Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

April 23, 2007

Chavez To Begin Indoctrination Socialist Formation Classes

by Brad Warbiany

You know, ever since I started working from home, I’ve found myself to be much more productive. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I no longer spend time in meetings. Does Hugo Chavez realize the damage he’ll do to productivity by sending people to socialism classes for four hours a week?

Venezuela’s government will require workers to spend four hours a week in “socialist formation” classes, and is mandating employers form “Bolivarian Work Councils” to run courses on the job, El Universal reported, citing Labor and Social Security Minister Jose Ramon Rivero.

The classes will first be held only in public sector jobs, beginning with a pilot program at the nation’s Labor Ministry, and will later spread to private businesses, after President Hugo Chavez decrees a law outlining re-education guidelines and rules, the newspaper said.

Topics to be addressed in the four-hour classes include Venezuelan history and “basic tools for analyzing reality, the environment, the role of the state and socialist scheme,” to speed the transition from capitalism to socialism, Rivero said, according to the newspaper.

Chavez has asked that socialist education, the so-called “Third Motor” of his Bolivarian revolution, be carried out beyond schools, in factories, workshops, offices and fields, the newspaper reported.

Notably missing from his list of things to teach are logical fallacies and economics, but then, those two things would make his citizens subjects realize that Chavez was trying to dupe them and that socialism won’t work. Incentives matter, Hugo.

But alas, as much as those of us anti-socialists argue, nobody is listening. So we’ll just have to wait for the inevitable Venezuelan collapse to make our point for us. At which time the socialists will just say “Well, Chavez didn’t do it right…” Same story, different day.

Hat Tip: Lance @ A Second Hand Conjecture (also see his interview with Manny Lopez, a reporter who regularly visits Venezuela)

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  • http://www.tfsternsrantings.blogspot.com T F Stern

    “At which time the socialists will just say “Well, Chavez didn’t do it right…” Same story, different day.”

    Boy, you just said a mouth full! An old line that fits a very good observation.

  • Brendan

    “logical fallacies and economics” – Highest growth rate in South America, Unemployment halved in 4 years, Literacy levels increased by 8 times. All of these figures are backed up by the OECD.
    Sounds like sound economic policies acheiving quality results to me.

    “his citizens…subjects” – Elected 10 times in the last 8 years. Elections observed by Jimmy Carter and the UN. Last electioin was his biggest majority ever.

    If you are going to criticise the greatest humanitarian leader of this century and last you’d be best to try and back up your quite silly accusations with some facts.

  • Brendan

    And by the way. I spent 6 months last year living and working in the Petare Barrio outside Caracas.

    Just in case you accuse me of never having even talked to a venezuelan. As I’ve noticed elsewhere on this board that you have.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    If you look at the statistics, any poverty or unemployment reduction just happens to coincide with a shift since 2004 when oil profits shot through the roof. But now that PDVSA has been nationalized, oil exploration is down, and Venezuela has resorted to buying Russian oil to mask their production problems. What is Chavez going to do when the oil income stops coming in? Prices may be going up (and therefore income), but if they’re having trouble pulling oil out of the ground, eventually they’ll feel the pinch.

    Got any OECD reports that show Venezuelan economic growth outside of the oil industry? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said on numerous occasions that Chavez is currently in the “dating” phase of socialism, where he’s courting the people of Venezuela by dangling carrots while he cements his power. I think in the long run, we’ll see the “greatest humanitarian leader of this century” start looking a lot like Robert Mugabe. But this one’s going to take time to play out. And in the long run, I don’t think his record will look appreciably different from Mugabe’s or Castro’s.

  • tarran

    Brendan,

    Of course we have facts. He has instituted price controls on food. This act alone sstrips him of any claim to be a humanitarian leader. In fact, this is either the act of a savage genocidal man or a colosally stupid man.

    Price controls create shortages. Price controls remove any incentice to increase production. Ask yourself, what kind of monster tries to create food shortages? What kind of monster tries to discourage people from producing food?

    Honestly, I hope he does get his way. It seems every generation, we need another spectacular failure of socialism to convince people to question the propaganda.

    The great economist Ludwig von Mises (who is credited with keeping Asutria from melting down the way Germany did between the World Wars) had a couple of thoughts on the subject:

    But in discussing what is to be, the argument that the great mass of people violently demand Socialism would be valid only if Socialism were desired as an ultimate end for its own sake. But this is by no means so. Like all other forms of social organization Socialism is only a means, not an end in itself. Those who want Socialism, like those who reject it, want well-being and happiness, and they are socialists only because they believe that Socialism is the best way to achieve this. If they were convinced that the liberal order of society was better able to fulfill their wishes they would become liberals. Therefore, the argument that one must be socialist because the masses demand Socialism is the worst possible argument against an enemy of Socialism. … If Socialism is inherently impracticable the fact that everyone desires it will not enable us to accomplish it.

    Under Socialism the usual connection between work performed and its remuneration cannot exist. All attempts to ascertain what the work of the individual has produced and thereby to determine the wage rate, must fail because of the impossibility of calculating the productive contributions of the different factors of production. The socialist community could probably make distribution dependent upon certain external aspects of the work performed. But any such differentiation would be arbitrary. Let us suppose that the minimum requirement is determined for each branch of production. Let us suppose this is done on the basis of Rodbertus’ proposal for a “normal working day.” For each industry there is laid down the time which a worker with average strength and effort can continue to work and the amount of work which an average worker of average skill and industry can perform in this time.[19] We will completely ignore the technical difficulties in the way of deciding, in any particular concrete example the question whether this minimum has been achieved or not. Nevertheless it is obvious that any such general determination can only be quite arbitrary. The workers of the different industries would never be made to agree on this point. Everyone would maintain that he had been overtasked and would strive for a reduction of the amount set to him. Average quality of the worker, average skill, average strength, average effort, average industry—these are all vague conceptions that cannot be exactly determined.

    What kind of results will be achieved by workers, who are not directly interested in the product of the work, can be learnt from the experience of a thousand years of slave labour. Officials and employees of state and municipal undertakings provide new examples. An attempt may be made to weaken the argumentative force of the first example by contending that these workers had no interest in the result of their labour because they did not share in the distribution; in the socialist community everyone would realize that he was working for himself and that would spur him on to the highest activity. But this is just the problem. If the worker exerts himself more at the work then he has so much the more labour disutility to overcome. But he will receive only an infinitesimal fraction of the result of his increased effort. The prospect of receiving a two thousand millionth part of the result of his increased effort will scarcely stimulate him to exert his powers any more than he needs.
    ….
    The old “distributivist” theories were based on the assumption that it only needed equal distribution for everyone to have if not riches, at least a comfortable existence. This seemed so obvious, that hardly any trouble was taken to prove it. At the beginning Socialism took over this assumption in its entirety, and expected that comfort for all would be achieved by an equal distribution of the social income. Only when the criticisms of their opponents drew their attention to the fact that equal distribution of the income obtained by the whole economic society would scarcely improve the conditions of the masses at all, did they set up the proposition that capitalist methods of production restrict the productivity of labour, and that Socialism would remove these limitations and multiply production to ensure for everyone a life in comfortable circumstances. Without troubling about the fact that they had not succeeded in disproving the assertion of the liberal school that productivity under Socialism would sink so low that want and poverty would be general, socialist writers began to promulgate fantastic assertions about the increase in productivity to be expected under Socialism.

    Update:I have modified this comment to correct and error in the quotation; due to an error in copying and pasting several paragraphs were quoted twice. Apologies for any headaches or confusions.

  • Pritch

    We are building a clinic in a small town along the Venezulan border with Colombia. The people of this town are very warm and friendly. I was there five weeks ago and found them all upset with Chavez. On his tv show he told the Venezulan people that they all needed to learn how to be poor as he was going to make all of them equal.
    This sounds like a real leader who wants to please the poor who vote for him. The Venezulan people are very industrious people if given a chance . If you destroy the working class,as he wants to do, then he has got control over everyone like CASTRO has in Cuba.

  • Brendan

    Brad, the way you write it sounds as though using a countries resources in order to feed, educate and keep healthy the poorest members of the country’s society is somehow wrong. The point is less people are in poverty now than they were before Chavez. No matter what your idealogical leaning is you must admit this is a positive thing.

    i too have heard that oil exploration is down and profits at PDVSA are at an alltime low however deals have been signed with China in order to increase exploration. It is a process that involves Venezuela breaking away from the shackles of the big oil companies that may take some time.

    This Russian deal you provided a link to sounds somewhat suspect to me. Coming as it does from a vested interest website. Quite remarkable that an american media with such an insataiable appetite for any dirt on Chavez have chosen not to report on this one. Bit strange do you not think?

    And comparisons to Mugabe are just laughable and negate what was up until then a decent argument against chavez.

  • Brendan

    Tarran

    Thank you for providing that information. It was very interesting. I can’t help feeling however that it may be slightly outdated what with being written just after the Second world war.

    Socialism is no longer the Das Capital obsessed movement it once was. It has adapted and now Chavez is a perfect example of how it has advanced. my God even Cuba in the last 10 years has adapted free market techniques that increase productivity amongst workers. Collectives in Cuba now compete with one another and have profit sharing schemes that benefit all workers in the collective. If someone is not working up to the standard a vote can be taken to force the lazy worker to leave the collective.

    Just as Capitalism modernised from a colonial to a mercantile to an industrialised to a globalised form so to does socialism evolve.

    Venezuela and Bolivia are current examples of this. will they fail like Russia etc? We shall see.

  • tarran

    Brendan,

    I am pessimistic: coercive socialism inherently suffers from the flaw that Mises pointed out. By expropriating the benefits gained by hard work, it makes working hard, or sacrificing to produce something unprofitable for the worker.

    Note, it is the coercive quality that doom coercive socialists like Chavez. Voluntary socialism, such as a kibbutz or my marriage does not have this problem: a person who is unhappy is free to pack up and leave.

    In the short term, Chavez can indeed improve the lives of the poor through redistributing wealth. Certainly prior to his election, much of the poverty in Venezuela was due to the manner in which the oligarchs and kleptocrats running the place used the power of the state to impoverish the people and enrich themselves.

    However, and this is very important, Chavez makes it quite clear that he intends to go beyond that. His threats to nationalize food distribution (something that really irks me) because he does not like their pricing demonstrate this. Coercive socialism is a society where people are forced, at gunpoint, to give away some portion of what they have produced. It is a system on institutionalized theft. It is profoundly immoral, and also damaging to people’s well being. Ludwig von Mises’ arguments still hold true today.

  • FuckingGringos

    comrade chavez kicks capitalism and evil capitalist’s ASS! Viva comrade hugo chavez, the 21st century prophet and leader!!!

    Viva evo morales (bolivia), daniel ortega (nicaragua), lopez obrador (mexico), rafael correa
    (ecuador), ollanta humala (peru), robert mugabe (zimbabwe)!!!

    we need more heroes and revolutionary like hugo chavez!!! viva la revolucion!!

    fuck the racist, imperialist, genocidal, colonialist white gringos!!! Love to my non-white african american, hispanic/latino, native american, and asian american, and pacific islander hermanos y hermanas!!!

    comrade chavez kicks gringo ass!!!! long live chavismo!!!

  • Nick M.

    Okay, which one of the contributors/commenters is FuckingGringos? There is just no way this is a real person.

    Nick

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