Saturday, 17 July 2010

Hugo Chavez and his socialist revolution, and where it's going

As a socialist I am intensely interested in what is being attempted in Venezuela. To try to correct the injustice of a long capitalist era in any country is not easy, and as history relates to us has not been successful. The revolution of 1917 in Russia was a great uprising of the working class, but although it did achieve some notable successes, with hindsight we can see it was doomed to failure. The success of pulling a vast part of the Russian population out of a feudal economic structure, where few could read or write. Into an industrial society similar to that of the leading industrial countries of the time such as Great Britain, Germany and the emerging might of the USA, was a mammoth task. In his dream of a socialist society being formed out of a capitalist society Karl Marx stressed that if this revolution were to succeed it could only happen in a wealthy country. Russia was the last place on his mind when he wrote Das Kapital. The fact that what was achieved in the USSR on the industrial front despite all the odds being against it. Is some sort of proof that socialism IE. a planed economy can work. We can ponder, and speculate if Russia had remained as it was from 1917 would it have been able to defeat the Nazi war machine. It was only by using the socialist system, that impoverished Russia was able to produce the Tanks, and other weapons of war that lead to Hitlers army being vanquished, and his eventual downfall. But the cost in human lives was so horrendous, and the tactics used by Stalin do much to mitigate its success.
Venezuela on the other hand has all the elements needed to transform a capitalist society into a true working class one. It has an abundance of oil. A recent survey by an American company, estimates that Venezuela may have twice the reserves of Saudi Arabia. Although they said it may be hard to extract all of it. I personally treat this statement with some skepticism. Seeing as it was an American company that did the survey, and Venezuela is not exactly the flavour of the month in the USA.
So as Venezuela has wealth why is the Bolivarian Revolution going wrong.
Venezuela is currently importing two thirds of its food from amongst others a fellow Latin American country Brazil. You see people lining up to get a few pieces of chicken for their families. Cooked from frozen chickens imported from Brazil. Where is Chavez going wrong? He has alienated himself from countries that could be of help to him, And has aligned his country with Iran, and probably worst of all he is taking advice from Fidel Castro. Castro is an old sick man. He is yesterdays man. So he is very happy for someone anyone to listen to him, and take his advice. Chavez has also been talking to Robert Mugabe. A vicious dictator, who unlike Chavez cares nothing for his people. Chavez has been following Mugabe's model of expropriating land from rich capitalist landowners, and giving it to people who know nothing about cultivating the land. Those people just lay around with little or no shelter waiting for Chavez to wave his magic wand, for something to happen. What he should have done is come to an agreement with the land owners to lease the land from them. So that they can teach the Chavistas how to run the farms, and in time give the landowners a fair price, and then hand the land over to the people.
A similar situation is also happening on the industrial front. Factories are being nationalized, and handed over to the workers. Here we have a different situation, because the workers know the factories, and how to produce, and run them. As a worker myself, I was often frustrated by the lack of liaison between the boss, and the factory floors I saw mistake, after mistake being made that I knew would eventually lead to closer, and being made redundant. But once aging Chavez must be aware of falling into the trap that befell the USSR. That is of over production. Producing goods just to give the impression of full employment, when in fact there are not enough people able to buy the goods, and they are dearer than what could be imported from abroad. This leads to inflation. Chavez has also set up a factory with Iran to produce tractors. Iran the worlds great tractor maker!All these accounts of misinterpretation of how to set up a socialist society are being done so that Chavez can stay in power. We must give him the benefit of the doubt that he is doing it so that he can help the poor of his country. He is also buying fighter aircraft from Russia, because the F16's he has are in need of spare parts that of course the USA will not furnish him with. He could backward engineer these parts, or buy them in the arms market. Because these planes are old the parts are available. No he is buying these weapons because he thinks it will somehow bring him a political alliance with Russia. As other countries have found out to their cost Russia's only interest is its own, and any harm it can do to the western alliance. To make matters worse he is borrowing the two billion Dollars to purchase these planes. Why does oil rich Venezuela need such a paltry lone.
He must change his position. Realign him self on a business platform with countries that can help Venezuela. These counties still buy his oil. Their capitalist greed will allow them to deal with him. He can buy good tractors, find real markets for Venezuela's products. If they are not good enough improve them. Disalign himself from Iran. He will then be able to associate himself with countries that can help his agriculture. If he does do these things, then in time he will be able to complete his socialist revolution. Then the world will see that he, and his country are no threat. If he continues on his present path, he will squander the oil money. If he still keeps Venezuela a democracy,he will be thrown out, and the ruthless capitalist elite will return to power, and the poor will be worse off because they will suffer the full force of retribution for Chavez's mistakes. Or he will turn Venezuela into a dictatorship like Castro's Cuba, and that will be a tragedy, and all the hopes and dreams of the Venezuelan people will be dashed, and socialism will just remain a dream.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

No Need For Religion

In this modern world I find it extraordinary that people still feel the need for religion and to have a God to worship. People accept the gifts that science has brought them, making their lives more comfortable, but when this same science albeit in a different field to the technological one that brings all the toys and luxuries of their comfortable lives shows with great proof that there is no truth in the creation story in the Old Testament….. they reject it.

The creation story in the Bible is not unique to the Judaic, Christian and Islamic world. Other cultures have their creation stories too, and their Gods, and God. As I am not versed in all of them, I will not go into them, except one example of God that seems to have been the most favoured the Sun. The Egyptians worshiped it. So did the Druids in the British Isles, and the people of South America. You see ancient peoples could not explain the world they lived in, but one object was always prominent, always there…. the Sun. So they worshiped it. Sacrificed to it, animals, and their fellow human beings, sometimes even their own children. The story of Abraham willing to kill his only son on the command of God is a good example. What would drive a person to kill his own child, fear, some sort of insecurity less the Sun should go away. They understood that without it there would be no food, and no life. So they started to build fantasies around this God they had invented. These fantastic stories were relayed by word of mouth by story tellers. Over time these stories, or religions changed as stories do when handed down from generation to generation, until they were finally written down. As stories they are great works of fiction, yes fiction, because there is not a shred of substantial evidence to support them. Believers will argue against this, because they genuinely believe in these religions, but when you ask them to produce evidence, all they can show you is a book. In the case of the Old Testament if they are English speakers it’s a translation from the Latin, from the Greek from Hebrew from the original Aramaic. Well we all know the phrase “lost in translation”.

Now we come to the great enemy of religion Evolution. The problem that a lot of religious people have with evolution is that it shows that there was no creator, no creator, no creation as laid down in the Bible. The Bible states that the world was created by God in 6 days, and he rested on the seventh. Also using the various time spans mentioned in the Bible the world is around six thousand years old. This can easily be disputed, as the Chinese have astrological charts much older than this time frame. On the other hand evolution says that the world is very, very, very much older than this, and with modern resources science can date our planet to 4.5 billion years of age.

Fossils, geological structure of rocks using carbon dating has proved this. The other problem the religious have is that we humans are descended from animals; the worst of these is that we are cousins of Apes. In the Bible it states that we humans are created in Gods image, and are higher than the creatures that inhabit this planet along side us. In recent years extensive research into the behaviour of apes particularly Chimpanzees has shown how similar the two species of man/woman and Apes are. Apes kill, unlike most other animals not just for food, but like humans for territory, this is murder. They like some humans are bisexual, homosexual. They like us masturbate and commit incest. Like us they can build tools to solve certain problems, but unlike human females child birth for them is not painful. The reason women scream when giving birth is because humans walk upright. This has made women’s birth canal much smaller than other animals, a trait of evolution. Not the work of an all powerful entity. This is just one of many proofs that we are descended from Apes. Also the Bible states that woman was made from man. This is wrong. The template for mammals is female. Females have 2 X chromosomes, males have 1 X & 1 Y chromosome, this is the reason men have nipples though of cause men can not produce milk, they are of no use. Would a creator make such a mistake? It is obvious to anyone who knows anything about monotheistic religions that they are male dominated. So it is only natural that the writers would make the male the model for humans. Men are stronger physically than women, and dominate society, but in the genetic world, it is women who are the dominant species. Religion and its teachings have caused most of the conflicts on this planet. The religious books are full of violence, hate towards others because they don’t believe the same, as others do, and because they are different. We must hope that in time, we humans will throw aside the old superstitions, beliefs, and see the world for what it is. A beautiful place that belongs to all of us, and that it is in our hands, and only in our hands that its destiny can be determined. No God or Gods are involved. Only ourselves.

I’ll end with the words of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...