Monday, February 23, 2015

Orwell's Newspeak Alive and well

Following are excerpts from a U.S. Army War College paper on Venezuela and my analysis of the large number of assumptions and implication contained between the lines. Like much bureaucratic analysis the validity of the status quo within the sponsoring state is never questioned. Much like Soviet analytical writing in the Cold War period the audience may be assumed to be in agreement with the fundamental principles of their culture, namely that the their home country represents the stable, reasonable and just example of what the analyzed country should aspire to become and that defection from the norm (in this case globalization) is a child-like errant path that should be firmly but paternally corrected.

"in January 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued that
President Chávez was minimizing democracy in Venezuela and
destabilizing security in the Latin American region. Subsequently,
the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supported those arguments
and added its concern regarding Venezuelan purchases of large
quantities of arms."

The U.S. Department of Defense statement here implies that the purchase of large quantities of arms is a concern with regard to a minimization of democracy. This of course is a grand irony which I will allow the reader to form her own opinion of.

" Assistant Secretary Noriega and Secretary Rice proposed the creation of a mechanism in the OAS that would monitor the quality of democracy and the exercise of power
in Latin America" but not in North America.

Venezuelan democracy is not real democracy:

"Beginning with the elections of 1958 that followed the military
junta, Venezuelans began to elect their political leadership. However,
their concept of democracy was not derived from the Anglo-American
tradition of limited state power and strong individual human rights.
Rather, the current tradition of Venezuelan democracy has its roots
firmly in the outcome of the French Revolution, and subsequent
perversions of the Rousseauian concept of “total” (totalitarian)
democracy, wherein the individual surrenders his rights and personal
interests to the state in return for the strict enforcement of social
harmony and the General Will."

Is this a civil law/common-law distinction? Is the reader to accept that any country which became democratic after the French Revolution is somehow totalitarian. Is the reader is expected to believe that the (illegitimate)French Revolution occurred much later than the (genuine) American Revolution (they were nearly simultaneous.)

"In these conditions—and given an authoritarian
Latin American political tradition—ambitious political leaders find
it easy to exploit popular grievances to catapult themselves into
power—and stay there." This is nothing like the U.S. Congress.

"Globalization and Fractured Society. In addition to the U.S. policy
of “democratic enlargement” in Latin America, globalization is
also focusing people on the concept of transparent and accountable

If there is one thing that opponents and proponents of globalization can agree upon it is that with the growth of globalization more power ends up in the hands of multinational corporations relative to state governments. Whether one thinks that is good or bad the fact remains that corporations are not more "transparent and accountable" than elected officials. Through trademark, copyright, trade secret and and other areas of the law corporations can hide much of their activity from the general public in ways that elected officials cannot.

"Like all revolutions, globalization represents a shift of power
from one group to another." The implication here is that globalization is a revolution, an overthrow of the existing order, not an expansion and solidification of power for those already in control.

"In most countries, including Venezuela, it involves a possible power shift from the state and its bureaucrats to the private sector and its entrepreneurs." The privatization of traditional areas of government involvement: health care, education, banking and warfare. If one were to question the wisdom of such a move one need only examine how successful these practices have been in the United States.

"In that connection, the armed forces of Venezuela have always
assumed that they have an obligation to resolve various internal
crises. That is, if a governing regime deviates too significantly from
the general armed forces’ doctrinal concept of social harmony and
good of the state, the military will step into the political situation
and provide corrective action. As a result, the military institution
will have a role in the political process. That role may be either
positive or negative—depending on how President Chávez involves
the armed forces in the security decisionmaking and implementing

"Socialism for the 21st century and the expected regional
integration it would engender (bolivarianismo) begins with a
premise that traditional post-World War II socialist and Marxist-
Leninist political-economic models made mistakes, but the theory
remains totally valid. The idea is that representative democracy
and the U.S.-dominated capitalism of the new global era are total
failures. Representative democracy and capitalism serve only
elites—not common people. These failures must now be replaced by
“participatory democracy,” “direct democracy,” or what detractors
have called radical populism. In these terms, Chávez is re-elaborating
the concept of democracy and promoting a socialist economic system
as two parts of an overarching political model for the Latin American
region.29 As a precautionary note, we must remember that the key
concepts and the various implementing programs of this model are
works in progress and without established time lines."

"1) the new authority in the state must be a leader who communicates directly
with the people, interprets their needs, and emphasizes “social
expenditure” to guarantee the legitimate needs and desires of the
people". Sounds pretty sinister.

"Social Programs. To strengthen his personal position and internal
power base, President Chávez is spending large amounts of money
on an amorphous Plan Bolívar 2000 that builds and renovates schools,
clinics, day nurseries, roads, and housing for the poor. Additionally,
Chávez is developing education and literacy outreach programs,
agrarian reform programs, and workers’ cooperatives. At the same
time, he has established MERCAL, a state company that provides
subsidized staple foodstuffs to the poor. Chávez also has imported
16,000 Cuban doctors to help take care of the medical needs of the
Venezuelan underclasses. Clearly, these programs offer tangible
benefits to the mass of Venezuelans who were generally neglected
by previous governments."

amorphous .?? What could be more tangible than providing the direct needs of the poor?

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