It seems only appropriate that Provoking Liberty’s inaugural post focus on arguably the single most calamitous idea arising from the modern American left, socialism. As conservatives, the word alone generates sheer terror, as it’s a harbinger of so many terrible things, none of which are worth considering “acceptable.” Sadly, those “feeling the Bern” or those supporting HRC, often scapegoat Denmark as being representative of functioning socialism, however, that isn’t just disingenuous, it just ain’t true. In reality, throughout history, just about EVERY socialist experiment can be properly encapsulated by considering Cuba, the Soviet Union, and when it comes to the most epic of socialist train wrecks, modern day Venezuela.
In keeping it real, it’s important to acknowledge that America’s leftist’s ideas about socialism are decidedly different than those professed by modern day Venezuela ‘elected officials,’ however, that is by no means the most valuable nor relevant question to be pondering. Of far greater significance, is understanding how a reasonably stable, reasonably wealthy, South American nation with the single largest oil reserve in the world, in less than a decade, found themselves listed at #2 on the global misery index. At the bare minimum, we should be vigorously studying Venezuela as a cautionary tale, with our focus on ensuring we avoid the same fate. The short answer is that it all stemmed from the popular election of Hugo THE MAN Chavez in 1998, but what, how and why, are the areas to which we should be intimately examining, seeking answers, from which we can surely glean some priceless wisdom. .
No doubt, Hugo was a corrupt, crooked, and bad hombre, but the depths of his depravity didn’t become clear until he ushered in the Bolivarian Revolution. Typically the word “revolution,” conjures visions of brutal and bloody armed conflicts leading to the overthrow of the incumbent power. However, Hugo’s revolution was born of a set of beliefs and ideas that were so corrosive, that when put into motion, resulted in forcing a once stable, flourishing and wealthy nation to their collective knees, seemingly staring at insurmountable odds of ever recovering their once healthy state.
As it went, Big H’s revolution, conceptionally, was little more than a far-left social movement, based on simple, if naive, concepts. Concepts, that should sound eerily familiar when compared with the beliefs, policies, and actions of the modern day American left. Hugo believed that if Venezuela would follow his simple plan, he was convinced that he would be able to deliver Venezuela a legitimate socialist utopia. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however, you look at it, he couldn’t have been more wrong, and Venezuela seems impossibly mired in a nightmare from which they may never awake, and what follows is the path to Hell paved by the ego-maniacal Chavez.
Chavez’s first premise was to address the equitable distribution of revenues, something our American left considers to be an urgent wealth distribution problem that government should resolve. Chavez, as you might expect, concurred, so he set off to redistribute personal wealth as a means of obtaining some imagined concept of equal and fair in economic terms, which it will surprise no one that both the Bern, and HRC both aspire to this same absurd goal. With Hugo’s wealth redistribution plans in motion, he used class warfare to organize and manipulate the poor and unskilled members of Venezuelan society, employing the concept of “popular democracy”, otherwise known as, “one man one vote” in place of representative democracy. In doing so, Chavez was able to establish a clear tyranny of the majority, and it is from this tyranny, that he derived his vast and abusive array of corrupt power that he wielded ruthlessly during his rule. Economic independence was next on the agenda, specifically taking over Venezuela’s annual 70 billion in oil and gas profits claiming it was for the “betterment of society,” something that is painfully reminiscent of the 2008 manufactured housing bubble and subsequent bailouts for very similar justifications.
Next, and while frighteningly similar to what we see occurring with our own Constitution, Hugo set about dismantling and rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution, such that it better fit his socialist utopia agenda. Understanding that controlling the hearts and minds of the poor and unskilled workers requires a steady supply of entitlements, and what better than increasing the minimum wage by 35%, an action that amplified the already in progress capital flight. Again the parallels with the modern American left are hard to ignore, as the clamoring of the same class of people in the United States is demanding not 35%, but a full 50% increase in the minimum wage. Of course, Hugo, much like modern American progressives, knew his power was contingent upon continually growing entitlement programs, so in response, he increased tax rates from 20% to 60% over a few years time, yielding a sharp demand for public tax collectors, necessary to keep the Ponzi scheme running.
The obvious answer was to double the size of the “Seniat” (Venezuela’s IRS), and while in process, Hugo empowered them with tools of violence, intimidation, threats, while placing almost no limits on the methods available for the collection of these exceptionally high, new tax revenues. Wouldn’t you know, the primary targets of this mafia-like Seniat were groups and individuals that were the most outspoken critics of our story’s hero, Hugo, and the level of corruption reached legendary levels and still continue to this day. As if colluding with Chavez, we now know that the IRS has and will continue to be used as a means of silencing dissent of conservative groups, yet we continue to accept it, as what can we do? Adding insult to injury, the IRS is now being issued side arms that have historically been reserved for law enforcement, and there’s really only one legitimate reason for this, and in my opinion, it’s clearly about intimidation. I’m confident that Chavez is impressed with the stealth the American left has employed to lead us down the path to tyranny. The upside is we need only to begin seeing the long term impacts of progressive agendas in 5, 10, and 20 years, many of which mirror the path that Chavez took in destroying Venezuela, in order to halt them in their path, but silent assent, nor passive consent are no longer even remotely acceptable alternatives. At least assuming we American Conservatives truly want to reclaim our Founders nation.
In being fair, I’m not suggesting we’re on the path to becoming Venezuela, and God knows that I feel terrible for the millions of people suffering across their nation. As best I can tell, there’s not much we can do to help Venezuelans, but we CAN help the United States. It’s really quite simple, and starts by embracing the clear parallels between the actions that Hugo took in destroying his country for his own power and glory, and those of the modern-day American progressive movement. They may not be identical, but they’re close enough to make me damned uncomfortable, and I’m hoping ya’ll start to share my discomfort and desire to stop this transition now, before it gains even the slightest bit more momentum.