John McDonnell’s excuses for Venezuela just don’t stack up

John McDonnell’s excuses for Venezuela just don’t stack up, by Kristian Niemietz.

At last, we’ve learned what went wrong in Venezuela: it wasn’t real socialism. At the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, [UK] Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell explained:

“It’s not that the issue is socialism vs capitalism. … All the objectives of Chavez… would have been successful if they had mobilised the oil resources to actually invest in the long term. … I think in Venezuela they took a wrong turn, a not particularly effective path, not a socialist path.”

McDonnell is in good company. Quite a few prominent figures on the Left, such as Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Žižek, are now explicitly disputing Venezuela’s socialist credentials.

With this, Venezuela joins a long list of countries that were once held up as role models of socialism by Western intellectuals, until their failures became so obvious and undeniable that they became an embarrassment for the socialist cause. At this point, those countries’ version of socialism retroactively ceases to be “real” socialism.

This has been going on for a long time. Thirty years ago, Friedrich Hayek wrote about, “the intellectuals’ vain search for a truly socialist community, which results in the idealisation of, and then disillusionment with, a seemingly endless string of ‘utopias’ – the Soviet Union, then Cuba, China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Nicaragua.” …

Whenever a heavily state-controlled economy fails, socialists think that now would be a good time to embark on a semantic discussion about what socialism “really” means. But this is neither here nor there. It wasn’t socialism’s critics who attached that label to the Chavista programme. It was the regime itself, and its many Western admirers.

In Australia many left wing media personalities and celebrities lauded Chavez and publicly advocated his policies for Australia — including Natasha Stott-Despoja, Phillip Adams, and John Pliger. See The Suicide of Venezuela.

hat-tip Matthew