Rising Liberal Youth Offer Venezuela’s Best Hope
EspañolOnce the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
− Haruki Murakami
As we approach the 40th anniversary of From the Noble Savage to the Good Revolutionary, the book’s ideas are more relevant than ever (published in English as The Latin Americans). Carlos Rangel was an often lone and unique voice in warning us:
- Five centuries of Latin American history can be summed up in one word: failure. This was a view held by Simón Bolívar, and more recently in Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes — that there has been no significant progress since the independence era.
- This failure arises from our persisting belief in myths. From the myth of the noble savage in the colonial period to the more recent myth of the good revolutionary: our Robin Hoods in red, our communist Don Quixotes, our Che Guevaras.
- Both myths impose a cloud of guilt over wealth, blaming it for the poverty and misery of others.
These are all commonplace ideas in Latin America today, perhaps even more so in Venezuela. Political discourse and propaganda drives the point home every day.
Our leaders’ speeches are plagued with populism, to a greater or lesser extent. That is, they’re full of myths that seek to remove personal responsibility from citizens; they convince people that they can never change their lot in life through individual action, and that only the state can.
However, we cannot let our history deceive us. While political discourse is riddled with messages that evoke these myths, as in the blatant and uncouth fashion of Eduardo Galeano’s The Open Veins of Latin America, it is not the only source. All discourse that justifies state action, extols the collective over the individual, and plays down individual responsibility will have these effects.
Even though we continue to suffer the consequences in Venezuela, we must acknowledge that in recent years a libertarian movement has emerged to tackle the prevailing lawlessness and dearth of liberal thinking.
Decades-old liberal nonprofits such as Cedice Libertad and Leadership and Vision continue to do commendable work, but it is vital that we recognize the rise of a vibrant libertarian community led by the youth across the country.
For example, last year the Central University of Caracas began hosting the Carlos Rangel Open Course. In particular, the leaders of the course have shared his criticism of Latin American universities, and how they have contributed to our stagnation and the waste of scarce resources.
Last month, young professionals from Maracay and Valencia launched the Mises Institute Venezuela. As its Academic Director Ricardo Connett put it, the organization is born out of “the importance and relevance of the Austrian school of economics today, the need to disseminate this school of thought that has been marginalized in our country’s academic circles and universities, and of course, due to Venezuela’s economic crisis, which the Austrian school can explain.”
From well-established institutions like Cedice Libertad to these emerging initiatives, it’s clear that the storm of socialism forced us to confront new challenges. We don’t want our country to be known as the epicenter of this ideology in the region, but as a place where most people long to be free.
As Murakami said, we cannot be sure whether the storm is already behind us or not, but no participant of this movement will be left unchanged. All we want is our freedoms back.