Venezuela: the hard left’s moral bankruptcy

Harry Eastley-Jones

May 3, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the ongoing tragedy in Venezuela is deeply concerning. When asked if would he condemn President Maduro, a man who has led his country to economic ruin, corruptly taken control of the oil revenues for his family, and is brutally putting down protesters, Corbyn refused. He stuck to the usual line of “I condemn all violence” that he uses whenever he’s asked about the shady characters he’s supported in the past.

What a sorry state of affairs it is when a possible future prime minister of the United Kingdom cannot bring himself to condemn a vicious dictator. Labour giants like Clement Atlee and Harold Wilson would be turning in their graves if they could see the state of their beloved party today.

Although they were misguided, Labour leaders have always loved their country and wanted to make it a better place. But the same cannot be said about the current regime. Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies come from a Marxist tradition that despises the west and are only too happy to embrace any of our adversaries.

Corbyn called Hugo Chavez an “inspiration to all of us in Europe” in 2013 and later called to congratulate President Maduro on becoming his successor. Diane Abbott claimed in 2007 that Chavez’s agenda had boosted “millions of lives”. This now looks simply ridiculous.

The economy has shrunk by 40 per cent in GDP per capita since 2013 and inflation stands at 1,300,000 per cent. The human impact of this has been devastating, with food shortages causing 74 per cent of the population to lose 9kg or more. The Venezuelan people have been reduced to shooting dogs and searching rubbish bins for food.

However, the current Labour leadership have chosen to wash their hands of this in a truly disgraceful fashion. A man never afraid to criticize supposed human rights abuses of the west, Corbyn now refuses to condemn the evolving tragedy.

You would hope that he and his peers would be responsible enough to apologise and concede that they got it wrong, but this is not the case. They have acted as enablers in the past and now that the fruits of this enabling are coming to pass, they’re pretending that they have absolutely nothing to do with it.

The only one of Corbyn’s allies to speak extensively on this has been Ken Livingstone, who extraordinarily blamed “Venezuelan oligarchs” for this calamity, suggesting Chavez should have executed them when he came to power.

This sort of comment is an example of the feeling of moral superiority we see so often on the political extremes. They can never be wrong, and when they are, they cry foul and come up with ludicrous excuses.

We often hear when a socialist experiment collapses in utter failure that “it wasn’t real socialism”. This hypocritical approach to politics is highlighted by no one better than Owen Jones, a man who has written articles about Venezuela as a modern-day socialist success story, now is on Sky News claiming its main failing was that it wasn’t socialist enough.

The sad fact is that this turn of events is not surprising. Every socialist experiment always ends in economic disaster. Hugo Chavez acted in a similar way to other communist dictators.

Chavez took control of every part of the previously successful Venezuelan economy and distributed the wealth between himself and his friends and family (it was recently revealed that his daughter had $4bn sitting in her bank account). He then proceeded to shut down all opposition, which even prompted criticism from the esteemed socialist philosopher Noam Chomsky, a man who one called Chavez a friend.

Unfortunately, it seems most on the hard left do not possess the ideological humility of Chomsky and have resorted to bizarre conspiracy theories to explain the Venezuelan troubles.

One of the most common ones to pop up in social media discussions is that the USA has stirred up the protests. A simpler explanation for the unrest is that people are starving. The country has become lawless, zoos are raided for food, and murders and theft are at record highs. Has the US forced the Venezuelans to lock up the opposition and kill 56 protesters too?

This, of course, isn’t new. The hard left has reacted similarly at the collapse of other Socialist governments. We mustn’t forget these same politicians fawned over Fidel Castro, a brutal dictator and were apologists for the most deadly regimes of the 20th century. Diane Abbott once claimed that “Mao did more good than harm”. It’s impossible to comprehend what good can outweigh the murder of over 50 million people.

Will the hard left ever apologise for their support for Venezuela? I rather doubt it. Despite the deaths of protesters, malnutrition, corruption, and crackdowns on dissent, they will claim it wasn’t the fault of socialism. They will blame others and again will move to support the next Venezuelan-style system which pops up in the future.


Written by Harry Eastley-Jones

Harry Eastley-Jones is a student at the University of Bristol.


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