• Tag Archives Socialism
  • ‘Jack Ryan’ Gets 4 Pinocchios on Venezuela

    Despite Venezuela’s track record of seizing the means of production of a multitude of industries⁠, there are still those who have trouble calling Venezuela a socialist state.

    The denials are getting more creative. The most recent comes in Jack Ryan, Amazon Prime’s hit show starring John Krasinski as the protagonist from Tom Clancy’s best-selling books.

    Venezuela and its suffering take center stage in the plot of season two. Jack Ryan, who in season one was a Ph.D. economist/CIA analyst who stopped ISIS from blowing up Washington, DC, is now a national security policy instructor in Langley, Virginia, home of the CIA’s headquarters. Speaking to a roomful of students, Professor Ryan explains why Venezuelans face suffering of Biblical proportions despite their vast wealth in natural resources (emphasis added).

    The fact is that Venezuela is arguably the single greatest resource of oil and minerals on the planet. So, why is this country in the midst of one of the greatest humanitarian crises in modern history? Let’s meet President Nicolas Reyes. After rising to power on a wave of nationalist pride, in a mere six years, this guy has crippled the national economy by half. He has raised the poverty rate by almost 400 percent. Luckily for the rest of us, he’s up for reelection.

    Did you catch that? The writers of Jack Ryan are unable to say what actually caused the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. As Sean Malone explains in a new Out of Frame episode:

    In the real world, Venezuela’s problems have one, incredibly predictable root cause… And it’s not simply “corruption” or “nationalist pride.” We need to be clear about this.

    The cause is socialism.

    The show’s omission of this basic fact is jarring … but wait. It gets worse. Professor Ryan then goes on to describe Reyes’s political opponent.

    This is Gloria Bonalde. Now, Gloria is a history professor turned activist. She’s running against [Reyes] on a social justice platform and on the strength of, in my humble opinion, just not being an *sshole. (laughter)

    In Jack Ryan’s Venezuela, it’s those who promise “social justice” who are going to save the people from a humanitarian crisis. This turns history on its head.

    By making the villain of Jack Ryan a nationalist, the writers take a not-so-subtle jab at US President Donald Trump, whose “America First” slogan has been described as nationalism “that betrays America’s values.” (Trump also describes himself as a nationalist.)

    Hugo Chávez, however, was not elected on some “Make Venezuela Great Again” platform. Lest we forget, back in the real world, “social equity and justice” were precisely what candidate Hugo Chávez promised the people of Venezuela when he was elected in 1998 with 56.2 percent of the vote.

    To be sure, there’s a line between “social justice” and “socialism,” and it’s unclear precisely where Gloria Bonalde, the fictional presidential contender in Jack Ryan, stands (though her story is suspiciously similar to El Commandante’s). In any event, for Hugo Chávez the picture is quite clear. He crossed the line from social justice champion to socialist long ago.

    He set out to do precisely that, ordering the state to seize the means of production (sometimes using soldiers to do it) of whatever industries he could: steel, agriculture, shipping, mining, telecommunications, electric power, and more. In doing so, he brought about the misery Venezuelans now endure.

    Let’s be clear. Nationalism presents its own dangers. Yet these dangers are muted without state power, specifically nationalism’s common bedfellow: socialism.

    The fact that the writers of Jack Ryan cannot bring themselves to even use the word socialism to describe what is textbook socialism is disheartening. But the fact that they make Venezuela’s savior someone cut from the same ideological cloth as Hugo Chávez is a grave deceit.

    As Malone points out, the stakes are too high for such dishonesty.

    Literally millions of people have had to flee the country to find food and shelter or to avoid becoming another victim of Nicolás Maduro’s regime. We need to understand how and why this happened, and Jack Ryan doesn’t even try to get it right.

    Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, the adage goes. Shows like Jack Ryan are making the job of learning it that much more difficult.


    Jon Miltimore

    Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, and Fox News. 

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


  • No, Jesus Wasn’t a Socialist


    The claim that Jesus Christ was a socialist has become a popular refrain among liberals, even from some whose Christianity is lukewarm at best. But is there any truth in it?

    That question cannot be answered without a reliable definition of socialism. A century ago, it was widely regarded as government ownership of the means of production. Jesus never once even hinted at that concept, let alone endorsed it. Yet the definition has changed over time. When the critiques of economists such as Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman demolished any intellectual case for the original form of socialism, and reality proved them to be devastatingly right, socialists shifted to another version: central planning of the economy.

    One can scour the New Testament and find nary a word from Jesus that calls for empowering politicians or bureaucrats to allocate resources, pick winners and losers, tell entrepreneurs how to run their businesses, impose minimum wages or maximum prices, compel workers to join unions, or even to raise taxes. When the Pharisees attempted to trick Jesus of Nazareth into endorsing tax evasion, he cleverly allowed others to decide what properly belongs to the State by responding, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s.”

    Nonetheless, one of the charges that led to Jesus’s crucifixion was indeed tax evasion.

    With the reputation of central planners in the dumpster worldwide, socialists have largely moved on to a different emphasis: the welfare state. The socialism of Bernie Sanders and his young ally Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is that of the benevolent, egalitarian nanny state where rich Peter is robbed to pay poor Paul. It’s characterized by lots of “free stuff” from the government—which of course isn’t free at all. It’s quite expensive both in terms of the bureaucratic brokerage fees and the demoralizing dependency it produces among its beneficiaries. Is this what Jesus had in mind?

    Hardly. Yes, amid the holidays, it’s especially timely to think about helping the poor. It was, after all, a very important part of Jesus’s message. How helping the poor is to be done, however, is mighty important.

    Christians are commanded in Scripture to love, to pray, to be kind, to serve, to forgive, to be truthful, to worship the one God, to learn and grow in both spirit and character. All of those things are very personal. They require no politicians, police, bureaucrats, political parties, or programs.

    “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want,” says Jesus in Matthew 26:11 and Mark 14:7. The key words there are you can help and want to help. He didn’t say, “We’re going to make you help whether you like it or not.”

    In Luke 12:13-15, Jesus is approached with a redistribution request. “Master, speak to my brother that he divideth the inheritance with me,” a man asks. Jesus replied, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” Then he rebuked the petitioner for his envy.

    Christianity is not about passing the buck to the government when it comes to relieving the plight of the poor. Caring for them, which means helping them overcome it, not paying them to stay poor or making them dependent upon the state, has been an essential fact in the life of a true Christian for 2,000 years. Christian charity, being voluntary and heartfelt, is utterly distinct from the compulsory, impersonal mandates of the state.

    But don’t take my word for it. Consider what the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    And in Jesus’s Parable of the Good Samaritan, the traveler is regarded as “good” because he personally helped the stricken man at the roadside with his own time and resources. If, instead, he had urged the helpless chap to wait for a government check to arrive, we would likely know him today as the Good-for-Nothing Samaritan.

    Jesus clearly held that compassion is a wholesome value to possess, but I know of no passage in the New Testament that suggests it’s a value he’d impose by force or gunpoint—in other words, by socialist politics.

    Socialists are fond of suggesting that Jesus disdained the rich, citing two particular moments: his driving of the money-changers from the Temple and his remark that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. In the first instance, Jesus was angry that God’s house was being misused. Indeed, he never drove a money-changer from a bank or a marketplace. In the second, he was warning that with great wealth, great temptations come, too.

    These were admonitions against misplaced priorities, not class warfare messages.

    In his Parable of the Talents, Je