September 07, 2005

Hugo Chavez


From the The Washington Post: Socialism a Hard Sell for Some Venezuelans.

The shopping mall is a blur of Guess jeans, Louis Vuitton purses and Motorola cell phones, a temple of consumerism in a country that is supposed to be on a path toward socialism. So popular is the Sambil Mall that "Sambil society" has become a derogatory term in the Venezuelan socialist vocabulary. Reject it and build a fairer Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez urges his nation of 25 million people.

"We're capitalists, consumers by nature," said 26-year-old Marbelys Gonzalez, strolling through the mall with two friends, carrying a shopping bag filled with five pairs of designer jeans. ...

Chavez says capitalism created Venezuela's poverty, and a "new socialism of the 21st century" can end it.

"It's the search for social justice, for equality," Chavez said recently. "The capitalist model is perverse. It favors a minority and expropriates from the majority."

In his nearly seven years in power, Chavez has presided over a society increasingly divided by his politics and sometimes shaken by spasms of street violence pitting his supporters against his enemies.

It remains unclear what sort of socialism Chavez may achieve, but his latest moves provide hints _ raising taxes on foreign companies pumping oil, setting up stores to sell cheap food to the needy, subsidizing farming and industrial cooperatives, and handing over some wealthy ranchers' lands to poor farmers. ...

"Every day it looks more like the communism of Fidel Castro," says Jesus Garrido Perez, an opposition congressman. "The economic disaster has begun." ...

Some opponents accuse Chavez, a former army officer elected in 1998, of planning an assault on private property, pointing to his land reform program as a starter. But Chavez has insisted private property will be respected and business encouraged. So far, his sharpest attacks on the wealthy have been verbal.

"It's bad to be rich," Chavez said in one speech. "Those who have a lot of money should donate it." ...

"You have to strip yourself of individualism," he urged listeners in one televised address. "You have to strip yourself of the yearnings for personal wealth. You have to strip yourself of egotism. You need to be, simply, useful."

See the writings of Ayn Rand for a refutation of such collectivism.

In other Chavez-related news: Heinz Calls on Venezuela to Give Back Seized Ketchup Plant.

Posted by Forkum at September 7, 2005 04:44 PM