The Left, as a whole, in the Western World, has become far more extreme in this century than it was in the last. The Socialist and “Conservative” parties of Europe, the Democratic Party of America, the universities everywhere, the media and the film industries, book publishers, song writers, judiciaries, and a slightly varying half of the voters in almost all Western countries, are predominantly of one opinion, consciously or semi-consciously, articulately or silently, that Marx and Lenin, and even (though their names may be spoken a shade more sotto voce) Stalin and Mao, were right.
This is from Front Page, by Vladimir Tismaneanu:
It has become fashionable among leftist circles to invoke a return to Lenin, to radicalism, to utopia. Among those who advocate such imperatives to “retest the communist hypothesis” one can count French philosopher Alain Badiou, a former admirer of the Khmer Rouge, and Slovene thinker, Slavoj Zizek, the new idol of Western university campuses, subject of documentary hagiographic movies, and prophet of a new phantasmagoric world revolution.
To know more about Slavoj Zizek, see our post Red alert, January 21, 2009. And to get the flavor of the man, watch the video at the foot of this post.
Did the partisans of such positions ever stop to think how it would sound a call for “retesting the Nazi hypothesis”? One must be totally oblivious to history, an incurable cynic, in order to ignore the fact that Leninism, just like National-Socialism, means political terrorism, the apotheosis of fanatical partisanship, the boundless cult of violence and nihilism, etc. In short, Leninism presupposes … the destruction of the inner man. Leninism is theoretical and practical anti-humanism.
‘The inner man” in this context means the individual for himself alone, not as a unit of “society”.
There have been conferences and symposia where Lenin is presented, in an academic context and without any trace of compassion for the millions of victims of “the great experiment”, as the philosopher of the break with an order putatively condemned by history.
The “order putatively condemned by history” is of course capitalism, or the free market. Those who condemn it and praise “the great [Communist] experiment” have not noticed that the free market has brought widespread prosperity wherever it has been allowed to, or that Lenin’s experiment, the miserable Soviet Union, failed and fell and lost the Cold War.
All in all, it is unsurprising that the prophets of violence worship Lenin. What is surprising is that intellectuals, who should have learnt from the catastrophes of the 20th century, are engaged in an endeavor driven by programmatic irresponsibility. It is simply shocking that in countries where the Leninist model was implemented, one can still read and hear hymns honoring the architect of a criminal system.
Should we be amazed by all this? What could one expect from the epigones of Georg Lukacs, the Marxist philosopher who declared … that he preferred the worst form of socialism to the best incarnation of capitalism. …
Georg Lukacs was the Hungarian Commissar, and philosopher of drama and art, on whom Jillian Becker’s character L is based in her novel L: A Novel History.
Real history does not matter for such sectarians. What does matter is the dogma to which they are faithful in total disregard of reality. … It is quite telltale that one of Hugo Chavez’s intellectual heroes was Istvan Meszaros, one of Lukacs’s former students who … has remained a flaming Marxist, faithful to the dialectical sophistries of his mentor.
An excellent example of such world-view is a recent memoir by a Romanian Marxist intellectual, Ion Ianosi, who happened to be deeply involved for long stretches of time in the ideologization of the country’s culture during communism. The volume’s title is My International. Some critics glorify the book as testimony of heartfelt sincerity. What is missing in those more than 800 pages is an honest analysis of Bolshevism as justification of social genocide. Ion Ianosi seemingly excels on topics such as “Marx and Art”, “Lenin and Art”, pretty much the same fields for which his expertise was called upon during his activity within the Romanian communist party’s Agitprop. But Ianosi shies away from trying his expert pen on topics such as the crimes against humanity inspired by the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Even before the Bolsheviks’ coming into power, it was clear that Lenin was a fanatical propagandist, a utopian ideologue fixated on social purity and purification, an heir to Robespierre and St. Just, but no philosopher. Philosophy implies doubt and Lenin was the man without doubts. …
Lenin was the practitioner of a simplistic, partisan, and exclusivist philosophy. He rejected emphatically any possibility for a middle path, of a tertium datur between what he called “bourgeois ideology” and the “proletarian” one.
We at TAC are all for “bourgeois ideology”, if the bourgeoisie as such – the successful middle class – can be said to have such a dusty thing as an ideology. We value the middle class, anyway, above the others, because out of it has come almost every one of those men (and handful of women) who have advanced our civilization and augmented the glory of our culture in the last five hundred years. (Though also most of those who’ve done our civilization the worst harm, such as Marx, Lenin, Lukacs …)
Lenin’s Manichaeism [bourgeois bad, proletarian good] was inexorable. For Lenin and his followers, ideas were (are) always the manifestation of class interests. … This is the meaning of a notion essential for the Leninist conception about ideas, ideologies and philosophical consciousness: partiinost – partisanship, class position, militant commitment, total and abject subordination to the party line.
Leninism is a revolutionary doctrine that sanctifies political violence and condemns entire social categories to state-engineered extinction. It is … rooted in the visceral contempt for the rule of law, legality, and the universality of human rights. “Back to Lenin” means a return to barbarism, blindness, and murder.
We are not enamored of the phrase “human rights”. We prefer to speak of human freedom, which we suppose is what Professor Tismaneanu, who has lived under Communism in Romania, probably means.
Now here’s Slavoj Zizek. He starts at about the 2 minute mark. Don’t expect to be rewarded for over 15 minutes of paying attention with any impressive ideas. He says nothing much, but with strong emphasis, and what he does say is notably wrong. For instance, that Norway is intolerant of immigrants! (Go here to test this notion, and to any other of Bruce Bawer’s numerous articles on the same subject.) He thinks the major political groupings in Europe are now the “capitalist anti-immigrants” on one side and the [Islamic] immigrants on the other. (Would it were so! ) He calls himself a Leftist, though oddly declaring that in America there is “an excess of anti-capitalism”; calls Fox News “the enemy”; and implies that the worst problem facing mankind is … you guessed it … global-warming.
Jillian Becker comments: “There are few writers in the world whose appreciation of a political book is as worth having as Daniel Greenfield’s. Those who regularly read Front Page and his daily essay at his own website, will know this to be true.”
Imagine the UK Without Thatcher
With the recent death of Margaret Thatcher, one novel takes a look at a UK without Thatcher. L: A Novel History by Jillian Becker, the author of, Hitler’s Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang, is a modern 1984 taking place in an England fallen to the left. A country where the atrocities and horrors perpetrated in the east found their way to the west.
1984 showed us tyranny from the perspective of an ordinary man coping with the tyranny of an omnipresent Big Brother, while L takes us into the mind of Big Brother.
Becker’s L is a child of the modern left, attracted to the violent spectacle of revolution, feeding on blood and pain, gorging on the emotional spillage of the disgruntled, perpetrating riots, terrorist attacks and finally the mass starvation of the United Kingdom.
1984 takes place in the fragments of a lost history, but L develops its history out of the recent past. L doesn’t emerge out of a vacuum. He is the child of privilege, the student of leftist academics and the tyrant who rises out of the class warfare struggles of the burgeoning welfare state.
L abandons his name, going by a single letter, dabbling in dehumanizing Marxist theory while developing a cult of followers, the L-ites, who become the core of a movement that takes over the United Kingdom. L: A Novel History is as much about L, piecing together his inner thoughts from diary entries and newspaper articles, as it is about the milieu of the period and the more moderate figures on the left who hand over power to him and allow him to perpetrate his acts of terror.
As Becker notes in her introduction, there are historical precedents for L, for his associates and the fascist opposition that eventually allies with him. What she has done is transpose the history of various Communist atrocities from Russia and Eastern Europe into an England on the wavering end of the Cold War.
As a fictional history, L: A Novel History assembles painstakingly an entire alternate history in a metafictional narrative composed of newspaper articles, diary entries and historical speculation that combines the perspectives of L, his followers, the L-ites, his opponents, both genuine and disingenuous, and the people of England who react with bewilderment and then horror as the stores are emptied, the food vanishes and they are put through a brutal and degrading process meant to break their spirit.
L’s great obsession is the cultivation of empathy. Like most sociopaths, he is incapable of genuinely empathizing with others, but has a narcissistic obsession with the experience of emotion as spectacle.
Embodying the privileged empathy of the left, L promises to raise up the people, but instead degrades them, robbing them of their dignity, their humanity and finally their lives, in order to force them to identify with the sufferings of the less well off.
L is Big Brother given form, substance and motive. His resentments and narcissism represent all too well the modern left. Obsessed with image, L is driven to be a cult figure and succeeds in achieving true cult status at the expense of millions for his grand experiment in enforced empathy.
The UK has a long literary tradition of dystopias which imagine a descent into fascism, even as in real life it has continued a descent into Socialism. Jillian Becker’s L: A Novel History challenges that fictional narrative with a meta-fictional narrative that warns of what might have been and what may yet be.
May yet be in America …
There is a formula for a nation’s success and happiness: have children and a free market economy.
Other nations may hate you and envy you; attack you with words, sanctions, terrorism, and rockets; but still you will thrive, prosper, innovate, and grow.
Caroline Glick writes:
A lot has changed since the 1990s. Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin shook Yasser Arafat’s hand on the White House lawn and so officially ushered in Israel’s Age of Terror, most Israelis don’t really care what the Europeans or the Arabs think of us.
The Europeans prattle on about Israeli racism, and threaten to put yellow stars or some other nasty mark on Israeli goods. They ban Israeli books from their libraries in Scotland. They boycott Israeli universities, professors and students in England. In Italy they hold rallies for convicted mass murderer Marwan Barghouti at their national Senate. And in France they butcher Jewish children.
And then the likes of Catherine Ashton [EU Representative for Foreign Affairs] expect us to care what they think about us.
Well, we don’t.
… The Europeans and the Americans and their Israeli followers miss the fact that the easiest way to build a secure and peaceful world is not by wooing terrorists. The best way to achieve these goals is by accepting the world as it is. This is what the Israeli people has done. True, we needed to have our fantasies blown away in suicide bombings before we reconciled ourselves to this simple truth. But life has been better, happier and more secure since we did.
The “international community’s” inability to accept that sober-minded contentment is better than pipe dream fantasies has caused leftist writers in Israel, Europe and the US alike to express mystification at a recent survey carried out by the OECD, which ranks Israelis among the happiest people in the world. The ranking made no sense to commentators.
Israelis work harder than other members of the OECD. We complain more than other members of the OECD. We don’t have “peace.” And yet, we are among the happiest people in the OECD.
What gives? For decades before we embarked on the phony peace process, Israel was a model socialist state. We had paralyzing tax rates and failed government industries that crowded private entrepreneurship out of the market. Monopolies ran every sector and provided shoddy goods and horrible services at astronomical prices. The Histadrut labor union owned most of the economy along with the government and in every sector, Histadrut commissars ensured that anyone with an ounce of initiative was subject to unending abuse. …
Just about the time we began extricating ourselves from our socialist straitjacket, we were also recognizing that the peace thing wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. And at that point we began to understand that happiness and success aren’t about what other people give you – money, treaties, a phone line after a five-year wait. Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.
We think that statement bears repeating: Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.
At that point, sometime between 1996 and 2000, Israelis began creating large families and embracing the free market.
Today, with an average of three children per family, Israelis are the fecund outliers of the industrial world. … There is a direct correlation between children and human happiness. This is why fruitful Israelis have the lowest suicide rate in the industrial world.
When you have children, you have a future. And when you have a future, you work hard to secure it, and have a generally optimistic outlook. …
Israelis are also happy because we see that we can build the future we want for our families and our country even without another glitzy signing ceremony at the White House every six months. Our country is getting stronger and more livable every day. And we know it.
Those on the international stage that share our view that life is about more than pieces of paper signed with Arab anti-Semites recognize what is happening. For them Israel is not “that shi**y little country.” It’s “The Little Engine that Could.”
Take the Chinese. Last July China signed a deal with Israel to build an inland port in Eilat and a 180- km. freight railway to connect Eilat to Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa. The purpose of the project is to build an alternative to the Suez Canal, in Israel. The Chinese look at the region, and they see that Egypt is a failed state that can’t even afford its wheat imports. The future of shipping along the Suez Canal is in doubt with riots in Port Said and Suez occurring on a regular basis.
On the other hand, Israel is a stable, prosperous, successful democracy that keeps moving from strength to strength. When the freight line is completed, as far as the global economy is concerned, Israel will become the most strategically important country in the region.
Then there is our newfound energy wealth. Israel became energy independent on March 30, when the Tamar offshore gas field began pumping natural gas to Israel. In two to three years, when the Leviathan gas field comes online, Israel will become one of the most important producers of natural gas in the world.
Moreover, in 2017, Israel will likely begin extracting commercial quantities of oil from its massive oil shale deposits …
Geologists assess that the field alone contains some 250 billion barrels of oil, giving Israel oil parity with Saudi Arabia. Chinese, Russian and Australian firms are lining up to sign contracts with Israeli energy companies. International analysts assess that Israel’s emergence as an energy power will have a stabilizing impact on the global economy and international security. Israel can end Asia’s oil and gas hunger. It can reduce European dependence on Russia. It will remove OPEC’s ability to dictate world oil prices through supply manipulation.
Israel’s discovery of its energy riches couldn’t have come at a more propitious time. Had Israel discovered its oil and gas 65 or even 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have had the economic maturity to manage our resources responsibly. But now, with our free market, our hi-tech sector and our entrepreneurial culture, we can develop and manage our resources wisely and successfully.
At 65, Israel is becoming a mature, responsible, prosperous and powerful player in the international arena. The only thing we need to ensure that we enjoy the fruits of our labors is security. And the one thing we can do to squander it all is place our hopes in “peace.”
And so we won’t, ever again.
Margaret Thatcher’s reign over Britain was a pause in the decline of the nation. That is the verdict of almost all the most insightful obituaries that have appeared since her death. She changed Britain, held it for a while as a model to the world of how capitalism can restore wealth and prestige, but did not succeed in reversing its downward trend.
Nevertheless she was one of the British people’s greatest leaders.
Mark Steyn writes:
In Britain in the Seventies, everything that could be nationalized had been nationalized, into a phalanx of lumpen government monopolies all flying the moth-eaten flag: British Steel, British Coal, British Airways, British Rail . . . The government owned every industry — or, if you prefer, “the British people” owned every industry. And, as a consequence, the unions owned the British people. The top income-tax rate was 83 percent, and on investment income 98 percent. No electorally viable politician now thinks the government should run airlines and car plants and that workers should live their entire lives in government housing. But what seems obvious to all in 2013 was the bipartisan consensus four decades ago, and it required an extraordinary political will for one woman to drag her own party, then the nation, and subsequently much of the rest of the world back from the cliff edge.
Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles — although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was.
She [Margaret Thatcher] was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.
Mrs. Thatcher saved her country — and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off — as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable?
And, even when Mrs. Thatcher won her victory, the civilizational cringe of the West was so strong that all the experts immediately urged her to throw it away and reward the Argentine junta for its aggression. “We were prepared to negotiate before” she responded, “but not now. We have lost a lot of blood, and it’s the best blood.” Or as a British sergeant said of the Falklands: “If they’re worth fighting for, then they must be worth keeping.”
Mrs. Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for, at a time when everyone else assumed decline was inevitable. … [But for her and] anyone with a sense of history’s sweep, the strike-ridden socialist basket case of the British Seventies was not an economic downturn but a stain on national honor.
A generation on, the Thatcher era seems more and more like a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation’s bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution.
She was right and they were wrong, and because of that they will never forgive her. … For eleven tumultuous years, Margaret Thatcher did shock them. But the deep corrosion of a nation is hard to reverse …
Not just hard. Impossible. What great power that declined and fell ever rose to greatness again?
China had to turn to the capitalist model set by Margaret Thatcher to save its economy – which it did, spectacularly.
But far from acknowledging a debt, this obituary published in China belittles all her achievements, putting her whole career through the Marxist class-analysis mincer.
Petty, mean, and puerile, it is an exercise in Schadenfreude; sneer after sneer concluding with a spiteful joke:
Thatcher grew up in a classical English petty-bourgeois family. Her father owned two grocery shops in Grantham. He preached the word of God, was staunchly patriotic, and became the town’s Mayor from 1945-6. His self-confidence derived from selecting food that commanded a good price and turned a good profit. His daughter, Margaret, also formed her intellectual outlook around the petty proprietor’s fetish for the magical qualities of prices. …
Her marriage to Dennis Thatcher in 1951 elevated her into the ranks of the bourgeoisie. He had inherited his wealth and felt that business distracted him from dabbling in amateur military escapades. He was generally seen as a blithering incompetent buffoon to be shunted out of ears reach, in case some bigoted diatribe escaped his lips, but Margaret dearly loved him and treasured the life opportunities his wealth had opened up for her. Dennis funded her career change from studying the chemical composition of ice cream, to studying to become a barrister …
The 1960s were characterized by an entrenched social-democratic consensus whereby social and economic development was widely seen as the product of an alliance between theclasses. Employment was easy to come by and wages rose, and public housing, health care and education expanded rapidly. This all smacked of communism to Margaret Thatcher, who was allowed to bark vitriol against socialism to the gleeful cheers of her bourgeois-aristocratic colleagues in parliament.
The victory of the mineworkers against the Conservative government in two strikes in 1972 and 1974 led to an election, which the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, claimed would answer the question “who runs Britain?” He lost the election to a minority Labour government and Margaret Thatcher became the Conservative Party leader in 1975.
The shopkeeper inside her, meant she automatically gravitated toward economic theory based on price. Her ideology imagined a world of free and unrestricted competitive pressures where atomized individuals replace organized workers. The pathway to this free market utopia involved selling off state resources and public housing at prices that were absurdly low. This created a significant constituency within the working and middle classes who suddenly acquired money from nothing. In this way the shopkeeper’s delusion, that an economy is simply a nation of buyers and sellers, was materially anchored in the minds of those who suddenly had loads of money. In this way a significant minority acquired a material stake in Thatcher’s “property owning democracy.” Making goods and services was replaced by selling second hand bricks; producing coal, steel, ships, trains and cars was replaced by speculative instruments conjured up by a Thatcherite tribe of arrogant barrow boys who were encouraged to take over the trading floors of the City of London, elbowing aside the “toffs” in bowler hats, and revolutionizing financial markets in a cocaine fueled [?] speculative orgy.
So severe was the economic dislocation and the scars of social conflict that the government was thrown into deep crisis. However, luck was on the side of Mrs. Thatcher, as President General Galtieri of Argentina used their nation’s historical conflict over British occupation of the Malvinas Islands to launch a war to take them by force. Thatcher dispatched the British fleet and reconquered the Islands, whipping up a wave of jingoistic flag-waving. Riding a new tide of popularity, the real war began. Its objective was to smash the central core of trade union strength, the National Union of Mineworkers. Huge reserves of coal were stockpiled, the police were militarized, and war was declared on millions of British workers. Thatcher proclaimed the miners’ union to be agents of the Soviet Union. When she described them as “the enemy within” she had the look of hysteria in her eyes. The strike lasted a year and was defeated. This was a result of Thatcher’s determination and an impotent response by the majority of Labour and Trade Union leaders. The defeat of the miners union led to greater control by capital over labour and a long period of passive industrial relations.
The greatest nonsense is spoken about Thatcher’s significance in the struggle against what she called “the Evil Empire” of the USSR. The role of the U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was insignificant and peripheral. Even though the Soviet press had given her the name, “the Iron Lady,” of which she was so proud. The collapse of the USSR was a result of internal disintegration and not external pressure. …
May the Iron Lady rust in peace!
China’s prosperity is the result of allowing private enterprise. It makes China a rising world power.
Margaret Thatcher died today.
Prime Minister David Cameron says, correctly, that she not only led Britain, she saved Britain.
Simon Richards, Director of The Freedom Association, writes to Jillian Becker, Council member of the TFA and editor -in-chief of The Atheist Conservative (as to all the other TFA Council members):
Margaret Thatcher: Freedom Fighter
So, the news that I and millions of other admirers of the greatest British Prime Minister since Churchill had long dreaded has finally come to pass. Let there be no mistake about it, Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.
Faced with a Britain in a parlous state, where defeatism and demoralisation held sway, Margaret Thatcher grabbed the nation by the scruff of its neck and gave it back its self-belief. Decades of socialism and growing state control had undermined not only this country’s economy, but its belief that it had a future. Margaret Thatcher, championing the values that had made Britain great, transformed this country and gave it back its self belief.
After years of surrender to the over-mighty trades union barons, she stood up to them, on behalf of the silent majority, and defeated even [militant trade union leader] ‘King’ Arthur Scargill himself.
When that murdering, drunken tyrant Galtieri invaded the Falkland Islands, she fought to regain what was rightfully ours, restoring pride in Britain and her magnificent soldiers, sailors and airmen.
Margaret Thatcher championed ‘freedom under the law’, realising that a successful society must be based on respect for the individual and for the family. An early collection of her speeches, “Let Our Children Grow Tall”, said it all about her determination to restore independence of mind and self-respect, and grow tall is what a whole generation did. Many, though they benefited from her revival of the British economy and her extension of ownership to countless millions, will never see fit to thank the great Prime Minister who made their own successes possible. That is for them and their conscience.
Maggie, as so many knew her, was, for me, the very definition of courage – the embodiment of Britannia. I shall never forget seeing her, a small, surprisingly frail figure, outside 10 Downing Street on 4 May 1979 – Prime Minister for the first time. That frail figure stood up to the IRA, the PLO, the Soviet Empire, the EU and anybody else who threatened the freedom and democracy she cherished. She made me – and millions of others proud, once again, to be British.
On behalf of The Freedom Association, which upholds that ‘Freedom under the law’ which she championed, I give thanks for the magnificent life of a true fighter for freedom. She will always remain an inspiration to those of us who value individual freedom and the independence of the United Kingdom.
Just so. We at The Atheist Conservative do not “give thanks” for her life, but we are grateful to her for all she did, not just for Britain – which was much – but for the world. Above all, she and President Ronald Reagan won the war against the evil empire of the Soviet Union.
The New York Times in its report of Lady Thatcher’s death, refers to …
…the principles known as Thatcherism — the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression.
And this is also from the NYT – which one must remember is hostile to “Thatcherism” but gets this right:
At home, Lady Thatcher’s political successes were decisive. She broke the power of the labor unions and forced the Labour Party to abandon its commitment to nationalized industry, redefine the role of the welfare state and accept the importance of the free market. In October 1980, 17 months into her first term, Prime Minister Thatcher faced disaster. More businesses were failing and more people were out of work than at any time since the Great Depression. Racial and class tensions smoldered so ominously that even close advisers worried that her push to stanch inflation, sell off nationalized industry and deregulate the economy was … courting chaos.
No such disaster, but the contrary happened:
Her policies revitalized British business, spurred industrial growth and swelled the middle class.
And this is from the Telegraph:
Lady Thatcher was the only British prime minister to leave behind a set of ideas about the role of the state which other leaders and nations strove to copy and apply … monetarism, privatisation, deregulation, small government, lower taxes and free trade …
Alas, the victories she won were not to last. The war goes on. We have to fight the same battles all over again, with the same set of ideas, on the the same principles.
Post Script: Jillian Becker in her book “L: A Novel History” considers what might have happened to Britain if Margaret Thatcher had not succeeded in quelling the race riots, defeating trade union militancy, and returning Britain to a free market economy.
Most of us have not only ourselves and our family dependents to support but also a welfare state.
We do not ask ourselves why we support a welfare state rather than let ourselves be supported by it. But perhaps we should.
Fred Reed, a dry-humored iconoclast (with whom we often but not invariably agree), has considered the question and presents “An Approach to Poverty”, which we like and quote. (Read it all here.)
Before I learned about poverty, I was just a country boy from up the holler in West Virginia, with twelve toes, and I guess I didn’t know much. Especially about poverty. When I got to Washington, DC, I decided that I ought to be poor. I just wish I’da started earlier.
It’s a good deal. You get lots of free stuff and you don’t have to work. If I had knowed about poverty when I was fourteen, and what a good thing it was, I’da give up my paper route. I mean, who in his right mind would get up at four-thirty in the morning in January, with eight inches of snow on the ground, and ride across lawns on a bike with four hundred pounds of the Wheeling Intelligencer in a basket, so people could read about crooked politicians and clip grocery coupons? And then I’d catch the school bus.
That teacher lady said I was pretty smart, and she hoped I’d go far, but I reckoned she’da been happy if I just went to the next country over.
When you got out of high school, you had to get a job, and get up mornings even if you didn’t want to, and do something all day that you probably didn’t like. Unless you were poor, and then you could sleep in and do what you wanted all day. I didn’t know it then, though.
Best thing if you want to be poor is to go to Washington, the Yankee Capital, and take up poverty. Then the feddle gummint gives you a house for free. It may not be the best house in the world. You probably don’t have your own swimming pool like a football field. But it’s dry and warm and nothing wrong with it. And in the morning you can get up early, just to appreciate that you don’t have to, and watch all those other people go to work. They got better houses, sure. But they got to sit all day in little square boxes in offices and scratch on pieces of paper. You don’t, if you’re poor.
The gummint gives you Medicaid in case you fall on your head, and Food Stalmps, or really it’s like a credit card, so you can act like one of them high-dollar lawyers that work twenty hours a day and makes a million dollars till they die of a heart attack. Don’t matter. There’s always another waiting in line. You can get roasted chicken at Safeway or Cheetos or anything you want. Or you can sell your Food Stalmps and buy liquor. Or that left-handed tobacco.
The gummint gives you welfare, which is money. See, you get to be poor and have money at the same time. Only America has figured out how to do that. It makes you feel all patriotic, when you wake up at eleven to eat roasted chicken.
Now, welfare ain’t a lot of money. It ain’t a lot of work, either. But it’s enough to live on really good if you think about it. For a couple of hundred dollars you can buy a cheap stereo that lasts forever. Cheap stuff now is a lot better than expensive stuff used to be. Another few hundred gets you a cheap computer that lasts for five years, and internet don’t cost much. You can steal all the music you want. You can get CDs from your friends and copy them. …
Anyhow, after I heard about this and went to Washington to be poor, I met this feller, Git-Some Jukis. … That wasn’t his real name, not Git-Some, but everybody called him that because he had a lot of girlfriends. He was real smart and had a beard and read books He told me he wanted a good education when he got out of high school, but it cost too much. He said being poor was better than a university. It was because when you are poor you have plenty of time to study, and everything you need is free.
Like, there’s the Martin Luther King Public Library on Ninth Street, where you can get any kind of book you want and read it. If you don’t read too good, there’s plenty of ways on the internet to learn if you really want to, but Git-Some could read fine already. He had this thing called a Kindle, that cost about seventy dollars. That’s less than you can sell one bunch of Food Stamps for. And he used to get free books from the internet with it.
The more he talked about it, the more I thought maybe I’d do it too… once I get really settled into poverty. You could go to all the Smithsonian museums, which are free, and read all about any of it on the computer before you went.
And he said you could find all kinds of free music, like classical at the Kennedy Center, and lots of free lectures about interesting stuff, and there was so much of it that getting educated could take up all your time. …
He said someplace called MIT put all its college courses on the internet and he was studying like a steam beaver, and anybody who had the advantage of poverty, and didn’t feel thankful and study and listen to music was just shiftless. He kind of upset me. Momma always told me not to be shiftless.
I thought about it all, and what Git-Some said. I’d always had curiosity about things and I wanted to educate myself, but I never had time because I had to work, like night shift at Kriegstedt’s Amoco on Route 301 in Virginia. Having a job really gets in the way of your poverty. I decided to be like Git-Some. I’d buy me a Kindle with my first Food Stamps and get him to help me. It made me appreciate things.
I always liked America fine. But poverty made me realize what a wonderful great country I lived in.
Free marketeers should never let go of the proposition that taxation is theft.
However, as they are realists, they have also to concede – very grudgingly – that some money must be given to a government. As little as possible. Just enough for it to do what only a government can do: protect the country and the freedom of everyone in it.
So okay, governments may take a small percentage of earners’ incomes and label it “not stolen”.
But they always take more, and that’s morally abhorrent.
They make their immorality look honest by dressing it in laws.
Needless to say, the biggest thieves are the socialists. The more socialist a government is, the more it robs the nation. The fatter the government, the thinner the people.
Every now and then a government reveals its naked criminality. As now, for instance, in Cyprus, where the state is visibly extending its prehensile claw to snatch people’s money out of the banks. It calls the looting a tax.
This is from an article by Paul A. Rahe at Ricochet:
This weekend, the government of Greek Cyprus — under pressure from the European Union — negotiated a bailout that had as one of its provisions an assessment on the capital of those with deposits in the banks on Cyprus.
“An assessment on the capital” implies taxing, but the intention is to steal a portion of it.
Those with under 100,000 Euros in their accounts are slated to receive a 6.6% haircut while those with more than 100,000 Euros in their accounts will be docked 9.9%.
Rumor has it that the first proposal by the EU muggers in power was to seize 40%.
Whether the government can secure the approval of the Cypriot legislature for this unprecedented move remains unclear. There is talk of lowering the tax on deposits under 100,000 Euros to 3% and of raising the tax on larger deposits to 12.5%. But while the difference no doubt matters to ordinary Cypriots, whose savings are modest, and to the Russian oligarchs who have parked huge sums in the Cypriot banks, when viewed from a larger perspective, it matters not one whit. Indeed, at this point, it does not even matter whether the Cypriot government backs off from this plan altogether.
Banks are fiduciary institutions. They rely on trust; and, if there is a breach of trust, they are cooked. Individuals deposit money in banks instead of stuffing it in their mattresses because they believe that it will be safe there. Once they realize or even suspect that the money they put in the bank is anything but safe, they will take what is left of their money and run — and the bank will collapse. …
The Greeks will draw their own conclusions, as will the Spanish and the Italians and perhaps even the Irish and the French. No one who lives in a country that is in financial trouble and that may need emergency help from the European Union will entrust his loose change to a bank in his own country. The Euros in his mattress will retain their full value; those which he entrusts to the bank may, at least in part, be confiscated. …
That’s assuming the state won’t expropriate his Euro-stuffed mattress.
It would be hard to imagine what one could do to turn an ongoing crisis into a total catastrophe that would be more effective than the terms imposed by the European Union on Cyprus. That such a move is in contemplation is an indication of the degree to which the authorities in Brussels and Nicosia are in the grips of desperation.
And are foolish. And criminal.
Greek Cyprus got into in trouble in large part because of … Russian [mafia] deposits. The banks there had a great deal more money than they knew what to do with on the island, and so they loaned money to their less than creditworthy cousins in the republic of Greece. Now they have obligations that they cannot pay, and so they have turned to Brussels.
Had Greek Cyprus not joined the Euro, this problem would be relatively easy to solve. The government could simply devalue the currency and give the Cypriot banks’ Russian depositors a haircut in this time-honored fashion. That is what was done with considerable regularity in places such as Greece and Italy before they joined the Euro; and, if the Cypriots could do it now, it would have this virtue. The haircut imposed on their own citizens would — initially, at least — be less onerous. Abroad, the savings of the Cypriots would buy them less, to be sure. But, at home, for a while, it would buy them what it had before. Moreover, what the Cypriots produced at home would be more competitive in the world market — since its purchase would set the buyer back less — and as a tourist destination the island would be more attractive, since accommodations and food would for foreigners be cheaper than it had been. For a time, there might even be a boom.
I am not suggesting that devaluation is a joy nor that its long-term consequences are salutary. It isn’t a joy, and the consequences are not good. Inflation is apt to erupt, and inflation can all too easily become habitual. But a devaluation of the currency would not lead to a complete collapse of credit, which this tax on savings might well achieve.
Credit, you need to keep in mind, is what makes the world go round. Modern economies do not operate on cash. They operate on credit — which is to say, they rely on the very trust against which the European Union and the Greek Cypriot government have launched a devastating attack.
Bill Tatro points out that such robbery by the state could happen in America:
To think those types of financial and economic events couldn’t happen here, hmmmmm…..In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared a national bank moratorium (he closed all banks.) Then, via Executive Order 6102, the government confiscated all gold and gold certificates, exchanging them for paper. Consequently, if you didn’t surrender your gold, you went to jail. The price of gold was set at $20.67 per ounce. Yet, within a year, the government reset the price to $35.00 per ounce, effectively fleecing the American public by 69%.
And speaking of rip-offs, just remember that … in 2009, President Barack Obama [when he bailed out GM] rejected the rule of law for GM senior and subordinated debtholders, thus relegating them to the back of the line. …
[And remember that] after extensive 2011 Congressional analysis failed to discover where the missing $1.6 billion of MF Global customer money had gone, J.P. Morgan was recently found to not have disclosed the risks taken and monies lost by the excess deposits as compared to the loans domiciled at J.P. Morgan. …
Following the “lost decade” of investment (2000-2009) which shed a very bright light on the failure of self-directed retirement accounts, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner discussed the possibility of nationalizing IRAs and 401ks [retirement savings accounts] …
So, regarding the current situation involving the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, can it happen right here in our country? …
It has happened, it is happening right now, and it will continue to happen.
An IBD editorial reports and comments:
Markets tumbled after Cyprus and the EU said they might tax private bank accounts to pay for a bailout. …
As bad as tumbling markets around the world are, they seem to be the only signal strong enough to catch the attention of Europe’s otherwise unaccountable bureaucrats who have long since learned to ignore street riots.
As stocks fell from Tokyo to New York, Europe’s leaders are scrambling to say they had nothing to do with the cause — the shutdown of all Cyprus banks and ATMs for at least three days and the expropriation of a large chunk of each now-captive account, as a “tax” to pay for Cyprus’ $13 billion EU bailout, Europe’s fifth.
Cyprus Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades bitterly asserted he had been “blackmailed” by the EU and the International Monetary Fund to go along with the idea on Saturday, or there’d be no bailout. …
Aside from the fact that no fiscally responsible country should need a bailout and the roots of Cyprus’ financial crisis is based on long-term big-spending government and low-information voters, the bank shutdown nevertheless sets an ugly precedent rooted in the growing arrogance of EU power.
Until now, tax hikes and haircuts for bond-holders have been how Europe’s bailouts have been handled. …
Confiscating savings in banks and denying people access to their property without warning is something entirely different — and will do great damage to citizens’ willingness to save, invest and build wealth.
Oh sure, the rationale was that most of the depositors were shady foreigners, particularly from Russia, laundering money. But the photos of Cypriots banging on bank doors and protesting, much as the people of Argentina did when the same thing happened to them in 2002, tells a different story of human suffering.
The expropriation of the tiny country’s savings may have seemed like an easy test case for the EU because the population is small and some of the depositors are rich and unsympathetic, but the blowback will hit savings and investment — and future economic growth — all over Europe.
Worse still, it could catch on here.
Already Congressional Democrats are plotting the expropriation of Americans’ private 401(k) and IRA retirement savings accounts in favor of “a guaranteed income.”
If bank accounts can be casually expropriated in Cyprus to pay for big-spending governments and bailouts, there is no reason a nice slice of the $19 trillion in retirement accounts can’t get the same treatment.
South Africa is a geographical paradise. For the beauty of its landscapes of mountains and valleys and forests and vast plains, for the grandeur of its cities, for the comfort and cheer of its climates, for its blossoming indigenous trees, its bushlands of immense variety, its brilliant flowers and exotic fruits, for the colors of its birds (not their sounds, they do not sing but squawk and shriek and twitter and tweet), for its wild animals, for its smooth beaches and immense safe bays where the white waves roll in and the fishing boats trawl for their silver harvests, for the elegant Cape Dutch architecture of its historical towns and farmhouses, for its rich vineyards, and the bounteous mines of gold that have flourished since the goldrush that did not fail, no superlatives can be too strong. No meat in the world could taste better than South African beef and mutton. No table-grapes can match the long, firm, green honey-sweet Hanapoots. And this praise poem could go on for pages, as do the praise-poems sung to African chiefs.
That said, the country is a human tragedy. For decades millions of people suffered under the cruelty and humiliation of the policy of apartheid. It ended, and in 1994 the Communist ANC (African National Congress) came to power. Despite its predominant ideology, the new black leadership had the good sense to let the private sector of the economy continue – though under ever more irksome restrictions – and it has kept the nation afloat. But the lot of most people, the millions of blacks, has not improved. What a huge disappointment the change to democracy has been. The black slums are still there and much bigger. The first ANC minister for housing, the (white) Communist Joe Slovo, who returned from exile to put his long dreams into effect, managed to have built – how many good houses for poor urban blacks? One. Just one model house, as far as we can discover. But a shantytown, or “informal settlement”, has been named after him. Here’s a description of it (from Project Muse):
The highway connecting Port Elizabeth to the town of Uitenhage passes by one of these informal settlements, known as the Joe Slovo Community. Over four thousand people live in the maze of 1,200 shacks. There is no access road to the settlement. To get there one simply pulls off the highway into the mud. Homes in Joe Slovo are made of found materials including cardboard, corrugated metal, and plastic, and offer little shelter from the elements.
Like many other informal communities across South Africa, Joe Slovo has no electricity or sanitation system, and only a handful of communal water taps. The only semblance of urban development are six 100-foot tall security lights whose pink glow turns the hazy night sky to cotton candy. Ninety percent of the adult population is unemployed, and twenty percent is HIV-positive. [Until recently] there was no public school in Joe Slovo, and children had to cross the highway to get to the nearest school, five kilometers away.
And now the country is degenerating into another Zimbabwe, as it was bound to do. Here’s a very recent report by Arnold Ahlert, which we quote from Canada Free Press:
For decades, the country of South Africa was the focus of an international rallying cry against the injustices of apartheid. On June 17, 1991, South Africa’s Parliament abolished the legal framework for the practice of racial persecution. In 1994, Nelson Mandela and his Marxist African National Congress (ANC) assumed the reins of power. The international community looked away, satisfied that justice had prevailed. They continue to look away, even as South Africa has degenerated into another racist pit, best described by an Afrikaner farm owner: “It’s politically correct to kill whites these days.”
In July of 2012, Dr. Gregory Stanton, head of the nonprofit group Genocide Watch, conducted a fact-finding mission in South Africa. He concluded that there is a coordinated campaign of genocide being conducted against white farmers, known as Boers. “The farm murders, we have become convinced, are not accidental,” Stanton contended. “It was very clear that the massacres were not common crimes,” he added — especially because of the absolute barbarity used against the victims. “We don’t know exactly who is planning them yet, but what we are calling for is an international investigation,” he added.
The number of farm murders, or “plaasmoorde” as they are called in Afrikaans, is staggering. Over the last decade, it is estimated that at least 3000 Boers have been killed. Estimating the number of murders is necessary because the ANC has banned crime statistics from being compiled, claiming they scare off foreign investment. Moreover, the world knows little about the savagery that accompanies those killings. Many victims, including women and infant children, are raped or tortured before they are killed. Some have boiling water poured down their throats, some are burned with hot pokers, and some are hacked to death with machetes, or disemboweled. Several others have been tied to their own cars and dragged for miles.
The ANC, whose leader Jacob Zuma was reelected with over 75 per cent of the total voting delegates at the ANC National Conference held in Bloemfontein last December, denies that genocide is occurring, insisting that such attacks are part of the larger crime problem. …
What is known is that the ANC celebrated its 100th year anniversary with a song led by President Zuma himself. “Dubula iBhunu” or “Shoot the Boer” was a line in the lyrics of an apartheid-era song, “Ayesaba Amagwala” (“the cowards are scared”) that violates the South Africa constitution prohibiting the “advocacy of hatred that is based on race … and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” Yet Zuma apparently felt no compunction to refrain from singing it, because the ANC considers it an integral part of the anti-apartheid movement that is part of their heritage.
In 2010, Julius Malema, then leader of the ANC Youth League, revived the practice of singing the song after many years. After the South Africa High Court ruled it was hate speech, the ANC appealed. Last October, the ANC and AfriForum, a lobby group that wanted the song banned from public performance, reached an out-of-court settlement.
Dr. Stanton concluded that Malema’s revival of a song advocating murder moved South Africa from the fifth stage on his genocidal scale to stage six. When the South African judiciary ruled it to be unlawful hate speech, Genocide Watch put South Africa back at stage five. When President Zuma was caught on tape January 2012 singing, “We are going to shoot them with the machine gun, they are going to run/You are a Boer, we are going to hit them, and you are going to run/shoot the Boer…” South Africa was raised to stage six once again.
Stage six is known as Preparation: “Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved.”
The sixth stage is followed by stage seven: Extermination. …
The Afrikaner civil rights group AfriForum … is calling for attacks on South Africa’s mostly white farmers to be designated a crime of national priority. They delivered a memorandum to the country’s police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, urging him to give the murder of farmers the same level of urgency aimed at rhinoceros poachers and copper cable thieves. …
According to Johan Burger, a senior researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies’ crime and justice program, white farmers’ concerns are legitimately “special”. He reveals that it is now twice as dangerous to be a farmer in South Africa than a police officer … [and says that] many murderers “take out their hatred for all those past wrongs, and show who’s in control now.”
Like so many societies where demonstrating who’s in control becomes a necessity, disarming the population becomes a priority. In 2010, the ANC-led regime changed the Firearms Registration Act, demanding that all legal guns be re-registered by July 31, 2011. In the process of re-registration, more than half the applicants were turned down, and 90 percent were turned down again on appeal. Thus, white farm families were forced to relinquish their last line of defense against the tens of thousands of criminal gangs roaming the countryside – armed with AK47s. and as Genocide Watch noted on its website last July one more step was taken as well. “The government has disbanded the commando units of white farmers that once protected their farms, and has passed laws to confiscate the farmers’ weapons,” it reported. “Disarmament of a targeted group is one of the surest early warning signs of future genocidal killings.”
There is also a movement, much like the one that occurred in Zimbabwe, to confiscate white farmers’ land. Julius Malema led the charge, saying all whites are criminals, and that his ANC Youth League members were going to take all the land back without compensation, unless farmers relinquish 80 percent of it. …
That is a recipe for famine, as revealed by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti. In 2009, he told Parliament that more than half of the farms purchased for black farmers, at a cost of $891 million in government outlays, had either failed or were “declining.”
Yet ANC president Zuma remains undeterred. “The structure of the apartheid economy has remained largely intact,” Mr. Zuma said, in a speech given June 26, 2012 to thousands of delegates at ANC’s policy conference, held every five years, where the party’s pre-presidential election platform is discussed. “The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males, as it has always been.”
Embedded in that platform is the idea that making peace with white South Africans following the end of apartheid has “hampered” the transfer of wealth to black South Africans. Thus, a “second transition” was proposed, which even the see-no-progressive-evil New York Times was forced to concede represents a “sharp leftward shift for the A.N.C., which despite its roots has largely backed a free-market economy …”
[Dr.] Stanton [of Genocide Watch] sees a bigger picture. In a speech in Pretoria, organized by the Transvaal Agricultural Union, Stanton claimed the ANC was demonizing white farmers, who have been in South Africa since the 1600s, by calling them “settlers.” A Genocide Watch reports reveals the strategy behind those efforts. “High-ranking ANC government officials who continuously refer to Whites as ‘settlers’ and ‘colonialists of a special type’ are using racial epithets in a campaign of state-sponsored dehumanization of the White population as a whole,” it stated. “They sanction gang-organized hate crimes against Whites, with the goal of terrorizing Whites through fear of genocidal annihilation.”
ANC President Jacob Zuma continues to fan the flames of racial division. Last December, he admonished black South Africans for being dog owners, saying that doing so amounts to copying white culture. Zuma’s office contended the message was aimed at “the need to decolonize the African mind post-liberation”.
It is a post-liberation effort that remains alarmingly on track to emulate all the other historically blood-soaked efforts by Marxists, who invariably need an enemy at whom to direct their anger. White African farmers are that enemy.
Racism as national policy did not end in South Africa in 1994. It is the motivating passion of the Marxist government. So the oppression, cruelty, and killing will have no stop.
… death panels are here:
The death of Venezuela’s despot Hugo Chavez was announced yesterday, but rumor has it that he died a week ago on the morning of Wednesday February 27, 2013.
This is from Front Page, by Matthew Vadum. He makes a comparison between Chavez and Obama, to the advantage of neither:
Barack Obama’s less media-savvy comrade Hugo Chavez is finally dead.
Venezuela’s Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, announced that the communist tyrant died yesterday after seeking medical treatment from the quacks and bunglers laughingly referred to as the Cuban health care system. Hidden away from the public for months, Chavez, whose election in 1999 sparked a leftist revival throughout Latin America, may have actually died some time ago.
Chavez will be remembered not only for his fanaticism and brutality but also for his effective use of the same Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing techniques now relied on by President Barack Obama.
Both men hate capitalism. Chavez called capitalism “savagery,” while the smoother Obama tries to be more upbeat, speaking of the need to spread wealth.
Both men are champions of gun control, social engineering, and unlimited governmental power.
Both hate America (to varying degrees) and both utilize mobs to harass and intimidate their enemies.
Obama has used union goons, ACORN members, and his personal tax-exempt Alinskyite army, Organizing for Action (formerly Organizing for America), against his adversaries.
Chavez, who habitually used the rhetoric of class warfare, funded a network of violent, government-armed “Bolivarian Circles,” similar to Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. In order to identify citizens worthy of governmental persecution, the neighborhood-based militias reported on Venezuelans deemed to lack the requisite enthusiasm for Marxism. Like Hitler’s Sturmabteilung (SA), these groups broke up opposition meetings by force.
Chavez intimidated the private media by openly threatening and harassing independent media outlets. He also introduced a requirement that journalists be licensed. Obama doesn’t need to keep the media in line because they already worship him.
While Obama has been busy installing senior government officials such as Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who lack the ability to understand the Islamofascist threat, Chavez allowed America’s terrorist enemies to set up shop in his country.
A big supporter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chavez permitted Iran-funded Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to open offices in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
Vadum might have added the shared antisemitism of the two men. Obama works against the survival of the Jewish state. Chavez openly encouraged persecution of Venezuelan Jews.
This is from the National Review, by John Fund:
One of the “hero” myths being created around Chávez is that he was elected democratically four times. …
But Chávez was a democrat the way that Mafia enforcers were policemen in neighborhoods they controlled. If you didn’t cooperate and pay tribute to them, you would regret it. He ruled through fear, intimidation, and subversion of the country’s institutions.
Merely allowing people to line up at polling stations every six years did not make Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela democratic. Nor will the snap election that must be called within 30 days to choose Chávez’s successor necessarily be free or fair. If Nicholas Maduro, the man Chávez hand-picked to take over after his death, wants to demonstrate Venezuela is running a legitimate election, let him first invite back the international election observers of whom Hugo Chávez was so frightened.
And this is from the Miami Herald:
Hugo Chávez’s folksy charm and forceful personality made him an extraordinary politician. His enviable ability to win a mass following allowed him to build a powerful political machine that kept him in office from February of 1999 until his death on Tuesday. But as a national leader, he was an abject failure who plunged Venezuela into a political and economic abyss.
Dead at 58, Hugo Chávez leaves behind a country in far worse condition than it was when he became president, its future clouded by rivals for succession in a constitutional crisis of his Bolivarian party’s making and an economy in chaos. …
Mr. Chávez had a radical vision for “21st Century Socialism” … His skillful rhetoric, which filled supporters with utopian dreams, was used to justify the methodical destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and the free market. …
[He] aggressively set out to rig elections and stifle adversaries in the legislative branch and the courts. Unable to brook criticism, he turned his fire on the independent news media, eventually silencing most voices of opposition by bully tactics and economic intimidation.
His Bolivarian regime rewarded supporters and punished opponents, giving rise to enormous corruption and the creation of a new class of greedy oligarchs with political connections. …
Whatever happens now in Venezuela, his demise will have some good effects in the wider world:
On the international front, Mr. Chávez eagerly accepted Fidel Castro as his mentor, providing Cuba with cut-rate oil and making common cause with Iran and other rogue regimes. His departure leaves the anti-American front leaderless on a hemispheric level and could eventually threaten the subsidy that Cuba relies on to keep its economy barely functioning.
Ed Driscoll at PJ Media has collected opinions on the dead dictator. He includes a Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Death of Hugo Chavez, from which we quote:
“Rosalynn and I … came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”
He may have been “committed” to improving the lives of those who felt neglected and “marginalized” (a Leftist buzzword that, by the way), but he did not improve the lives of most Venezuelans. Quite the contrary. His economic policy so devalued the currency that the poor were made poorer. But that seems not to be recognized by his numerous and passionate fans, including the poor of Venezuela.
Driscoll goes on to quote other opinions on the Left -
Such as the Nation, which really beclowns itself:
“Chávez was a strongman. He packed the courts, hounded the corporate media, legislated by decree and pretty much did away with any effective system of institutional checks or balances. But I’ll be perverse and argue that the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough. It wasn’t too much control that was the problem but too little.”
“I’m what they call a useful idiot when it comes to Hugo Chávez,” the writer actually adds. And how.
But hey, that’s the far left Nation. The neutral, objective, totally without bias Washington Post wouldn’t fall for such radical chic nonsense, would they?
Yes, of course they would: “Wash Post’s Eugene Robinson Appears on MSNBC to Praise ‘Quick,’ ‘Popular,’ Funny Hugo Chavez.”
And to think I was being ironic a couple of years ago when I titled a post “Studying the Washington Post Kremlinologist-Style.” …
Sean Penn has a sad:
“Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion,” says Penn in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter…
Meanwhile, “NBCNews.com Mourns Chavez: Who Will Become Region’s ‘Voice of Socialism and Anti-Americanism?’”
Which prompts Driscoll to ask -
Isn’t that NBC’s job, or don’t they get that network on the cable feed down there?