We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Venezuela – a role model for the man probably going to be the next leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition

“When we celebrate, and it is a cause for celebration, the achievements of Venezuela, in jobs, in housing , in health, in education, but above all its role in the whole world as a completely different place, then we do that because we recognise what they have achieved.”

Jeremy Corbyn

(For those who haven’t been on Samizdata before, this posting is designed to highlight the vileness of this man, not to imply approval.)

No one could have seen this coming

From the “it’s just a temporary emergency created by the need to suppress vicious anti-social elements, and we will restore things to normal after the crisis has ended” department:

Venezuelan farmers ordered to hand over produce to state.

I’m certain this new measure will finally end the reign of terror of the hoarders and restore food to Venezuelan homes.

Meanwhile, a word about toilet paper. The capitalist propaganda machine outside of the Bolivarist Paradise has been telling people that toilet paper is now largely unavailable for purchase in the country. But, does man really require toilet paper to be happy? A few centuries ago there was no toilet paper at all – indeed, mankind survived for most its history without toilet paper. The desire for toilet paper is simply a form of manufactured desire created by capitalist marketing and advertising – the production of a want in people for a product they don’t actually have a real use for. The creation of toilet paper despoils forests and the landscape, is unsustainable, and it is only to the good that Venezuela now leads the world in eliminating this scourge from our midst.

(See also: What Socialism Has Done To A Supermarket in Venezuela.)

Chávez’s Better World

Presented for your consideration, two quotations and a hyperlink:

“I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism.”

-Hugo Chávez

“I have said it already, I am convinced that the way to build a new and better world is not capitalism. Capitalism leads us straight to hell.”

-Hugo Chávez

Venezuelan Bolivar now worth more as toilet paper than as money.


Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro given power to rule by decree

The Venezuelan parliament on Sunday approved a law giving the president, Nicolás Maduro, the power to legislate by decree for nine months in the face of what he described as threats by the US government.

The so-called “anti-imperialist” law will be in effect from the time it is published in Venezuela’s Official Gazette until 31 December.

Maduro requested the expanded powers in response to new US sanctions on Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations. Critics of Venezuela’s government have called the move a power grab.

El Sistema in Venezuela probably is not that much harsher than most musical education

The moon is blue, so I shall defend a socialist prestige cultural project. East Germany had its shotputters, the USSR its grand masters of chess, Venezuela has “El Sistema” – a much lauded system of musical education. Now, however, there is a discordant note:

Author exposes ‘tyranny’ behind musical miracle for poor children

Over 40 years, El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education system, has given a million children the opportunity to play in an orchestra, enriching, they say, the lives of youngsters from the barrios.

Its methods have been emulated in 60 countries, notably Scotland, where a Sistema-style operation was pioneered on a tough housing estate in Stirling with support from the classical violinist Nicola Benedetti.

The mood music has changed, however, with the publication of El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth, by Geoffrey Baker.
Aghast at the book’s claims of corruption, mismanagement and nepotism within Venezuela, a Conservative politician has questioned whether El Sistema should extend its reach any further. Yesterday, Alex Johnstone, MSP for North East Scotland, said that plans for a Sistema orchestra in Dundee must be halted while the claims are investigated.

“This book gives the impression that the system is much more authoritarian and intolerant than some were letting on,” said Mr Johnstone. “Not so much a new idea, as back to the Victorian habits of teaching piano by rapping them across the knuckles.”

Corruption, mismanagement and nepotism in a socialist show project would astound me only by their absence. But authoritarianism is the norm when teaching children to play musical instruments the world over, and has been since forever. The exception is the namby-pamby modern Western middle classes, and not all of them. The common opinion of that portion of mankind that gives music lessons or pays for them is that you won’t be going anywhere until you have done your quota of scales, sweetums, and if your name is Wei or Xiuying, these days that quota is likely to be big.

Do not misunderstand me. I like namby pamby. I’ve been uncomfortable with compulsion in education for decades now, and if not convinced that it can be dispensed with altogether for the very youngest children, am certainly convinced that it can be phased out at a far younger age than most people think. In most contexts I am convinced that education without force is immeasurably better education.

But how do you get them to practise – or don’t you? Given that it takes unfailing hours of daily practice to make a great player, and that for most instruments the great players invariably start young, would the price of freeing children from the slavery of music practice be no more great classical musicians? If so, would it be worth it?

Our Chavez, who art in heaven

Progressive Venezuela has rediscovered the benefits of Emperor worship:

“Venezuelan Socialists rewrite Lord’s Prayer: ‘Our Chavez, who art in heaven'”

No doubt, like Claudius, the Divine Hugo will be worshipped by the more gullible among the British tribesmen. As Seneca wrote in the Apocolocyntosis,

Is it not enough that he has a temple in Britain, that savages worship him and pray to him as a god, so that they may find a fool to have mercy upon them?”

Venezuela circles the drain

Venezuela enters the high farce stage of its development.

In a move that will no doubt help further the Venezuelan government’s aim of establishing a socialist utopian republic, President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that grocery stores will soon begin the mandatory fingerprinting of customers. The peculiar initiative, which could be implemented by the end of the year, is meant to help combat the hoarding and smuggling of government-subsidized goods.

Is this not truly epic? Is not socialism stranger than a chorus of singing penguins?

Let the young heir be seen to rebel a little

Raúl Castro’s daughter first lawmaker to vote ‘no’ in Cuban parliament.

Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raúl Castro and niece of Fidel Castro, has given an unprecedented “no” vote in the Cuban parliament to a workers’ rights bill she felt didn’t go far enough to prevent discrimination against people with HIV or with unconventional gender identities.

None of the experts contacted by Associated Press could recall another “no” vote in the 612-seat national assembly, which meets briefly twice a year and usually approves laws by a unanimous show of hands.

One pretty hand among that multitude could safely, even profitably, remain at rest.

Where do they get these people?

Let me get this straight. The World Cup is being held in Brazil. Prior to this tournament there was a ban on consumption of alcohol inside stadia in Brazil, but FIFA insisted that the ban be overturned because one of their sponsors is a brand of beer and their contractual relationship with the brewer of this beer required that it be on sale inside the stadia during the World Cup. Fans at these matches have apparently been buying this beer and getting unbelievably drunk. The impressive cogitative processes operating in the brains of senior FIFA officials are now just starting to deduce that there might have been a reason for this ban in the first place.

Soon, Russia is authoritarian and corrupt. Also, it is hot in Qatar in summer.

Fidel Castro lived like Louis XV, claims his ex-bodyguard, wrongly

… Wrongly, for Castro is no Louis le bien aimé. The French royal personage whose mode of life was closest to that of Comrade Fidel before senility overtook him was Marie Antoinette, who played at being a milkmaid and a shepherdess in the Queen’s Hamlet built for her in the gardens of Le Petit Trianon. As the Queen found refuge from the demands of court life by milking cows into buckets of Sèvres porcelain in the company of her dear friend and confidante the Princesse de Lamballe, so the First Secretary

“enjoyed a private island, Cayo Piedra, south of the Bay of Pigs, scene of the failed CIA-sponsored invasion of 1961 . . . a “garden of Eden” where he entertained selected guests including the writer Gabríel Garcia Márquez, and enjoyed spear-fishing.”

Sharing that simple pleasure, they talked about books and the nature of absolute power.

Samizdata quote of the day

I’m always curious why the killing of millions of kulaks by Communists is shrugged off as the price to be paid for the glorious socialist ideal, whereas Pinochet’s killing of thousands of avowed Marxist revolutionaries is the most eeeevil thing that ever happened.

When I was in Chile back in 2005, I asked a middle-class woman why Pinochet remained a revered political figure by all levels of Chilean society. After all, didn’t he cause the deaths of poets and folksingers? Her answer: “Those poets and folksingers owned AK-47s.”

The most confounding thing for the Left is that Pinochet was loved by common people, more so than the elitist and aloof Allende. I saw for myself that the general’s house in Montevideo (a small, modest bungalow in a working-class neighborhood) is a shrine — women passing by will make the sign of the cross, or place tiny bunches of flowers on the sidewalk in front of it. And they’re not just old women, either: they’re of all ages.

And the Chileans still drink toasts to Pinochet as “the saviour of Chile”. But of course, to the Left all these people count as much as the Russian kulaks.

Kim du Toit, in a comment here on Samizdata.

How the other half lives

He also maintained homes in Colombia, Barcelona and Paris and continued to keep up his friendship with Fidel Castro, who gave him the use of a villa in Havana. During García Márquez’s frequent visits to Cuba, Castro would call on him as often as twice a day; the two men went fishing together, and talked about books and the nature of absolute power.

– from the Telegraph obituary of Gabriel García Márquez