Oh, it ‘wasn’t really socialism’ now that it’s failed? That’s ...


Oh, it ‘wasn’t really socialism’ now that it’s failed? That’s rich

We hear leftists give the same excuses every time a socialist regime such as Venezuela collapses

Daniel Hannan

Socialism. It starts with slogans about the many and not the few. It ends in poverty, repression and emigration.
And then comes the ignoble epilogue.
As the socialist regime lies writhing in its final agonies, its erstwhile cheerleaders suddenly declare it wasn’t properly socialist at all, and that “real socialism” has yet to be tried.
Statistics can give only a limited notion of the horror that has overtaken Venezuela.
When I was growing up in South America during the 1970s, Venezuela was a place people emigrated to. Now, the hapless denizens of the Bolivarian Republic are fleeing at a rate of 2,000 a day, the biggest refugee crisis in the history of the Western hemisphere.
Nearly two million have left the country since 2015, prompting neighbouring states to declare emergencies.
When Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999, income per head was 27% above the Latin American average; now it is 18% below and tumbling. The annual inflation rate has reached 10 million percent.
So inevitably, Western radicals have been pushed into their “wasn’t really socialism” routine.
Here, to pluck an example at random, is Noam Chomsky: “I never described Chávez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained.”
Ah, not socialist enough, then?
Maybe the problem was that, as Ken Livingstone put it, Chávez was too soft on his enemies?
“One of the things that Chávez did when he came to power, he didn’t kill all the oligarchs,” said the former London mayor.
But hang on, Prof Chomsky. You never suggested at the time that it was “state capitalist”.
On the contrary, you told us in 2009: “What’s so exciting about at last visiting Venezuela is that I can see how a better world is being created.”
That was, naturally, the line taken by pretty much every British Corbynite, including Jeremy Corbyn himself.
They didn’t just back Venezuela from the outside. They saw it as a precursor for the policies they wanted to introduce in Britain.
Listen to the way they phrased their support. Seumas Milne, now Corbyn’s press spokesperson, wrote: “Venezuela has demonstrated that it’s no longer necessary to accept a failed economic model.”
Len McCluskey, a UK union boss, told us that “Europe might want to learn the obvious lessons from Venezuela”.
Diane Abbott, British Labour Party politician, called Venezuela “another way”.
Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign as late as 2015, said: “There is an alternative to austerity and cuts, and enriching the richest and impoverishing the poorest, and it is called socialism.”
Yep. It was called socialism in Venezuela, and it is called socialism here, and its tenets are constant and clear.
Socialism means the state should own and operate large parts of the economy while engaging in a programme of coercive redistribution.
It’s the same formula each time, and it always ends the same, from Angola to Albania, Benin to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Czechoslovakia.
The regime is held up admiringly by credulous lefties until the final collapse, when it is suddenly declared to have been state capitalist all along.
Oh, and part of the reason it never got the chance to be properly socialist, we are told, is that it was sabotaged by the US.
How many times must the pattern repeat before people draw the obvious conclusion? Socialism doesn’t fail because of some accidental glitch in the implementation.
It fails because it is inherently at odds with human nature. The only way to sustain it is by forcing people, at gunpoint if necessary, to act against their inclinations.
Everyone ends up poorer and less free – especially, by a cruel paradox, the people the whole racket is supposed to help.
I hope to God that the rest of us don’t have to learn that lesson, too.
– © The Sunday Telegraph

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.