Daily Archives: November 24, 2010

A Rather Subjective Analysis of European Minority Languages

One way to see how well European minority languages is if you run a popular website that gets a lot of hits from all over Europe. I run one here on my old site, which is in the top 1200 blogs on the Internet (This blog is also in the top 1200).

If you have a good weblog (a weblog allows a webmaster to monitor all of the visitors from your site), and I do, you can see what languages people are using on their browsers. When browsers come to the site, they are marked with language tracking. I am not sure if that is a language preference for webpages or if it is the language that the browser itself is written in.

Minority lanugages are languages that are not the main spoken language of the country or languages that only have a small speaker base. In this piece, we will be dealing with Irish, Welsh, Catalan, Basque, Galician and Luxemburgish. Those I am quite sure are offered as language versions of the major browsers.

Luxemburgish: Luxemburgish is the official language of Luxemburg, however, there are worries about it due to the small speaker base of only around 500,000. Further, there is a problem in that not enough new and technological words are coming into the language. Most browsers from Luxemburg are using the Luxemburgish language, so the language seems to be in pretty good shape.

Catalan: Catalan is the most popular of the remaining five. However, considering how many readers I get from the Catalan region, very few Catalans are using Catalan browsers. Most are using Spanish language browsers. So the situation of Catalan does not look so good.

Irish: I am amazed that there are any Irish browsers at all, but now and then, we do get one from Ireland. Needless to say, nearly all browsers from Ireland are using English. Still, everyone knows that Irish is in bad shape. Considering there are Irish browsers at all, I think Irish is in better shape than we think it is.

Galician: I was quite shocked to find a few Galician browsers out there coming out of Galicia in the far northwest of Spain. This language is probably in better shape than people think it is. Most Galician browsers use Spanish.

Welsh: Considering that most reports indicate that Welsh is doing pretty well, I was surprised that one almost never sees a Welsh browser. Almost all browsers coming out of Wales use English. I wonder if Welsh is in as good a shape as people say it is considering the dearth of Welsh browsers.

Basque: I have yet to see a Basque browser! If browsers are indeed offered in Basque (uncertain) this is very bad news. I get quite a bit of traffic out of the Basque country, and 100% of the time, Basque users are using Spanish as their browser language. Things don’t look good for the Basque language.

I can’t speak of other small languages in Europe because in general, browsers are not offered in those languages.

This was an interesting little experiment though.

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The Day the Dollar Died?

Here.

I don’t know a lot about economics to know how important this is, but it seems to be a real blow to US fiat currency, no?

 

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Filed under Americas, Asia, China, Economics, Eurasia, Government, North America, Regional, Russia, USA

No Death Threats and Stalking Please

This comment recently appeared in the comments section:

As the commentary above PROVES, Lafayette IS a Nazi – and Nazis should be KILLED! That is the only appropriate response from any genuine adherent of the left and supporter of human equality and freedom worldwide. Nazi fascist vermin such as Lafayette Sennacherib must NOT be allowed to preach the “socialism of fools” to divert the GENUINE left’s struggle with their attempts to incite murder and genocide as he preaches above.

Nazis are NOT human beings and they therefore have NO “human rights” – including the “right to life”. As the commentary above PROVES, Lafayette IS a Nazi – and Nazis should be KILLED! That is the only appropriate response from any genuine adherent of the left and supporter of human equality and freedom worldwide. It is my dearest and fondest hope that a genuine and well-armed anti-racist and anti-fascist will hunt down such “people” and give them a PERMANENT AND IRREVERSIBLE taste of their own medicine.

I know who this guy is. He used to stalk an old friend of mine named Wendy Campbell on Indymedia, and Wendy was terrified of him.

I think he is the same guy who used to come to the site periodically and leave various weird comments along the lines of saying, “Good job Robert! I agree! Kill the Jews!” Even when I was not advocating anything of the sort, of course. In other words, he’s trying to paint me as a Nazi and say he agreed with me. At the time, he was trying to paint the pro-Palestinian movement as Nazis and trying to get us to say, “Kill the Jews! Up the Palestinians!” or things along those lines.

He also threatened to kill me once too for “going easy on the evil kike scum” LOL.

He’s apparently a young male Jewish college student who is in New York City, upstate New York and Chicago at various times.

I’m banning him, and I’m going to amend the comments policy to not allow any more of these types of death threats or stalking behaviors.

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Filed under Meta

In America, Socialism Is Everywhere

Repost from the old site.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a welfare state really is. A commenter in the comments section who says he supports the free market also supports the welfare state.

But the two are antithetical. A free market wants to eliminate all welfare statism, and in a welfare state, there are substantial restrictions on the free market. What the commenter meant was that he supported most of the economy being in private as opposed to state hands.

Truth is that a welfare state is socialism in practice. It’s a form of socialism often called social democracy. Any state with welfare statism in whatever quantity or quality has some form of social democracy or socialism, no matter how meager. That is why we socialists are happy to say that almost all states on Earth have at least some socialism these days and we predict that clearly, the future of the world will be some form of socialism.

All welfare state programs are socialist programs. Any government or public program is a socialist program, de facto. There is much confusion about the word socialism.

Everything public is generally socialist.

Let us make a list of all of the de facto socialist programs in the US:

Public lands, parks, roads, housing, food stamps, health care, education from kindergarten to graduate school, education grants and loans, stipends and assistance for low income folks such as renters’ assistance and negative income tax, national forests, national parks, public airports, public railways, pubic mass transportation such as buses and trains, libraries, research, utilities such as water, electricity and radio and TV airwaves, shipping lanes and public ports, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, WIC, welfare, disability, unemployment insurance, health and building code inspectors and laws, environmental laws and regulations, health and safety codes in the workplace, labor laws many and varied, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Post Office, garbage collection and recycling, road sweeping, irrigation canals, dams and water districts, ambulances, disaster personnel and homeland security, firefighters urban and wildland, prisons and corrections, including prison labor provided free to cities and towns that cannot afford to hire labor, public hospitals and border controls, immigration laws and enforcement personnel, vaccination and public health initiatives, flood control districts and projects, mosquito abatement, predator and pest control, sewage pipes and treatment, telephone lines, the Internet, customs laws and enforcement, alien pest control at the borders, disease epidemic abatement and control including mass food recalls (salmonella epidemic) groundwater recharging, cloud-seeding, road-salting and snowplowing, public campaign financing, game wardens, fishing and hunting regulations, conservation easements, government land buyouts in regularly flooded areas, wildlife refuges, homeless shelters, election teams, business licenses, drug approval and regulation, laws against misleading advertising and drug claims, rural electrification, consumer protection laws, animal control including destruction of rabid or dangerous animals and pets, fish stocking, anti-fraud legislation, civil rights laws and enforcement, the list goes on and on.

No doubt I have left some out.

Nowadays, towns, cities and possibly even states even run for-profit enterprises. This is actually one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy, believe it or not. The cooperative sector (cooperatives or labor collectives) is also growing very fast, but you never hear about it either.

All of the are socialist programs. Even police and military are best seen as socialist programs, since in the 3rd world, the rich are loath to fund them, and both police and military are paid out of taxes. Most any government service that is paid out of taxation is in some way or another a socialist program.

The libertarians are quite correct on this when they say that all of the above are socialist programs.

The hardest core libertarians want to get rid of all or most of them on the grounds that they are all socialist programs. I don’t agree with that, but they are ideologically correct in identifying a socialist program for what it is.

When you look at that list above, it’s actually kind of frightening. At first glance, it seems like government barely exists in the US, but when you sit down and tally it all up, socialist and government programs are just about everywhere. If you hate government and socialism, there is a lot to be upset about.

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Filed under Economics, Government, Libertarianism, Political Science, Reposts From The Old Site, Socialism

Problems of Leftwing Democracy

Repost from the old site.

In the comments section, astute commenter huy remarks on the conundrum of socialist democracy when capitalists retain control over the media and culture::

The only problem is that a socialist revolution would probably require a dictatorship and repression.

This is because without dictatorship and repression, rich capitalists would be able to prevent significant social services and state planning in a democracy via their control of the media and peoples’ thoughts.

I’m not for socialism as a long term thing, but only as a way to quickly develop a country’s infrastructure and economy, before gradual privatization of suitable sectors.

I respond:

huy is are correct as far as his first two sentences go. I will deal with the third sentence at the end.

This conundrum is why Communists opted for the dictatorship of the proletariat, not because they are lovers of repression and haters of freedom.

The rich capitalists, through their media control and also their cultural construction and fertilization creating Gramscian cultural hegemonies (what huy referred to as “control over people’s thoughts”), are typically able to prevent social services and state planning in a democracy.

This is why Communists say that you never really have a democracy in capitalism. You always have a dictatorship of capital. Be that as it may, most folks nowadays do not seem to want to live under a dictatorship of the proletariat.

Nevertheless, the roadblocks in the way of socialist democracy present a a serious problem.

Not only are the capitalists able to thwart significant progressive change via media and cultural control, but the same capitalists, via control over the economy, are able to stage lockouts and capital strikes, to send their capital out of the country, to artificially create shortages, and to send wealthy housewives out into the streets beating pots and pans in a middle and upper class strike, etc.

These housewife pot-banging strikes occurred in Chile under Allende, Venezuela under Chavez, and just recently occurred again in Argentina when President Kirchner tried to tax booming agricultural exports.

The big ag producers in Argentina responded by trying to starve the cities by staging ag strikes and refusing to ship produce to the cities so the people would have nothing to eat.

What is ominous about this is that these same rich housewife pot-banging demos and a latifundista (large landowner elite) strike presaged the coup that brought the death squads into power in Argentina in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

The generals stayed in power for several years, during which they murdered 30,000 leftwing Argentines, the vast majority of whom were just idealistic young people working with the poor and had not taken up arms at all.

The capitalists will usually try to stage a coup through their control over the military too.

That is why Hugo Chavez is correct in cleansing the corrupt bosses’ oil workers’ union, in cleansing the officer corps of the military of reactionary elements, and putting in some state media.

The corrupt state oil workers union was a white collar union of well to do managers who had been operating the state oil company as a personal ATM for decades. They were behind the owners’ lockout strike that followed the coup, and after Chavez fired those who had been behind the lockout and sabotage, they destroyed much of the records and paperwork of the oil company before they left. Clearly they had to go.

In the previous coup attempt, the middle and upper-class officer corps supported the coup, but the enlisted men, who came from the poor, did not. The poor rank and file military refused their officers’ orders, and the officers backed down. Hence, cleansing the officer corps of coup supporters was a must.

Getting a foot in the door of the Right’s media monopoly was also important. Previously, the rich had all of the papers, magazines and especially TV stations and they used these to wage continuous lying propaganda war against Chavez.

Furthermore, the entire rightwing media not only supported the coup attempt against Chavez but was actively complicit in it. For that treason, Chavez is perfectly within his rights to shut down the entire rightwing media. He only does not do this because of the international outcry it would arouse.

The Right did the same thing with their media control during the Allende regime in Chile, printing wild lies about Cuban armies offshore and hiding in Chilean bases ready to invade Chile and impose Communism at gunpoint.

Middle class and upper class capital strikes can be devastating to the economy, and most folks, no matter how revolutionary, just get tired of the economic pain after a while and vote to put the reactionaries back in power.

Sanctions work the same way. The US and UK and sometimes France and Canada (when those two latter states are in an imperialist mood) usually slap sanctions on democratic Left states as soon as possible.

Recent examples are Nicaragua, Haiti and Zimbabwe (at first democratic, now increasingly dictatorial), and this alone is enough to devastate the economy and cause the people to vote out the Left and put reactionaries back in power.

What happens is that in an effort to get some control of the country back and fight back against all of this US plots, the Left regime often starts becoming more authoritarian and less democratic. Then the US says it’s a dictatorship and needs to be overthrown on that basis.

If that doesn’t work, the US forms a reactionary contra counterrevolutionary army that goes around killing any civilian that is pro-Left, murdering teachers and health care workers, burning down schools, ag cooperatives and health care facilities and just making the place ungovernable. In order to fend off contras and coups, Chavez has built up his military and even armed the population.

One more thing the US does is to flood money into the democratic Left country to buy the election of the reactionaries via all sorts of fake civil society groups. A good way to stop this is to ban all money coming to political groups from outside the country, but that is easier said than done. The money seems to find its way in anyway.

The US and its reactionary allies also stage bombings, shootings, riots, etc, against democratic Left states, and then often blames them on the Left. This is what they did in Chavez’ Venezuela, Aristide’s Haiti and Mossadegh’s Iran.

If worse comes to worse and none of the above works, the Left regime is overthrown by a coup and replaced by a reactionary dictatorship. This dictatorship typically then institutes a reign of terror in which anywhere from 100’s to 1 million progressives are killed all over the land. This is what happened in Indonesia in 1965, when 1 million Leftists were killed in a CIA coup.

What is even creepier is that while the Left is in power, the CIA is usually running around the country making up lists of leftwingers. As soon as the coup comes, the CIA hands over the lists to the death squad Right now in power, and they use these lists to hunt down progressives and murder them.

So if a Left regime is in power, there is always the terror of a future coup followed by a murder spree against anyone politically active in the regime. This is enough to make people afraid to get politically active.

The reign of terror itself so so terrorizes the population that most people are afraid to get involved in progressive politics for years or even decades afterwards. Why get involved? Who is to say when the death squads will come back in power and try to kill you for being politically active in Left politics?

All of this makes socialist democracy or even social democracy in backwards states almost impossible to achieve.

On the other hand, lots of leftwingers are trying to figure out a way to have some sort of socialist or even Marxist democracy, despite all the challenges. The Sandinistas had a democratic socialist revolution, and Hugo Chavez is having one too. The Nepalese Maoists support 100% democracy. There’s new thinking with a lot of Communists nowadays that socialism is not really possible without total democracy.

When I look at Cuba and I think about a few dissidents getting thrown in prison, is that really worse than masses of people dying early from preventable death or not having enough food to eat, or living in shantytown hovels, or prostituting themselves, or homeless kids sniffing glue, turning into criminals and getting killed by cops as happens all over Latin America?

Third World capitalist nightmare states punish an awful lot of innocent people too. Doesn’t Cuba punish a lot fewer innocent people by clapping a few dissidents in prison than are harmed in these failing 3rd world capitalist states?

In India, capitalism is killing 4 million people a year. That’s a five-alarm fire right there. If we had a socialist revolution there even with a dictatorship and saved 4 million lives a year, would it be worth it for a few folks slapped in prison?

I do think that the new way of Chavez, the Sandinistas, the FMLN of El Salvador and the Nepalese Maoists is the better way to go. Nothing wrong with democracy. If the people reject socialism at the polls and go back to capitalism and lots of them go hungry, go homeless, drink sewage water, get sick, get crippled and start dying, I guess we can say that they made a choice to have that happen to themselves.

Most socialist countries did go socialist for a while (usually decades) to develop the economy and then go towards capitalism after they were pretty well developed.

People have no idea how much of China’s economic growth is based on the foundations laid by decades of Maoism. At any rate, most do not realize China is still a very socialist country in many ways.

The Communists in Russia built that place up from nothing. Without the USSR, Russia would probably be like India or Afghanistan. The Vietnamese and Laotian Communists are also putting in a lot of capitalism, and North Korea now has joint partnerships for foreign investors. I support Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela in their experiments at mixed economy. I also really like social market of Belarus.

Really what we ought to look at is does the system give us the outcomes that we want? If it does, it doesn’t matter what mixtures of socialist, collective and private ownership it has.

There are also all sorts of ways of enterprise ownership.

We can have nonprofits, labor collectives, family-run businesses, single owners and ownership by neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and nations. All of these forms of ownership are operating all over the world as you read this.

The cooperative sector in particular is a great way to go, and most do not realize it is a non-capitalist economic system. Worker-owned firms compete with each other, and there is no exploitation of labor as in capitalism.

One of the best examples of that is the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque Country. Most Cuban agriculture is now run by cooperatives. In the cooperative model, you get away from the management-labor conflict you see in capitalism.

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More on Socialist Institutions in Capitalist States

Repost from the old site.

In response to my post, Dr. Andrew Austin, a sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, commented, rejecting my notion that all government structures in a capitalist system were de facto socialist institutions.

His response is a typical Marxist rejoinder.

Andrew Austin:

Socialism is a political economic system in which the workers own and control the means of production. That means the workers run the firm, so to speak.

Leaving aside the question of whether they produce anything of value (in an exchange sense), soldiers and police officers do not run the firm. They are employees of the state and are told what to do by those who run the state. They have no say-so in determining who stands above them. The hierarchy that controls their work lives (and to a large extent their leisure lives) is not comprised of democratically-elected offices.

Moreover, the military and the police serve the interests of the capitalist class and its managers and associated functionaries, not the interests of the working class.

Government functions are socialist to the degree that they are controlled by and benefit the working class.

An example of a public system in the US that is often said to have the appearance of socialism is the educational system. School board members are elected, subject to public pressure, and every child can access the system. However, public education has become a system for indoctrinating children into the values and norms of capitalist society.

Just because the state sector is involved does not signal socialism. The capitalist state is by definition not socialist because it is controlled by capitalists for the benefit of capitalists and the perpetuation, expansion, and entrenchment of capitalist relations.

States reflect the character of the underlying mode of production. I see a lot of people make the error of thinking that extensive state intervention means socialism. The only way state intervention is socialist is if the social relations are socialist or society is undergoing a revolutionary transformation.

Authoritarian capitalism – fascism, whatever – has a massive state sector, but it is the antithesis of socialism. Capitalism can be more or less democratic – though there are always sharp limits on how democratic capitalism can be. Socialism can be more or less democratic. Unlike capitalism, the more democratic socialism becomes, the more socialist it is.

I’m not going to comment on this because I am more or less at a loss for words. Feel free to comment in the comments section.

On the other hand, astute commenter James Schipper agrees with me, but takes a non-Marxist and more social democratic view of socialism.

Keep in mind that social democrats call their system socialism, while Marxists reject that, calling social democrats “bourgeois democrats” when they are in a good mood and “social fascists” when they are in a bad mood (recall the epithet used by the German Communists against the German social democrats in the 1920’s and early 1930’s).

Schipper:

I agree totally with you. Every country in the world has a socialist sector. The market can’t exist without the state, but the state can exist without the market. A country in which the state ran everything would be a disaster, but it could exist. A country in which literally everything were left to the market would sink in anarchy and misery. Some African countries have come close to this.

Socialism means essentially three things: state-directed production, state-directed distribution of income and state-regulated private production. There is plenty of that all over the world.

The biggest department in the socialist sector in the US is the Pentagon. Many American generals might balk at being called employees in the socialist sector, but that’s exactly what they are. They don’t get their paychecks from a corporation.

However, I would like to add that socialism in the sense above does not necessarily mean egalitarianism. There can be such a thing as socialism for the rich. Even a totally socialist economy could be run mainly for the benefit of an elite, in the same way that a corporation can be run mainly for the benefit of senior managers and at the expense of shareholders and employees.

I respond, agreeing with James:

Indeed, what we have under Bush seems to be something like a socialism for the rich. The rich are allowed to gamble all they want with their money and possibly even blow up the economy. If they make money, they get to keep all of it. If they lose, we taxpayers cover all of their losses. Hence there is nothing to prevent them from making mad and wild gambles with money, which are quite risky for the economy.

Guaranteeing the losses of capitalists is something that economists call “moral risk”. It’s like if I get to go to the casino all day and win as much as I want, but once I start losing, I get to come hat in hand to the taxpayers and demand that they bail out all my losses. I might just stay at the casino all the time if that were the case.

This is the moral risk inherent in today’s corporatist system.

On the other hand, we cannot allow big banks and strange institutions like Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac to fail. In return for bailing these clowns out, though, taxpayers must demand either an ownership share in Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac (I would argue that there is an excellent for nationalizing these institutions, but after Ronald Reagan, that’s hardly possible).

Or those two institutions, and the entire finance industry for that matter, must submit to the kind of intense state regulation that they formerly labored under, and that worked very well from 1935 until 1973 or so when capitalists started destroying it.

Surely socialist states can be run solely for an elite as James notes. This is why I object to supporting the Burmese state. Some Leftists are supporting Burma on the basis that the Western sanctions on Burma are not because it is an evil murdering state, but because it refuses to open up its state economy sufficiently to multinational capital. They are correct that this is the real reason for the sanctions on Burma.

But while Burma is formally a socialist state and most of the economy is in state hands, the state sector is run by a venal, callous, paranoid and murderous military elite as a cash cow. They pocket the substantial profits of this state sector while disallowing any private competition with it and at the same time treating their people little better than chattel.

This is something like a crony state capitalist state, and there is nothing progressive about it, especially while the vast majority of Burmese wallow in the worst misery. Just to show that there is nothing progressive about it, the Burmese Communist Party (admittedly very radical Maoists) has been waging armed struggle against the Burmese “socialist” junta since it was formed in 1962.

The junta has oppressed the various Burmese nationalities, most of whom never even consented to be a part of the new Burmese state freed from colonialism in 1948 in the first place.

A proper progressive state gives substantial rights and autonomy to national minorities, and the USSR, Vietnam and China have all done this, despite a lot of problems along the way. The progressive socialist states in Europe also give cultural rights to national minorities.

Vicious repression of minorities is a quality of fascism and ultranationalism and not properly of the Left. On the other hand, the divergent, quirky and twisted Khmer Rouge ferociously attacked all non-Khmers, though they were surely Marxists. The Khmer Rouge was a sad case of ethnic nationalist and racist Marxists. I would agree that a racist Marxist is still a Marxist, but he just isn’t a very good one.

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Pancho Villa, Presente!

Repost from the old site.

In the comments section, Uncle Milton comments that Mexican history shows that Mexican revolutions have quickly turned into kleptocracies. He also says that the Mexican electorate has more sense than we think they do. He also makes a lot of good points about Mexico and decides that it is neither a capitalist nor socialist state, but some sort of a kleptocratic oligarchic state.

I argue, first, that the Mexican electorate is ignorant and does not vote in its best interests. Second, that we Americans owe the Mexican revolution a tremendous debt and that the achievements of the revolution are deliberately ignored and downplayed by the US ruling class.

Third, that while the revolution did degenerate into a corrupt, fat, lazy, greedy and fake-revolutionary PRI mess, it did make very real and substantial achievements. Fourth, that no socialist on Earth would claim Mexico, one of the most unequal states on Earth. Fifth, that Mexico is actually a fairly wealthy country.

If you’re a poor Mexican, like most of them are, you have to vote for the Left and against the oligarchy. It’s the only rational thing to do. Mexicans haven’t voted for the Left and won since Cardenas in the 1930’s. The Rightwing parties, including the fake revolutionary PRI, haven’t done fuck-all for the poor Mexicans since 1920.

The PRI was originally a revolutionary party that went corrupt and bad with time, stasis, greed and inertia. It’s true that the Mexicans voted for Cardenas and the Left in 1988 and had the votes stolen from them. In the last election, they voted Left again, for AMLO, and it was stolen again.

I think you have to agree that the Left is the party that is going to benefit poor Mexicans the most. They may well be bad to neutral for middle class and rich Mexicans, but they will be good for the poor. As for the rightwing parties, what have they done for Mexicans in the last 80 years?

US conservative apologists need to explain why conservative politics has failed the Mexican poor so horribly for most of the last century and all of this one. When is rightwing politics going to start working down there, anyway? I say they had their chance.

Milton: Historically rebellions and revolution in Mexico have led to the same old kleptocrats running the show.

This is not really completely true if you are arguing that all Mexican revolutions have failed.

The Mexican revolution was a great thing. 10-20 million people died, but it had to be done, just like World War 2. You must understand that prior to Pancho Villa, Mexicans lived in a state of feudalism. I am not kidding. Read descriptions of Mexicans in 1910.

The revolution broke up the big feudal estates and destroyed the power of the Catholic Church who supported the feudal lords. The reason Americans don’t know this is because we were not taught this.

At the time, our government hated the Mexican revolution and supported the feudal lords, and it probably still hates the Mexican revolution, because the American government hates all populist rebellions.

They don’t want us to know about a successful populist revolution in Mexico, or anywhere.

One thing the revolution did was give land to the average Mexican. It is the case to this day. Most Mexicans have access to land if they wish to farm it, often collectively. These collective farms have been very successful for the last 90 years, at least in terms of warding off starvation and putting food in stomachs.

Our government never teaches us this either because they don’t want us to know about a successful experiment in collective agriculture.

At least the average Mexican can eat; he need not go hungry. To this day, Mexico has one of the lowest rates of malnutrition in Latin America.

The revolution also created public schools and public health care. Most Mexicans do have access to free and public health care. The health care is not the greatest, and you may have to wait ages, but it’s there. In the rural areas, many kids are pulled out of schools to work on farms, but the schools do exist.

The US should be indebted to the Mexican revolution. When Central America was in flames in the 1980’s, did you notice that Mexico was quiet? At the time, I asked my Mother why Mexico was not in flames and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “They already had their revolution.”

We should throw a shout out to Pancho Villa that he kept Tijuana from becoming San Salvador in 1989.

It’s clear that this venal Mexican elite uses the US border as a safety valve to send their poor to the US so the rich don’t have to share with them. I think that rightwingers in the US ought to admit that conservatism in Mexico has failed in that it has caused the illegal immigrant crisis in the US.

To call Mexico a socialist country is an insult to socialists everywhere. If it were a decent social democracy, I do not think we would be having all these Mexicans flooding up here. Mexico is not a poor country. It has a PCI of almost $13,000/yr, and that is not bad. Mexico has near the same PCI as Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey and Lebanon. It’s much higher than Costa Rica, the middle class jewel of Latin America.

Yet I believe that over 50% of the population of Mexico lives in poverty. No socialist on Earth would wish to claim such an unequal state, one of the most unequal countries on Earth.

Milton is probably correct that a kleptocracy is going to make a working social democracy difficult. But Chavez is doing well in a Venezuela burdened with massive corruption. Not that this is optimal. Perhaps windfall oil profits enable Chavez to make this suboptimal state of affairs functional.

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Cool Page On Social Democracy

Repost from the old site.

This is a really cool page on the Social Democratic Party of America. There are several social democratic parties in the US, and no, rightwing fuckwads, they are not much like the Democratic Party at all. A lot of them don’t even like the Democratic Party. Social democracy means a lot of things all over the world.

There is a Socialist International of socialist parties all over the world, and I support that organization. Even a lot of Communists don’t necessarily hate it. A lot of us on the Left support all sorts of socialist models, from Communism to social democracy even all the way to the US Democratic Party.

Your average US rightwing shithead can’t seem to figure that out, but then, they subscribe to a philosophy that is narrow-minded and stupid in both intent and praxis.

Truth is, as you can see by this page, there is not a lot of love lost between at least this social democratic party and Communists. To say that they are one and the same just shows that you are a stupid rightwing asshole. No serious political scientist would make such a statement.

I don’t necessarily agree with this party in their critique of Cuba, Belarus and other countries ruled by Communist-type regimes, but hey, it’s a big tent here on the Left.

There are all sorts of social democratic parties all over the world. As you can see, they are major parties in Slovenia, Japan, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, Iceland, Austria, Serbia, Poland , Paraguay, Portugal, Finland, Cameroon, Guatemala, Tajikistan, Macedonia, France, Italy, Sweden, Belarus, Denmark and all sorts of other places.

I have varying opinions on how well they are doing; I think that the ones in Europe have done a pretty good job. But I have a pretty low opinion of Lula’s PT in Brazil, Bachelet’s Socialist Party in Chile, the UK Labor Party (An imperialist socialist party?), and I doubt if this new Guatemalan party is going to get much done.

The Peruvian social democrats have a particularly horrible record. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua will not be able to get much done either. Cristina Merkel is having a hard time getting a lot of her agenda through in Argentina.

Social democracy seems to work best in highly developed and wealthy countries, as you can see above. In the poor Third World, they haven’t been able to do much to change the reactionary and backwards nature of society, nor to alleviate poverty, nor to do much of anything.

I think in a lot of cases there may be a necessity for revolutionary change, either via the way of the gun, or possibly peacefully in a more civilized society via the Hugo Chavez model.

In Europe, the ruling classes and the Right were completely destroyed in World War 2, which left millions of rightists and fascists dead and left the whole rightwing movement scattered and discredited. Hence social democracy was able to make a lot of headway with a defeated and more or less rendered-civilized and neutered Right.

Further, society itself changed in that even the wealthy, the upper middle classes, the middle classes, and corporate executives began to support social democracy.

In part this social pact was due to massive pressure from the Left which caused the European Right and business classes to sue for peace via a Social Compact. Also, society itself changed and social democracy became the dominant model for all classes.

Something similar occurred in Japan. The Right was destroyed by the war, and those that were not dead were discredited and humiliated.

In Eastern Europe, decades of Communism may have left a distaste for Communism but not for social democracy. Once again, most of the rightists were simply slaughtered, the rest were in jail or discredited, and society itself was well-molded along socialist lines for decades.

In Latin America, faced with a much more backwards, venal, dishonest, amoral, criminal, corrupt, and murderous upper class and upper middle class intent on staying in power at all costs, social democracy has had a really hard time getting much done. It’s fascinating that the US has allowed social democracy to flower in Europe, but has smashed every glimmer of it in Latin America as “Communism” or “dictatorship”.

Socialist parties in India (the Congress Party) have failed for similar reasons as the ones in Latin America. Social democracy in Sri Lanka has a good record.

In most of the Arab World, there is a more or less socialist model in place, no matter what the governments call themselves. Radical free market capitalism is contrary to Arab society and to Islam itself, hence it is not likely to succeed in any Arab or Islamic society.

Cambodia is run by a socialist party. So is Burma, but most socialists want nothing to do with them.

Contrary to rightwing bullshit, socialism in the form of social democracy has not failed at all. It is not a failed or discredited model or any of that.

Social democratic parties have sadly had a really hard time getting off the ground in the United States. For the most part, this is because America is extremely rightwing for a developed country. It is no exaggeration to say that the US is the most reactionary developed country on Earth, in both its leadership and in its citizens. This is 100% the fault of US Whites, and always has been.

There’s been a decades-long propaganda war against socialism in which the word “socialism” was deviously married to word “Communism”. Americans being a bunch of morons, and basically very rightwing in their natures, swallowed the whole thing. But in the mid-1970’s, things were different.

We had had over a decade of fairly progressive politics, even under Republicans, and leaders of major US corporations got together, agitated and worried. They said that if something is not done now, we are going to have a European-style social democracy in the US. This began a years-long project to set up and fund a series rightwing foundations and think tanks in the US.

They are still going strong, and have tremendous influence on US politics due to their ability to churn out papers, speakers and conferences on issues almost immediately. They have deep ties to the reactionary corporate media and quickly popped onto TV and the front page and kept there as long as the Right wants or needs any issue to be spotlighted.

It is true that there is a tradition of radical individualism in the US, but that’s only among White people. This may have been slightly reasonable at some point if you were Davey Crockett building a cabin in the woods, but those days are long gone.

One great thing about the loss of a White majority in the US (which will be both good and bad) is that US non-Whites, in particular Hispanics and Blacks, are much more sympathetic to at least Democratic Party politics and possibly social democracy.

On the other hand, reactionary politics have such a deep hold on this country that even some younger Blacks and Hispanics, once they start making some money, adopt some form of reactionary politics, typically nowadays along the lines of the faddish but ultra-rightwing libertarianism. This is discouraging, and shows that a non-Whites in the US are not necessarily a progressive bloc.

Another thing to note is that despite the hostile rhetoric some US social democratic parties take towards the Democratic Party, we already have a lot of social democracy here in the US, brought to us actually by both political parties.

The Right, meaning White America, has been savagely slashing away at this social democracy for decades now, but even so, it’s a Hell of a lot better record than the social democratic parties in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Jamaica and Brazil, which in my opinion have failed to varying degrees.

If Americans were anything like Europeans, social democracy ought to be an easy play here in the US. But for one thing, White Americans’ opposition to high taxation is going to make this a difficult project.

White Americans’ opposition to socialism and social democracy is rooted in a lot of things, but one of the main things is race. It’s all about taking the hard-earned tax dollars of White Americans and giving them to worthless gangbanging, welfare-addicted, drug-abusing Hispanics and Black criminals, scumbags and lowlifes.

Truth is that this simple-minded mindset has devastated a lot of hardworking working-class lower to mid-income Whites, but White America just can’t see that.

White Americans don’t have much in the way of racial solidarity. If there is anything, there is solidarity based on class and that’s it. Whites in the suburbs think that low-income and working class Whites, whom they refer to as White trash, can fuck off. While White American politics are indeed often rooted in race, they are also rooted in class too, and the two can be contradictory.

Life is complicated.

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Socialism Wastes Money, Capitalism Wastes Humans

Repost from the old site.

There has been a lot of talk, even by socialists, of the profound “wastefulness” inherent in various Communist economic systems. As I’m not an economist, I don’t really understand what they are talking about.

However, I can give you a few ideas.

In recent years, Cuba has revolutionized organic agriculture to where they probably have one of the most highly developed organic ag systems on Earth. For starters, Cuba has more agronomists per capita than anywhere else on Earth. During the Special Period, they were put to work devising organic solutions to problems that were previously solved by industrialized agriculture.

Right now, in the intensive organic farming collectives all over Havana, crop yield has reached some of the highest levels on Earth per unit of land. And that’s with a 100% organic system. Now, who ever said that socialism could not produce?

However, interviews with collective farmers reveal that the system could not be replicated on a capitalist model. It is “wasteful”, that is, it has to either spend too much money to get that yield, or it pays too many farmers as workers to get the yield. It’s pretty much the same argument.

A similar complaint has been leveled at Cuban enterprises. In some office jobs, it seems as if there are four or five workers for every real job. They rest are screwing off or shuffling papers or engaging in make-work.

I suppose all of these examples are of “waste”, right? Waste of money! Well, Cuba is a poor country dedicated to 100% employment.

In most of the Third World, college grads just don’t have any jobs. The state has no jobs for them and the private sector doesn’t either. So there are vastly more applicants than positions. A lot of these places have much more wealth than Cuba.

Cuba’s not going to go that route. It has enough money to hire workers even for jobs that barely even exist, and it wants everyone to have a job, figuring that’s better than sitting on your ass. 3rd World capitalism creates armies of over-educated young unemployed men with no income to start a family. In the Muslim World, lots of them are going in for radical Islam and blowing themselves up.

I suppose that Cuba has a similar problem, but they just dealt with it by creating make-work jobs and at least giving folks an income and something to do with their time. There’s waste of humans in one case (3rd World capitalism) by lack of jobs for them, and waste of money in the other case (Cuba) for creating make-work jobs.

I would point out that the Cuban organic collectives are run by the workers themselves. They hire other workers to join on. If you don’t pull your weight and slack off, you’re fired. They have to sell some of their produce to the state, but there’s plenty left over for farmers’ markets. There are many people clamoring to get into these collectives, as it’s seen as a good job with a good income.

As a collective economic form, it’s also non-capitalist. Right now, only 6% of Cuban agriculture is in state farms. Most is in farming cooperatives. Much is made of the very high productivity levels of the private farms (they are limited to 150 acres), but they do this by using vastly more than their share of labor, so perhaps they are not so productive after all.

Here in the US, a lot of very smart people are just completely wasted by capitalism. I’m not talking about myself here, because I’m not healthy enough to work in a regular job, so I just live off a meager trust fund.

But I know two people with IQ’s over 140 who are not doing much productive. One works at low-level jobs and the other is on disability, but could work if they wanted to. What puzzles me is why this wonderful market is not beating their doors down trying to hire our most valuable citizens (cognitive elite)?

If the stupid market can’t utilize their brains in any way, why doesn’t the state? The very same thing happens in 3rd World capitalism. Very bright people, with degrees and advanced degrees, have nothing to do.

If aliens landed on the Earth and saw a bunch of the smartest people around being wasted by society, wouldn’t they say that was insane? The capitalists would explain to the aliens that these folks are useless for making money, so they are a waste of air, and that capitalists don’t give a damn about talent or brains or anything.

I guess that’s what it boils down to? Capitalism is good for creating wealth, that’s it. Hell, even Marx said that. Read The Communist Manifesto. He praises this greatest wealth-creating engine to the skies.

What else is capitalism good for? Nothing. It ain’t good for fuck-all else. I assure you that Cuba would find something to do with everyone in the land who had a 140-150 IQ.

I guess the market feels it can’t use the smartest people in society to help it make cash , so it has no use for them. Capitalism and the market is just a fucking money-generating machine. It’s in business to make money, nothing else.

That’s what all this crap the market-fetishists go on about in terms of “generating wealth” is all about. Making money. “Generating wealth” means making money. Big deal. Since when is that a value worth anything of importance?

I hate capitalism and the damned market. Looking at the failure of socialist models (For example, when Albanian leader Hoxha died in 1985, there were shortages of even the most basic foodstuffs.) I’m willing to acknowledge that it may be necessary, but it sure sucks.

Have you ever noticed the contempt that capitalists have for professors in universities, our finest minds at work in various sciences and fields, advancing the knowledge of our species? They sneer and call them eggheads and talk about how their tax dollars are wasted on these guys. They brag about how they never went to college.

There’s no money in a lot of these fields of study at the university (probably, or at least at the moment, or from what we can tell), so capitalists figure it’s all a total waste. If there’s no money in it, it’s worthless. That’s your glorious market.

Fuck the market.

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