Which Lesson Will They Learn?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A report on the deteriorating conditions within socialist Venezuela ends on the following optimistic note:

While some still solely blame the current crisis on the collapse in oil prices in 2012, a vast majority of Venezuelans believe the country needs serious economic reform. After 17 years of hardcore socialism, egged on by left-wing elites around the world, many in leadership appear hesitant to accuse the socialist system itself -- and not the people running it -- of being the problem.

Many within the opposition's leadership structure are members of the Socialist International (SI). Popular Will, the party led by Leopoldo López before his arrest, belongs to the SI. López's colleagues often find it easier to lay the blame at Maduro's feet and call for elections, rather than demand a free, capitalist society, rebuilt from the ground up.

Yet the students and street protesters, who have put their lives on pause to fight Maduro, seem to understand that the institutional rot goes way beyond Maduro.

As one student put it to me: "Chávez succeeded in creating an equal society by making everyone poor." [bold added]
The student at the end is correct, but how deeply does this understanding run, even in his case? One of the pictures from the article shows a demand for the release from prison of Leopoldo López. Certainly, there should be no such thing as political prisoners, but why him in particular? Are Venezuela's many serious and mounting problems caused by mere corruption or "institutional rot" -- or by socialism itself? The fact that people are risking life and limb by backing a socialist under such oppressive conditions tells me that the lesson being learned isn't that socialism is immoral and impractical, but that the current regime isn't implementing it properly.

Even if many Venezuelans are blaming socialism for their problems, they will likely experience things getting worse before they will have a chance to try to make them better. The current regime has no interest in reform, and it will be replaced only after it collapses or is overthrown. Chaos will precede any attempt to change to a freer social system or, what I fear for them is more likely, a second chance for socialism.

-- CAV

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