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Samizdata quote of the day

After years of having their dignity drained from them by corrupt, ruthless and cold men, Venezuelans are now fighting for their freedom and demanding an end to an illegitimate regime.

They know what so many in this country do not, which is that Venezuela has, indeed, shown the world that another way is possible. It has exposed to the world an inhumane dictatorship whose coercive ideology has brought brutality, mass poverty, disease, and tremendous suffering to its people. And the name for that system? As Mr Corbyn told us himself, it’s called socialism.

– Conservative MP Priti Patel

All that the socialists now have to agree about is at what point real socialism in Venezuela was abandoned, betrayed, done wrong, blah blah. Kristian Niemietz is good on this subject. His point being, as explicated in this IEA podcast, that if real socialism was supposedly driven off a cliff by bad or stupid people, its inherent tendency to slide towards and then go over that cliff, no matter who is driving, need not be faced.

25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Runcie Balspune

    Corbyn claims to be pro-democracy, and being a Bennite, encompassing Benn’s famous 5th question – “how do we get rid of you”, but when the Chavez regime (that he supported) got rid of presidential term limits, then that was probably the obvious realization the government had taken a sharp left turn towards the cliff, but Corbyn didn’t say anything, because he’s a socialist, and that’s what socialists do, and that is what Corbyn will do – consolidating power, so he probably approved that as well.

  • John B

    ‘After years of having their dignity drained from them by corrupt, ruthless and cold men,’

    Which is what they voted for, despite warnings, like the people in Zimbabwe and South Africa because… lots of free stuff, magic money tree, and kick ‘the rich’.

    Gets a low score on my Sympathiometer.

  • bobby b

    John B
    January 28, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    “Gets a low score on my Sympathiometer.”

    You really ought to cut them some slack. The Oppo’s tried an election boycott (which in hindsight only works if you can shame the would-be dictator out of persisting, and there’s no shame in Maduro) which cut the expected total number of votes down below half, and even that number was suspected of being driven by fraud.

    So you have a country taken prisoner by the 25% that are rabid looters, and the looters’ guns and soldiers and press and money and control . . .

  • All that the socialists now have to agree about is at what point real socialism in Venezuela was abandoned, betrayed, done wrong, blah blah

    Clearly the date has to be:

    – Firstly, well after Corbyn (and Abbot, Milne, Owen Jones et al) last praised Venezuelan socialism. (The most recent time I recall is June 2015, when Corbyn praised Venezuela’s socialist achievements to the skies in a major speech.)

    – Secondly, around the time British lefties began explaining that Chavez had not implemented true socialism in Venezuela. For example, in August 2017, Ken Livingstone said:

    One of the things that Chávez did when he came to power, he didn’t kill all the oligarchs. There was about 200 families who controlled about 80% of the wealth in Venezuela. He allowed them to live, to carry on. I suspect a lot of them are using their power and control over imports and exports to make it difficult and to undermine Maduro.”

    (This public criticism of Chavez was too soon for Corbyn, who remained silent, but it raised echoes in some of his Labour party colleagues.)

    – Thirdly, before (but presumably not long before, or else he was negligent) Corbyn began to work seriously on deleting his many fulsome praises of Venezuela. One embarrassing post was deleted at the end of August 2017, but Jeremy only deleted his facebook account in April 2018, and while rumour has it this was mostly to hide its anti-semitic flavour, remarks on Venezuela vanished too.

    So all socialists clearly did not agree in August 2017, but by April 2018 Corbyn was at least no longer pointedly disagreeing.

  • My favourite reposte to the “it’s not real socialism” line is: Of course it isn’t. There has never been real socialism. Likewise, there has never been real capitalism.

    But we’ve had multiple examples of “almost-socialism”, and every one has ended in poverty, corruption, starvation and death. And there’s been a few “almost-capitalisms”, which gave us a hundred years of the fastest improvement in man’s wellbeing in history, in the first hundred years of the USA, and the island miracles of Hong Kong and Singapore.
    Why would anyone want to go anywhere near “real” socialism?

    btw that’s not original but I can’t remember the source; would appreciate a h/t if anyone recognises it.

  • His point being, as explicated in this IEA podcast, that if real socialism was supposedly driven off a cliff by bad or stupid people, its inherent tendency to slide towards and then go over that cliff, no matter who is driving, need not be faced.

    C’mon, you’re not chicken, are ya, Micklethwait?

  • pete

    I don’t feel too sorry for the Venezuelans.

    They chose to elect Chavez in the first place so they’ve brought this mess upon themselves to a large extent.

  • Pete (January 28, 2019 at 5:06 pm), you are right that a majority of the Venezuelan electorate cannot blame anyone but their own foolish votes for starting their descent down to their miserable circumstances today. However I feel sorry for those Venezuelans who never voted for socialism, and have sympathy for those who stopped doing so some time ago. Among other things, I feel it prudent to do so. I felt sorry for this blog’s US contributors when Obama won, and would have felt sorrier for them if Hillary had. I hope never to have Corbyn as Prime Minister, but prudentially reserve the right to feel sorry for myself if tis ever so. 🙂

  • bloke in spain

    If you’ve ever had any experience of Venezuelans, or most S. Americans for that matter, you’ll know that the majority have only a loose familiarity with the concept of cause & effect. S. Americans think in terms of luck & fortune. Above all in the intervention of deities. Primarily the Christian God, Christ, Mary & assorted saints. But La Luna, the moon goddess & other spirits both called up from European culture & the indigenous all make their appearance. Blame more than half a millennium of being under the thumb of the Catholic church. Superstition is embedded in the culture. So they’re very inclined to take politicians’ promises at face value & expect unlikely miracles.

  • rosenquist

    To see Latin American socialism done well look at Bolivia.
    Evo Morales is every bit as ‘militant’ as Chavez was and yet Bolivia’s rate of growth is double the Latin American average.

  • Eric

    I’ve been told by multiple leftists Chavez was a real socialist but Maduro’s corruption ruined the dream. So I think that’s where the line is, at least, as long as the bus driver is driving.

  • Blame more than half a millennium of being under the thumb of the Catholic church. Superstition is embedded in the culture. (bloke in spain, January 28, 2019 at 9:15 pm)

    Given what the Aztecs and Incas used to do to appease their very cruel deities, I think superstition was very well embedded in that culture before ever the catholics arrived, and they could reasonably be seen as improving the situation in that regard. Doubtless catholics can have their limitations in opposing secular socialists, but Don Camillo is not the only catholic who could justly feel that blaming socialist voters on him was a bit unfair. 🙂

  • TomJ

    Comrade Niemietz has identified 3 stages in fellow travelers’ reaction to a socialist regime.

    1. It’s wonderful.
    2. It’s being undermined by imperialists/kulaks/the CIA, and that explains anything that isn’t wonderful.
    3. It was never real socialism.

    He has also noted that some have reverted from stage 3 to stage 2 re: Venezuela, which is an unusual step. It’s probably because Trump has come out in favour of the democratically elected legislature’s action of appointing an interim President in the absence of a valid presidential election, in line with the Constitution.

  • Mr Ed

    In the early to mid-1980s, Venezuela was doing very well economically, in Portugal, the bureaux de change quoted the Venezuelan Bolivar, since so many Portuguese went to Venezuela to work. A Colombian I knew in the 1990s told me of a stereotype (i.e. a presumption that has a basis in experience) that Colombians had a tendency to dislike Venezuelan tourists in Colombian resorts as the Venezuelan rich looked down on the relatively poorer Colombians, and they had far greater spending power.

    Yet the Venezuelan inflicted a wound on themselves and now it is gangrenous.

    Some of them are good people. How many are protesting about their situation rather than the policies? How many would change anything that Chávez and Maduro have done?

    As I have said before, anyone who votes Labour does not deserve not to starve to death, for that is what they are asking for, socialism, and therefore, starvation, and not just to starve the rich, but themselves.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    A socialist might argue that when 2008 happened, and the banking system had to be bailed out by taxpayers, some of us ultra-liberal defenders of capitalism said that what had caused it was not capitalism, but interventionism, and that under “real capitalism”, such things would not occur.

    Now there are several ways I’d answer. First, I could point to examples of successful free markets (Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK for long periods of time, the US for long periods, etc; or compare and contrast West Germany and East Germnany, north vs South Korea, post-war Japan vs mainland Communist China under Mao, Pinochet’s Chile versus Chavez’s Venezuela, and so forth. There is lots of data on growth rates, relative living standards for the poorest, etc, etc.

    Another point is that free markets do not guarantee that there won’t be foul-ups but, as as historical evidence shows, if governments keep out of the way, the damage is limited, and the feedback mechanisms of bankruptcy and profit work more effectively than political fiat. Example: in the early 1920s, the US economy went into a short recession after WW1. Within 6 months, there was a recovery, and no government intervention. Similar episodes could be seen in periods of the 19th Century. By contrast, the New Deal was largely a failure on its terms of reducing massive unemployment; the Keynes-inspired policies of post-war Europe and the US were mixed in their effectiveness, and eventually blew up in the 1970s. And even when there were big market falls, as in 1987, etc, the situation recovered fairly rapidly. By contrast, there is little in the way of recovery from the numerous self-inflicted disasters of socialism too numerous to mention.

    So when a socialist says “you guys also claim that X or Y isn’t `real capitalism’,” free marketeers can respond that even mixed economies tend to recover from problems better than socialist ones, and that there are plenty of examples of red-blooded capitalism, and comparisons of systems, for the evidence to be clear.

  • bloke in spain

    @Niall Kilmartin
    And of course you can’t negate the influence of the Hindu deities on Anglo Saxon cultural development/sarc. You do realise you’re referring to cultures in totally different parts of the Americas?

  • bob sykes

    And in the US, the media, especially Fox, is whipping up war hysteria once again, as if Somalia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen were such great successes. Venezuela next, then Iran. Who next? I vote for Canada, a la Mort Sahl.

    The American people must have a death wish. Just like the Venezuelans voting for socialism, they keep voting for foreign wars, where their sons and daughters can be killed and crippled, and where hundreds of thousands, even millions, of foreign civilians can be killed or made homeless.

    There is no “Responsibility to Protect.” There should be no “foreign entanglements.”

  • Flubber

    “And in the US, the media, especially Fox, is whipping up war hysteria once again”

    Naah. There’s nothing in it for the Neocons.

    However I’m all for it if they draft Antifa.

  • You do realise you’re referring to cultures in totally different parts of the Americas? (bloke in spain, January 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm)

    Since you ask, yes, I know that.

    Do you in turn realise that, within the very first sentence of your post, you say “.. Venezuelans, or most S. Americans for that matter, …” and thereafter you speak only of South Americans in general. (Geographically, Mexico, where the Aztecs were, is in Central America, but culturally it is commonplace – for good reason – to treat the Rio Grande as the divide between North and South America.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The American people must have a death wish. Just like the Venezuelans voting for socialism, they keep voting for foreign wars, where their sons and daughters can be killed and crippled, and where hundreds of thousands, even millions, of foreign civilians can be killed or made homeless.”

    They keep voting for war at home, too. The “War on Drugs” has killed and crippled plenty of Americans.

    But I think it’s that a lot of Americans believe Freedom as a general principle is worth fighting for, and they think it’s especially praiseworthy to fight for the freedom of all mankind, not just themselves. They reject the selfish “Freedom for me, screw the rest” that many unAmericans seem to hold to. I think it’s admirable!

    They want to ‘Make America Great again’. And you don’t get to be ‘Great’ simply by being strongest or richest or most powerful. It’s really all about upholding the highest moral standards; being a better person. ‘Nobility’ in the better sense of the word.

    And I’m intensely grateful too. The freedom I enjoy today, other men and women fought and died for. They were mostly complete strangers to me. I’d want to ‘Do unto others’, and all that.

    But à chacun son goût.

  • Paul Marks

    Why can Priti Patel not be leader of the Conservative Party?

    As for Venezuela – price controls (telling people what prices they MUST sell at – or be punished by the state), and confiscating private production and replacing it with state ownership.

    That is a lot older than Karl Marx – for example it goes back to the Emperor Diocletian. Although the Emperor Diocletian did not have the “benefit” of paper money to create hyper inflation, or the benefit of international “intellectuals” (from academia and the media) suggesting ever more insane policies.

    Remember when you watch a television show or a Hollywood film – VENEZUELA is what the people who made that show or film WANT, they want that in Britain and the United States, and everywhere else. Perhaps best not to give them money. And certainly better not to give universities lots of money to brainwash your children with socialist propaganda – for where do you think the media got their ideas from? They got them from the schools and universities.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nullius,

    If you care to brave our currently somewhat coolish weather, please come on by and I will stand you several of the best, plus some rather good lamb chops at a place I know of.

    Thanks. :>)))

  • bobby b

    ” . . . our currently somewhat coolish weather . . . “

    It’s -35 F (-38 C)! We even cancelled snowmobiling tonight. At this temperature, exposed skin will freeze as soon as you seriously consider going outside, just out of fear.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    I hope that this turn of weather boosts membership of your chapter of Minnesotans for Global Warming, 😉 . I understand that hellish cold isn’t all bad. I read once that in the Winter War, at a sharpish -40 or so, a Finnish soldier survived a few Soviet bullets in the chest as the blood from his wounds froze and sealed them, and he walked to a field hospital.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Which is what they voted for, despite warnings, …

    This is not the issue, everybody deserves the government it voted for, good and hard.

    What is different is a government who decides to wreck democracy to cling to power indefinitely, I doubt a lot of people voted for that one, but it is too late now.

    Corbyn may be a self-styled cheerleader for democracy, but he’s already degrading the ability for Labour Party members to get rid of him and his ilk, and he’ll do the same for the country if he ever gets into power. He certainly didn’t complain when Chavez did it, he just bobbed his head as that is what good socialists do.

    The biggest problem with socialism is that it requires everyone else to be a socialist in order for it to work, so democracy becomes a bit of a hindrance when the non-socialists decide to get rid of it. Of course, socialists like Chavez and Corbyn do not get rid of democracy outright, they just rig the rules so the end result is the same; imprison or assassinate opposition, ban parties, violently crack down on illegal demonstrations, dissuade or delegitimise anyone who votes against them, etc.

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