2010 August 22 Sunday
Venezuela: Socialism Still Does Not Work

Socialism still has not become a viable way to organize an economy. But Hugo Chavez didn't get the memo. A Reuters reporter visited a commune funded by the Venezuelan government (funded of course by oil exports to capitalistic countries) and found that commune members lack revolutionary socialist fervor.

Neither ideological nor productive fervor were much visible at the Cacique Tiuna Commune, which boasts a plastics plant, a vegetable garden, a "socialist" carpentry shop and a plant nursery.

During a visit last week, the plastics plant was idled, the irrigated garden was awaiting "refinancing" to start and at the carpentry shop only a handful of laborers worked under the stern gaze of a mural depicting the historic Indian chief Tiuna after which the commune is named.

"The Comandante (Chavez) wants this to be a showcase community," said Yamilet Ramirez, the Commune's spokesperson. "The idea is that it should be self-supporting."

But the Cacique Tiuna commune seemed some way off its intended goal as a self-sustaining, self-governing community.

Click thru and read the whole thing if you want to make sure I didn't miss any revolutionary fervor of the working class. Or click thru and read it if you enjoy cautionary tales or are wondering just how messed up Venezuela is going to become (pretty messed up I would guess).

The people living in the commune are happy that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had funded the construction of their housing. But one of the residents admitted they felt apathy. Ole buddy Hugo wants his communes to become self-sustaining. Good luck with that Hugo. For your sake hope the price of oil skyrockets so that you can continue to play with oil-funded communism.

If Hugo can't get his oil production up then his party isn't going to last. The Venezuelans would be lucky if the oil ran out sooner and the socialists got the boot. But my guess is the socialists will get to remain in power long enough to do a lot more damage. The Spanish upper and middle class will seethe. The Amerinds will just keep accepting the hand-outs funded by oil money.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 August 22 06:30 PM  Socialism, Capitalism

Clarium said at August 23, 2010 2:38 AM:

How is the damage done by the socialists more than the damage done by an oil price crash? How would an oil price crash benefit the economic in the long run? Why no try to keep the socialist "party" going instead of hoping that low oil prices would crash the party?

clarium said at August 23, 2010 2:40 AM:

Sorry, I meant to say the why would it be better if the oil ran out sooner than later.

ASPIRANT said at August 23, 2010 12:27 PM:

The reason why capitalism works to create wealth is because it marginalizes the weak, incompetent, and stupid. It filters people by their ability, not by some misguided sense of justice. People who can do, do. People who can't, fall behind. If everyone had good ability and intelligence, strength etc... Socialism could work.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong. It just is.

no i don't said at August 23, 2010 2:13 PM:

Well, to start with, Socialism is not an economic system -although economics is included in it-. Socialism is a social system, based on equality, the destruction of monopolies or oligopolies and having what everything and only what you need.

Socialism basically says: Whatever the owner gives you in money, he takes away from you in the form of life and humanity.

Socialism works; Sweden back in the 60s, 70s and 80s is a perfect example; (even though it was not officially called so)

See, the word Socialism has been devoided of its true meaning, reach and implications.

Americans hate Marx, Engels and Rosseau by inertia, even if they have never read them. So nowadays it has become almost impossible in the U.S. to talk objectively about Socialism because people always confuse it with Stalinism and shortage of goods. For the average American the word Socialism is equal to dictatorship.

The evils of dictators is a different thing and they can be huge whether they call themeselves "socialist" of "capitalist". So there's really not much difference among Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet or Bush.

no i don't said at August 23, 2010 2:20 PM:

Jus by the way...

Miterrand's France is another good example of true Democratic Socialism. If we kick Sarkozy aside... man, very often those French can really become example of socio-political-economic system for the world.

Randall Parker said at August 24, 2010 7:29 AM:

no i don't,

Sweden has dropped down in the ranks in terms of national rankings of per capita GDP. Sweden's welfare state is not sustainable. Even people as intelligent as Swedes can't make socialism work as well as capitalism.

no i don't said at August 24, 2010 2:22 PM:


Exactly: Sweden is no longer socialist, like it used to be 20 or 30 years back.

Sweden has dropped down, but that's a world tendency. This has happened with practically every country in the world. I also seem to recall that the U.S. is not exactly going through an economic boom... And the U.S. is everything but socialist. Sweden still has a higher standard of living and higher per-capita income than the U.S.

Venezuela has had a much bigger growth than Mexico in the last 30 years. Before the Fall of 2008 and back to 2007, 2006, Venezuela's growth was around 8%. Venezuela's government is leftist, while Mexico's is ultra-right wing.

And like I said, socialism is not an economic system, but a social one.

Capitalism is not democracy, just as dictatorship is not socialism. Democracy and socialism are closer than capitalism to democracy. In fact capitalism is closer to dictatorship than socialism or democracy are.

Randall Parker said at August 24, 2010 5:52 PM:

no i don't,

Sweden's decline started way before they reduced the extent of their socialism and their socialism is still very extensive. They just can't afford it as well.

Socialism doesn't reduce the work ethic of the first generation that experiences it as much as it reduces the work ethic of successive generations. Its deleterious effects on capital formation and productivity are cumulative.

Venezuela's economic growth was driven by oil exports. 90% of Venezuela's export revenue comes from oil. Another figure (probably due to changes in oil prices) puts 80% of exports and a third of the economy as coming from oil. It is a one trick pony which would be an abysmal failure without oil. Venezuela's economy is not capable of producing much in the way of goods that the rest of the world wants. Not a successful socialist role model.

I can't find really recent figures on oil as a percentage of Mexico's exports but oil appears to account for a much lower percentage of exports from Mexico than from Venezuela. But since oil and gas account for about a third of government revenues Mexico's government is going to feel severe financial pressures as oil production declines.

Mexico and Venezuela have almost identical per capita GDPs. But my expectation is that Mexico is going to pull ahead of Venezuela unless oil prices skyrocket.

ASPIRANT said at August 24, 2010 7:01 PM:

>Socialism doesn't reduce the work ethic of the first generation that experiences it as much as it reduces the work ethic of successive generations. Its deleterious effects on capital formation and productivity are cumulative.
This can be chalked up to human nature, not diseugenic trends. The solution is to change human nature. Maybe some sort of education regime can make it work... one that instills a slight sense of unease towards the future (not insecurity... I'm talking about the feeling that no matter what idiotic mistake you make, you'll be covered, like my friends).

Of course I realize that in the end the path to the future lies in reshaping ourselves.

Pussy Frog said at August 24, 2010 7:32 PM:

If we kick Sarkozy aside... man, very often those French can really become example of socio-political-economic system for the world.

Yeah, Le Car was an amazing success. And Citroen!

In said at August 26, 2010 6:39 PM:

I've suspected for a long time that the only real solution to our problems is some sort of spiritual change en mass and I don't mean that in a necessarily mystical sense. I mean more that somehow the average level of consciousness needs to be raised. It is the interior development of individuals that is lagging behind exterior development of economics and technology.


Mthson said at August 26, 2010 7:12 PM:

In said: "somehow the average level of consciousness needs to be raised"

I like Ken Wilber as a person, but he'll probably die in not so long. His health is precarious and he's at an advanced age anyway. After he dies, his fringe intellectual/supernaturalist movement will diminish to even lesser status than it already has.

The field of genetics, on the other hand, is increasing at an exponential rate.

In said at August 29, 2010 8:31 AM:

Wow, I didn't know Wilber was ill. He's not that old (61) but it sounds like he has RNAse Enzyme Deficiency disease. It's sad, and it is also sad that his philosophy is largely marginal. The strength of integral thinking is that it selects the best/truest features of multiple perspectives/ideologies and integrates them into a mamothly sophisticated worldview. Unfortunately the only people that are open to such a philosophy are those that have given up attachment to any particular ideology. He covers too much ground to not turn everybody else off.

Genetics: I'm open to the possibility that technology can play the role that religion and spirituality have traditionally played, namely properly socializing and developing individuals. I'm not counting on it though.

no i don't said at September 1, 2010 3:07 PM:

"Sweden's decline started way before they reduced the extent of their socialism and their socialism is still very extensive. They just can't afford it as well. "

Yeah! those poor starved Swedes, man! Who'd ever want to live in such a messy third world -how do Americans call it?-"shithole"...

And since the U.S. is doing so well with its Capitalism, nowadays... Good job you guys! Keep at it! You're doing just great.... I'm sure you're going to be able to "afford it" for many more decades, ha, ha, ha. Those idiot socialist Chinese growing at only 9.5% (Maybe now you're gonna say that China is Capitalist, right?)

Randall, Socialism is not cornucopia, -I've never said it- but I think you should read Marx and Hegel again -if you have at all- I also think you should travel to Venezuela and Mexico and get to know something a little further than your immediate neighbourhood. I think that -yeah- you should listen to Bush, Buckley and Fox news, but you should also listen to Chavez, Hu Jin Tao and Castro, and get YOUR OWN thoughts from that input.

Like I said: Most Americans talk about Socialism, without having an idea of what it is. They have devoided the word of its original meaning, reaches and implications. They simply don't know what it is, because they simply have not read Marx, Rousseau and other musts for high schoolers...

Mthson said at September 1, 2010 3:41 PM:


I'm friends with an academic who speaks at events for Ken Wilber's philosophy, and this friend is also - even now in the 2010s - a rabid opponent of evolutionary psychology and the human sciences in general. (Nothing is true unless it's warm and fuzzy, right?) My sense is that any ideology that has to be inclusive enough that it contains those kinds of people has to be taken with a grain of salt.

You do sound like you take a good approach, though.

In said at September 4, 2010 6:53 AM:

Oh, I take them all with a grain of salt. Wilber's stuff is certainly not above criticism. It is a fun intellectual exercise to try to poke holes in his philosophy since ostensibly it seems like the guy has everything figured out.

As for Evo-psych: Evolution is an important principle in his worldview. I've read several of his books and feel I can speak on this. He integrates multiple perspectives, but also he equivocally criticizes and rejects the aspects of each worldview that are untrue or pernicious. I've never heard him touch the issue of racial HBD, but he certainly has the right/realistic view on gender.

A large part of his criticism is directed towards the leftist post-modern academia (cultural studies, feminism, etc.). He claims that most of this stuff is simple narcissism.

I really don't think his stuff is too inclusive nor is that a legitimate criticism. But there are definitely legitimate criticism's of his stuff.

Mthson said at September 4, 2010 12:20 PM:



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