Socialismo y libertad / Héctor Silva Michelena

Socialism and Liberty

David Hume (1711-1776) said: “It is rare that any form of liberty is lost all at once.” This is what is happening on a daily basis in Venezuela, step by step, even despite the Magna Carta and the laws, and against the right of all nations to freely choose their socioeconomic systems, with transparency. I enjoyed the interview El Universal (10/3/2005) conducted with Asdrúbal Aguiar regarding the path of the current political process. I cite one paragraph: “We should be aware of the constant and measured advance of el proceso in its new strategic map that intends to eliminate the market economy, constitutional liberties and private property, now under siege.” He was referring to the Fuerte Tiuna Seminar. Today we know more about the imminence of the danger, because of the avalanche of recent presidential announcements and threats.

These announcements, such as the one about the single party, reveal the insistence on subordinating all powers to the will of the President. The actions derived from them are oriented toward restricting liberty. Chávez has clearly said that “we must transcend capitalism to embrace socialism.” What does it all mean, this diffuse XXI Century Socialism? We know that this revolution is driven by a single great puppet master and thus it means to extinguish controversy. This is the true Plan for the Nation, we know nothing of the other one. Classic socialism aspired to the conscious management of the economy by means of a central plan; today in Venezuela, the substitute for the Stalinist plan is Chávez’s orders on his Sunday TV show, Aló, Presidente. If the lines flow from a single center, what use are the communal councils, the cooperatives, comanagement or endogenous development? Remember that for governing Chavismo – though not for its bases – decentralization is a neoliberal instrument.

The country and its institutions are torn and centralized. This represents the manifestation, in the President’s actions, of totalitarian tendencies.

At present, socialism means a profound redistribution of rents through the beneficent State, with the cession to it of the means of production qualified as strategic. But it has been demonstrated that the final result, when there is no Rule of Law, tends to be the same one that brought down actually existing socialism.

The advent of socialism was going to be a leap from the kingdom of indigence to the kingdom of liberty. In actuality it led to a shame as brutal as that of the Holocaust: the creation of the Gulags, and of a population fearful of espionage and the shot to the back of the head. This suffocation of liberty was a decisive factor in the fall of socialism. The masses watched the crumbling of the oppressive empire with disdain, and they razed its symbols. The social ends had justified all means, including torture. May we never hear the premonition spoken by Lord Acton (1834-1902): “The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away, because the passion for equality made vain the hope of freedom.”

{ Héctor Silva Michelena, TalCual, 29 January 2007 }

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