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In the Party I was beginning to see many people of a different stripe. During the war period I saw how opportunism and selfishness engulfed many comrades. They wore expensive clothes, lived in fine apartments, took long vacations at places provided by men of wealth. There was, for one, William Wiener, former treasurer of the Party, manipulator for a score of business enterprises, who wore Brooks Brothers suits, smoked expensive cigars, and lunched only at the best places. There were the trade union Communists who rubbed elbows with underworld characters at communist-financed night clubs, and labor lawyers who were given patronage by the Party by assignment to communist-led trade unions and now were well established and comfortable.[1]


Communist Party USA leader Bell Dodd’s 1954 remark as relayed by Wikipedia may have special resonance today in the socialist’s disaster continuing to unfold — or perhaps preparing to fold — in Venezuela.

While it had been one thing to share Venezuela’s good fortune and wealth with the public, perhaps especially with massive revenues pumped out of the ground, it has been another for the socialist government to suppress the private ownership of productive ideas and resources while utterly failing to diversify a national economy with the intent to forestall a one-market boom-or-bust (it busted) disaster.

For BackChannels, the cite-quote-cite-quote method has grown tiresome, so the reader may take this post as a reference page but with the suggestion that Maduro’s now patently criminal junta — access the OCCRP and InSight Crime reports cited in reference — may choose to loot and flee the country having proven themselves unable to judiciously and responsibly govern the same — or, in the manner demonstrated by Assad in Syria, they may enjoy being carved up by similarly predatory trade partners.

BackChannels’ humanism in relation to economic development would counsel the damping of dogma in the search for a good mix of private incentives for economic diversification x public policies and programs fit to constituent needs for “basics” plus psychological enthusiasm, fitness, and growth. From the same stance, the messianic self-aggrandizement associated with dictatorships would be viewed as damaging and limiting the greater public experience and potential for good things, starting with community-wide and personal security.

(For related exploration or some meditation on dictatorship, this blog offers portals for “Malignant Narcissism” and its own proposed concept, “Facsimile Bipolar Political Sociopathy“. Neither would differentiate between Far Left and Far Right authoritarianism or kleptocracy — and it would place both as more appropriate in the operating environments of the feudal world and fit to related medieval worldviews associated with “political absolutism” and sovereignty. Wherever placed x space x time, the absence of conscience looms large with dictatorships and the related criminality associated with power becomes glaring and, eventually, beyond bearing).

Bella Dodd, by the way, would renounce Communism toward the end of her journey and again embrace the Catholicism with which she had been born.


Aslund, Anders. “Venezuela is Heading for a Soviet-Style Collapse.” Foreign Policy, May 2, 2017.

Ayres, Sabra. “Russia and China, heavily invested in Venezuela, warily watch the political turmoil.” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019.

Doyle Liam. “Venezuela gold: 20 tons of GOLD BARS ‘shipped out’ of Venezuela on Boeing 777.” Express, January 30, 2019.

Faiola, Anthony and Karen DeYoung. “In Venezuela, Russia pockets key energy assets in exchange for cash bailouts.” The Washington Post, December 24, 2018.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “Oil-Producing Countries and Debt”. Podcast with the bank’s public affairs content coordinator Kristie Engemann and Fed economist Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria detailing results of her research on the subject of interest. May 4, 2018.

Fox Business. “Venezuela is worse than the Soviet Union was: Lt. Col. Peters.” June 28, 2017.

Johnson, Keith. “How Venezuela Struck It Poor.” Foreign Policy, July 16, 2018.

Kew, Ben. “OAS: 10 Million Venezuelans Could Flee Country Within Next Four Years.” Breitbart, December 27, 2018.

Martin, Jorge. “US Tightens the Noose on Venezuela: Will the Coup Succeed?” Venezuela Analysis, February 4, 2019. On Venezuela’s travail (and America’s Far Right Imperialist Aggression) from the Marxist perspective.

McLaughlin, Eliott C. “Maduro says a US-led ‘coup’ is behind the political upheaval in Venezuela.” CNN, January 27, 2019.

OCCRP. “2016 Man of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption”.

Trevithick, Joseph. “Venezuela Agreed to Let Russia Set Up a Bomber Outpost On This Caribbean Island: Reports.” The War Zone, The Drive, December 18, 2018.

Venezuela Investigative Unit. “7 Reasons for Describing Venezuela as a ‘Mafia State’.” InSight Crime, May 16, 2018. Related off this article: “Venezuela: A Mafia State?” — A three-year project producing an eight-part series and full 84-page report. Herewith an excerpt from “7 Reasons . . . .”:

What is clear from our investigations is that the following institutions are staffed at the higher echelons by individuals we believe are, or have been, engaged in criminal activity:
The Vice Presidency, the Ministries of Interior (Ministerio del Poder Popular del Despacho de la Presidencia y Seguimiento de la Gestión de Gobierno), Defense (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Defensa), Agriculture (Ministerio del Poder Popular de Agricultura Urbana), Education (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Educación), Prison Service (Ministerio del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario), Foreign Trade and Investment (Ministerio de Estado para el Comercio Exterior e Inversión Internacional), Electricity (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Energía Eléctrica), the National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana), the Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Bolivarianas), the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – SEBIN) and PdVSA.

The penetration of so many key institutions, and the fact that they constitute the state’s main organs in the fight against organized crime, means that Venezuela cannot even contain organized crime, let alone effectively fight it. With so many state actors with interests in criminal activity, be it fuel smuggling, the black market sale of food and medicines or the trafficking of cocaine, this factor alone suggests that Venezuela qualifies as a mafia state.


Wikipedia. “Bella Dodd”.

Wikipedia. “Corruption in Venezuela”.

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