On the same day that Venezuela’s “democratically” elected socialist president Nicolas Maduro, whose once-wealthy nation now has citizens foraging for food, announced he was chopping five zeros off the country’s currency to create a “stable financial and monetary system,” “The View’s” Meghan McCain was the target of her cohost, and Internet-wide condemnation, for stating some obvious truths about collectivism.
On the same week we learned that democratic socialist Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua had massacred hundreds of protesters whose economic futures have been decimated by his economic policies, Soledad O’Brien, and writers at outlets ranging from GQ and BuzzFeed to the Daily Beast, were telling McCain to cool her jets.
In truth, she was being far too calm. Socialism has been one, if not the, leading man-made cause of death and misery in human existence. Whether it’s implemented by a mob of people or by a single strongman, collectivism is a poverty generator, an attack on human dignity, and destroyer of individual rights.
It’s also true that not all socialism ends in the tyranny of Leninism or Stalinism or Moaism or Castroism or Ba’athism or the Khmer Rouge or Chávezism — only most do. And no, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t intend to set up gulags in Alaska. Most “democratic Socialists” — the qualifier affixed to denote that they live in a democratic system and have no choice but ask for votes— aren’t consciously or explicitly endorsing violence or tyranny. But when they adopt the term “socialism,” and the ideas associated with it, they deserve to be treated with the kind of contempt and derision that all authoritarian philosophies deserve.
But look: Norway!
If you bring up socialism — “democratic” or otherwise — you will inevitably be browbeat into ignoring the giant list of nations that have tried and miserably failed at coercing economic fairness. Socialism is perhaps the only ideology that Americans are asked to judge solely based on its piddling “successes.”
Don’t you dare mention Albania or Algeria or Angola or Burma or Congo or Cuba or Ethiopia or Laos or Somalia or Vietnam or Yemen or, well, any other inconvenient place. Not when there are a handful of Scandinavian countries operating some generous welfare-state programs propped up by an underlying vibrant capitalism and natural resources. (Scandinavians, incidentally, do better in capitalism than pretend-socialism, anyway. The living standards of Scandinavians in the United States are more than 50 percent higher than that of the Scandinavians in Europe. Maybe their success has more to do with being Scandinavian than it does with reading Marx.)
Of course socialism exists on a spectrum, and even if we accept that the Nordic social-program experiments are the most benign iteration of collectivism, they are certainly not the only version. Pretending otherwise would be like saying, “The capitalistic police state of Singapore is more successful than Denmark. Maybe we should ignore the history of every other police state in history and give it a spin?” I mean, if we’re looking for European nations to emulate, let’s go with the laissez faire paradise of Switzerland.
It turns out, though, that the “Denmark is awesome!” talking point is only the second most preposterous one socialists (and people who don’t understand what the word means) have adopted. There’s a more vacuous, and more prevalent, argument that posits if you’re a fan of “roads, schools, libraries, and such” you are, even if you don’t know it, a supporter of socialism.
For one thing, we enjoy these state services because we enjoy an unprecedented wealth fostered by free markets. Every penny of the $21,206 spent every year on every single student, rich or poor, in Ocasio-Cortez’s district is dependent on profits derived from capitalism. There is no welfare system, no library or museum, that subsists on good intentions. Having the state take over the entire health-care system can rightly be called a socialistic endeavor, but pooling your local tax dollars to put books in a building is called local government.
It should also be noted that today socialists like to get their yucks pretending that collectivist policies can lead only to innocuous outcomes like local bike share programs. But for many years they were also praising the communist dictators of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the nation’s most successful socialist, isn’t merely impressed with the goings-on in Denmark. He once, not very long ago, lauded Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela as an embodiment of the “American dream,” more than even the United States. Unlike the thousands of people who’ve risked their lives to escape Communism, Sanders thinks Cuba’s Fidel Castro was a pretty neat guy. Gulags, and all.
While thinking Castro’s policies might be worth praising, socialists like to blame every inequity, the actions of every greedy person, every economic downturn, and every social problem on the injustice of capitalism. Apparently, greed is a human desire monopolized by those who prefer free enterprise. What democratic socialists won’t admit is that capitalism has been the most effective way to eliminate poverty and foster human rights in the history of mankind.
Today, in former socialist states like India, there has been a boom of wealth and big reductions in poverty thanks to increased capitalism. In China where communism, sadly, still deprives billions of their basic rights, hundreds of millions of people still benefit from a system that is slowly shedding socialism. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the extreme poverty rate in the world has been cut in half. And it didn’t happen because Southeast Asians were raising the minimum wage.
In the United States, only 5 percent of people are even aware that poverty has fallen in the world, which is almost certainly, in part, a result of the Left’s obsession over “inequality” and normalizing of “socialism” — democratic or otherwise. Nearly half of American millennials would rather live in a socialist society than in a capitalist one, according to a YouGov poll. That said, millennials showed vast ignorance about socialism and communism, with only 71 percent of those asked being able to properly identify either. We can now see the manifestation of this ignorance in our elections and Joy Behar.
But if all you really champion are some higher taxes and more generous social welfare, stop associating yourself with a philosophy that usually brings destitution and death. Call it something else. If not, McCain has every right to associate you with the ideology you embrace.