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The Venezuelan Alternative, A New Brand of Socialism

André
post Oct 12 2010, 01:16 AM
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By Allan Engler - Rabble, October 11th 2010

Michael Lebowitz is a professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University now living in Venezuela working with Centro International Miranda, a government-supported think tank. In The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development, he contrasts Venezuelan policies with the top-down socialism of the 20th century. The latter had focused on rapid industrial development through state ownership and top-down command. In Venezuela the government of Hugo Chavez focuses on human development, on the cooperative meeting of human needs, on social ownership and on participation in community and workplace decisions.

A socialist focus on human development is not new. Lebowitz notes that in the 19th century French socialists Louis Blanc and Claude-Henri Saint-Simon held that the goal was to provide every member of society with the greatest possible opportunities to develop their faculties. In the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote that the working-class goal was "an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."

Now in the 21st century, capitalism continues to hold back universal human development. Wealth-holders' entitlements deny workers and communities a voice and vote in economic decisions. In the competition to maximize private profits capitalist corporations expand production, reduce payments to labour, cut employment, and externalize environmental costs. As productive capacity relentlessly rises working-class income declines, unemployment rises, markets stagnate, and environmental costs are passed on to communities, workers, future generations and other species.

Although capitalism is once again in a global downturn, little is heard of an alternative. Lebowitz is not surprised. Because capitalist property relations dominate the global economy and are virtually unchallenged, people continue to view the collective capacity of the working class as the power of capital. Daily work experience, education and custom, convince most workers in most countries that the logic of capitalism is natural and immutable. Exploitation, unemployment, poverty, discrimination and environmental destruction seem to be just facts of life.

The memory of 20th century socialism does not help. Top-down state ownership did appeal to anti-imperialist students, intellectuals, and professionals in poor countries -- so long as it held out the prospect of rapid industrial development. However, the identification of socialism with a state standing over and above people, commanding and even oppressing workers, did not inspire mass opposition to capitalism. With no acceptable alternative, most workers simply look for ways to defend their interests and better their own lot within the system.

Lebowitz does not claim that Venezuela is socialist. Capitalist property relations continue to dominate their economy. Entrenched state officials remain under the influence of capital. However, the socialism emerging can aid and inspire opposition to capitalism. The new Venezuelan Constitution calls for an alternative to capitalism based on human entitlement, plural communal ownership and workplace democracy.

Lebowitz does not believe that socialism can be decreed by people on top. Real human development has to be produced by the mass of people themselves. But the socialist aspirations of the elected government of Venezuela does provide openings for movements of workers, peasants and the poor. The government has created the legal framework for expanding human entitlement, for expanding communal ownership and workplace democracy. It has given "unequivocal" support for initiatives from below, including police, military, and judicial support for land and workplace occupations.

Lebowitz does not expect one mass action to establish socialism. Each incursion against capitalist title, each advance in communal and workplace democracy may look like a mere reform, but advancing social gains can methodically weaken and ultimately end capitalism. As more people participate in movements against the narrow minority entitlement of capitalism, more come to understand that capitalism is not compatible with human well-being. As movements from below succeed in replacing private profit with human need as the motivator of social labour, as communal ownership replaces capitalist ownership, as workplace democracy replaces the dictatorship of master-servant relations, wealthholding minorities lose capacity to direct social labour in their narrow interests. The transition from capitalism to socialism is ultimately another step.

Mass actions can transform states. In Venezuela, "the old state with its hierarchy, institutions of force and repression" is providing space for movements from below. As the logic of capitalism is progressively replaced with the logic of human need, a new state "made up of community and workplace cells" will emerge. These new institutions of democratic social power will initially focus on local concerns. As cooperative movements against capitalism broaden and deepen, these will "take on the attributes of a new socialist order."

The 20th century provided ample evidence that the state cannot change social consciousness by decree. But people can change themselves. As more people work cooperatively to build a world of human equality, social ownership and workplace democracy, more people will become "conscious of their interdependence and of their own collective power." As people come to see "social production organized by workers and production for social needs as self-evidently rational" a "new common sense" is produced. It will become obvious that the wellbeing of each depends on the wellbeing of all. People will have produced themselves as new socialist men and women.

http://venezuelanalysis.com/
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BarryWilliamsmb
post Oct 12 2010, 03:02 AM
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"a "new common sense" is produced"

I used to believe that this might be possible, kind of like some ginormous 100 monkey effect.

However, the more I learn about biology and genetics, the more I realize that hierarchical behavior is ubiquitous and sooner or later, someone becomes more equal than everyone else.

Pretty tough to overcome evolution, no?
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Tamborine man
post Oct 12 2010, 07:09 AM
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QUOTE (BarryWilliamsmb @ Oct 10 2010, 06:02 AM) *
"a "new common sense" is produced"

I used to believe that this might be possible, kind of like some ginormous 100 monkey effect.

However, the more I learn about biology and genetics, the more I realize that hierarchical behavior is ubiquitous and sooner or later, someone becomes more equal than everyone else.

Pretty tough to overcome evolution, no?



Some people might be interested in how the transcendental world view this question,

so here is the answer to a question asked by humans back in 1911:

".......
How should one view the political principles of Liberalism versus those of Socialism?

Humans themselves must resolve political strife. However, in this as in all other matters the individual will always be able to obtain the necessary guidance through the guardian spirit, the conscience. But it can be said with certainty from the transcendental world that all political disputes are of the evil. The governing and legislative authorities of the nations and the various communities have (Speech of Christ, Toward the Light, pages 124-26: 2) received a guideline that clearly indicates the direction of God’s wishes. If Christ’s discourse was in its entirety to become, in spirit and in truth, the guide for all life on Earth, it would soon transpire that all political factions and the incessant tugs-of-war among the various party leaders were quite needless and caused nothing but harm. They are harmful because they can in no way create calm and peaceful working conditions for those with whom the responsibility lays.
......."


I'll second that, seeing what's going on in the world today.

They, the so-called leaders, are all idiots at worst, and deeply immature at best.


Cheers
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Tamborine man
post Oct 12 2010, 07:25 AM
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Here is the speech of Christ, for those of you who could not be bothered to look it up:

".......
I speak to you who rule the many nations, whether by inheritance or by election, and under whatever title you may bear. Hear me, for I speak to you all!

Make it your common goal each to be the worthiest in your nation. Demand much of yourselves, that you may demand much of others. Be beyond reproach in your daily life, that all may respect and love you. Choose carefully and wisely those who counsel you, and choose them from among those who are selfless, trustworthy, knowledgeable and just. Protect the weak, the poor and the oppressed. Be selfless in your care for the welfare of the nations and the peoples. Act never against that which your conscience tells you to be true and just.

Gain not dominion over the realms of others by might or by cunning, and never compel peoples of other nations to submit in humility to your rule—for all this is of the evil!

Be understanding and patient with peoples whose native lands have been seized by your forefathers, by your predecessors or by yourselves. Seek to do away with some of the injustice done those who have been compelled by force and through hatred and envy to live under foreign rule, and who against their will have been separated from those countries to which they rightfully belong.

Be as brothers toward one another. With good will seek to abolish all strife, and disturb not the peace of other realms.

Yes, I tell you truly: be the first to establish an enduring, brotherly accord, and pray our Father to bless you and the pact you agree upon, that you and your successors may be able to keep the promises you have given one another. Yes, pray that our Father bless you, that you and those who come after you may never, never again break the peace upon the Earth!

Pray our Father enlighten you upon the truth of my words. Pray to Him for help and guidance, that each of you may be able to carry out in full the duties of the position that is yours.
......."


Maybe we should educate "the people" to vote in "leaders" who actually live up to this description!

I know. I'm only dreaming.

Cheers
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André
post Oct 15 2010, 01:26 PM
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Click here for english version of Correo del Orinoco 14 oct.
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tnemelckram
post Oct 15 2010, 08:40 PM
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Hi Tamborine Man!

QUOTE
Make it your common goal each to be the worthiest in your nation. Demand much of yourselves, that you may demand much of others. Be beyond reproach in your daily life, that all may respect and love you. Choose carefully and wisely those who counsel you, and choose them from among those who are selfless, trustworthy, knowledgeable and just. Protect the weak, the poor and the oppressed. Be selfless in your care for the welfare of the nations and the peoples. Act never against that which your conscience tells you to be true and just.


I was particularly struck by the above portion of your quote of Jesus Christ. I'm a lousy Catholic, much too secular and scientific, but Jesus hit the nail on the head with these words. They reflect a profound understanding of human nature and are just plain common sense. To me, the bottom line is that people should strive for betterment of the human condition by giving their venal impulses some free reign to run, but at the same time keep those same venal impulses under control.

Sadly, I am afraid that our unbridled capitalist consumer society distorts,or destroys this sense of balance in just about all men.

This post has been edited by tnemelckram: Oct 15 2010, 08:40 PM
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Tamborine man
post Oct 19 2010, 06:10 AM
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QUOTE (tnemelckram @ Oct 13 2010, 11:40 PM) *
Hi Tamborine Man!



I was particularly struck by the above portion of your quote of Jesus Christ. I'm a lousy Catholic, much too secular and scientific, but Jesus hit the nail on the head with these words. They reflect a profound understanding of human nature and are just plain common sense. To me, the bottom line is that people should strive for betterment of the human condition by giving their venal impulses some free reign to run, but at the same time keep those same venal impulses under control.

Sadly, I am afraid that our unbridled capitalist consumer society distorts,or destroys this sense of balance in just about all men.



Hi tnemelckram,

and yes, your comment is more than well received, as you so clearly and lucid

let it be known to the whole confused world: that to know what is right and wrong,

good and bad, has absolutely nothing to do with "religion", but infinitely more to do

with maturity of Mind - so thank you so much for the above.


On a little side-note, just this observation addressed in general.

I always find it a bit perplexing that every time the name 'Jesus of nazareth' is

mentioned, people thinks the talk is about 'religion'.

Are no one really aware that this man was the least religious man alive at the time!!


'Religion' as we know it today was started by Paul of Tarsus, and it has to finish by him.

This has been done; as everybody and anybody will realize by reading his "Apology",

written in the beginning of the last century.

Jesus of Nazareth should more be associated with individualities like Socrates,

Zarathustra, Buddha, Lao-tze, Kung-tze and Meng-tze etc., and not to forget of course,

Kahlil Gibran and many others of like minds!

Jesus was thrown out of the Synagogue when he first appeared in public.

His speech then, which caused such a furore, is available to anyone who are interested

in these matters.

Just ask!


Cheers

This post has been edited by Tamborine man: Oct 19 2010, 06:15 AM
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AirmanDave
post Nov 11 2010, 05:35 PM
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QUOTE (BarryWilliamsmb @ Oct 12 2010, 02:02 AM) *
"a "new common sense" is produced"

I used to believe that this might be possible, kind of like some ginormous 100 monkey effect.

However, the more I learn about biology and genetics, the more I realize that hierarchical behavior is ubiquitous and sooner or later, someone becomes more equal than everyone else.

Pretty tough to overcome evolution, no?



No one is equal to the Rothschilds and Rockefellers and they plan to keep it that way.
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