Sunday, June 12, 2016

Radical tourists have been deluded pimps for Venezuela
...Never underestimate the power worship of those who claim to speak for the powerless, or the credulity of the supposedly wised-up critical theorist. For those who yearn in their dark hearts for strong men, who can crush all enemies, Chavismo reeked of machismo, and provided the great leaders they could adore.

“Hated by the entrenched classes,” burbled a star-struck and grief-stricken Oliver Stone on the day of the leader’s death, “Hugo Chávez will live for ever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”...

...I could go on, but a last desperate excuse needs to be dismissed. Every oil-producing economy has been hit by falling prices, but none, not even states as ill-governed as Nigeria and Russia, has experienced the social collapse of Venezuela. Even they did not engage in the Weimar-scale money-printing of the Chavista regime. Even they, despite all the stout efforts of their leaders, were not as corrupt as the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela. Transparency International puts Venezuela among the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world. First Chávez and then Maduro did, indeed, redistribute oil wealth to the poor, but they distributed most of it to their clients....

...The thoughts of Venezuelans, who watched as westerners treated their country as an ideological playground, cannot be dismissed lightly, either. “There should be a special circle in hell for them,” Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, told me. The regime shot his mother and jailed his Venezuelan father. It holds his cousin, the opposition leader, Leopoldo López, as a political prisoner because he had the nerve to oppose it. Halvorssen thinks the Chavistas would not have gone so far in debasing the constitution and looting the state if it had not been able to count on a herd of bovine leftists mooing down all who raised concerns about fundamental rights....

The Venezuelan Effort to Build a New Food and Agriculture System
....In early 2009, as the financial crisis dominated headlines, Chávez made a similar promise: “Despite the world financial crisis, Venezuela’s agrarian revolution will not be detained.”37 The recent decline in oil prices has led some to wonder what will become of the Bolivarian Revolution and its social programs and to point to reliance on oil wealth for social spending as a strategic flaw. Others, however, see the government using its oil wealth to diversify the economy and to build new systems that will ultimately sustain themselves. This is what Chávez claims to be doing with respect to the country’s food sovereignty efforts. A promising indication is that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization recently recognized Venezuela as having taken necessary steps to strengthen its ability and that of its neighbors to withstand the worsening global food crisis.37 As other countries throughout the world, including the United States, grapple with food issues amid global crises, perhaps they can learn from the experience of Venezuela, where political will and community empowerment are forming the basis for food sovereignty.

Marching in Place
The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that Socialism, in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle classes. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting. This last type is surprisingly common in Socialist parties of every shade; it has perhaps been taken over en bloc from the old Liberal Party. In addition to this there is the horrible —- the really disquieting —- prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

One day this summer I was riding through Letchworth when the bus stopped and two dreadful-looking old men got on to it. They were both about sixty, both very short, pink, and chubby, and both hatless. One of them was obscenely bald, the other had long grey hair bobbed in the Lloyd George style. They were dressed in pistachio-coloured shirts and khaki shorts into which their huge bottoms were crammed so tightly that you could study every dimple. Their appearance created a mild stir of horror on top of the bus. The man next to me, a commercial traveller I should say, glanced at me, at them, and back again at me, and murmured ‘Socialists’, as who should say, ‘Red Indians’. He was probably right-—the I.L.P. [Independent Labor Party] were holding their summer school at Letchworth. But the point is that to him, as an ordinary man, a crank meant a Socialist and a Socialist meant a crank. Any Socialist, he probably felt, could be counted on to have something eccentric about him. And some such notion seems to exist even among Socialists themselves. For instance, I have here a prospectus from another summer school which states its terms per week and then asks me to say ‘whether my diet is ordinary or vegetarian’. They take it for granted, you see, that it is necessary to ask this question. This kind of thing is by itself sufficient to alienate plenty of decent people. And their instinct is perfectly sound, for the food-crank is by definition a person willing to cut himself off from human society in hopes of adding five years on to the life of his carcase; that is, a person out of touch with common humanity.
-- George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier