Why the Left Refuses to Talk About Venezuela
by Ryan McMaken
During the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders refused to answer questions about Venezuela during an interview with Univision. He claimed to not want to talk about it because he's "focused on my campaign." Many suggested a more plausible reason: Venezuela's present economy is an example of what happens when a state implements Bernie Sanders-style social democracy.
Similarly, Pope Francis — who has taken the time to denounce pro-market ideologies for allegedly driving millions into poverty — seems uninterested in talking about the untrammeled impoverishment of Venezuela in recent years. Samuel Gregg writes in yesterday's Catholic World Report:
Pope Francis isn’t known as someone who holds back in the face of what he regards as gross injustices. On issues like refugees, immigration, poverty and the environment, Francis speaks forcibly and uses vivid language in doing so.
Yet despite the daily violence being inflicted on protestors in Venezuela, a steadily increasing death-toll, an explosion of crime, rampant corruption, galloping inflation, the naked politicization of the judiciary, and the disappearance of basic food and medical supplies, the first Latin American pope’s comments about the crisis tearing apart an overwhelming Catholic Latin American country have been curiously restrained.
This virtual silence comes in spite of the fact that the Catholic bishops who actually live in Venezuela have denounced the regime as yet another illustration of the "utter failure" of "socialism in every country in which this regime has been installed."
Thus, for many Venezuelans, the question is: "Where is Pope Francis?"
As with Sanders, it may very well be that Francis has nothing to say about Venezuela precisely because the Venezuelan regime has pursued exactly the sorts of policies favored by Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, and the usual opponents of market economics.
It's an economic program marked by price controls, government expropriation of private property, an enormous welfare state, central planning, and endless rhetoric about equality, poverty relief, and fighting the so-called "neoliberals."
And, as Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has helpfully explained, "There are two models, the neoliberal model which destroys everything, and the Chavista model which is centered around people.”
The Chavista model is simply a mixture of social democracy and environmentalism which is easily recognizable as the Venezuelan version of the hard-left ideology espoused by a great many global political elites both in the United States and Europe. Neoliberalism, on the other hand — as I've noted before — is a vague term that most of the time really just means a system of relatively free markets and moderate laissez-faire.
Indeed, no other regimes in the world, save Cuba and North Korea, have been as explicit in fighting the alleged menace that is neoliberalism.
For this reason, as Venezuela descends into chaos, we are hearing a deafening silence from most of the left, as even some principled leftists have noticed.
Read more: mises.org