Author: Hugo Newman

The Man Who Predicted the Venezuelan Catastrophe in 1893

On 19 August, the Guardian reported that Venezuelans fleeing their country’s economic, political, and humanitarian crisis are being attacked by natives of neighbouring countries, who have grown weary of the relentless influx of migrants (a term that sounds increasingly euphemistic—’refugees’ is a more accurate descriptor). For nearly 20 years, Venezuela’s regime has blamed foreign actors and ‘neoliberal’ subversives for every woe and calamity that has befallen the country. But the disastrous results of the Bolivarian socialist experiment were both predictable and widely predicted—and not just by contemporary observers and analysts. They were also foretold 125 years ago by a now-obscure German politician, journalist, and author named Eugen Richter. Richter was what we would now call a ‘classical liberal.’ He appraised socialist doctrine before an actual socialist state put theory into practice, and he found it wanting. In 1893, he turned his concerns into a dystopian novella entitled Pictures of the Socialistic Future, in which he vividly predicted what would happen if the socialists of his day were to gain control of the German economy. Narrated by a …