Saturday, August 10, 2013


There is the old joke about Puritans--that they are never more miserable than when somewhere, somebody is having fun.

Marxists are like that. Nothing gets their goat more than if somebody should dare to raise their head above the muck of poverty. The slightest increase in wealth brings forth thundering condemnation: inequality, "imperialism", planetary despoilation, violations of indigenous rights, etc. You can't win with these people.

Today's Marxist in question is Mr. Louis Proyect, who writes a post entitled Leftist Support for BRICS: A Faith-Based Initiative. It's a very long article, and includes a piece by Bobby Peek entitled Brics lessons from Mozambique.

BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Diplomats from these five countries convened in Durban, issuing a Statement that Mr. Proyect mocks (accurately) as
...written by the same people who write those advertising supplements for the Sunday NY Times on “The new and dynamic South Africa” with pictures of wineries, gamboling elands, and a Black family in a BMW. The article starts off with the cheery affirmation: “As the global economy is being reshaped, we are committed to exploring new models and approaches towards more equitable development and inclusive global growth by emphasising complementarities and building on our respective economic strengths.”
The Statement is Dilbert-quality copy, to be sure. By contrast, Mr. Proyect takes great pleasure in telling us about the great extent and horrifying depths of poverty still present in Durban. And true enough, the Statement, while not necessarily wrong, is certainly not the whole story. But Mr. Proyect's criticism is deeper--his argument is that, because of poverty, the diplomats' efforts to overcome poverty are intrinsically immoral and hypocritical. Why should this be true?

Mr. Proyect's beef against the BRICS can be summarized in three sentences:
  • The BRICS are not socialist, nor are they a waystation to socialism.
  • The BRICS are "anti-American" not because they oppose capitalism, but because they compete with the US in the capitalist game of thrones.
  • The BRICS are behaving like imperialists now, and in the future may become globe's primary, imperialist powers.
The first two statements are undeniably true. The third statement includes a prediction that I think is unlikely to happen, at least not in this century. The point of Mr. Proyect's article is to criticize Leftists who want to cozy up to the BRICS because they're anti-American, and thus represent the lesser evil. His argument is that relying on the BRICS to create a better world is a dead-end, or, in the words of his title, a "faith-based initiative."

Except that the BRICS (or at least the BIC) do represent a better world, albeit not a socialist one. Arguably the most important event of the 20th Century is that 400,000,000 people were lifted out of poverty in China. You can blame Deng Xiao Ping for Tienanmen all you want, and you can (as I do) extend significant credit to people like Malcom McLean and Sam Walton. But the fact remains that the little Communist was a fraud--he wasn't a real Communist. He took the capitalist road, with earth-shaking success.

Our friends in the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Action still haven't accepted this fact. They maintain that Chinese wealth is just a Potemkin Village, with the same few people walking through the shopping malls for the benefit of the Western media. But they're wrong, and Mr. Proyect is honest enough to know that they're wrong. The BRICS are important precisely because they have made enormous strides in reducing global poverty. Why is Mr. Proyect against that?

So now we come to the tirade against development in Mozambique--the case made by Bobby Peek. Mr. Peek writes
South Africa is extracting 415 megawatts of electricity from Mozambique through the Portuguese developed Cahora Bassa Dam, which has altered permanently the flow of the Zambezi River, resulting in severe flooding on a more frequent basis over the last years. In the recent floods earlier this year it is reported that a women gave birth on a rooftop of a clinic, this follows a similar incident in 2000, when Rosita Pedro was born on a tree after severe flooding that year.
He goes on to complain that
  • Somebody in Melbourne is getting rich (and--horrors--probably having fun, too).
  • That dams are capital intensive.
  • That the electricity is going to South Africa.
  • That India, Brazil, and Russia are also making investments in Mozambique.
I find it very strange that Mr. Proyect quotes Peek's article in the same post where he complains about poverty in Durban. After all, turning out the lights in Durban is hardly the solution to poverty. Where does Mr. Proyect suggest Durban's power should alternatively come from? Coal-fired plants? Nuclear?

Of course I know the answer. He'd just replace the gamboling elands with magically-empowered, free unicorns. Surely, amongst all of South Africa's game parks there are enough unicorns able to generate electricity out of thin air at no cost whatsoever, either monetary or environmental.

Marxists have no perspective. Pulling 400,000,000 people out of poverty is an accomplishment completely negated by one Mozambican woman forced to give birth on a rooftop because of a flood. That very same woman is cause to throw 3,500,000 residents of Durban into the dark. Yes, I hope we can take care of the poor lady, but sheesh--a little bit a business sense would go a long way.

Marxists believe in poverty--and not only Marxists, but all of the Left, much of the Democratic Party, and even a few of my Republican friends.

Down With Poverty!

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