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Hugo Chávez, What Kind of Socialism Is It? Your kind?

By Juan Carlos Sosa Azpúrua

15.06.05 | A PLEASURE RIDE IN A BMW along the Champs-Elysées and savoring a canard à la presse (numbered duck) at La Tour d’Argent is something I recommend. Encouraged by a Château Léoville Barton, I begin to digress about how wonderful it is to be alive, and I enjoy the pleasures capitalism is capable of offering to me. But achieving this standard of living in an honest way requires, first of all, education and freedom, and being able to choose from the infinite universe of human possibilities.

A free man can choose to wear Ralph Laurent glasses and drive a Ferrari, or buy himself a pair of sandals, scratch his head and sing Hari Krishna, Hari Hari Krishna. The important thing is to have a choice, without judging beforehand the virtues of the individual choices of others. When I was a child I studied. I studied hard because I wanted to learn how to be a free man, to have a conscience governed by ideas nurtured by my own efforts, so as to make myself strictly responsible for all my actions in life, to be my own master and, as Sinatra would say, to do it my way.

THIS MATERIALISM has me reading books I want to read, listening to my favorite recordings and dining at the restaurant of my liking, without suffering any complex, remorse or hypocritical paternalism.

I dislike poverty. But just as I want good things for myself, I also want them for all my fellow human beings. For that we need education, incentives, opportunities, and time. But that education is not possible under the process of Marxist ideology, where incentives toward improvement die out as the concept of “competitiveness” is eliminated, where opportunities are wiped out as there are no institutions that allow for honest business and employment, and where time is a chimaera, as it is wasted on useless action.

But you say that happiness is to be found in poverty. You judge the rich and promise socialism. Ask yourself: Why? What a ruse! Without ever having earned a single cent using your own intelligence, you spend money on yourself, like a euphoric nouveau rich, money that does not belong to you. YOU EXPECT the people to be happy buying at the government-subsidized MERCAL supermarkets while you partake of delicious servings while on board of a $70 million aircraft not of the sweat of your brow.

You brag about having assigned bogus physicians to the barrios and you receive treatment from the best of psychiatrists that money can hire. You criticize capitalism while your mother, her hair done at Fi Fi's hair salon, has her picture taken for all of Venezuela to see with gold rings on all of her fingers.

You are a new man. You used to be poor and today you are rich, but since that is not the result of your work, you say that it is bad to be rich, and you do not realize that it is bad to enjoy and squander the wealth that does not belong to you, as if it were your own.

It is bad because you and your relatives and your friends are increasingly rich, while your actions make those who used to eat oysters in Aruba now pray that they can make ends meet with their biweekly pay, and make those who used to be poor continue being so for the rest of their lives, without any other choice.

IT IS BAD BECAUSE you spend millions on private banquets, while you ask “your people” to get used to standing in line at the MERCAL in order to buy a carton of eggs in exchange for the alms they are receiving. It is bad because you promise equality, while your lifestyle and that of your family more closely resembles that of Prince Albert of Monaco than that of Josefa, the woman to whom you offered a roof for her shanty shack in the Caracas barrio of Catia.

You tell us to debate over socialism. I ask you: What sort of socialism? The one you discovered while being rich?

Translation by W.K.

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