Venezuela, socialist dream turned nightmare? Not so fast

Despite what is commonly believed in the United States, Venezuela’s economic and political crises are not the fault of socialism, but the result of incompetent state capitalism and the sabotage of the opposition. In fact, Venezuela is not socialist in the least. Socialism is “social ownership and democratic control of the instruments and means of production,” according to early socialist Upton Sinclair. Venezuela is not democratic, as any casual follower of its politics will realize, and as for social ownership, the share of the economy owned by capitalists has increased from 65 to 71 percent under the rule of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, according to an article from the August 17, 2016 issue of the liberal magazine The Nation. A socialist society would have zero percent.

Having dismissed socialism as the cause, one finds far more plausible explanations: an insufficiently democratically accountable bureaucracy, widespread corruption, and intentional sabotage by enemies of Chavismo. Venezuela is rated as the tenth most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International, with over $300 billion being siphoned from the economy according to the left-leaning, putting Venezuela more in the category of crony capitalist kleptocracies like Uzbekistan than a true socialist society. Like Uzbekistan, Venezuela is propped up by state owned oil reserves, which the government failed to diversify, setting up a disaster when oil prices dropped. But most disturbingly, the opposition itself has attempted to sabotage the economy, with corporations hoarding scarce food, supporters boycotting Venezuelan state companies, and activists shutting down the whole country with protests, all to create the economic crisis that they then blamed on the government, also according to The failure of Venezuela is not one of socialism, but of insufficient democracy and an opposition more concerned with political victory than the people of Venezuela.