Democrazy: Venezuela Needs a Military Coup

SellwynThumbby Selwyn Duke5/24/16
With Venezuela spinning out of control, it’s said that U.S. officials fear a military coup. We ought to ask “Why?”

Democracy on the brain can be a dangerous condition. George W. Bush pursued his unwise “nation-building” policies under the assumption that, as he put it, “democracies don’t go to war with each other.” (Note: technically we’re speaking of “republics,” not democracies.) So WWI was the “war to end all wars,” and now there’s the political system to end all wars; hey, if a military solution didn’t change man’s nature, maybe a political solution will?

But it was more correct to say that democracies hadn’t yet gone to war with one another. Since Bush’s days, the representative government in Russia chose to invade Georgia and Ukraine, both of which also have representative governments. Remember, too, that we, the standard bearer for “democracy,” have launched our share of military campaigns (this isn’t to imply some weren’t justified, but it’s worth noting).

Then there was Barack Obama’s demo-folly, the so-called “Arab Spring,” which quickly devolved into the Jihadist Winter. Is Libya better off now than under Muammar Gaddafi? Was “democracy” going to give Egypt a better leader than Hosni Mubarak? Has it done so? For that matter, is Iran better off today than under the Shah?

Going back further, Woodrow Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany in 1917, saying the world must “be made safe for democracy.” Germany got an unstable democracy with the Weimar Republic and then descended into tyranny (as is so often the case with nations) with Hitler.

Of course, the lure of democracy is understandable; after all, having balancing powers within a nation can temper the capricious ambitions of a man. Nonetheless, democracy is sometimes just millions of people making the bad decisions slowly and inefficiently that a dictator could make with the stroke of a pen. Sometimes you’re just making the world safe for collective stupidity.

This brings us to Venezuela. It has more proven oil reserves than any other nation, eight times those of the United States. With a wiser populace — which would beget a better government — it could be as rich as Norway, which reaps the benefits of its vast natural resources. Instead, it has descended into chaos. Power has been cut and there is little food, with a hamburger “officially” selling for $170 and a hotel room for $6,900 a night. Not surprisingly, a Caracas mayor is reporting that people “are hunting dogs and cats in the streets, and pigeons in the plazas to eat.” The capital also has the world’s highest crime rate, with a resident victimized every 28 seconds.

The reason for this is no mystery. Venezuelans have stubbornly empowered vile, economy-rending socialist demagogues; the buffoonish Hugo Chavez was elected and then re-elected three times, which is akin to the Titanic backing up to hit the iceberg again. When Chavez was finally taken by cancer, Venezuelans decided to help their national cancer further metastasize and elected his ally, Nicolás Maduro. It just seems that some people hate the rich more than they love themselves.

Considering this brings to mind the rhetorical question asked by former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf (I’m paraphrasing): “What good is so-called democracy if Pakistan becomes a failed state?” Venezuelans’ childish electoral decisions have led to their current plight — and they need a military coup. And, hopefully, they’d get a military leader such as Musharraf.

A coup wouldn’t be a panacea. But given the phenomenon of regression to the mean (in other words, it’s hard for Venezuela to go anywhere but up right now), there’s a decent chance they’d end up with a leader who might at least have some semblance of economic literacy. As for human rights, which ostensibly also concerns U.S. officials, it’s not as if Chavez and Maduro have respected them.

And there have been relatively good military governments. After Chilean strongman General Augusto Pinochet steered his nation toward domestic tranquility and prosperity, he agreed to a restoration of representative government and peacefully stepped down in 1990. Of course, Pinochet was not a saint, and the Left despises him because he emerged from a coup that vanquished a devout socialist, Salvador Allende. But he was wise enough to consult with famed economist Milton Friedman when devising policy, and Milton beats Marx every time.

Admittedly, one big difference between Pinochet’s ascendancy (1973) and today is that the U.S. would aid such men decades ago; we understood that a pro-American, anti-communist dictator was preferable to a democratically elected Marxist or jihadist, that a decent zookeeper is better than a democracy of two lions and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Now Western leaders are content to create democratically made sheep as long as they’re fleeced by socialist shears.

Now, advocating autocracy here can seem remarkably un-American, especially to those who see being socialist as thoroughly American. Of course, these same people cheered when our courts repeatedly violated the Constitution and trumped popular will in striking down marriage-preservation laws. The point is that most all of us reject democratic determinations we consider grossly immoral or untenable; it’s just that not all of us know what morality is. But a larger point is that autocracy is not a moral or immoral choice, but the inevitable fate of an immoral people.

Our second president, John Adams, once observed, “The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue; and if this cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”

This applies in all times and places. Now, question: how much virtue do you see in the world today? Do the populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Libya and Syria — all places that many insist must have “democracy” — strike you as particularly virtuous? We so often speak of “liberty” as if it emerges in a vacuum or has no prerequisites, ignoring that morality is the fertilizer of the tree of liberty and the monster of tyranny feeds on man’s vice.

For example, George W. Bush once marketed his nation-building by saying that all people want freedom. Yet polls informing that large numbers of Muslims prefer Sharia law to Western civil law shows that they certainly don’t want our conception of freedom. Just as significantly, however, there is a difference between wanting and acquiring.

Most everyone wants wealth, but not all possess the ability and discipline to achieve it. Everyone wants health, but some still smoke and drink heavily and dig a grave with a knife and fork. And everyone wants good government, as they conceive of it, but some still glom onto demagogues who promise bread and circuses.

So people may want freedom. All right, so does a caged beast. So does a toddler. But neither has the capacity to freely negotiate civilization without hurting himself or others. The issue is that a people may want better than what they are, but they cannot be better than what they are. A person’s early life is always one of captivity and control, with the babe safely placed behind bars in a crib, with his life micromanaged and liberty curtailed by his nanny state, the parents. As he becomes civilized and his moral compass develops, he can incrementally be given more freedom and, ultimately, enjoy the full rights of adulthood. Yet if this civilizing process — which includes insulation from corruptive influences — isn’t effected properly, the person can remain morally stunted, barbaric, in a childlike state of virtue. And then he may end up back in a crib, one with iron bars and no mother’s loving embrace.

And as it is for one individual, so it is for two, ten or enough individuals to make a group — even a nation-size group. It is then, to quote British statesman Edmund Burke, that we become those men of “intemperate minds” who “cannot be free,” those men whose “passions forge their fetters.”

And this is a cautionary tale for us. Even now we have a popular presidential contender who calls himself a “democratic socialist.” And when socialism is instituted democratically, it’s a good indication that your days of making decisions democratically may be numbered.


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5 Responses to Democrazy: Venezuela Needs a Military Coup

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    This hatred of the rich can be generalized. I think there’s some sort of Russian saying that amounts to being more interested in seeing a hated neighbor punished than in being rewarded. Hate is, or can be, an overpowering emotion. And when combined with stupidity and/or ignorance, as among the Venezuelan masses . . .

  2. Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

    Sad. I used to travel to Venezuela on business and admired the natural beauty and the richness of their culture. But, even then, 10 years ago, as I traveled down streets in a limo, I saw abject people looking for dried beans on the roadside and wondered at the stark division in the country.

    A few years later, a strongman popped up, and remember, he was supported by the Kennedy family in Massachusetts for providing cheap heating oil directly to their residents, and lo, he was crowned a savior.

    Elections affirming the peoples’ choice? Please.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was reminded just yesterday what American Expectionalism is all about…if only by a contrary example.

    I had no idea that Venezuela has more oil reserves than any other nation — eight times those of the United States. But we see from Venezuela’s example (or that of resource-poor Israel or even Japan) that the greatest resource is the values that the people hold. I don’t know the story in Venezuela but it sounds as if hating the rich is the national pastime even if this brings destruction. It’s the same in Detroit where hating whitey is the pastime, for I can’t think of any other reason blacks would sign onto their own destruction like they have.

    Venezuela is such a great and stark example that merely having material things does not a great nation make. They are so enfeebled by their Marxist attitudes that they cannot make progress. And that is what Obama and the Left have dumped on our nation. And most people — including conservatives, I’ll remind you of Donald Trump once again — are eating this up. This attitude is infecting all walks of life. We can’t even build a damn pipeline.

    Absent nobler influences, mankind’s natural leaning is toward the mob. I was starkly reminded of that yesterday while talking to a client. He’s taking a trip to Spain soon, to El Ferrol, the hometown of fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. We can re-fight the Spanish civil war and argue that the fascists were better than the Communists. But this client’s connection stems from his father’s long-term work with the shipyards in El Ferrol (which apparently are vastly diminished now). My client thus spent part of his childhood there and still makes a visit once a year to Spain. He was clearly nostalgic of his times spent in fascist Spain where at least the streets were safe with a soldier and a gun on every corner. He said — with no sense of shame or regret — that as long as you knew not to criticize the government, the Church, and to accept any traffic accident as your fault, you’d get along fine.

    Okie doke. And this was spoken to me more as a defense of such things rather than a sad tale of a country where freedom has gone wrong.

    But Franco’s Spain is/was the norm. It’s the kind of totalitarian ideology we see brewing on college campuses (and nearly everywhere else to some degree). America is indeed an exceptional place because it has, or had, an exceptional idea.

    It was at this moment, just yesterday, that I was really made aware that Americans had forgotten what America was all about — or had never learned it. This guy was in his 60’s, so I assume it was a case of having forgotten

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Frederick Forsyth discussed the interesting attitude of Franco’s Spain in one of his books (I think it was The Dogs of War, for which he did the most interesting research — the book was inspired by an effort he made to get rid of the hideous government of Equatorial Guinea). As long as you weren’t bringing in anti-government literature, they didn’t much care what was in your baggage.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        As long as you weren’t bringing in anti-government literature, they didn’t much care what was in your baggage.

        Yes. Thank you. That seems to capture what my client was saying. It seemed like he was saying that if you abided by a few rather harsh rules, you had somewhat great freedom inside that.

        But it’s hard to tell. What this “freedom” tends to mean is that people self-censor themselves (we’ll call it “micro-censorship”) in little bursts here and there and all the time and don’t realize they are doing it. This is the power of Leftist bullying. Make an example out of some baker somewhere who won’t sell to activist fags and you don’t have to keep an eye on the rest of them. They’ll self-censor themselves.

        We should, of course, self-censor ourselves. It’s called being polite or civil, and we could not live together without it. But this trait is very easily gamed so that what is used for normal social cohesion is co-opted for political purposes.

        So I laugh in the face of those who think Donald Trump is politically incorrect. He is not. He’s simply socially incorrect. That is, he’s vulgar, obnoxious, rude, and insulting. That he sometimes points this to people we don’t like doesn’t mean he’s being politically incorrect. His rudeness might even be useful in this regard, breaking down some needed impediments to normal American discourse. But it’s not the same as being politically incorrect. The moment he takes on environmental wacko-ism (by that name or another), I’ll begin to laud him for being politically incorrect.

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