“Collective Rights” in Action

A New York Times article (registration required) describes the military seizure of coca-cola plants by Fidel Castro-wannabe Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and reports the kind of philosophical attitude one would expect of a collectivist-totalitarian theorist, such as G. A. Cohen of Oxford University:

In an interview with reporters, the officer in charge of the action, Gen. Luis Felipe Acosta Carles, taunted the news media and insulted plant managers. News reports said workers at the plants were beaten. “We are distributing this product to the population because collective rights come above individual rights,” General Acosta said, slurping down a warm soft drink and belching into the camera. “What I see here is hoarding, and we are going to move these products.”

[New York Times, 18/January/2003]

The only difference is that Cohen, the wealthy author of If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 2000), probably wouldn’t belch into the camera when explaining his philosophy. But then again, once he had an army at his back, he just might.