The uses of socialism

When it comes to the creation of wealth, socialism is worse than worthless. It is a great destroyer. For the promotion of equality by immiseration of the people who suffer under it, socialism is a powerful tool. But as a means of social control by the ruling elite, it is unparalleled.

Yesterday’s long New York Times story by Nicholas Casey — “‘It Is Unspeakable’: How Maduro Used Cuban Doctors to Coerce Venezuela Voters” — can serve as a case study in social control. This being the New York Times, the word “socialism” does not appear in the article, but you get the drift:

To maintain their hold over Venezuela, Mr. Maduro and his supporters have often used the nation’s economic collapse to their advantage, dangling food before hungry voters, promising extra subsidies if he won, and demanding that people present identification cards tied to government rations when they came to the polls.

But participants in the schemes say Mr. Maduro and his supporters have deployed another tool as well: Cuba’s international medical corps.

In interviews, 16 members of Cuba’s medical missions to Venezuela — a signature element of relations between the two countries — described a system of deliberate political manipulation in which their services were wielded to secure votes for the governing Socialist Party, often through coercion.

Many tactics were used, they said, from simple reminders to vote for the government to denying treatment for opposition supporters with life-threatening ailments.

The Cuban doctors said they were ordered to go door-to-door in impoverished neighborhoods, offering medicine and warning residents that they would be cut off from medical services if they did not vote for Mr. Maduro or his candidates.

Many said their superiors directed them to issue the same threats during closed-door consultations with patients seeking treatment for chronic diseases.

The article includes much more in the way of devastating detail. It’s a good article and Casey is a dogged reporter even if he may not have extrapolated from the case study he reports.

Casey notes that several of the Cuban doctors “spoke on the condition of anonymity because [one such doctor] and her relatives could face retaliation by the Cuban or Venezuelan authorities.” Casey notes that several of the Cuban doctors “have abandoned Cuba’s medical missions around the world” for points west and south. Casey writes: “It’s unclear how many other doctors have abandoned Cuba’s medical missions around the world — informal estimates are in the thousands — but the consequences are stark. Dr. Arias and the others are considered deserters by the Cuban government and cannot return to their families.” Casey doesn’t raise the question whether socialist tyranny back home in Cuba might have anything to do with it.

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