If the polls are correct, it appears that more than half of millennials favor socialism. One can understand their attraction to that system. From the vantage point of their parents’ basements, they probably see themselves as veritable lilies of the field, supported by the toiling and spinning of their elders because that’s how they think socialism works. Obviously, there is some confusion surrounding the system.
Now along comes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a wispy flibbertigibbet of a woman, the poster child for democratic socialism, promising free health care, free housing and tuition-free college.
This is a woman who has both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree. But appearing on television she makes Sarah Palin look like the character Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory.” Ocasio-Cortez must have studied something called “The Economics of Free Stuff” at the University of the North Pole where she discovered that, yes, there really is a Santa Claus.
Ocasio-Cortez is sold as a trifecta of Democratic Party identity politics: young, female and Latina. Apparently, she hasn’t looked to Latin America, specifically Venezuela. Now there’s democratic socialism in action. Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela has seen its economy — under socialist control — shrink by half over the past four years. There is a shortage of toilet paper, food and other commodities. Some people are literally starving.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the International Monetary Fund sees country’s inflation rate hitting a whopping 10 million percent next year. International companies are fleeing in droves. There are photos of unemployed Venezuelans standing by abandoned machinery longing for the return of what socialists call evil capitalist exploiters. Yet President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government only responds by intensifying price controls and intervening in the private sector.
While starving people are leaving the country, Maria Gabriela Chavez — daughter of the late Hugo Chavez, former United Socialist Party president — is the richest woman in Venezuela with a fortune amounting to $4.2 billion. As in the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro’s Cuba, those at the top seldom share the suffering as the economy circles the drain.
Those who hold an unshakable faith in socialism ignore its history of failure. They will argue that socialism has never been tried as it should be, as if there is a correct or incorrect way to be a socialist state. In his 1975 essay “The Totalitarian Temptation,” French journalist and philosopher Jean-Francois Revel suggested that the world is evolving toward socialism. He wrote: “The socialist society of the future can only be worldwide and it can only be brought about at the cost, if not the abolition, of nation-states, at least of their subordination to a global political order.” Hello Brexit.
I was raised a socialist by my father who was a member of the Socialist Labor Party founded by Marxist theoretician Daniel DeLeon. I espoused the philosophy until my late 40s. When it came to either the perfectibility or the fallibility of man, Dad believed the former. I the latter.
No system is perfect. Any system that looks great on paper probably belongs there. This is an imperfect world where people are defined not by their virtues but by their imperfections.
Every time men have tried to create an earthly paradise (Jonestown comes to mind) often they end up creating another circle of hell. Especially when a small cadre of idealists gains control.
Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke said that there are people who believe life is a pizza and if there are some people who have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza boxes. There is evidence that people live better in a free society with free markets and personal freedom with which comes personal responsibility. Here in the USA life is not a zero-sum game.
We don’t have just one pizza. We have pizza parlors.
In the socialist paradise of Venezuela, they have no pizza, but they can’t eat the boxes. They can’t even make the boxes. The box factories have left.