What did socialists use before they had candles?

Electricity!

A joke I heard at a wonderful Freedomfest presentation on “The Intellectual Battle for South America”. Here, however, the central question was not about economics but about philosophy. The basis for the talk:

If the evidence of failure is so striking, why keep trying with different forms of socialism?

Their answer: because it’s not about economics but about philosophy and psychology. It’s a moral question, with the almost universal mantra in South America contrary to a market based economy. Two quotes of interest which help sum up the problem. First Eva Peron:

Where there is a need there is a right.

And then from a poster that does seem to help make sense of Venezuela:

If you think greed is bad, wait till you hear about capitalism.

The perfect way to remain very poor but also extremely resentful. I was more than primed for this by my airplane book which I picked up in an op shop just before I left.

Socialism and International Economic Order by Elizabeth Tamedly

I had never come across even its title before, nor the author, but I cannot recommend it highly enough. You see it in South America but unless we are all very careful, what she describes may be coming to a country very near to you very soon.

SOME NEWS JUST IN: Venezuela Now a Military Dictatorship. A bit of detail of an unsurprising kind, specially for those who can never learn:

Venezuela’s Marxist President Nicolás Maduro closed the loop on Monday night, declaring under powers granted to himself by his “emergency decree” announced in January (later to be declared “constitutional” by his hand-picked Supreme Court) that his new Great Sovereign Supply Mission would be run by the country’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López (shown, right).

Maduro put everything that moves into the hands of Padrino: “All the ministries, all the ministers, all the state institutions are at the service [of] and in absolute subordination [to the new mission].”

Padrino, the head of Venezuela’s armed forces, now will be in charge of transporting and distributing what’s left of products supplied by the crippled economy, enforcing price controls, and “stimulating” the economy.

A former head of the armed forces commission in the now emasculated congress, Luis Manuel Esculpí, said, “This is now a completely militarized government. The army is Maduro’s [sole] source of authority.

In the long term, the army is the only source of authority a socialist government can depend on.

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34 Responses to What did socialists use before they had candles?

  1. Roger

    First Eva Peron: Where there is a need there is a right.

    Eva Peron seems to have been Pope Francis’s tutor in economics.

  2. The BigBlueCat

    If the evidence of failure is so striking, why keep trying with different forms of socialism?

    Yes, how many times have we heard that “Venezuela isn’t really socialism”, “Sweden isn’t really socialism”, “The Soviet Union wasn’t really socialism”, “China isn’t really socialism” … and on it goes. So when will we see the real socialism, in action, meeting everyone’s needs and aspirations? Why are they so prepared to experiment at a national and international level to prove something that has never worked to the satisfaction of all?? Why should we think that the next time socialism is attempted anywhere in the world it will work as they say it will??

    In essence, we cannot trust socialism. I’m not sure we can trust capitalism all that much either, but it is a much, much better bet than socialism. At least capitalism puts some sort of value on the individual and their efforts, whereas socialism does not. In socialism, the state only cares about as much as what the state can get out of you as a unit of production, where a nuclear scientist’s unit of production is worth the same as a street cleaner. Sounds really fair, huh!

    And speaking of fair … why do socialists always talk about fairness when they are trying to put their hands on your wealth?? We’ve heard it in the superannuation policy changes, income tax changes, company tax changes, etc. etc. Taxation is not about fairness, it’s about funding government spending. It’s government spending that should be fair and equitable – how they achieve that is by making laws that are an impost, and in that impost is is incumbent on the taxpayer to legally arrange their affairs to pay the minimum tax required by law.

    “I am not evading tax in any way, shape or form. Now of course I am minimising my tax and if anybody in this country doesn’t minimise their tax they want their heads read because as a government I can tell you you’re not spending it that well that we should be donating extra.” – Kerry Packer, 1991

  3. Muddy

    Conservatives tend to look at propaganda as something nasty, a remnant of 20th Century totalitarianism. Our ideological opponents, however, view it as absolutely essential, and despite them demonstrating a mastery of the same for decades now, we still have faith in the intelligence and rationality of individuals. That’s working well, isn’t it?

  4. thefrolickingmole

    Capitalism problem is it tends to move in booms and busts, but every bust still leaves us better off than we were prior to the cycle.

    Socialism is a boom (as stuff is expropriated and scattered) followed by a bust that leaves everyone worse off than before.

  5. Habib

    Only non-western commies can rely on the military, and even then not always (Argentina for example). Western militaries are almost exclusively conservative, and detest the left. There’s the odd exception like numbers, usually POGs and REMFs. Fortunately for pinkos they also believe in and defend their constitutions, making it unlikely the most corrupt, incompetent and malicious regime would ever be turfed out of office by force.

  6. Coincidence I know but Padrino translates from Italian into English as Godfather

  7. Socialism is a boom (as stuff is expropriated and scattered) followed by a bust that leaves everyone worse off than before.

    Socialisms “boom” is usually derived from the previous administrations efforts (e.g. Costello/Howard 2008). Thus they blow all the hard work of capitalist oriented Governments and claim it is their success, then follows the bust, the right takes power, revives the dying economy and takes all the grief for fixing up the mess left by the left. Completely arse about ain’t it?
    A socialist system that started from nothing would collapse very quickly into chaos. This was proved several times in the New World when communes were established in certain areas and either were wiped out or collapsed and then they tried a bit of freedom instead.
    We’re just doing this experiment all over again, yet a bloody again, on an almost global scale.

  8. herodotus

    Obama’s running out of time to try that one, but if he manages the baton pass to Hillary it’s a whole new round.

  9. Fizbang

    Hey guys, I wanted to point out that Objectivists have long argued that the defense for Capitalism must be made on ethical grounds. It’s a failure by Conservatives and Libertarians to do so that has let the left win in every parliament in the Western World today where even so-called “right-wing” parties like the Liberals in Australia only expand the government when they are in office.

    Here are some good links on the arguments for Capitalism but there is a lot more to be read on the subject for those interested:

    AR Lexicon

  10. .

    I wanted to point out that Objectivists have long argued that the defense for Capitalism must be made on ethical grounds.

    Must?

    I think it is a matter of should. It should be presented with pragmatic reasons.

    Thank you for posting. I think Ayn Rand’s best work was Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal.

    It still really is a much maligned and misrepresented idea.

  11. Tator

    Habib,
    its the same with the Police Services, most coppers are of a conservative nature, mainly because we deal with the lefts failures on a daily basis and are forced to keep dealing with them due to left wing magistrates and judges sourced mainly from left wing legal firms. Any lawyer who is right wing is normally a barrister specialising in corporate law or in commercial law practices.
    We do not believe that little Billy the Goose who is coming at us with a knife is doing this because society made him like this and it isn’t really his fault, we know he is coming at us with a knife because he made a personal decision to attack a copper and is going to wear several .40cal rounds because he is a threat to our safety and needs to be instantly incapacitated before serious injuries or death occurs.
    As it is, if the ALP or any other left wing government starts ordering coppers to arrest people, they will be told to fuck off in no uncertain terms as in SA, the power of arrest and other policing powers are powers of the office of constable, not delegated down by government, but coppers are actually statutory office holders who are sworn in rather than simply employed by the government. I believe the employment of military personnel is of a similar nature and they swear an oath to serve the crown and not the government of the day like we do. You may be able to confirm that for me.

  12. Tator

    Herodotus,
    It is actually illegal for Obama to use the US military on US soil via the Posse Comitatis Act which limits the ability of the Executive Government to use the US Army or US Airforce to enforce domestic policies. The only way for this to occur is for Congress to suspend the act itself and this cannot be done by Executive order either.
    This act does not apply to National Guard units or Air National Guard units but they come under the command of the State Governors and not the President.

  13. Toiling Mass

    Venezuela is a military dictatorship now?

    After a few more years of starvation, bellicosity across borders, and a few rounds of executions, wait for it to be styled a ‘Far-Right’ regime – and a cautionary tale.

  14. thefrolickingmole

    Mr Rusty

    A good point, my “example” was the Nazi style boom, where wealth can be quickly plundered and redistributed from “non people” to create a sugar hit of “wealth”.

    I like to tease Seppos occasionally by reminding them they were the original communists in America

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jerrybowyer/2011/11/23/occupy-plymouth-colony-how-a-failed-commune-led-to-thanksgiving/#4e5a3c63bcd1

    One of the earliest and arguably most historically significant North American colonies was Plymouth Colony, founded in 1620 in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. As I’ve outlined in greater detail here before (Lessons From a Capitalist Thanksgiving), the original colony had written into its charter a system of communal property and labor.

    As William Bradford recorded in his Of Plymouth Plantation, a people who had formerly been known for their virtue and hard work became lazy and unproductive. Resources were squandered, vegetables were allowed to rot on the ground and mass starvation was the result. And where there is starvation, there is plague. After 2 1/2 years, the leaders of the colony decided to abandon their socialist mandate and create a system which honored private property. The colony survived and thrived and the abundance which resulted was what was celebrated at that iconic Thanksgiving feast.

  15. Habib

    Tator, same oath. The GG is the CiC of the ADF. Most coppers I know are fairly conservative leaning, however the union’s fairly militant, and upper echelons are stuffed with lefties (like the ADF). My brother’s at the bar, openly consevative, and been passed over for silk twice, it of course being given to junior activist types, who are usually shithouse lawyers and wind up making dicks of themselves on the bench. The long march has been busy everywhere there’s the opportunity for power and wealth without merit or effort.

  16. Robbo

    Why aren’t we hearing about this great news from those luvvies here in Oz who only a few short years ago were raving about Venezuela and it’s fabulous economy. I seem to recall that they wanted what they said Venezuela had replicated here. Come out come out wherever you are and tell us more.

  17. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Just because another attempt at a fully-planned economy failed, this doesn’t mean that it will always fail! OUR attempt will succeed, and be all the more fabulous for it!
    Perhaps we’ll always need places like North Korea to remind us of how bad socialism or communism actually is.

  18. Tator

    Habib,
    having been involved with PASA as a delegate, most of the militancy is towards the crap the government and SAPOL throws at serving members. A lot is to do with member welfare as well as OH&S is a massive issue with policing. One of the biggest things about the police unions is that their membership levels are over the 99% mark (99.7% for PASA with only 30 coppers in SA who are not members) as it is the unions who cover our workcover and disciplinary legal fees plus any civil cases brought against coppers who were just doing their jobs. It is not militant in the way the CFMEU is with ongoing strikes and illegal behaviour, but very proactive and quite willing to publically take on the governments of the day.
    We had a major issue here in SA where the ALP took away everyones workers compensation coverage after 2 years and medical expenses after 3 unless you reached an unrealistic level of injury (around loss of limb level) and that was including existing approved claims. Mates of mine had absolutely fucked backs from getting hit by stolen cars or having their face rebuilt after getting shot in the face with a shotgun and they didn’t reach the 30% threshold. PASA took them on whilst negotiating an EBA and got it changed back to the previous regime for coppers only via the EBA route, this was on top of a fair pay rise as well.
    For another example, I have used up around 5 years worth of subscriptions value in legal fees for workcover issues where SAPOL has been dicking me around. Others have had used more in legal funding over civil claims from incidents where the copper had only done his job and done it properly. It is basically cheap insurance for your house, along with them included a $300k life insurance policy on you as part of your subscriptions, it is good value for coppers.

  19. Lem

    Venezuela a military dictatorship, eh? Fancy that, who would have guessed. Never mind, Citi has all of its bullion in Switzerland. The bus driver in chief is likely to soon discover that default on your government loans really sucks, but only for the short period of time before you’re doing gymnastics from a lamp post.

  20. Rabz

    his new Great Sovereign Supply Mission

    Well, there’s obviously no shortage of grandiose rhetoric in Venezuela.

  21. No Eynstine

    thefrolickingmole
    #2090319, posted on July 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm
    Capitalism problem is it tends to move in booms and busts, but every bust still leaves us better off than we were prior to the cycle.

    We actually don’t know this to be true. There never seems to have been a period where centralized monarchy or government has not interfered with the economy through taxes when the boom starts.

    The theory of a boom period should be that all excess products become cheaper until there are shortages and prices return. Certainly for bad business managers, those over producing before the boom, there will be negative fallout but for those industrious producers who see the boom coming they will already have changed to new products. However if the centralized banks have all put their money in the wrong market then there will be less investment funds for the new markets. As a result less opportunity for new investment booms and employment booms in the new markets.

    So, perhaps, without the intervention of centralized government or banking, in such a diverse market as today there may well not be any bust period.

    On the same point full employment is another one of those tricky little word plays that centralized government like to scare the public with. To even suppose knowledge of what the term means is to lead to centralized planning. Full employment could be anywhere between 3% unemployment rate to 13% unemployment rate as people shift from industry to industry over short to medium time tables. Interference with the natural shift by creating artificial wage barriers such as minimum wage rates will stifle natural changes in market opportunity and natural wage rates created by demand.

    Everything else is simply socialism. All industry interference is socialism and as long as there is centralized planning whether it be the RBA or the Federal Reserve no body can predict what would have been the outcome without the interference.

    So it is not possible to say that booms and busts are an outcome of capitalism.

  22. rugbyskier

    It’s no coincidence that the only developed economy on the South American continent is the one which went through a economic reform programme of deregulation and privatisation in the 80s and 90s, which was so successful that when left-wing governments have been elected they haven’t meddled with it. Santiago demonstrates the adage that the sign of a wealthy country is not when poorer people own cars but when richer people voluntarily take public transport.

    The biggest problem that Chile has is controlling the immigration of people from the parts of South America that cling to the notion that socialism works.

  23. Art Vandelay

    Padrino, the head of Venezuela’s armed forces, now will be in charge of transporting and distributing what’s left of products supplied by the crippled economy, enforcing price controls, and “stimulating” the economy.

    They should call upon the expert advice of Wayne Swan and Ken Henry. I’m sure Venezuela’s economy just needs a pink batts scheme and some school halls to make things right.

  24. Gab

    The way turnbull is spending, and his love of CO2 taxes and renewable “energy”, it won’t be long before Australia goes down the Venezeuala track. Heck, he’s already thieving citizen’s superannuation accounts. And retrospectively to boot.

  25. egg_

    Like the Convent: ‘Lights off – candles out’?

  26. Tel

    It is actually illegal for Obama to use the US military on US soil via the Posse Comitatis Act which limits the ability of the Executive Government to use the US Army or US Airforce to enforce domestic policies. The only way for this to occur is for Congress to suspend the act itself and this cannot be done by Executive order either.

    And that would be why they invented Homeland Security, FEMA… that would be why they buy military weapons and bucket loads of hollow points for the EPA and park rangers… that would be why the head of the FBI openly admits that certain people are untouchable. But I’m not supposed to mention any of that. Too weird. Because, it’s not like socialists have ever had a penchant for seizing power through revolutionary zeal in the past or anything *rolls eyes*.

  27. Tel

    Padrino, the head of Venezuela’s armed forces, now will be in charge of transporting and distributing what’s left of products supplied by the crippled economy, enforcing price controls, and “stimulating” the economy.

    So, how’s the economic stimulus going?

    Well sir, I got a whole lot of guys out there building boxes today.

    Excellent! What industry is that?

    They called themselves undertakers, I believe.

  28. ella

    Fizbang
    #2090344, posted on July 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm
    “Hey guys, I wanted to point out that Objectivists have long argued that the defense for Capitalism must be made on ethical grounds. It’s a failure by Conservatives and Libertarians to do so that has let the left win in every parliament in the Western World today where even so-called “right-wing” parties like the Liberals in Australia only expand the government when they are in office.

    Here are some good links on the arguments for Capitalism but there is a lot more to be read on the subject for those interested:”

    I’ve long argued that one never allows the Left to choose the battleground. Consider explaining the origins of the term ‘Capitalism’ in a moral argument since it is used pejoratively by the enemy.

    The term ‘Capitalism’ was first coined by Socialists?

    My knowledge of Economics is limited compared with others on the Cat.

  29. Michael of Oberon

    Until they run out of money to pay the soldiers.

  30. I believe the employment of military personnel is of a similar nature and they swear an oath to serve the crown and not the government of the day like we do. You may be able to confirm that for me.

    Didn’t an Aust Defence Department Secretary get the sack over that a while ago? Howard asked him and some of the generals ‘who do you serve’ and anyone who didn’t say ‘Government of the day’ were demoted and the secretary was sacked?

  31. Zyconoclast

    Santiago demonstrates the adage that the sign of a wealthy country is not when poorer people own cars but when richer people voluntarily take public transport.

    That works a treat here in Oz.
    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/heres-christopher-pyne-talking-to-malcolm-turnbull-about-innovation-sitting-on-sydneys-crappy-train-network-2015-10

  32. Socialism and International Economic Order by Elizabeth Tamedly

    It’s good to see that they are not pretending any more. They were supposed to wait until after the purges.

    Socialist amateur hour.

  33. Ant

    In the long term, the army is the only source of authority a socialist government can depend on.

    It’s not much good without control of the media and the flow of information.

  34. Fred Lenin

    The comrades had better have a strong KGB to control the Army ,with political officers in each platoon to to keep an eye on the men . Armed peasants can be terminally dangerous to comrades they dont need any more . The officer class probably cone from the middle class and can be ambitious look at Pinochet and Galtieri ,dictators and generals . Be nice to see the smart ass comrades in front of firing squads .
    Spanish speaking SouthAmerica has a history of military dictators the army and the church are the only really organised groups .

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