Saturday, March 24

Political essay by socialist party on how well socialism is working in Venezuela

The best way to see how insane socialism is is to read lots of essays by socialists.  They're like children in adult bodies--"Why doesn't the government just end poverty by giving all the poor people a million dollars?"

Why indeed?  That "solution" is so simple and elegant that I'm amazed no one ever thought of it before!

The reason socialist/communist articles are worth reading is that when they're in writing, their goals and ideas are pinned down--it's a lot harder for them to claim they didn't push policies that turned out to be disastrous.

The following article--"Is Venezuela Turning Further Left?"--is from the "Party for Socialism and Liberation" website.  I've edited it for length.

To understand how brazen are the lies in the article, you need to know that before the socialist takeover in 1998, Venezuela had the highest per-capita income in all of South America.  But in a mere 20 years since the socialists took power, the country has run out of food, medicine and everything else.  Inflation is averaging over 5000 percent per year, and the nation's murder rate is roughly 20 times higher than ours.  Citizens are killing zoo animals for food.

You also need to know that "Chavista" refers to supporters of the first socialist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.  As you could guess, the PSL is hugely pro-Chavista.  When Chavez's hand-picked successor, Maduro, lost a majority of the seats in the National Assembly (corresponding to our congress), he dissolved it by decree, banned the opposition from meeting and created a totally new legislature, which he named the "Constituent Assembly" and whose members answered to him.

Classic communist tactics.

He then decreed that his new, totally-controlled Assembly should write a new constitution.  So with that in mind:
[Long intro blaming "U.S. imperialism" omitted.]

While Venezuela faces serious challenges... the opposition overstated its own popularity and failed to leverage violent street protests into a broader “regime change” operation. In the process they energized the Chavista-base behind the Constituent Assembly as an opportunity for the Bolivarian revolution to again take the initiative and deepen its radical character.

Now, although challenges continue, Venezuela faces the possibility of consolidating the Bolivarian movement and turning the opposition into a purely extra-parliamentary phenomenon.
Notice the phrase "turning the opposition into a purely extra-parliamentary phenomenon."  That's gobble-speak for "We've taken away their powers."  Of course that would be because the socialist dictator dissolved the original legislature.
Without opposition access to juridical levers of power, the Venezuelan revolution becomes much harder to overthrow without an outright coup or war, strengthening the hand of revolutionary forces.
Oh, certainly.  Nothing like dissolving congress and appointing a new body to "strengthen the hand" of the dictator, eh?
"The Constituent Assembly and the Crisis"

The [new] Assembly...began its work with political...matters. Venezuela had been in gridlock. The opposition-controlled National Assembly had been in a dispute with the Supreme Court and was unwilling to pass any legislation from the ruling United Socialist Party, but was unable to override President Maduro’s veto with their own bills.

The Constituent Assembly was already tasked with rewriting the constitution but also had the power to oversee the other branches of government [i.e. a rubber-stamp legislature].  The National Assembly refused to even appear at a meeting about coordination between the two bodies.
What kind of "coordination" was possible?  The National Assembly was being invited to sign off on their own dissolution by the dictator.
The Constituent Assembly quickly then gave itself specific legislative powers. The National Assembly is not technically dissolved, but exists in limbo since opposition legislators refuse to recognize the Presidency, Supreme Court, and Constitutional Assembly.

So the National Assembly wasn't dissolved but "exists in limbo," eh?  Interesting legal trick.  Reminds me of Bill Clinton's "depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."  BTW, every non-Venezuelan publication said Maduro dissolved the Assembly.  Yet the commies insist it still exists.  Just "in limbo."
The Constituent Assembly’s action allowed governing to resume, breaking the deadlock. The Constituent Assembly also quickly removed Attorney General Luisa Ortega who had unsuccessfully sought to discredit the Constituent Assembly election and had come under fire for failing to prosecute the perpetrators of brutal opposition violence.

This...laid the foundation for the more specific work of the Assembly, dealing with the deep economic crisis the country has sunk into, and dealing more directly with the political issues regarding the transition to socialism.

In early September, President Maduro set the stage for this debate announcing eight laws and measures designed to break the economic deadlock.
"Break the economic deadlock," eh?  That's communist gobble-speak for a series of government policies so abysmally bad that they totally ruined what had been a thriving economy.  But styling it as "deadlock" clearly implies that the blame is with the older, legal, National Assembly.

All sectors of the Chavista coalition...assert that only by deepening the socialist project can Venezuela totally break out of its crisis phase.
Oh, you bet.  When you're in a jam, double-down on the ghastly policies that dug you into the hole.
The other principal issue is that the economy, oriented heavily towards imports and distribution, is almost totally controlled by private corporations, as is most domestic commodity and food production. A third pivotal issue is currency inflation and corruption.

Maduro’s recently announced actions are responses to those challenges. Some were
relatively standard measures, including maintaining price controls on a number of key goods...
Anyone who knows anything about economics knows price controls ensure shortages.  So either Maduro and his socialist cronies don't know this, or they're fine with it.  Ain't no third choice.  Again, socialists are mentally children in adult bodies.
...[and] a minimum wage increase that will principally benefit state workers to keep up with inflation...
So bribe the state workers with raises, paid for by the private sector.  Brilliant.
...also to try to crack down on underground market prices.
Yes, by all means.  Starving peasants have this inexplicable tendency to pay hugely inflated prices for bizarre things like...food.  Or life-saving medicine.  Hard for fat communist dictators to understand.

One major announcement related to the government program delivering subsidized food...to millions of people once a month to address the issue of shortages.  Maduro is expanding the program so the 6 million people receiving boxes once a month will now get two per month.
Ah, yes:  Every two weeks the dictator gives a box of food to the poor.  Called endless re-election.  Evita Peron had great success with this.

[Re the problem of price speculation:]  Rather than relying purely on bureaucratic... means, these measures turn the fight against price speculation into a mass movement, and gives the masses of people the power to strike directly against those who prioritize personal profit over the needs of the majority of people.
Ah yes, the eeevil profit motive.  It makes SO much more sense to expect owners of small businesses to work long hours for no profit; to risk their own funds to bring some new product or service to a locale.
Building the Commune

In his book Building the Commune author George Ciccariello-Maher gives a flavor of this process:
Classic communist propaganda follows--all fictional (the first is absolutely unrealistic) examples, all uplifting, inspiring, empowering:
“Sometimes a commune is sixty women gathered in a room to debate local road construction, berating political leaders in the harshest of terms. Other times it’s a textile collective gathering with local residents to decide what the community needs and how best to produce it. Sometimes it’s a handful of young men on motorcycles hammering out a gang truce, or others broadcasting on a collective radio or TV station. [And of course the dictator spends scarce funds to maintain this station solely so residents can use it, eh?]  Often it’s hundreds of rural families growing plantains, cacao, coffee or corn while attempting to rebuild their ancestral dignity on the land through a new, collective form.”

An essential question, then, has been how to combine these various levels of democratic participation into an integrated set of institutions for people’s power.
Absolutely, comrade:  An "integrated set of institutions for peoples' power."  Inspiring.

As Venezuela’s socialists try and move forward to alleviate the current crisis [one task is] to deepen democratic control over production and distribution of goods.
"Democratic control."  Wow, that sounds SO...inspiring, comrade.  And how's that working out for ya?  Everyone gettin' by?  Enough to eat for everyone, instead of just the fat apparatchiks at the top?
The reality that a significant amount of private production and imports are controlled by private corporations hostile to the government, alongside entrenched networks of corruption and a vast black market remains operative, magnify the overall economic challenges.
We're starting to get to the core of the lies here:  The reality is that the socialist government--eager to show "solidarity with the working class"--ordered businesses to sell goods at cost.  If they refused, the government seized the business.  This worked just as you'd expect.  And when it came time for businesses to re-order more goods--to be sold, by imperial decree, at cost--amazingly (to the socialists, at least), the owners were...um...less than eager to order more goods.

Which meant...bare shelves.

Whoa!  Who could have seen that one coming, eh? 

Socialism means the workers, as a class, have control of production and distribution, to plan for and provide the things people need to live. How to do that is a much more profound democratic process than the limited one-citizen, one-vote form of Western-style “democracy.”
Oh yes.  SO much "more profound" than that "limited one-citizen, one-vote" silliness.  And they're slowly gettin' closer to admitting the truth.

The Bolivarian process dreams of much more than that. The announcement of a CLAP distribution process accompanied by public prosecutors empowers people to investigate and take action themselves, on the spot. This is in strict contrast, conceptually, to the past when people were confined to file complaints with an official or representative about shortages, and black market extortion prices. Venezuela’s communal process has opened up a much broader process of democratization, ranging from informal agreements within communities, to collective management of workplaces, to much more formal levels of collective governance over whole communities.

Revolutionary currents inside the PSUV and in the broader Great Patriotic Pole are all emphasizing this shift.

For instance, there are essentially three national legislative bodies at this point. The dormant opposition-controlled National Assembly, the Constituent Assembly which now has broad legislative powers, and the National Communal Parliament-Presidential Council for People’s Government of Communes.

Most revolutionary forces seem to feel the dormant National Assembly should become defunct and a new national legislative body, one explicitly based on “popular power” be established.
And certainly you agree with this proposal, right, comrade?  Because we just told you "most revolutionary forces" feel this way.  This means anyone who disagreed would be a...counter-revolutionary.  And no thinking person would want to be that, right? 
How to integrate the communes is also a complex process. There are 24 Constituent Assembly members specifically representing the Communes although many from other sectors like the peasant sector, and individually elected constituents are involved in the communal process. Demands from the communal sector are multi-faceted.
...the most common being "We'd really like to be able to buy, um, food."
This translates into, involving the communal sector directly in the development of government plans and dedicating a percentage of the GDP to the communal sector.
Translation:  "The wonderful Socialist Party gonna' give you free sheeit."  Sounds like the U.S. Democratic party.

The latter is key because it requires more direct, conscious economic and social planning, attaching a partially autonomous socialist sector to the broader economy. On the one hand, this opens up broad new possibilities and experiments in furthering collective control over production and distribution. For example, there is a pending proposal about the communes forming and controlling national transport corporations.
"Our party has done such a great job by controlling all agriculture and food distribution that "the people" want us to form and control all transportation too!
What are the appropriate institutions, rights, responsibilities and duties of the two interrelated, but not totally harmonized manifestations of popular power, the electoral form and the communal form? These are the types of questions sure to be hotly debated in the Constituent Assembly, and will not be resolved with simplistic formulas.
Well, other than the formula "Capitalism bad, free markets bad, socialist rhetoric good."  That's pretty simple.  And has worked SO well for us.

The other issue revolutionary forces of all stripes are uniting around is a clearer articulation of the role and power of the popular militias.
This is socialist social media giving the 'cool kids' their talking points.  "Revolutionary forces of all stripes" couldn't be more clear.  'Get on the bandwagon or be labelled a counter-revolutionary.'
[Maduro's speech] is a confirmation from the top that the Chavista movement wants to push in a more radical direction. How far that goes will turn on the axis of how the difficult issues above are resolved.
"Our great Socialist measures have worked so well that our Movement wants to push in an even MORE radical direction."
Nothing is more dangerous to imperialism than living examples that the masses of people, as opposed to a tiny ruling elite, can control their own lives collectively.
The lying here is off the charts:  The people of Venezuela elected a majority in their congress who opposed the "tiny ruling elite" of the ruling socialist party under Maduro.  Who responded by dissolving the National Assembly and setting up a new one--in total violation of the nation's constitution--whose members were all loyal to him.  And yet the socialists have the gall to claim that under their rule the "masses..can control their own lives" instead of a "tiny ruling elite."  Wow!
The world economy is dominated by dollar-denominated trade. The use of the U.S. dollar as essentially a global currency gives the United State tremendous power. If for instance, most nations have to pay their debts in dollars, they then, of course, need dollars. This gives U.S. monetary policy coercive power and influence on other nations.  Barter or payment in other currencies limit what an “outcast” nation can buy since it has to convert anything, goods or hard currency, into dollars first, which may drastically reduce what they are able to buy or bring in.
Wait...by definition barter doesn't involve any cash exchange.  So your line about having to convert anything--and they specifically mention "goods" here--into dollars is horse-shit.  But then, they have exactly the same distorted view of everything in the world.  Like children.  If the results weren't so tragic it'd be sorta' cute to watch.

Now the next 'graf starts to show the influence of the communists who're really running this PSL website:  "We need to break the monopoly of the dollar."

Breaking the monopoly of the dollar, then, is a prerequisite for a more multi- polar world. Venezuela--a country with vast mineral wealth--is attempting to crack that monopoly. Being a major mineral hub gives Venezuela leverage to trade many things via a basket of currencies. It represents enough market share, or potential market share, in areas like oil to increase the importance to many nations of holding slightly fewer dollars, and slightly more Yuan, Rubles and Euros. This dynamic will potentially make those currencies more attractive to trade in. It also decreases the relative value of foreign investment in U.S. assets. This may weaken U.S. ability to manipulate and dominate the global economy, curtailing their ability to punish countries for their political, social and economic choices which diverge from Washington’s wishes.
So the popularity of the U.S. dollar for international trade is one excuse for any...um...problems we might be having.  Let's see if we can find another.  How about "the black market"?

The black market and corrupt networks are one of the principal enemies of any positive gain, and are breeding grounds for the worst kind of capitalist impulses. It is this corruption that has introduced a big gap between many revolutionary pronouncements and actual implementation, so the need to defeat this scourge is clear.
"...has introduced a big gap" is gobble-speak for "If you detect a difference (gap) between our lofty rhetoric about socialism and reality, here's why."  Baffle-gab at its finest.  Sort of like the announcement of "recovery summer" for six consecutive years under Obama.

The constituent process has clearly rallied the Chavista base, and renewed the forward momentum of a revolution that has lifted millions out of poverty...
Say what??  It's clearly thrown millions into poverty.  But then lying is Lesson #2 for socialists.
...and given tens of millions the first steps into a participatory future. Masses of people have much more concrete control of their own lives and can take action to improve their living standards. By consolidating and institutionalizing their gains, they are freeing themselves of capricious whims of Western-style electoral system, in which compromised leaders could roll back progress when it became inconvenient.
Say what??  It sounds SO reasonable to claim that under "western-style electoral systems" "compromised leaders could roll back progress" if it became inconvenient.  But you nee to understand that by "rolling back progress" they mean reversing steps toward socialism by previous governments.

Before concluding, we must interject a note of caution. It is clear the opposition is not going away. The upcoming elections on October 15th for state governors appear like they will be another win at the ballot box for Chavismo. It is also clear this may be exactly what a large section of the opposition actually prefers. If, as many predict, the vast majority if not all, governorships go to members of the Great Patriotic Pole, opposition propaganda will double down in its cries of “dictatorship.” Their argument, as is that of the Imperialists, is that the Constituent Process is illegitimate, and also that the Maduro regime is illegitimate, despite the clear democratic mandate behind both.

If they can now claim to be shut out of all official levels of power — given the dormant National Assembly which refused to continue to operate once the Constituent Assembly was installed— this will give them cover to return to the violent street demonstrations which failed to shake the government before. The ultimate goal of these demonstrations is of course a coup.

The Chavista leadership and masses know very well that Western media will ignore every example of democratic practice they undertake. They will call Venezuela a dictatorial one-party state.
Gosh, how could anyone think that?

For revolutionaries around the world then, the tasks could not be clearer. A people decided in 1998 to break decisively with neo-liberal capitalism, and to share their wealth more equally. They also decided to institutionalize and expand massively efforts at communal, popular power.  In that time ["since then"?] living standards have increased, poverty has decreased...
Keep telling the starving, impoverished peasants they're well-fed and eventually they'll believe it.
Indigenous communities and Afro-Venezuelans have been empowered to reclaim their culture and heritage and push back against the legacies of genocide and slavery. In effect, Venezuela has relaunched a worldwide discussion on socialism, what the next round of attempts to build socialism can and should look like, and what they can borrow from the past and must invent for the future.

If the Bolivarian movement is derailed, or overthrown, all that goes away. The cause of people being able to collectively decide how to best use their resources and talents for their own benefits will be irreparably set-back. There are challenges and contradictions to discuss for sure, but first and foremost the Bolivarian revolution must be defended.
This manifesto is so off-the-charts, so packed with lies that one thinks it must surely be satire.  But this really is how socialists/communists think.  Right up there with proposals from Democrats like Bernie Sanders: "We must have free college for everyone!"  Or Hilliary and Obama: "We must give free health care to everyone."  Except it's not free.  Someone--hard-working citizens taxed to death--ends up paying for it.

"But it clearly works for Venezuela!  So let's try it!"

Oh, you bet.

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