The Failure of Socialist Venezuela

By: Eric Lumpkins

If you haven’t heard about the most recent failure of socialism, Venezuela has been experiencing firsthand the ugly reality of central planning. The Venezuelan government has devalued their currency, the Bolivar, to such an extent that inflation has reached astronomical levels. The Venezuelan Government implemented strict price controls that created food shortages, they nationalized vital industries causing massive economic contraction, and they have also jailed and killed students, protesters, and opposing political parties. Things have gotten so bad in Venezuela that 70% of the adult population has lost 20 pounds and have resorted to eating flamingos and anteaters. This is all the more mind-boggling when realizing that Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves and used to be South America’s richest country. What is most amazing though is how quickly leftist intellectuals went from using Venezuela as their poster-child for successful socialism to either denying Venezuela as real socialism or that its severe problems are the fault of socialism.

I have a best friend whom I’ve known for 12 years now and I’m very close with his family. Both of his parents are prominent, tenured professors at a public university in Florida, and only within the last couple of years did I come to know their political beliefs. I recently got into a back-and-forth with my friend’s mom and she made some outstanding claims. She does not believe the Venezuelan population has lost weight, that there are food shortages, or that the government has become tyrannical. She truly believes that all of this talk about economic and social collapse is propaganda created by the corporate media in an effort to discredit socialism, while simultaneously capitalist America is attempting to undermine this successful socialist experiment with its trade sanctions.

Ironically, when Venezuelan government apologists argue that trade sanctions are the cause of Venezuela’s troubles they are admitting that Venezuela needs free trade and capitalism. And that is precisely what Venezuela needs; they need sound money, not corrupt money printing. They need privatized, deregulated, competitive markets, not inefficient government monopolies and price controls. They need basic civil liberties like freedom of speech, assembly, and the right to a fair trial. A significant portion of seeing liberty increase around the world begins with winning the battle of ideas, influencing public opinion, and getting this toxic and delusional Marxist ideology out of influential positions in our educational and societal institutions.