Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Hugo Chavez as dead as Venezuelan freedom [updated]

_ChavezPennHugo Chavez, the socialist who was celebrated by idiots while engineering Venezuela's rapid mass pauperisation, is dead.

The only thing about which to mourn is what he did to his country.

UPDATE: Here’s what Jeff Perren and I wrote for The Free Radical magazine back in 2007:

A challenge for socialists under thirty
by Peter Cresswell

What do you do when reality confronts your most cherished beliefs with unwelcome facts? "When the facts change," said economist John Maynard Keynes, "I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
clip_image002[4]I ask because any socialist under thirty who is reading this will, if they're honest, be looking at the collapse of petro-socialist Venezuela and asking themselves some serious questions about socialism in practice. Venezuela's agony is not unique -- anyone over forty who's ever seen a news broadcast has seen it all before. Her fate was shared by every single country anywhere that ever adopted the destructive principles of More Socialism, More Government and the demonisation of capitalism and wealth production.
Both the collapse and the spiral into totalitarianism are the inevitable results of those ideals.
Peter Schwartz suggested back in 1995 that anyone over forty who had watched the collapse of the Berlin Wall and didn't draw the necessary conclusions about the abject failure of socialism as an ideology was either deluded, dishonest or braindead.

Those too young then but who share those same ideals now should have been watching current events in Venezuela with the same interest, and hopefully with your brains switched on. Those of us old enough to have watched the crumbling, the penury, the totalitarianism, and the eventual collapse of every socialist regime known to man know what socialism looks like when implemented. This is your generation's opportunity to watch and to learn.
clip_image004    The process is the same everywhere: First they nationalise industry, then they censor all opposition, and then slowly the people starve -- and by that stage there's no one left to speak out. For those with eyes to see, Venezuela is just the latest tragic lesson.
Chavez's nationalisation of Venezuela's energy and telecommunications industries, of oil fields, banks and steel producers, these were just his first steps. His recent ham-fisted closure of the only remaining opposition TV station is the next. In the socialist gulag, free speech is not to be trusted, as Yahoo News reported:

President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech. [The protests followed the] shutting-down of the country's oldest television station, the openly anti-government Radio Caracas Television network (RTC). On Monday several people were injured as police in Caracas fired rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a demonstration against the RCTV shutdown, following the fifth straight day of protests... RCTV was replaced by TVes, a state-backed "socialist" station...

Events such as these make the news.. The slow, stale stagnation of life (and death) under Chavez doesn't. Author Jeff Perren describes life under Chavez in the article below.

clip_image006Like I say, to those of who saw the heyday of socialism, we look at the destruction of yet another country by the failed ideology of socialism this with the benefit of hindsight. If we're honest about what we've seen, none of this is either unfamiliar or unpredictable. Those productive Venezuelans, for example, who went on nationwide strike four years ago to protest the imminent liquidation of their property rights and themselves under Chavez's communist revolution knew what they were about, and knew exactly what was afoot. Jonathan Hoenig makes their point:

As Ayn Rand wrote, "without property rights, no other rights are possible." Chavez’s socialism, under which private property does not exist, is bringing this once-promising country back to the third world. He might have called Bush “El Diablo”, but it doesn’t take much to see the effect of Chavez’s benevolent populism.

Simply put, he is leading his people down a pathway to hell.

And note well: It's the same pathway down which every single socialist country before them has gone. Make no mistake: this is socialism's inevitable result. As Jeff Perren sadly concludes, “Given the country’s current trajectory, it’s almost inevitable that many people will have to suffer and die, needlessly, before Chavez’s increasingly harsh and unworkable socialist policies are discarded.”

I urge any young socialist reading this not to let this suffering and despotism happen with your sanction. Socialism is a bacillus as destructive as smallpox. I implore you to learn from the suffering and dying in Venezuela; to refuse to sanction it; and to help wipe the bacillus that caused it from the face of the earth, just as smallpox itself was once eradicated.
    Leo Tolstoy said once that everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. I'd like to turn that around. Changing yourself and your own ideals for the better is precisely where changing the world actually starts. That's where positive change begins. The battle against the destruction and human misery brought about by the ideals of socialism begins by rejecting those same ideals in yourself, and then by ensuring that what's being done to Venezuelans in the name of "people power" isn't done to you, or done in your name.
    "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?"

Venezuela, Your Three Minutes Are Up
by Jeffrey Perren

By now, anyone following the news even slightly is aware that Venezuela has been speeding toward full socialism for the past few years, picking up speed with every passing month. Abstract debates of the value and validity of socialism versus capitalism are worthwhile. But, it's possible for those living under the latter to lose sight of the very real, everyday effects on those suffering under the former. A few words in her second language from a college student in Venezuela should help bring the issue closer to home.

Before I turn 18, I was already went to several manifestations [political demonstrations], run from the military, smell the tear gas..., seen people die not only because of political violence but also for poverty, hungry and common delinquency.
[Posted by ‘Corina’ at

Her English may be flawed, but her thinking is perfect. She goes on to say

Chavez supporters screamed 'larga vida al socialismo' [long life to socialism] know that if the democracy was in danger before, now it was killed for sure... in a very legal way. Of course, people should understand that not all things legal are democratic or fair. The law it’s a tool, [it] depends on how do you use it.

Shades of Atlas Shrugged.

History sometimes repeats itself with depressing similarity. In January 1969, Ayn Rand published an essay in the magazine The Objectivist entitled ‘The 'Inexplicable Personal Alchemy.’ In it, she discussed an editorial in The New York Times that reported on a Soviet trial of several young dissidents. After being sentenced for merely speaking his mind about the then-recent invasion and suppression of Czechoslovakia, a young man stated "For three minutes in Red Square, I felt free. For that, I'm happy to take your three years."

imageDuring the same historical period, pay phones were common around New York City, mobile phones being largely limited to limousines. A user could insert a quarter and receive in exchange three minutes of talk-time. When the time expired a recording would come on the line to inform the caller that "Your three minutes are up." At that point they could deposit more money to continue the conversation.

Sadly, some citizens of Venezuela will not be allowed to deposit another quarter in the near future, nor even to have quarters. President Hugo Chavez and his supporters (which, judging by recent election results there, is a large percentage of the country) will make sure of that. Those who would be willing to pay a quarter — for a phone call, a slice of meat, or other things we take for granted — will simply find that those things are not there.

But goods and services are not the only victim of the Venezuelan government's socialist policies. Chavez and his socialist government has been steadily nationalizing the telecommunications business in Venezuela. Seizing material goods isn't the be all and end all of socialist-inspired tyranny. No one must be allowed to criticize the plan, for that might expose it to uncomfortable facts.

The de facto nationalisation of TV and other media began some time ago. For example, when Chavez gives a speech, all stations are required to interrupt programming to carry it live in its entirety. That entirety sometimes lasts hours.

The recent shutting down of the popular Radio Caracas Television and its replacement by a state-funded channel -- by the simple expedient of refusing to renew its broadcast license -- completes a now-familiar pattern.

RCTV was the only channel still critical of Chavez that had an audience of any significant size. Chavez ripped their broadcast license, claiming that the channel “poisoned” Venezuelans with programming that promoted capitalism. One thing Chavez knows well -- as does many a socialist dictator -- is that socialist ideas can't compete freely with those of capitalism. That is, they can't both compete and at the same time hope to rationally persuade the general public who just wants a better life. Hence, force must be used to shut off debate.

But in at least one instance, there was an opposing voice. As Corina puts it so eloquently:

Suddenly there’s a line in the middle of the TV screen and the rebels’ TV Channels shows in the right side Chávez speaking and in the left side, a familiar street of Caracas downtown, some smoke and confusion and some letters that says "1 muerto..2 muertos" [1 death, 2 death]. And then no TV at all, no Chavez, no streets, like the TV were damaged or something.

Venezuela could use a John Galt to ensure that the opposing voice isn't silenced. But, alas, no such thing is likely there anytime soon. Very soon, no one in Venezuela will be allowed to say anything the government might disapprove of, even were they able to obtain the means. To guarantee that, the National Assembly recently passed by a simple majority the "Law on the Social Responsibility of Radio and Television".

Shades of Soviet Russia. Or, the FCC in the U.S. under JFK circa 1962.

(The title of the Act alone should tell you all you need to know, but if you wish to know the full line-by-line horror, details can be found here: RethinkVenezuela.Com/Downloads/MediaLaw.htm. In any case, legislation of this sort is familiar to those who have paid any attention at all to the actions of the FCC in the United States for the past fifty years. The difference is that Venezuela takes such things more seriously.)

Many people in Venezuela, however, have little time to think about their loss of free speech given the loss of simple food items. Reports are becoming more frequent that, in true 1960s Soviet style, grocery stores are no longer stocking the basic foods normally taken for granted — sugar or black beans, for example.

These have long been staples in the average Venezuelan diet. But because Chavez is so determined to "help the poor" in the socialist way, soon neither rich nor poor will be able to find them in Venezuelan grocery stores, and Chavez will have made everyone poor, and everyone hungry.

Chavez' price controls are having the same effects they've had everywhere else in the past 200 years. The Venezuelan President's moral purity — he excoriates George Bush while cosying up to Iran's glove-puppet dictator Ahmadinejad — apparently is matched by an equal understanding (or lack thereof) of the basics of economics.

The effects have already been felt in economic terms. Compare some statistics for the region. The GDP per capita of Chile is $12,600, that of Argentina $15,000. Even in Mexico, not exactly a rich country as measured by the life of the average person there, it's $10,600. In Venezuela however, the figure is $6,900, behind even the Dominican Republic at $8,000.

This in a country that supplies a full eleven per cent of U.S. oil imports, and who received over $46 billion last year in oil receipts. Of course, as oil production continues to decline, those numbers will worsen. The lack of investment and innovation that is part of the state-dominated Venezuelan oil business will see to that.

But to make matters worse, Chavez has recently completed the takeover of the oil business in Venezuela. Abrogating contracts and ignoring non-Venezuelan company rights is just socialist 'business as usual.’ After all, if individual property rights are chimera, and private properties are anathema why shouldn't he act 'in the name of the people' to take what belongs to 'the people.’ La gente? “Ése es yo.”

All this should come as no surprise to observers of events there of the past few years. Just as Hitler was plain for seven years or more before he was elected, so too Chavez has made no secret of his goals and plans. The comparisons don’t ends there. As the new law granting Chavez sweeping powers was enacted, National Assembly President Cilia Flores declared, "Fatherland, socialism or death. We will prevail!" Citizens of Nazi Germany would have found the rallying cry familiar. The Nazis, fortunately, did not prevail – taking the third of the three options espoused -- but many others died seeing that they did fail. Let's hope Corina in Caracas isn't one of them who dies as part of today’s opposition.

There is a point here that extends beyond Venezuela, and that is this: After decades of real-life experience in dozens of countries all across the world, anyone who still believes that applied socialism can have any other result than what we are now seeing in Venezuela simply doesn't believe in scientific induction. No matter how 'scientific' or 'rational' they may claim Marxism to be, it's the same old fantasy wherever it thrives.

That telephone operator phrase from the 1960s mentioned above rapidly became a euphemism for someone whose life was about to end abruptly. Venezuela's three minutes are just about up.

Jeff Perren is a professional writer with a background in philosophy and physics.

Cartoons by Cox and Forkum


  1. the drunken watchman6 Mar 2013, 18:47:00

    I did not know that facts could change ....?

  2. the drunken watchman6 Mar 2013, 21:04:00

    ... I thought that was the whole point of facts :)

  3. It is disgusting that you'd lower yourselves to use a quote from that vile bastard Maynard Keynes, basing an argument upon the bilge what spewed forth from his backside. Your poor Ayn Rand would be dry retching in her grave as she tuned at 240 rpm of she knew what you'd gone done.

    "When the facts change," said economist John Maynard Keynes, "I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

    Ans: I say this to you, you dopey deviant pervert, "Marnard(!), Facts of reality do not alter. The Drunken Watchman is right."


  4. El hijo de puta esta muerto.... gracias a Dios.

    Dave Mann

  5. Pay rich tributes to the legendary hero who is a symbol of hope to the millions around the world, bringing about tumultous changes to the welfare of his homeland and the continent at large. He outlived the US conspiracies & media propaganda and and served the national wealth to the welfare of its citizens, the move that provoked the champions of 'dmocracy' for fear of losing the oil revenues, like Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. Salute to the patriot leader and an inspiring fighter for the causes of the suppressed in the world

  6. Well written and accurate on Hugo.

    John G.

  7. @ Dard Shayari: Thats very good! An excellent parody and extremely funny, thank you :D

    Dave Mann

  8. @Drunken Watchman & Amit

    'Facts' do change since knowledge is never complete.

    Think of everything people were certain about 500 or even 100 years ago that seems comically ignorant today.

  9. Terry

    There is a difference between a fact and beliefs. Perhaps you didn't realise. Interestingly Ayn Rand did. She wrote clearly about it. Recommend you focus your attention on her epistemology.

    Amit Cim PhD

  10. Taken in context, Keynes quote is simply saying that if the evidence changes you should reconsider your conclusions - rather than blindly cling to the same beliefs in defiance of reality.

    Goes to show that even a broken clock like Keynes can be right twice a day.

  11. Mark

    Don't agree with you about context. The actual context from which the quote is taken is Maynard Keynes the man--- fraud, cheater, liar, shallow, dishonest, deceptive, self-centred, establishment bum-chum, cunning, perverse. Keynes is actually stating (in nice dress-up words which he knows the recipient will misinterpret) that when his fictions are about to be detected, he'll seamlessly swap them for new fabrications even if the new contradict the old. Notice how he sneers at those who'd stick to consistent moral principle. He disgiuses his nature with clever wordsmithing, but it is nevertheless occasionally visible if you look.

    As a measure of the man one only need read a little of Hayek. On being asked why he never bothered to write a critical rebuttal of Keynes seminal work, The General Theory, Hayek discusses how in the '30s he prepared and published a detailed two-part rebuttal of Keynes' Treatise only to discover that Keynes radically shifted position and economic philosophy even before the second part of the Hayek work was even published. On the release of General Theory Hayek never bothered to prepare a critique since he understod that before it would be finished Keynes would have shifted position 180-degrees yet again. Keynes confirmed to him this is what he was prepared to do. The man was as slippery as a sewer rat.

    Another occasion Hayek reports is shortly prior to the death of Keynes. Hayek was gently scolding Keynes about how the governments and central bankers around the world were eviscerating their people's wealth and wrecking countries by monetary inflation--- Keynes scheme at work. Keynes admitted he was uncomfortable with his inflationary disciples actions. Keynes confided that he would write a book and nudge the disciples in a new direction. Yes, he was about to publish a work with yet another changed philosophy and 180-degree intellectual aboutface.



  12. For around 300 years, Newton laws were undeniable facts until Einstein proposed the theory of relativity, which overthrew Newton concepts of absolute time & space. Now Newtonian mechanics is no longer facts (it's false), but it still useful in our daily lives for things we design & build. Now concepts in the relativity theory are the new established facts. It looked like that facts in relativity will become fiction in the next few decades in which new theories are being developed since relativity cannot account for certain observed physical phenomena of today. Facts do changes.

  13. Falafulu

    Different context from what we were into discussing. We come back to the context in just a second or two. Falafulu, facts of reality do not alter. Once found they are build on to attain yet more knowledge: identify more: understand extra stuff: get to more facts of reality. That is what happened with Newton and Einstein. Newton derived his Laws. Einstein added the extra detail. Newton's Laws remain correct and are employed, exactly like as in what you disclose, except when specific circumstances demand superior resolution. Notice how Einstein did not overthrow Newton. He still there. Also notice that Newton's discoveries still are referred to as Laws, while Einstein was responsible for Theory only.

    back we go back to the context. Both Newton and Einstein were engaged in lifetime long search for truth. To the full extent of their abilities each of them sought to understand how things are. Neither of them as a matter of routine suddenly altered philosophy, arbitraily shifting direction and coming up with completely different formulation contradicting what they hadd previously worked up. On the other hand THAT is exactly what Keynes did do. He did it more than the once. He was fake.

    How come you into Einstein and Newton? I hope you are not into Karl Popper too much though. He was wrong you know. He confused up many scientists with where his ideas were erroneous and led people astray to confusion, but I do not think he really meant to do it this harm. Are you from a scientist background? What kind of science do you do?

    Back to Keynes. You know he was an amateur economist. He was not well educated in that art and not well read. He came into the field with the contemptuous arrogance of the profoundly ignorant. Everything he wrote had been demonstrated false by previous academics and writers in economics. He provided nothing new at all. He added nothing of worth but he was a ruthless self-promoter and confidence trickster. He was a memeber from a group of indulgent pretenders- considering themselves intellectualy superior and morally superior to everyone else. It is disgusting that they were allowed the infuence they did exert. Dum to listen to them. Never ever ever ever let the dribbling snot of Keynes or any of his type to taint your writing unless there is a specific reason to do it, lke joking about them or showing us how wrong they are or teasing equally ignorant circle-jerksters like Keynes hisself.


  14. Hugo Chavez a Rare leader who Did not bow to thevglobal powers..He was loved by his people and respected by all. I hope Venezuela can give birth to another good leader to its people.

  15. I suspect that Chevez's successor is much more likely to take the country in an authoritarian direction. I'm very worried.

    But I think you make it much too easy on the Chavez detractors. The truth is that Chavez made life for the people of Venezuela better than the plutocrats that the oil industry (and thus the US government) prefers. The enormous pressure that the US puts on governments that don't cow to our corporate interests is unacceptable and should be the focus of our anger. What's more, it makes it surprising that Chavez did not become more authoritarian than he did. I would never say he was an angel, but "tyranny"? Really?!

  16. Better? What on earth are you smoking. The downward spiral is now so dire the Venezuelan government is now nationalising toilet paper!


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