“Hugo fed the hungry … He lifted the poor. He raised their hopes. He helped them realize their dreams. And, so, today we do mourn, because we’ve lost a lot. But we have a lot left – a stable government, an orderly transition” ~Jesse Jackson in 2013
“Here you have an extremely rich country, enormous wealth, most of the population living in, ya know, pure misery, and finally there’s a government that’s actually doing something for them … they’ve got the first government in the history of the country that’s actually doing something.” ~ Noam Chomsky in 2007
“Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world” ~Jeremy Corbyn, Head of British Labour Party in a 2013 tweet.
Never is the demagogue label more useful than in the circumstance of socialist politicians. Never in the last decade has an exposition of these politicians’ sleazy means to accrue power been more realized. Decades ago, socialists had to apologize and qualify vehemently for the many physically and economically destructive socialist experiments abroad. Today, an odd recurrence of the socialist cause has re-emerged among, at the least, the British electorate and American millennials (see J. Thomas Perdue’s “Socialism: A Misguided Millenial Love Story“). This is no doubt in part due to the lack of explosive socialist failures in recent memory. That is, until the last few years in Venezuela.
In the last few years, inflation has skyrocketed and poverty rates—which dipped in the reign of Hugo Chavez in lieu of soaring oil prices—have resurged above to well above half the population. A month ago, a police helicopter circled the Supreme Court and fired 15 shots and dropped 4 grenades in protest of a “criminal government.” Nicolas Maduro posthumously promised peace. Yet last week, the death toll among protesters surpassed 100. Just yesterday, in fact, two political opponents were dragged from their private homes and subsequently thrown in jail. What was more in yesterday’s news-cycle was that word arrived of government manipulation of “at least” an eighth of the votes to elect a new legislative body. I’ve no doubt neglected a number of years worth of political and economic suppression in light of Maduro and Chavez’s ‘master plan’ to liberate the working (but currently non-working, thanks to their ‘master plan’) poor. Nonetheless, I cannot suppose the above information to be insufficient to prove Venezuela’s tragic decline.
The eminent entities above—whose demagogic tendencies I would love nothing more than to treat as their own, separate works of power-grubbery—are in sizable company, too. Near forty film makers, journalists, historians (a sad fact upon which to ruminate, no doubt), winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, and even the former Mayor of London signed a 2004 “manifesto” exclaiming that “IF WE WERE VENEZUELAN, ON AUGUST 15TH, 2004, WE WOULD VOTE FOR HUGO CHAVEZ.” Ken Livingstone, the former London Mayor of the lot, blames the United States for Venezuela’s status and continues to back Chavez’s successor: the tyrant, Nicolas Maduro. Corbyn is keeping quiet as can be. Sanders was clever enough to avoid consequential comment by passingly condemning violence there. Sean Penn and Noam Chomsky have defended their support by compartmentalizing data in a nifty display of confirmation bias. The rest of the supporters remain reserved apologists. Together, they all constitute the Great Venezuelan Escape.
The lesson here is twofold. First, we cannot let pass a sound analysis of the policies that brought Venezuela to its current economic state. Much if not all of what certain Western politicians promise runs analogous if not identical to that of Chavez’s, which Maduro has been apt to continue. Second, even today’s scholars, trusted politicians, and other famous personalities can be so blinded by their well-meaning desire as to neglect the course of history that has proven socialism is detrimental to even the most affluent of societies. What’s more astounding is that these scholars will forgo needed analysis in light of shiny bromides. Let us hope that the Venezuelan situation is first remedied and then substantially ruminated.
—Nick Geeslin is Editor-in-Chief of The Arch Conservative.