The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Softening Socialism

The "Democratic Socialist" wing of the Democratic Party along with thousands of their trained hamsters in the media, and millions of their followers are trying mightily to soften "socialism"—to make it a kinder, gentler version of an ideology that has oppressed hundreds of millions, caused the ruin of countless countries, and led to totalitarian government control that reduces or eliminates a wide range of personal freedoms. They just might succeed by using a combination of class warfare (envy is, of course, one of the seven deadly sins), identity politics (specious claims of "white privilege" invalidate any criticism of their policies by people like me), and offers of "free" stuff (e.g., medical care, free college, or guaranteed income). Voters who are historically illiterate often jump at the chance to vote them in. But something interesting happens as a consequence.

When the socialists' utopian vision falls apart; when authoritarian government invariably takes over; when businesses fail, jobs disappear, the economy tanks; when taxes alone can't meet the burden (the socialists run out of other people's money), and when shortages of everything from food to diapers to medicine become commonplace, the same voters who jumped at free stuff want out. But by then, the socialists' sweet talk becomes totalitarian, and elections are either rigged or forgotten.

So, the same people who voted in socialism with a smile then have to fight their way out of it, often shedding blood in the process. That's what's happening right now in Venezuela, and it's an object lesson for the doe-eyed followers of Bernie or AOC or the coterie of "democratic socialists" who tell us utopia is just around the corner if we only follow their "new green deal." When the craziness and cost of their ideas is pointed out, they use words like "aspirational" or idiotic metaphors that argue that no one worried about cost when fighting WWII.

Conservative writer and lightning-rod, Ben Shapiro, notes that democratic socialists tip-toe around Venezuela, refusing the condemn the dictatorial regime of Nicholas Maduro and never, ever supporting Donald Trump's position on the country. He writes:
Why the shocking unwillingness by the socialist hard-liners in the Democratic Party to condemn Maduro and join the rest of the world in calling for his ouster? After all, we've been assured by Sanders, AOC, Omar and others that true socialism isn't at stake in Venezuela -- true socialism can be found in nations like Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Yet even so, these socialist Democrats can't find it in their hearts to cut ties with Venezuela.

How strange.

Perhaps it's because Sanders and his crowd understand full well that Venezuela is an excellent case study in socialism -- nationalization of major industries by a centralized government, abolition of the profit motive and redistribution of resources via tyranny. After all, it wasn't that long ago that Sanders was praising the Soviet Union (he said it had "a whole variety of programs for young people and cultural programs which go far beyond what we do in this country"), Nicaraguan Sandanista Daniel Ortega and Cuba's Fidel Castro ("... he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed the society.").

And then there's the inconvenient fact that the countries that Sanders himself calls socialist totally reject the label. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt launched into Sanders this week, stating, "Bernie Sanders was lucky to be able to get to the Soviet Union in 1988 and praise all its stunning socialist achievements before the entire system and empire collapsed under the weight of its own spectacular failures." In 2015, Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen scoffed at Sanders' dreams of a socialist utopia, noting, "The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and life your life as you wish."

Here is the sad truth about socialism: Socialism drives economies into the ground in exact proportion to its prominence in the economy. Capitalism creates prosperity. It's convenient for Sanders and company to point to the Nordic countries as models of socialism when they are obviously founded on free markets, with socialistic redistribution schemes stacked atop that free market foundation. But deep down, Sanders knows that the truer reflection of socialism lies in Venezuela, Cuba and the Soviet Union. And that's why Sanders simply can't bring himself to disown Venezuelan socialism, even to prop up the lie that socialism wasn't truly tried in Venezuela.
But the trained hamsters protect democratic socialists by never asking hard questions, never pointing out misleading positions and characterizations, and never, ever suggesting that Venezuela is a prima facie example of failed socialism in the 21st century.