by Brandon Smith, Alt Market:
If you want to outline the numerous failures of ideological and economic socialism, just name any socialist nation and you are sure to uncover an endless supply of examples. In fact, many countries where socialism is not total but making considerable inroads often suffer from severe decline — the U.S. being one of them. Whatever socialism touches it destroys, because forced interdependency does not work. It is a broken concept with no large scale successes (this includes China, which suffers from considerable poverty and a totalitarian government despite it being the most successful garbage economy out of a host of other garbage economies). Yet, proponents of socialism keep trying again and again claiming that "this time is different."
So ample have been socialism's failures in the past several years that socialists have resorted to a classic blame game in order to maintain the delusion. You see, when you bring up nations at the very end of the socialist cycle on the verge of extinction — nations like Venezuela, all you are going to hear is the argument that it was "the evil western capitalists that sabotaged the experiment."
This is a fascinating journey into cognitive dissonance. Because in order to believe this nonsense, you have to first ignore the cold hard reality that socialist policies and politics have permeated every aspect of most western nations to the point that they can no longer be called free market societies. The fact is, IF sabotage of Venezuela can be proven as the cause of its economic ills rather than the inherent pitfalls of socialism, it would merely be a group of socialist nations sabotaging another socialist nation. "Capitalism" plays no part in this mess whatsoever.
In fact, it has been international banks like Goldman Sachs that continue to fund failed socialist projects like Venezuela through bond investment. If anything, the banks have been artificially keeping the government afloat when it should be allowed to fail so that it can be replaced.
Venezuela is perhaps the easiest of modern examples of socialist collapse, and maybe it is lazy to pull the Venezuela card when discussing these issues, but consider for a moment that the country is important exactly because it is a cautionary tale. Venezuela as a disaster state is at the end of the path ALL other socialist nations are traveling down. Venezuela is the future, and the future is bleak.
Here is the problem: Human beings need some structure to function as a group, this is true. But, human beings also need participation in a structure to be voluntary, otherwise, they are unlikely to find meaning or happiness within that structure. Without productive and inventive individuals striving to improve a structure, the structure will eventually stagnate or implode. Without individuals to support it, the system is nothing; it does not exist.
Socialists tend to suffer from severe mental blockage when contemplating the idea of "voluntarism." They just can't seem to grasp it. I believe this stems from a core assumption — the assumption that other people need to be forced to do "necessary" things, otherwise they will not do them. So, for example, socialists and big government champions will consistently argue that infrastructure like roads and fire fighting and police and schools could not exist without taxation; taxation being the stealing of other people's money to pay for services that are supposedly vital to everyone. However, all of these services and more can and have been built and maintained in the past through free markets as well as through voluntary efforts. Force and taxation was not required back then, but for some reason it is required today.
What changed? Nothing. We have only strayed so far down the path of interdependency and government interference that most people can't imagine life without it.
Another argument I hear often from pro-socialism types is the argument that interconnectivity is its own rationale. That is, they argue that the community requires dependency, because if you are independent then you are not supporting others and are thus harming the system. "We all have to live together within a society and if you are not helping us then you are hurting us," they state.
See how that works? You MUST participate, because if you don't you are harming everyone else. It is not a victimless crime to walk away or to build a competing structure like those "selfish" libertarians claim. You are a part of the machine and if you stop serving your function then the whole machine may break and then we all suffer. Therefore, the application of force and coercion becomes morally acceptable because the "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
This is the horrifying perpetual circle that is collectivism; we all stand together or we all fall together, toe the line or else!
Well, as we have seen many times this ideology is not very practical or successful. If human beings were bugs with a central hive mind then maybe socialism would have some merit. But thankfully, most of us are not bugs and we do not thrive in environments that treat us like drones. We might tolerate them for a while, but we certainly do not thrive in them. Frankly, such systems should be allowed to collapse because they are a hindrance to mankind, not a beacon of progress.
When examining Venezuela, we see the classic big government collapse in motion. First comes economic strife as the inability of the system to provide "equality" becomes apparent. All high minded socialist and communist (same difference) structures end up with an oligarchy. As long as big government is present, the power mongers will flourish.
Beyond the massive gap that inevitably develops between the power elite and everyone else, socialism is actually highly effective at creating wealth equality; in that it makes all other people equally poor. In Venezuela, the government has hiked the minimum wage three times this year, and surprise surprise, this has done nothing to alleviate the problem. Try explaining this to the leftists in the U.S. demanding a mandatory $15/hr minimum wage and they will dismiss the comparison outright. Explain to them how, just like in Venezuela, hiking minimum wage requirements results in more poverty rather than less, and they'll start talking about what is socially "correct" rather than what is mathematically evident.
At bottom, wage increases and social welfare measures are meaningless in the face of severe currency devaluation. Venezuela has seen its currency value disintegrate by 93% in the past two years. So terrible are the conditions now that starvation is becoming normalized. In Venezuela, they call it the "Maduro Diet".
The next phase of the socialist breakdown is usually dictatorship. When the fantasy of pure equality dies and people are left with very little to show for their faith in the system, they start to become disillusioned and angry. Some citizens will decide to try the peaceful method and walk away from the broken structure so that they can build their own. Ultimately though, this is nothing more than a stopgap.
The Venezuelan government has been cracking down on alternative markets (often called "black markets") for years in order to force the population to remain as cogs within the socialist system. You see, in a socialist framework, people are property to be used for promotion of the system. They are not allowed to leave while the system is in dire straights, because the simple act of leaving stands as a damning indictment of the system itself. Leaving the system or peacefully competing with the system is treated as an act of war on the system.
The mode of dictatorship eventually meets with political opposition. People are only tolerant of tyranny for so long, and they will act. But, being generally moral, the average person will first seek out non-violent strategies to counter overt oppression. Again, this is nothing more than a stopgap. Venezuela has followed the same battle plan multiple dictatorships have followed in the past; namely the imprisonment of political opponents and activists.
This is usually a signal that the subject nation is on the verge of full spectrum collapse or civil war. Within months of any political cleansing, most totalitarian governments either start a war with another country to unify the public through fear, or, they destabilize into civil unrest. It is clear that Venezuela is going to fracture completely in the near term.
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