Thursday, February 01, 2007

Venezuela's Enabling Act

One of the key steps on the road to Germany becoming a dictatorship under the Nazis was the passage of the Enabling Act in 1933. This allowed the Nazi government to bypass the Reichstag and effectively legislate by decree. Unfortunately now its happening again, this time in Venezuela. Venezuela's National Assembly is in the final stages of passing a law allowing President Hugo Chavez to legislate by decree on a wide range of issues, including the energy sector, the economy and defence. It's perfectly legal and constitutional, and not uncommon in Venezuela's political history - the National Assembly has passed similar laws for three previous presidents, as well as Chavez himself in 2000 - but that doesn't make it right. Scrutiny by the legislature is a vital part of the democratic process, and it should be strengthened, not eliminated.

Chavez claims this enabling act is necessary to allow him to push through a reform program and bring Venezuela closer to his vision of socialism. But no matter what you think of the desirability of that goal, this is the wrong way to do it. If Chavez has a majority to pass this law, then he clearly has a majority to pass his reform program. It may take longer, but it will also have far more democratic legitimacy than one passed by decree ever will.


On the other hand Chavez's (democratic) revolution is under attack from the right in Venezuela as well as the US.

At least Chavez is standing up and doing what the allegedly left-wing parties of the English-speaking world claim is impossible. Maybe one day we'll get a Chavez in NZ who'll stop fiddling around the edges and *take* the money and power from the rich!

Posted by Rich : 2/01/2007 09:16:00 AM

IS - totally 100% agree.
Rich - Great, now you can witness yourself why it's impossible.

See, the thing about the rich is, they'll leave. No rich, no people making money for the country, no money.

Of course, you could just take their money, but they still won't stay and make more.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/01/2007 11:26:00 AM

Sure - but there's a right way and a wrong way to do this. If he wants his revolution to be geninely popular and have the stamp of democratic approval rather than being impose from above in the manner of an authoritarian dictator, then working through the elected legislature is the way to go.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/01/2007 11:27:00 AM

Scrub it is the workers that make the money for the country. The rich take it off them because they monopolise the means of production.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/01/2007 11:39:00 AM

Scrubone: Sure, the rich can leave. But as I've pointed out before, the productive assets they own usually can't. And if they want to take their money with them, then that perforce means that those assets must be sold, and will continue to operate in the hands of the new owners. Likewise, I don't believe they're economic superheroes or especially gifted entrepreneurs - the usual way of getting rich is by having the good sense to be born to rich parents. For those who do fill an economic niche, someone else will happily take their place and continue to do whatever they were doing. In other words, their threats of leaving are empty. Goodbye, and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.

(By way of illustration: the departure of Fay and Richwhite to their Swiss tax haven did not result in New Zealand having a shortage of dishonest sharks on our sharemarket. Plenty more where they came from. Though in this case, perhaps we wish there hadn't been).

The only difficult to fill function of the rich is as a source of capital to fund new projects. In Venezuela's case, they have a pile of oil, and prices are still far higher than they were just a few years ago, so that is unlikely to be a problem.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/01/2007 11:40:00 AM

Presidents of the United States have been issuing decrees since 1789.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/01/2007 12:38:00 PM

Hmmm as if some of us didn't see that coming years ago, the reports of oppression of dissidents, harassment of the media and his cozying up to Castro (who is just as dictatorial but somehow is treated as a hero presumably because the price of imprisoning, executing and torturing dissidents and suppressing all freedom of speech is "worth" it).

Clearly a good number of your fans are about as supportive of democracy and free speech as Hitler, Stalin and Mao - as long as he does what they like, it doesn't matter that he isn't accountable - but hey, you can protest, vote, print just about anything in NZ, UK, USA but don't value it.

It's so sad and despicable at the same time, I'm glad you are NOT one of those on the left who will turn away when our fundamental freedoms are surrendered because policies you like are implemented.

Those who defend Chavez on the left remind me of those who defended Pinochet on the right - it is, basically, the same.

Posted by Libertyscott : 2/01/2007 09:17:00 PM

Important difference - Pinochet was after power for the benefit of a small minority of rich Chileans (and of course, the perceived interests of another country). Chavez is working in the interests of the majority of Venezuelans.

That's why Chavez has been elected three times and Pinochet was defeated the moment when (after 15 years of dictatorship) he consented to an unrigged election.

Posted by Rich : 2/01/2007 09:50:00 PM

liberty scott - just without the murder of 30, 000 political opponents huh?

IP is right to condemn the current suspension of normal democractic processes in Venezuela, but comparisons to Pinochet are truly over-egging it.

Posted by Michael Wood : 2/01/2007 10:18:00 PM

IS - Chavez is scaring-off foreign capital, so all those assets he's now effectively seizing will need to be maintained and eventually replaced, ultimately by Chavez, from his own money, which he won't then have available for whatever social programs he has in mind.

"...the usual way of getting rich is by having the good sense to be born to rich parents..." - er care to cite any authoritative reports for this assertion?

Finally, you assume Venezuela has hordes of frustrated but competent business men just waiting to replace those leaving; apparently Venezuela, alone on planet earth, has no skills shortages?

Let's see how wealthy the country is in 5 years and decide how great this recycled Marxism is.


Posted by Anonymous : 2/02/2007 01:18:00 AM

"just without the murder of 30, 000 political opponents huh?"

I believe 2,300 is the right figure Michael - but you're playing Stalin's game - statistics. This is only the start of Chavez's rule.

Hitler was working for the interests of a majority of Germans too, Stalin was as well. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and every single totalitarian monsters in the last century or so justified it because it was "for the people". How much fucking blood needs to be spilt by dictatorships before some socialists stop bowing to them?

However, it doesn't matter if a few eggs are cracked and there is no freedom of speech as long as policies YOU think are good can be implemented - you can sit in your cozy little democratic country rich and michael wood and say "it's ok" for Venezuelans to not have freedoms you take for granted.

Few things are more sickening that sanctimonious pro-authoritarian socialists sitting in liberal democracies pontificating about how it is "ok" that democracy and individual freedoms like free speech and a free press can be removed from Venezuela for their own good.

Evil little fuckers like yourselves (not I/S) are exactly the reason totalitarianism thrives because you cheer the ends, without caring about the means. It's not your blood that gets spilt when a Venezuelan protests about corruption or opposes any of Chavez's policies.

Posted by Libertyscott : 2/02/2007 02:14:00 AM

Yes, however will Venezuela survive without the generosity of foreign capitalists to maintain the productive assets out of the goodness of their hearts? It's not as if the assets can be used to generate enough revenue to cover maintenance _and_ social programs, is it? The benevolent capitalists just pay for assets for the good of the community, and they're a huge drain on the wealth they've acquired from... er, where exactly do capitalists get their income from again?

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 2/02/2007 09:38:00 AM

Chavez needs the power to push through the reforms, which are in the best interests of the majority of Venezuela's people.

Boofucking hoo to property rights of the billionaires in Caracas, parasites off the work of the millions of poor in the nation.

Posted by Oliver : 2/02/2007 04:10:00 PM

Chavez is one rich person who won't leave. He is getting richer day by day.

rich, why don't you offer Chavez or a similar dictator money. Then you can get your wish.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/11/2007 09:39:00 AM

Latest economic news from Chavez' paradise:

Posted by Anonymous : 2/11/2007 10:10:00 PM

Full linK

Posted by Anonymous : 2/11/2007 10:11:00 PM