Saturday, May 14, 2016

BBC News — Maduro orders seizure of shut factories


Going Galt in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, has ordered the seizure of factories that have stopped production and the jailing of their owners.
In a speech to supporters in the capital Caracas, he said the country had to recover the means of production, to counter its deep economic crisis.

On Friday, he introduced a new, nationwide state of emergency.
Now we learn why there is no toilet paper or beer.
The move to seize closed factories came after Venezuela's largest food and beverage company, the Polar Group, halted production of beer, blaming government mismanagement for stopping it importing barley.
The group's billionaire owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, is a fierce critic of President Maduro.
"We must take all measures to recover productive capacity, which is being paralysed by the bourgeoisie," Mr Maduro told a rally in Caracas.
BBC News
Maduro orders seizure of shut factories

34 comments:

Matt Franko said...

Prime opportunity down there for co-op institutional type production.... Clean slate to start from....

Dan Lynch said...

I wish Maduro luck but, like Dilma Rousseff and Jimmy Carter, he seems to be in over his head.

Either Maduro takes bold action to turn the economy around or else neoliberal soft coup here we come.

Matt Franko said...

Dan it has to come from "bottom up" if it is going to happen...

Nothing stopping any group from forming co-ops down there to produce consumer staples.... beer... toilet paper... this aint rocket science...

Dan Lynch said...

Paper mills are capital intensive. The price of toilet paper is regulated in Venezuela so there is little financial incentive to ramp up toilet paper production for domestic consumption.

Beer requires barley -- which requires land. I'm guessing the price of beer is regulated, too?

Venezuela's flavor of socialism seems to emphasize regulating prices and currency rates rather than seizing the means of production and planning the economy.

This is why there is no toilet paper in Venezuela

Matt Franko said...

"Capital intensive"

Whaaaaat is that..!?!

Dan Lynch said...

Expensive machinery, much of it imported.

Tom Hickey said...

The huge issue in development and growth is capital, both financial (investment) and real (capital goods, technology). Most think the countries have to get capital and are beholden to owners of capital goods.

This is the illusion that capitalism promotes to prevent people from realizing that as long as a currency sovereign has the power to tax in order to maintain price stability, it can issue unlimited financial capital at no actual cost since it funds its own interest payments if it issues debt.

Countries that have to important vital resources and technology are hampered if they need to obtain foreign reserves and cannot trade sufficiently to do so.

But the situation in Venezuela and many other countries is much more socially, politically and economically complex though, so there are no simple fixes.

The simplest fix is rule by an ownership class with repression of the rest. This is basically how neoliberalism works. It's just a matter of degree. The working calls is repressed to some degree even in the most developed countries.

Ralph Musgrave said...

There’s more on the dire toilet paper situation in Venezuela here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/venezuela-is-falling-apart/481755/?utm_source=atltw

On which subject, the UK ran short of toilet paper in the first world war, you’ll all be interested to know. Come WW11, my dad didn’t want a repeat of that, so he bought enough toilet paper to last several years.

Matt Franko said...

"as a currency sovereign has the power to tax in order to maintain price stability,"

That's monetarist Tom...

MMT (albeit sometimes): All prices are necessarily a function of what the govt pays for things and what they allow their fiscal agents to lend against things...

Dan Lynch said...

@Matt if the Venezuelan government pays $X for toilet paper but the rest of the world pays $Y for toilet paper, where Y > X, then why would anyone sell toilet paper in Venezuela for $X?

Good article, Ralph.

Despite all the hoopla about "socialism" in Venezuela, the government has by and large not seized the means of production (other than oil). What is failing in Venezuela is not socialism but basic governance.

Tom Hickey said...

"as a currency sovereign has the power to tax in order to maintain price stability,"

That's monetarist Tom..



Monetarism involves cb operations affecting cb assets and liabilities and interest rates. Everything I mentioned has to do with fiscal operations.

For example, a monetarist would say to either increase the reserve requirement or interest rates to control inflation, whereas a fiscalists would say to adjust spending and taxation. The issue with controlling the price level is controlling effective demand.

Some MMT'ers might say that controlling the interest rate is government controlling the price of munnie, which the monetary authority (US congress) delegates to the cb (Fed), so t's really MMT, but I don't know any actual MMT economists that advocate using interest rate setting rather than fiscal policy using functional finance

Calgacus said...

The primary solution to Venezuela's difficulties is not bottom-up or complex, but top-down and simple. Co-ops & planning & seizing the means of production are nice & Venezuela has been going in that direction, but they are not the real, urgent answer. Floating the exchange rate is the urgent, powerful, simple fix. Mark Weisbrot: Economic policy could determine the political results in Venezuela

Tom Hickey said...

The primary solution to Venezuela's difficulties is not bottom-up or complex, but top-down and simple.

Hardly "simple" from what I am reading. The problem is not chiefly economic but social and political.

It's beyond the ability of the Leftist government to handle and may people are concluding that the only viable solution is a right wing take over and suppression.

I would like to see Bolivarism succeed but the Boiivarists just don't seem to have the chops to bring the country together an make work. They can't even get the economics right, but the issues there and in Latin America in general go much deeper than than that, rooted in history and racism.

Tom Hickey said...

Same in Brazil. The complaint is that the removal of Rousseff cancelled 54 million votes, since none of those vote are presented in the new government. That's the point and the plan. It's about social stratification, political power and economic distribution. The traditional status quo ante Lula is reasserting itself.

The status quo ante Chavez is reasserting itself in Venezuela. Same in Argentina.

The US position in Cuba is to restore the status quo ante Castro under Batista.

Matt Franko said...

Calg it is not "free floating" it is regulated...

what you are describing is a situation where the Venezuela CB would hypo delegate the exchange of the VSD reserve assets for USD reserve assets to their fiscal agents... those fiscal agents all have LIMITED capital and will have to respond within those limits to price changes for other assets they are financing in either currencies...

Think of a demonstration of osmotic flow across a regulatory membrane in a U-tube arrangement.... if you had equivalent volume and concentrations on both sides at time 1, and were to add a measured amount of solute to one side (thus changing the concentration) somebody who was competent could draw a line on the other side of the tube with a sharpie marker EXACLTY where the new level of solution would go to...

the solution is NOT "FREE!" to go anywhere... IF you understand what is going on....

Ryan Harris said...

Floating the currency would fix 90% of the problem almost instantly. The next 10% would be to learn from China's and US success in using markets prices for assisting distribution but not investment allocation. The US and China heavily subsidise food production to ensure supplies are never constrained. Venezuela should let prices of staples be set by markets but subsidise investment by competing firms to ensure excess capacity and zero profits. Provide crop insurance at the bottom, to tax abatement at the processing plants, and eliminate all taxes at the retailers. Then ensure banks are encouraged to provide cheap financing. It is completely consistent with specialist values because it eliminates rent seeking when government promotes production and removes regulatory barriers that protect incumbents from competition.

Matt Franko said...

" it eliminates rent seeking when government promotes production"

LOL Ryan they are f-ing OPEC members ...

they are the kings of rent seeking....

they dont even know what the heck you are even talking about here might as well be speaking Martian.... the regime is going down for the count F them couldnt happen to a nicer bunch of monopolist SOB bastards...

Military is going to have to take over soon and their disgraced nation will have to re-organize...

Calgacus said...

Matt:Calg it is not "free floating" it is regulated -

What is "it" that is not free floating? Of course, governments can always regulate their side, but not the other side. So nobody is or can be that "competent" with a sharpie marker. Real competence is to not even seriously try to regulate, but basically apply laissez-faire - a managed or dirty float, a bit of accumulation of foreign reserves for very short term stabilization.

Bad economics always insists on domestic laissez-faire - where it cannot work in practice, or even ever happen, as it is a contradiction in terms, but pretends that there must be "intervention" in international affairs, where it is almost always destructive & not controllable, because of the existence of other states. And what a surprise - these (non)"interventions" always work to make the rich relatively or absolutely richer.

Tom:Hardly "simple" from what I am reading. The problem is not chiefly economic but social and political.

It's beyond the ability of the Leftist government to handle and may people are concluding that the only viable solution is a right wing take over and suppression.


What is so complicated, what is not economic about floating an exchange rate?

As Weisbrot says: "This is especially important in a country where much of the business class is hostile to the government: it does not make sense to give importers a huge subsidy and be confident that it will end up being used for its intended purpose."

Fixed rate lunacy subsidizes the opposition. It is really hard to win a war while shipping most of your arms production to an enemy. The real obstacle is in getting people to believe & understand how often such things are done through the smoke and mirrors of "finance". One suicidal action works very easily to outweigh thousands of productive ones that the Chavistas have succeeded with in greatly improving living standards. The answer, if you want to live, is not to work harder and more productively as almost all leftists or Marxists thoughtlessly suggest - but simply to stop acting suicidally.

Tom Hickey said...

What is so complicated, what is not economic about floating an exchange rate?

This issue is about capitalism v. socialism. Even if everything were humming under Bolivarismo, the same people would be agitating for change under some other pretext for social and political reasons in addition to economic. Wrt to economic issues they are interested in relative wealth rather than absolute wealth as a reflection of social and political stratification as will as economic.

The social context is also fundamental, poverty, racism, and all the problems that still beset the wealthy US but much more acute in Latin America. The political context is also key, that is, who holds power and enjoys privilege, but this is amplified by biological (genetic) and social differences (class background). Social exclusivity is dominant over social inclusivity.

Of course, if the Maduro government understood MMT and Post Keynesian they would actually have a chance at implementing a program that works economic. But doing so would require the cooperation or at least the compliance of the ownership class. That this would not be forthcoming is a given because they regard it as against their interests. The alternative is terminating the influence of the ownership class permanently one way or another. Castro had the good sense and a deep enough understanding of Marx-Engels to realize this at the outset and get the bourgeoisie off the island forcibly if necessary. If I were a socialist leader, I would just pay them to leave with a no-return contract and harsh penalties for doing so.

In the US the ownership class began working toward the ending of the New Deal from the moment of inception and they are still at it, having accomplished a great deal but not yet getting rid of SS and Medicare. Beginning with Newt Gingrich, the GOP adopted a strategy of obstruction whenever the opposition is in power, basically "going Galt." Many of them think exactly in those Rand terms. Americans also have to consider than the US has adopted a repressive policy to control the underclass, consisting largely of minorities, exclusion, intimidation and incarceration.

Economics alone is not going to solve these intersectional issues, which are socially and politically imbedded. It hasn't in the US, and Latin America is an even more problematic case. Europe is now confronting this with the influx of non-European refugees, although EU open borders also brought southern and eastern Europeans into the northern European countries, where they have been looked down upon historically.

Globalization, neoliberal and not, are resulting in tremendous foment and will for the remainder of the 21st century as humanity confronts its tribal roots, of which "nations" are aggregates.

nation (n.)
c. 1300, from Old French nacion "birth, rank; descendants, relatives; country, homeland" (12c.) and directly from Latin nationem (nominative natio) "birth, origin; breed, stock, kind, species; race of people, tribe," literally "that which has been born," from natus, past participle of nasci "be born" (Old Latin gnasci; see genus). Political sense has gradually predominated, but earliest English examples inclined toward the racial meaning "large group of people with common ancestry." Older sense preserved in application to North American Indian peoples (1640s).…
source

Bob said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_of_the_21st_century

Back to the drawing board, comrades ;)

Matt Franko said...

"What is "it" that is not free floating? Of course, governments can always regulate their side, but not the other side. So nobody is or can be that "competent" with a sharpie marker."

The exchange rates between fiscal agents are not "free floating"...

"but not the other side" : The govt DELEGATES the regulatory activity to 'the other side' ie their fiscal agents ..... their fiscal agents DO NOT have unlimited capital and the frequency response characteristic of this capital regulatory parameter of the fiscal agents does not match the response characteristics of their asset prices in the different currencies they are financing asset in vs the currency they have to regulatory report in ... so they have to exchange currency reserves within the system of fiscal agents that has a collective capital that is effectively fixed within short periods of time...

If one didnt understand osmosis, one might think the level of solute was "free floating" too...

Dan Lynch said...

@Tom said This issue is about capitalism v. socialism.

Following up on Bob's link, if you define socialism as public ownership of the (larger) means of production, then the Bolivarians are not even close to being socialists. The only major sector they have nationalized is oil, putting Venezuela in the same league as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Norway.

By contrast Keynes advocated nationalizing not just energy but also communications, transportation, and housing!

Sure, the right would be agitating to privatize Venezuela's oil even if the economy was humming, but the right would not get any traction if the economy was humming.

Capitalism vs. watered down socialism is part of the crisis, but the other part is bad management.

I am somewhat agnostic about economic systems -- it's my observation that both socialism and capitalism can either work decently or work poorly depending on how well or how badly they are managed. The Bolivarians seem to have good intentions but they suck at management.

Matt Franko said...

Dan they are manifest POS rent seekers...

Tom Hickey said...

In the eyes of the ownership class, anything less than them owning and controlling everything is "socialism." Socialism as public ownership of the means of production they viewed as communism. Socialism is the slippery slope to communism from their POV. This is the POV behind Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and Thatcher's TINA.

Calgacus said...

This issue is about capitalism v. socialism.

No, it is more about (extremely) stupid vs not-stupid. To maintain life, one has to do myriads of rational things. But it only takes one leap off of a tall building to die.

.. if the Maduro government understood MMT and Post Keynesian they would actually have a chance at implementing a program that works economic. But doing so would require the cooperation or at least the compliance of the ownership class. That this would not be forthcoming is a given because they regard it as against their interests. The alternative is terminating the influence of the ownership class permanently one way or another

Not in the least. The opposite is true & noted above. Not a bit more cooperation or compliance than exists right now is necessary - in fact somewhat less compliance would be OK. As Weisbrot points out above - it is fixed exchange, non-MMT/FF that "requires cooperation". People and nations reap great benefits from not doing suicidal things. It is perplexing how anyone can disagree.

Your response wildly exaggerates the power of "the ownership class" & minimizes the power that the government has right now. Chavez etc winning elections diminished their power quite well enough. Why would the ownership class bother to attempt & execute coups if it is always so much more powerful than the government? How could such potency ever lose an election or power?

The social context is also fundamental, poverty, racism, and all the problems that still beset the wealthy US but much more acute in Latin America.
This ignores Venezuela's successes - and the USA's in the past. The Bolivarians flattened the distribution of wealth & power & substantially raised living standards - so by your logic, which I agree with here, this has made them more powerful. But this logic also implies that if the government stopped enriching their opposition, the opposition would become less powerful - which contradicts the main thrust of the "Resistance is futile" position.

Again, compare it to a a war, with two roughly matched sides. I don't see anybody who disagrees with that assessment of the situation in Venezuela. If side A in a war has been sending but then stops sending most of its own arms production to side B, then A will almost certainly go from rough equality to quick victory. I can't see how anyone logical can disagree with that, or thus disagree with the parallel conclusion about Venezuela, unless they absolutely assume A's or the Bolivarians defeat as unquestionable and inevitable.

To recap: the structure of the argument is - given
(a) vaguely normal international commerce - as a major petrostate, Venezuela can certainly count on this.
(b) no military invasion, successful coup; that is no very major, external changes to the problems Venezuela's government faces
Then functional finance - here even just the part about not fixing exchange rates - and nothing else, will speedily return prosperity.

"The most potent weapon in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Greece showed and probably Venezuela will show how true this is again. Two of these "minds of oppressed" weapons are - (A) fixed exchange rate lunacy / belief in some magical international constraint on FF/MMT (confusion of neoliberalism & globalization/free trade is a form of this)& (B) unreasoning defeatism. B got Greece & A is getting Venezuela. There is far to much of both everwhere, even here.

Calgacus said...

Matt: I find it hard to understand you, or whether we even disagree. My point is that it is absurd to call foreign exchange a system which is regulated by one side, where one side can act and predict levels with a sharpie marker. You can't do that in the physical osmosis situation either: If you "were to add a measured amount of solute to one side" then nobody could predict the levels - if there were some other guy on the other side adding an amount he measures. So suggesting it is unilaterally "regulated" is much more misleading than the usual word "floating".

Tom Hickey said...

Latin America strives to run based on "democratic" elections to the degree possible given the level of corruption there. The balance between left and right is very close in most countries and it is pretty easy to argue that elections have been"stolen" through various means, election fraud, vote buying, etc. So right out of the gate many regimes are put in question.

There is constant organization on the losing side to challenge the winning side and to remove it from power if possible legally and at least in a coup that has the appearance of legality. In the past there have been many outright coups, but that is a last resort because of the political odor involved.

The ownership class in Latin America controls the media, which is regularly weaponized again the left. The also control the other major levels of economic power that are not state-owned. This is a chief reason for the drive for privatization there. Just as disgruntled workers can slow down production or strike, so can owners, and they have much more power than labor to affect the economy.

The recent success of the left in Latin America was due largely to the commodity boom that allowed the left to fund welfare projects, because they need foreign exchange (USD) for many vital imports and well as discretionary stuff that many people have become accustomed to and believe they need for comfort and enjoyment. Due to corruption in Latin America a significant portion of finance flows to corruption.

Add to this longstanding social issues based on class structure, political power, and economic distribution, based largely on racism since the population of Latin American is largely indigenous, African, or mixed race. In Brazil, for instance, Temer's cabinet is entirely white rich men, many under investigation for corruption, which doesn't reflect the social, political and economic demographics at all, but rather represents the actual power structure in the country. since Lula was elected, this cohort has been seeking a way to return to power with the appearance of legality.

The same is occurring in Venezuela. Compare Chavez with Lula, and Maduro with Rousseff. The cases are almost on all fours. The right never accepted the outcome a close election and immediately began creating an environment in which Maduro could be forced out or removed from power. They are close to succeeding.

The Financial Times tweeted yesterday that the opposition in the streets of Venezuela opposing Maduro is so strong he should just resign. I tweeted by, So your are advocating for mob rule. Maduro is the elected president.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

There is no way that the world's people are going to get a fair shake under the present order prevailing in the West, call it what you want — "capitalism, "neoliberalism," or "constitutional democracy." The power is aligned against that. Tweaks can improve the situation but until that order is replaced by a more inclusive one, there is no lasting fix. They'll always be back.

My view is that Marx got essentially correct in saying:

No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.

Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.


The present social order is still in the process of rising and the wave has not yet begun to crest. There is some way to go before the present order gives way to a new order, either by evolution or revolution. But that's not an excuse for fighting the good fight as one sees it, either to improve the present order or to change it for a new order. There are some good tweaks on the table, but only the outlines of a new order are visible at present.

Tom Hickey said...

The quote above is from eface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

Bob said...

When an incompetent government attempts to cling to power, as is the case in Venezuela, I wish them good riddance. That they may be a 'lesser evil' than their replacement is not an excuse to defend them.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/05/17/vene-m17.html

While the late Chavez and his successor Maduro proclaimed their policy to be that of “Bolivarian socialism” or “Twenty-first century socialism,” they have led a capitalist government that has defended private property in an economy in which a greater share of production was in the hands of the private sector than before Chavez became president.
The limited social assistance programs initiated under Chavez served, as he himself boasted, to protect the rich by reducing the immense class tensions in what historically has been one of the continent’s most unequal nations.

Meanwhile, on the strength of rising oil prices, the financial sector reaped record profits, while a layer known as the boliburguesia, composed of government officials and businessmen with ties to the government, enriched themselves off of corruption, smuggling and currency manipulation schemes that siphoned hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy.

As the present crisis demonstrates, the government failed to either develop vital infrastructure or diversify the national economy to reduce its dependence upon oil exports, 40 percent of which went to the US market.

With the collapse in oil prices, the ability to maintain social programs and subsidized imports has evaporated, and the full weight of the crisis is being imposed upon the backs of the working class.

Reduced revenues that could go to buy desperately needed food and medicine are instead being directed by the Maduro government to meet interest and service charges on Venezuela’s debt to the international banks. It has rigorously denied reports that it will default on some $10.5 billion in debt servicing costs that come due this year.

Bob said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boliburguesía

Calgacus said...

Bob: While the view of WSWS can be worth reading, they are frequently factually challenged and illogical, as here.

When an incompetent government attempts to cling to power, as is the case in Venezuela, I wish them good riddance.
The government is basically competent, sensible and well-meaning - certainly better in almost all respects than any recent administration in the USA. They do one suicidally stupid thing, which has been wrecking all their other achievements.

That they may be a 'lesser evil' than their replacement is not an excuse to defend them.
It is in my book. One, easy, essential, top-down fix that requires no revolutionary zeal is the essential and decisive change.

Meanwhile, on the strength of rising oil prices, the financial sector reaped record profits, while a layer known as the boliburguesia, composed of government officials and businessmen with ties to the government, enriched themselves off of corruption, smuggling and currency manipulation schemes that siphoned hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy.

The problem is not that the boliburguesia attached to the government is enriching itself, but that the government is massively, psychotically subsidizing its "ownership class" opposition & destroying the value of its own currency.

As the present crisis demonstrates, the government failed to either develop vital infrastructure or diversify the national economy to reduce its dependence upon oil exports, 40 percent of which went to the US market.
Floating automatically does the second. As Weisbrot notes, the current crisis is doing this. They have made efforts to do it. But the overvalued exchange rate subsidizes imports which crushes the national economy & more than undoes their other efforts.

With the collapse in oil prices, the ability to maintain social programs and subsidized imports has evaporated

The first - good social programs maintain themselves, and the Bolivarians many good ones have. The second - subsidized imports is not a good thing - the problem is to wean oneself off of them in a non-catastrophic way. Again, (multiple) wacky, fixed rates is the problem. Venezuela is so rich naturally that it takes spectacular stupidity & ignorance - far worse than mismanagement or corruption - to create the problems it has. The ability to do these things haven't evaporated, if it had sane finance. The "shipping arms to the enemy" comparison is no exaggeration, so the simplicity, enormous benefit and ease of the fix is no exaggeration either.

Reduced revenues that could go to buy desperately needed food and medicine are instead being directed by the Maduro government to meet interest and service charges on Venezuela’s debt to the international banks. It has rigorously denied reports that it will default on some $10.5 billion in debt servicing costs that come due this year.

A major problem is that the boliburguesia isn't big enough. Too much of the essential import & distribution networks are in the hands of the opposition - to an extent and behaving in a way that in the USA would be unthinkable, and call down massive force from state or national governments. There is plenty or revenue and oil to pay off banks, and to buy needed imports - if they stop giving an enormous cut of the oil revenue to people who are trying to bring down the government.

Bob said...

The government is basically competent, sensible and well-meaning - certainly better in almost all respects than any recent administration in the USA. They do one suicidally stupid thing, which has been wrecking all their other achievements.

The road to hell can be paved by good intentions. Being suicidally stupid guarantees that this journey will end in tragedy. I wouldn't allow an individual, let alone a government, to persist in that behavior.

It is in my book. One, easy, essential, top-down fix that requires no revolutionary zeal is the essential and decisive change.

It requires economic competence, which the well-intentioned but inept Venezuelan government lacks.

The problem is not that the boliburguesia attached to the government is enriching itself, but that the government is massively, psychotically subsidizing its "ownership class" opposition & destroying the value of its own currency.

Yet you will argue that the boliburgeusia is not large enough!

Venezuela is so rich naturally that it takes spectacular stupidity & ignorance - far worse than mismanagement or corruption - to create the problems it has. The ability to do these things haven't evaporated, if it had sane finance. The "shipping arms to the enemy" comparison is no exaggeration, so the simplicity, enormous benefit and ease of the fix is no exaggeration either.

All the more reason to remove them from power.

A major problem is that the boliburguesia isn't big enough. Too much of the essential import & distribution networks are in the hands of the opposition - to an extent and behaving in a way that in the USA would be unthinkable, and call down massive force from state or national governments. There is plenty or revenue and oil to pay off banks, and to buy needed imports - if they stop giving an enormous cut of the oil revenue to people who are trying to bring down the government.

Let's see... in Nigeria the looting and corruption is largely in the hands of those in power. That country is not doing too well, but I suppose that's because the government of Nigeria is not as well-intentioned.

The problem is that Maduro will never implement a fix as you describe. Instead, he has made appeals to God (to bring back $100+ price for oil presumably). It is a foregone conclusion that this government has got to go. Their achievements, apart from having done very well for themselves, is to return Venezuela to where it was 25 years ago.

Calgacus said...

Bob: "Remove them from power" is fantasy, for the alternative is much worse. The "well-intentioned" Venezuelan government did very well by Venezuela until recently - it wasn't only intentions - and it wasn't only due to oil prices. Their ineptness / "evil" is concentrated in one very widespread but insane idea, which they - and many Marxists, tragically identify as "leftist". It is possible that Maduro could listen to reason - and it might not be too late - who has a crystal ball?

Tom: That's a very Hegelian quote from Marx, a disciple of Hegel, and could be replaced by any number from the mighty thinker. So as a fellow pupil, I cannot disagree. But a century and half have passed since then. IMHO, "the material conditions for their existence have matured" etc. quite sufficiently, and for some time.

owners, and they have much more power than labor to affect the economy.
No, they don't. Unfortunately the owners are the ones who understand that.

There is no way that the world's people are going to get a fair shake under the present order prevailing in the West, call it what you want — "capitalism, "neoliberalism," or "constitutional democracy." The power is aligned against that.

Again, this grossly exaggerates "their" power, ignores how "their" hands are tied, and mistakes what true power is and where it is. Countries like Venezuela or Greece have been undone by nothing but bad ideas, which are far more powerful than all the tools that the prevailing neoliberal order has at its disposal. Economic tools outside of embargoes and blockades are impotent against fun finance - How could they be effective against the country with the world's biggest oil reserves, or the country with the world's biggest shipping fleet? Please. Venezuela or Greece is not going to be invaded. The "fair shake" needed is no blockade, no invasion - and the fantasy is thinking that these things are going to happen. The only other thing left are coups, but that didn't work in Venezuela and would have been very unlikely in Greece.

Tweaks can improve the situation but until that order is replaced by a more inclusive one, there is no lasting fix. They'll always be back.

Again, we differ very much about what are "tweaks" and what is "revolutionary". If I finally post something at my blog with relevant quotes from Marx & Trotsky (& maybe others), I hope some will reconsider that the JG etc might not be much more than a tweak.

They'll always be back.
So they'll be back. Time to laugh at them, then, if & when the people on the bottom stop being their own worst enemy. Many of them have. Andre Vltchek's counterpunches like Do Western Leftists Hate Socialist Countries?, How to Fight Western Propaganda & Half of Humanity Now Forms the ‘Resistance’ are a good corrective to rampant defeatism.

Mao famously said that political power flows from the barrel of a gun. (Hey, it worked for Sheriff Bart.) But looking at the context of that statement, I think it is clear that the librarian of Beijing University would have agreed that even more important than the gun - is knowing which way to point it - at the guy you are fighting, not your own head.