Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Venezuela: Forward to the past

In what is perceived as a shift from socialism to communism, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has ordered the building of communes. Reuters reports:

"We're talking about government by the people," said Ulises Daal, a pro-Chavez parliament deputy and one of the main promoters of the project. He says the legislative plan to set up self-sustaining, self-governing "socialist communes" builds on the existence of some 36,000 Chavez-inspired "communal councils" that already dot the country.

Daal said 214 communes were already "under construction". Some have introduced barter markets and their own currencies. . . . .

Opponents single out the Communes Law's repeated references to "social" and "collective" ownership.
The problems are obvious enough: "Barter markets" are as ancient and primitive as one can get. "Self-sustaining" communes give up all the economic advantages of specialization of labor. Most importantly, of course, communism fails to understand human nature and specifically human motivations.

With examples ranging from Hippie communes to Israel's Kubbutzim to Lenin, Stalin, and Mao's grander experiments, history has shown that communes don't work. According to Reuters, Venezuela's communes appear no different:
Neither ideological nor productive fervour were much visible at the Cacique Tiuna Commune, which boasts a plastics plant, a vegetable garden, a "socialist" carpentry shop and a plant nursery.

During a visit last week, the plastics plant was idled, the irrigated garden was awaiting "refinancing" to start and at the carpentry shop only a handful of labourers worked under the stern gaze of a mural depicting the historic Indian chief Tiuna after which the commune is named.

Chavez is reportedly unpopular in Venezuela and it might benefit the Venezuelans if he was removed from office but that seems unlikely to happen soon.

PREVIOUSLY on communism:
China sentences American for industrial spying
In San Francisco, communists still think fondly of the Soviet revolution
The communist suicide-bomber
Venezuela's other major export: organized crime
Communist holocausts
Chavez closes another opposition TV station
Why is Alger Hiss' guilt such a threat to the liberal vision?
In Poland, the former communist country celebrates Ronald Reagan.
Chavez takes from the poor to give to....

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