Ecuador Debates 21st-Century Socialism
Despite the bloody and famished legacy of Marxism, it is still proposed as an alternative
Spanish – While social demands are presented through mass demonstrations in the streets of Latin America, they are debated in academia. There are more and more voices defending the free market, and they receive applause in packed rooms in state universities, showing a change of paradigm.
The implementation of Marxist ideas resulted in more than one hundred million deaths, through famine, executions, and forced labor camps (in Cuba, gays were sent to these camps under Che Guevara’s slogan, “work will make you men”). Thus the failure of Marxism has been demonstrated, and it is not defended based on evidence, but based on dialectics.
This was made visible at the Central University of Ecuador, where the Marxist economist John Cajas Guijarro debated with the economist and university professor trained at the Austrian School, Luis Espinosa Goded. The event was organized by Contigo FCE, a student organization that promotes the exchange of ideas, which also mediated the debate and facilitated audience questions for the speakers.
During the debate, the Marxist economist argued that barter is not capitalism even though the audience shouted at him that it was. He focuses his ideas on “capital,” which he considers being synonymous with physical money, overlooking digital alternatives such as crypto-money, which operate in a decentralized manner, among others.
Those who promote the ideas of freedom face persecution; therefore, defending them is an act of rebellion
It is worth noting that the influence of macroeconomics professor Pablo Zambrano Ponton has driven acceptance of free-market ideas at the state university. Zambrano has been and still is, persecuted in academia for his views.
Among other factors, pro-free markets professors resort to dynamic pedagogy to spread their ideas, such as the use of social media to reach out to young students. The same rebellious spirit that characterizes young people and has pushed many people to the streets demanding “social rights” from the state, today, leads others to defend free-market ideals in a time when these values are under attack as thy imply greater individual autonomy and less state intervention. Meanwhile, the other party proposes the opposite: The opposite of what the counterpart suggests: greater state dependence and the restriction of individual freedom.
PanAm Post contacted one of the participants in the debate, economist Luis Espinosa Goded, who is surprised that people are still discussing Marxism as a serious alternative, given its bloody and starving legacy.
Why is it important to debate in academic spaces?
I think the most important thing is that this debate happened not only because there is a group of Marxists defending their ideology but because Marxism seems to be a serious alternative in the collective imagination. In fact, 21st-century socialism has been the plague of Latin America. The 21st century started with the idea that it was possible to renew Marxism.
I think it is essential that the suffering generated by 21st-century socialism has served its purpose and that, at the very least, it succeeds in discrediting the word socialism sufficiently.
What is the most difficult thing to discuss with a Marxist?
The hardest thing to discuss with a Marxist is that they live in three worlds. The first is the world of ideas. Their lack of definition of the theory of capital is completely removed from reality. Secondly, they have a profoundly negative view of the world in which we live and are unable to see all the positive things that have been achieved. And thirdly, both for the debater and Marxists in general, it is impossible for them to specify what Marxism is, what communism is. Because they do not hold themselves responsible for all the crimes in the history of Marxism, which amount to hundreds of millions.
In conclusion, the problem with debating Marxists is that deep down Marxism has run out of arguments beyond permanent criticism and slogans.
What message would you give to those who want to spread the ideas of freedom?
I recommend to the defenders of the ideas of freedom that they should prepare themselves to express their views in a friendly way because those who defend freedom of expression must be prepared to be criticized and not be intolerant of the plurality of opinions that is possible in free societies, not so in Marxist societies.