Archive for June 4th, 2005

Barrack Socialism by Eduardo Mayobre

June 4, 2005


Economist
Eduardo Mayobre wrote this article in El Nacional, that I think is quite interesting


Barrack socialism
by Eduardo Mayobre

An old and dear friend of mine who died recently -Guillermo Pimentel-used to
say that adjectives were more useful for hiding the truth than to elucidate it.
When one says “a babe” everyone knows what you are talking about. But
when you say “a true babe” the statement becomes ambiguous. The same
happens with socialism. If you say “socialism” we know we are
referring to social ownership of the means of production, but if you speak of
“XXIst. century socialism” nobody knows what you are talking about.

In our country what little there is of socialism-if we understand it without
adjectives- we owe to Accion Democratica: the nationalization of iron ore and
oil, as well as some minor nationalizations that were later reverted during the
time that privatizations became fashionable. We would have to add to that what
is left of the state enterprises that drove the development of Puerto Ordaz and
Guayana. The agrarian reform of 1961 also made public property of a good part
of the land of the country. There they are today, even if many remain idle.

The decade of the nineties reverted the process of socialization of the means
of production initiated in the sixties and seventies. In that sense, one could
say that in the same way that the decade of the eighties is characterized as
the “lost decade”, that of the nineties could be characterized as the
“the kneel down decade” in which Governments allowed themselves to be
seduced by the siren songs of “globalization” and
modernization”. As a consequence, what little there was of socialism
receded substantially.

So far in the XXI’st century there has not been a single advance in the
socialization of the means of production. Thus, we have yet to see socialism in
this century. Up to now, it is nothing more than a concealing adjective. In the
oil area, as an example, private and multinational oil production increase all
the time, as the production of public companies declines. If we tried to be
understanding, we could say that perhaps there has been socialization in the
means of distribution-Mercal would be one case-but up to now it is difficult
for us to find a single case of socialization of the means of productions. That
is, of socialism.

Which leads us to ask: What is the qualification of “XXIst. century”
trying to hide when it refers to socialism? The answer is so obvious that it
almost shames me to write it. It tries to cover up the most evident
characteristic of this Government: its militarism.

Given the undeniable attraction of the idea of socialism, all Governments in countries
under development, in our case Venezuela,
have tried to be “socializing”. In the case of the social Christians,
which later due to a commendable Christian regret, called itself Christian
democrats, the Government of Luis Herrera spoke of the “communitarian
society” as a way od adopting a certain socialist tendency. At that time,
the adjective also threw us off base, because nobody ever knew what the
“communitarian” part meant.

Following that example, we could know talk about “barrack socialism”
to attempt to clarify what is meant by this new century socialism Because, for
now, instead of the social ownership of
the means of production, the only thing one can see is the leading role or
protagonism of some of the members of the Armed Forces (now called the
“Armed Force” because much like in monotheism, it is only possible to
adore one true God)

Said in a few words: more than XXIst. century socialism we have XXIst. Century militarism. One has to recognize that in
our national history, militarism has had much more importance than socialism.
For example, Juan Vicente Gomez and Marcos Perez Jimenez had more influence in
molding national life than Gustavo Machado or Salvador de la Plaza. From which
you could extract the conclusion that “the process” due to its
military character, is more Venezuelan.

In his book Venezuela,
Politics and Oil, Romulo Betancourt entitled a section-referring to the period
1948-1958- “the military neofascism functioning as Government”.
Perhaps saying “neofacism” was an exaggeration typical of the character
of the leader from Guatire, but it would also be equally wrong to qualify as socialism
the orientation of the new military regime that is currently governing us. Even
if it has the blessing of Fidel Castro, of whom one still does not know if he
is more of a socialist than military. But at least he took seriously the notion
of the social ownership of the means production.

In our poor Latin America, the
“isms” have served to justify all of the military oppressions that
have scorched us since independence. Bolivarianism, justicialism, corporativism
and modernism, have served as excuses for personal and group ambitions of
power. It now appears to be the turn of socialism. But because socialism has a respectable
tradition that includes thinkers of the stature of Karl Marx, Rose Luxemburg
and Edward Bernstein you have to put adjectives to it. now it has become XXIst.
Century socialism. The mere ideal of Norberto Ceresole. Or, for older people,
the New National Ideal, the slogan of Marcos Perez Jimenez. We have already
bumped into that socialism. It is a socialism that would make the idealists of
the XIXth. Century cry and would make the authentic socialists of the XXth.
century blush. Those like the leaders of the Spanish Republic,
or like Salvador Allende or Pablo Neruda or Albert Camus or Jean Paul Sartre,
who never thought that socialism was a military adventure.

Things that make you go umm…

June 4, 2005


–The US Ambassador to Venezuela
visits the President of the Supreme Court and openly tells the press that he
can visit the US
on official missions, but not on personal ones…umm.

–Chavez says
the hawks in the Pentagon want to kill him. Castro says
the US
wants to kill Chavez. Vice President Rangel says
the CIA wants to kill Chavez….umm.

–El
Nacional says that decrees in 1997 by the Minister of Energy and Mines authorized
heavy oil partnership Sincor to produce the amount that the Minister of Oil
said last week in his National Assembly testimony that was illegal and the
company should pay US$ 1 billion in back royalties over the “illegal”
production…umm.

–The
Governor of Carabobo state said, despite the Supreme Court telling him that he
can not make use of land without following legal procedures that he will
continue expropriating lands he needs…umm.

–Courts
reversed this week fines imposed on two TV stations for showing ads (mostly
political) at discount or no price…umm.

–Officers
graduation class in the military “High Staff” course chose
Fidel Castro
as the “godfather” of their class…umm.

–Prosecutor
determines Lopez Catillos’s parents were
innocent
…will someone apologize? What happens the day they determine their
dead son, killed by the police, was also innocent?…umm.

–Professor
Saez Merida dies after more than thirty days in intensive care after being
assaulted by robbers, cops show up at funeral to take body away as “evidence”,
wife refuses to hand him over…umm.

–Chavez
gives a speech to Mision Ribas (high school) graduating class. He said material
things have no value, points to his jacket and tie and says they have no
value. A guy shouted “Give me the tie then”…umm.

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