We don’t debate nearly as much as we should on what a Socialist society would look like, but if I had to guess, it’d probably be pretty similar to the administration of Jose Mujica.
Uruguay’s current leader has been dubbed by some as “the world’s poorest president”. Swiftly gaining acclaim as news of his actions and lifestyle spread across the internet, Mujica has been joined the all-too-small ranks of “honorable politicians”, perhaps filling the void left by the death of Nelson Mandela in December of last year.
In a world where poverty, inequality, and economic injustice are increasingly recognized, Mujica stands out for his shocking rejection of the pomp and circumstance that accompany power. Mujica drives a beat-up Volkswagon Beetle, and lives with his wife on a chrysanthemum farm on the outskirts of the capitol with their three-legged dog, Manuela. Living off of 12,000 dollars, and donating 90% of his presidential salary to charity, it sounds almost more like the setting for a political fairy tale than a reality.
And for many, it almost is just that. While his lifestyle has rocketed him to fame, I am doubtful that many have taken a look at Mujica’s administration beyond his humble lifestyle. If some people were to take a closer look at Mujica’s ideology and history, I doubt they’d be quite so quick to sing his praises.
I say “some people”, not us, because- you guessed it…
…Jose Mujica’s a Socialist!
Mujica’s story begins not with his beat-up Volkswagen but with his early days as a member of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement, a revolutionary Marxist group in Uruguay. Along with his comrades, Mujica helped staged Robin Hood-style robberies, literally robbing the rich and distributing the spoils among the poor. Eventually he was captured, tortured, and imprisoned for 14 years by the country’s Areco and Civic-Military regimes. Returning to politics in the early 90s, after the fall of Uruguay’s dictatorships, Mujica found success in a number of elections, eventually resulting in a successful presidential campaign in 2010.
Since his election, Mujica has demonstrated himself to be perhaps the most progressive politician the world has yet seen, legalizing marijuana, offering to take in Guantanamo Bay “detainees” after lamenting their deplorable conditions, and advocating radical immigrant rights. Remaining true to his Marxist roots, Mujica’s self-declared “redistribution” policies have seen his nation’s poverty rate plummet from 37% to 11%! The man has legalized gay marriage in his nation– an act our own head of state hasn’t been able to do (not that he seems to have tried much)…
Have we mentioned yet that Mujica’s dedication to his principles is so strong that he’s even decried neck-ties as being classist garbage? Well, followers of our Facebook page do (you should like our Facebook page).
“The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck… I’m an enemy of consumerism. Because of this hyperconsumerism, we’re forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness.”
Can you even begin to imagine having a local politician like that, much less a flippin’ national leader? The simple fact that this man exists is something to inspire hope in the possibility of a more free and more just world. Presidente Mujica- hat’s off to you, comrade.