My déjà vu

Some recent news reports read like flash-backs from my youth. To understand why you will need to know a bit about my background.

I spent my formative years in Poland which, at that time, was going through the final fits of socialism. The reality around was so absurd that it is almost impossible to explain to anyone who grew up in a “normal” country. By normal I mean a country where the basic social functions are in place and operational. Where people are free to openly criticise the leadership. Where political life is not based on a monumental state-sponsored lie. The schizophrenic political set-up in Poland survived 5 years past the title-date of George Orwell’s novel and finally gave out the ghost in 1989.

One particularly hilarious aspect of life under socialism/communism was a permanent shortage of basic goods deemed required to lead a normal, dignified life. This photo of a typical 1980s meat shop in Poland should give you a feel for the surreal climate of those times:

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Shortages (and, later – rationing) of basic consumer products made a mockery of the propaganda message that people in socialist countries lived in the most successful and prosperous economic system in the World. The frustrating reality of everyday’s life was somehow on a different plane of reality from the claims in the TV pronouncements. Or, more precisely, the two co-existed in different parts of brain and never clashed. Those interested in how a human being can accept two contradicting views without bifurcating should read another classic book on totalitarianism – “Zniewolony umysl” (“Captive mind”) by a Nobelist, Czeslaw Milosz.

Anyway, my recent deja vu was prompted by this news item:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-24185342

which is so priceless I will reproduce it in its entirety:

The Venezuelan government has taken over a toilet paper factory to avoid any scarcity of the product. The National Guard has taken control of the plant, and officers will monitor production and distribution. Earlier this year officials ordered millions of toilet rolls to be imported to counter a chronic shortage. Last week President Nicolas Maduro created a special committee to tackle the problem, which the government blames on unscrupulous traders. The government ordered the temporary occupation of the Manpa plant in the northern state of Aragua, state-run Radio AVN reported. In a tweet on Thursday, Venezuela’s Vice President, Jorge Arreaza, said authorities would “not permit hoarding of essential commodities, or any faults in the production and distribution process.” The Minister of Trade, Alexander Fleming, said the factory occupation complied with Venezuelan law.

Stop and think about how surreal the reported events are. The systemic shortage of goods most people consider essential. The government showing complete disregard for private property and then claiming their actions to be legal. The government committee created to ‘tackle the problem’ of toilet paper supply. The National Guard officers dutifully watching the strategic product rolling (ouupps!) off the production line. In fact it is so absurd it could have happened in the 1980s Poland – had the Polish factories not already been nationalised after WW2!

On a similar note, we have the British socialists floating a proposal to control the energy prices:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24216938

which is threatening to ruin the power companies and lead to black-outs:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24232292

I guess when this has occurred the (socialist) government will have to occupy the power stations to prevent the shortages…

The other news items which brought back the memories of my youth had to do with the upcoming release of the 5th Assessment Report by IPCC. It is expected to confirm and reinforce the previous announcements that the global warming goes on unabated. Apparently, the level of certainty that the warming is caused by the human emissions of CO2 has even increased. There is only one problem with the above – there has been no warming since 1997 or 2000. IPCC were first going to completely ignore this inconvenient truth and bluff their way through. When caught out, they decided to insert a half-arsed, qualified admission of the “pause” in warming but did not change the attribution statement. So, in effect, we are told that the global warming is caused by us but there is no warming. This rivals the most twisted rhetorical statements of the Soviet-era propaganda in Eastern Europe!

The reason the reality around us is giving me a feeling of déjà vu is that socialism is striking back. Karl Marx must be laughing in his grave.

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