TCS Daily


The Culture of Caudillismo

By Alvaro Vargas Llosa - December 12, 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- I am often asked why a government as authoritarian and corrupt as that of Hugo Chavez wins elections. In my five trips to Venezuela since Chavez took office eight years ago, I have come to a conclusion that many Venezuelans suffer something akin to Stockholm syndrome, that state of psychological dependence that the victim develops with a kidnapper.

Like all "revolutionary" strongmen, Chavez has built his legitimacy by discrediting the past. The 40-year reign of democracy (1958-1998) that preceded him was freer and less corrupt than his own regime, but its many shortcomings were enough to persuade a large segment of the population that democratic rule was a cloak for the appropriation of the country's oil wealth by the established political parties, the bureaucracy and the business elite. This sentiment slowly began to take shape in the 1970s and reached a climax at the end of the 1990s. By then, the perception was that, in the previous two decades, privileged Venezuelans had robbed the poor of $250 billion worth of oil revenue.

An objective look at the last eight years would tell you that the plunder is much worse under Chavez. The oil income for that period is probably as high as $180 billion (exact figures are impossible to obtain because the government-owned oil company has not published financial statements since 2003). Poverty has not been significantly reduced, and a new and tacky elite is in place. As Gustavo Coronel, a former representative of Transparency International in Caracas, puts it in a detailed study of graft under the present regime that was published by the Cato Institute, "corruption has dominated the Hugo Chavez government as never before in Venezuela's history."

But the relationship between a large part of the Venezuelan people and Hugo Chavez has nothing to do with objective analysis. The perception that Chavez is a redeemer who has come to save Venezuelans from their past has allowed him to do away with most checks and balances through a combination of referendums, elections and decrees that have placed everything from the Congress to the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council under his personal control. Then came his takeover of the oil wealth and other sources of revenue, which has resulted in a doubling of the national debt.

For instance, several billion dollars have been transferred from the national oil company and the central bank to a "development" fund called FONDEN and a "development" bank called BANDES that are accountable only to the president.

In essence, the nation has been kidnapped by Chavez. Millions of Venezuelans have come to depend on government programs known as "missions" for their livelihood. These programs have placed the welfare recipients at the political mercy of the authorities. Many people are convinced that their personal future depends on handouts rather than wealth creation. Anybody who opposes the government is seen as an agent of the old elite determined to throw the poor to the wolves.

Add to this Chavez's systematic tampering with the electoral roll. The registry includes 17 million voters, a surreal figure in a country of 26 million people in which more than half the population is under the legal age to vote. The drive to register foreigners began in 2004, when Chavez faced a recall referendum and offered citizenship to hundreds of thousands of Colombian migrants. Since then, the electoral roll has grown 10 times faster than in previous years. Those who signed the petition for the recall referendum were exposed on government Web sites that gave out their names. Many of them subsequently reported reprisals at work and had trouble renewing identity papers.

All of this goes a long way toward explaining the fact that Chavez continues to win elections. But there is something more -- the culture of "caudillismo," that is, the identification on the part of many people with the larger-than-life strongman who is a father figure to them: They interpret the outside world through his eyes. The politicization of Venezuelan society through the suffocating intrusion of the government has reduced the people's sense of space in the way the kidnapper reduces the space of the victim. Nothing outside of that relationship can possibly exist for the victim while the kidnapper is in control. Until internal or external factors begin to weaken that dependence, Chavez will continue to enjoy enough support to hold his numerous but impotent critics in check.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, author of ``Liberty for Latin America,'' is the director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute.


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195 Comments

Chavez is a bad man but Venezuelan democracy did not deliver...
We are pushing democracy all over the world. But democracy does not always deliver an effective, strong government. Even here in the US our two-party democracy only protects us politically from a Chief Executive who misbehaves enough to get himself impeached.

We have precious little choice about getting ourselves great leaders. We are pretty much stuck with the talent that the two major parties present us with. So we can probably stop something really stupid in Washington but we are not able to elect someone really smart unless we get lucky and he is nominated by the party. Indeed, even in our cities we are only able to vote for someone who has been groomed by the party to be mayor (on his way to the White House) and financed by his friends. Not someone we actually know and trust to do a good job.

In our companies we can quit and go work somewhere else if the CEO is an abusive moron and running the business into the ground. Not so easy in the same situation when you are a citizen.

But when one of our companies is directed by someone who makes bad decisions, that entity is allowed to fail and it is liquidated. When a country is the victim of poor management it takes a bit more work to correct. Sadly, democracy only gets it right some of the time.

Chavez delivers the goods
Anyone actually reading the papers would notice a curious thing: Under Chavez, Venezuela is booming. Not only are the poor people rapidly getting richer under his programs, so are the rich. This year the national economy's growth is hitting double digit territory.

That would be the magical ten percent growth rate in its GDP. By comparison the US weighed in last quarter with a whopping 2.2% according to the BEA.

http://bea.gov/bea/glance.htm

Traditionally, voters tend to approve of a leader who delivers that kind of numbers.

The Venezuelan economic turnaround is all the more striking when measured from the period of neoliberalization, when all of Latin America were dutifully swallowing the medicine prescribed by the US, the IMF and the World Bank. Throughout the 1980s the average GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean declined by 0.7%. And in the 1990s the average only grew by 1.5 percent annually.

This is why every nation in South America has now turned its back on neoliberalism, except for a Colombia convulsed in revolution and tiny, progressive Paraguay, held afloat by illicit sales of black market goods such as babies and Asian camcorders.

Here, let Frank Bajak of the AP report it:

"Latin America's leftward swing, cemented by Chavez's landslide re-election in Venezuela, Rafael Correa's triumph in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega's return in Nicaragua, doesn't necessarily reflect a yearning for Cuban-style communism.

"Instead, it's all about delivering life's basics-- food, shelter, health care-- to people excluded from the benefits of the free market that Washington has championed in the region for more than two decades.

"'They say there's Castro-style communism here, but the government hasn't taken anything away from anyone' Sigilfredo Tineo, 61, said Sunday, when like-minded voters gave Venezuela's president another six years in office.

"'On the contrary, it's delivering houses, credits, vehicles to people. There's more liberty and equality than ever before', said Tineo, an electricity company worker ho received a low-interest government loan to help buy a car."

This kind of leadership is proving to be an inspiration to every other country in the region-- excluding, of course, plucky little Paraguay and the US-supported half of Colombia headed by Uribe..

venez.
So Roy, it sounds like you think a populist handing out 'bread and circuses' in the Roman manner, and the manner of Argentina under their Caudillo Peron, are a better model than say, Chile, right? Hint; it's unsustainable, and not even accurate in the first place. Here's an experiment; let some working classe people from Cuba go first to Venezuela, check it out, then go to the States, check it out, where would they probably prefer? But then again, I think you're one of the guys here that thinks Cuba actually IS the role model.

What needs to be pushed is liberty, not democracy.
"We are pushing democracy all over the world. But democracy does not always deliver an effective, strong government. "

A strong government is not the answer. A government that makes people strong and independent of government is the answer.

"We have precious little choice about getting ourselves great leaders."

Of course we do. Look at the media fawning over Obama. What has he accomplished? A similar beuty contest occurred in the MA governor's race. People have choices. They just make decisions based upon appearances and perceptions, not effectivness and results.

"Not so easy in the same situation when you are a citizen. "

In countries like Venezula you can't bug out, but in the USA, you can. How many do?

"Sadly, democracy only gets it right some of the time."

Democracy without standards is mob rule. When the mob rules, only the leaders of the mob win.

Chile boomed under Pinocet
but somehow I doubt that we will ever hear roy singing the virtues of Pinochet.


Of course there's a lot of smoke and mirrors behind the numbers that roy touts, but you can bet roy will not look behind the curtain, for fear of finding the wizard.

And Americans
Humans are the same in every country, only the circumstances differ. The universal is that they sometimes vote for bad people. Americans elected Jefferson and Bush. Venezuela will have to be pretty limber to mambo that low. (OK, that's Brazil, not Venezuela)

Not by a long shot
"So Roy, it sounds like you think a populist handing out 'bread and circuses' in the Roman manner, and the manner of Argentina under their Caudillo Peron, are a better model than say, Chile, right? Hint; it's unsustainable," etc.

Yes, I do think the job of a government is to help create a general prosperity. And I think it's a mark of success when they're able to take masses of poor people, who are a drain on society, and make viable, self sustaining people out of them. That's a GOOD thing for government to do, and the voters understand that.

Who, one might ask, could be against creating a general prosperity?

But I hear you saying the prosperity is not general. Certainly to be giving money to the poor he must be taking it from the rich. Right?

Prosperity deosn't always work that way. There's a synergistic effect that occurs when money is put into general circulation. I would invite you to take a look at the performance of the Venezuelan stock market in the years since he took over as president:

http://www.latin-focus.com/latinfocus/countries/venezuela/venstocks.htm

Venezuela never had it so good-- rich, poor or in between. Money is clamoring to be invested there. Compare and contrast with all those years that the place was run by good neoliberals, beloved by Washington. The only thing that grew during those mismanaged years was their foreign debt.

Which, I might remind you, Chavez is continuing to pay off.

Mambo jambo
Actually the mambo came out of Cuba, while the limbo came from the carnival in Trinidad. But I understand what you mean.

Maybe you were thinking of the tango, which is an Argentine thing. Brazilians have the samba, which is a little like our old shimmy.

Ah, what do the people know?
It sounds a little like you're saying that if the people of some country don't vote the way we think they should, we need to go down there and destabilize their government, to put them on the "right" path. Is that the message?

The Venezuelans are voting for prosperity. Take a look at the stock market there. Chavez has been very, very good for business:

http://www.latin-focus.com/latinfocus/countries/venezuela/venstocks.htm

Boom!
And how did Chile boom under Pinochet, Mark?

I'll remind you of what you said yesterday under the heading 'free markets can't exist without liberty':

'If you think that Pinochets Chile had much in the way of free markets, then you are pretty delusional.'

I think perhaps the Chicago Boys might have something to say about that!

Washington DC 'boomed' under Pinochet: terrorist bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier
I guess that was part of the free-enterprise economic game plan, that and killing and torturing tens of thousands of Chileans.

Whenever someone the right doesn't like gets elected, we get these noises
But if a Republican president is ditching protections written into the constitution regarding habeas corpus, laws on torture, and laws regulating surveillance, it's all part of the way things should be.

Democracy, liberty and cop outs
'Democracy without standards is mob rule. When the mob rules, only the leaders of the mob win.'

I can understand the Right's pessimism after the House and Senate defeats in the US, and perhaps Chavez's landslide, but to dismiss democracy as a threat to liberty is at best a cop out and at worst elitest.

If the result doesn't go your way, it's 'mob rule'. If it does? A mature democracy expressing the popular will?

This isn't much of a surpise but the Right are just as hostile to democracy as the Left when results don't occur as they're 'supposed to.' The Left's hostile attitude to free speech is indicative of a similar hostility to the electorate. Why? Because they fear they'll lose the argument to the ignorant and/or apathetic masses. Similarly, its appeal to the state is its method of avoiding debate.

The far left (and I mean the far left, not Hilary Clinton, Jesse Jackson etc) have long blamed the masses and media influence) for the non-appearance of a revolutionary upsurge.

The answer? Fight harder for your views - don't appeal to constitutions, hate speech laws, state intervention in the democratic process etc And accept the result until next time!

Saying something nice about Pinochet
"somehow I doubt that we will ever hear roy singing the virtues of Pinochet."

My ears were burning, so I had to see where my name was being invoked.

In all honesty, Pinochet took prosperity from one side of the public and gave it to the other side. His announced aim was to "amke Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of proprietors". And under him social services were decimated, poverty increased and the disparity in incomes became more extreme.

What should a society strive for? Is the wealth of the few worth the price of impoverishment of the many? Under Bachelet, we can now undo some of the excesses of the disastrous period of neoliberalism, and witness the creation of a more broadly based prosperity. One that serves the needs of the whole population.

But it is true. Under Pinochet, the rich did get richer. Here's his report card for economic performance:

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/42a/086.html

Bovine Excrement Alert
This isn't much of a surpise but the Right are just as hostile to democracy as the Left when results don't occur as they're 'supposed to.' The Left's hostile attitude to free speech is indicative of a similar hostility to the electorate.

On the contrary, the left is the domain of this art. Universities (left wing bastions) pass speech codes, the ACLU, PAW & other activist groups utilize the threat of litigation to kill (nativity scenes) they don't like.

No less a man than Winston Churchill was very sober about the prospects for democratic utopia when he said democracy is the worst form of government, except for any other that's been tried.

The recent election has nothing to do with Marjon's statement, nor would I necessarily classify him as "the right". Any student of history understands popular political passions can become infernos-levelling everything in their path.




When the bovine excrement hits the fan
'On the contrary, the left is the domain of this art. Universities (left wing bastions) pass speech codes, the ACLU, PAW & other activist groups utilize the threat of litigation to kill (nativity scenes) they don't like.'

That's why I mentioned it! Perhaps you misunderstood my point. The Left's attachment to speech codes is its method of shutting down debate, and regarding students (and the wider population) as empty recepticles always on the verge of manipulation by some demagogue or other.
The contrast of 'liberty' and 'democracy' by marjon implies that democracy is a threat to liberty. Indeed, that's just what you do in your next paragraph and final sentance.
It begs the questions: 'Whose liberty?' and 'Who will do the protecting?' The small, enlightened minority like yourself, marjon et al?

'No less a man than Winston Churchill was very sober about the prospects for democratic utopia when he said democracy is the worst form of government, except for any other that's been tried.'

I wouldn't regard Winston Churchill as a champion of democracy - as his comment implies. A defender of empire and democracy for his race, maybe. Well, he wasn't even too keen on the great unwashed within his own race either.

'The recent election has nothing to do with Marjon's statement, nor would I necessarily classify him as "the right".'

The recent elction has seen a fair bit of collective throwing up of hands on these pages. But you're right about it not starting from that point. I could go back to the reluctance in extending the franchise, women's suffrage, civil rights etc etc. The election has merely brought to the surface the (some of) the Right's exasperation at the electorate because it can't possibly be wrong can it?!? And if Chavez wins? Fix fix fix!

'Any student of history understands popular political passions can become infernos-levelling everything in their path.'

Just like the Left, you want some monitoring (by the great and the good?) of the political process, less things 'get out of hand.'

PS Incidentally, I always assumed the ACLU was against legislating around 'hate speech' issues. Not being from the States, perhaps I've missed that but at free speech conferences in Britain I can well remember Nadine Strosser eloquently defending free speech against the asault on it at certain US campuses.

Left " The Left's hostile attitude to free speech"
How?? What in the world are you talking about? Who's censoring you, or is trying to? Barack? Hillary? Pelosi? Who?

Pure democracy
3 wolves and two sheep voting who's for lunch.

Pack, mob, whatever, rule.

What is happening in Gaza? Democracy in action.

"Fairness Doctrine"
"The rise of alternative media—political talk radio in the eighties, cable news in the nineties, and the blogosphere in the new millennium—has broken the liberal monopoly over news and opinion outlets. The Left understands acutely the implications of this revolution, blaming much of the Democratic Party’s current electoral trouble on the influence of the new media’s vigorous conservative voices. Instead of fighting back with ideas, however, today’s liberals quietly, relentlessly, and illiberally are working to smother this flourishing universe of political discourse under a tangle of campaign-finance and media regulations. Their campaign represents the most sustained attack on free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. Though Republicans have the most to lose in the short run, all Americans who care about our most fundamental rights and the civic health of our democracy need to understand what’s going on—and resist it."

"Consider what’s going on in Washington State as an early warning. Early in 2005, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed—and Democratic governor Christine Gregoire signed—a bill boosting the state’s gasoline tax a whopping 9.5 cents per gallon over the next four years, supposedly to fund transportation projects. Thinking that their taxes were already plenty high and that the state’s notoriously corrupt Transportation Department would just squander the gas-tax revenues (millions on enviro-friendly wildlife overpasses, for instance, but little on new roads), some citizens organized an initiative campaign, as Washington law allows, to junk the new levy: No New Gas Tax.

Two popular conservative talk radio hosts, Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson, explained why the gas tax was bad news and urged listeners to sign the 225,000 petitions necessary to get the rollback initiative on the November ballot, though they played no official role in the campaign and regularly featured on their shows defenders as well as opponents of the tax hike. With the hosts’ help, the petition drive got almost twice the needed signatures, but the ballot initiative, strongly opposed by labor unions, the state’s liberal media, environmental groups, and other powerful interests, narrowly lost.

Meantime, however, a group of pro-tax politicians sued No New Gas Tax, arguing that Wilbur’s and Carlson’s on-air commentaries were “in-kind contributions” and that the anti-tax campaign had failed to report them to the proper state authorities. The suit sought to stop NNGT from accepting any more of these “contributions” until it disclosed their worth—though how the initiative’s organizers could control media discussions or calculate their monetary value remained unclear. The complaint also socked NNGT with civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs, and other damages. Even more offensively, to litigate the suit the politicians hired a private law firm, Foster Pepper & Shefelman, which serves as bond counsel to Washington State. The firm, which represents unions, hospitals, and retirement funds among its other clients, could thus clean up from the state’s plan to sell gas-tax-backed bonds. Appearance of corruption, anyone?"

"Though campaign-finance madness is the Number One regulatory threat to the new media, it’s not the only one. The Left is now pushing Congress to restore the Fairness Doctrine, which would kill talk radio and possibly conservative-friendly Fox News, too."

"Former vice president and Democratic standard-bearer Al Gore, in an overheated October speech bemoaning the purported hollowing out of the American “marketplace of ideas,” blamed it in part on the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, after which “Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.” And here’s current Democratic Party chair Howard Dean, in a 2003 interview railing against Rupert Murdoch: “I believe we need to re-regulate the media . . . so we can be sure that the American people get moderate, conservative, and liberal points of view.” Dean noted that he wouldn’t need legislation to do this—he could just appoint “different kinds of people” to the FCC."

http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_1_rush_oreilly.html

(Some of) The Left's hostile attitude to free speech
Just about every advocate of criminalising or restricting 'hate speech'.

I'll give you an example from 1992 of friends of mine who were prevented by the police from selling a magazine bearing the headline 'The Serbs: White Ni**ers of the New World Order'. As you can guess, this was a magazine that was militantly anti-racist and used the headline to demonstrate the chauvanist character of the demonisation of the Serbs during the Croat and Bosnian civil wars.
The police's justifcation? The words could possibly offend passers-by.

That magazine was eventually forced into bankruptcy by the ITN news agency following a court case brought by the latter. The offence? Calling into question the presentation of a news item concerning the Omarska detention camp in Bosnia.

Admittedly, those two examples involve a powerful media organisation and the state clamping down on free speech. The magazine always had a fine tradition of being against the policy of 'No platform for fascists', as championed by the majority of the Left, precisely because the Left's call for the state to intervene encouraged a more censorious climate and gave it the green light to restrict and shut down free spech on PC grounds rather in a more traditional right-wing fashion.

As for the Left restricting free speech I could use plenty of exmples of student bodies (including the NUS) in the UK prohibiting some muslim organisations (on the grounds of anti-semitism and homophobia) and racist organisations from operating on campus.

Pure Democracy is evil
"You have to go back a ways but the distinction was clearly made even as late as 1929. The Army Training Manual of 1929 (PM 2000-25) contains the following definitions under the title of Citizenship:

Democracy: A government of the masses, authority derived through mass meetings or any other form of direct expression; results in mobocracy; attitude toward property is communistic negating property rights; attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences; its result is dem-o-gogism, license, agitation, discontent and anarchy.

Republic: Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best suited to represent them. Attitude toward property is respect for laws and individual rights and a sensible economic procedure. Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles that establish evidence with a strict regard for consequences. A greater number of citizens and extent of territory may be brought within its compass, it avoids the dangerous extremes of either tyranny or mobocracy. Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice contentment and progress, is a standard for government around the world.

I end this very serious topic with a few quotes that strike me as funny yet get at the truth of what "democracy" really is:

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
H. L. Mencken

"Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."
George Bernard Shaw

"The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can ever help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population --- the intelligent ones or the fools? I think we can agree it's the fools, no matter where you go in this world, it's the fools that form the overwhelming majority."
Henrik Ibsen "

http://www.albatrus.org/english/goverment/democracy/pure%20democracy%20is%20evil.htm

Follow the money
"Chávez has promised a sharper break with Venezuela's capitalist past and more drastic steps to help the poor. Clothing factory owner Noel Alvarez fears that could mean workers suddenly taking over his plant with the government's blessing.

''Investors are nervous and uneasy,'' said Alvarez, who heads the Consecomercio chamber representing some 200,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

A survey of those businesses last month showed that despite soaring sales, most are not hiring, expanding their businesses or making long-term investments. Alvarez said the reasons include high crime, a lack of confidence in the legal system and an anti-private sector ''bias'' in the Chávez government."

"Beneath the spending extravaganza, however, there are signs of deeper problems. Government price controls have caused sporadic shortages of staples like milk and sugar. The U.S. dollar hit a record on Venezuela's black market last week -- the latest indication that strict currency controls imposed in 2003 have failed to stem capital flight or demand for the greenback.

One study shows Venezuelans are funneling their savings out of the country faster than in the previous four decades before Chávez came to power: Roughly $66 billion fled abroad between 1999-2005 compared to $112 billion -- adjusted for inflation -- between 1950-1999, according to Emilio Medina-Smith, an economist at Venezuela's University of Carabobo who used traditional World Bank methods for his calculations.

Venezuelans, Medina-Smith notes, have always been prone to taking their money abroad. But he adds: ``Now there's an additional ingredient -- political insecurity. That's turned what was a small malaise into a pneumonia.''"

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/international/16125864.htm

"niggard" : Why education is so important
"1. a. A mean, stingy, or parsimonious person; a miser; a person who only grudgingly parts with, spends, or uses up anything. Also in extended use with reference to emotion, etc."

"Washington, DC's black Mayor, Anthony Williams, gladly accepted the resignation of his white staff member, David Howard, because Mr. Howard uttered the word 'niggardly' in a private staff meeting.

Webster's Tenth Edition defines the word 'niggardly' to "grudgingly mean about spending or granting". The Barnhard Dictionary of Etymology traces the origins of 'niggardly' to the 1300's, and to the words 'nig' and 'ignon', meaning "miser" in Middle English. No where in any of these references is any mention of racial connotations associated with the word 'niggardly'.

In other words, it's a perfectly good and useful word. But there is the unfortunate coincidence that it starts with the same four letters as the word "******". The news media are so loathe to use the "N" word, that they've been substituting the phrase "racial slur", as in "...they mistook the word 'niggardly' for a racial slur..."

Washington, DC's population is 60% black, and it's citizens have been very critical of Mayor Williams for "not being black enough" -- especially because he hired several well-qualified whites to help him run this troubled city.

Racial intolerance, ignorance, and misplaced political correctness have cost a white mayoral aide his job in Washington, DC. And, as many of the other stories on Adversity.Net clearly illustrate, the "niggardly" controversy is only the tip of the "intolerance iceberg"."

http://www.adversity.net/special/niggardly.htm

People are evil?
Interestingly, the quote you supply from the army source appears to express elitest alarm at the potential for them to lose control over society. And 1929 should give a few clues as to the nervousness of those owning property that an organised Left was a potentially serious threat at a time when it was certainly far from certain that capital could ride out the storm.

The contrast with today couldn't be clearer. Then, there was a high degree of the population involved in the political process and in organisations that had the potential to transform society. Today, that involvement barely exists because the subjective factor has more or less disappeared - in the West at least. And with social and economic stability the fear of rampaging masses taking over your property is absent.

As for your final quotes, they all betray an elitism I wouldn't expect you to think I'd agree with. Shaw, for exapmple, went from being a Fabian to cuddling up to the great benign dictator in the Soviet Union. Admittedly, he changed his tune later but I'd wager that his eliitsm never left him.

Those that don't expect to convince the population of their ideas always blame the masses. 'The Republic' as you have described is an attempt to curtail democracy to preserve the status quo. Presumably, any threat to that would have to be enforced by arms.

Money talks, is what you're saying
The idea behind campaign contribution limitationsi is to avoid forces with money being able to drown out the opposition by sheer force of dollars. I don't think attempts to level the playing field is anti-freedom of speech: on the contrary, it's pro.

Regarding the Fairness Doctrine - broadcast media, unlike print, use a public resource, the air. Regulations that try to make it so a variety of viewpoints be heard doesn't seem to me a restriction of freedome of speech.

And just the other day Commissar Roy attacked majority rule
Ah majority rule bad in America, good in despotland.

Yes we know where you're coming from Commissar.

who's being thrown in jail for expressing views?
In the example you gave of the magazine, it wasn't 'the left 'who told them to not sell, it was the cops, and I don't think a court would have upheld the decision. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom to violate copyight. As far as right-wing speakers being heckled at campus meetings- freedom to heckle is part of freedom of speech. But you might try showing up at a Bush event wearing a t-shirt saying 'Bush Lies" and see how much your 1st amendment rights are worth.

ignorance-causeed controversy is not hostility to freedom of speech
But if you want to use the n-word about people, like George Allen used to all the time, according to football teammates, people will make judgements about you that may cost you.

As Franklin said "A Republic if you can keep it"
Because our founding fathers recognized a democracy was nothing more than the rule of the mob. That uneducated men, without a stake in the betterment of society could hardly be expected to act or behave rationally or for the benefit of future generations.


Cassius has demonstrated how correctly the founders anticpated the rule of the mob. Indeed when we are told the Constitution is a mere piece of paper one can understand the attitude and position of the author of such a comment.

Here Here
Remove big money from Politics.. Soros, Streisand, Clooney, Affleck, ACLU, PAW, AARP, AFL-CIO, AFSCME...



More claptrap from the Left
Anyone who believes that its a wonderful thing to extend the franchise has to wonder why. What does an 18 year old know that makes him a better citizen capable of grasping complex issues that will affect him and future generations? If an 18 year old who has never worked full time how can he grasp the problems of the working man or business. If he has never met a payroll how can he grasp the antics and schemes of demagogues who seek to extract as much of the workers money to finance corporate welfare schemes like embyronic research or the wasted billions on alternate energy sources.

Anyone can make cheap points about extending the franchise so long as you wish a mob rather than an educated electorate. Why restrict voters to citizens, why not extend the franchise to 15 year olds, why not allow felons to vote.

It is those who cannot sing baritone that dismiss Churchill while holding up as defenders of democracy whose who resserect the dead at election time.

What an idiot-who do you think brought the Chicago boys to Chile?
Clearly you have no idea what you are talking about.

As usual Commissar Roy praises any People's Republic but we should remember Churchill
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of prosperity, while the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery." Commissar Roy would have us living as the Cubans do, while he would remain in any society where capitalism existed.


Besides what sort of honesty can you expect from someone who exploits illegal aliens and has admitted it.

People are the same in every country?
We see widows burned at their husbands funerals.

We see women who were rapped stone to death while the rapists suffer a few lashes.

We see people murdered because they leave their religion.

Yup see it everywhere, all the time.

reality never matches eric's opinion
1)the result of the fairness doctrine was that the govt's opinion was labeled "noncontroversial", so anyone echoing it was not required to air the other side. Anyone who aired something the govt didn't want to hear was forced to give equal time to someone parroting the govt line.

The result was that only the govt line was ever heard over the airwaves.

2) The airwaves are no more public property than is your mother's basement.

3) The fairness doctrine applies to those who don't use the airwaves to distribute their product.

why don't you try learning a little before you post
Try learning about economic vs. political freedom.
Try learning a little about Chile under Pinochet.
try learning to think for yourself rather than parroting the party line.

Ir'a "hear hear"
And in fact I'm glad that there's some money on the left to counteract the floods (and that's what it is) from corporations with specific things they want to get out of government.

You're wrong on all these counts.
first, what "government line?" What is the "government line?"

second, you may believe that the airwaves are not public property but a whole series of court decisions take issue with this

3 - fairness doctrine....? hunh???? What are you talking about?

Too bad, so sad
that you always take the superficial way out, Beanie. You're American to the core.

Here Here Again
Yes, like when major corporations whose "captains of industry" CEO's whose predecessors ineffectively negotiated with their labor unions for unsustainably rich post retirement benefits lobby the government to create socialized medicine to remove those costs from their income statements.

Odd thing is, most corporate money supports LEFT-WING causes, so lets definitely get rid of corporate political activity.

Hey Mark.. Thats Eric's Fiefdom your talking about..
) The airwaves are no more public property than is your mother's basement

A man's hole is his castle...

It is up to Us the People
to demand that alternative voices get heard--not the communist party of the US, otherwise known as the Democrats (which should not be mistaken for me supporting the Republicans, who are too democratic themselves).

These demands are already being made in the form of Internet traffic. It is up to the force of the market to realize and manifest the desire on the airwaves. If We the People won't do it, then we don't deserve it.

The Culture of Caidillismo
However, while Mr. Llosa claims wisdom as to the Venezuelan people, his ignorance, I forgive him for it, does not realize that the very USA with its floating dollar has kept Castro alive and Chavez is his disciple.

Additionally, America with its floating dollar is a Godsend to the terrorists, the illegal drug dealers, especially American drug dealers, who go to Afganistan and purchase drugs with plenty of USA floating dollars in hand, so that the drug dopes in America get their fixes, without interruption.

Besides, America is actually financing the military buildup of Communist China, to be the most tremendous military threat ever to the USA. Yes, interestingly enough, Americans would have a dismal Christmas without all the cheap gadgets they give to each other at Christmas. It seems like that at Christmas time for American Christians, God and the Devil sort of are one and the same, in a figure of speech?

Yes, the illegals enjoy a feast as they send to their respective countries the actual corrupted USA dollar, not the one Alexander Hamilton created at first, for it to be legal only within the USA borders.

I know that there will be a lot of garbage thrown at my remarks from more ingnorant Americans, but I don't really care in as much as it would only prove my points. So, may the rain fall!

Poverty, Poverty Everywhere but not a poor man in site
In the last six months, I've seen two desperately poor (by appearances-but then again Howard Hughes looked destitute after a while as well) individuals. Both were, by any standard, mentally infirm. (I'm sorry, but if you wander about in filth, you need mental health intervention, probably institutional care-but hey, so much better to allow people to wander about aimlessly literally caked in filth then violate their "dignity".) That kind of poverty exists, but it isn't a function of a lack of government payments. We used to understand that forcible institutionalization is far better than wandering the streets, prey to hunger, disease, filth and pestilence.

Of course the "poor" that Roy has appointed himself as spokesman for live in conditions (indoor heating and plumbing, premium TV,etc) that would've been the stuff of dreams for kings not long ago.

Indeed, the true poverty lies among the middle class that are being taxed out of existence. Atlas didn't shrug, he stopped having kids.



Roy's World, Roy's World.. Shwing
Remember TJ, Roy imagines a world where he is some low to mid level bureacrat in an enlightened socialist regime-where no matter what his lack of productive skill, he would rule over us great unwashed because of his proper compassion. Although he hasn't the time to take "two or three classes" to become an "expert", he's demonstrated a profound and mendacious economic ignorance and a predilection toward chanting sophistries. If we just follow him, we'll all be lead to the land of utopia.

Its funny about leftists-they all ***** about the poor quality of holes in the ground, but you never see them with a shovel.

Of course wasn't interesting when the recently published findinds discovered "conservatives" are the arsenals of charity.

Fear of the future
So tell us. Has Chavez actually seized any small businesses? How about even one?

Also, the theory that capital is fleeing Venezuela doesn't square with the way their stock market has been booming. As I understand the laws of supply and demand, when you suck money out of a market it goes down. Please tell us which way the market has in fact been going.

http://www.latin-focus.com/latinfocus/countries/venezuela/venstocks.htm

It seems to me that some people out there are bullish on Venezuela. Why would that be?

Your view is myopic
Under Chavez's kind of regulatory structure, the booming market in Venezuela won't last. It's got more bubbles than 1920s America.

Indicting Democracy
Americans elected Carter and Clinton too, if you really want to cite "bad people".


Rwanda: people can't be evil?
Given some of the comments made by the democrats in 2001, if the USA was a pure democracy, and those democrats had their way, Bush would be dead.

What is to stop a pure democracy from voting to kill off a minority?

Are you rushing in to buy property and stocks?
If not, why?

Looks like you should be able to make a lot of money in that socialist paradise.

And, you could donate your profits to some worthy charity so you don't feel guilty, or even donate to the US Treasury.

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