[November 29, 2015] In a little over a week, Venezuelans will go to the polls for legislative elections in this (mislabeled) democratic country. A socialist country, Venezuela has only the thin covering of free representation. Politicians say that the socialist revolution continues in Venezuela and that it’s their only path to prosperity, freedom, and equality. The reality is something different.
Over the past decade, Venezuelan state controls have tightened laws on the economy and on social institutions. The result, like any other socialist nation dependent on rich natural resources, has been the continuation of a severe economic crises. Venezuelans now line up for hours hoping a truck will come to deliver scarce rice or toilet paper.1 There are several lessons here for political leaders if they look close enough.
Inflation is out of control due to excess printing of the Bolivar currency and the collapse of oil prices. Violent crime has risen due to the corruption of the police and court system. Hardly any of this is new since Chavez took power in 1999 (his death did not change anything). But the socialist government is working hard to convince its citizens that it’s the fault of imperialist and other capitalists that “steal” from hard working families. There continues to be the typical blaming of the rich and a business-led war to discredit socialism.
Socialism continues to have great appeal to many especially those who are on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Frequently this translates to the end justifies the means. At the national level the ruling socialist government has been manipulating the electoral process, controlling the media, intimidating opposing candidates, and coercing the police and military.2 This is all acceptable.
Political leadership lessons are many – here are a few:
- Socialism leads to a coercive government system where the end always justifies the means.
- Socialism is a failed economic system that relies upon an abundance of natural resources, outside support from other socialist nations, or conquest of other nations. It cannot rely upon the freedom of its people or their hard work.
- Socialist governments always pander to the poorest of their citizens while blaming the poor’s condition on greedy capitalism (or some variant). They say that the only way to fix the poor’s situation is through a socialist government that will change the system where government controls the economy, religion, and other social institutions.
- Socialism is a very attractive system where those who support it can consider themselves morally superior to others and righteous in their causes. This means they can lie, cheat, steal, torture, murder, and otherwise do anything as long as it supports the cause of socialism.
Many have predicted the end of socialism but that will likely never happen. As long as a political system helps those who fail to explain their condition away as caused by others, it is likely to persist regardless of its actual consequences.
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- Interestingly, the nation has been praised by many politicians across the world because of free giveaways such as free education and subsidized food for the poor.