The information revolution

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Lots of interesting stuff is being written about Venezuela these days, so we might as well highlight some of the best.

I really liked Javier Corrales’ take on the events: this was a pushback against informational asymmetry.

In Corrales’ tale, autocracies create informational asymmetry, i.e., some people are immune from scrutiny, while others face everwhelming doses of it. This asymmetry allows the government to remain popular even after it really shouldn’t be.

Maduro took this imbalance to new extremes. What happened in Venezuela was a revulsion against that.

“By voting so overwhelmingly for the opposition — and with the largest turnout in a legislative election in 16 years — Venezuelans have started a process of rebalancing the country’s asymmetrical system of audits. For the first time since chavismo came to power, they are demanding that the powers-to-be verify that ministers do their jobs fairly, that the budget is spent according to established rules, that the president follow the law, and that the law reflect the wishes of more than just one man and his cronies.

What we are witnessing is an uprising against asymmetrical information. Venezuelans have taken to heart Amartya Sen’s dictum that the beauty of democracy is its ability to “generate information,” not just about what voters want, but also about what states do. The fact that the opposition won in even traditional bastions of chavismo (e.g., the states of Barinas, Falcón, Monagas y Trujillo) shows how widespread this movement has become.

It’s a thought-provoking piece, well worth your time. (Oh, and he throws some love at our very own Anabella)

18 COMMENTS

  1. Oh dear…
    information asymmetry, really?
    It used to be that Venezuela was roja rojita. PSUV lost these elections because of the colas largas, larguitas.

  2. Among all the things I look forward with the new AN, the one I most anxiously await is Maduro’s accountability speech, he will finally have to present real data and justify all the obscure money handling from the past years. I started buying my popcorn, I think it will be great show!

      • Artículo 237. Dentro de los diez primeros días siguientes a la instalación de la Asamblea Nacional, en sesiones ordinarias, el Presidente o Presidenta de la República presentará cada año personalmente a la Asamblea un mensaje en que dará cuenta de los aspectos políticos, económicos, sociales y administrativos de su gestión durante el año inmediatamente anterior

        At most 10 days after and yes it is

        • So, he will stand up and give one of his rambling speeches. He will make a point of saying at the beginning that he is speaking to “El pueblo” and not to the Diputados. Then he go on for hours about nothing. Does anyone think he will actually answer questions?

  3. ISTM that the “information asymmetry” was not created by the chavernment, but initially by the complicity of a large portion of the “chattering class” – who are the people responsible for transmitting information to the public. In the U.S. at least (and in Europe) this class is overwhelmingly left-wing in sympathies. They publish a narrative favorable to their ideas and to left-wing politicians, and they suppress news that is damaging. Or report it in the most trivialized and blanded-out terms, signaling “this is harmless”, instead of “this is an outrage”. I refer not just to the press, but to all the people who are “opinion leaders”.

    Something similar must have happened in Venezuela. A majority or large minority of Venezuela’s “opinion leaders” chose allegiance to chavismo over truth, law, and honesty. Many of these people had been “reformers”, bitter critics of corruption and injustice. But when the chavernment looted the state, squandered the nation’s wealth, trampled the constitution, and bungled public services, they never criticized, instead singing the regime’s praises. Between their chanting, Chavez’s charisma, and the oil bonanza, chavismo held power.

    By the late 2010s, this chorus could not drown out the increasing bad news. That was when the chavernment began to establish “communicational hegemony” – buying out or shutting down independent media. That kept the thieving and bungling under wraps. But even hegemony could not blind the people to their living conditions – so they have rejected the regime.

    I don’t really think very many voters were upset because the BCV doesn’t report inflation figures on time, or that FONDEN’s books are secret, if they even know about these things.

    • great comment for it falls short.

      The regime also built capacity in para military and rogue groups, intelligence, telecom surveillance and others to be prepared for the times when the upset start to complain and protest too much, to prevent organized revolt and any serious risk to keeping power.

      The real insight from 6D and 7D and so far has been for me, that the military decided to flex some muscle and force the electoral system to comply with the electorate’s mandate as expressed in the polls (mind you we all know polled votes are a very dark statistic, having been subject to several biased pre election date!)

      ..for instance where is the political will and intent of 1 plus million citizens in voting age that live abroad? Or all the ones that flet threatened for voting not red? and for voting red? and all the voto nulos of du jour, long etc.

      This exercise in restrain from the military, is the black swan of the day.

      My memory does not fail me when I remember too vividly many of the newly proclaimed diputados in their last congreso and asamblea stint, and how back then they did not querry for real data either.

      My hope is for a renewed legislative oversight of the executive and other powers this time around! I wish…

  4. I’m with Roy per Senor Blanco’s request for accountability and facts and figures per how the state spent the nation’s dinero. I figure there’s no way in hell that Maduro will stand in front of a hostile assembly and come clean. What’s more, with such profligate spending and stealing, the last thing I reckon the state ever did was to keep comprehensive accounting records. This last 17 years is probably going to be a big ass write off.

  5. sean pendjos y culpen a chavez o los chavistas, me encanta a lo narnia la REVOLUCION llegar al mismo punto , si no pueden cuidar la lenguea, …

  6. the message from this 6D is that people need to be careful with the new deputies to push the structural changes that are needed inmediately, otherwise they could end working for their own agendas ( festín por alcaldías y gobernaciones next year or being soft to the govt in exchange for dólares a 6,30),

    first must: Moustache´s seat, prepare a quick plan to substitute him as the constitution allows (a clue: Opp votes: 7.7 mill and growing, moustaches votes in 2013: 7.5 mill ), that´s what people voted for, even oficialismo is asking for that, and if any ¨leader¨ is dreaming to reach 2019 to race against a weakened moustache just to favour his options, better prepare the lugagge because the country will be erased by then,

    second must: an unified dollar, the actual system is the biggest fraud in history, the mismisimo Giordani talked about 25 billion dollars lost, i would go farther, do like Ecuador, dollarization, so this way no matter who rules the country, they won´t have any chance to devaluate,

    hey, deputies, deactivate the bomb soon otherwise the bomb could explode in your hands!

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