Why Does Socialism Tend to Attract Dictators?

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro brushed aside international condemnation and installed a powerful new assembly on Friday that critics say will crush the last traces of democracy. The assembly, made up of government loyalists including his wife and son, will have powers to override other government institutions as it rewrites the constitution. Opponents worry the assembly, whose election on Sunday was widely seen as fraudulent, will wipe out dissent and create a dictatorship. To make matters worse, two prominent opposition politicians, who were already under house arrest, were jailed.

But why is it that socialism attracts dictators? Chavez, Castro, Stalin…even Hitler. Yes…the Nazis were a socialist political party before Hitler joined. The German National Socialist Party attracted Hitler with his evil intentions. These German socialists believed that the individual existed for the purpose of the state, not the other way around, as we would understand to be a more Biblical perspective of government. Chavez stated he was concerned about the Venezuelan people, but his actions showed otherwise. Forbes magazine estimated Chavez’s net worth to be $500 million at the time of his death. How about Castro? Forbes estimated his net worth to be $900 million at his death. Even Italian dictator Mussolini was a socialist. His father read Karl Marx’s Das Capital to him as a child.

Briefly stated…socialism minimizes the importance of individuals and private property. Here is how socialism often leads to dictatorial control:

  • It starts with growing state interference in the economy.
  • This leads to massive inefficiencies and long lines outside empty shops.
  • Economic central planning inherently limits economic freedom, as there can be no agreement on a single plan in a society of free thinkers.
  • The centralization of economic decision-making has to be accomplished by centralization of political power in the hands of a small elite.
  • A state of perpetual economic crisis then leads to calls for more planning. When, in the end, the failure of central planning becomes undeniable, totalitarian regimes tend to silence the dissenters as history has demonstrated—sometimes through mass murder.

Even a casual observer can see this progression in Venezuela. Unfortunately, socialism refuses to go away. Wannabe socialists are thus destined to learn not from history, but from their own mistakes. In the meantime, as in Venezuela, ordinary people suffer.


Venezuela Seats Powerful Assembly Many Say Is a Fraud; by Anatoly Kurmanaev, Ryan Dube, WSJ, August 4, 2017.

Venezuela Reminds Us That Socialism Frequently Leads to Dictatorship; Marian Tupy, Reason.com-Free Minds and Free Markets, April 4, 2017

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