Friday, May 18, 2007

Exploiting "Revolution"

Sonia-belle and I have been having a long exchange over my last post, which has now turned into this blog. The topic? Cuba.

This post is derived from the following comments and questions Sonia presented to me:

"Excellent questions, Che Bob.

(Che Bob asked: Did US corporations operating in Cuba prior to 1959 have to exploit and denigrate Cuban civilians to such a degree as to warrant and precipitate their removal?)

Do you really believe that Castro won his revolution because US companies were exploiting Cuban civilians ? If you believe that, ask yourself this: why Cuba ? Why not Bangladesh ? And if exploitation leads to revolution, why there was never a revolution (not even a strike) in North Korea in over 50 years.

I am not saying US companies weren't exploiting people. I know they were. But I know that THIS had nothing to do with people like Castro coming to power. Nothing at all.

The reality is that revolution occur not when oppressors are strong, but when the oppressors are weak. And they don't occur to replace oppressors by humanitarians. They occur to replace weak and indecisive oppressors by better oppressors - more ruthless and more cunning.

This applies to so-called 'leftist' revolutions (Russia in 1917, China in 1949, Cuba in 1960), but also (SURPRISINGLY) to so-called 'right-wing' revolutions - Romania in 1989 for example - there too, the ineffective Communist bureaucracy, unable to control the people anymore, was replaced by the latest, most ruthless version of capitalism.

If you really want to improve people's lives, evolution is the only ticket. Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile - those are the most remarkable examples of positive changes in recent years."

My response:

I completely agree that revolutions mostly occur when oppressors are weak and not strong. This was certainly the case of Fulgencio Batista, King Louis XVI, King George III, Czar Nicholas II, Anastasio Somoza, and many others. I also agree that these weak and indecisive oppressors are often replaced by better oppressors— not always, but often enough. However, your logic does not compute when you admit that a weak oppressor is replaced precisely when he is weak, yet you cannot imagine how Castro was able to capitalize on Batista’s weakness and the historical disdain Cubans had for American imperialism (read: exploitation) that had been coursing through their veins since long before Castro. Castro, for all his faults (and there are plenty), reminded Cubans of the prophetic warnings of José Martí and the looming threat the U.S. posed to Cuba. Martí denounced and resisted the brutal and indentured slavery Cubans had endured under the rule of Spain only to see (posthumously) his descendents re-chained by oppressive American corporations under the weak, indecisive and puppet-like rule of Batista.

At the same time, I can only give cursory credit to Castro for the “revolution.” Revolution was in the Cuban blood long before Castro came along, the same way it has been in the Venezuelan society for much longer than Chavez has been on the scene. In fact, I deny Chavez’s and Castro’s cult-like following for the very reason that is stultifies the true revolutionary changes human beings seek when trying to escape oppression. Figures such as Lenin, Castro and Chavez co-opt and then stunt revolutionary change. Institutionalizing revolution with political parties and authoritarian bureaucracy they sap a revolution’s spirit and hope for genuine social and economic justice.

As far as North Korea and Bangladesh are concerned, I can only offer a guess that the extremely oppressive police state existence makes revolutions very difficult. In other words, the leaders of both these countries have ruled with a tight fist and continually crushed opposition. In other words, their grips are not weak. However, Bangladesh’s recent history has been littered with attempted insurrection, and general strikes only to see them crushed. Ironically, Bangladesh is officially recognized as a “parliamentary representative democratic republic.” Not unlike other ridiculously named “democracies” throughout history.

Which brings me to another concern: so-called “democracies.” Many democracies are by and large a complete sham when the industrial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether it is owners, managers, technocrats, a vanguard party, a state bureaucracy, or whatever. Whether State Socialism or State Capitalism, the classical liberal ideals cannot be realized under conditions of authoritarian domination or the orders of any boss including the supposedly "soulful elite" in the U.S. whose true goal is profit, power, and growth.

Besides, these false democracies have—in many cases—a far more insidious, coercive and oppressive power with which to control and dominate human beings. That is they give people the false impression of sharing wealth and power. They allow for ostensibly vigorous debate that straddles a digestible and allowable spectrum of opinion while dismissing all measure of divergent opinions that fall outside this permissible spectrum. This faux political spectrum amounts to a system of propaganda that undermines truly critical debate. Therefore, people in countries such as my own believe they are being challenged by our faux debates and that we have a vibrant political discourse here in the U.S. Under dictatorships, on the other hand, the propaganda machine presents itself as a bludgeon and is more likely to foment revolutionary/counter-revolutionary sentiments: Soviet Union, Argentina, Chile, Spain, China, Cuba (today and before 1959), Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc.

Violent discontent is pulsating in South Korea, so I’m not sure I would use that as a positive model. Likewise, the disparity between the wealthy and the poor in Chile has reached an all-time high and no ranks Chile 7th among its South American neighbors for wealth distribution. Yes, Chile has experienced tremendous growth, but so has the U.S. year after year. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people enjoy the benefits of wealth production! Chile is far from a model society. Spain is rapidly devolving into a massively consumeristic society, propelled by its “hidalgo” complex. This complex demands obedience to those whom are able to create the most compelling aristocratic appearance despite economic reality. The wheels will definitely fall off that bus soon enough. As far as using Taiwan, I’m pretty sure that place is a sweatshop hell waiting to freeze over.

The biggest error I find among many of us here in the blogosphere is our silly struggle to identify the preferred historical model. I’m not satisfied with any of the political and economic models the world has to offer…so far. As far as I’m concerned, we have a long friggin’ ways to go and a short time to get there: hello Mother Earth!!


sonia said...

Che Bob,

Violent discontent is pulsating in South Korea, so I’m not sure I would use that as a positive model.

I think it's here that our positions diverge the most. I love countries where people are restless, discontented, unwilling to accept the status quo. I love places where people march, protest, and scream at their politicians. That's France before Robespierre's Reign of Terror. It's Russia before October. It's Cuba before 1960. It's Germany before 1933. It's America today. It's Europe today. It's East Asia today. It's Israel today. Unruly, chaotic places where people are free, and where people in power are afraid of the masses and not vice versa.

And then, there are other places. Places where people are afraid to march, afraid to protest, afraid to curse their leaders. Russia from 1917 until 1991. Eastern Europe from 1945 until 1989. Cuba. North Korea. Burma. Iraq under Saddam. Venezuela since 2005. Zimbabwe.

One obvious comparison: US invades Vietnam and millions of Americans march against the war between 1965 and 1972. Soviet Union invades Afghanistan and there isn't a single demonstation in Moscow or Leningrad. And it's not because the Russian people had a different attitude towards 'their' war than Americans had towards 'theirs'. The attitude was similar (and similarly complex). It's just that to protest in Moscow in 1981 seemed totally pointless.

People don't protest because they are oppressed. They don't go on strike because their wages are low. They don't scream at their politicians because they are afraid to be arrested.

People do it because they CAN.

People who are really exploited are silent. They are terrified that things will be worse if they complain. People who are afraid to be arrested march in support of their leaders, they hang their portraits in their homes.

If you don't believe me, do a little experiment. Ask a group of native-born Americans about their wages. Ask a group of illegal immigrant about their wages. Then propose to both of them to join a demonstration for minimum wage increase. You can be sure that fewer illegal immigrants will accept than native-born Americans, even though illegals's wages are certainly much, much lower. Why ? Because illegal immigrants are afraid to be arrested and deported. Native-born Americans aren't.

That's how I know that things are going really badly in Venezuela right now. A few years ago, there were massive strikes, loud demonstrations, coup attempts and other visible signs of discontent. Today, there is nothing. Deadly silence. Venezuela is becoming a totalitarian graveyard.

Ché Bob said...


People don't protest because they are oppressed. They don't go on strike because their wages are low. They don't scream at their politicians because they are afraid to be arrested.

People do it because they CAN.

Now your argument seems completely deterministic. People attempting to strike the world over have been brutalized, murdered and beaten. That didn't deter them from striking. Most of the examples that first come to mind took place right here in good ol' U.S. of A. The threat of arrest, torture and murder was not only real, it was carried out.

But just to be a little snarky, you didn't mention strikes within the Soviet Union such as the "Bloody Saturday" strike of 1962 in Novocherkassk, that resulted in many killed and wounded. People "couldn't" strike as you said, but they did anyway. I'm not denying the "exploitation" (in your words) or "oppression" (in mine) of the Soviet people. I am anything but a fan of the Soviet Union, Red China or North Korea. They all deserved my sincerest condemnation, but I reserve my loudest for my own country since it is the one I should be concerned with since it is my own country.

I too diverge with you in another area. I, for instance, am seeking a world where discontent and restlessness are minimized and yet the status quo continues to be stretched and challenged. I guess I'm stunned that you "love" countries like France before the French Revolution, or Russia before October 1917, or Cuba before 1960! All of those societies were brutal, ruthless and heinous.

I do not love Spain before 1936, but during 1936-37, and again don't like it after 1939. Likewise, I do not like Russia from 1917 to 1991, or any of the other examples you gave where oppression ruled the day.

One place I feel you really miss the mark is describing the "exploited" as necessarily "silent." This fails to account for masses of exploited human beings all over the world that are not taking their brutal existence lying down and quietly. Are Colombians silent? Also, I was recently in Venezuela, and I did not witness anything akin to the silenced masses you described.

By your logic, exploitation equals political oppression and while I understand your rhetorical intent, it does a terrible injustice to economically and socially exploited people everywhere in the world.

The example of the illegal immigrant completely ignores the exploitation they had to flee in order to come the U.S. In the case of Mexico, which is clearly the most common example, exploitative neoliberal policies forced them from their native countries only to come here to be exploited in our fields.

Finally, Venezuela was rife with demonstrations, a coup attempt, a strike and oppositional organizing only a few years ago. You are also right to call it loud. However, this opposition hardly represented the majority opinion of Venezuela. Furthermore, the former opposition parties have been so discredited in Venezuela for accepting money from the U.S. in order to undermine an extremely popular constitution that they no longer enjoy the numbers they did even a few years ago as you mentioned.

When I was in Venezuela I was able to meet with Primero Justicia, the main oppositional party (a group of right-wing, aristocratic elites) that used to make up Sumate (the group behind the coup). I was able to ask this group how they felt about Chavez, the so-called revolution, and the constitution. While they were obviously opposed to Chavez and his "socialist" revolution, they conceded that they were "satisfied with the constitution." In fact, they said it was "well-written and studied...and has had many advances for Venezuela society." They went on to say that it was "the number one major success of President Chavez." In fact, Primero Justica, the major oppositional party listed the following four successes of the Chavez government:

1. Constituiton
2. People being able to demand and call for their rights!
3. The new spirit of young people being interested in politics.
4. The Bolivarian missions

The two female spokespersons, Denora and Barbara, said one of the "best things Chavez had done was to make society very inclusive." So even the main oppositional organization was "pleased" with the constitution. This did not change their opinions and loud opposition to Chavez, but they could not look us in the eye with the knowledge that we had been throughout their country and say otherwise. Perhaps they can get away with such bold-faced denial through the media to people not present in Venezuela, but they couldn't deny advances to us!

But what makes this group is able to afford being loud (as you pointed out) is its wealth and control the private media, not its size. Another vocal minority seemingly speaking for everyone, like the religious-right!!!

sonia said...

People attempting to strike the world over have been brutalized, murdered and beaten. That didn't deter them from striking. The threat of arrest, torture and murder was not only real, it was carried out.

Those are left-wing romantic illusions at their most beautiful and the least realistic. An oppression that doesn't deter people from resisting isn't a serious oppression.

I feel you really miss the mark is describing the "exploited" as necessarily "silent."

If people aren't silent, they aren't truly oppressed. If they resist actively, they are merely hungry for an even better life.

I'm stunned that you "love" countries like France before the French Revolution, or Russia before October 1917, or Cuba before 1960!

I bet you would love them too if you knew their real history. Russia before 1917 was a nation of anarchists, revolutionaries and dissidents, where people denouncing the tsar were admired and policemen were hated and despised. (Best example: following a defeat during the war with Germany, to satisfy the public opinion, an innocent police officer was executed as a spy).

France before the Reign of Terror was the nation of Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, where the king of France couldn't even buy a necklace for his wife without it becoming a huge scandal. During the Reign of Terror, Robespierre could give his wife dozen of neckleces and nobody would dare to protest.

And Cuba before 1960 was a country where a Cuban revolutionary could buy a boat in Mexico, land on a beach and become a hero at home and abroad. Cuba after 1960 was a country where a Cuban revolutionary could buy a boat, land on a beach and be denounced as a traitor and a CIA spy.

troutsky said...

Yes,by all means ,"march,protest,and scream" at your politicians, this demonstrates you are "free".But as soon as you accomplish social change, you have subverted your freedom? Sonias logic is strange and once again depends on a selective reading of "history".

The successful capitalist Spectacular society is proficient not omly at manufacturing consent, but at manufacturing harmless dissent as well. As Debord put it" Comlacent acceptance of the status quo may also oc-exist with purely spectacular rebelliousness- dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity.."

This describes your position perfectly ,Sonia. It has everything to do with personal "freedom" and nothing to do with righting injustice.

'All are free to dance and enjoy themselves.. but freedom to choose an ideology- since ideology always reflects economic coercion- everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same." Theodore Adorno

Ché Bob said...


FYI, news from idyllic Chile.


Last week, 26 year old Rodrigo Alexis Cisternas, a forestry worker in Chile was shot three times by police, and died. He was killed during a strike involving 7,000 workers.

Mantar said...

FYI, news from idyllic Chile.

Now, now. That's not really SERIOUS oppression, because if it was serious oppression, the killers would not have taken sugar in their porridge.

Renegade Eye said...

I don't like talking about laundry lists.

I guess the demonstration in Venezuela, against closing the TV station, that drew thousands of people, was a figment of my imagination. I'm going to post about that later this week. Even mainstrean US journalists, admit more democracization is happening in Veneauela, particularly with the neighborhood groups.

A precondition to any revolution, is divided rulers.

The revolution only starts with taking power. The anti-colonial revolutions in Africa, took power, but kept the old state machinery. The old state governments were based on exploiting the natives. That is why a Mugabe can emerge.

Sonia: Is private property a prerequisite to democracy?

Che: Meeting needs as safety (meat inspection), can it be done outside of a state apparatus? How can a whole country achieve goals without a state apparatus?

sonia said...


Is private property a prerequisite to democracy?

Strange question, like asking whether oxygen is a prerequisite to democracy. People need oxygen whether they live in a democracy or a dictatorship. People need private property whether they live in a democracy or a dictatorship. Without oxygen, people suffocate, even if they live in a democracy. Without private property, the economies suffocate, even if there is democracy.

Even mainstrean US journalists, admit more democracization is happening in Veneauela, particularly with the neighborhood groups.

I am curious how many of those 'mainstream US journalists' would exchange their US citizenship for a Venezuelan one. After all, US is such a fascistic dictatorship under Bush, with no medical care and al, so how come all those US refugees all come to Canada (ruled by a Conservative Stephen Harper) instead of going to this magnificent socialist paradise in Venezuela ? And why have more than 50,000 Venezuelans fled to United States since Chavez took power ? Didn't they all read those 'mainstream US journalists' praising 'democratization' in their country ?


This describes your position perfectly, Sonia. It has everything to do with personal "freedom" and nothing to do with righting injustice.

I perfectly agree with your assement of me. Freedom is definitely more important than social justice. And 'righting injustice' is definitely the most effective way of destroying both freedom AND justice. Every oppression starts with 'righting' some 'injustice'. Hitler came to power promising to 'right' the 'injustice' of German Jews being allegedly richer than non-Jewish Germans. Lenin came to power promising to 'right' the 'injustice' of Russian aristocrats being richer than Russian workers. And they both delivered on their promises to 'right' those horrible 'injustices'. By 1932, Russian aristocrats were as poor as Russian workers, and by 1945, German Jews (all four of them) were much poorer than non-Jewish Germans. They just forgot to add that by 1932 Russian workers would be starving to death, while by 1945 non-Jewish Germans would live in cities ruined by bombing raids. That's what happens when dictators try to 'right injustices' - they create far worse one...

Che Bob,

Rodrigo Alexis Cisternas wasn't afraid to protest. So Chile is a great country. And those thousands of Venezuelans protesting aren't afraid yet. So there is still some hope for Venezuela. Maybe I was too pessimistic...

Ché Bob said...


Che: Meeting needs as safety (meat inspection), can it be done outside of a state apparatus? How can a whole country achieve goals without a state apparatus?

Perhaps, perhaps not...we'll never no until we begin the discussion for a post-state revolution. I believe safety as well as the rest of society's needs can be met "outside the state apparatus." Why is it assumed that only a managerial, bureaucratic, elite class can organize a society?

Also, why is it assumed that human beings need be organized into "nations"? Is there no other way of organizing the human race? Something more internationalist?

Libertarian socialism means workers' control, management and organization at the most basic level. Furthermore, I'm interested in a form of anarchism that--for all intents and purposes--still resembles a form/structure that is highly organized by workers' councils and federations.


How can you honestly say Rodrigo wasn't afraid to protest? We know nothing of how Rodrigo felt. Besides, I bet his compañeros are plenty afraid now having witnessed the potential consequences for speaking out and resisting in Chile.

Hell, I'm afraid to protest here in Missoula, MT. There are consequences to raising one's voice that have real effects on our lives. These consequences seem ridiculously trivial compared to those many face around the world. However, the threat of not being rehired as a teacher for speaking out are real even here in the good ol' USA.

Last year I spoke out about a basic American right and made sure my students knew they are not required to say the Pledge of Allegiance, even though the school requires them to say it everyday. Informing students of their actual rights brought on a fiery wrath from a small group of insanos in the local community for daring to teach students their rights. These acts even invited a personal protest from a small, vocal group of reactionaries calling for my firing. And even a threat against my life from one loony!

In the end, it resulted mostly in daily harassment and maneuvering for my dismissal. While I would likely survive such an ordeal and be able to find a new job, it would not be in the profession I have spent nearly $100,000 of my own money to become. That constitutes a genuine threat and makes me much less apt to speak out against my country when it is wrong.

Renegade Eye said...

Troutsky: Comments turned off on your blog?

Che Bob: Revolutionary situations have come as in Russia 1917, with the country at war, invaders and poverty. It would be nice to have a revolution in an industrialized wealthy country for a change.

sonia said...


It would be nice to have a revolution in an industrialized wealthy country for a change.

It did happened. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were extremely rich and prosperous countries (though not industralized) when swallowed by Stalin in 1940. Though I am not sure we can call it 'revolution'.

Chile was fairly rich and prosperous when Allende started making trouble in 1970. But fortunately, that 'revolution' failed miserably.

And when Chavez staged his first military coup in 1997, Venezuela was far richer, more prosperous and more stable than it is today. So Venezuela probably comes the closest to a 'revolution in an industrialized wealthy country for a change'.

But it won't be wealthy for long. That's what 'social justice' and 'revolution' are all about: making everybody desperately poor, to control, dominate and lord over them.

Che Bob,

These consequences seem ridiculously trivial compared to those many face around the world.

That's right.

And in countries where there are real problems, people don't waste their energies on trivial symbolisms like 'pledges of allegiance'. Next time, use your energy to make sure that an illegal immigrant isn't deported, that scab labor isn't used to stop a strike, or that minimum wage laws are respected. When you're persucuted for doing THAT, you might count on more people to support you...

Ché Bob said...


Now you've gone and done it!

This last comment from you was a fairly belligerent one and highly contradictory to previous positions you've taken. It seems your arguments and logic are vacillating to and fro...and, a little meanness came out of you this time.

First of all, there are "real problems" here in this country. If you don't believe me look out your window and see for yourself the effect this country is having on the rest of the world. There are real illnesses to combated; real pathological behavior to be rehabilitated; real efforts to further separate, alienate, divide, and isolate us..."gringos know how to multiply any Mexican vice by the thousands and hide it by the millions." Consequently, there are real dangers, real threats, real fear; so there are also real fights, real struggles, real illnesses to be combated. I reserve the right to trivialize my own situation since I live it and I am aware and capable of comparing it to the "real problems" of other countries I have witnessed firsthand. You know nothing of the work I do. I was not asking you to opine from behind a naked avatar about the lack of real problems I face.

Secondly, I said "these consequences SEEM ridiculously trivial," which does not mean that they necessarily are. Even if putting an end to the American pledge of allegiance was the only fight I was taking on--which it isn't--your dismissal of "symbolic" fights signals that you are not concerned with actual liberties, only illusions of liberty.

As victims of the spectacle, we can hardly be completely condemned. But in your comment you seem to be demonstrating an alienation from directly lived experiences that have been replaced by mediated images and ideas. It seems that you too have become a person who generalizes reality as a pseudo-world. Therefore, reality for you, can only be "apprehended in a partial way...solely as an object of contemplation." Consequently, your separation from reality is aptly demonstrated in your confused understanding of Chile and Venezuela in your response to Renegade Eye. All was not okay in Venezuela and Chile before Chavez and Allende, nor was it after them, nor is it now!

This separation is a direct result of the dominant system and maintained by the very pledge of allegiance you treat as benign. You see, this fight is far from trivial when one appreciates the deep irony of persecuting others for exercising their universal rights in the supposed "defense" of those rights.

On another note, you have no idea about my life, whether or not people support me, nor the level of my convictions. I offered myself as an example of someone whose livelihood and career is not certain for holding political views and for questioning an inadequate and oppressive system. When compared to my friends in Colombia, I do not suffer the threat of murder, kidnap and torture; but do I not have much to lose? If my career and livelihood is so fragile and uncertain because of my political, religious and cultural beliefs, then what fucking business do we have promoting our system?

The Pledge of Allegiance means a great deal. It is an important fight. It has an untold influence (resulting in vicious effects) on global realities. Blindly obedient Americans are wreaking havoc all over the world, and the pledge of allegiance is immeasurably important in creating this unquestioning obedience. Why else would there be such a defensive reaction towards those that question its purpose?


I believe Troutsky opted to turn his comments off until after guiding season when we can expect him back invigorated and ready to roll.

sonia said...

Che Bob,

If you don't believe me look out your window and see for yourself the effect this country is having on the rest of the world.

Sorry to burst yopu bubble, but in my opinion America has far less influence around the world than most American (leftists and rightists) think. Of course, it's very convenient to blame America for everything, or to hope Americans will solve all the problems (and be bitter and angry when they don't), but that's another story.

But the reality is this - America can't do shit. Either good or bad. The only good thing America can do is let people come, illegally or legally...

the pledge of allegiance is immeasurably important in creating this unquestioning obedience. Why else would there be such a defensive reaction towards those that question its purpose?

Oh, I see... You remember John Lennon's immortal words, 'What if they gave war and nobody showed up ?' and you're irritated that most Americans don't follow this philosophy. Maybe you're even more irritated that recently, the only people who did follow Lennon's philosophy were Saddam's soldiers during the war in 2003...

Totalitarian leaders (from Brezhnev to Saddam) were always hoping that the West would collapse under pacifist pressure. But in the end, it's those regimes that collapsed because 'nobody showed up'...

I am sorry if I don't sympathize with your horrible misfortune of being born in United States and feeling guilty of everything bad that happens in the world. I am not American and that guilt is totally incomprehensible to me. And being American, you can't even do what millions of people around the world who hate their own countries, can do - come to America...

Now, that sucks big time.

CB said...


You're holding it down girl!

Two simple problems with all of this Marxist/Trotskyist dogma, well 3:

1) The conclusions drawn from the chosen philosophy (dialectical materialism) co-opted from Hegel, don't follow logically.

2) It is unnatural as beastiality so it has to be brutally forced on people to comply or to remain in power when the economics inevitably fail.

3) It doesn't take into account human nature. Not everyone wants the same thing. It is as Sonia said a beautiful delusion to think that within workers councils or even during perpetual revolution that some won't emerge as leaders or a bureaucracy takes hold and and when they do...

All this nonsense of exploitation, hoarding and sabotage tells me that you guys need to go to work! LOL

Here's a question though, is it exploitation for the Bangladeshi girl to work 12 hours a day for $10, when she and her family would otherwise starve? Is it exploitation for the Vietnamese boy to forego schooling to work at the Nike plant for $30 a week when the best job in his village paid $20 a month prior to Nike arriving? I guess they were better off without those evil capitalists exploiting them.

CB said...

I almost forgot, it's all too convenient for supporters that Trotsky was exhiled, trotskyites purged and Trotsky was killed after writing about the pending failures of the Soviet Union and the "betrayal of the revolution."

Trotsky was right there with Lenin and Stalin when they began to subjugate the population with force. It is revisionist nonsense to say otherwise.

The political philosophy is deadly but the economic ideas are just plain silly. Trotsky talked about economic growth should flow from investment versus from productivity (what he saw as capitalisms fatal flaw) is so fundamentally without understanding that it's hard to know where to start.

Economics is the study of human and institutional behavior. It is based on observation of what happens in a market given certain input. It is a measurable social science. Finance is the application of math to the markets. What Trotsky, Marx and Engels fabricate is more finance than economics and it is a structure for which there is no market. It's like trying to sell cabbage patch dolls at a biker rally.

No form of collectivist governance and economics can come close to the combination of limited government and market economics. Even the Chinese communists understand the value of property rights with their limited experiment (after observing America and Hong Kong).

I enjoy talking with leftists or however you characterize yourselves because I am more convicted in my beliefs every time I enter the discussion.


Ché Bob said...


I guess they were better off without those evil capitalists exploiting them.

I couldn't have said it better myself!

It amazes me that you are okay with exploitation of any kind! My how we've advanced from taking cheap labor from their homelands during the age of slavery and simply changed that system into one that is even more cost effective. Now we don't have to worry about them resisting being stolen from their homes, we don't have to provide them with any housing or food. Instead, now we can go into the devastated remains of colonial brutality and appear benevolent for bringing them wonderfully exploitative jobs.

CB, to think you actually believe its okay to exploit any human being is shameful. Out of sight, out of heart!

sonia said...

Che Bob,

CB, to think you actually believe its okay to exploit any human being is shameful.

That's not what CB said. He simply said (and it's true) that local capitalists in the Third World countries exploit their workers FAR WORSE than companies like Nike, which look like generous philantropists BY COMPARISON.

Everything's relative, Che Bob. In the land of the blind, a one-eyed is king. In the land of Bangladesh, a person employed by Nike is a prince.

Ché Bob said...

So "relative" exploitation is an inevitable, immutable reality?

"Sorry 'relative' human beings, it's the best we can do for you in the world of CB and Sonia! Thanks for playing, your prize is a 12-hour work day which requires that you miss out on school, your youth, the continuation of your culture and tradition; that you be chained to your work station, piss your pants because bathroom breaks cost money, breath toxic chemicals without safe ventilation; shorten your life slaving and prostituting yourself for those of us fortunate enough to have been born in a wealthy country; and instead you must consign yourself to making my tennis shoes for "$30/week" (an arbitrary figure that CB pulled out of the air, because apparently he knows nothing about Nike's actual mode of operation and has never heard of the Worker's Rights Consortium or the work of the Designated Buyers Program that are trying to monitor and force Nike to comply with fair labor practices which they do not unless a major consumer such as a university affiliates with the DSP. Without monitors and the DSP Nike can exploit the shit out of workers by buying from any variety of different manufacturers and suppliers including human rights violators.)

In other words, in the wonderful world of capitalism, the Nike's of the world get away with all kinds of crimes against humanity as long as no one's looking. With more Sonia's and CB's in the world helping ignore "relative" exploitation, Nike will be able to commit more and more "relative" crimes. At least its better than the mess those old colonial empires left you in! You should be grateful we're creating wealth. No, not for you per se, but at least its better than having 'nothing' (especially rights to self-determination). It's just the way things 'have to' know, you scratch my back and I'll break yours!"

Exploitation is definitely "relative" and has degrees starting with heinously inhumane to whatever could be worse. Both Sonia and CB have joined the Tom Friedman doctrine of a two-dimensional flat world, and so they are completely incapable of seeing plainly and clearly the injustice of global capitalism. For both of them we've reached the end of history.

Can you say ideologues?

CB said...

If you consider it exploitation to receive a wage for work, then yes, I am in favor of exploitation, including my own!

Let's look at what happens with what you call exploitation. The girl from Bangladesh and her family don't have food nor do they have adequate shelter and health care is a shovel to bury your dead. Along comes the evil capitalist and says you look like you could perform this work. How about this little girl, you do this work and I'll pay you enough so that your family doesn't have to starve and you can acquire suitable housing. Of course, I'll make a handsome profit and you'll have to forego what little education you were receiving, but perhaps your 6 year old sister won't have to work in the rice field and can go to school.

As the demand grows for the evil capitalists product because he was able to keep his prices low, as a result of the inexpensive labor (exploitation) of the little girl, he makes the same offer to the girls slightly younger brother. Now the family can breathe a little and even plan for the future. But another thing happens, because of their increased affluence, they spend their money with local merchants, who spend their money with vendors, who have to hire additional workers because of the increased demand.

Now the Bangladeshi village has a new class of families emerging that can afford to have children attend school as opposed to working from sun up to sun down. People in the village line up to be hired by the evil capitalist, who had to invest some of his own money in the country's infrastructure to support his operations. Other evil capitalists notice that the first evil capitalist increased his profits by having work done in Bangladesh, so they too explore that option. Upon their arrival, they notice how the infrastructure investment made by the first evil capitalist will make it easier for them to do the same thing. So they go to the villagers and offer the same opportunity to be exploited, but they need native speakers who have management skills. The first little girl, hired by evil capitalist one, had to forgo school and worked hard, improved her skills and now supervises the work of other exploited little girls and boys for 25% more pay.

Evil capitalist number 2 says to the now older young lady, I need managment, I'll pay you double what Evil capitalist one is paying you and I'll give you access to the doctor I'm bringing to support the western capitalists who will be coming to work with you.

Is this fiction? Look at the villages in India, a large, non capitalist democracy. Have you ever called an 800 customer service number? Where do you think those people are? What do you think their lives were like before the arrival of the evil capitalists? Now, some elements of Indian society are grappling with the concept of foreign investment, trying to determine if it's what they want, but at least they are no longer starving and living under canvas roofs.

Yes, I support exploitation.

Ché Bob said...


Does "CB" stand for "Crazy Bastard"?


To think otherwise is fucking crazy! You are aptly demonstrating the moral bankruptcy of the capitalist mind! Your quixotic, wishful scenario is just not happening! Hence, your hypothetical, theoretical scenario. It ignores all measures of reality.

The issue of poverty in Bangladesh and how to address it comes back to wishful thinking that the capitalist world gives even the tiniest shit what happens to the third world. The third world is seen as a slave force (that can be plausibly denied) that the capitalist propagandist can manage to obscure from the global view through fantastic and dramatic hypothetical scenarios such as the ridiculous one you've presented!

The most insidious effect of approving sweatshop exploitation is maintaining class, gender and racial stratification as well as economic and political disparity.

You and Jeffrey Sachs can leave your hands in your own pockets!

sonia said...

Che Bob,

You are aptly demonstrating the moral bankruptcy of the capitalist mind!

Exploitation has nothing to do with capitalism (or 'private capitalism', if you prefer this term). Exploitation of workers was far worse in the Communist (or 'state capitalist', as you like to call it) Soviet Union than it was in any 'private capitalist' country. People worked more and were paid a lot less under Pol Pot than under Nixon. People are working more and are paid less in Red China or Vietnam than in capitalist Taiwan or South Korea. Workers in the 'private capitalist' Dominican Republic are paid 10 times more than workers in Cuba, for doing exactly the same job.

And, perhaps most surprisingly, Cubans working for the government are paid far less (far, far less) than Cubans working for 'nasty capitalists' from Spain and Mexico. A receptionist at at Spanish-owned hotel in Cayo Coco makes far more money a Cuban doctor in Havana working for the Communist government.

If you really hate exploitation of workers, you primary goal should be to help overthrow every single totalitarian government in the Third World, starting with Communist ones (the worst offenders) and working your way down to allegedly 'capitalist' ones. Then, and only then, should you set your sights on condemning exploitation in democratic capitalist countries.

Otherwise, I won't believe that you really hate exploitation. Those who really hate exploitation, condemn the worst offenders FIRST and lesser offenders LATER.

CB said...

Che Bob,

You're failing to see the progression. The first 12 year old Bangladeshi girl goes to work and forgoes school, but because of that her 6 year old sister doesn't have to work the rice fields from sun up to sun down for subsitence and can go to school.

Years later, when the 12 year old is 21 and supervising other 12-18 year olds and making more money, she is offered a managerial job that doubles her salary.

Her sister, years later, graduates from high school and moves from part time work with her sister's old company to full time work.

Instead of living under the bamboo poles and canvas/palm leaf roof, they now enjoy wooden floors a tin roof and an outhouse. Before she dies at 60 from the hard life she's led, the first 12 year old girl sees her grandchild move into the home she saved for and built with indoor plumbing and a refrigerator.

What you fail to see, is that the girl would have died from malaria at 15 because her malnourished body couldn't withstand the medication that got to her 3 months after she was diagnosed, had the first evil capitalist not hired her. Her sister would have been sold off to prostitution and village life would continue as it had generations before with people regularly dying of starvation and from diseases that could have been averted with clean drinking water and vaccinations.

Thank God it is unimaginable to think of an 12 year old American girl having to work from sun up to sun down just so her family could get by. But that was not the case at the turn of the last century when it was normal in American cities! That's called progress, it doesn't happen all at once.

Capitalism fulfills the materialism dialectic far better than socialism or any other form of egalitarian wealth/income redistribution scheme. It is not perfect, but it offers hope and has been proven effective over time. The same cannot be said for collectivism of any stripe.

Ché Bob said...

There are levels of silliness that do not merit response.

Sonia and CB have both proved brilliant at pointing out that the wages in poor countries are lower than wages in rich countries.

And if we bother to look at very obvious history, we will learn a lot about why some are very poor, and about the role of you and others like you in bringing about the horrors you pretend to deplore.

CB and Sonia can wish their capitalist dream were true all they want, but it does not bear fruit for the overwhelming majority of the world. It's not surprising that they are for exploitation since it benefits them to be so.

CB said...

Ah Bob,

It is clear that although we are all using English, that we are not speaking the same language.

I'll try to introduce you to another concept: Having a capitalist enterprise introduced within a country does not make the country capitalist.

India, is the largest democracy in the world, but is not capitalist. Mexico is also a democracy, but is not capitalist. China is actually closer than either of these countries to being capitalist because they have introduced an experiment with limited property rights.

A capitalist country can only be democratic, support the rule of law (which rules out Mexico because of its vast corruption, lack of transparency and high barriers to entry and a bifurcated society because of the ejido system which prevents the non-landed from acquiring property) free markets (which rules out India) and limited government (which truly rules out China).

Valid comparisons can then be drawn between capitalist countires like America, Japan, Canada, the EU nations and Australia, for example.

sonia said...

Che Bob,

if we bother to look at very obvious history, we will learn a lot about why some are very poor

To do that, you have to study true history, not the monstruous lies that Marxists have been saying for decades.

One of Marxist's biggest lies: private property leads to internal exploitation leads to colonialism leads to revolution leads to happiness.

The reality: lack of private property leads to internal exploitation leads to colonialism leads to revolution leads to totalitarian rule leads to anarchy leads to genocide leads to foreign intervention...

An ideal country is one where more than 90% of all property is in private hands (preferably evenly distributed). Iceland probably comes the closest to that ideal. (Not accidently, it's also world's oldest democracy, dating back to 12th century).

The worst country is one where the state owns more than 90% of all property. North Korea comes closest to that extreme.

All the other countries are somewhere in between. And depending whether they are closer to Iceland or to North Korea, they are either richer or poorer (although there are obvious exceptions due to natural resources; but if all natural resources were distributed evenly on Earth, Iceland would be by far the richest country on Earth)...