No, it is not some cliched African country. But, a country that until recently was a darling of the left. Venezuela!
According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela’s GDP in 2017 is 35% below 2013 levels, or 40% in per capita terms. That is a significantly sharper contraction than during the 1929-1933 Great Depression in the United States, when US GDP is estimated to have fallen 28%. It is slightly bigger than the decline in Russia (1990-1994), Cuba (1989-1993), and Albania (1989-1993)Just awful!
Venezuela is now the world’s most indebted country. No country has a larger public external debt as a share of GDP or of exports, or faces higher debt service as a share of exports.
So, where is the fucking intellectual left that used to adore Chavez, whose policies set Venezuela down this hell hole?
The list of Western leftists who once sang the Venezuelan government’s praises is long, and Naomi Klein figures near the top.How about the big guy himself? You know the one. Noam Chomsky?
In 2004, she signed a petition headlined, “We would vote for Hugo Chavez.” Three years later, she lauded Venezuela as a place where “citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives.” In her 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine,” she portrayed capitalism as a sort of global conspiracy that instigates financial crises and exploits poor countries in the wake of natural disasters. But Klein declared that Venezuela had been rendered immune to the “shocks” administered by free market fundamentalists thanks to Chavez’s “21st Century Socialism,” which had created “a zone of relative economic calm and predictability.”
Chomsky, whose anti-capitalist teachings have inspired millions of American college students, praised Chavez's "sharp poverty reduction, probably the greatest in the Americas." Chavez returned the compliment by holding up Chomsky's book during a speech at the U.N., making it a best-seller.Chomsky has always been good with words, and knows how to use them in order to make sure he comes across as the wise sage. Godawful!
Is Chomsky embarrassed by that today? "No," he wrote me. He praised Chavez "in 2006. Here's the situation as of two years later." He linked to a 2008 article by a writer of Oliver Stone's movie who said, "Venezuela has seen a remarkable reduction in poverty."
I asked him, "Should you now say to the students who've learned from you, 'Socialism, in practice, often wrecks people's lives'?"
Chomsky replied, "I never described Chavez's state capitalist government as 'socialist' or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained ... Capitalists were free to undermine the economy in all sorts of ways, like massive export of capital."
What? Capitalists "undermine the economy" by fleeing?
Just because I will not forget nor forgive the 63 million who have unleashed trump and his demons on us, does not mean that I will be soft on the near mirror image on the left: the Berniacs, whose economic policies are nearly as insane with their anti-globalization and America-first rhetoric. Which is why I will wrap up this post with this:
In the age of Trump, Brexit and a wider backlash against globalization, left-wing economic populists are enjoying a resurgence in mainstream credibility by railing against free trade and “neoliberals.” This is a scandal. For in the form of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the world has a petri dish in which to judge the sort of policies endorsed by Jones, Klein, British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, homegrown socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and countless other deluded utopians.When you buy the socialist rhetoric, Caveat emptor, as "neoliberal" economists like to say!
There, the ghastly failures of their ideas are playing out for everyone to see; a real-time rebuke, as if another were needed, to socialism. That these people are considered authorities on anything other than purchasing Birkenstocks, much less running a country, is absurd.