After first praising Venezuela, the left now claim it’s ‘not real socialism’
According to Jim Mciloy at Green Left Weekly, I’m part of a global imperialist conspiracy aiming to bring down the Venezuelan government. Mcilroy’s was writing in response to my piece in The Australian, about the Australian government’s conspicuous silence on Venezuela. The socialist country is facing an extraordinary humanitarian disaster, assaults on democracy, violence towards and, even, the murder of opposition members or supporters.
Despite this deteriorating situation and their recent statement by the UN that the regime should be investigated for committing ‘crimes against humanity‘, there has been no condemnation from the Australian government. Recently our foreign minister, Julie Bishop, sent a letter to Venezuela’s representative in Australia to distance the government from criticism of the regime by a Greens senator.
The response by some to the situation in Venezuela is nothing beyond extraordinary. The Australian left has a long history of backing the regime. In 2007, dozens of Australian unionists, journalists, and Labor, Greens, and Democrat politicians wrote an open letter to Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez inviting him to visit Australia. “We have watched developments in Venezuela with great interest,” they wrote. “We have been impressed by the effort your government has taken to improve the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans.” This letter was signed by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, former Democrat Leader or politician Natasha Stott-Despoja, commentator Phillip Adams, and academic John Pilger.
Rather than admit their stupidity, sections of the left refuse to give up the cause – and some even use the trope that its ‘not real socialism’. Mcilroy’s piece claims there has been a “concerted attack” on the regime, including currency manipulation, hoarding, and corruption. In late July, as the situation was worsening, the CFMEU and the Maritime unions unanimously passed resolutions backing the conspiracy line in support of the totalitarian government.
They’re absurd, patently false claims aim to deflect blame from the real cause of the problems in Venezuela: socialism. They ignore that the beginning of food and other shortages began after the introduction of price controls, the loss of productivity in nationalised sectors and the widespread corruption. In the short term the regime was popped up by its oil revenue – however when the oil price went down, drying up the rivers of gold, the government could no longer afford to import goods.
(And yes, there is a perfect irony in a supposedly green publication backing the Venezuelan government – who could only ever stay themselves afloat by selling oil. Or, hopefully, its a sign that the left is finally starting to appreciate the benefits of cheap reliable energy.)
The result of Venezuelan socialism has been sadly predictable: mass starvation, political unrest, and crackdowns on any opposition. You don’t have to be part of a global conspiracy – just a sensible human being – to be concerned about a spike in child morality, the contraction of an economy by 40% and nine-in-ten households not having enough food.
Socialism, the ever encroaching power of the state on people’s lives, is responsible for countless humanitarian and political disasters. The Black Book of Communism estimates that as many as 94 million people have died as a result of failed socialist policies.
Venezuela is the modern exemplar of what happens when government gets too big, tries to regulate too much, and strangles business and society in the process.
The concern here shouldn’t be the false claim of a global conspiracy – the shame is that there is not a global outcry.