“…socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies….Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.” Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891.
“The evils caused by the setting up of this type of socialism as a State system — what would later be called “Real Socialism” — could not be better expressed….the historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency.” Saint Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, May 1, 1991
“The Marxist ideology is wrong.” Pope Francis, Interview to La Stampa, December 14, 2013.
The Popes said it well. That means Pope Leo, Pope John Paul II and even Pope Francis. Socialism is Evil. There are, sadly, many and various examples of the evil of Socialism in our world today. Moat current is the meltdown of Venezuela’s socialist system which serves as a model of how all socialism ends – in destruction and death. The Venezuelan socialist death spiral should serve as a wakeup call to all the neo-socialists and paleo-socialists in America. That includes the young Americans being misled by Bernie Sanders about “democratic socialism”, the college rioters being turned into useful idiots for socialist puppet masters and the apathetic citizens enjoying the entitlement state that is always transforming towards even more socialism. The Venezuelan catastrophe could just as easily happen in any city or state in America (think Detroit). Socialism is the direct cause of the Venezuelan catastrophe marked by starvation, homelessness, joblessness, riots, crime waves, government killings of protestors, government targeting of critics, rule by mob bosses and a flight of producers from the country. The looters have prevailed in Venezuela – mirroring scenes commonly portrayed Ayn Rand novels.
Venezuela transformed in the early 20th century from an agrarian banana republic to an industrialized oil giant after discovery of oil in 1914 (a great review of this history is here at the Mises Institute). By the 1950’s the government was run as a military dictatorship with a heavy hand. However for the most part the economy was free and included significant foreign investment and trade and property rights were generally preserved. The dictatorship’s abuses however provided easy cover for the Marxists to take over at the end of the 50’s in a military coup. Ultimately the largely private oil industry was nationalized – taken over by the state in the 70’s. The government owned oil company (PDVSA) later bought a 100% controlling interest in US gasoline refinery CITGO between 1986-1990. Venezuela has taken loans from the Russian government, leveraging its oil company as collateral to Russia (a 49.9% stake in PSDVA, owner of CITGO). The continuing socialist destruction of the Venezuelan economy now has Russia on the verge of having a major controlling interest in a significant supply of oil to the US.
Private Property Rights Destroyed by Socialism
At the heart of socialism is abolition of the right to own property privately – only the state may own anything. Thus the government owns the oil companies, which has contributed to the economic collapse. Government owned entities tend to be rife with corruption, greed and inefficiency – while claiming that those are the problems socialism will cure. The socialist dictator Hugo Chavez famously engaged in a massive land grab in Venezuela to take over arbitrarily described “idle” properties so they could be “productive”. Earlier in their history, the socialist Venezuelan government nationalized the banks, devalued the currencies and intervened in the economy in many ways. Last December, current Socialist dictator Maduro seized nearly 4 million toys right before Christmas so they could be sold at government approved prices. Government price fixing, central planning of entire economies, government manipulation of currency and government ownership of property are all hallmarks of socialism. The socialist government also created a constitution of “positive rights” to ensure housing, food and medical care for people. As with all government “guaranteed” rights, these items disappear based on who the government decides is worthy enough to receive them – or more often when the government runs out of money in its failed centrally planned economy. Sadly, the same features of socialism are appearing in the American economy and Obama famously complained that our US constitution was a “charter of negative liberties” to restrain the government from what it can do. Time will tell if Trump reverses the central planning of economies in American health, energy (utilities), government labor and whether he overcomes the destruction of the dollar by the Federal Reserve. (The concept of a government defining “rights” – which THEY can take away – is incontrast yo the concept of “natural rights” embodied in the founding of America through our constitution).
Popular Culture and Media Hide Facts on Venezuelan Socialism
As always the American entertainment and news media are completely whitewashing the source of the Venezuelan catastrophe. The Tampa Bay Times has run stories on Venezuela and barely mentions socialism at all. The Tampa Bay Times adheres to the progressive narrative that the Venezuelan catastrophe is due to a dictator ignoring his people. In the TB Times October 2016 story socialism is not mentioned, merely the allusion to a bad job by the President and complaints of his protecting his power with military might. This September 2016 Times Story again ignores socialism, focusing on the contempt for protestors. This February 2016 story mentions the government is socialist, but spends the entire time wondering why the protests aren’t working to fix it. Even this April 2017 TB Times story seems to imply that the only problem in Venezuela is “due to a plunge in oil prices and poor economic planning under the socialist government created by the late President Hugo Chávez, who took office in 1999, and continued under his successor, Maduro. The situation has grown worse because of capital flight and a crime rate that is among the highest in the world.” The story mentions the government is socialist, but the reporter seems to believe the socialist government is just is a victim of happenstance and would do much better if some other person were pushing the socialist levers of power.
The progressive narrative blames not socialism but “Chavismo” as in this Atlantic piece. The Atlantic story indicates every hallmark of socialism as the source of the catastrophe yet still the Atlantic covers up for socialism by concluding:
“The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).
The inability of American’s to understand the Venezuelan problem is based in the fake media that is destroying so much of America. The current whitewashing of socialism is due to the past praise of socialism as described in this honest analysis from the Boston Globe:
“In a Salon piece titled “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle,” David Sirota declared that the Venezuelan ruler, with his “full-throated advocacy of socialism,” had “racked up an economic record that . . . American president[s] could only dream of achieving.” The Guardian offered “Three cheers for Chavez.” Moviemaker Oliver Stone filmed a documentary gushing over “the positive changes that have happened economically in all of South America” because of Venezuela’s socialist government. And when Chavez died in 2013, Jimmy Carter extolled the strongman for “improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”
Is it any wonder that even on an episode of “Chopped” on the Food Network on March 14, 2017, the judges were perplexed at the problem? One contestant said she had fled Venezuela and was trying to get her parents to safety in America. One of the judges, from South America, pondered that “something happened there” acting as if the source of the Venezuelan problem was some strange mystery.
Venezuela – a Classic Socialist Story
For those young Americans dreaming of righting all wrong, promoting social justice and creating equality with “socialism”, Venezuela serves as a hard lesson. As tens of millions suffer in the hell hole created by socialism, progressive Americans like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore and most college and prep school professors continue to extoll the virtues of the dangerous Marxist philosophy and economic model. Let those who have eyes see and those who have ears hear: Socialism kills. Socialism kills because socialism is intrinsically evil and can never overcome greed, injustice and inequality – it can only institutionalize and worsen it.