The Politics of Sacrifice and the Morality of Need

A society that enshrines “need” as a social virtue is an evil society whose politics is based on the idea of “sacrifice.”

The article posted below tells the story of a country that is now in the midst of radical mysticism, people-sacrificing collectivism, and altruism-based tyranny. In that article, socialist Hugo Chavez, the people’s dictator of Venezuela, vowed to sacrifice and immolate businesses and industries within his territory in the name of common good and public welfare. Amidst global economic crisis, Chavez vowed to resort to brute force in order to address domestic economic issues and serve the interests of his poor people. Among the orders he issued to preserve his collectivist dictatorship are the following: price control, absolute government intervention into the economy, continued nationalization of businesses, excessive taxation to finance government works and services, and other populist policies that aim to protect the poor.

The popular socialist leader firmly believes that he possesses the absolute power to serve national interest and the welfare and interests of his own people. “Right now, there is absolutely no reason for anybody to be raising prices of absolutely anything,” Chavez declared. In view of this, he ordered government soldiers to monitor businesses that raise prices following a sharp devaluation of the bolivar currency in the past week. Chavez warned that private firms engaged in price gouging would be subject to expropriation or confiscation.

“I want the National Guard on the streets with the people to fight against speculation. Publicly denounce the speculator and we will intervene in any business of any size,” Chavez announced.

What’s the message of this ongoing precarious political-economic event in Venezuela to Filipinos who look forward to national elections in May 10?

The Venezuelan crisis tells us a lesson that we must vote only for our rights as individuals in this country. Chavez blatantly used “people’s need and welfare” in expanding the range of his power. In the past few years, the Venezuelans allowed Chavez to rule as the country’s dictator. This paved the way for radical changes, such as the nationalization of privately-owned oil companies and oil fields, including banks, important industries, and profitable businesses. As a result of this socialist takeover of businesses and industries, local businessmen and foreign investors left Venezuela, a situation that led to brain drain, unemployment, and more intense economic crisis.

“Need” is the weapon being used by Chavez to further the advance of statism and dictatorship in Venezuela, while the word “sacrifice” is being used as a magic word to fool and appease the people. Chavez wants to be the state. He wants to canonize the state as Venezuelans’ ever-benevolent Deity that provides almost everything his people need. Since people’s “need” and “social welfare” is the battle cry that now reigns throughout Venezuela, the government assumes the role of a benevolent sole provider of the people. Chavez government provides such services as education, health care, food rations, and even family allowances. The results of this altruistic economic policy are inflation, devaluation of the bolivar currency, exodus of professionals and able men, and deep economic crisis.

With the current intellectual and political trend in this country, I can say that the Philippines is moving toward socialism or collectivism. Most Filipinos say they’re not communists, but this shallow claim is simply negated by their deep faith in redistribution of wealth, taxing of the productive and the successful to serve the needs of the poor, more government intervention and control of the economy, provision of more government welfare and services, and nationalization or takeover or businesses and industries. Most of our politicians are proponents and believers of the politics of “need” and “sacrifice.” If a politician believed in the politics of “sacrifice,” he would not hesitate to sacrifice a certain group in order to serve the needs of another group.

If the people believed that they have the right to free education, free health care, and free food rations, among others, the rise of a socialist or a fascist dictator is just a matter of time. “Need” invites “sacrifice.” If the people believed in the morality of need, the government, in return, had to resort to the politics of sacrifice. More people’s needs mean more sacrifices to be forced by the government, and more government actions to answer people’s clamor mean more government powers.

This is the way both Venezuela and the Philippines are going. If you firmly believed that it is the government’s role to provide free education and free health care, definitely you will vote for the candidate with the most number of populist promises. However, you have to remember that every favor you ask of the government expands the range of its power and authority to intervene into economic and social affairs and to sacrifice a certain group so to serve the needs of another group. A society that enshrines “need” as a social virtue is an evil society whose politics is based on the idea of “sacrifice.”

***

In this article, the unprecedented exodus of artists, lawyers, physicians, managers, and engineers after a decade of Chavez’s “socialism for the 21st century” is not only destroying Venezuela’s economy, but is sabotaging the country’s future as well.

“The Bolivarian diaspora is a reversal of fortune on a massive scale. Through most of the last century, Venezuela was a haven for immigrants fleeing Old World repression. Refugees from totalitarianism and religious intolerance in Spain, Italy, Germany, and Eastern Europe flocked to this country nestled between the Caribbean and the Andean cordillera and helped forge one of the most vibrant societies in the New World. Like most developing nations, the country was split between the burgeoning poor and an encastled elite. But in the 1970s and 1980s, Venezuelans were the envy of Latin America. Oil-rich, educated, with a solid democratic tradition, they lived a tier above the chronically unstable societies in the region. “We had a relatively rich country that offered opportunities, with no insecurity. No one thought about leaving,” says Diego Arria, a former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations who lives in New York. “Now we have rampant crime, a repressive political system that borders on apartheid, and reverse migration. Venezuela is now a country of emigrants.”

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