Venezuela


#81

Many capitalist systems also end up authoritarian. I think that’s a false argument.

I believe in capitalism, but I also believe worker and consumer rights are just as important, because an unfair market is never a free market and thus it’s not capitalism. I guess that makes me a social democrat.


#82

It’s not a terrible surprise that Venezuela, like pretty much all the other places where people tried to implement some version of Marxism, ended up a disaster. Marx never envisioned the sort of transformations the twentieth century saw, from barely functioning or even failed economic systems to communism. He built his ideas on the progression through and from a successful bourgeois capitalist state and economy that had the wealth and the expertise to manage the transition to communism properly. It never happened that way, largely I think because once a state gets to that point of material success, um, the people don’t really want a revolution like Marx wanted, and the conditions that Engels documented in the mid-19th century ended up being substantially mitigated, largely because the folks in power weren’t totally stupid.

So, yeah, you take a post-colonial society like Venezuela, rife with corruption and with no tradition of economic vitality or real success, and no tradition of real democracy, and you plaster a socialist coat of stucco over it, and it’s not going to be very pretty.


#83

It helped that working conditions improved quite a bit as well.


#84

Right, part of the mitigation I was referring to. In the USA, folks like Samuel Gompers took a very different approach to organizing labor than Marx had anticipated for Europe, and by bargaining for working conditions and pay rather than a redefinition of the fundamental foundations of society, was able to achieve a lot of material progress. Arguably, at the expense of larger ideological progress, but that’s another tale.


#85

Well, their hospitals are apparently horrific.

But hey, their president says it’s awesome.


#86

What’s tragic (well, there is a lot of tragedy to go around) is that all of this populist posturing has resulted in…a banana republic. Ironic.


#87

As is seemingly always the case. The populist promises always tend to be empty.


#88

There have been a fair amount of success. Bismark toppled the socialists with populist promises. Teddy Roosevelt had a few that people liked, as did FDR (although WW2 should get most of the credit).


#89

In fairness to the banana republics, we did a pretty good job of putting many of the populists six feet under before they got much of a chance to deliver on anything.

Not that the token half-Guatemalan on the forum has any lingering distaste for US foreign policy in Central America. . .


#90

Didn’t we come to Central America and help you all start a bunch of mom and pop fruit companies or something? I’m pretty sure the Jr. High wrestling coach wouldn’t have been wrong on that point.


#91

Man, fucking terrible. That is a tough read and hard to get through. How does a country come back from that? I imagine their President will flee the country shortly and then what? How do they recover in the short term? How do they ever recover in the long term?

South America is just barely above Africa as Continents go and both of them are fucking terrible.


#92

I guess you have never been to Chile and Argentina? (Uruguay is better, but that’s so small…)


#93

I agree with this and the political definition doesn’t fit well in the left right framework. So for instance Saudia Arabia is a socialist country economically (cradle to grave welfare, while the biggest industry belongs to the government.), but is ultraconservative politically (a theocracy). The same thing is true of the Baathist party who’s motto is “Unity, liberty, socialism”. I’m not even sure if Sweden is even socialist economically anymore although it certainly was in the 60s and 70s.

Still it is sad article about the hospital in Venzuela.


#94

No, that’s a pretty clear indication of a highly regulated state.

There are many economic sectors in the US with price controls and similar restrictions, for example NYC apartment rentals and DC cab fares. Historically, the US has imposed price controls on gasoline as well as food. That doesn’t make the US socialist by any common definition.


#95

Price controls on gas and food pretty much were socialist actions in the US… they also resulted in the same kind of terrible outcomes, like shortages.

The price controls on gas were a disaster. I’m not sure what food price controls you are talking about though.


#96

NYC has some price controls which are horrible. But most of it is a free market. DC Cab fare is a regulated cartel and a disaster, which is why people love Uber. Govt. allowed cartels/monopolies have no reason to innovate. Which is why cabs have lagged the rest of the country in innovation. The US has experimented with socialism most notably during the 1930’s when the country did try to heavily regulate prices.

But to call Venezuela heavily regulated instead of a socialist state stands against facts. Venezuela has nationalized industries. They regulate not only prices but also what businesses can sell.

And of course like most socialist countries, it has amazingly enriched the ruling class by looting the populace.


#97

I agree these were socialist actions, but are we sure that it wasn’t the OPEC embargo that caused oil shortages?

edit - of course, Reagan’s handling of the ATC strike was also socialist in nature


#98

By what definition of socialism?

they also resulted in the same kind of terrible outcomes, like shortages.

Yes, shortages are a common result of price controls. But that’s not the same thing as socialism.

The price controls on gas were a disaster. I’m not sure what food price controls you are talking about though.

In WW1. In WW2. Briefly in 1971. Probably others.


#99

I agree these were socialist actions, but are we sure that it wasn’t the OPEC embargo that caused oil shortages?

Well, yes and no. The embargo reduced supplies, but the reason you had lines at the gas stations and shortages for consumers, was that the price controls broke the fundamental mechanics of the market.

Normally, when supply is reduced, the price of a commodity goes up, and demand is thus reduced, and things return to an equilibrium state.

But the US injected price controls, which eliminated that natural mechanic. Since prices were unable to rise, demand was never reduced. This caused supply to continually dwindle even further, which then resulted in them simply running out of the commodity, folks in line for gas at the station, etc.

It literally always happens. It’s essentially impossible for it to NOT happen.

In WW1. In WW2. Briefly in 1971. Probably others.

Eh, yeah, I guess during wartime they implemented rationing for those goods, which essentially included price controls. And, like every other time, it further exacerbated shortages, and created black markets.

Yes, shortages are a common result of price controls. But that’s not the same thing as socialism.

Price controls are a common mechanism of socialism, and are essentially a step towards socialism. You are correct though, in that they are not in themselves “socialism”, because they are merely a policy tactic, rather than a whole system.

The reason why they are often associated, is because price controls are an example of the government overstepping its bounds to try and control the means of production (which is essentially the core definition of socialism). Dictating price, rather than allowing the market to do it, is to place limitations on production by limiting the resources available to producers. This then creates problems, as we’ve already described, in the form of commodity shortages.

The next step in this process, is to try and force producers to address those shortages, but since the normal market motivators are no longer there (increased incentive through rising prices), the only real way to do it is through nationalization of the industry where the state then just dictates what will be produced. But as we see repeatedly, the ultimate result of this action is merely kicking the can down the road. It never really addresses the fundamental inefficiency and flaw in the system. It just pushes it down further and temporarily suppresses it, and eventually the system collapses under the strain.

And then, Venezuela.

In cases like the US’s adventures into price controls, they basically caused problems, but eventually the government abandoned them before things totally collapsed. Or in the case of things like cabs or rent controlled housing, the controlled sections of the industry are small enough as to not result in a complete fuckup of the system.


#100

When price controls lead to shortages, the common response is rationing. That can lead to other problems, and more regulatory responses.

The end result is generally a less efficient market, but that is often acceptable because it is perceived as more fair. The purpose of the market is to serve the needs of society, not the other way around.

All of which has nothing to do with socialism. In fact, often the reason for new government interventions and regulations is to provide an alternative to socialism. Avoiding socialism was the life mission of John Maynard Keynes. For a recent example of price controls and regulations vs socialism, see the legislative history of the Affordable Care Act.