Is The “Party” Over?

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?

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One Response to Is The “Party” Over?

  1. sweiswasser2015 says:

    Ben, I think you bring up a fascinating point: one that is relevant not only today and to the Communist Manifesto, but also to common historical patterns as well. What I find particularly fascinating is that during Chávez’s “reign”, the military coups failed while Chávez was in power, unlike the recent election where the strength and survival of the Communist Party of Venezuela is more debatable and more or less likely to disintegrate. A key word I found in your question was ‘exposed’. In my opinion, exposure to other countries and forms of government encourages revolutionary ideas and radicals to change an oppressing government. This occurred just before the French Revolution. French radicals were inspired by the American Revolution- the idea that people can speak up for themselves and change their government. I then considered the extremem opposite- a communistic, oppressive, and secluded country where its people lack exposure to other countries: North Korea. North Korea can be considered to have one of the most oppressive communist regimes known. Their previous leader, Kim Sung-Il, declared himself a God, dictated people’s future, and took financial humanitarian aid from the UN and distributed it among a few workers or even himself, rather than the millions of starving people throughout North Korea. The communism is in fact so strict that the government dictates people’s professions and even how much food they can eat. However, the Workers’ Party of Korea, the ruling party of North Korea, is responsible for the North Korean news (propaganda) that is distributed throughout the country. As their enemies, this propaganda agency speaks poorly of the Americans, telling lies of our history and our “apparent cruelty” to their communistic leader. In my opinion, it is because of this seclusion and controlled news that the North Koreans have not yet revolted, as they do not know of anything different. They are not aware that capitalism exists or that freedom even exists.

    So in response to your question, Benjamin, I think that the strength and survival of a communistic or socialist regime is dependent on the country’s exposure to other forms of government, as this exposure will inspire radicals and revolutionary ideas.

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