Is Venezuela a Rentier State - Essay Example

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In the paper “Is Venezuela a Rentier State?” the author focuses on recent characterizations of Venezuela, on its overwhelming reliance on oil for the economic structure of the country. Theorists have gone as far as terming Venezuela a ‘Rentier’ State…
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Is Venezuela a Rentier State?
Recent characterizations of Venezuela have focused on its overwhelming reliance on oil for the economic structure of the country. Theorists have gone as far as terming Venezuela a ‘Rentier’ State, meaning the government derives the majority of its profits from oil or minerals. The label contains a number of derisive connotations, as it’s assumed such a heavy reliance on oil has a deleterious effect on economic and political structures. Therefore, when determining whether Venezuela is truly a Rentier State, the government’s internal functions must be considered.
The question of whether Venezuela derives significant portions of its economy from oil is without a doubt true; Corrales (2006) even characterized President Hugo Chavez as one of the world’s most powerful CEOs, in regards to his sale of oil to the United States. The Venezuelan government can also be seen to embody Rentier characteristics: Chavez has been successful in centralizing power through an elimination of intermediary government structures; he has allowed rampant crime to persist; and has allowed highly questionable election processes. While these actions can be seen to be highly indicative of a populace that ceases to intervene because of an abundance of oil money and reduced taxes, the reality of the situation is more complex. Indeed, it’s been argued that rather than Venezuela’s political structure being allowed by the citizens out of apathy in the face of reduced taxes, it has occurred because of a systematic effort on the part of Chavez to scare the citizens into submissions and acceptance of more lax governmental standards. Corrales (pg. 9, 2006) compares this mentality to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, “The more insecurity that citizens face—the closer they come to living in the brutish state of nature—the more they will welcome state power.” In this regard, it’s not the oil money that has influenced the populace, but the calculated manipulations on the part of Chavez and his regime that have trained the population into acceptance.
Essay #2 Can Democracy survive in circumstances other than the United States?
When investigating the plausibility of democracy surviving in situations outside the United States, one must agree on what democracy means. If it is the communal rule of society through group consensus, as embodied in elected officials, protests, and free speech than Democratic rule is not only an element of Americanness, but a lynchpin of much of the European Union, as well as Australia, Israel, and Canada. While these countries demonstrate varying degrees of socialist intervention, the United States can hardly be said to be free of similar traits. To assume that democracy is a distinctly American formulation is to demonstrate a gross misunderstanding of its origin as a Greek description of such governmental structure.
However, democracy has not always survived in when it has been implemented, and it’s evident that there are characteristics that are necessary for its persistence. This is highly evident when observing the extreme political instability that has characterized Latin America over the last century. Even as countries such as Columbia have implemented democratic regimes, the overwhelming resistance they face from organized criminal organizations is a constant threat to long-term democratic existence. It seems that this unequal distribution is a key factor to consider when analyzing the democratic instability. When discussing the democratic structure that has taken hold in Venezuela, Corrales (p. 4, 2006) writes, “If democracy requires checks on the power of incumbents, Venezuela doesn’t come close.” A similar totalitarian control of power can is witnessed in Cuba. In this regard, it seems that the survival of a democratic structure mirroring the United States requires more than the will of the people or pressure from outside regimes. One might surmise a number of factors, but an obvious explanation concerns the overall level of well that the United States achieved as a direct result of their ties and subsequent independence from Britain, whereas Latin American countries were more closely linked to Spain, a country which suffered considerable hardship in the 17th century. It’s perhaps the requirement for a full functioning democracy that to possess a highly educated and financially stable citizenry, a feature than many countries don’t possess.
Corrales, Javier. “Hugo Boss”. Foreign Policy. 2006 Read More
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