Friday, September 09, 2005

Be Useful Part 2

A group of folks made some interesting (if misguided :P ) comments to the "Be Useful" post of a few days ago. I had neglected to include more prominently the link to the article from which I lifted the quote.

I disagree that Chavez is authoritarian. He was democratically elected twice and beat a recall - all by popular vote. There is no evidence that Chavezista's have organized any sort of authoritarian measures, unlike the great shining hope of American Interest in neighboring Colombia, Mr. Urbide, who under the cover of a "war on drugs" funnels money to right-wing paramilitary thugs and murder countless villagers (objective evidence here).In the case of Venezuela, take the following example from a recent AP article:
"We're capitalists, consumers by nature," said 26-year-old Marbelys Gonzalez, strolling through the mall with two friends, carrying a shopping bag filled with five pairs of designer jeans.

"We're crazy about shopping. If we go out and don't end up buying anything, we don't feel good," she said, sunglasses perched atop her bleached blond hair.

I think that we can all agree that mall-rats spend their time and money in a useless fashion (not to mention how vapid they are - they think they are capitalists but in reality they simply support capitalism). And this is Chavez's point - with massive economic efforts put towards creating more and more exchange value at the expense of creating use value (e.g. the intrinsic value of an object which provides tangible, but not necessarily physical, utility for people, i.e. a sports coat has a use value that is derived from it keeping one warm and protected from the elements, but it also contains different exchange values depending on which fashion designer has his name on it).

The evidence in Venezuela is a small portion of people involved in conspicuous consumption and a large number struggling to survive. Chavez makes the correct point that society and by extension government must focus on helping ALL people, instead of protecting the wealth of the few at the expense of the many.

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