The One comes out with some jaw-dropping remarks at times.
This guy clearly is not impressed by the recent Hollywood film about ‘Che’ Guevara, which I will not be watching:
The quote was seen at the blog of David Thompson.
I have said it before and I will repeat: for all its possible charms, I am not setting foot in Cuba until it becomes a haven of capitalist decadence. Not a minute before. Even if that means paying more for cigars and the booze.
Here is a film about Cuba, starring Andy Garcia, which is much more worthwhile.
I’m sure that Hugo Chavez has done some good. Much more bad than good probably, but some good. And Ken Livingstone is certainly not totally evil. But when the two of them get together it is very implausible that it is good news for the world on average.
Though if Mr Livingstone spends a lot of time in Venezuela, that will be pleasant both for him and for Londoners, I am really quite puzzled what Latin America, or even Mr Chavez, gets from this deal:
But the most puzling thing of all is that use of the phrase “first-world city”. I was under the impression that the ‘first world’ was the capitalist western countries, the ‘second world’ the realm of state-socialism, and the ‘third world’ the unindustrialised rest, not clearly part of either. Continuing the metaphor of separate worlds – and wishing away trade and travel and telegraph – the Rev John Papworth has even coined “Fourth World” for the poorest of the poor and those rejecting economic development altogether.
I cannot believe Red Ken was trying to suggest that the Bolivarian Revolution will fail, and that in 20 years Venezuela will be fully part of the capitalist first world again. Surely Mr Livingstone means he wants Caracas to be a second-world city?
Here is a long and good article about the destruction of the economy of Venezuela by Hugo Chavez, the president who recently attempted – unsuccessfuly, thank goodness – to get himself voted president for life. I know I am preaching to the coverted around here by pointing out the sheer folly of what this thug is attempting, but sometimes you have to keep pointing to such examples lest people in other parts of the world forget just what a disaster state central planning is.
It never fails to strike me how such a resource-rich nation like Venezuela can be ruined by a political operator like Chavez, and contrast that with how a small colony, with hardly any resources at all apart from sheer entrepreneurial spirit, like Hong Kong, can rise to be one of the richest places on the planet.
For a great guide to some of the key drivers of wealth in countries down the ages, this classic by David Landes is greatly recommended.
Last week, as I was wandering around a slightly shabby (but brightly coloured) neighbourhood of Santiago, I encountered the following restaurant, which was sadly closed at the time of day I visited.
It is likely that if a restaurant put up such a sign in Britain or America, it would soon receive a cease and desist letter from DC Comics or some other branch of Time Warner. However, despite the fact that the Chileans were undoubtedly required to enact some ghastly DMCA-like concoction as a consequence of the negotiations that led to the United States / Chile Free Trade Agreement, enforcement is somewhat laxer than it would be in Europe or North America.
This is, in my opinion, a good thing. If such a sign were taken down, there would be no consideration of the most important question related to it, which is What in the name of Apocatequil were these people smoking?
… to be in government. Making the country a ‘better place’ comes a distant second.
Alex Singleton (of this parish) has an article up on Brassneck titled Hugo Chavez is blinded by ideology. He points out the foolishness of Hugo Chavez’s ‘concerns’ about a small British owned cocoa estate in Venezuela, given that a nationalised estate is highly unlikely to be able to reproduce the alleged high quality of Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s operation.
But that presupposes that Hugo Chavez gives a damn about the economic consequences of his actions. I think he is far from ‘blind’ to the implication of his policies, more likely he simply does not see them as particularly relevant to politics… and everything Chavez does is about politics. The only real reason that a small British owned operation would attract the attention of someone like ‘El Duce’ is he sees political benefit in being seen to move against a ‘foreign’ business, never mind how many locals it employs or what local goods and services the business uses. It is important to remember that his power base is motivated primarily by envy and not by their own wealth directly, or lack thereof.
In other words, the sort of people in Venezuela who support a demagogic national socialist like Chavez would react well to sticking it to a Brit and the net economic weal of the nation has very little to do with it. Chavez is the government and getting people to support the government is all that matters to a creature like him. And as that is what his supporters want, if such an approach writ large destroys the Venezuelan economy, people are only getting exactly what they voted for. Personally I think his supporters deserve every day they live in abject poverty, something that will continue for the foreseeable future under their government of choice… pity about the rest however.
Granted I am somewhat indifferent to democracy, seeing it as nothing more than a tool for securing limited government (at best) or a mechanism for legitimising proxy theft (at worst), but as so many leftists make such a song and dance about the importance of democracy, it is remarkable to see people like Mexican Hugo Chavez wannabe Lopez Obrador casting it aside when he does not like the way it is headed. His supporters simply seized control of the chambers of both houses of Congress back on 10th April so that they could block government proposals to ease restrictions on private investment in the state oil industry. Obrador does not like the fact he cannot democratically get the results he wants, so he just stops debate on the subject in congress completely. Fair enough. If I was the Mexican government, I would just start ruling by edict until the democratic institutions become functional again, or failing that, just send in the riot cops with instructions to bust some heads to remove some political trespassers.
People opposed to Obrador have made a very effective advertisement likening him to sundry totalitarian thugs. However Obrador has demanded this advertisement be ordered off the air by Mexico’s federal electoral authority, indicating as well as disliking democratic processes he cannot control, he also does not believe in freedom of expression. Quelle surprise.
Well due to the magic of the internet… here it is.
Here’s this gem from Reuters:
Cuba seeks more user-friendly socialism
There is something almost pathetic about the following paragraph from Reuters, as if the ability of people to trade with one another is some sort of wonderful present given by Father Christmas, rather than an extension of the basic right of every human to sustain life and flourish happily:
Seriously, these steps represent real progress. If the reforms are real, it clearly makes sense for the US and other countries to lift sanctions against the country. A sharp dose of free trade should put a stake in the heart of the failed Marxist experiment in that island for good.
Meanwhile, let’s hope sanity eventually returns across the Atlantic in Zimbabwe. Surely, one of the great lessons of the 20th century, continuing to this day in Cuba, Zimbabwe or for that matter, Venezuela, is that state central planning is a disaster, whether applied to agriculture or anything else.
Hugo Chavez, the paleo-socialist who is working tirelessly to turn Caracas into Pyongyang, has threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States due to actions brought against the Venezuelan government in British, Dutch and US courts by ExxonMobil. Following the freezing of $12 billion in assets by a British court, Chavez said:
And your word for the day, Mister Chavez, is ‘fungible’.
If his intention is to sell Venezuelan oil to no one, he will push up the price to everyone, that much is true. And of course that also means he is cutting off the cash flow being used to finance the Glorious Bolivarian Revolution. Your call, El Presidente.
If on the other hand he intends to sell Venezuelan oil to anyone except the USA (and presumably the UK and Netherlands as well as they have also been crossed off his Christmas Card list), then… who cares? As oil is fungible, it just goes into a big global market and what does it matter if Venezuelan oil goes to China instead of the USA when all it means is that someone else’s oil will take its place?
Fidel Castro is on the mend and is ready to resume a political role, according to Brazillian President Luis Inacio Lula de Silva.
Very modest value indeed.
Venezuela is a case study of how democracy is no sure defence against tyranny and how it can actually be the means by which it comes about. I realise we already have the example of Germany in the 1930’s, but unlike the NSDAP, the democratic majority for Chavez was far less ambiguous than the ones that incrementally brought Hitler to power.
It was interesting to note how many on the left (with many honourable exceptions I must add) have supported the establishment of a state television monopoly in Venezuela once the Chavez regime announced it was going to shut down anti-government station Rádio Caracas Televisión.
However is good to see people on the street marching in defiance of Hugo Chavez. Will it make any difference? In the short run, probably not, but it is never wrong to make a stand against a tyrant regardless of how popular he may be.
This has to rank as one of the strangest reports I have read so far this year:
I find clowns deeply irritating but surely lethal force is a little excessive. Don’t they have custard pies in that part of the world?
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