Jesse Goes Deep


Don’t miss this engaging, Deep-Think piece in Rebelión by Jesse Chacón (or rather, I suspect, by the Spanish grad student who ghost-writes his columns).

In rare, intello form, Jesse takes aim at capitalism’s ideology of endless growth, echoing Club of Rome themes as he argues the environmental case for producing less, better.

I have to admit I’m of two minds about this one. One the one hand, there’s no denying the troubling environmental consequences of one of the few policies the Venezuelan government and opposition seem to agree on: developing the Orinoco Tar Belt.

On the other, to hear a former minister in a government that has – if such a thing is possible – deepened Venezuela’s economic dependence on oil exports defend the revolution on environmental grounds is a bit rich. No part of the analysis in his column finds any practical counterpart in the actual policies of a government that has reined in oil output only through bungling and incompetence, never by design.

And, of course, the overall message here – that what Venezuela needs is economic contraction, not growth – is imbecilic to an impossible-to-overstate degree: the kind of thing that might sound just about plausible to a bong-toting bon pensant European leftie, but crumples into a heap of unemployment and misery when rolled out in Parapara.

Still and all, I found the column refreshing. It’s so rare to read a chavista argument built around arguments rather than ad hominem attacks, you treasure it when you find it.

I don’t even care that Jesse probably didn’t write it himself. In the current atmosphere, I think he gets points even just for signing off on a column like this: wrong, sure, but substantive and free of the usual VTV clichés. Which isn’t nothing.

Hat-Tip: Dago.

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  1. The problem is that the argument is the same vague, directionless argument they always use. Nothing concrete or useful. Beside, they have done nothing to prove their points. NOTHING. Only steal huge amounts of land and let them go to waste.

    You can’t discuss arguments where those are already proved wrong. That ship have sailed.

    Sorry Quico. I don’t share your enthusiasm. Quite the opposite. To confirm this I post the main news from my local newspaper:

    Last but not least, the article comes from Jesse Chacon. Really?

    As John McEnroe might say: “you cannot be serious”.

  2. Of course, he didn’t write the article. He lacks the brain power to do so, judging from his usually idiotic statements. Most probably somebody else wrote it for him. Now, the fact that it states that a country with so much poverty needs economic contraction not growth borderlines on mental retardation, so perhaps, my first sentence isn’t true.

  3. As your resident enviro-theory-geek, I feel compelled to point out that 1) even Herman Daly, the father of old-school 70s-era environmental economics, calls for a “steady-state” system rather than economic shrinkage, and 2) pretty much everyone writing in this vein nowadays hopes that growth will be channeled into improved services and efficiency, not eliminated. So even by lefty treehugger standards this makes little sense.

  4. So long as there’s population growth, you’re going to need economic growth, no matter what else you do or what you believe in. And if it’s true that endless growth is suicidal and sustainable growth is illusory, those apply to population growth much more than economic growth. And if you really care about the environment, your first priority should be to combat over-population, not industrialization.

    But anyway, it’s obvious that Fake-Jesse’s argument is nothing more than cheap apologetics to claim that the economic contraction experienced by Venezuela is a good thing.

    • “it’s obvious that Fake-Jesse’s argument is nothing more than cheap apologetics to claim that the economic contraction experienced by Venezuela is a good thing”
      The chavistas all seem eager to take their turn to lie for miCommante’s blunders.

  5. I hope that ruining countries and reducing its denizens to poverty by brute force and mismanagement was not what the Club of Rome intended. Joking…

    Please, do not overlook the irony of the former apparatchik, and now lobbyist of an authoritarian government writing on a site that dubs itself “Rebelion”.

    Of course, it’s about par, “Rebelion” is about anything but that. I have always had a soft spot for those who challenge and question authority and received wisdom, the rebellious, non-conformist and the back-talkers. Because I consider the freedom to challenge and question with ideas a good in itself and a right, absolute and without bounds of any sort. Thus any sympathy I might have for marxism-leninism ends before it starts and the laugh should be on those who named their page Rebellion when their intention is to establish their own dictatorship and end any independent thought. Or at least, cheer on those who do just that, dictators that have ruled with an iron fist most of their adult lives and into ripe old age.

  6. I hate it when Chavistas come out all tree-huggin’ and eco-friendly because:
    1. Chavismo has done nothing to promote recycling.
    2. There is no nationwide plan for alternative energy, not even a little solar or wind project in Los Llanos for propaganda purposes.
    2. Their solution during the electric crisis was to scatter about thousands of diesel generators.
    3. It’s been almost 12 years since the introduction of unleaded fuel and catalytic converter on new cars and they’ve yet to implement a periodic emissions test for those cars, which means that when the expensive catalytic converters fail, car owners have little incentive to replace them.
    4. They don’t seem to care too much for public transportation or for the efficient use of fuel, as evidenced by the ridiculously cheap gasoline.

    • Cesar — I couldn’t agree more. I would only add:

      5) They ridiculous fuel subsidy extends across to natural gas, which means there is no economic incentive to stop burning dirtier and more valuable liquid fuels and convert to cleaner and less valuable natural gas.
      6) The price of electricity is so low as to guarantee people always use more than can be generated by hydropower, meaning more liquid fuels generation will undoubtedly be a reailty in the future.
      7) Venezuela’s system of distributed generation from diesel might make sense in sub-Saharan Africa where there is not transmission system, but doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense in Venezuela where there is a transmission grid that simply needs investment
      8) Chavismo for years subsidized cars through the Venezuela Movil program, which included SUVs as “family cars,” helping contribute to the traffic chaos of cities around the country as well as indiscriminate use of fuel. It’s now subsidizing cars with the production of Iranian-made and now Chinese-made cars sold at below market value.

      As you’re well aware, this could go on for a while …

      I’m writing mostly about the environment in Brazil these days but am planning to post a few ideas about Venezuela

  7. ok, I realize I’m setting the bar milimetrically close to the ground here, but still: it’s an entire OpEd by a high-ranking chavista figure that insults no one, that attacks capitalism at a systems rather than a moral level, that posits no conspiracy theories and that sets out a coherent vision for the future.

    Catastrophically wrongheaded though it is, it still represents a HUGE improvement over the usual standard of chavista discourse. ¿O no?

    • Well, being “catastrophically wrongheaded” as it is, I don’t think it “represents a HUGE improvement over the usual standard of chavista discourse.” At most, a microscopical one.

      • I disagree, actually. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to have a reasoned debate with someone like Jesse[‘s ghost writer]. You could establish common standards of evidence and discuss the extent to which his theories match up with measurable reality. No matter how wrongheaded the approach is, you could imagine it as a starting point for a constructive dialog.

        The problem with most chavista discourse isn’t just (or even mostly) that it’s “wrong”. It’s that it’s pitched in a way that undermines the possibility of becoming the starting point for a dialog. In usual chavista speech, we’re not “wrong” – we’re evil. And because we’re evil, discussing things with us is worse than useless – it’s dangerous.

        So I do think it’s a huge improvement over the standard. I also think our Ghost Writer buddy is going to find himself without a job soon if he doesn’t kick up the invective a notch.

        • I have been criticized before for saying this-
          but- “there is no middle ground”.
          (Hint: You would hear the same thing from the “other side”-and
          you have already heard it, too)

        • You assume everybody, or at least someone like Jesse, is ready to engage in a real debate. The problem is that there are people who simply do NOT recognise our concept of democracy, to say the least. They are not on the verge of something, they simply won’t. It’s like Rosa Luxembourg, who many saw as a real heroine just because she on occassion pretended she would not go for a violent, forced change, and because she ended up being killed by the extreme right. As she said to the communists shortly before she died, the real reason why she wanted to look for a parliamentary solution was so as not to scare people away.
          They will lie through their teeth.

          To me there are two basic types of debate: one that you carry out with someone because you both are really engaging in an honest discussion of ideas – this very seldom happens in politics- and one where each one of those debating simply wants to prove his point towards a public by trying to show he is right and the others in the debate are wrong. The latter kind of debate is used in Canada and the States, in Chile and in Colombia, in all of Western Europe. People like Jesse et alia won’t ever go even into that.

          With CHavismo the most we can expect is to show the general public that Chavistas will refuse to engage in a real debate.
          You can try to put up a show like they did with the students at the National Assembly, but they will do anything they can to avoid a real debate.

          It’s not that they are socialists or the like, they are just milicos. Still, they behave in a very similar fashion to the Soviets. They can sometimes – even if not as often as the Soviets – show some sort of argumentation in an article or book. They won’t ever engage in a discussion with you, period…at most they will conduct parallel monologues monologues that look like that short story by Woody Allen about two guys playing chess by correspondence.

          • “With CHavismo the most we can expect is to show the general public that Chavistas will refuse to engage in a real debate” -Absolutely, one will never be treated with
            respect- given a fair chance to present your case, treated as equal..

        • You are welcome to disagree, of course. However, please note that chavista discourse usually attempts to kill the messenger, not the message. That in this instance, the writer does not try to kill the messenger, but tries to validate his message with what we know are blatantly false arguments does not seem to be an improvement. Most likely, if you try to have a discussion with them explaining the lack of merit of their arguments, they would revert to their “kill the message” attitude. That is basically because they are all intellectually challenged and very uninformed. To me that is clear every time they open their mouths.

          • JMA ,

            Killing the messenger is a common way of defending oneself when one has no argument but is emotionally attached to a viewpoint.I see it especially with leftists, but it is not just a Chavista quality exclusively. Sometimes the messages are just simply:

            ” sigh, sigh”
            or silence……the implication being that one is above answering 🙂

            Sometimes more obvious insults like:

            ” racist “, “bigot” ,or ” moron” !

            and/or something like :

            “Where is your proof? did you get this from FOX news? ”

            With insults there is no debate.With insults the argument is automatically won by the one who remains in the argument no matter how weak.

            It is a illusionary to pin all the defects on to Chavistas, and not see the same weakness on the other side as well( at least in this case).

    • Don’t take this as a personal attack-I see your point-a clear complete looking
      statement-on anything- very rare..
      “that attacks capitalism at a systems rather than a moral level”=with a bunch of lies.
      Chacin(whoever wrote it-maybe a Cuban) praises China and says their threats to their involvement with the US will doom the future of Latin America- and states “the future is with China(Asia) reality is- US is still number one customer of Venezuela- ask PDVSA.
      I believe Jessie should be ripped to shreds for his lies…

      • Chacon-conveniently “left out mention of billions and billions spent on weapons
        (and also billions missing of course). I dare him to mention the word “technology”
        in the same breath with chavismo- but, he did. Do you call chavistas “technology
        experts’? In fact-chavistas are experts at only one thing-being morons-seriously.

    • No, it doesn’t. You much more than no insults, no conspiracy theories, and minimal coherence for the chavista discourse to be even a slightly improvement over the usual crap. It’s the same crap with different wrapping.

    • I suppose that happens because the piece is directed at Rebelion’s public, not at the Venezuelan public or the Venezuelan “opposition” (anyone not kowtowing to Hugo the Foul Mouthed).

      Even though the usual Rebelion crowd cheer on dictators, things have not gone that far enough that you mention opposition and they think “gusanos”. In fact they would be repelled by the ration of insult chavismo dishes daily towards anybody not chavista. It’s what remains of chavismos international strategy, which tried to present Hugo as a peaceful, popular president engaged in reform for the people, beset by a bunch of violent coupsters… Hugo the “malandro” and the “perdonavidas” is far less known, except when he took on G.W. Bush and then it was styled as David vs. Goliath.

      • “It’s what remains of chavismos international strategy, which tried to present Hugo as a peaceful, popular president engaged in reform for the people, beset by a bunch of violent coupsters…”-exactly this is -ice cream for liberals mainly in Europe and extreme lefties in US.

  8. Boy, our standards have really fallen. A hack pollster writes a semi-literate op-ed saying that just because S&P downgraded US debt, our aim should be to shrink the economy … and we applaud this?

    I must have woken up in a parallel universe.

  9. Well, Francisco, why don’t you test your hypothesis and attempt to reply to his article, and we’ll know if: 1) Aporrea even acknowledges it, and 2) you get a minimally respectful response.

  10. A mi me da un poco de hilaridad que un argumento se base en el dowgrade de AAA a AA+ de un pais, escrito por un ex-Ministro todero de un pais que fue rebajado de BB a B+ un mes despues. Nada mas 12 niveles separan al pais en “crisis” que colapsa y el pais que dice el construye un ruta articulada de desarrollo.


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