- Capitalism and Alternatives -

with wrapping paper

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA,USA ) on November 07, 1999 at 22:06:30:

In Reply to: A gift easily accepted. posted by Dr. Cruel on November 05, 1999 at 16:04:15:

: It would seem that we agree to disagree on Nicaragua, et. al.

I hesitated to say this earlier, because I suspected that some of the right wing capitalists would jump on me and say 'tha's a cop out, you're admitting defeat, blah blah." Of course that's not the situation, far from it. I know that you fully disagree iwth me on this issue, and I think that's a good thing, freedom of thought. It in fact proves the point made by socialists that there are some things, truth and freedom of conscience among them, that cannot be bought, and therefore neither capitalism or socialism is ever likely to win over the hearts and minds of everyone in the world. If you acknowledge that this is an issue on which honest, reaosnable and idealistic peopel can disagree, I will do the same. Given the same set of facts (thjere is only one truth, after all) wat determiens whether people support teh Contras or teh sandinistas will ultimately depend on their own set of values; and on'es set of values is, ultimately, a personal choice. E.g. do you value the 'right' to hire employees under mutually agreed conditions more than the 'right' to have a share in the political, economic and social goods of your country. Etcetera.

: In regards to Costa Rica - I must admit a weakness in my knowledge of the place, in regards to Mr. Figueres. I had heard that an important figure had abolished the national army, and enjoyed a high popularity for it; he also had stepped down from office in the process. He and Mr. Figueres are likely one and the same. In any case, he was by your own admission a planter, and thus, a capitalist.

No, I didn't say that. He was a businessmen, but not a philosophical capitalist. His actions were opposed to capitalist ideology. Therefore it doesn't matter what his identity was, only his ideas. There are black people who think that slavery benefited their race, namely the talk show host Walter Williams. Obviously he is an racist, in spite of the fact taht the race he despises is his own.

Jose Figueres was a 'capitalist' who stood for nationalization of banks and industries and a state welfare system. If that's 'capitalism', then I wouldn't have a problem with it. The problklems arise when you get to men liek Ronald Regan or Roberto D'Aubuisson. I tend to think that they are more fll-blooded capitalists than Jose....

Nor was Jose Figueres perfect of course. Remember the bit baout hsi ties with a Nazi symptahizer, and his opposition to Calderon's expropriation fo German properties.

Actually, I once had an exchange with Red Deathy where I agrued that there were many capitalists who were good men. It's not individual capitalists that I have a problem with, it's the injustices in teh system. I certainly think that capitalists, no elss than any otehr group, cannot be held collectively responsible for collective crimes. Men like that mining owner who flew down to Colombia and offered himself as a hostage in place of his kidnapped engineer ought to be rewarded in a revolutionary society. But companies like Union Carbide, General Motors, and men like Ronald Reagan and Roberto D'Aubuisson, guilty of killing many innocent people and causing the lievs of many otehrs to consist of unbearable suffering, should be made to pay for their crimes. Note, I said 'should'. I have little hope that justice will find the guilty, in this lifetime anyway. Still, one can hope.

: This is what the C.I.A. has to say:

: Economy—overview: Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Economic growth has rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 3% in 1997 and an estimated 5.5% in 1998. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, and reached an estimated 12% in 1998. Unemployment appears moderate at 5.6%, but substantial underemployment continues. Furthermore, large government deficits—fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt—have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency remain key challenges to the government. President RODRIGUEZ has called for an increased economic role for the private sector, but political resistance to privatization has stalled much of his economic program.

: By European standards, the economy is similar to that of Sweden - an overzealous state control over the economy, coupled with large expendiatures on social programs, have stagnated the Costa Rican economy until recently. By Central American standards, of course, the place is a paradise - or, rather, as close to a paradise as one is likely to see in these parts anytime soon. Whatever it is, most people who do business in the region feel perfectly safe in storing their money there. Most of them are capitalists.

: If this is your idea of 'socialism in action', I'm all for it. Were socialism to live side by side with capitalism, were a concern for the freedom to own and trade be leavened with a concern for the welfare of the whole community, there would be little need for debate. It is my impression that the U.S. has done the best in achieving this sort of balance.

No way! The United States, which strangled socialist democracy all over the world? Which has the least compassionate welfare state of any welathy country,and less even than some of the poorest Third World states? Where people tend not to give two shits about kids who are going to bed hungryor adults who are forced to sleep on the streets? Youcan either be in favor of at leats soem welfare sttae or you can oppose it. If you believe even in liberal welafre capitalism, then the US can't be your model, not in this regard. I'm confused. you just were defending Sweden, now you're defending the US? What gives?

: If I thought that this was the sort of thing that gentlemen like Fidel and Danny were after, you'd have no argument from me. It's the nepotism, and the violence, and the lies, and all the other unacknowledged crimes of the 'revolutionary struggle' that make you so many enemies.

This is where you begin to lose me. Things tend to follow this pattern; the poor begin to lay a claim to some of the wealth in society, ro begin to claim what they need to survive and live a decent life. The rich draw in the big guns and start shooting priests while they're in teh process of saying Mass. Sometimes, though not always, the poor recat with defensive violence, and sometimes they wreak excessive revenge, and sometiems rveenge becomes its own parent, and those who began by liberating people begin to develop a simple bloodlust.

But let's be frank. We know this is not what happened in Nicaragua, nor in El Salvador, nor in Cuba. In El Salvador the violence committed by the left was entirely defensive, began after teh right wing death squads, killed far fewer people than teh right wing death squads, was more selective in its victims, punished people for crimes committed rather than to 'send a message' as the Right did, and ceased long before the right wing murders and violence did. I believe that the ARENA death squads are still active in Salvador.

: Perhaps both of us might learn something from Mr. Figueres. Perhaps?

Yes, it seems liek a good idea....

: "Doc" Cruel

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