needs are met’ (2003). Therefore, an all-encompassing, comprehensive and publicly provided welfare scheme could be identified as being underpinned by socialist ideology.In this regard, an examination of differing social policies can reveal that not only does political ideology influence and shape social policies, but often policies have their veryroots in a particular political ideology.An excellent and rather topical illustration of the influence of socialist ideology on social policy can be seen today in the Latin American country of Venezuela, under the leadershipof the left-wing president, Hugo Chávez. He is a prominent socialist, and of hisideological perspective he says he wishes to implement ‘a new type of socialism, ahumanist one, which puts humans, and not machines or state, ahead of everything’ (Sojo,2005). He has termed his ideology ‘Bolivarianism’, after the revolutionary SimonBolivar, and also draws influence from socialist figures from throughout Latin Americanhistory, such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro (Wikipedia online article (a)). Through thedesign and implementation of various social policies, Chávez is seeking to make hissocialist vision a reality by greatly reducing social inequalities, eliminating governmentalcorruption and creating new and vital opportunities for those living beneath the povertyline. Since his rise to power in 1998, he has poured millions of dollars into social welfareschemes to improve living conditions for the country’s poorest citizens (BBC news report,2005). These schemes fall under the umbrella heading of ‘Bolivarian Missions’ andinclude plans to eradicate illiteracy and combat disease on a nationwide scale (OfficialVenezuelan Government website).One such social policy put into practice under the direction of Chávez is MissionRobinson (
. This policy was executed in July of 2003, and has as itsgoal the elimination of illiteracy among the peoples of Venezuela (Official
website). The policy aims to teach reading, writing and arithmetic to thehundreds of thousands of Venezuelan adults who never received a formal education andhave been left illiterate as a result (BBC news report, 2004). Clearly, this policy canimmediately be identified as one influenced by a left-wing ideology, as it is publicly providing a service to the country’s citizens to reduce inequalities caused by lack of opportunity.