“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville
Socialism (actual socialism, not the garbage the right wing nuts call socialism in the West, which is really just liberalism / regulated capitalism with a social welfare safety net) has been shown to not always be so destructive under certain circumstances, but widespread socialism in underdeveloped countries has a long history of disastrous results. Heck, even Marx didn’t think that socialism would work until you already had a prosperous capitalistic economy churning away.
This is being illustrated once again in Bolivia, where president Evo Morales rode into control of their government with widespread support among socialistic blocks of voters and has since scared so much investment away that the economy is in a tailspin. Formerly core, major drivers of the economy are now stagnating, with government takeovers and subsequent mismanagement killing innovation and investment.
Jaime Daremblum, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from ’98- ’04, talks about Bolivia’s problems in a post on over at Pajamas Media:
Morales took office with bold promises of reducing widespread poverty and deep inequality. Instead, his policies have spooked foreign investors, spurred capital flight, slowly destroyed the vitally important Bolivian energy sector, and increased social polarization. As of January, his approval rating stood at just 36 percent, according to the Ipsos Institute. A more recent poll found that if Morales ran for reelection today, he would receive only 22 percent of the vote.Bolivia’s decline reflects the utter and complete failure of Chávez-style economics.
Morales is a prominent disciple of the Venezuelan dictator, and he has closely followed Hugo’s playbook. He has weakened the rule of law, undermined democracy, and nationalized a significant portion of the economy while seeking to implement an ambitious land-redistribution agenda. Bolivia has the second-largest natural-gas reserves in South America. Yet Morales nationalized the industry in 2006, with predictably negative consequences. Last summer, the president of the Bolivian Chamber of Hydrocarbons told the Financial Times that his country’s natural-gas reserves were shrinking “because there have not been any significant investments in the past five years.”
It really is a shame, that instead of learning from the history of political evolution in the West, some developing countries respond to periods where robber baron, crony capitalism has gone amok with polar opposite, extreme swings to socialism, which usually comes packaged with some cult of personality wannabe dictator and rank corruption and cronyism.Allowing corporations to essentially rape and pillage the natural resources and populace for a profit is obviously something that should not be allowed, but swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum… how many times do we have to see that lead to disaster before more countries stop going that direction?
Allowing corporations to essentially rape and pillage the natural resources and populace for a profit is obviously something that should not be allowed, but knee-jerk swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum… how many times do we have to see that lead to disaster before more countries stop going that direction?
Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are great examples of nations that started out just as poor as some of these countries in Africa, Asia and South America that started with next to nothing. Unlike Bolivia, and Venezuela from the look it of, they learned the lessons of the more developed capitalistic nations, made sure some of the profit from foreign investment stayed in the country, invested that into growth and now they are gaining in Europe and the United States fast.
Similar to the bipolar nature of American politics, these South American extremists try to force people into the false choice between Chavez/Castro style socialism on the one side, and robber baron capitalism on the other – ignoring the whole spectrum between the two. Magical thinking that has been shown to not work around the world can seem much better than having the wealthy run roughshod over them, especially without being well-versed on the political history of socialism around the world.
They have to learn the lesson that we are fighting with in our country – that it isn’t a choice against the door on the left or door on the right. There is as much of a spectrum of political between the two as there are choices in beers other than Miller Light and Bud Light… people just have to wade through the propaganda to see them. It might be too late for Bolivia or Venezuela to learn that without serious harm to their economies and social fabric, but it’s not too late for ours… yet.