Robert Tracinski takes on the ignorant idealism of the 60’s in Imagine No Possessions, Imagine Venezuela — “John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ gave us a fantasy vision of socialism. Venezuela is showing us the brutal reality.”
It began by imagining no possessions. Private property and private businesses and private profit were supposedly the source of everyone’s problems, so the Venezuelan government set out to get rid of them, with Chavez issuing a notorious set of 49 decrees in 2001 that gave him vast power over the economy. He used this power to seize private factories and expropriate foreign owners of Venezuelan firms—ensuring that no foreign investors would want to put a single dollar into the country for the foreseeable future.
There’s a lot of other baggage that comes with “idealistic” worldview of socialism. John Lennon also asked us to “imagine there’s no heaven” and “no religion.” This was not just about atheism, but about a range-of-the-moment outlook in which we were supposed to be “living for today.” Living in the present because “now is all there is” was a really big thing in the 1960s. The hippies wanted us to be like the lilies of the field and take no thought for the morrow.
That’s one thing socialism has delivered on. It’s easy to live only for today when long-term planning has become impossible and you have no idea where your next meal is coming from.
These truths about the fundamental inhumanity of socialism are old news, and we didn’t need to see any of it confirmed again in Venezuela. In fact, it had all been demonstrated over and over again before John Lennon came along. When he wrote “Imagine,” it was no longer necessary for anyone to imagine the actual real-world meaning of socialism.
What you need your imagination for is to continue to evade them.
And yet the yearning over-rides reality. Again and again the massacre and suffering is put in front of us yet still it makes no dent, stimulates no learning.