On Tuesday, Venezuelan security forces snatched the country’s two most visible opposition leaders, Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, from their own homes where they lived under house arrest for a number of years. Against the backdrop of months-long protests and state-sanctioned violence, the two men remained relatively quiet, waiting for the right moment to reassert themselves in the public eye. But the prospect of reemergence has been nipped in the bud by a state desperate to keep its defiant people in line.

Watch as the political prisoners are dragged out of their homes by security forces:

While opposition leaders have long called for peaceful protests against Maduro, the people of Venezuela appear to be at their wits’ end. Clashes with security forces are now daily occurrences. Desperate Venezuelans equipped with signs, posters, and sticks are facing off against a police state sanctioned to use deadly violence to quell popular dissent.

After years of state-mandated price controls, forceful seizure of private property, and overspending, the socialist state has left the once-prosperous country of Venezuela destitute. Basic goods and services are now considered luxuries. Food, water, and medicine are scarce. Faced with the inevitable horrors of starvation, many Venezuelans are choosing open rebellion over a complacent death.

But the desperation of a people hungry for a better life has only hardened the heart of the country’s dictatorial president. On Sunday, Maduro held a sham election designed to push through a referendum which dismantles the opposition-held National Assembly. In its place, Maduro will assemble a legislative body made-up exclusively of allies and family members. Most disturbing of all, this new legislative body will be empowered with the ability to change the country’s constitution altogether. In other words, Maduro will have full control over the country’s political future.

At this point, the regime isn’t even pretending to pay homage to democracy. Maduro is crowning himself monarch and making sure that a loyal palace guard surrounds his throne.

This is the inevitable progression of the socialist experiment: a feudal king calling upon his soldiers to savagely hack down famished peasants knocking at the gates of the castle.

Over the weekend, ten people protesting outside of ballot boxes were killed by security forces. Maduro has ordered the state police to crack down on dissent by any means necessary. Indeed, protesting against Sunday’s sham elections will get you ten years in prison if you’re lucky enough to survive a baton beating.

Ironically, the ideology marketed as a panacea to cure all the ills of inequality spares no one other than the centralized oligarchic authority clinging onto the levers of power with bloodied hands.

Make no mistake, a Marxist-inspired state, no matter how much post-modern jargon, post-colonial theory, or Orwellian “social justice” language adorn its abstract academic construct, will ultimately express itself in true form, crushing dissent and impoverishing a people. By its very nature, this immoral socioeconomic experiment demands both enslavement of the body and the mind.