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Reblogged:Venezuela: Closing in on Socialism

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The latest horror story of life under socialism -- a Guardian piece on the transformation of Caracas to Starnesville -- jogged my memory. Some time ago, I ran into a comment some leftist had made about a presentation or seminar (I no longer recall) at a conservative event. Whatever it was, it was about Venezuela and it was aimed at millennials. I recall being floored by the incredulity on the part of the leftist: He really seemed baffled by what Venezuela had to do with socialism or the left.

The memory caused me to look for leftist commentary about Venezuela, and I found a real gem on that score at ThinkProgress. Its title? "What the Right Gets Wrong About Venezuela and the American Left." If you ever wonder how someone can hear all the horror stories out of there, let alone from every time socialism is tried, yet never question socialism, read this piece. If you've ever wondered why, so often, leftists will simply dismiss hard data as "propaganda" -- although it shows the dire, plain implications of their principles put into practice -- read this piece.

equals.jpg
Equals. (Image via Pixabay.)
In a piece for Current Affairs responding to a conservative Wall Street Journal op-ed titled "The Tragedy of Venezuela," Nathan J. Robinson disavows the notion that the South American country is an example of socialism gone wrong. He states, "If there isn't [economic] equality, there isn't socialism, no matter what the country's leaders may choose to call themselves." The writer goes on to argue that, if anything, Venezuela "tells us a lot more about the problems of dictatorship, corruption, and incompetence" than what the American left is actually proposing. Understanding how Chávez came to power exposes Republican talking points as reductive. His election in 1998 was a result of decades of American interference in the region, political turmoil, and what's often to referred to as the "oil curse." [links omitted, bold added, format edits]
And, much later, after disparaging vote buying (!), we have this:
Discussing the merits of socialism is difficult because it exists largely in a theoretical realm. Using Scandinavia as a paradigm could easily be refuted by the obvious observation that the country is radically different than the United States. [It is. --ed] Instead of turning abroad, leftists should look to progressive policies that have already proven to be successful and popular. [bold added]
In other words, if it caused misery, it wasn't really socialism, and it never will be, because socialism exists "in theory" -- in Plato's realm of Forms -- until and unless "equality" is achieved (How? Apparently by having a government funded "robustly" (unequally) enough, by their lights.)

Meanwhile, in the real world, where we temporarily live, Venezuela is getting closer to achieving equality, as the Guardian notes:
"Every day food is more expensive. Prices change from week to week. The expected inflation for next year is a million per cent," [Retiree Rosmarie] Newton added, in fact underestimating official projections. "Just imagine that. A lot of people are going to simply die of hunger."[bold added]
A saying about death being the "great democrat" comes to mind.

I am not going to waste my time on a point-by-point rebuttal of any of this. I am of the mind that anyone who pushes such blatant evasions (and is old and educated-enough to know better) knows what he is doing -- that, as Richard Salsman put it so well, "Socialism worked in Venezuela." What I leave here with today is the treatment of concepts: Socialists are apparently quite happy to have us strive for an ideal they admit is divorced from reality and impossible to achieve on this earth. At the same time, they will go into a Gish Gallop with "facts" allegedly refuting any claims about the implications of those ideals, as if they really care about evidence or how it might be used to evaluate an idea or its application to life, such as socialism. They get away with this for two reasons, one being the ruinous effect of "Progressive" education, and the other being moral cowardice on the part of most of the alleged exponents of capitalism.

-- CAV

Updates

Today: Minor edits in last paragraph. 

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