from Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal, What’s Socialism, Dad?
When Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died in 2013, an obscure U.K. parliamentarian tweeted, “Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.”
The parliamentarian was Jeremy Corbyn, now leader of the Labour Party.
Let’s not stop with Mr. Corbyn. In its day, Chavismo found champions, apologists and useful idiots among influential political figures and supposed thought leaders. In Massachusetts there wereJoseph P. Kennedy and Rep. Bill Delahunt, who arranged a propaganda coup for the strongman by agreeing to purchase discounted Venezuelan heating oil for U.S. consumers. The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel extolled Chávez for defying the Bush administration and offering “an innovative four-point program to renew and reform the U.N.”
Up north, Naomi Klein,Canada’s second-most unpleasant export, treated Chávez as heroically leading the resistance to the forces of dreaded neoliberalism. Jimmy Carter mourned Chávez for “his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment.”
There are lesser names to add to this roll call of dishonor— Michael Moore, Sean Penn—but you get the point: “Democratic socialism” had no shortage of prominent Western cheerleaders as it set Venezuela on its road to hyperinflation, hyper-criminality, water shortages, beer shortages, electricity blackouts, political repressionand national collapse. Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro,gained prestige and legitimacy from these paladins of the left. They are complicit in Venezuela’s agony.
Democratic socialism—whether Chavez’s or Sanders’s—is legalized theft in the name of the people against the vilified few. It is a battle against income inequality by means of collective immiseration. It is the subjugation of private enterprise and personal autonomy to government power. Mr. Sanders promises to pursue his aims on the Scandinavian model, as if that was a success, and as if Americans are Scandinavians. It wasn’t. We aren’t. Bernie’s Way paves the same road to serfdom that socialism does everywhere.
Are these rubes ever held accountable?