EspañolTalking to the common people in a revolutionary socialist country is like an experience from science fiction — a journey through time or out of this reality.
After decades of isolation, how they think about the world and the customs of their daily lives range from laughable to tragic. Most basic ideas and news comes to them incomplete and distorted compared to the rest of the world. They mistakenly assume that their everyday lives must be similar to what we would see in places they know little or nothing about.
- Read more: Maduro Is against the Wall in Venezuela: What Happens Now?
- Read more: Empty Venezuelan Streets Send Message to Maduro as Businesses Go on Strike
For example, young Venezuelans assume there must be foreign exchange rationing everywhere, along with the rationing of almost everything else. When informed that this is not the case in the rest of the world — or that in the near-past that it wasn’t like this in Venezuela — they get angry and refuse to believe it, or listen in wonder.
With limited internet access to globalized TV or movies, it’s easy to understand how they could assume this. The few who travel are amazed to see shelves filled with the products they have to wait in long lines for, or never get at all. Venezuelans, like Cubans and North Koreans, live in a strange bubble of propaganda, disinformation and isolation.
In university, I teach kids about the fundamentals of economic theory, but find it hard to get them to imagine a normal economy, a system of free prices, market abundance. They do not believe that prosperity is “given” or that any given product in an economy can prosper independently of institutionalized regulations that make it so. They do not believe that socialism creates wealth, but cannot conceive of anything else because they share the prejudices of almost everyone else that has fallen trap to socialist propaganda.
So when those who have known nothing but socialism go out into the real world, they are shocked by any supermarket they come across. It is in this moment that they start to understand why capitalism works and socialism does not. The hard part is adopting the customs and institutional values of those successful societies back home, where socialism thrives.
Individuals prefer to flee from misery to prosperity whether they do or do not understand what is creating it. It is logical that most young people want to leave Venezuela, both the few who truly believe in socialism as well as those who hate it. The sad truth is that not all of them can.