Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, few on the left have had much real idea as to what a contemporary socialist economic program would—or should—look like in practice.
Twenty-first century socialism in Venezuela was supposed to offer hope, but it turned out to represent yet another mirage, this time built on the back of exorbitantly high oil prices. As prices dropped, mismanagement of the state-run oil company, PDVSA, by the Chávez and Nicolás Maduro governments saw Venezuela’s oil output fall to 1.34 million barrels a day in June of last year—the lowest point in seven decades, excluding the 2002-2003 strike. This, together with ill-conceived price controls, has reduced the country to beggary.
However, this isn’t the most dangerous failing. Much of the Western left, including those who once had only kind words for Chávez and his successors, is treating Venezuela as an embarrassment best brushed under the carpet. Yet what is really frightening are those who, under the guise of anti-imperialism, consistently favor dictators—as long as they mouth anti-American platitudes. [Continue reading…]