Fresh from cycling around Croatia, Britain’s Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn, who won the recent general election with a landslide victory, has made his first comments on the catastrophe unfolding in Venezuela, the socialist country that the Labour leader has extolled as a model for Britain.
Hold on. No, part of that statement is fake news. Of course Corbyn didn’t win the British general election. Despite all the hype and much singing of “ooh Jeremy Corbyn” by excited youngsters ever since, the Tories got 56 seats more than Labour. That’s quite a gap.
The second part of that first paragraph is accurate though. Corbyn has on his return from Croatia made his first statement on the worsening horror show that is socialist Venezuela, where Jeremy’s friends are in charge. That’s the bunch of socialist authoritarians who looted the country’s vast oil wealth and now inflict food shortages, inflation of almost 1000% and a health care catastrophe.
Unsurprisingly, given his record, Corbyn’s statement today about what has been going on in recent weeks in Venezuela is completely hopeless.
“What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides in this,” he told Sky News. “Violence is not going to solve the issue.”
This is standard issue Corbyn. His pals are destroying democracy and have brought economic ruin, but Corbyn seeks to suggest that they are somehow not to blame, because everyone and no-one (other than wicked America, possibly) is to blame.
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We then get a rare bit of economic analysis from Corbyn.
“The issues of Venezuela are partly structural, because not enough has been done to diversify the economy away from oil. That has to be a priority for the future.”
Who has been in charge?! Corbyn’s mates who he praised to the skies. They didn’t say their experiment was vulnerable to a change in the oil price, which healthy market economies can usually absorb. He goes on:
“But we also have to recognise that there have been effective and serious attempts at reducing poverty in Venezuela. Improving literacy and improving the live so many of the poorest people.”
Good grief. Apart from the food shortages, and rampant inflation and economic collapse, and violence, there has been tremendous progress…
Does he regret backing Maduro, the Venezuelan autocrat?
“I gave the support of many people around the world for the principle of a government that was dedicated to reducing inequality and improving the life chances of the poorest people.”
Note Corbyn saying it wasn’t just him. Indeed it wasn’t. It’s quite a long list of people who shamefully backed Chavez and then Maduro.
Then the rather good interviewer for Sky News asked if the social experiment in an oil rich country – now bust – has failed.
“What’s happened is that the oil price has fallen obviously, and the economy was over-dependent on oil.”
And there’s the excuse. Falling oil prices. Must be the fault of the Americans. Hold on. Aren’t the Americans in Corbynista demonology ruthless profiteering types who would surely have connived to put oil prices up for their own benefit and not down?
Here Corbyn is just one small step away from the inevitable claim – as it is always claimed eventually – that the problem with full-blown socialism is that it has “never been tried properly”. Yes it has. In Russia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, pre-reform China, North Korea, Cuba, and in Venezuela now too. It has been tried and it has failed.
There is a perfectly legitimate debate to be had between social democracy (moderate leftism), classical liberals and conservatives about the balance between the private sector and the public sector, and about the extent of regulation required and the relative size of the social safety net. But all of those groupings accept the market economy (as defined by Adam Smith, within the rule of law with property rights) to varying degrees, and they endorse democracy.
Corbyn and his closest supporters are different. They stand apart, way off to the left pursuing policies that have been tried and tested and proved to be a disaster.
In that vein, this collapse in Venezuela was predictable and predicted. It always happens. Socialism leads to authoritarianism as night follows day. Resources are looted and from the leadership emerges someone saying he knows best how to deal with the flight of wealth and the chaos the revolution has caused. Basic requirements – food, transport, health, travel – go unmet thanks to the statist scrapping of the price mechanism and the refusal of the socialists to allow trading between free individuals and businesses. Some people object to this carnage and the destruction of economic freedom. They are presented as enemies of the revolution and a crackdown is required that leads to the elimination of dissent and a curtailing of democracy by the crushing of independent media and institutions.
Anyone who thinks this horror in Venezuela doesn’t matter – although dismissing history seems weirdly fashionable among the modern youthful left – needs their head examining. McDonnell and Corbyn are believers not only in Chavez economics. They advocate “the democracy of the street,” that is rebellion and street politics that supplants the parliamentary system and replaces it with “action” and “justice”. That’s what the shadow Chancellor means when he talks admiringly of students “kicking the shit” out of London. And then, it always happens, amid the chaos, to defend the imperilled revolution, someone must take charge and give orders. As I said, socialism leads to authoritarianism as night follows day.
George Orwell even wrote a novel about this process. It’s called Animal Farm.