Those of us rich in maturity will recall when Venezuela was the next great hope of the progressive left. David Sirota, Mark Weisbrot, Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Syriza, the Podemos lot, all were united in insisting that this vastly greater government control of the economy and the distribution of its rewards was the way forward for us all.
That has, to be fair to all of them, rather run into that brick wall of reality. They’re no longer all saying that we all should be doing it that way.
But the explanation now is that obviously, that’s not socialism nor even progressivism. The story now is that it’s simply a kleptocracy.
Well, OK, that at least has the merit of being true.
But it then runs smack into that brick wall of reality again. So, we grant the government vastly greater power over the economy and the rewards available in it. How do we stop that becoming a kleptocracy? The answer that we are pure as they are not does not work. For the moment we do grant that power then the kleptocrats will infiltrate and then become the government, won’t they?
Think of this the other way around for a moment. All such progressives do indeed insist that if and when the capitalists gain control then they are akin to kleptocrats, the monopolists will simply rip off the people. We liberals agree actually, which is why we’re so insistent upon there being competition to limit if not expunge that ability.
OK, if people gain the power to rip everyone off then they will. Or, the power to do so will be colonised by those who wish to.
Thus that argument that the Bolivarian Revolution has been colonised by the kleptocracy isn’t a useful excuse, for it’s the original granting of that power to government which causes the kleptos to colonise said government.
Don’t want the government to be run by thieves? Then don’t grant government that power that thieves find so attractive that they’ll work to become the government. This works whichever brand of thieves you care to worry about, crony capitalists or socialists.