[OPE] Michael L replies to JB re Venezuela & socialism

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Mon Sep 27 2010 - 05:22:47 EDT

Michael Lebowitz's reply to what I wrote is interesting but talks of
justabout everything EXCEPT addressing the simple points I made.

I do not "presume" that Michael Lebowitz argues "in defense of exploitation"
and I never said so. Instead, what I said is that, in his book The Socialist
Alternative, he refers to "the extraction of surplus value" for the benefit
of society, suggesting that, because it is for the benefit of society and
the Chavistas are doing it, that this does not count as exploitation.
Michael does not deny that he said this, in his book. I remarked about this
point, in the context of an argument with Paul Cockshott about workers
getting the "full value of labour".

Michael Lebowitz also does not deny in his email that Venezuela depends on
the importation of two-thirds of its food needs. He tries to cast doubt on
this claim by smearing that I rely on "opposition and imperialist sources"
but this is just a diversion, because this heavy dependence on food imports
is simply a fact wellknown to everybody, no matter what their political
opinions are - and that is exactly what I said. In fact, Michael Lebowitz
admits himself that is true, which is no more than I said already.

There are obviously at least two basic ways to solve the dependence on food
imports - one could organize agricultural cooperatives and send brigades of
unemployed workers into the countryside to grow food; or one could lease,
rent or grant farmland to self-employed private enterprise farmers to grow
food, possibly offering a guaranteed price for their output if sold to local
outlets, rather than exported. The one policy does not exclude the other,
and one does not need to take a doctrinaire ideological position about this.
There may be many more different options.

What kind of strategy is more feasible, I simply do not know at present, I
am not a fluent Spanish speaker fully conversant with all the details of the
situation - it is not simply a "technical" matter but also a legal,
political, social, organizational etc. matter. But the more food that is
produced locally, the better it is for Venezuela's foreign trade position,
the better it is for the population, and the better it is for the defense of

The Chavistas can antagonize everybody without real need for it, and vent
their hostility against markets without good reason, but in the end they
have to explain why the agricultural reforms so far have not booked very
significant results, from the point of view of reducing the dependence on
food imports from abroad. What is the point of hostility against local
markets, I ask, if you are heavily dependent on foreign markets anyway? What
is the point of wiping out local markets, if all that happens is, that you
become even more dependent on foreign markets to supply the same products?


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Received on Mon Sep 27 05:24:26 2010

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