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Socialism is a broad phenomenon that covers wide array of ideologies and political movements that are intended to bring a socio-economic system where the community possesses the authority to control the property and wealth distribution so that there could be more social cooperation and economic equality (Cole, p316). There are three important characteristics that must possess by a country to prove itself as a socialist country.
First of all its economy must be based on labor theory of value and not on money basis. Secondly the industries must be publicly owned that should not run just for profit and thirdly the decisions must be taken in the country democratically where the people at local and national levels have the opportunity to express them. (Cockshott, 2007)
At present many countries of the world are practicing or striving to adopt socialist ideologies and philosophies within their socio-political system. This dissertation is focused on examining that how three countries including Chile, Cuba and Venezuela have worked out for socialism and what are the consequences of the efforts and measures that have been taken in these countries in the context of socialism.
It is revealed from the review of related literature and historic information that Cuba and Venezuela have successfully and satisfactorily worked out for socialism as compared with Chile. It has been observed that at present the socio-economic systems of Cuba and Venezuela is very much inclined with the ideologies and philosophies of socialism; Chile, on the other hand seems lagging behind in attaining and implementing socialism within the systems of the country (Guzmán, 2007). There are several similarities and dissimilarities in the passages of these countries towards socialism that are discussed and examined in the dissertation to find the evidence about the attainment of socialism by these countries.
Socialism in Chile
Right from the conquest of Chile in 1953-37 and after going through political transformation and invasion in later years, the agriculture sector played a major role in defining the social and economic conditions of the country. The agricultural land always appeared as a major issue for the people of Chile because they faced shortage of land that led to miserable living conditions of the peasants. (Woods, p3) The agricultural land of the country was divided into enormous private estates and there were few landlords that had the control over the major portion of the land.
The few landowners mostly made the use of the land for cattle farming for monetary benefits and hinder the growth of the agriculture sector. The capitalist philosophies always governed the country and the economic life of Chile used to be mainly controlled by the interests of the big landlords, bankers and capitalists. These factors acted as main reasons behind the unsatisfactory position and efforts of the country in attaining socialism.
After the presidency of a socialist ruler Ricardo Lagos the conditions of the country seem to change however there are opponent views about the current situation of the country regarding socialism and development. According to one scold of thought the present situation of Chile indicates the disappointments of the general public with regard to the implementation of socialist ideologies within the social, economic and political systems of the country.
The government and the political parties seem to follow the capitalist policies due to which there is lack of improvement in the condition of the general public. The main problems being faced by the people of Chile are increased inflation, personal debts and low wages of the labor that contributes towards the dissatisfaction in the masses regarding the socio-economic conditions of the country. (Guzmán, p47)
The working condition of the people are generally not shown and discussed in the media and besides the fact that seventy percent of Chile’s workforce is working under uncertain and casual situations, the companies operating in the country concentrate towards outsourcing and won’t care about the negotiations to bring improvement in the working conditions of the country. Moreover there is also political instability in the country that can be witnessed in many of the military coups as well as amendments in the constitution of the country since 1925.
The other school of thought believes that besides the dissatisfaction in masses the regime of Chile’s socialist President Mr. Ricardo Lagos was widely respected in the country because being a believer and followed socialist ideologies, he designed and implemented several socialist policies in the country that were aimed at bringing social equality and security of human rights in the country.
Due to his socialist approach the presidency of Mr. Lagos is regarded as the best presidency of Chile since 1900 (Rohter, n.p) that shows that the people of the country are in great favor of socialism and that want to see the implementation of socialist policies in the country because the implementation of socialism in the country not only accounted to economic growth but also bring poverty reduction in the country. Thus the recent economic conditions of the country show some improvements in terms of budget surplus, record-high prices of copper, increased exports, investment in health, education and housing programs; and fast economic growth. (Rohter, n.p.)
All these steps taken by the government of Chile are considered as important steps towards the adaptation of socialism and all over the world the government of Chile is being regarded for taking the steps that bring socialism in the country. The country has attempted to secure free trade agreements with different countries so that the economic conditions could become better due to free trade, low debts, low taxes and economic expansions. (McMaken, p1).
After facing long period of capitalism the people of Chile are now witnessing the improvement in their conditions. Now Chile has become the fastest growing economy of Latin America and investors from all around the world are now looking towards Chile. The growth rate of the Chilean economy is 7 percent per year moreover the country also enjoys a budget surplus of 2 percent, well supported by sound currency and free business environment. (Rohter, n.p.)
Socialism and Cuba
Cuba got independence from British rule in 1959. The issues of improvement in the field of health, education and housing are among the most important issues for the people of Cuba due to which the people always had apposition for capitalism and landlordism. In Cuba the government of Castro enjoyed great support of people for long time as it expressed to promote democracy in the country. The idea of internationalism was also invoked in the country during the Castro regime. (Gott, p4) Despite all the measures of the government of secure socialism in the country the Cuban people did not get the complete benefits of socialist ideologies. The Castro party always has complete monopoly over the state apparatus and economic policies.
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Though they claimed that the party serves the interest of the people especially the workforce, the people of the country use to face bureaucratic control in all the departments and few rights are given to the Cuban workers. Socialism does exist in Cuba in terms of government and its policies but what the people of Cuba got from the socialism is nothing but repression, poverty and enslavement. But despite these realities Cuba is considered as a “beacon and socialist paradise in a hostile sea of capitalism and a progressive model whose policies on education and health care ought to be copied throughout the world” (Gott, p4)
Thus it is revealed that socialism does exists in Cuba and the country has faced numerous ups and downs in securing socialism however the outcome of socialism for the country is long debate that is supported by arguments of both sides who opposed and favored the government policies and strategies. It is a fact that the country has enjoyed some very positive steps that were taken in influence with socialist ideologies like the outlawing of racial discrimination, enacting of land reforms, creating of low-income housing program and free availability of health and education for all of the Cubans.
All these measures are considered positive steps towards gaining socialism in the country and it could be established that Cuba is a socialist country. This fact is well supported by the government policies and strategies discussed above but at the same time it is also a fact that majority of the Cuban led desperate life with an average salary of $US13 ($15.45) per month, that is quite a low figure.
Socialism in Venezuela
Just like Chile and Cuba, the socialism in Venezuela is surrounded by different views. It is observed by the some of the experts that the economy of Venezuela is based on money that is considered as the root cause of all the evil according to the socialist philosophy. The economy is also unplanned and democratic revolution is still incomplete (Cockshott, n.p) however on the other hand it is firmly believed that in the twenty-first century Venezuela has paved the way towards socialism and some effective measures taken by the government like the land reforms and local grassroots workers’ cooperatives have contributed towards building the image of Venezuela as a socialist country.
There in not only rapid growth of the cooperatives but the hundreds of “endogenous nuclei” are also established to work together and cooperate with each other in the process of making products and services for the each other. According to an estimate more then seventy thousand cooperatives are working in the country and the profit of these cooperatives is divided among the workers. The workers also have the right to choose their own supervisor and the health and environmental issues are also addressed and monitored by the representatives of the community. In short the people benefits are secured by these cooperatives and this activity is very much encouraged in the country. (Pecinovsky, p2)
The government is playing a very significant role in the promotion of socialist ideologies. To start the business, people got good support from the government in terms of “start-up capital for the purchase of equipment or office supplies and coordinates technical training, enabling community residents to repair, rebuild and perform other skilled tasks” (Pecinovsky, p2)
The bankrupted and failed companies of the country are nationalized so that the workers can get the opportunities to manage work by their own. More over the promotion of democracy is also an important issue towards which the government of Venezuela is concentrating. Venezuela under the rule of Chavez is attempting to expand trade partnerships with different countries of the world and the relationships with the neighboring countries are also become well due to the policies of the government.
It is believed by many of the experts that the Chavez rule has succeeded in attaining internationalism in the country. The country not only has developed mutually beneficial trade deals with different countries but also used to provide heating oil to poor communities at cheap prices. Thus despite the criticism and negative portrayal of the economic conditions of the country by some of the social scientist it could be established that socialism is very well worked out in Venezuela and the people of the country are enjoying lots of benefits due to socialist ideologies.
Analysis of Socialism in Cuba, Chile and Venezuela
The information about the existence and performance of socialist philosophies in Cuba, Chile and Venezuela unfolded different aspects of the issue and in the light of the above discussion it could be concluded that there are much evidence found about the existence of socialism in Cuba and Venezuela for many years whereas the history of Chile is marked with capitalist approaches and thinking. But the rule of a socialist president in Chile also provided some indications that socialism has some signs present in Chile as well.
It is revealed from the above discussion that there are some similarities as well as dissimilarities in the passages of these countries towards socialism. First of all it is found that Chile remained under the capitalist approach for a long time period and the typical capitalist thinking exists in the economic and political sector of the country, on the other hand Cuba and Venezuela have left behind capitalism for many years and besides all the criticism and controversies, socialism exists in these counties for a long period of time.
It is also found that there are lot of controversies surrounding the issue of socialism and its outcome in these three countries. The discussion shows that in all the three discussed countries, some of the experts view miserable economic conditions whereas some highlighted the flourishing economic growth. For example, Chile that is considered for a long period of time, a capitalist-controlled county is enjoying good economic growth and the economy is the country is the fastest growing economy of Latin America at present.
The credit for this development is given to the socialist president of the country but at the same time it is believed that the people of Chile are still facing poverty, low wages and miserable conditions despite the claims of poverty reduction and availability of good working conditions in the country. These problems could be defended by the fact that for a long time there was control of capitalists and landlords on the economy of the country that’s why despite the good performance of the socialist government; the country is lagging behind in receiving complete advantages of socialism.
On the other hand Cuba claims to attain socialism for a long period of time. The government of Castro enjoyed great support because there were many policies formulated by the government in support of socialism and the people also enjoyed the benefits of these measures, for example the promotion of free trade, good working conditions, internationalism and democracy. But at the same time Cube is being criticized on the basis that the people of the country faced high level of monopoly and leucocratic control in different departments and the soul of socialism is not completely followed in the country.
Venezuela also claimed to be a socialist country possesses some weaknesses and strengths in the context of socialism. The performance and planning of the government of Venezuela are highly appreciated because these are intended to bring cooperation within the workforce for the purpose of their welfare. The government supports very well the business community and in case of stating a new business, the people receive valuable support and assistance from the government. However, the economy of the country is claimed to be based on money and profit-making and there is also need of more work for the promotion of democracy in the country.
Hence it could be concluded that Chile is struggling to become a socialist country whereas Cuba and Venezuela have already achieved this goal but the economic performance of these countries and the condition of general public and workforce has raised many questions regarding the outcome of socialism in these countries.
There are many weaknesses found in all of these three countries with respect to the condition of the workforce and =democracy but a fact could be established in the light of the above discussion that Chile is on its way to attaining socialism that’s why the rate of miserable conditions of the people is higher in the country as compared with Cuba and Venezuela, whereas these two countries are following the socialist ideologies for many years and as a result the people of the country used to enjoy many friendly and constructive policies and strategies of the government.
Alan Woods (1979), “Lessons of Chile 1973”, Spanish Marxist magazine Nuevo Claridad, p1-5, Madrid. Web.
G.D.H. Cole (1965), “History of Socialist Thought, in 7 volumes”, p316, Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press.
Larry Rohter (2006), Chile’s Socialist President Exits Enjoying Wide Respect, The New York time, International news page. Web.
Patricio Guzmán (2007), Chile: a new political landscape, Socialism Today Magazine, p47, Issue 112. Web.
Richard Gott, 2004 Cuba: A New History, p4-6, Yale University Press.
Ryan McMaken (2005), “Chile: Socialism, Dictatorship, and Liberalism”, p1, Ludwig von Mises Institute, West Magnolia Avenue, Auburn, Alabama. Web.
Paul Cockshott (2007) Venezuela and New Socialism. Web.
Tony Pecinovsky (2006), Venezuela’s ‘21st-century socialism’, People’s Weekly World Newspaper, p2.