As Venezuela suffers the political, economic and moral decay caused by embracing socialism, many serious shortages plague the country. There is, however, no shortage of hypocrisy. Its citizens starve, grocery shelves are bare, hospitals have no medical supplies, electricity is rationed and some people are resorting to stealing animals from zoos to slaughter for food. What does the socialist government of President Nicholas Maduro do in face of these crises? Spend $65,000 on a 200-pound birthday cake honoring the deceased leader Hugo Chavez.1
Socialists claim to represent the people and treat them all equally. It appears not everyone is getting their share of the cake. Obviously, socialist political promises and deeds don’t coincide.
To impose its goal of equality, an equality where everyone is equally miserable, socialism appropriates businesses and properties thus attempting to manage the goose that lays the golden egg. This leads in turn to economic depression since the reward for private initiative is eliminated when a government owns all property.
Italian communist theoretician, Antonio Gramsci correctly observed that Marxists are constantly inciting people to demand a bigger slice of the cake, when the real issue is ownership of the bakery.
What has brought ruin to Venezuela has been an insidious infiltration of socialist ideas into every institution upon which the country was built, not just the economic sector.
This is best understood in light of another theory developed by Gramsci known as the “long march through institutions.” This concept capitalizes upon the attachment people have to familiar institutions. Gramsci holds that people will desperately try to save them even when they act diametrically opposed to their original purpose. This is because people generally gravitate toward the familiar, be it intellectual ideals or physical habits.
This march is best accomplished when revolutionaries seek to overthrow an order from within. Once in power, these revolutionaries will exploit the existing chain of command and customs of obedience to further illegitimate goals.
Venezuelan revolutionary Hugo Chavez was adept at silently weaving his socialist ideals into the anchoring institutions in society. Once in place, he attacked and branded conservatives as hopelessly obsolete, misguided and detrimental to the cause or, even worse, traitors to the wonderful changes socialism has to offer.
A fundamental precept of war is to know one’s enemy. A person cannot fight against an unseen adversary. The stealth war in Venezuela has been the silent implementation of Gramsci’s principles under the guise of helping the commoner, the workingman and the poor. Using the existing institutions, the Chavez regime issued incessant calls for “social reform,” a social reform devoid of piety and virtue. What people actually got was egalitarian socialism that always produces the opposite of what it promises.
Thus, socialism has eviscerated everything of good from the vital institutions in Venezuela and replaced them with socialist ideals. Abusing his executive powers, Maduro has now proposed, in a vaguely-worded decree, that public and private sector employees could be forced to work in the country’s fields tending crops for at least 60-day periods, which may be extended “if circumstances merit.” Aping Castro’s failed attempt to resuscitate Cuba’s economy in the sugar fields in the sixties, perhaps forced agrarian labor is Maduro’s “Great Leap Backward.”
Socialism has destroyed every country that has embraced it and Venezuela is no exception. A resource rich country that had a robust agricultural sector up until 1999, Chavez soon sent it on the road to self-destruction. Today Venezuela doesn’t even have the money to import the very food it once produced in abundance. Its economy is expected to shrink another 10 percent this year and inflation is predicted to exceed 700 percent. The IMF ranks Venezuela as the world’s worst economy and not withstanding all of its shortages, even its hospitals are desperately low on supplies with many patients going untreated or left to die.
While Chavez railed against the wealthy for being lazy, whiskey-drinking gluttons, he had no problem propping up his daughter, Maria Gabriela Chaves, as an ambassador who mysteriously acquired $4.2 billion becoming the richest woman in Venezuela.2 French economist, Claude-Frédéric Bastiat succinctly observed, that “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
Although there is absolutely no proof that Marie Antoinette actually said, “let them eat cake” during a time of famine in France, the Venezuelan message to the people is very clear. While citizens starve, Nicholas Maduro’s 200-pound cake enjoyed by select party members aptly says: Our citizens can starve, but let us eat cake: a $65,000 cake.