Gregory Wilpert, a freelance writer based in ’s capital , has written a very useful study of the history and policies of the Chavez government in . He examines its governance policy, economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. He looks at the opportunities, obstacles and prospects facing the Venezuelan people, and explores Chavez’s ideas of 21st-century socialism.
In 1998, the people elected Hugo Chavez President, with 56.2 per cent of the votes. In the 2004 recall referendum, he won 58 per cent of the votes and in the 2006 election, 62.9 per cent.
Wilpert notes that the previous ruling class’s counter-revolutionary acts against the Chavez government have each radicalised the government. He also notes that between 2001 and 2005, the state sent $27 million to opposition groups.
The government is promoting micro-credits, cooperatives, worker co-management, efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, and skills training and logistical support to help people to start coops and social enterprises. Its social programmes have cut poverty from 44 percent to 38 per cent.
Wilpert shows how the Chavez government is trying to move from representative democracy to a more participatory democracy.
This is an excellent introduction to the history and policies of the Chavez government, joining Eva Golinger’s The Chavez code, and Bart Jones’ Hugo! The Hugo Chavez story: from mud hut to perpetual revolution.
But hating money is still a sign of divided interests, still hating the one and loving the other.
So… there will be no blood for Capitalism, the fight does not exist for Christians; they are emancipated even from this! They are already socialists and where they go, goes socialism. Like Jesus said to the emancipated: Don’t look around to see and find the Kingdom of God, it is close to you, even in you.
For those who wish to see rioting revolutionaries as a means to the end of Capitalism, Christianity would be of little interest because even with regards to the fight against Capitalism, Christianity is totally subversive; there will be no blood! I mean the man died! He bled! It is done.
Perry Anderson has produced a brilliant study of the EU, the organisation which poses the greatest threat to us in today. He displays, as usual, his peerless acuity and huge range of reference.
This book includes superb surveys of , , , and , but not of . explains grandly, “I do not regret the omission of , whose history since the fall of Thatcher has been of little moment.” (It was not a ‘fall’ - we pushed her out.) He refers to ‘’ three pages later, then to again, then to the , a slippage whose uncharacteristic uncertainty betrays his disdain for its object.
He shows that the EU had no democratic foundations. Jean Monnet, the ‘father of ’, was an international financier, never elected to anything. Now the EU ‘more and more openly flouts the popular will’.
rightly cites the falls in EU election turnout as evidence that the EU ‘wants even a modicum of popular credibility’. Yet he inconsistently writes of US elections that high abstention rates are ‘the surest sign of popular contentment with society as it is’.
observes sensibly of Le Pen’s Front National, “Immigration is a minority phenomenon, virtually by definition, as war between the classes was not. In consequence, xenophobic responses to it, however ugly, have little power of political multiplication. Aron, who had witnessed the rise of Nazism in and knew what he was talking about, understood this from the start, criticizing panicky over-estimations of the Front. In effect, from the mid-eighties onwards its electoral scores oscillated within a fixed range, never dropping much below a national average of 10 per cent and never rising above 15 per cent.” There is no need to obsess about the far tinier BNP.
On the EU’s economic policies, he quotes EU-enthusiast Andrew Moravcsik: “the EU is overwhelmingly about the promotion of free markets. Its primary interest group support comes from multinational firms, not least US ones.” And, “The EU is basically about business.” Its Constitution makes a ‘highly competitive’ market ‘free of distortions’ a legal obligation, wrecking a ‘social ’.
Inside monetary union, “The historic commitments … to full employment and social services … cease to have any further institutional purchase.” Growth suffers too. Before the euro started in 1999, growth was 2.4 per cent a year, after, 2.1 per cent. Non-euro EU members grew faster than euro members. Eurozone income per head rose more slowly than in the previous decade, while productivity growth halved.
points out that British governments always sought a wider EU, wanting to use the ‘vast reserve armies of cheap labour in the East, exerting downward pressure on wage costs in the West’. He shows the EU’s embrace of capitalism, its contempt for democracy and its failure to create either a European society or a common culture.
He ends the book with the feeblest of forecasts – “But it remains unlikely that time and contradiction have come to a halt.” He is brilliant at tracing intellectuals’ responses to problems, but not at engaging with the problems or proposing solutions.