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unsustainable socialism

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Yesterday, the latest in the long-running New York Times series “Why Each and Every Attempt at Even the Mildest of Socialist Programs in the Developing World is Grounded in Very Serious Cheating!”

Usually, it is Venezuela’s oil wealth that makes for the totally unfair and unsustainable advantage co-opted by shady leftists. Now it’s the Indian state of Kerala – which apparently receives some cash from workers who have gone abroad. (The same disqualification has long applied to Cuba, of course).

TRIVANDRUM, India — This verdant swath of southern Indian coastline is a famously good place to be poor. People in the state of Kerala live nearly as long as Americans do, on a sliver of the income. They read at nearly the same rates.

With leftist governments here in the state capital spending heavily on health and schools, a generation of scholars has celebrated the “Kerala model” as a humane alternative to market-driven development, a vision of social equality in an unequal capitalist world. But the Kerala model is under attack, one outbound worker at a time.

Plagued by chronic unemployment, more Keralites than ever work abroad, often at sun-scorched jobs in the Persian Gulf that pay about $1 an hour and keep them from their families for years. The cash flowing home now helps support nearly one Kerala resident in three. That has some local scholars rewriting the Kerala story: far from escaping capitalism, they say, this celebrated corner of the developing world is painfully dependent on it.

“Remittances from global capitalism are carrying the whole Kerala economy,” said S. Irudaya Rajan, a demographer at the Center for Development Studies, a local research group. “There would have been starvation deaths in Kerala if there had been no migration. The Kerala model is good to read about but not practically applicable to any part of the world, including Kerala.”

I think this is fair on the part of the paper. Until a socialist utopia is brought into existence in a state that possesses no natural resources, no industry, no currency reserves, no pre-existing infrastructure, the NYT is right, socialism will remain a debased program that can only win by cheating the system. Everyone knows that things like oil and cash are, by divine right, always already property of international capitalism – any attempt to harness their value for the advancement of equality is not only dishonest, it is abominably perverse.

And the fact that we don’t see articles about, say, the way that the Mexican capitalist economy would likely be unsustainable without the currency Western Unioned home by the folks (no longer) building out the sprawl and cleaning floors or cutting lawns at the McMansions is quite understandable. For capitalism generates the international economic disparities that force these workers to cross the border in the first place – therefore, capitalist economies are playing fair when they subsist on the fruits of the disparity.

Written by adswithoutproducts

September 8, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Posted in socialism

One Response

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  1. Is Kerala where _The God of Small Things_ by Arundhati Roy is set? There’s passages in that one about a worker’s party and community organizing. Haven’t read it in a long time, sorry.


    September 9, 2007 at 1:42 am

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