Hugo in the Sky with Diamonds

June 16, 2010
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108 Responses to “Hugo in the Sky with Diamonds”

  1. Ira Says:

    I have a terrible internet connection, and can’t view the videos in real time.

    Does anyone have a link to the written transcript of this interview?

    I know it’s more entertaining–or painful–to hear the murderous lies coming from Hugo’s own lips, but I would really like to have this on paper.

    Viva Venezuela! Sin Chavez!

  2. m3talsmith Says:

    @firepigette: I forgot you had stated they could do it inside. How is that any different than in the US (except for bars of course)? A lot of drunk driving is not from people drinking in bars. It’s from people drinking at someones house and then driving home or to another house. That’s, ostensibly, in a private place. There are already rules against the drunk driving, but that doesn’t stop it.

    I speak as a person who’s Uncle had his license removed four times, was divorced several times, and spent plenty of time in jail because of his actions. My family tried nursing him away from it, but to no avail. It took his body completely shutting down and death emmenant in order to stop his drunkenness.

    I also speak as a person who drinks responsibly myself; and has smoked weed from time to time in private. I understand responsibility and I don’t allow myself to get drunk. Nor do I do anything that hinders or impairs me while I am needed (which is most of the day).

    That’s the difference between the drunk driver, and a safe drinker sometimes. I’m teaching my kids how to be responsible with any substance (obesity is a killer right?).

    Anyways, the smoking ban is killing the small businesses, mostly diners, around here where most of their clientele were smokers. We’ll see if they bounce back. There’s not many non-smokers in my town.

  3. firepigette Says:

    m3talsmith,

    Sorry but I don’t quite understand your point.

    I think it okay for people to drink in their own home, but I see no reason to allow it in public where it tends to be obnoxious in the least, and murderous at its worst.

    If people had few places where to cave into the vice then they would likely cut down or quit.

    The more people look for positive ways of feeling good the better off we will all be as a group.

    The human mind is wasted on these destructive chemicals.I do agree that if an individual in the privacy of his own home chooses this destruction then we should let him or her…but we need it off the streets.

  4. m3talsmith Says:

    Wow. This post really exploded comment wise. I hope I helped in some small way, to loosen the conversation up to broader or ignored issues.

    Real quick @firepigette, about your prohibition like ways, do you really think society will be better when weaned off of substances that make them feel better about their lot in life? If it’s about causing harm to yourself or others, well that’s a picture perfect example of government and capitalism.

    Just as a person harms their kidneys when they drink alcohol, so does a government harm it’s subjects with it’s internal policies and laws; just as a person dulls their mind with drugs, so does working for hourly wages dull the mind of any creative ability of it’s own; just as a persons body caves in to consumption from abuse of heroin, yet can never let go of that addiction, so a rich man caves in the body of humanity and their consumers, yet can not give up their own addiction – wealth and power over people.

  5. Alexander Says:

    His assertion might have been not too wild. This topic has some “bemoles”, but in overall, it will depend on several astringents assumptions, particularly those tied to the efficiency of redistribution.
    There is another interesting topic, very close to the “true” and which says the inequality indicators have improved in the last ten years, Particularly the Gini coef which says that in Venezuela we are today more equals than yesterday. It is important what we mean by “inequality” and the judgment value we give to that concept. For example, inequality indicators might have been indicating that we are equal, like Cuba for example. You can consider too that a country with lower inequality is poorer that a country where inequality is high.
    On the first assertion, about inflation, it could be that inflation is lower for poor people, since the prices of the goods they buy are regulated. The consume a basket of mainly regulated goods,
    Sorry to be too provocative….

  6. Miguel Octavio Says:

    Weisbrot, the “economist” that thinks that inflation in Venezuela does not affect the poor, what a clown!

  7. firepigette Says:

    Roy,

    Roy,

    Absolute freedom is anarchy, and anarchy inevitably subverts individual freedom to the tyranny of the strong and the ruthless. What good is your absolute liberty if you’re oppressed by others who will inevitably abuse theirs?

    Absolute freedom is not perfect freedom; far from it.

    When our freedoms begin to take way others freedoms as in the public display of drunkenness and mind altered behavior, then we have too much respect for own freedoms and not enough for the freedom of others:

    therefore we can say freedom is not freedom in this context. 1+1+ 2

  8. firepigette Says:

    I meant NOT Kolya …………….sorry.

    Roy the meaning of freedom is not a mathematical certainty.Even in higher math numbers have relative meanings.

    Freedom for you is not freedom for me.I want freedom from crime and freedom of speech ,and thought.You want freedom to do as you wish.

    I do not need nor want what you describe as a freedom…what you describe is the freedom that Chavez is now giving all Venezuelans.One that is chaos, which destroys all morale.

    This is why I cannot live in Venezuela today, but I can live in the US

  9. firepigette Says:

    Kolya,

    Anyone who can speak English knows what this means:

    Freedom does not mean freedom for different people-freedom does not mean freedom in different circumstances-freedom does not mean freedom in different values systems and/ or situations.

    For the limited mind ‘A’ is not an arbitrary value but rather,

    a limited one

  10. Alexander Says:

    Kolya

    Take Chavez words very seriously, however apply several filters, Chavez says true and lies, but we to put into context before jumping to any conclusion. For example, when the financial crises were there, he said Venezuela was armored; it was a big lie, for connoisseurs, but was a true for his political market. In general, we know than Venezuela was, in spite of the huge fiscal oil (dollars) revenues, in very bad position, for example even worse than Haiti (you know what I mean).
    Now after causing (Mr. Chavez) lots of economic and social troubles, disgraces, tragedies and a generalized ruin across private and public sectors economy, and after tasting the consequences of his y social experiment, he blames Americans. As you know, it is not difficult to blame Americans, his political market expects something like that, leader is leader, and for them, he is a benevolent leader, like the Plato ‘one.

  11. Roy Says:

    Firepigette said:

    “Freedom is not freedom.”…….????

    Sorry, but if we can’t agree that A = A, there really is no point in continuing.

  12. Kolya Says:

    Just now I watched the first minutes of the interview. I’ll stop because I have better things to do. I stopped at the moment where Chavez blames others (the US) for how badly the Venezuelan economy is faring.

    A question to those who keep track of his words. When the economic crisis hit the US and Europe, didn’t Chavez proudly state that because of his policies Venezuelans will largely be unaffected by the downturn in the US and other parts of the world? Now that Venezuela is doing badly he’s blaming the outside world and makes the preposterous claim that the US and the US are even in worse shape.

    Seems to me that to contrast Chavez’s self-assured and arrogant words at the beginning of the global crisis with what he is forced to say now can be used to good effect by a skilled editor (either print or video.)

  13. firepigette Says:

    Roy,

    Freedom is not freedom.If it were then we should let all prisoners out of jail to commit acts against others.We should assume that any convicted killer might not kill again and keep them from probation.Alcohol is a proven killer.It doesn’t need more proof.

    I am not advocating total prohibition like they had 80 years ago(though I would love to see it work),but I am advocating the elimination of public consumption of alcohol like we now have for tobacco.

    The fact that someone is allowed publicly to use has a psychological effect on people that makes them equate morality with legality on this issue and this is wrong.

    Most people do not have the subtlety to see the difference between the moral and the legal.A State should never legalize what is immoral and damages the human race even if it is NOT successful in eliminating the behavior.

    What happened 80 years ago will never repeat itself in the same way.
    The world changes.What happened in the past is not likely to happen exactly that way again.More people are aware of the dangers of alcohol than before.

    What I do admit however, is the DIFFICULTY of trying to eliminate alcohol…so many people are addicted or habituated to it.But I do believe in the good fight anyway, and I do believe in the elimination of publicly sanctioning negative and dangerous behavior.I think public ban can work to a great extent..of course it will never ALWAYS work.

    We need free clinics for the addicted and a campaign that enlightens people and offers pathways to more mature entertainment..will it take eons ?:

    YES

    but it is the only enlightened way IMO.

    There is FREEDOM and then there is freedom.There is no such thing as hurting ourselves without it somehow hurting others.

    The next step in evolution is to SEE this interconnection.Can we eliminate all self hurt? Of course not,but we can make an attempt to prohibit the dangerous chemicals publicly, educate and publicly sanction reasonable behaviors.

    I don’t believe in jailing people for drug and alcohol use( yet i do believe in jailing dealers and growers) but I do believe in:

    1. publicly working towards the elimination of dangerous chemicals

    2. educating people on the dangers and the cowardliness of chemical dependence

    3. stressing the usefulness of spiritual solutions to existential problems

    4. providing free clinics for the habituated and addicted

    5. developing an all out war on dangerous drugs and chemicals

    6. tobacco has been publicly prohibited in most places..this is a good example.Many people have quit smoking for that reason.

    7. I agree that hard drugs and alcohol are more difficult to handle but we have to start somewhere.

    8. Maybe we should not eliminate drugs in one’s own home, but we can ban it publicly like we did tobacco.

    9. Ultimately I believe that unless children are involved if you want to kill yourself in your own home…that IS fine with me…but you should not be allowed to endanger others publicly.

    As there is no way to determine the danger for others with exactitude…public ban is important just like it is for smoking

  14. Roy Says:

    Firepigette,

    On prohibition of drugs and alcohol, you are perhaps, well-intentioned, but misguided on two levels:

    Firstly from a strictly practical standpoint, prohibition doesn’t work. It didn’t work when the U.S. tried Alcohol Prohibition 80 years ago. Historically, consumption AND abuse went up. Worse, the crime generated by the massive profits made in smuggling overwhelmed the local police forces and corrupted government officials at all levels of law enforcement. Nearly 35 years after the War on Drugs was started in the U.S., there is more consumption and abuse than ever before, and the drug gangs and cartels are so wealthy and powerful that they can buy and sell small countries. Take away the massive profits, and you will take away their power to corrupt the system. The issue of drug abuse can be addressed with education and rehabilitation. If someone harms someone because they were high, that should be no excuse and they should be punished accordingly. To continue this massive Drug War when it obviously hasn’t worked and will never work is insanity. To propose alcohol prohibition AGAIN, when it was such an unmitigated disaster the first time, is even worse.

    Secondly, from a moral standpoint, freedom is freedom. Freedom is dead from the moment you start restricting it because I MIGHT hurt myself or someone else, not because I already HAVE. Every one of our actions would be subject to someone’s OPINION of what MIGHT or COULD happen.

  15. firepigette Says:

    Correction:

    When I spoke of Venezuela being hard on drugs I was suffering to the old Venezuela.I am sure that now that Chavez is in power drugs are seen as a way to make money and to enjoy life.

  16. firepigette Says:

    Kepler, Lack of arguments 🙂

    I am not political and I test liberal on the internet tests, but compared with you I am conservative….so whatever label is placed on me I feel uncomfortable.

    And YES I am a proud prude.If there were more prudes in Venezuela we would not be in the corrupt world we live in.

    And YES i am against alcohol…too many people die from it.

    And YES i am against all drugs including sleeping pills.Damages the liver, the kidney the personality and many drugs cause crime towards others.

    I love freedom but it is NOT true freedom to damage society with your irresponsible and invasive behavior which both drugs and alcohol beget.

    How many people kill others from drunk driving?

    How many mothers ignore their kids on marijuana?

    The list is endless.Drugs and alcohol are a menace to us all.

    And Yes it is NOT PC to say these things, which is why your side keeps winning, not because it is the more enlightened attitude.Most people are too spineless to face life without these damaging crutches.

    And No i AM NOT RELIGIOUS.

    Political correctness is what keeps Venezuela in Chavez, it it is keeps us from telling the truth to each other,and it is what supports the absolute worst of value systems.

    NOTHING can be fixed without first fixing this incredible blight on society:

    lies for political gain= political correctness

  17. Kepler Says:

    Prohibit drugs? The drugs she does not like? Geez…alcohol? What a prude!
    I don’t take drugs but frankly: as long as people don’t annoy others. Prohibitions are just good for dealers.

    She also has this love for the word “politically correct” as the ultimate insult. “you are too PC”, “PC, PC, PC, you PC!”
    It is also funny how she previously proclaimed herself time after time “centre”, “neither right nor left”, etc and now she goes into “I am a conservative” (some other of her comments).
    I bet for her to become more “conservative” by the week

  18. firepigette Says:

    MAstera,

    I am sure that there are many stories of police abuse…there has to be…because whoever has power will sooner or later abuse it to some degree.

    I have never been stopped or bothered by the police here nor has anyone in my family or friends either… ever…so it cannot be THAT bad.

    I will say that once I saw a policeman in the middle of a downtown street shooting the breeze and making me wait an eternity to be able to pass.I could not believe the arrogance….so I got out of the car and sent him to HELL.Then I went and reported him and they thanked me for doing so.I am a nobody in this town but I made him feel pretty bad.Nothing will stop me when it comes to upholding justice, for myself or for anyone else.

    There are value/ cultural differences in how we evaluate cops.Latinos are much less tolerant of strict and arrogant police than maybe some other ethnic groups are.

    I think police in Venezuela are far more scary than the ones in US in fact I KNOW so.They are so corrupt and uneducated.People used to tell me not to report crimes to the police because they would turn around and accuse me.

    Many Americans i knew there were thrown into the reten de Catia for almost nothing….things like visiting someone who sold marijuana.There was this one US guy I knew who lived with Teodoro Petkoff as a friend of the family, who was in the reten for almost a year for just that reason.

    If you like to take drugs, then the US is bad…but Venezuela even worse.I am glad they are tough on drugs though because I despise any form of drugs and alcohol and wish we could eliminate it all.

    It’s our values that determine whether we feel repressed or not.I felt repressed in Venezuela because I felt unprotected from criminals.I was terrified of the police there, but here I feel protected.Here in the States I feel the freedom to walk in most places without fear( except for inner cities)which are run by criminals.

    The one area in the US where I feel there is not enough freedom is in public education.It is too politically correct in the public schools for teachers to teach well.Political correctness takes away honesty and openness.It has even invaded our Universities and made them almost worthless.

  19. Roy Says:

    m_astera,

    Your examples above of the abuses of personal liberty in the U.S. are well noted. Although I continue to be a U.S. citizen, I don’t care to live there for the reasons you cite, among others. In many ways, the U.S. has lost its way and is no longer the “beacon of freedom” it once was.

    And, as a result, millions of Americans are living and working overseas, and many more trying to leave. At some point, perhaps the U.S. will notice this and try to understand why and fix it. Or not…

  20. Roy Says:

    m_astera,

    Thank you. Your comment gave me pause for thought. As for me being a “Statist”, what would be the opposite? An anarchist? Or, a proponent of one of the more primitive forms of human government and social organization, such as Tribalism, Feudalism, etc.? Although, the concept of “State”, goes back to even considerably farther than Feudalism, leading me to consider what is a “State”.

    For the purpose of this comment, I am using the following definition, “a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory; especially : one that is sovereign.”

    Well, I am certainly not a proponent of regression to any of the more archaic or primitive forms of governance. That would be to reject all of the human progress to date. The current most advanced and successful model of human governance are the various forms that fall into the category of “modern liberal democracy”. One might argue against my claim that these are the “most advanced”, but I would posit, as a given, that they are the “most successful” based strictly upon the average levels of education, health, life span, personal liberty, and social mobility afforded by these systems vs. other systems fully implemented, to date.

    Nevertheless, I would not consider rejecting the hypothesis that there will be something better that will replace liberal democracy within the structure of a State sometime in the future. In fact, I do already see a weakening of several of the traditional powers of sovereign states. Specifically, territorial borders are more porous to the passage of money, information, and people than ever before. This is not because the States want it that way, but because technology is forcing it.

    But, the core issue of your comment, was that I am a “Statist”. Well, in the sense that I think it necessary for any human society to have rules that are enforced, yes, I am a Statist. In the sense that any group of people may organize themselves to defend themselves collectively against outside or internal aggression, yes, I am a Statist.

    Having said that, in the context of the movement toward globalization, I see States evolving toward having less power than in the past. As people become more and more mobile, we will see more cross-border migrations of populations to nations that provide better opportunities. This will force nations to provide better governance and services to compete for the best citizens and companies, in much the same way that cities currently compete with other cities.

    I enjoy my mobility and I reject the power of any State to limit my freedom to travel and leave that State. If I find myself in a State that does this, I shall reject their laws and escape. If I find myself in a State in which the rules are sufficiently onerous and disagreeable to me, I shall endeavor to change them, or, failing that, I shall leave. In that sense, I suppose one might call me an Anarchist.

    However, I do not dismiss the obligations that come with the protections afforded by the State. When an individual bands together voluntarily with a group of individuals, swearing an oath to defend each other, it is immoral to abandon this group when it is in danger. We are civilized humans, not rats, who would abandon the ship at the first sign of danger.

    I hope that clears up my position on this subject.

    BTW: Although I like Heinlein, I often find his opinions too simplistic. But, he had such a charmingly clear way of expressing them, that it is often expedient to quote him. In the case in point, the gentleman I addressed that comment to was being overly simplistic himself. As well, he put himself in the position of declaring his divorce from his society. I was trying (quite bluntly) to help him see the ultimate consequences of an action that I doubt he is truly prepared to take.

  21. m_astera Says:

    Deananash-

    Capitalism is not free enterprise, it is the control and use of massive capital as leverage (or a club) to achieve monopoly.

    Democracy is not freedom, it is mob rule or tyranny by the majority, or as is more often the case these days, manipulation of the ignorant majority by the media which is owned by whom?

    Fascism, if we are to accept Mussolini’s definition, is the control of the State by private corporations (including banks) who own the means of production.

    Communism is control of the means of production (including banks) by the State.

    Both are forms of capitalism, the only difference being who is supposedly wielding the bludgeon.

    “in a capitalist system, NO ONE is forced to work or exchange goods, ergo, NO ONE can be “exploited” (excluding children who are always subject to their parent’s good or bad wishes.)”

    Unless of course they wish to have a roof over their heads or food on the table. Starving in the street is free, until the police round you up and jail you.

  22. m3talsmith Says:

    @m_astera: completely on point.

  23. m_astera Says:

    Roy-

    How nice to know that you are a Statist, just like Heinlein in that quote.

    Yes, indeed, the State sure does solve everyone’s problems doesn’t it? Doesn’t matter which State, gotta have the State and anyone who doesn’t support the State, call them a pacifist or an anarchist, or better yet a terrorist or an oligarch or esqualido and shoot them down in the streets.

    You have just unequivocally supported the State in your quote, calling for those who disagree with State violence, oppression, theft, or warmaking to be murdered without consequence.

    Hugo would approve of your attitude. Very much so.

    Or perhaps you meant that only those States that pay homage to your personal ideology and work to your advantage? How’s that working out for you?

    I would bet that if you strongly and openly supported the present State in Venezuela things would work much more to your advantage.

    And let’s not forget that WWII which shaped Heinlein’s lifelong adoration of the State was started with lies and provocations. Let’s not forget that the attack on Pearl Harbor was instigated by the Roosevelt administration with the help of England and Churchill, that they knew very well when Japan was going to attack, and that they left thousands of sailors and a bunch of old ships to be destroyed because it was worth the cost to get the US into the war. Let’s not forget that the Lusitania was sent into waters patrolled by German subs despite the German government printing an ad in the New York papers warning passengers from sailing on the Lusitania, which was known to be carrying huge quantities of munitions. Let’s not forget that there was no torpedo attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, just another lie to get the USA fully involved in another war. Shall I mention the non-existant WMD in Iraq? The non-involvement of the Afghan government in 9/11?

    You may be a sucker for “my government, right or wrong” but not everyone is.

  24. Alek Boyd Says:

    Roy, notice that I said “the credibility BATTLE”. I know that the war is far from being won, in fact, I’ll venture to say that that war -against what Chavez represents- will never be won, for the reasons Kepler points. The opposition is, in too many respects, but a mirror image of chavismo.

    We all agree that Venezuelans need to sort out this mess. Problem is, they are incapable of achieving such a goal, as 200 years of history demonstrate.

  25. Kepler Says:

    I can say the same thing about Europe.

    What counts now is what people think in Venezuela. Unfortunately, as long as our “leaders” don’t get out of Chacao-Baruta-Northern Valencia and posh areas of Maracaibo, we still have a long way to go.

  26. Kolya Says:

    Alec overstates his case but I basically agree with him about how Chavez is now viewed in the North America and Europe. Anecdotally, I can say that while five years many of my lefty friends in the US were sympathetic toward Chavez and saw my vehement anti-Chavismo with surprise, now very few of them view him with any sympathy. It took a while (much too long!) to sink in, but most of them now realize that Chavez is another power-hungry narcissistic demagogue.

    One more comment to readers of this blog: don’t exaggerate the influence or prestige of people such as Oliver Stone and Sean Penn. They may be irritating, but they are rather marginal figures. Even among American lefties few people take their political opinions seriously.

  27. Roy Says:

    Alec,

    I get what you are saying. I really do.

    But for those of us here in Venezuela, it just doesn’t feel like the war has been won yet.

  28. Alek Boyd Says:

    There was a time when names such as Baduel, OAP, Afiuni, etc., where just the stuff of conversations among those interested in the Venezuelan issue. Nowadays, the BBC flashes those names in Chavez’s face, while the entire human right NGO world condemns his abuses, that’s how much the situation has changed in the last few years, thanks to Chavez galloping authoritarianism. While the imbecile continues with his deranged anti America discourse, arrival of Obama notwithstanding, I can attest how big the tidal change has been, that is why I see no point in “reporting” Chavezland anymore. The truth about Chavez is out, whether in Europe or America, no serious, intelligent and sensible person, moderately acquainted with LatAm, buys into Chavez BS any longer. His actions have exposed him and he has become, as a matter of fact, a laughingstock, for those doing the exposing now are the BBC, Reuters, HRW, Amnesty International, INTERPOL, the EU, etc., institutions whose global reputation rank eons higher than that of Chavez.

    There will always be fundamentalist freaks in this world, but they hold no sway in the civilised world. We have gained the higher moral ground folks, we have won, with Chavez as the star of our team, the credibility battle.

  29. m_astera Says:

    I was deliberately being provocative in my post; glad to see that those who responded took it in stride.

    Firepigette, I don’t think you would find me left-wing if you knew me. I have no use for state ownership or control of anything, much less the state controlling the means of production and deciding who gets what. If anything I am a pure anarchist, which in practice means I will have nothing to do with the state at all if I can avoid it. Nothing. Unfortunately, that’s a lot harder to do in the US than it is in Venezuela.

    Here are a couple of USA police stories: For many years I lived near a small suburban town in Washington State in a rather depressed economic area, low wages, very little industry. During most of those years the Chief of Police was a retired US Army colonel. I had a business in the town and got to know him well. He considered himself incorruptible and completely honest. Yet he made a practice of entrapping people in order to make arrests. He would recruit young boys, under 21, who looked 25 or older, with a heavy beard. He would send them into the liquor store or the grocery stores to buy alcohol, then arrest the people who sold it to them. He was always sending undercover agents into the taverns to try to find people who would sell them drugs. Imagine this: You are a poor person living in this town. Someone strikes up a conversation with you in the tavern, buys a few beers. At some point they ask if you know where they can buy some coke and offers to pay a very high price. You are not a drug dealer, but perhaps you know someone who knows someone who can get some coke, so as a favor and to make a quick buck you agree. It’s all a set up, and when you meet your “friend” to give him the coke, you are arrested and spend the next five years in jail while your wife loses the house and everything you have worked for. Yeah, a real honest cop. Another story from the same town: I know a guy who is a convicted “sex offender” because he stopped his car to take a pee along a deserted country road late at night. A cop drove by and harassed him. My friend told the cop to suck his ****. Bang, sex offender, jail time, years of “counseling” that he had to pay for, black mark on his record for life.

    Around fifteen years ago my sister and her husband built a beautiful new home on their lot by a lake. A neighbor of theirs was stopped on the road fifty miles away and the police found some baby marijuana plants in his car. For some reason, he told the police that he had gotten them from my sister’s husband, which was completely untrue and he soon admitted that it was a lie. The next day the sheriff showed up at my sister’s home with a half dozen federal marshals, searched the home, found nothing, but claimed they found part of a joint in the ashtray of an old truck parked at the edge of the property. They seized my sisters new home under the RICO act, something meant to apply to organized crime; it took three years and $30,000 in legal fees to get their home back, and they were never charged with a crime.

    I could fill a hundred pages with stories like that where I know the people who experienced the abuse, including my own stories which are nightmares of oppressive government completely out of control, and it is NOT getting any better.

    Getting back to Venezuela, no, Venezuela is not the country to try to bring the workers together. I was exaggerating a bit when I wrote that Venezolanos never work for the common good, but not by much. They do have the guts to get out and march in the streets in good numbers to protest violations of their rights and freedoms, and it’s not just the radical fringe who march. But there is no way that they would join together for the benefit of the overall community. Something like that would only last until someone had the opportunity to make a quick buck by selling everyone else down the river. I haven’t lived here long enough to figure out why that is, why there is no sense of honor in Venezuela. Why is there no stigma on lying, stealing, and cheating? Venezulans steal from their own families for Pete’s sake. Has it always been that way?

    Here’s a link to a well written new article at lew rockwell .com about the difference between the USA and Latin America, and why Latin America is much more free and less oppressive. Unfortunately a lot of it doesn’t apply to Venezuela any more.

    “Disrespect for Government is as American as Fried Bananas”
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/franco1.1.1.html

  30. deananash Says:

    Wow, you guys must really have a lot of free time.

    m3talsmith, in a capitalist system, NO ONE is forced to work or exchange goods, ergo, NO ONE can be “exploited” (excluding children who are always subject to their parent’s good or bad wishes.)

    Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it works – get that, WORKS – far better than any other system. And exactly for the reason you stated: GREED.

    There are idealists who would CHANGE EVERYONE by wiping out this characteristic, but I’m not one of them. In a country ruled by law, greed only wins when someone produces something that someone else values.

    Plain. Simple. Truth.

  31. Alexander Says:

    Kepler you are totally wrong, you close your eyes to read mi note, I never wrote the word protectionism, and I did purposely, to avoid replies like yours, but you did not read as I say above. I do not have other comments except one, please begging you to read mi note.

  32. m3talsmith Says:

    @Roy: LOL! I love Heinlein :).

    So I guess you support his mathematical goal of eliminating the necessity of work and poverty in completely? That work in the future would be someone did for fun? He was a bloody genius when it came to economics!

    @m_astera: Thank you. I have lived with some in the best cities, and some of the worst cities in the US. I’ve been homeless, forced to do drug runs by gangs, and made six figures legitimately as a worker well fed. I’ve seen the whole gamut of society here.

    Sure it’s safe to walk some places, like the place I live now, in the dark, but other places … let’s just say when I lived in New York and New Jersey I carried a mirror, moved like hell to get where I was going, and always kept my eye out for trouble and a weapon; I had to use my skateboard or a pipe a few times to fend people off.

    It really is a shame to see money squandered in such massive amounts when it could have been used. But that is the nature of money (to be spent: Heinlein there for you Roy), and more specifically, that is the nature of those in power; especially state power.

    You are also right about the simple freedoms because of the chaos. We simply don’t have those, and we take risks if we choose to break the rules that keep us herded. That’s part of what pushed me to anarchy; they have made the law silly. To quote a great American anarchist humanitarian, Ammon Hennacy who broke laws in order to take care of the homeless and poor,

    “Your laws, the good people don’t need them, and the bad people don’t follow them, so what good are they?” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammon_Hennacy for a starting place on his life)

    I know this comes late in the response, but I agree with your view of criminals over here. I have known plenty of honest criminals. I have also known bad ones though. The main difference lies in greed mainly.

    The bad ones are constantly looking for whatever they can do to make more $$$ as they put it. They strut around all cocky and arrogant not realizing or caring what they are doing to the society around them.

    The good ones are almost like a Robin Hood. They are usually breaking the law as a matter of principle, in order to preserve themselves and society around them. Heck, even churches have broken the law by sheltering homeless people. How ridiculous is that?!

    Walmart … my Grandmother works there and gets abused and treated like crap. I’ve had friends work there when desperate, and the main reason they are desperate? Walmart moved in, often by paying off local legislators to ignore the local populations votes, and forced the local businesses down that once supported the people at a higher wage than what they now make at Walmart. This is a very sore and controversial subject here in the states. There are plenty disagreements over the effects. But that’s my view for what it’s worth.

    It’s very sad to see that the Venezuelans care so little about their neighbors. No change is possible until the people of your country start looking out for others. How can the people stand united against abuse and tyranny if they can carelessly trash their neighbors lawn or streets? No amount of politics can fix that kind of selfish attitude.

    I know psychopaths personally. I worked under my father in-law for 9 years before I gave up on him ever running his business honestly. He cheated everyone from his family, to his customers, to his creditors, to his own wife. Finally, a couple of years after my wife and I broke it off with him, he moved to the Philippines with his new wife he met on the web to start a new family; one that would obey him properly. He loves the Philippines because he has servants for his household, hired guns, and everyone obeys him.

    He was a proudly a capitalist. He justified every single time he cheated someone, by saying that it was the what “God” wanted him to do; or later when he knew we didn’t believe god told him that stuff, that it was the rules of the game; and never felt sorry for what he did. He just loved playing this “game” called capitalism. He left so much destruction in his wake that we are still cleaning it up years later.

    So there’s capitalism in full swing for you; and psychopathy.

    @firepigette:

    You are right when you say not all cops are corrupt. But most have some form of corruption. We no several locally that we just call the predators now, because they wait in hiding to catch you doing anything they can write off as a ticket in order to get money to keep their department running.

    When I lived in Columbus, there were entire townships where the cops were tossed in jail for fraud and corruption. I’ve had two warrants on my head from that town because of getting speeding tickets, paying them off, and then the pay off never getting reported by cops. People get thrown in jail for the most supercilious stuff in order to get cash from them to keep the cops in business.

    I have found that different areas have different degrees of how corrupt a cop may be, how strict enforcement of the law can be, and I have chosen to avoid those areas for now. I chose to live in an area where I consider the ground good, the local resources good (in case we need to live independently), and the people generally good around me, in order to raise my family outside of most of those threats.

    @GeorgeS: I completely agree with you. That’s why I said I see an opportunity for the people to upend things. I put absolutely no emphasis on Chavez or the “leaders” of Venezuela. I specifically am looking to the workers and people to unite.

    I think the communes can be a good engine for this movements. If you can build enough strength in secret per commune, and if each commune can have solidarity with each other, you can simply start taking control of the means of production. Make the system work on your own terms. Who cares if Chavez takes the credit; you guys know who is in control and can turn off the faucet at any point you choose.

    So get people in the militia in order to get them trained for self defense, and in order to weaken Chavez’ forces should push come to shove. Get people working and providing for everyone outside of capital: I don’t care if it takes a barter system, timeshare system, or whatever, as long as it is independent of cash and the pressure that brings.

    But you have to have a caring populace in order to do that. I’m starting to have my doubts about anyone caring for others over there thanks to this comment thread.

  33. GeorgeS Says:

    m3talsmith: You describe yourself as an “anarcho-syndicalist”, well you dont have to look any further than the destruction of the union movement by Chavez. There have been no collective bargaining agreements signed in the last five years except for that of the oil industry. Most elections don’t take place. The Head of the AFL-CIO in 2001 won reelection in 2001 with 64% of the vote against Chavez’s candidate (One of his Ministers, a syndicalist three decades earlier). He later was run into exile, where he is today.Chavez funds the pro-Chavez unions, they have resources, dont sign contracts and funny, lose elections all the time.

  34. firepigette Says:

    M Astera,

    You are incorrect about several things:

    1. that people get punished in the way you describe for such small things in the US.true we have much stricter rules to protect public decency, and private property etc, but they are not punished as you say…MANY TIMES the rules are overlooked

    2. a right winger has as much truth and rights as a left winger, and just because I am conservative does not make me either wrong nor does it make me a Nazi

    3.when you say Venezuela is more free…you are right AND wrong.It is free in the sense that it allows GINORMOUS amounts of crime but it is not AS free in freedom of speech and thought as the US is

    4 all police are corrupt in the States…I personally know MANY who are not

    5. I lived in inner city Philadelphia for 2 years, and know what it is like

    6. you cannot divide criminals and police as you do….if police are corrupt, then they ARE criminals

    Your primary problem here is that you equate your opinions with truth instead of just admitting that you as an individual prefer Venezuela which is fine and within your rights.

    No need to offend other countries though and/or insult those of us who post here.

  35. Kepler Says:

    Alexander, aren’t you a wee bit US-centric yourself?
    No developed country really got to what it got without a lot of state intervention, in spite of what you get as credo in US schools.
    There was a lot of protection by the state, there was a lot of protectionism vis-a-vis the outside world, there was a lot of pirating of other’s patents (the US was in the early XIX century exactly as China was right now),
    they invested heavily in solid education for all (at least for all the white in the US) and that was completely different from Venezuela.
    Venezuela’s rulers cultivate a sick myth for some mythical liberators
    and made themselves into special Gods, not representatives. They did not invest in education, they did not follow national interests as US, Japanese, European rulers did but became compradores.
    Wealth came to a great extent via opening markets through bombing.

  36. Alexander Says:

    I do not want to be provocative here, but, for what I read, it is not free of difficulties to understand what is happening down under the border, sorry. It is very hard to “accommodate” past histories, Venezuelan like many others countries on the other side of the border, live for some reasons in an “inconclusive” history.
    Eurocentrics will find hard to follow the events, capitalism is not what these countries have being building, indeed is something different, the Estate is big, it is like that or even stronger than the Estate which followed after independence at the beginning of XIX century. The “bourgeoisie” grew tied to the Estate, even today most of these countries live on raw materials, and these are estate property, so, the rents coming from these economies has the shape of fiscal revenue, and this is very important, some have to redistribute his rent.
    At the end everybody what to be very close to that rent, nothing better that a good “maridaje” between “politicos” and “empresarios” to redistribute that rent. If something happens, as it is always, they end fighting between them. We were doing that for more than a century, at the end we got some kind of “mercantilism”, not capitalism, so, it is not rare then that the values of American Dream for example, liberty, democracy, capitalism, and the rights of individual, are not for us the same.
    We want the Estate to give us a lot, and politicians are going to be, the operators. Now put that history in some kind of vicious circle and you will for sure find the answers that you might have looking bellow the table. Some countries have escaped form that lethal circle, I would say Chile, go Chile XIX century and you will understand why they could do it, but why Mexicans not. Take care about Brazil, this is something very different, when the Portugal Kingdom at the middle of XIX bankruptcy the King and his family “flew” to Brazil, it was better there, off course, that were visionary.

  37. Kepler Says:

    Astera,

    I think we can find hell or heaven anywhere. It is just easier in some places for most people. That is the reason why we are not all living in Africa but started getting out over 60000 years ago.

    I don’t know the US enough, I have been there just on vacation or for short periods of work.

    I have lived for many years now in several European countries and I visit Venezuela and this is what I can say:

    Very sadly, I have to say I prefer what we have now in Europe, with all the problems, than the case of Venezuela. I would have gone very eagerly to Venezuela back in 1998, even if the country was so hurt by very low oil prices then. It was poorer, but life was worth more. There was crime, but it was still a fraction of what we have now.

    You did not see the hatred you see now. You did not have to see the pathetic personality cult we see now. The murder rate was high, but below average for South America and not one of the highest on Earth as now. You did not have a guy telling you now that baggage carts are now “socialist”, so you have to pay him to use it.
    You did not have a migration officer telling you, when setting foot in your own country, that you are a bastard living la vida rica abroad.
    My family was getting some kind of drinkable water from the tap (although you mention the fluoride) and not the the stinking shit we get now because the clearing systems are completely collapsed.
    When my older sisters were at school, they got a relatively good education in public schools. That is no possible in Venezuela anymore. Here every single researcher/top technologist/scientist I know studied at a free, state school. This is a capitalist continent but I have to say poor children get a fairly decent opportunity at school.

    I don’t have any problem following traffic rules in Europe or other rules. Because people don’t do that in Venezuela I have lost relatives and friends in quantities you don’t see in Europe.
    I am annoyed every year when I have to let my old car be checked as every car older than 4 years is checked here, but I know cars here usually don’t have problems with the breaks as they do so often in Venezuela.

    I have no problem with the cops here. I actually respect most of them, even if I know some are no kosher at all. Of course, I have it “easier” than people with a darker skin colour. The worst I have seen here is when German cops have controlled the blacks or Iranian looking ones in the train or the pub (and I have seen how Germans themselves protested openly when they saw it). But I have seen the same thing in Venezuela as well: policemen just passing me and stopping only those with the darker skin. You don’t protest then.

    Here I can walk at 2am on a Saturday almost everywhere and feel fine. For every 4 murders you have on national average in the US you have one here. For every 4 murders you have in the USA you have more than 60 in Venezuela.

    I think the issue here is not about socialism or capitalism.

  38. m_astera Says:

    Hello M3talsmith-

    I for one welcome your input here. You are correct in saying that it is an echo chamber for the most part, and it’s good to read someone stirring things up and who is looking for answers wherever they may be found, rather than searching for the lost key under the streetlight because it’s dark on the front porch.

    I know the US of which you speak; the Venezuelan readers and posters here do not. Their experience of the USA has been unilaterally safe; either they live in safe and prosperous communities there, or they lived there decades ago while going to college in a safe college environment. The American posters here are GW Bush Republicans who love bashing Chavez because he had the nerve to say bad things about their hero. The American expats who post here have seemingly never known anything but a safe middle class life in the US. None of the above appear to have had any experience with the legal or political system in the US other than what they have read in the mainstream papers or seen on TV, which is why they believe it is somehow better and more honest than the Venezuelan legal and political system. It is to laugh.

    I’ve always been a curious person and interested in all types and classes of people, all types of experiences, so I know as you apparently do that all large cities and most medium-sized cities in the US have ghettos and areas that are just as violent and dangerous as Caracas at its worst. The truth is, though, that I would take my chances with the criminals in the US before I would with the cops, because many of the criminals actually have some honor. I have never known a trustworthy or honorable cop in the US, but I’ve known trustworthy “criminals”, as in people doing things independently that the State considers its own monopoly.

    You are hearing a different perspective from me, and that’s why I’m generally ignored here. I have pointed out a number of times that Chavez’ robolution (robo means robber, not robot) is capitalism at its finest, i.e. using capital and the control of capital as a club to destroy the competition, a la Walmart. In the robolution’s case they use the State’s control of money along with the State’s military and police power/force to back up their drive towards total control of all wealth and power.

    There are a few things you really can’t “get” from a distance and have to live here to understand. An important one is that Venezuelans do NOT work together for the common good, ever. You will never see Venezuelan’s cleaning up their neighborhood, their parks, their beaches. They may keep their own home and property immaculate but think nothing of dumping a load of garbage anywhere at all, even on the property next to their own. And no one is going to clean that up unless they are paid to do so; even then the person cleaning it up will likely dump it on someone else’s property rather than pay a dump fee. Just how it is.

    Another and very important point is that Chavez and those who surround him are not sincere in anything they say. They do not believe in socialism, they do not give a rat’s ass about the poor, and they do not believe in any sort of freedom, equal rights, democracy or anything like that. They only care about enriching themselves without working and/or how to acquire power over others. For the most part, the top people are psycho-sociopaths. If you don’t know about psychopaths (not psychotics) you need to. Start with Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare; this is important. I took the time to read the links you posted, please do yourself a favor and read a little about psychopaths. It is germane to this discussion.

    Kepler is correct in what he said about the last decade being a wasted opportunity. Chavez et al had by far the biggest oil bonanza in Venezuelan history, around $1,000,000,000,000.00 US, and pissed away and/or stole ALL of it, leaving the country and infrastructure in worse shape than before. They do not care about anyone beside themselves, and even if they tried to make things better they couldn’t because they are incompetent at anything other than stealing and lying. They see anyone who is competent as a threat, and rightly so, so they will destroy that threat if they can.

    All that said, Venezuela is a much freer country than the US fascist police state in many ways. The corruption, laziness, inefficiency, and incompetence make it that way. I recall one day when I had only been in Venezuela about a week I was at a beachside resort area. I went into a small grocery and bought a beer and was sitting on a bench out front drinking the beer. It occurred to me that in the USA pretty much everyone I saw would be arrested or ticketed within half an hour, for jaywalking, illegal u-turn, no tail lights, expired or no plates, peddling without a license, building code violations, blocking traffic, blocking the sidewalk, loitering, or for doing what I was, drinking a beer on a bench in front of the store. The Venezuelan people simply wouldn’t put up with the sort of everyday regimented oppression that Americans do, and the cops couldn’t be bothered to enforce it. If a cop pulls you over here, it’s because he wants money, so give him 50 or 100 Bs and go on your way. In the US that pullover would cost you hundreds or thousands in court costs, fines, lawyer’s fees, and increased insurance rates. Corruption and inefficiency have some advantages.

    Anyway, good to see you here. If you’d like to continue the discussion a little more openly, feel free to contact me through my website, soilminerals.com.

  39. Roy Says:

    Ok, I resisted as long as I could. I thought about, but decided it just wasn’t deserved. But, now, I just can’t help it. Here is the Heinlein quote I have been been thinking about since the first long M3talsmith comment this afternoon.

    “Those who refuse to support and defend a state have no claim to protection by that state. Killing an anarchist or a pacifist should not be defined as “murder” in a legalistic sense. The offense against the state, if any, should be “Using deadly weapons inside city limits,” or “Creating a traffic hazard,” or “Endangering bystanders,” or other misdemeanor. However, the state may reasonably place a closed season on these exotic asocial animals whenever they are in danger of becoming extinct. An authentic buck pacifist has rarely been seen off Earth, and it is doubtful that any have survived the trouble there…regrettable, as they had the biggest mouths and the smallest brains of any of the primates. The small-mouthed variety of anarchist has spread through the Galaxy at the very wave front of the Diaspora; there is no need to protect them. But they often shoot back.”

    I know this quote contains references that may not be understood by those not familiar with the author. Nevertheless, it is understandable.

    Again, apologies to those who feel this is a “cheap shot”.

  40. m3talsmith Says:

    Yeah, TC is still doing ok. Petosky and the like as well. Those are the spots where wealth goes. And Lansing area? Well that’s our capital so I expect it to be somewhat stable too. Don’t even get me started on the Ann Arbor area. Those are all bright spots on a very dark and large map.

  41. Maria Says:

    Mainly in Okemos but also in Traverse City.

  42. m3talsmith Says:

    @Maria: I’m curious. Do you live in the north or the south? I live up north where we are almost completely dependent on car and boat manufacturing.

  43. Maria Says:

    “@Maria: people all around me are selling everything they own, and then stealing more to sell, in order to survive up here.”

    Really? I also live in Michigan and nobody is selling or robbing anybody around here. A otro perro con ese hueso.

  44. m3talsmith Says:

    @Maria: people all around me are selling everything they own, and then stealing more to sell, in order to survive up here.

  45. m3talsmith Says:

    @Gringo: You are being very kind. Thank you. Although, to reiterate, I don’t admire Chavez or his philosophy. I just thought he won the debate.

    I think Venezuela’s real strength is with the people; not capitalism; not a state of any kind. I just hope you guys actually see this and don’t fall in to the trap of Capitalism or, as Jose said, State-Socialism.

    I will be there as soon as I can get there.

  46. Maria Says:

    Good Lord, has Slave Revolt moved to Michigan?

  47. Nunne Says:

    European welfare failed? More like some countries being unable to balance a budget. Or been living a bit to freely on “borrowed” money.

    But please dont treat Europe as one country, it’s not.

  48. Gringo Says:

    m3talsmith is following a tradition in the US of those who are dissatisfied with the US, look outside the US for a solution. Sandalistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Venceremos Brigade in Cuba in the 1960s and 1970s. Mao as a philosopher King, and poet to boot. In the 1930s some went to the USSR- most died in the Gulag. Etc.

    The best advice others have given him is to visit Venezuela, and see how the philosopher king Hugo has applied his philosophy to the real world. I am reminded of the epitaph on the grave of the great English architect Christoper Wren: “Reader, if you seek his monument look around you.” All around Venezuela. Petare, for example. Barinas, for another. Learn enough about Venezuela to then compare it to what things were like in 1998.

    But the possibility of m3talsmith coming to Venezuela to see the application of Chavez-thought(:) ) to real life is unfortunately very small.

  49. m3talsmith Says:

    @qtxo Jose

    Exactly

    @Roy

    My way makes just as much sense to me as your’s to you. In fact, I knew I was wasting my breath but I can’t help decry injustice.

    @Mike

    Sure … Start a blog just to give rebuttals to what someone has said to me here? Sounds like a waste. Either way, without someone to oppose you this really would be an echo chamber. As it is, it probably is anyways.

  50. m3talsmith Says:

    @Kepler:

    How many times have I said I’m not for Chavez? How many times have I said I’m a socialist of a sort? Haven’t I spoke against the military and “leaders”? I’m on your side on these points but you are too frustrated to see that I think.

    I may not have read Das Capital, but that does not mean I’m not familiar with it. I just find Marx’ theories half right. I’ve read the Manifesto; I’ve read Engels take on a lot of Marx’ works; I’ve read Lenin and Trotsky. I understand Marx’ formula’s on the product of labor, the velocity of capital, the value of investments, and so on.

    I would say that a disagree with all forms of capitalism and socialism that have been put forward in history, except anarcho-syndicalism. I sent you two links at the top to explain the exact kind of socialism that I follow. Essentially I believe in voluntary association and organization, starting from the workers rising up to take back ownership of their productive means. The key word is voluntary.

    Speaking of history, I think the celts of what is now Ireland probably had one of the best forms of government that has ever lived; voluntary government. The brehon was one of the most just and well thought out legal systems. Justice was mostly fair and non-compulsive. The israelies, palestinians, babylonians, greeks, and many other past civilizations used to have different forms of social obligations. No one group has been perfect yet, but that does not mean it’s a failed project.

    “Here were? Michigan?”

    I’m in Michigan yeah, but this is happening all over the place. Just because the government publishes bogus figures (sound familiar?) does not make it any less worse here. The only place with true economic growth happens to be the place with a socialist bank for the last several decades, with a mandate to fund the state and local projects. Every other place has been in a decline for a while.

    I’m not a creationist either. I was just appealing to a different person than you apparently.

    “You really have no idea what capitalism is. Please, do try to read Das Kapital before you declare yourself a ‘socialist’ plus some good books on world history, perhaps followed by Ideas, From Fire to Freud, by Peter Watson, plus some text on general economic theories.”

    I live and breath history. It’s what I choose to read for fun and has been since I was a kid. I would spend entire weeks in libraries during any time of the year. I learned obscure languages, studied economic systems, and learned the history that really matters; the history of the working class. No amount of reading Bolshevik, Marxist, or other kind of theory will improve my understanding of the sheer exploitation of indigenous and working people. I already understand what Marx called the Natural History of the World by simply paying attention – the same way he did.

    Marx was wrong about the timing of the collapse of Capitalism, but, from what I have read of his, and from lectures I’ve listened to, the misery of Capitalism is spot on.

    “Please, show me the implementations.”

    Show me implementations of capital taking care of the poor. Have you seen the middle class dying and the gap growing between the poor and the rich here in the states? We could play this game all day, but it’s worthless. How about trying to fix things instead bickering about historical implementations?

    “Don’t you get it? The murder rate in Venezuela has more than TRIPLED since Chávez is in power. Now tell me that is because capitalism is
    accelerating. At the same time the murder rate in Colombia HALVED! And the murder rate in Brazil has been slowly going down for years now.
    And Chile’s murder rate is under 2 murders per 100 000 people per year, very stable, with and without dictatorship, much lower than in the States.

    And Western Europe, which is a very capitalist region (in spite of what Sarah Palin may tell you) has a murder rate of less than 2.”

    You just don’t get it (and fuck Sarah Palin!). Yes I call the crime raw and brutal and part of the game of capitalism. Colombia’s murder rate halved? Perhaps that’s because what followed is exactly what I stated would happen?! I said,

    “Capitalism is death, exclusion, and loss for the many, to the growth of wealth and power for a few. Crime rises when there is no single capitalist powerful enough to enforce his will and order.”

    Don’t worry, your crime rate will go down once the war lords and gangs have equalized their power struggles to the point where they are forced to “legitimize” their power in to a new government. They’ll do this at the expense of the people, whom they always saw as easy victims anyways. They’ll just exploit them in other ways, because they’ll have the power to make them churn out commodities that will garner them more wealth than a quick drive-bye.

    Columbia just moves their army in to repress the workers just like any other government does (even Venezuela): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/25/colombia-human-rights

    Anyways, I don’t view any government as an opportunity to upend the game. What I am talking about is the chance for workers and people to unite and completely stonewall the government, not to replace it with the opposition, but to apply pressure until things work out to their benefit. I can’t see anyway for you to misrepresent how I feel about this matter:

    Workers of the World Unite!

    That’s the best thing Marx ever said IMO.

  51. Mike Nelson Says:

    @ m3talsmith,

    Nice screed. You might want to start up your own blog because I think you’ve pretty much said more than anyone here is interested in hearing about your POV.

    That is unless you move to Venezuela and start walking the walk.

    @ Kepler,

    Good response.

  52. Roy Says:

    Re: M3talsmith’s long comment on Socialism

    I am speechless. I wouldn’t even know where to start on a rebuttal. He appears to be perceiving a different reality most of us. Who knows? Maybe in his version of the multiverse, what he is saying makes perfect sense.

    Kepler, my hat’s off to you, even though I suspect that your effort was for naught.

  53. qtxo Jose Says:

    I have been following this blog for about one year and I am a big fan.
    I live in Spain but I am spending a few days in Caracas, as I did a year ago, 10 years ago, … 30 years ago. From my short stays all I can say is I understand the people that supports Chavez, here and in the rest of the world.

    My point is: people hear Chavez crying about inequalities in the world the state-capitalism has brought in a very direct way, and well… what is the only alternative to capitalism the people knows? State-Socialism.

    May be it is time to realize how stupid we have been by buying these capitalism-socialism crap. The problem is the thing we call State that in both ideologies is always trying to perpetuate itself when in fact we want to perpetuate prosperity even if 100 years later we have no notion about a country we live in… We keep glorifying pieces of land (see world cup football)

    The State should be something transitory until we have all the resources to live in complete freedom. Every election should serve to make State smaller, not bigger!!

    Just an example, recently Spain is turning its economic policies because the socialist spending spree (European welfare) has failed.
    So, one measure is allowing the employers to pay less when firing employees. Well, it looks OK at first sight to reduce the stupid unemployment rate but then you continue reading and surprise: “… the State will pay the difference” So, even if you try to convince politics that what we are really asking for is freedom they always put the State between you and me.

    So, even if the opposition wins, everybody accepts it, aporrea.org self dismantles, the guerrillas move to Colombia, Chavez dies of throat cancer… the real enemy of freedom will stay: the State. I bet the opposition leaders will take it and make “private” use of it.

  54. Kepler Says:

    “lifetime of experience, and from a couple of decades of intentional study. So when I say that Capitalism is an evil I mean it with the fullest understanding of what I am saying.”
    And Britney Spears has full understanding of Marxism and theoretical physics.

    Give me a break, man. You haven’t even passed the first full book written from the communist perspective, you have been reading some Western classics without system, you have “been around” and you declare yourself an expert in capitalism? Well, we are all experts, including Britney Spears as I said.

    “From what I am reading in the comments here, especially in regard to the crimes, you are confronting raw and brutal capitalism daily. ”
    Don’t you get it? The murder rate in Venezuela has more than TRIPLED since Chávez is in power. Now tell me that is because capitalism is
    accelerating. At the same time the murder rate in Colombia HALVED! And the murder rate in Brazil has been slowly going down for years now.
    And Chile’s murder rate is under 2 murders per 100 000 people per year, very stable, with and without dictatorship, much lower than in the States.

    And Western Europe, which is a very capitalist region (in spite of what Sarah Palin may tell you) has a murder rate of less than 2.

    What is it?

    “Capitalism is death, exclusion, and loss for the many, to the growth of wealth and power for a few.”

    “Crime rises when there is no single capitalist powerful enough to enforce his will and order.”
    Sigh

    “modern capitalists don’t recognize some of them as such:

    – Dictatorships;
    – Monarchies;
    – Feudalism;
    – Oligarchies;
    – Meritocracies;
    – Republics;
    – Some Theocracies;
    – Parliaments;
    – Sultanates;
    – And various forms using a mixture of those above.

    You really have no idea what capitalism is. Please, do try to read Das Kapital before you declare yourself a “socialist” plus some good books on world history, perhaps followed by Ideas, From Fire to Freud, by Peter Watson, plus some text on general economic theories.

    “why socialism will never die.”

    What socialism, man? Can you please make up your mind? Has there been an implementation of socialism and if so, which one and when? Has there been none? If not why and why have so many millions being murdered by the ones who claimed to be taking their nation into the socialist nirvana?

    I studied Das Kapital, Lenin’s books, Bakunin’s book, I read a load of Soviet propaganda books and newspapers and at the same time the Samizdat publications from underground, I have talked for a long time with friends and acquaintances from every single country where there was some form of “comunism” or socialism, from Albania to Poland, from Eastern Germany to Vietnam and Cuba. I have read about the histories of all those nations.

    They wasted decades and yes, at the end they also realised theirs was just another religion.

    “As I said, I started forming alternatives before I even knew of socialism. ”

    Do you know “socialism”? From The Manifest?

    This reminds me of Chávez who himselfs claims to be a Marxist although he hasn’t yet read The Capital.

    “Didn’t God create the world for all of us? Or did He create it for less than one hundred people in order to rule the billions? In order to make a profit at the cost and suffering of others?”

    Are you also a creationist?

    “You speak of socialism being like a religion. I claim it is in at least a few religions to begin with. That is the battle that matters; raising the poor so that they can meet everyone eye to eye; bringing down the rich to the same level; bringing justice and equality (righteousness) back to earth.”

    Everybody claims to raise the poor. Please, show me the implementations.

    “We have unemployment up here too; around 30-40%. ”
    Here were? Michigan?

    “I have traveled all around this nation; to every state but hawaii, Alaska, and California. I have even travelled overseas to London. I see the same signs there.”

    You don’t need to travel much. You should try to read about what socialism or other forms of “capitalism” have led to in other countries.

    “What I see in Venezuela is an opportunity to upend all of this. ”

    On the contrary: Chávez has wasted the biggest opportunity a Venezuelan president has had to get us from the oil dependency and onto the road to sustainable development. Instead he has increased social injustice and he has contributed to a further worsening of education standards. A huge amount of energy has being wasted in the fights between Venezuelans, just like many other proto or full fledged dictators have done.

    Get this: in Venezuela we haven’t got any bloody socialism, we got just a new military in power who uses the same bloody symbols other big pseudo-prophets used before him to lure the gullible, a military who is there only because he could distribute more sweeties thanks to the highest oil prices we ever had.

    He is running out of sweeties, though, and the country is rapidly becoming hungry. Very soon hunger will be worse than it was in the late nineties.

    I am no socialist (although believe me, some in the States would say I am one), but I tell you: Chávez is the worst thing that could have happened to any movement that may have wanted to further socialist views in Latin America. Après moi (Chávez), le déluge, but the flooding in a completely different way than socialists would want.

  55. alexander Says:

    In the real word the difference between “both” definitions are none, the core of any is the definition of property rights, in both cases and by defaut is Estate, some calle them public, but this in pure economic theory delivers lots of confuisions, since the definition economics theorie give to “public goods”.
    Alexander

  56. m3talsmith Says:

    I feel it’s fair to give you guys my political leaning before going on any further. I am an anarcho-syndicalist:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism#Social_anarchism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism

    Like I said, a socialist of a sort.

    I am 32 and have been a worker for two decades. I’ve run my own business at points in my life and made six figures. I tell you this so that you know that I understand the power of capital and that I’m not striking out against capitalism because I’ve never made it. I want you to fully understand that I have found capitalism to be a great evil well before I knew about any alternatives.

    I started forming my alternative well before I even knew about socialism; and I’ve never successfully read through a marxist text yet; other than to critique the communist manifesto from a libertarian point of view.

    I come from a strong middle class Christian Republican family. To move “left” was unthinkable, so when my discontent and realization of the sickness of our system started, I moved towards libertarianism. I have thoroughly read Locke, Jefferson, Adam Smith, Ricardo, and so on. I understand Capitalism both from a lifetime of experience, and from a couple of decades of intentional study. So when I say that Capitalism is an evil I mean it with the fullest understanding of what I am saying.

    All of that to say, Capitalism is a myth. You need no other myth to forward it’s progression. Indeed, greed as a driving factor is natural in everyone of us. You don’t need any form of myth building to convince someone that if they work hard they can obtain more in order to live better: they will work, beg, kill, or steal to make that gain realized.

    From what I am reading in the comments here, especially in regard to the crimes, you are confronting raw and brutal capitalism daily. Capitalism is death, exclusion, and loss for the many, to the growth of wealth and power for a few. Crime rises when there is no single capitalist powerful enough to enforce his will and order.

    To be blunt, capitalism is raw, brutal, exploitive, and the basest instinct of human nature in all of us. It is the theory of master over slave in the end, in order to bend everyone to your will.

    Several forms of capitalism have existed throughout history; though modern capitalists don’t recognize some of them as such:

    – Dictatorships;
    – Monarchies;
    – Feudalism;
    – Oligarchies;
    – Meritocracies;
    – Republics;
    – Some Theocracies;
    – Parliaments;
    – Sultanates;
    – And various forms using a mixture of those above.

    If you look at capital with the view of survival of the fittest you will see why socialism will never die. The victims of capitalism, and those with a conscience and warm heart, will always rise up: like they have in the past well before “socialism” was even conceived.

    As I said, I started forming alternatives before I even knew of socialism. My forms were very like socialism; even my friends and family disregarded my ideas as communistic. It does not take some myth or promise to form the idea of socialism in the minds of people like myself or the victims of capitalism. It springs merely from self defense.

    The capitalist turns his blind eye towards the exploitation. They have fine reasons and theories to support them, but that does not make it any more wrong. They claim freedom but are only trying to justify what they claim is their right to what they can hold on to through force.

    Didn’t God create the world for all of us? Or did He create it for less than one hundred people in order to rule the billions? In order to make a profit at the cost and suffering of others?

    You speak of socialism being like a religion. I claim it is in at least a few religions to begin with. That is the battle that matters; raising the poor so that they can meet everyone eye to eye; bringing down the rich to the same level; bringing justice and equality (righteousness) back to earth.

    I do not support Chavez, or any leader for that matter; I despise militaries; and I despise the engine of greed that grinds the majority down in a pulp in order to extract every possible ounce out of them before casting them aside.

    What you may not realize is the effects of capitalism globally. It’s already a rigged game against South America, China, and any nation the US and it’s allies can bully. They got the lead a long time ago and the majority of the citizens jobs go down south because it keeps the costs down.

    We have unemployment up here too; around 30-40%. We have extreme crime where the US can’t afford to keep cops as well. The joke in Detroit, Michigan is this:

    http://www.lmnotees.com/store/detroit-wear-the-weak-are-killed-and-eaten-tshirt-p-217.html

    Our dependence on capital has made us so weak that the general populace does not know how to cultivate the land or survive anymore. We let entire cities burn down slowly because we don’t have enough money to pay firemen or police to put out the fires or prevent them. People are dying off because they accidentally burn their houses down trying to keep warm when they can’t afford to pay for gas or electricity during the cold winters; they simply don’t have the skills to live without being paid. People have given up getting jobs because the capitalists aren’t rehiring for anything worth having; anything that would cover their cost of living. People are being eaten alive by larger and more consolidated wealth.

    Capitalism is solidifying to the raw and brutal. I expect that we will be at the level of South America before my grand-children are born in most of America. The capitalists are fulfilling the destruction of their consumers and the resources that commodities are made of in the first place.

    I have traveled all around this nation; to every state but hawaii, Alaska, and California. I have even travelled overseas to London. I see the same signs there.

    What I see in Venezuela is an opportunity to upend all of this. A few of you are expatriated, and I understand why. It takes people with the right purpose and who cares more for other people’s life than the danger of losing their own life.

    You guys are not in that class of people, nor should you join them unless you actually believe in the battle that I spoke of; your life would just be wasted to help move capitalism forward. Why give your life for capitalism now when it will take it later and you just might live a bit longer?

    Anyways, that’s a view from someone who has lived here all of his life.

  57. Roy Says:

    Mike,

    Big sigh…..

    Yeah, I have been preaching that for some time now. I happened to be on hand to see the Rose version of that strategy in Tbilisi. Of course, I “suspect” they had extensive outside funding and training support in pulling that one off. By “suspect”, in quotes, I mean that I couldn’t prove it, but it remains a virtual certainty. It was just too slick of a campaign to have been completely home grown.

    People object that the Venezuelan population is too apathetic for this to work, but in my opinion, the Georgian population was even more cynical and apathetic then the current Venezuelan population, and it worked like a charm. At heart, Venezuelans are extremely nationalistic. By playing on the “treason” of bringing in all the Cubans and mortgaging future oil production to the Chinese, it should be simple to construct and propagate the message. In fact, it should resonate inside the military even faster than general population.

    But, so far, they seem content to just muddle along. We shall see…

  58. Mike Nelson Says:

    Thanks Roy,

    I realize that links such as these simply “preach to the choir” but getting this kind of info to the opposition “leadership” surely couldn’t hurt.

    Lord knows they seem to bereft of any original strategic policies so the ‘socialism dead’ link would be a good primer for them to mull over in their next chin-wag.

    They and others should probably google “Gene Sharp” while they’re at it because depending on what transpires in September they might want to get a leg up on a “Plan B”.

  59. Roy Says:

    Mike,

    Another great link. I have often likened Chavismo here in Venezuela to a religious cult. This sort of reinforces that impression. All Venezuelan Opposition should read this piece by Lee Harris.

    I was struck by the conclusion that Capitalism needs to create its own competing “myths”. My rational self just rebels at this concept, though the point is well made.

    Early America actually did produce such competing myths. As an example, look at Horatio Alger’s, novels of “rags to riches” success stories. Also, the phrase “American Dream” is still a universally understood part of the vernacular, even though the original meaning gets perverted every couple of years by the politicians.

    If the Opposition were REALLY smart (I know, wishful thinking), they would hire the best Madison Ave. ad company they could find to craft and build the myths needed and the campaign to propagate them.

  60. Kepler Says:

    I don’t remember now, Gringo. It was years ago . I had a couple of editing wars and got fed up with it.

    There was once a war on whether listing the ministers of Justice was right (they put my list in the comment section, but I don’t remember in what article exactly and what language)

    There was another about whether it was Jesse Chacón who ordered to stop sending the murder rate stats to UNODC. Unfortunately, I could not find again the article in El NAcional where an old crime specialist mentioned it.

  61. Mike Nelson Says:

    While I’m on a roll I’d like to share this link to “Why Isn’t Socialism Dead?”:

    http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2006/05/why-isnt-socialism-dead.html

    It might help explain why the Chavez interview could be considered a ‘win’ for him, esp. in the minds of ‘his base’, be they the poor of Venezuela or the lefty international set.

    Chavez parrots the socialist party line and socialists will continue to believe it, the truth be damned.

  62. Gringo Says:

    Kepler:
    I have put some data on crime about Venezuela in Wikipedia, some mentioned by Gringo, although others have taken part of it away.

    Could you put some links here about what data you put in Wikipedia that they took away? Thanks.

  63. Alexander Says:

    Octavio yiu said that “this” is not socialism”.
    It emerges for practical reasons a nice question, but you do not have to answer it….What do you mean by socialism ? Which one applies, sovietic model, chinesse, cuban, cambodian, yugoslavian, east european before 90’s, the ones with centralized decisions, everything in estate property, as they define property rights properly, people have houses, bodegas, kioskos, etc, but without property rights to trade, nonsense property.
    I am sure you are not thinling is sweddish, danish, norwegian, british pre-Thatcher, even french one, am I right? Sorry I divert from the discussion, but you left it in the board….THIS IS NOT SOCIALISM!!!
    By the way, almost all of these east-european socialism, sovietic tipe, chineesse, cuban, cambodian, etc, militari had the last word, the use to be communist first and then military, allow me to let you know I did live there, I know what I am talking about.
    Alexander

  64. firepigette Says:

    I agree with Bruni.The reason being that most people react more to emotions and to power struggles than to reasoned arguments.This is true everywhere .This is most especially true the more idealistic a person is( left wingers).Often the reactions are more on the unconscious level than something they are aware of.

    The interviewer looked intimidated many times.The tiny facial movements and body signals gave him away.

    Chavez won this one.Sorry.Chavez is a master manipulator.The interviewer was weak.

  65. Alexander Says:

    I really like this, and believe me, I enjoyed a lot, when you refers to,and I copy yours “well-intentioned. He truly believed in his political and economic theories and thought they would work to better the lives of poor Tanzanian’s.”.

    I did remember my school years when reading Dante Alighieri “The Divine Comedy” in his Hells, he wrote, I quote it freely in english, “The road to Hell is plenty of good intentions cross…”.

    In general I might infer that your sentence apply as well to Castro, Kim il Sung, Lol Pot, and of course Chavez, all of them, and many others, were/are well-intentions actions. And this, their/his intentions bieng totally irrelevant from the historical point of view, look at the facts!!

    Alexander

  66. Roy Says:

    The article linked by Mike Nelson was excellent. For those of you who skipped over it, it is here:

    http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_2_otbie-sympathy.html

    In particular, m3talsmith or those with similar sympathies should read it in its totality. The article refers a great deal to Nyerere’s experiment with socialism in Tanzania. I could relate to this, having lived there for a couple of years, albeit several years after he finally stepped down from power.

    In the case of Julius Nyerere, he was actually well-intentioned. He truly believed in his political and economic theories and thought they would work to better the lives of poor Tanzanian’s. The fact that he voluntarily left the presidency after it became clear that his policies were a failure is a tribute to his basic decency. When I arrived, ten years later, Tanzania was still struggling to overcome the social and economic damage that had been wrought on that country.

    Bottom line: Even with the very best of intentions, Socialism failed to better the lot of the poor, and actually made it much worse. Has there EVER been an example in ALL of history in which this social/economic model worked for anything larger than a tribe of humans?

    So, why do humans keep trying it again and again? My personal theory is that there is some sort of ancestral longing in us for the tribal way of life that humans lived up until the advent of agriculture and large-scale civilization. Maybe that is what makes socialism appear so attractive to the naive.

    Side note: Charity is a virtue, but only when it is done with your own money.

  67. Kepler Says:

    m3talsmith,

    First and foremost take a look at oil prices from 1970 onwards.
    That is the alpha and omega of it all in Venezuela since about 1937.

    I have put some data on crime about Venezuela in Wikipedia, some mentioned by Gringo, although others have taken part of it away. Venezuela stopped sending the data on murders to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2002, when Jesse Chacón,
    a former coup monger and military then minister of “Information” decided that piece of information was not good for foreign eyes. The trend was just too horrible for others to see.

    Jesse Chacon is now “on low profile”, after his brother, Arne Chacón, became too flashy with his billions. Arne Chacón had been
    another military, also took part in one of the 2 coups of 1992.
    Back then he was a penniless military and in 2005 he was already a billionaire.
    Blogger Miguel and others had been denouncing that for years and it was only when everybody, not just people like us, but the street vendor and the cashier, started to talk about the billionaire Arne, that Hugo decided to put him in jail (we actually don’t know where or if he is still there). And his brother, Jesse Chacón, just said he did not know where those billions came. He is free and still one of the big chavistas you can follow his tweets where he insults us as “bourgeoisie”.

    Venezuela pulled away from international programmes on evaluation of academic standards as soon as Chavismo came to power. It was better to tell stories than to have professional international observers see how education was doing.

    The minister of education has refused to let Venezuela take part in the PISA programme as I and several others have solicited:
    http://sites.google.com/site/venezueladesarrollada/
    Venezuela is one of the few countries refusing to do so.

    Literacy in Venezuela – not real, though – was about 93% in 1998. Half of those illiterate were 60 year old or older. The Chavista government declared it had eliminated illiteracy after that, although it never said how it was when it came to power or who was illiterate.
    This was publicized by Starbuck socialists/Eurokinder (i.e. pseudo-socialists) the world over
    as a great success. “UNESCO certified”, they claimed. UNESCO my foot. In reality what they did was a self-assessment survey that was uploaded into the Venezuela subdomain of UNESCO, as any country does. There was no independent study.
    Chávez’s children and all those of rich chavistas go to the best private schools.

    My dad, son of landless peasants, went to primary school in the early forties and he used to tell me how he first studied under a mango tree with all the children of his village as there was no school and how the first democratic, non military government of AD brought schools and took away chagas disease from the region. Governments became more inefficient and corrupt with time and petrodollars, but there was some progress, albeit things were going down when low oil prices came. Very low oil prices for two decades after a huge population boom brought the country to its knees and gave a chance to a military like Chávez.

    Now I read things like this in my region (gif file, I took a screenshot):

    Children are going back to the conditions my dad had to see when he was a young boy over 60 years ago. They are having classes back under mango trees…when we have the biggest oil boom in DECADES.

    Chagas is back in densely populated areas and the military regime is sacking doctors who dare report that.

    All of my relatives have been robbed in the last few years. All.
    A couple have been shot and they have survived by a miracle. Two are limping because the bullets got close to key nerves.
    Several friends of relatives or friends have been murdered. None was rich. Half of Venezuela’s population has no real job. They are either street vendors or the like. They see people like Arne Chacón, they see people like still big power Diosdado Cabello get rich, they see the huge villas built for the governor of Cojedes (I know very well, thus), they see how the boliburguesia and the Ancient Regime still collaborating do and they think “I will get that car or that salary no matter what”.

    They have no real job and no real education. Chavismo has settled up these universidades bolivarianas that are a farce and people end up having pieces of papers that are worth nothing. Now Chavismo is forcing universities to accept any pupil from school without entry exam even if those pupils cannot write like a 7 year old pupil in the seventies and much less do some maths. What Chavismo does not do is to improve the levels of public primary schools.

    Chávez buys tanks and submarines that are of absolutely no use to us (don’t tell me tanks and submarines are going to do anything to the mythical US invasion), but he does not fix the quality of our primary schools.

    Chávez’s family owns La Chavera, a posh hacienda, even if property rights for that land do not exist. The land was just passed over from Chávez’s great-grandfather, a murderer who is now declared “Venezuelan hero”, even if he was just one of those military who initially supported Gómez, another dictator of our past.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maisanta

    m3talsmith,

    Whatever the US military may be doing abroad: that does not justify or make Chávez a better person. We have a saying in Venezuelan Spanish: excuses of the many is consolation for the fool.

    I went to study in Germany with a German scholarship. I wanted to return to Venezuela and do my best for it. I am not going back and the reason is Chávez. As I have said, too many relatives and friends have been shot, robbed, mobbed. Twice already when I came back the immigration officers told me, when seeing I was living in Europe: “ah, you are one of those bastards living off like kings in Europe while we work here”. Work my foot.

    Hundreds of thousands of highly skilled Venezuelans have left the country.

  68. Kepler Says:

    Bruni,

    I think perhaps in France (relatively little grilling in a semi-presidential or rather presidential system, long-time anti-US sentiments), in Berlusconi Italy (crappiest media in Western Europe) and Spain
    (first generation of democracy and real parliaments) Chávez could convince some people through that interview, but I definitely think he came out very badly in the eyes of many others.
    You know Europe is very varied. In most of Western Europe politician
    grilling is very common – after and before election time – and politicians, even if cornered, don’t react like that.

    As Miguel said, Hugo’s responses to the HR reports are very telling.
    His unease…it is not really what you see when you grill a politician
    in Britain, in Scandinavia, in Germany, in the Benelux or other countries.
    He really looked like a cornered bull or milico, not a cornered politician.

  69. deananash Says:

    Deng Xiaoping – the man who led China from poverty to prosperity famously remarked “black cat or white cat, if it catches rats, it’s a good cat” when asked about his shift from Communism/Socialism to Capitalism.

    In English, we say “the proof is in the pudding”. By this very basic standard, Chavez is a COMPLETE FAILURE.

    Having said that, I agree with m3talsmith’s point that Chavez did more than alright in the interview. And that’s because Chavez NEVER FORGETS who his audience is. [NOTE: It isn’t foreigners, it’s his base.]

    If he were younger, taller, and more athletic, he could star in the NBA because he can wiggle, slither, slide and outmaneuver most. Just like his idol. At least in terms of speaking to his base. The rest of us know that he’s full of shit.

    He has a “God complex”, and his eleven years in power shows that he isn’t concerned with Democracy nor with developing a Democratic country. He’s interested in his own power, nothing more, nothing less.

  70. Gringo Says:

    m3talsmith
    know about the bad numbers. What no one has told me is how it compares to hard numbers before the Chavez.

    You can do some research, with a caveat, numbers are not always accurate: One year ago Wikipedia had murder rates > 60 per 100,000. Today, 52. In 1998, 19. Ven gvt no longer reports murders to the UN.

  71. Guillermo A. Says:

    moctavio Says:
    >June 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm
    >Guillermo: I don’t like the opposition either, but I refuse to waste time in >conversations like what you cite, least of all drink anything with politicians.
    Hey man! Something’s got to give here… I need to eat, so does my family. Do you really think it is possible to live and survive in a medium where everything and everybody is watching their backs as Chavistas do? Yes, I probably wasted my time with those guys, but who knows?
    The expectation that opposition parties might be “more compassionate” than their counterparts is as false as pretending that your neighbors DO care about your community problems as much as you do. See: I don’t give a damn about opposition parties or opinions, since al of them are as blunt and ineffectual as Chavistas opinions. Its live living in a building where once there were rules about keeping the low lifes in the lower floors, while all the few with real families and some sort of education were up to the roof. Then, somehow, the people above noticed that they only occupied a mere 5 floors of a 100 story building! Wow… Fuck… where is the people that supported us up here for so long?… Nope… we *know* they are minority… yes… my precioussssss… then you’ve got Smeagol and suddenly Chavez begins to wipe floor by floor… because HE KNOWS how to speak to the low life people we NEVER cared or understood…

    Come on! The shit hitted the fan long before Chavez got into his throne!

    Venezuela is a disjoint society, a collection of individuals who care little about the common good and collective order.

  72. maria gonzalez Says:

    To m3talsmith from a Venezuelan raised by hard-working parents in low-middle class in Caracas from 1959-1985:
    You wrote: “But, I am a socialist of sorts. Not a marxist, soviet, etc. I just care more for people than money. In fact I wish we had no money. My heart especially goes out to the poor, to the detriment of the rich and middle class.”
    Well I am very sure that many of the Venezuelan’s that read this blogs are too! I appreciate your neutrality but please go to Venezuela and see it with your eyes. Two short stories: 1. I just recently when to Caracas because a family emergency and my heart shrink to see garbage all over, contamination, friend and family been assaulted in the middle of the day! 2. Very recently here in USA (Ohio) I renewed my driver license and voted in the municipal election in 30 min and I drove 20 min between the license place and the school where i voted..when I can do that in Venezuela…I will be back there.

  73. moctavio Says:

    Guillermo: I don’t like the opposition either, but I refuse to waste time in conversations like what you cite, least of all drink anything with politicians. Venezuela is a disjoint society, a collection of individuals who care little about the common good and collective order. But I realized this long time ago, so I had no huge expectations that this would change. But one can not live in a society without laws or respect for human rights. That is the basis of a society. The so called opposition has no vision, but I think they would be more compassionate than Chavez and would make use of knowledge to improve things, that would be a gigantic step forward. I went to school in the US and came back to Venezuela a few decades back and have been fighting at each step to stay, I am about ready to give up. I have seen the abuses too close up, I refuse to do it again.

  74. m3talsmith Says:

    @Moctavio: I despise military rule. This coming from three generations of military in my family. I hear you also on the humanitarian side. I don’t believe we will have a decent humanitarian situation until socialism is properly affected though.

    Thank you, everyone, for your views of the situation. Had I time I would read this entire blog tonight. As it is, I will read it as I have time until I have read it all. Thank you again.

  75. moctavio Says:

    Chavez has nothing to do with socialism.

    As for what came before, jeez, it was not great, but definitely better than this, there was some rule of law, the Government cared about people, built roads, schools and respected human rights because there were independent powers. I have been writing for seven years,all I can say is read seven years of the blog, the numbers are all here.

    This is not about capitalism versus socialism,if it were not for human right violations, I would have never kept writing this blog. This is a militaristic, ignorant dictatorship. Period. I have lived a few decades in Venezuela, my rights were never violated and they have repeatedly been violated in the last eleven years, from being shot at, to being physically threatened to outright stealing from me by Chavez and his corrupt cronies.

  76. Eric Lavoie Says:

    The naïveté towards Chavez in the world media is gone now, only BBC seems to give him some merit.
    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Chavez channels Castros pursuit socialism/3159282/story.html
    this is more what we are getting now.

  77. bruni Says:

    Unfortunately you are in the minority, Miguel and so do I. At my age I have realized that, in every aspect of life, people pay much more attention to form than substance and that few people can actually see the facts, and they’d rather be influenced by propaganda.

    The current situation in Venezuela is unbearable. I visited less than two months ago and found it extremely bad and yesterday a friend of mine living there told me that in comparison, things were “great” two months ago.

    Now, having the country in such a situation and still convince some foreign listeners that something could be OK means the journalist did not do his job.

  78. m3talsmith Says:

    First of all, you guys have my deepest sympathies for the absolute devastation and death that has happened in the last ten years. I am always sorry for the death and depravation of people in general, but especially sorry for the people who have to go through a massive amount of it. I insist on my general sorrow because of what I have to say next.

    I know about the bad numbers. What no one has told me is how it compares to hard numbers before the Chavez. I know that Venezuela has been in hard turmoil before Chavez and over at least 20 years. South America, from a US view has never been brought to our standards, and some think never will.

    How can we react to the news that comes to us when we have no true historic view? I search all over the place for news, I run slews of pages through translators, and yet, I have not found the answers I’m looking for; the comparisons I seek. How can I tell what is true and what is political backlash from one party or the next?

    I appreciate getting your views. I’m not a fool. I’m an earnest seeker. I figured a while ago that the only way to know the truth would be to be there.

    But, I am a socialist of sorts. Not a marxist, soviet, etc. I just care more for people than money. In fact I wish we had no money. My heart especially goes out to the poor, to the detriment of the rich and middle class.

    As for body counts, the US has racked up far more deaths from asthma per year than your 125,000. Not to make your number small, or meaningless, but numbers don’t really compare. Not to mention that we’ve exported deaths close to 100,000 just in Iraq alone and demolished entire countries.

    That’s the point. Capitalism destroys as bad or worse than is bearable. Who would want to support a system that only cares about gain? Who would condem a person who wants to support a system that purports to care about people equally?

  79. moctavio Says:

    Bruni, at one point 80% of Venezuelans liked Chavez, that does not tell me anything, if people want to be superficial and buy the imagery, so be it, but I saw what I saw and anyone that belies in human rights should and would not buy the anti-CIDH, Amensty International and HRW comment, to me that;s would be enough to trun George Bush or Barak Obama off if I were watching them.

  80. Mike Nelson Says:

    Ooops…some *time* now.

  81. Mike Nelson Says:

    I’d say that “international opinion” of Chavez has been spiraling downward for some now, and this interview continues the same trajectory, m3talsmith’s silly post notwithstanding.

    Sort of off topic, but not really, is a good article in City Journal on the rhetoric of socialist policy vs. the reality when it’s put into effect.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_2_otbie-sympathy.html

  82. bruni Says:

    Well Miguel, you got an example in one of your new readers…see what the guy that just discovered your blog is just saying…he liked Chavez after watching the interview. It would be interesting to do a survey among people that don’t know or know very little about Ch and Vzla to see what was the effect.

    Yes, he left many questions unanswered, but the bottom line is what is the perception that the people who are not venezuelan, and who watch the video will have. IMHO it is going to be positive on Ch.

    That’s why I think the BBC journalist did a lousy job from my standpoint.

  83. Maria Says:

    Maria: Sure thing… there are hundreds of stories like that in Venezuela. Because no one cares. Because the morbid nature of venezuelans who likes to watch the gore examples of how someone else suffers… even after death.
    “As long as Chavez allows people to have Blackberries and altars to the many fucking virgins, saints, african gods, and the rest of the shitty supernatural cosmogony that constitute the “core” of Venezuelan society, there will be no change in the “people” (meaning the lowest level or stratum of population in terms of income and/or education).

    For the rest of us, we can always cheer up and keep going with our hypocritical selves, thinking that “our” dignity is above the rest of Chavistas.”

    Maybe you are right. But I grew up in the neighborhood right across from that hospital (Urbanizacion Antonio Jose de Sucre – UD 104) and, granted, the hospital was not John Hopkins but things like that never happened. I feel like we are descending, as a society, into a madness never seen in the history of the country. Almost next to the hospital there is a funeral home where doors have to be locked at 11:00 pm because theives would break in and rob the mourners.
    Please somebody tell me that things like that happened before that horse’s ass became president.

  84. Alexander Says:

    I agree with Bruni, everybody knows that Chavez will answer anything but nothing directly related to uncomfortable questions.
    The journalist lost too many moments to put Chavez against the wall, but anyone familiar with BBC and its institutional sympathies with the “caviar left” will understand that. I am sure the journalist did not forget what was important and not. He just did his job.
    What is happening in the last weeks is the disenchantment for Chavez. He is today’s ugly boy, for many out there, the elimination of “dollar permuta” ended the long enchantment Chavez had over its political and economic fans; on the political side, the “caviar left” and many naïve observers of Venezuelan short term history, particularly in the media.
    And on the economic side, his rentiers, those who make business with Chavez government and his fellows at government; i.e., some investment banks which everyone knows; and others which make business with the permute dollar for instance, the last are today in mourning and in pain, no more permuta. For all of them Chavez is today the ugly boy.
    Many are now surprised for what Chavez is doing now, Chavez continues to be the same Chavez from 15, 10, 5 and 2 years ago, he never changed, however, many are now changing and do not realizes that Chavez was always in the same point.

  85. Guillermo A. Says:

    After reading all the posts after mine, I could not avoid recalling a conversation with three opposition candidates from Lara last night (in between “chistorras” and scotch, regarding their deep, deep concern over HOW to convince or “lure” the ninis (a plural form of a strange venezuelan compound noun that denotes a sub-group of voting population that does not care whomever wins or participates in elections), so they can assure themselves a seat in the national assembly.
    What a bunch of assholes they conform!
    And do we still doubt that the social evolution theory got it wrong? Our society is UNABLE to discern the way out by itself, let alone through the “guidance” of opposition parties. There is NOT ONE currently active politician with the clarity of concept needed to front the Government, much less to motivate the lowest stratum of population into a fight for better life conditions. Such is the statu quo for pre-fifth century AD societies.
    I am really sorry, since I do live in Venezuela and have two little girls I just can’t have singing a national anthem written by Joselo, or to evoke the good points about communism every single morning at school. But I cannot deny the truth behind a fair socio-political-historical analysis in determining the non-feasibility of individual and bourgeois efforts to convince the democratic majority of Chavez supporters against their idiosyncrasy.

    Maria: Sure thing… there are hundreds of stories like that in Venezuela. Because no one cares. Because the morbid nature of venezuelans who likes to watch the gore examples of how someone else suffers… even after death.
    As long as Chavez allows people to have Blackberries and altars to the many fucking virgins, saints, african gods, and the rest of the shitty supernatural cosmogony that constitute the “core” of Venezuelan society, there will be no change in the “people” (meaning the lowest level or stratum of population in terms of income and/or education).

    For the rest of us, we can always cheer up and keep going with our hypocritical selves, thinking that “our” dignity is above the rest of Chavistas.

  86. Eric Lavoie Says:

    Dagoberto i could not have put it better. well said.
    They all read that crap and go wow how beautifull, then when the firing squad is about to shoot them they say “geez i was wrong” 🙂 i hope he moves to venezuela and speaks is mind openly every chances he gets.

  87. Miguel Octavio Says:

    Sorry Bruni, Chavez never answered anything and on human rights disqualified the Interamerican Commission, HRW and Amnesty International in one swipe. No journalist can learn all about Venezuela in one swipe, but this left Chavez quite naked in my opinion, he never answered anything other than turn the question around.

    m3talsmith: Come join the revolution, there is no rule of law in Venezuela, we have become the highest country in the world in homicides per capita, we compete with Russia on corruption and human rights don’t exist. Please come, we need more victims. Chavez never answered he turned questions around saying what happens somewhere else, those are not answers, humans rights are absolute, Chavez does not fight corruption and he is irreversibly destroying the country. Period. Come join him, please, but be sure to bring lots of money, Chavez needs some new people to take their property away from and inflation will top 30%, there are few jobs and those around are low paying (unless you are Chavista, but they don’t last except for the CEO)

  88. Alberto G. Says:

    m3talsmith. . . Ehhmm, you leave me with VERY little to say, But.. as they say, if an image is worth more than a thousand words, then.. Some videos you’ll see here are wort MILLIONS.. Thank to the other posters, you also leave me with little to say, I totally agree!.. COME HERE PLEASE!!.. But don’t forget to take the tour first here — quelacreo.com (100% Made In Venezuela); also banned from “Inside” Venezuela, as everything that says or shows THE TRUTH down here, so you’ll have the PLEASURE to enjoy it from your FREE Country.. Have A coffe, and ENJOY!.

  89. A_Antonio Says:

    I admire you,

    I simple I do not have the stomach to see the videos.

    As I try to never see or hear Chavez, if I can. I always change channel when he appear. At least, I prefer read news referring him, or referring to Venezuela.

    He already, in the past, damaged so much my tranquility and my family that I do not want to see him or heard him anymore, never, and in nowhere.

    After all, I had to leave the country because him.

  90. Maria Says:

    If you want to know the degree of degradation and depravation we have fallen, please read this. This happened in a goverment hospital:

    “Perro devoró parcialmente cadáver de bebé en morgue de Guaiparo ”
    http://nuevaprensa.com.ve/content/view/44223/2/

  91. terrance rogan Says:

    I think m3talsmith is either s penn, o stone or d glover. good luck with your tea party moron.

  92. Dagoberto Says:

    To m3talsmith:

    Please hop in that boat!, right know!!!.

    Please come and live here, where in the last 10 years more than 125.000 venezuelans (government figures, until it prohibited publishing them) have died directly because of unrestrained crime, and then we may talk about tazer-induced deaths.

    Please come and live here and know what it feels living in a place where over 92% of crimes are never solved (again, government figures until they became Voldemort-realm), and then we may talk about the percentage of criminals in jails.

    You – are – blatantly – missing – the – SHEER – SCALE – of – the – problems – here.

    And, given that you are coming, please sell me your dollars at governmental rate so I can feed my starving relatives.

  93. Nunne Says:

    m3talsmith:

    Not even gonna reply to your whole post. because i basically dont have time to do it right now.

    But I agree that many people that are a little bit to the left.
    Like most europeans for example actually are (and dont get me wrong with that statement :)).
    And most europeans dont know much about Chávez or his robolution, or how reality in Venezuela is changing on an almost daily basis, will probably like him in this interview.
    Sad but true.

    And when I tell people here in Sweden about the reality of Venezula they get chocked. They know he is kinda a maniac and is not totally following the law. But many think that the poorer has gotten it alot better (and that goes a long way for a socialdemocracy like Sweden).
    But they do not almsot believe me when I tell them all the truths. I can’t even count how many semi-chavez-sympathic people i have turned into chavez-opposers in less than 5 minutes.

    But if you dont believe me, just go there. After driving around 2-3 hours and seeing the hugh billboards with Chávez first being into agriculture, then into cement, then into oil and then hugging some children in school! that guy has to be best at everything together with Kim Jong-Il (the worlds greates basketball player btw) ;).
    It’s at most pathetic propaganda. But somehow it works. Don’t ask me why. And nowhere is there to be seen any such billboards from the opposition. Very democratic indeed. So there is a dead fish burried somewhere 😉

    And i noticed that on my frist visit to Venezuela when driving from the airport to caracas.

    And on the subject of being a “police state”. As you said, you have not been to venezuela. I would say that venezuela may not be a police state. But it is a military state, almost. You see militaries almost everywhere. Or National Guard or whatever they are called. Only place I have seen more militaries was in Israel.
    And I would put more faith in a cop in United States than one in Venezuela. Even though I do believe that american cops lack much needed education in how to handle various situations and that they do tend to be trigger happy.

    But all I can say is that, in venezuela, being very white, blonde and having that “touristy lost” look, I can’t even ride the subway alone at daytime for safety reasons! My friends wont let me.
    But when i’m in new york, for example, i feel safe 24/7.

    Just my cup of tea.

  94. Johnny Says:

    I usually, read this post but never I have post a comment. m3talsmith convinced to do it. I live in the US and travel to Venezuela often and see the deterioration of the way of live that they have had. It is so esay, living in a country where the rights are usualy respected and where the law works no matter what people want to say about, to think that the utopic socialist world exists or that is possible< you must be related to Sean Penn or to someone like him. All that the regime is doing is staeling all the resources that the country has, not to be "redistributed" to the people but to increase the size of their bank accounts in secretive countries, i.e Swiszerland, Andorra, Leichtenstein, etc.
    m3talsmith you are a fool and I invite you to meve to any city or town in Caracas to see for yourself

  95. m3talsmith Says:

    You guys are in a closed circuit in here. You are thriving on each others comments and pats on the back. Be wary of that or you will blind yourselves. It’s a very common occurrence over here.

    You call your country men idiots? You say you need civil wars, plagues, famines to civilize them? How Naive’!

    I am from the US. I was pointed here by a Venezuelan (or he claimed to be; and I have no reason to doubt it). He told me that this blog was one of the best coming out of Venezuela. I have my doubts.

    That video interview, made me want to hop in a boat and join in the revolution. I am not a Chavista; though given enough time to see if the situation works, I could be. All of that is because of this video.

    I thought that Chavez did very well! Compared to our stuttering, question avoiding, dishonest politicians over there, I’d say he gave a lot of direct answers. He did skirt some questions; I’m not denying that. I’m just saying he did better than even our current president – the one that’s supposed to be this great speaker. He convinced me that things could get better over there: not necessarily that he was the one to do so, but it could be done.

    Most of his answers were true. Maybe not about the corruptions, I have no local basis on those issues, but on the global scale, on the historical scale, he was spot on.

    I do think that the quieting of the opposition is wrong; this is a problem that all countries have. Venezuela is no worse there; I say no worse because I think they are better in exactly the respects that Hugo made. Criticism over here will get you thrown in jail if the wrong person hears about it; if you do not have enough people around you to witness the oppression; or if the people around you disagree with you. And it doesn’t need to come from the top.

    We have senseless death after senseless death from cops abusing power constantly. Tazering’s are the latest rage. Killing people who even agree with you, because of the sheer stupidity of the cop getting the wrong house on a drug bust for example.

    It’s no secret that we have the highest amount of people per capita in jail of all developed nations. I would thank God if I were you, that you guys live in less of a police state: whereas we live in a total police state.

    So that’s enough ranting. Stop feeding the trolls they say. I never learn my lesson I guess …

  96. bruni Says:

    I disagree with you Miguel.

    I found that the journalist was ill-prepared and that Chávez was able to put him in the defensive several times. You have to see the interview with the eyes of someone that lives in Europe and that may have some sympathy for the Chávez revolution. In my view, that person would have been satisfied with Ch. answers.

    The journalist did not came back with serious rebuttals. For instance, in the case of Jueza Afiuni, he just let Chavez ignore that he had on TV said that she should go to prison. He made too much emphasis on the economic part, and Ch, intelligently, underlined that many countries are in economic trouble..he could have rebutted but he didn’t. He said Vzla was the only country in LA with a bad economy, and Ch said that it was all because it depends on oil, which was a good answer. The journalist then, could have compared Vzla with other oil countries, but he didn’t!

    With respect to democracy, the journalist never questioned Ch about sistematic discrimination in Vzla. He asked about mis-directed justice, but without too much conviction and as soon as Ch gave him his usual answer, he was satisfied.

    The journalist never questioned about food, water and energy rationing which are clear failures that anyone can see in Vzla after 11 years of Chavismo.

    In the international front, the journalist was very mild, asking about Iran, to which Ch. said that other countries such as Brazil have deals with Iran. He stopped..

    The impression that I got was that Chavez did quite well, because he used all his charm and he suceeded because of the ill-preparedness of the journalist in front of him.

    IMHO Chávez 1, BBC 0.

  97. Fred Says:

    In a way, at this point in Venezuela’s history, international opinion is almost not important compared to what the locals think.

    I know there may not be a strong leader/leadership in the opposition. But the way things are, I rather have “bueno por conocer que malo conocido”

  98. Humberto Says:

    The reason why Venezuelans are so lacking judgement is in the title of this blog. Oil wealth corrupted Venezuelan character so that we (because I am Venezuelan) could support his rise and permanence in power.

  99. Robert Says:

    People hear and see what they want. His supporters will say “yeah you told ’em mi comandante.” Oppo and objective people, if any exist, will see his skirting the questions and pointing fingers.

  100. Fred Says:

    It would be interesting to hear what the chavistas think about it!

  101. m_astera Says:

    Venezuelans are drugged from birth with toxic levels of Fluoride which prevents their brains from working well. Yes, I’m well aware that that is supposed to be a “conspiracy theory” and only nutjobs would bring it up. It also happens to be the truth, and a very small amount of research will show that it is true. It’s pretty hard to wake up or educate people who are drugged into passivity and stupidity.

    Those who don’t already “know everything” might want to google fluoride action network. Or you can continue to assume that the government would never do anything like that. It’s only to make your teeth better, right?

  102. Kepler Says:

    Venezuelans are no more and no less intelligent than the rest.

    They are severely stupefied by absence of any decent schooling and/or prejudices derived from a mix of Spanish Middle Age thinking and the psychological issues of countless dysfunctional families.

    There is this video circulating where a journalist from Cuatro asks a farmer who will attack Venezuela. The farmer’s response (ellos, bueno, los imperialistas…eh, bueno, los enemigos”) is very telling.

    As long as our university people and our oppo leaders keep focusing on Chacao, Baruta and ‘no te metas con NUESTRA EDUCACIÓN/con la educación privada” we have a problem.

  103. Kepler Says:

    What do you think, Miguel?
    I focused on observing the mood of the journalist and tried to imagine what he was thinking and what non-Venezuelans on average may get as an impression. On three occasions I said loud “wasted question, he should have asked X”. My girlfriend (European) thought those questions were not wasted because non Venezuelans did want to know about them. I still think 3 questions went wasted as the answer was very predictable. One was about uranium and Iran, the answer was very predictable.

    All in all I think
    – Hugo will avoid such interviews like el Diablo agua bendita for some time now
    – The interview put Hugo in a very bad light to international observers, specially as he lost it time after time. You can see the military has no clue about debate, democracy or human rights.
    – The only good point he scored with some -not me, but I know he did with some- was when he mentioned the fact nations should eliminate their nuclear capabilities before criticizing Iran for wanting to have one.

    I think the journalist should have asked him why he refuses to hold real debates with the opposition (something particularly felt in countries with parliamentary democracy), whether he will create the communal parliament, whether he thinks he is a democrat and defends pluralism if he asserts Venezuela will be socialist or not be.
    I think he should have mentioned less than 30% of the population has access to Globovisión or internet, which are the only real sources of dissenting information now as Venezuelans – I mean 99% of them, not you or me – don’t read newspapers for anything but the horse races or Rachel’s breasts and Yonny’s murder.

    All in all, the interview, I think the interview was better than the ones with Larry King or CNN and far better than the one with BBC correspondent Lustig, which was a real disgrace.

  104. Guillermo A. Says:

    Humberto: No. The correct adjective/qualifier it’s not *offensive* because Chavez thinks venezuelans are idiots… it is really the fact that indeed he is RIGHT in that statement. Venezuelans ARE idiots. In historical terms we could only be compared to the European society around the IV century AD. If we were english, most of us would have our faces painted in blue. 🙂
    We still need famine, three or four civil wars, ohh… and a plague or two to complete the picture. Then we will be able to say we are close to the Renaissance.

  105. Humberto Says:

    Why is it that I do not have the patience to listen to this rambling nut job for more than 3 minutes?

    Honestly, I wish I did. But the same old litany of falsehoods… everything is great here, other countries are far worse, it is *always* somebody else fault and never my own… I cannot.

    Maybe I find it offensive that Hugo Chavez should think people are idiots.

  106. Alexander Says:

    well this interview has been sent from yesterday a million of times, I did not expected over here


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