As second semester begins with the Communist Manifesto, I’ve been looking at the vestiges of modern day communism and socialism. It seems that these communist/socialist ideals present in governments have been on a decline, and I was interested in examining this change. One story I came across was that of Venezuela. When Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998, he brought socialist reform to Venezuela. He found support from several “working-class” parties including the PCV, or the Communist Party of Venezuela, and was elected in a landslide vote. He promised to bring economic change to the country by aiding the workers and denouncing what Venezuelan socialists call the “Boli-bourgeoisie”, an interesting parallel of class differences in the Industrial Revolution. And in 2006, Chávez announced the creation of one Venezuelan socialist party, a conglomeration of many smaller parties driven by the same focus. During Chávez’s years as president, there have been two attempted coups by capitalist parties along with American assistance, both of which were stopped by the working people who felt uplifted economically by Chávez’s presidency. However, now that Chávez has serious health conditions and may pass away, there are questions as to whether or not his “socialist regime” can survive, “Chavismo”, as it’s been aptly named. The most recent election in Venezuela, while still not close, was not, surprisingly, the landslide that was expected, perhaps indicating a shift from the “socialist” mindset. Possible class friction and ailing leadership sounds very similar to the backdrop of the French Revolution as well. It will be interesting to see whether the government and economic system Chávez has built can last beyond his lifetime and remain a present force in Venezuela.
As more scenarios like this continue to occur in countries around the world, do you think that these socialist ideals will crumble or the people have been exposed to them long enough to keep the ideals alive?