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Neither socialism nor neoliberalism

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“21st century socialism” died and received no tears or burial. Nor do “revolutionaries” from other countries come to honor his grave and admire his achievements. Rather, the new leftist governments in Latin America are quick to distance themselves from the Venezuelan (?) revolution. The destruction suffered by the country in these last 25 years of oil revenues so superior to those of the past is too great and evident. The “socialism of the 21st century” that Chavismo coined is a false currency that no one buys.

But there is more: today in the world there are no successful economies that are socialist. In Russia and China, despite their omnipresent political statism and their baptismal name, what is successful in the economy is capitalist. The very successful economies in the Scandinavian countries are liberal, despite being the work of social democratic governments. In them the social pact is effective with culture and institutions of solidarity communicating vessels other than the liberal economy. The liberal economy stimulates productivity and those who do not produce do not receive and only those who put in the effort to sow reap the harvest. But the social solidarity expressed in the social pact feeds the institutions and communicating vessels where the “us-other” flows. There is no flourishing economy that is not liberal, nor social coexistence without agreement that inspires and unleashes energies and convictions that make it supportive. Liberal economy and social democracy are the two wings necessary for modern society to fly successfully; You can’t fly with just one wing.

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But there is an inertial inheritance that continues to promise “liberalism” or “socialism” as mutually exclusive banners and ends in frustration. In Latin America, both have been promised in an exclusive manner and have failed.

The answer to the resounding failure of “21st century socialism” is not neoliberalism, but a liberal economy combined with a social agreement of law and of the heart with strong, demanding and effective solidarity institutions. Individual responsibility and creativity and a supportive social pact are two necessary wings to take flight and make the we born from the supportive self; a we-other in which the self does not disappear but is strengthened and fulfilled. Freedom and solidarity are not exclusive but complementary. Once in government, the socialist has to become liberal and the liberal has to promote solidarity. The art is in designing things in such a way that the common good is appreciated and lived as an individual good and vice versa.

The false and exclusive affirmation of socialism and neoliberalism leads to failure. The solution comes from the wise and fruitful relationship between the liberal and the social in the entire society and in each citizen.

For example, in Chile, President Gabriel Boric came to government with a leftist pedigree and from the first moment had to come to terms with liberal economics. Otherwise, capital and businessmen, in a few months, would have paralyzed production with capital flight and the impoverishment of workers would have taken to the streets.

In Argentina, on the contrary, President Javier Milei planted the ultraliberal flag with extremist promises against the economy and society deformed by the “socialist” virus, state paternalism and the subsidies that are given away without requiring production. In a few months, reality will impose the need to combine creative liberal economic productivity with social solidarity. Nations are based on implicit or explicit social pacts and only those who learn to play as a supportive team are winners, enhancing the individuality and creativity of each player. A successful team is one that does not stifle individual genius, but rather transforms it into the strength of the team.

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Once in power, even the most liberal discover that without solidarity there is no coherence or social peace and that no country functions without efficient public institutions. Good politics offers everyone the opportunity to do their best.

Venezuela’s challenge is to become producers after having lost 75% of our gross domestic product in 3 years; brutal impoverishment that sinks the country. This cannot be resolved with the invention of conspiracies to repress discontent, nor with the sowing of fear. This year, 2024, our country, which seems hopeless, must open up with hope and strength to democratic productive recovery, transforming disqualifications into opportunities and international sanctions into effective solidarity.

This is a challenge especially for the leadership and candidacy of María Corina Machado, who must be liberal and at the same time effectively social; that the entire population feels that their vital need for change is at the center of María Corina’s proposal and National Agreement and that in her political efforts quality public education and health services within the reach of those who benefit from them really take first place. It needs the healthy rescue of public institutions and productive work of all, as the true wealth of the country. The new Venezuela will be born when every Venezuelan is a producer with preparation and real opportunities to do so. A strong and effective State with a vigorous liberal economy and a society convinced that in this boat we will save ourselves by all rowing in one direction or we will all sink under the weight of unproductive ineptitude and unsupportive conflict.

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The entry Neither socialism nor neoliberalism was first published in EL NACIONAL.

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