Joseph Schumpeter may well help us better understand the debacle that was Chile’s 2021 presidential election result of Sunday, December 19. Far-left candidate Gabriel Boric easily won with 55.87% of the vote, defeating conservative Jose Antonio Kast, a staunch defender of free markets and republican governance. How could arguably Latin America’s basket case of success in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, measured by socio-economic indicators, have gone for a Marxist sympathizer?
The Austrian economist and politician (Schumpeter) authored a classic, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942), where he contended that socialism would ultimately overrun capitalism and democracy. The rationale Schumpeter offered was that as political equality extended voting rights, the non-wealthy portion of the population, clearly the majority, would vote for socialism. The Moravian-born, later naturalized U.S. citizen, and former Harvard professor was most influential in the field of economics. Yet, his 1942 work may prove to be Schumpeter’s biggest legacy. In this pessimistic work, his understanding of human nature is playing out.
Chile is not an isolated case. Peru and Honduras are recent examples where socialist candidates won the presidency. Elections scheduled for 2022 in Brazil, Colombia, and Costa Rica, place these countries all within plausible reach by radical leftism. The failure of socialism is undeniable when judged by empirical evidence and moral history. Yet, despite this fact, how can socialism’s appeal at the voting booth be explained?
The right, that political smorgasbord comprised of liberals, libertarians, conservatives, Christian Democrats, and a convoluted mixture of all these different parts, has not been a good salesperson. The left, on the other hand, has been formidable in selling itself. Does anyone doubt this? As a system, socialism, irrefutably, has caused 100 to 130 million deaths in the 20th century. Its premier and original economic model have been forced to undergo major overhauls to avoid famines (China, Vietnam, etc.). Its epistemological base—classical Marxism—has been disproven by history as early as World War I. The fact that this malevolent system still has an attractiveness to large portions of people is proof that the Left has better convincing skills.
Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Mauricio Macri (Argentina), Juan Manuel Santos and Iván Duque (Colombia) are all examples of Latin American RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). The U.S. has its own group of these politicians that are accredited logistically with the Republican Party but not morally or philosophically. Piñera paved the way for the Marxist agitator who won the presidency in Chile, by legitimizing the subversive war that the International Left waged on Chilean democracy. It was his support of institutional mechanisms to dismantle the republic, like the referendum, that laid the groundwork for the socialist revolutionaries to dig deep and insist on a systemic overthrow. Piñera surrendered Chile to the Marxists a while back. Similar defeats can be pointed to in Macri’s Argentina, and Santos’ and Duque’s Colombia.
As Marxists took to culture to focus their heaviest artillery, the 5 institutions Antonio Gramsci identified as vital to defeat free societies, the family, religion, media, education, and law, are all under attack and the last 3 have become virtual fiefdoms of leftism. When one adds to this challenging reality, postmodernism’s relativization of truth and knowledge, the task of socialist proselytizing has been made easy.
The civic revolt one is witnessing in the U.S. by the Right (liberals, libertarians, conservatives, Christian Democrats) against Marxist policies and socialist politicians is what is needed in Latin America. Ideology matters! Freedom, family, free enterprise, God, country and a vibrant middle class are much more reasonably conducive factors to personal and spiritual empowerment, as well as material prosperity. Schumpeter’s dismal forecast need not be played out. That huge mass of individuals that can fit into that block of the “Right”, must appeal to people’s emotions, not just their intellect. The Left must be defeated in their own game.