The Socialist Paradise

…of Venezuela:

Apologists for Chavez mentor Fidel Castro blame Cuba’s sixty years of economic problems on the US embargo. If it weren’t for Uncle Sam, they say, Castro would have built a socialist paradise by now.

Venezuela is the test for this talking point. Not only is there no US embargo in Venezuela, but the country also has huge oil reserves. And what does it have? Food and medicine and foreign currency shortages.

There are very real theoretical reasons, based on fundamental human nature, why socialism doesn’t work, and empirically fails everywhere it’s tried. But it’s also human nature to wish it would work, so those ignorant or in denial of those reasons continue to try it. Or to try to defeat human nature by creating the New Soviet Man, at the point of a gun.

20 thoughts on “The Socialist Paradise”

  1. If it weren’t for <Fill in the Name of Bad Capitalist>, they say, <Fill in the Name of Good Communist> would have built a socialist paradise by now.

    It seems to be the evergreen comment formula of the Progressives.

      1. Perhaps so. It wasn’t that many years ago when some moron was writing about the end of history.

  2. An embargo is a restraint of trade. It works both ways. If Cuba is such a socialist paradise, why doesn’t the embargo make America such a hellhole instead?

    1. ” If Cuba is such a socialist paradise, why doesn’t the embargo make America such a hellhole instead?”

      Well to be fair, there are differences is scale as well as political systems.

      We can get the stuff from somewhere else. And we are rich enough to pay for that.

      Plus the amount of stuff we’d buy from Cuba is small because Cuba is small. So the relative impacts are different.

      Lastly, we are so rich (because we aren’t – yet – a Socialist State) that if we want Cuban cigars, we have the money and knowhow and contacts to get them from someone Cuba does trade with.

  3. This isn’t surprising: “In Chicago, where about 100 schools have already been closed since 2001, Ms. Byrd-Bennett has said that the district needs to reduce a $1 billion deficit.

    A 50% increase this year, heckofa job Rham!

    1. Dave, the Scandinavian countries are more socialist than we are, but moving slowly in the opposite direction, for now. Also, unlike “the socialist camp” of which Cuba and Venezuela have been its most recent ardent advocates, their parties could not undo completely the rule of law in order to make their socialism permanent. Like here, the main driving force behind their “socialist ratchet” is not in their police and “militias”, but in media majorities and academic majorities, who are always horrified when some portion of socialist doctrine is retreated from, by a less socialist coalition after being found not to work, by a new coalition, after an election.

      There have been several non-socialist parties win power as heads of coalitions in Scandinavia over the last 20 years. So, when growth has slowed, these come to lead coalitions, whose more socialist members then try to limit the reforms as much as possible. This coalition politics is different from ours, in that we put together 2 coalitions that make promises before the elections, called Democrats and Republicans, and then pick between them for many different offices. In Scandinavia, the parties make their promises for many different offices first, get elected to some seats in a parliament, and then try to form coalitions after the elections. while maneuvering for advantage in fulfilling their promises.

      Also, the presence of a continued aristocracy and monarchy have made a difference in these countries. These older social hierarchies have paved the way for further acceptance of the new hierarchies, by conditioning people to be more accepting of hierarchies run by “their betters”, and more “in your face” about it than is accepted well here in the US. On the other hand, they moderate what the socialists can do, by using their influence through bureaucracies, knowing that their positions depend on that rule of law almost totally.

      1. A thoughtful post on comparing political systems and on the ebb and flow of level of government control over the economy? You must be new around here.

        Looking forward to your comments.

    2. Tom makes some excellent points. I would add that their populations are much smaller – Denmark for example has what…5 million citizens? It’s much easier to build a Socialist State with a small population – especially one that’s fairly homogeneous in thought. It’s more likely to *be* homogeneous in thought and deed if the population is small.

      The US isn’t like that. Neither is Western Europe as we are seeing.

      Also, taking Denmark again, their armed forces total about 33,000. So they don’t spend a lot of money on Defense. Lots more tax money available for social programs without higher taxes. Military expenditure as a percent of GDP, in Denmark, is 1.5 vs 4.7 for the US (2011 numbers).

      Also, at least according to Wiki, Denmark maintains a number of traditional conservative principles:

      Support for free trade is high ….

      Employers can hire and fire whenever they want

      Establishing a business can be done in a matter of hours and at very low costs.

      One of the recent notions that people seem to have – especially in Europe – is that success stories are transferable regardless of culture.

      So for example, the Euros point to the US with multiple States and a single currency and say that’s proof there’s no reason the Euro cannot succeed in Europe.

      Well there’s LOTS of reason it can’t be done as we are witnessing.

      By the same token, a political system that works for a small fairly homogeneous European nation would NOT work in the US.

      Culture matters.

      1. During the Cold War years, the United States spent vast sums of money on the defense of the Western European nations from the Soviet bloc.

        Freed from the necessity of providing for their own defense, the European countries were able to spend their own money building their socialist welfare states.

        Throughout this period, American progressive intellectuals pointed to those welfare states as examples to be emulated, and have now nearly succeeded in achieving their goal of “fundamentally transforming” America.

        Yet those welfare states could not have been built in the first place without American military power backing them up.

        Ironic, ain’t it?

        1. Do you suppose building up Europe and Japan by putting them under the U.S. defensive umbrella was a purposeful policy, that is, making Communism less attractive to those societies? And that the European welfare state was viewed of a way of giving them the bennies of communism without Stalin’s heavy hand?

          Furthermore, the whole time of the Cold War, the argument from the more leftish factions of Liberalism was that “we” were spending all of our money on the Military Industrial Complex (which in that view was all wasted) whereas our allies all had Universal Health Care, Bullet Trains, paid-for college, symphony orchestras and ballet companies that didn’t have to beg for money.

          There was always the theme in Liberal thought that 1) we should get Yurp to shoulder more of the defense burden or 2) defense spending was wasted, corporate welfare to (companies in California!), or unnecessary because the Russians weren’t really that bad.

      2. You make some very important points. In the US, we have buffet-style Socialism. They label a country “Socialist”, and then pick and chose those parts of that system which they want to emulate, arguing that it is successful over there, and can therefore be successful over here.

        But, unless you import the entire system as it exists over there, you are not going to get their results. And so, for example, we get “universal” health care and a voracious cadre of trial attorneys lined up to feed at the trough.

  4. Another thing to note is that we don’t know if most of the governments of Europe will be stable in the long run. The US has at least a democratic government which has endured for over two centuries. Most countries of Europe can’t boast of that.

    To the contrary, the current drama in the EU indicates to me that a lot of these societies don’t have it figured out.

    1. Yet you had a Civil War in the US did you not? You are less stable than you think you are.

      The UK for example is perfectly stable. Other countries are less lucky than the US regarding their relations with their neighbors or cannot be self-reliant on their own resources on a crisis. Iceland is considered to be supremely stable. They have had more or less the same style of government for a lot longer than the US yet they still have minor economic or government crisis every now or then.

  5. Also, Sweden is essentially a capitalist economy. The means of production are in private hands. Land is privately owned. Taxes are high, and there are lots of social programs, but Sweden is not socialist in the same sense as Cuba is.

    1. You need to understand that here in the EU there are no Communist state. Every since state is Market Socialist. So is the US but to different degrees. These are achievements of the Industrial Revolution. Basically the additional wealth provided by machines enabled the funding of these extra amenities much like slaves did the same in Ancient Greece or Rome.

      1. Sorry for the typos and thinkos in my prior post:

        You need to understand that here in the EU there are no Communist states. Every single state is Market Socialist. So is the US but to a different degree. These are achievements of the Industrial Revolution. Basically the additional wealth provided by machines enabled the funding of these extra amenities much like slaves did the same in Ancient Greece or Rome.

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