Even as popular culture continues its revival of fascination with socialism, history and current events continue to disprove its most basic tenants. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century” remains on the New York Times best sellers list, but Venezuela — the purest example of socialism yet existing — remains an economic wreck.
“Venezuelans could soon have to scan their fingerprints to buy bread,” the Associated Press reported last week. “President Nicolas Maduro says a mandatory fingerprinting system is being implemented at grocery stores to combat food shortages by keeping people from buying too much of a single item. He calls it an ‘anti-fraud system’ like the fingerprint scan the country uses for voting.”
Here’s the real question: Why can’t Venezuela, an oil-rich country even richer in fertile farmland and lush tropical climes, feed itself?
The answer is that socialism always has failed, at all times in history, and it has failed due to its own shortcomings.
The original and current proponents of socialism fail to take into account one very basic but immutable factor: the fundamental nature of the human race.
“The most dominant trait mankind has, as do all living creatures, is an innate desire to survive and prosper,” wrote Steve McCann in The American Thinker magazine. “While some may willingly choose to pursue subsistence on their own terms, to the vast majority of the human race, the path of least resistance is the most desired. Thus, mankind is susceptible to financial scams, gambling, crime, and resentment or violence towards those who may have more. But above all, people are very open to the concept of a central authority providing them with the means of livelihood.”
Put more simply, people are flawed. Social is a great idea. How wonderful this world would be, if each person contributed what he could, and took only what he needed.
But we don’t live in that world. We live in the real world, in which people want to be rewarded for their work — or else, they won’t do it. Socialism denies one fundamental flaw in human nature — people are, for lack of a better term, selfish. If their reward is guaranteed, they’ll only work as hard as they have to. Plus, they’re greedy. They’ll take whatever they can.
People also are fallable. Like socialism, planned economies always fail — because of planners. The result always is disappointing, so much so that every socialist government has had to result to shooting or jailing its opposition.
“Social and economic chaos resulting in dramatically lower standard of living must inevitably ensue, and in some cases, these conditions will lead to violence or revolution,” McCann noted. “No amount of promises, demonization of capitalism and seizure of the means of production, confiscatory taxes, or printing of money will reinstitute prosperity or security for the populace.”
For those Venezuelans who can’t buy food, much of this discussion is academic. But it’s important for Americans, who live in a country that is once again flirting with the idea of socialism — despite its very real and very disastrous historical record.