez was in power he enjoyed periods of windfall international oil prices, which afforded him the occasional harvests to mitigate poverty and income inequality in Venezuela. He did absolutely nothing to address the distortions of his country’s oil-dependent economy, nor to establish groundwork for sustainable economic growth. He did even less to advance the mechanisms of political transparency or constitutional governance and, systematically perceiving such objectives as catchwords for opposition intrigue, did everything in his power, which was largely unlimited, explicitly to crush them. He radicalized political discourse, encouraged the masses to view his critics as enemies of the fatherland, and trampled whenever possible on even the slightest and most residual topographical features of the rule of law that had managed to survive his measured determination to destroy them.
While there’s certainly a problem with the ruling/owning class, the problem isn’t the ownership of capital. The problem is ownership of rent-generating assets, like land (broadly defined) and so-called intellectual property rights.
Henry George was right; Karl Marx was wrong.
Why the need for something new?
Classical liberalism will do just fine: “It’s the rents, stupid.”
No, the system where bare necessities of life are produced by no person, and whose value is not created by their owners, aka private land ownership in the absence of a high ad valorem tax, is what’s horrible.
Unless disabled, you can grow your own food. You can’t produce land with your own labor; and those who own land didn’t produce it with theirs.
pseudonymous in nc
The “average Venezuelan” was largely a statistical fiction, given that the country was, in best regional fashion, divided between those who had done very well off the old oligarchy and those who had not. And still is, but to a slightly lesser degree.
Think about that when you’re watching the interviews run by the American media with English-speaking Venezuelans wearing designer gear.
pseudonymous in nc
I think that’s one thing you can unreservedly say about Chavez — shitty taste in friends, good fortune in his choice of enemies.
More debatable, perhaps, but I’ll say it: the failure of the 2002 coup made it possible for left-wing governments with greater democratic bona fides to take power and not fear a knock on the door from the usual suspects. Even the political right has a freer hand, which you can hear in the comments of the Chilean president about Chavez.
@Chris: That question, while it has led to an interesting discussion on the tail end of this thread, was aimed very specifically at AA+ Bonds who tends to be a sea gull commenter – flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits all over everything, and then leaves. Even here, when asked the question, he only pointed at a bunch of links to other options. He didn’t actually pony up his idea. His idea is that capitalism sucks. Well, sheeit.
As an American I in no way felt insulted by any of Hugo Chavez’ commenataries. It’s utterly, utterly absurd to hear my fellow countrymen cop such an attitude given that there are actual facts about the US’ role throughout Latin America and it is absolutely horrific and isn’t merely the province of lost bygones.
Then again, this is a country in which my major media feels free to scream false accusations against Hugo Chavez in their official editorials while proudly applauding the peasant-slaughtering actions of the [Uribe-era appended] Colombian military using its US supplies and money and advice via its totally not in any way responsible for the vast right wing death squad paramilitaries who now run much of the narco-trafficking that US involvement was supposedly oriented against.
@Omnes Omnibus: And his damn links, for the most part, were, as I suspected, primarily aimed at laissez-faire capitalism, which no one around here is even defending. I mean, if one is going to be that kind of poseur, why not opt for anarcho-syndicalism or something?
@pseudonymous in nc: More than that. Beginning with Chile’s development under Soshullist leadership with the election of Ricardo Lagos, Chavez’ 1998 election and vaulted forward with Argentina’s rejection of the IMF / WB model of imposing Western-investor favoring anti-development under Kirchner, South America achieved functional independence for the first time in post-contact history.
It’s simply true, and the US hasn’t yet adapted to it. South American nations now operate apart from US and Western pressures in a way that simply doesn’t exist in Mexico and Central America.
Colombia was the striking exception under Uribe, and to the surprise of most all and to the extreme and bitter disgust of Uribe, Santos has proven saner than anyone anticipated.
I haven’t read this thread, but surely someone must have mentioned the time Chavez referred to George W Bush as “the devil” at the UN?
Always had a soft spot for him after that.
Mike in NC
Say what you want, Chavez correctly identified Dubya as The Devil.
ETA: eemom beat me by a minute!
When Chavez took to the podium at the UN, George Bush had already addressed the audience, and he started out by sniffing around the stage saying he could still catch the whiffs of sulfur. I guess meaning the fuel in hell fire.
Classical liberalism? As in, the 19th century system that libertarians now claim as theirs? Uh yeah…
@pseudonymous in nc:
Americans absolutely refuse to understand that there are countries where the very fact of being supported by the United States will undermine a political movement’s credibility. And most of Latin America would definitely fall under that, methinks.
(I was actually proud of Obama for reacting mildly and quietly to the Iranian Green Movement. Even if some of its activists took it as a betrayal, given that we’ve already engineered one coup in Iran and routinely threaten it with war, I suspect enthusiastic American support would not have done them good).
Sure, I understand that. I’m just saying that it illustrates pretty well what I see as something missing from our political culture.
@Chris: You are right. OTOH we’ve been actually have a conversation about it right here. Ah, fuck it. The shithead got under my skin tonight. He’s a tiresome little douche, and he annoyed me.
Miss Kitkas's Comrade Wayne
My comment got stuck in moderation?
Even worse, then, that the US tends to choose to back those who will make the population’s life worse if successful, whether this brings or undermines “legitimacy”.
On the plus side, we do get around to apologizing for it more or less given a few decades’ time.
@Chris: It was Colombia’s newly elected President Santos (former Defense Minister under Alvaro Uribe) who inspired such hatred by staunch right winger and death squad paramilitary fosterer Alvaro Uribe by completely abandoning the cheap hostility to Chavez and Venezuela built up by Uribe and reaching out to meet and begin all sorts of sane cooperation.
Instead of blaming Venezuela for Colombia’s drug production and narcotrafficking, as was Uribe’s and US officials’ and US media’s wont, the very conservative Santos chose to act upon Chavez’ administration’s hatred for the narcotrafficking thugs who chose to transit Venezuela.
Ah, the AUC, there lies a tale. Isn’t a big chunk of them made up of former members of the Medellin and Cali cartels, after we broke their back? Not the first time we’d have used organized crime as a hired thug against communist movements.
Hasn’t Obama been way more conciliatory towards Latin America as a whole (South or otherwise) than his predecessors? Heck, I took his stance on the Honduras coup to be a giant step forward out of the 20th century, signaling that it would no longer be possible to count on the U.S. to prop up every Franco-wannabe with no long-term viability of his own.
Miss Kitkas's Comrade Wayne
During the 14 continuous years Hugo Chávez was in power he enjoyed windfall oil prices, which afforded him the wherewithal to attack poverty and income inequality in Venezuela to great effect and with commendable self-promotion. He did absolutely nothing to mitigate the distortions of his country’s oil-dependent economy, nor to establish groundwork for sustainable economic growth from the windfall years of petroleum harvests. He did even less to advance the mechanisms of political transparency or constitutional governance and, systematically perceiving such objectives as catchwords for opposition intrigue, did everything in his power, which was largely unlimited, explicitly to crush them. He radicalized political discourse, encouraged the masses to view his critics as enemies of the fatherland, and trampled whenever possible on even the slightest and most residual topographical features of the rule of law that had managed to survive his measured determination to destroy them.
@Chris: It’s actually hard to say, because it truly is a different situation. There’s just no context like there used to be.
When Chile elected billionaire right winger Sebastian Salgado, sure, there were policy differences with that established by the prior two Soshullist administrations, but not that different.
[Aw, crap, I’m going to bed. No, Chile didn’t elect photographer Sebastiao Salgado, they elected Sebastian Pinera. Jeesh.]
Think about that — a right wing billionaire is elected President of Chile following two Soshullist administrations, and the path of nation-state development is at base unchanged.
Even South American conservative economic elites prefer the path of having actual national development instead of the typical ‘maquiladora’ and national-resource sacking investor favoritism which used to be considered “development”. That’s a huge change for the sorts of people who used to happily await the next junta to put down the mouthy masses.
The directions of the largest nation-states like Brazil or Argentina used to hinge on US attitudes and expressions from bankers and businesses and “advisers”, and that’s not how it happens any more. Like anywhere in the world, from time to time that will happen, because money is money, power is power, and influence is influence, and at key points more of the keys are in someone’s hand than in another’s, but you don’t see nations like Argentina lining up to have the US tell it how to be a good and thriving nation any more.
Sometimes things just aren’t under some other nation’s control — and this is true even when someone who has quite a lot of justified paranoia such as Chavez did saw the US’ hand behind everything, much as our own Cuban exile crazies in Florida and New Jersey saw Fidel’s fingerprints on the neck of every sparrow that fell.
The Honduran coup, no, the US didn’t have too honorable a role. The entire discussion you saw here was based on lies and utterly hysterical exaggerations of the actions and declarations of the elected President and the complete fictionalized public discussion of Honduran law. At one point US policy basically became the personal province of Jim de Mint. But that’s a long discussion.
I know our righties phrased it as “ZOMG the communist socialist fascist dictator is destroying the constitution and the brave military legally removed him [just as we’re hoping ours will do to the equally communist socialist fascist Obama]” but I didn’t realize that had actually translated into policy. I thought Obama ended up condemning the coup.
@Chris: Yeah, we did, and it’s just one of those things in which it certainly wasn’t Reagan-era gleeful giggling. Let’s put it this way — we both made sure everyone knew we would be more than comfortable if the coup resulted in Zelaya’s being kept out of power and some legitimate-y lookin’ maneuver making everything look all sober and proper and that we didn’t want anyone getting any wise ideas about doing this sort of thing again.
@Chris: Nice post, as well as the rest of your contributions tonight. We have a lot of centrists here, who believe what the NYT tells them about foreign affairs. It’s good to have a voice that has some real knowledge of the situation.
The problem is not wages. The problem is lack of voice/control from the people earning them.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wages. There is something wrong when the minimum wage is below the poverty line and therefore can not be a living wage.
The idea that barter is a better system than a monetary one is laughable. That is the Dr. getting paid in chickens. That is a secretary getting paid in what, copy paper? Barter only works on a small scale in a small geographical area when all the participants can produce all the goods they need to live. The genie is out of the bottle on an agrarian society, at least until we run out of transportation energy and enough die off so that the remainder can live off the land.
Capitalism is not bad in of itself. Uncontrolled capitalism, as we are seeing in the US currently, is bad because it causes radical financial inequality which generally, eventually, leads to some sort of violent revolution.
@Mr Stagger Lee: It’ll be Ecuador’s Rafael Correa or whoever ends up winning the special election in Venezuela. Why Correa? Simple. Ecuador’s got oil and he’s a left winger. Bolivia’s got natural gas. I don’t believe the US is interested in natural gas in South America.
@General Stuck: For the fucking WIN. Chavez took the money that they oil companies were sucking out of his country with a mile-wide pipe at lightspeed, and spent it on the poor of his country, who had been left in destitution by the oil companies. He was a freaking hero.
And, Ruckus, the “free market” is bad. Depending on it to solve any significant problem in a timely manner, never works. Ever.
As to who is the next Hitler: Obama of course. He’s a Kenyan-socilist-nazi-mooslum-atheist-elitist dictator. And he wants to take all yer guns too. Just can’t get no worser than that.
He’s a negro too. Did you know that?
@Miss Kitkas’s Comrade Wayne:
I guess the assumption is that while some on the left would ostensibly support the actions of someone like Chavez, the actual result of taking away the transparency and limiting the social democratic culture is that the reforms will usually die with the guy who hoarded all the power.
Which probably better than a bunch of people dying under something like Stalinism, but still …
I’m going to skip down a bit from the 160’s or so, and say thanks for the link to Democracy At Work. http://www.democracyatwork.info/ Even just starting with encouraging more worker ownership would be a great thing. Think co-ops. They compete in capitalism just fine, but the fruits of running the business are spread much more equally. That would be a fine first thought. Democracy pisses me off regularly, but I’d still like to spend more of my day in it, rather than working in top down, owned by .001% companies.
I’m with ya. I’ve said before that one of my basic problems with modern corporations is that they’re dictatorships, run at best by corporate Politburos and at worst by a dynasty with zero qualifications other that “granpa founded the company” (think Koch Industries).