It has been a scant few years since leftists, liberals, progressives, and statist dreamers sang the praises of Venezuela’s socialism. The roster of famous praisers includes Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone, Jesse Jackson, Michael Moore, Jeremy Corbyn, a Hillary Clinton economic advisor, and the Obama White House, to name a scant few of many. Today, as Venezuela descends into socialist hell, with dictatorship virtually a fait accompli, the name “Venezuela” has vanished from the lips of these people, their cohorts in the mainstream press, and the self-righteous jackasses that populate the Internet’s liberal districts. There is a humanitarian crisis in the offing in Venezuela, despite the nation’s massive oil riches. Staples of subsistence, including food, medicine, and electricity, are in critically short supply. Inflation is at runaway levels. Global businesses are leaving. People are dying.

It will take years, perhaps decades, for the world to come to know what the death toll of this latest instance of socialism will reach. The total will probably not rise to the horrific figures tallied by socialist and communist regimes in the 20th century, but that won’t make it any less grotesque, especially because by now the world should know better.

Consider:
USSR: 20-30 million dead.
China: 50-65 million dead.
North Korea: 2 million dead.
Africa: 1.7 million dead.
Cambodia: 2 million dead.
Nazi Germany: 20 million dead.
Viet Nam: 1.7 million dead.
Eastern Europe: 2-3 million dead.

Worse, these tallies don’t fully incorporate include tens of millions of other war deaths due to socialism in its various incarnations (and, yes, fascism qualifies as one of those). Pile on top of these body counts the fact that the worst famines of the twentieth century all occurred in socialist/communist countries. Socialism is sold as the cure for suffering due to poverty, but history makes it amply clear that it is a prime mechanism for the infliction of want, of suffering, of misery, and of abject poverty.

And, yet, socialism’s allure remains strong, even and especially among smart, highly-educated, and, yes, “privileged” people in first world nations. Many among the intellectual elite and those who aspire to that level continue to sell big government in various forms as the cure to the perceived ills of the working classes and the poor. These aren’t the cynics, selling snake oil to the gullible for personal gain. These are true believers, people who genuinely think that the ideals of socialism will produce a better world than capitalism, laissez-faire, individual property rights, and limited government. These are people who ignore the lessons of history, for reasons we can speculate at, but that ultimately don’t matter. Such reasons are nothing more than excuses and rationalizations for ignoring the horrors that consistently result from their preferred ideology.

Sure, they’ll point at Europe as proof of socialism done right, but when they do so they ignore two big realities: that southern Europe is imploding, with Greece at the fore, and that the “socialist paradises” of northern Europe (which aren’t remotely paradises) are actually capitalistic welfare states, with better business environments and much heavier but much less progressive taxation than that of America, both today and in their fantasies. But, to repeat the open of this essay, these people were also extolling Venezuela just a few years ago, and now they’ve gone mum on this latest failure of socialism.

What might we glean from their silence? Embarrassment at being so spectacularly wrong – again? If that was in their capacity, they’d have already given up on socialism. It’s far more important to them, I suspect, to be correct in their beliefs, to “win” the ideological war, to avoid admitting they’ve spent a lifetime backing the wrong horse. It also speaks to a callousness that’s at odds with their embrace of what they consider the more “humane” ideology. This is the callousness of embracing humanity in the abstract, but hating it in practice. It’s the callousness that considers those who aren’t intellectual and ideological equals as lesser beings, to be managed and herded instead of being left to pursue happinesses that may conflict with their own visions. Thus, they keep selling socialism to the masses, and the masses, having been told ad nauseam that the Best-and-Brightest know how to make things better, keep falling for it.

Socialism’s defenders seek to claim some sort of moral upper hand via their assertion that they, and not selfish, greedy, callous capitalists, care for the poor, weak and needy. How does this notion of caring jibe with a nine figure death toll and a ten figure tally of human misery? How many times do they get to try? How many do they get to sacrifice in their attempts to make an ideology that’s fundamentally incompatible with human nature work? How many more lives must be lost before they finally admit that they’re wrong?

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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