What’s Reddest about the Communes’ Bill is the Tape

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It pays to spend some time reading chavismo’s controversial new bill for a Communes’ Law. Politics aside, the thing that jumps out at you is that chavistas are just as mindlessly bureaucratic in trying to build their Utopian Socialist state as they are in trying to stifle the capitalist economy. The proposed new "communes" are burdened down with a baroque accumulation of committees and more committees charged with implementing a neverending succession of admirable intentions until the finished product is so irredeemably top-heavy with regulation it’s more or less guaranteed to be sclerotic and paralysed from day one. Even if you made a good faith effort to implement all the requirements in the bill in your local community, you probably couldn’t. 

The bill’s language is the now familiar, faintly ridiculous, ultimately hokey pablum about prosumidores and unidades socioproductivas: tripe written by people who’ve somehow gotten it into their heads that Venezuelans won’t barter with one another unless the government writes down on a piece of paper that it’s ok to do so. It’s like these guys imagine somewhere out there there’s a campesino sitting on a load of tasty topochos, eying his neighbor’s nice yuca harvest, but saying to him, "sorry, vecino, I’d love to swap, but until the Asamblea Nacional in Caracas approves the third reading of the new Communes Law, we really probably shouldn’t."

The opposition tends to interpret chavismo’s regulatory heavy-handedness as a barely disguised gambit to prevent private businesses from operating. But bills like this one suggest it goes much further than that, that a certain strain within the chavista administrative apparatus really does conceive of its task as codifying good intentions, in as much detail as possible, into the state’s legal codes.

It’s amazing to think about: we now have a governing elite that thinks that the more detail you codify an unworkable fantasy in, the more likely it is to work, that putting your own idea of utopia on a piece of paper and calling that piece of paper a "law" amounts to "constructing socialism". 

Honestly, from our point of view, their haplessness is almost encouraging…

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