The Corner

Politics & Policy

Venezuela’s People and ‘Collective Ownership of the Means of Production’

Opposition protesters react to tear gas as they face government security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2019. (Manaure Quintero/Reuters)

The Socialist party of Great Britain asks, “When did the people of Venezuela get collective ownership of the means of production?” This is part of that perpetual argument, “True socialism has never been tried.”

If the argument of the Socialist party is that many who claim to be acting in the name of economic equality get into power, focus their efforts on securing their grip on power, and then act in their own interest and only their own interest . . .  yeah, no kidding. Thanks for noticing, guys.

If the argument for socialism is that it’s a noble theory that delivers economic and social equality on paper, but that every single time it gets tried, the leaders succumb to temptation and start accumulating wealth for themselves and stifling dissent and building a secret police and gulags . . .  then as a theory, it’s worthless. It would work when it’s run by human beings who can resist the temptation to take what they want through force, and those humans don’t exist. As Alexander Hamilton wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Socialism requires a government with far-reaching authority to set the rules for every little nook and cranny of the economy — which inevitably gives it a lot of power, and the human beings running the system inevitably start abusing that power.

Some might argue that Venezuela did attempt to enact “collective ownership of the means of production,” as Hugo Chavez’s regime nationalized large swathes or all of the oil industry, the agriculture sector, the finance sector and banks, manufacturing, gold mining, steel production, telecommunications and power production, a ferry company, and some private homes.

But the government and the people are different entities, no matter how much socialists may insist that they are acting on behalf of “the people.” The Venezuelan government took over those companies, industries, and properties, not the Venezuelan people.

Even the best systems of government create a divide between the rulers and the ruled. There’s always a throne, a politburo, a central committee, a premiere, a Dear Leader. In almost every system, those who are making the laws always end up with better housing, better cars, better clothes, better food, and a better overall quality of life than everybody else.

Ironically, one of the few systems where someone outside of government can enjoy a better quality of life than the people running the government is . . .  free-market capitalism!

Most Popular

Culture

Cold Brew’s Insidious Hegemony

Soon, many parts of the United States will be unbearably hot. Texans and Arizonans will be able to bake cookies on their car dashboards; the garbage on the streets of New York will be especially pungent; Washington will not only figuratively be a swamp. And all across America, coffee consumers will turn their ... Read More
National Security & Defense

The Warmonger Canard

Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is — a crawl to peace, maybe — America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame ... Read More
World

Australia’s Voters Reject Leftist Ideas

Hell hath no fury greater than left-wingers who lose an election in a surprise upset. Think Brexit in 2016. Think Trump’s victory the same year. Now add Australia. Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison shocked pollsters and pundits alike with his victory on Saturday, and the reaction has been brutal ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More