Real Socialism

In Venezuela

the daily struggle to find food items and medicine, particularly in times of intense scarcity and hyperinflation, leaves very little time to organize anti-government mass protests and other activities.

Shortages of basic food staples and of consumer goods in socialist countries are not a bug but a feature. People who don’t understand how the whole system works keep asking naively why it’s so impossible to make enough food for everybody when it’s the whole point that people should be occupied by scavenging for something to eat and too busy to think about changing their situation.

The funny thing is that it always starts with the best of intentions. Always, every single time. And within a couple of years, it all degenerates into devising ways to keep people hungry so that they are too cowed and weak to protest.

This is why it annoys me to have to discuss socialism with people who have never experienced any shortage of anything and have no idea what it feels like to scavenge for toilet paper or deal with menstruation when absolutely no hygienic products are available. The dumb little Twitteroids who love to chirp about socialism wouldn’t last a week in the conditions those of us with actual experience in socialism had to face.

On the positive side, last week I had a very productive discussion with students about all this. In spite of all the media noise about the supposed beauty of socialism, it’s possible to reach people and talk to them about it, especially if they are very young.

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17 thoughts on “Real Socialism”

    1. “It amazes me how good intentions ”

      What makes you think the intentions are good? I’ve been listening to self-proclaimed young socialists for a while now and what they seem to want to do is unload their rage onto others (haranguing crowds with furious political rants is a well known feature of socialism) and they’re perfectly okay with the idea of some day deciding who will have housing or food (or not).
      The personality type most strongly attracted to socialism is not benign.

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      1. It’s the Reichian authoritarian personality. It’s not just socialist-leaning types who have it. You should see the haranguing here about Jesus. And the reason people are so suspicious of “the government” is that if they held any kind of leadership post they would love to be the ones who has food and housing or not.

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  1. I think also that this is all authoritarian situations. People from other states are amazed here at how hard it is to get basic work done because of all the obstacles. Basic supplies. That is because the university wants it like that – it keeps us down. Re shortages / availability of goods, it’s social democracy that people seem to mean here/now when they say socialism. EU countries are what they point to.

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  2. Also I never figured out why VE did this. Surely it would have been possible to redistribute oil revenues (also get a second industry, heavens) without going to these extremes.

    Also note how Daniel Ortega went from revolutionary left to right in Nicaragua, basically.

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    1. ” I never figured out why VE did this”

      Chronic short thinking, instead of recognizing oil revenue as a kind of limited time investment opportunity (as Norway has done) it was handed out to buy votes and patronage (and big amounts of course went to the families at the top).
      Also, there’s the difference in values in Latin america regarding amorphous ideas like “society” in Latin America a high ethical person who finds themselves in a position of power uses that power to amass as many resources for their (maybe extended) family as possible. To neglect that overpowering duty to family for something as nebulous as ‘the common good’ simply doesn’t compute for most people.

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        1. “They had oil before Chávez”

          And what did they do with it? Did they invest in education and infrastructure or did they hide in swiss banks and patronage chains?

          “who promotes that slur on Latin Americans – ?”

          this is my theory on what motivates a lot of the world – the values that people really have (versus the values some wish they had) it’s partly based on research on different value system found in different cultures and how those… color people’s realities. it’s also based on interaction and observation and trying to figure pout why things happen the way they happen (and not how some wish they would happen)

          it’s a version of the collectivist mindset, also present in similar forms in Sub-Saharan Africa the Middle East and parts of Europe (especially south and east).

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          1. Well, since it’s 9/11, what about Chile? Allende didn’t last, and the whole time he was President there was economic sabotage from US, but from what I can tell he was more serious about building socialism than someone like Chávez/Maduro no matter what they claim…

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    2. It’s the same as Russia. For years, everybody who said let’s diversify the economy to stop depending on just oil was hounded and ridiculed. It’s insane. Is there anybody on this planet who is not aware that oil prices fluctuate? What kind of arrant idiocy is it to rely completely on a single natural resource?

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  3. “Oh I can’t wait for the day when my housing, clothing, dietary, educational and cultural options are decided for me by party committees or faceless technocrats in some ministry!” said no budding socialist ever.
    They want to be the ones deciding for other people and they make that very clear if you listen to them carefully.

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  4. “Real socialism.” But Venezuela isn’t really socialist, is it? It has more of an authoritarian, left-wing, populist government, with either a mostly capitalist economy or a hybrid economy. I don’t believe that the means of production and the distribution of goods and services is controlled by the government, as in Cuba (although there has been some recent economic liberalization) and the Soviet Union.

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      1. A lot of politicians, presidents, and political parties say they are socialist, but that doesn’t make them so. Maduro strikes me as more of a dictator, regardless of what his preferred economic policies might be, than a committed socialist interested in the welfare of all Venezuelans.

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        1. “Maduro strikes me as more of a dictator, regardless of what his preferred economic policies might be, than a committed socialist interested in the welfare of all Venezuelans.”

          errrrr No real socialist is interested in the welfare of all people, it’s a an ego power trip which is why every single real socialist country was/is led by a dictator, having a dictator is part and parcel of socialism.

          It’s not a part of capitalist countries with strong welfare systems (Scandinavia or to a lesser degree Germany, Netherlands).

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