We're gonna party like it's 1938

Now you see him...
Now you see him…
Now you don’t

Part of what’s so saddening about the Venezuelan government’s increasing use of “sabotage” as a catch-all, evidence-free excuse for the breakdown of various bits of the socialist order is just how historically blinkered it is.

These guys have no understanding that in shifting responsibility to shadowy, unseen, all-powerful “wreckers and saboteurs”, they’re following in the blood-soaked footsteps of any number of totalitarian regimes.

They have no idea that the stalinist purges of the 1930s culminated in a great society-wide spasm, as an all-out witch-hunt for wreckers, spies and saboteurs, yielded perhaps half-a-million forced confessions, deportations and executions. They have no sense of the crazy extremes the process eventually reached, of the scale of the lunacy this process sets in motion, complete with meteorologists sent to the gulag for sabotaging the people’s morale by forecasting bad weather.

They have no insight into the way rigid collectivist ideology yields economic policies that can only work if people consistently act against their own interests, which they won’t, and when they won’t they yield a whole raft of unintended consequences. They have no sense of the way state control of the media cuts off decision-makers from the kind of information they’d need to actually face up to these problems, leaving a desperate hunt for shadowy saboteurs as the only intellectually satisfying “solution”. And they certainly have no insight into the way the hunt for saboteurs inevitably, eventually, turns against those who launch it.

The entire history of the 20th century passed them right by.

And no, moustache-issues aside, I’m not saying Nicolás Maduro is Joseph Stalin. I’m saying that if he or the clique in power had the slightest hint of historical awareness, they’d have realized by now they’re thinking borrowed thoughts, mindlessly drawing hand-me-down inferences from worn-out-old lines of reasoning that end in only-too-well-understood catastrophes.