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Why Do Socialist Paradises Have So Much Trouble With Toilet Paper?

May 16th, 2013 - 11:31 am

Maybe it’s just Socialist paradises in warm climates.  The latest example is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the outhouse Chavez built.  They’re running out of toilet paper.  Of course, they blame it on a plot.  It’s the journalists!  No, wait.  It’s the evil capitalists, who refuse to produce and sell at a loss (imagine!).  Probably the same evil people who have created the rice and cooking oil shortages…Or maybe it’s just the silly people, hoarding toilet paper even though there’s really plenty of it (ignore the news reports, close your eyes when you pass by long lines of people trying to buy it).

This is not a unique case;  Socialist regimes have often had troubles with toilet paper.  In perhaps the most colorful case to date, the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua manufactured bright rolls of the stuff, and sold it to friendlies, such as Tunisia.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t color-fast, and so Nicaragua became a literal example of Socialism giving lots of people “the old red ass.”

That pretty much ended the export of revolutionary toilet paper.

The Venezuelan crisis is a bit different, the people there are facing a shortage, not a failed product.  But still, it’s clearly part of a pattern.  Ceausescu’s Romania had the same problem, and recycled American Bibles into toilet paper. Maybe their dear allies, the Iranians will save them...they brag about their exports.  Surprised?  Well you can’t keep clean by using crude oil, can you?


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The item on Iran's toilet paper exports to Turkmenistan (also, I presume, an Islamic country.)

The first I heard of Islamic-motivated agitation against the Suharto government, many, many years ago, was a protest movement about the use of toilet paper. This was seen as a sign of Western decadence in the ruling elite. A the time, I was completely perplexed by this. How are you supposed to get by without toilet paper? Now I know.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is all about scientific socialist efficiency, if you don't get as much to eat...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Maybe it’s just Socialist paradises in warm climates.
No, there was always a shortage of toilet paper in the USSR, as well. Most everything else, too. OK, I shouldn't really say "always" because I am not old enough to have seen the whole 70 years. But definitely in the 1970s and 80s.

The sight of lucky people carrying rolls of TP as bandoliers crisscrossing their bodies was ubiquitous at Moscow train stations, with visitors to the capital proud to bring home some of the stuff.

Actually, this image of people wearing TP bandoliers was quite a powerful and representative symbol of that time.
1 year ago
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