At the end of January I had the pleasure to speak with my friend of many years Ricardo Ball about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. The conversation was livestreamed from the Acton Institute allowing an international audience to listen in as we discussed recent developments from the streets of Caracas. The conversation is still available for viewing on our livestream page. The tragic case of Venezuela is but one in a seemingly endless series of failures of socialism from which many at home and abroad fail to learn.
At the New York Times Bret Stephens points out that the socialistic nature of Venezuela’s failed economic experiment is downplayed by the mainstream media,
Conspicuous by its absence in much of the mainstream news coverage of Venezuela’s political crisis is the word “socialism.” Yes, every sensible observer agrees that Latin America’s once-richest country, sitting atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves, is an economic basket case, a humanitarian disaster, and a dictatorship whose demise cannot come soon enough.
But … socialist? Perish the thought.
Or so goes a line of argument that insists socialism’s good name shouldn’t be tarred by the results of experience. On Venezuela, what you’re likelier to read is that the crisis is the product of corruption, cronyism, populism, authoritarianism, resource-dependency, U.S. sanctions and trickery, even the residues of capitalism itself. Just don’t mention the S-word because, you know, it’s working really well in Denmark.
The radical left, however, has never been as calculating or circumspect. In the United Kingdom Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has a long record of praising Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro’s self-styled Bolivarian socialist revolution. Here in the United States the left’s leading public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein have been no less effusive in their praise. At Reason Jenipher Camino Gonzalez notes that even members of the United States Congress are not free of these delusions,
Rep. Ro Kahnna (D–Calif.) took a shot at Sen. Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) for embracing the opposition leader, calling Venezuela’s situation an “internal, polarized conflict.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) took to Twitter to decry “U.S. meddling,” adding that Venezuela’s Supreme Court, stacked with Maduro loyalists, had declared Guaido’s action “unconstitutional.” Never mind that in 2017, that same court allowed Maduro to strip Venezuela’s Congress—the only governing institution he did not then control—of its powers and set up a parallel legislature, essentially giving him dictatorial power.
The Muduro regime continues to become more isolated internationally but freedom for Venezuela is far from being won. Please continue to pray for Venezuela and all Venezuelans and to demand truth and honesty in naming the source of the crisis, the fatal conceit of socialism.