Saturday, November 12, 2005

Shared Laughs w/ a Republican

Speaking of people dying, socialism and communism did wonders for the poor in the 20th century. Famine killed 20 million in Russia and 30 million in China because of a lack of private industry and competition.

"Socialism" coming out of Stalin's mouth had about as much authenticity as "Democracy" coming out of Bush's. Or do you take it as an article of faith that everything that comes out of a dictator's mouth is the Gospel truth? Every system of power employs a noble purpose to justify its rule. And the fact is, "socialism" is a purpose that has wide appeal in most of the world. The fact that many systems continue to exploit it as a concept--e.g., China--tells us zero about how the system is actually run.

Sort of like "capitalism" here, as you've already pointed out--capitalism with a huge public sector which interferes with markets on behalf of investors, subsidizes the wealthy, precludes competition, etc. The reason you can't "get rid of the inefficient government" is because "the capitalists" rely on it for survival. Good luck trying to raise that issue at the Republican convention.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hugo Chavez and "21st Century Socialism"

I'm all for popular sovereignty and economic independence, but my impression is that demagoguery and the personalization of issues only undermines the full realization of these goals; it does not complement them. The emphasis should be on what Venezuelans, etc., are doing to create a viable alternative to neoliberalism--not on what their self-involved figureheads tell them they should be doing.

It may be that Chavez's policies--like Castro's--are widely supported by his constituency. The question in my mind is the degree to which these policies have been developed through popular participation vs. a top-down sort of authoritarianism with little meaningful input from the average citizen. Even if the outcome is the same, I do not believe the two enjoy equal justification.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Intelligent Design?
by Noam Chomsky

from ZNet
An old-fashioned conservative would believe in the value of Enlightenment ideals — rationality, critical analysis, freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry — and would try to adapt them to a modern society. The Founding Fathers, children of the Enlightenment, championed those ideals and took pains to create a Constitution that espoused religious freedom yet separated church and state. The United States, despite the occasional messianism of its leaders, isn’t a theocracy.

In our time, the Bush administration’s hostility to scientific inquiry puts the world at risk. Environmental catastrophe, whether you think the world has been developing only since Genesis or for eons, is far too serious to ignore. In preparation for the G8 summit this past summer, the scientific academies of all G8 nations (including the US National Academy of Sciences), joined by those of China, India and Brazil, called on the leaders of the rich countries to take urgent action to head off global warming.

"The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify prompt action," their statement said. "It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions."

In its lead editorial, The Financial Times endorsed this "clarion call," while observing: "There is, however, one holdout, and unfortunately it is to be found in the White House where George W. Bush insists we still do not know enough about this literally world-changing phenomenon."
Toward a Community Standard

..."[O]ur critics are correct in some of their observations. Specifically, our [health] coverage is expensive for low-income families, and Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance..."

-- Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart executive vice president for benefits

Sunday, November 06, 2005


from The Financial Times
According to what many in financial circles will regard a heretical piece of research by Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, materialistic goals may even cause dissatisfaction with life and mental disorders such as paranoia.

...Explaining the benefits of experiences over possessions, he said they tended to be unique, whereas a house or a car is likely to become the norm very quickly.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

US Plans for a Post-Castro Cuba

from The Financial Times
US planning for Cuba's “transition” after the demise of Fidel Castro has entered a new stage, with a special office for reconstruction inside the US State Department preparing for the “day after”, when Washington will try to back a democratic government in Havana.

The inter-agency effort, which also involves the Defense Department, recognises that the Cuba transition may not go peacefully and that the US may have to launch a nation-building exercise.

...Officials say the US would not “accept” a handover of power from Mr Castro, who is 79, to his brother Raul, aged 74. While it is not clear what the US position means, Mr McCarry stressed the US would not “impose” its help.