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

Saturday, June 15, 2019


At best, there are some democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination who feel mildly uncomfortable with the "democratic socialism" espoused by the likes of Bernie Sanders or Liz Warren. But the majority of the candidates are cowards, afraid to offend their rabidly left-wing base (who just love socialism), and therefore tip-toe around the subject.

They tell us that "democratic socialism" isn't really 'socialism.' They scoff when those of us who don't agree with their ideology relate stories of the the many countries who have tried it, including modern day Venezuela. They claim that it can't happen here, and won't happen anyway because they're in charge and their brand of socialism is benign.

They're trying desperately to rebrand socialism into something different, but it's the same old thing—compelling people to give up many freedoms so that democratic socialists can gain control and sculpt the society and culture to their norms. The problem, of course, is that at least half the country doesn't agree with their norms or their methods for compelling compliance.

The Editorial Board of Issues & Insights comments the Democrats' attempt to rebrand socialism:
The big question that never gets addressed regarding these and other “explanations” of socialism is: Why do the self-identified “democratic socialists” feel it’s OK to force those who’d rather be free into their collective?

The system [Bernie] Sanders wants to force on this country of ostensibly free people requires more coercion than that which we are already under. Without force, both real and threatened, socialist systems cannot work. They require governments to take from some and give to others. Its subjects are obligated to participate.

National Review’s Kevin Williamson calls socialism “solidarity that is enforced at gunpoint, if necessary.”

British novelist Kingsley Amis, who was a young Marxist before he became a supporter of Margaret Thatcher and friend of the Adam Smith Institute, said that “if socialism is not about compulsion, it is about nothing.”

The Adam Smith Institute itself reminds us that “whenever socialism has been tried it has involved compulsion, as it attempts to make people behave in ways they would not freely choose to do.”

In the “Dostoevsky Encyclopedia,” author Kenneth Lantz explained that “lacking any spiritual basis for human brotherhood, the socialists must resort to compulsion to establish it.”

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul once asked if violence was inherent to socialism, to which he responded: “I think the answer is absolutely yes.”

And, finally, legendary economist Milton Friedman wraps up our argument.

“The essential notion of a socialist society is fundamentally force,” said Friedman. “If the government is the master, you ultimately have to order people what to do.”

America wasn’t built on coercive government. It was conceived and founded on liberty, and opportunity created by freedom, not artificially manufactured by the state. It has worked far better than any system implemented by man.
But our government has changed over the past four decades. It's gotten bigger, more intrusive, and certainly more profligate. And that's without socialism!

Just imagine what would happen when "compulsion" to the norms of a Bernie Sanders and his congressional compatriots is the rule of the day. Trillions upon trillions of dollars for a health care system that all would be compelled to join. Additional trillions to excuse debt that was entered into freely. Still more trillions for "free" programs that are almost certain to fail and guaranteed to have unintended negative side effects.

Here's the thing. All of us recognize the need for government and the need for some government programs. After all, we need law enforcement, infrastructure, and a a military. We need to protect our borders (although Democrats seem to be unconcerned about this); we need centralized agencies to track disease, to protect the environment, and for some other things. But we need these to be as small and non-intrusive as possible. Under Bernie or Liz, exactly the opposite will happen, and if they can pull it off, all of us will be compelled to participate.

In a harsh summary to their article, the Editorial Board states:
First, all of these “socialist” components can exist — and have existed throughout history — without government involvement. They might not be identical to what we see today, and in many cases would be an improvement. But they are not products unique only to socialism.

Second, we know, as economist Donald Boudreaux explains, that “government provision of public goods crowds out a sizeable portion of private investment in public goods.”

If Americans learn nothing else about socialism, they should at least know this. “The goal of socialists,” writes William L. Anderson, “is socialism — not prosperity.” In other words, the objective is to use promises of abundance and a better life to do nothing more than amass raw political power.
At some level, I suspect that the majority of Americans over the age of 30 suspects this. One can only wonder about the generational cohort that follows them.

UPDATE (6/15/2019):

Over the past few days, I've noticed a meme (using the original definition of the word) that is being used by some Democrats and their many advocates in the media. When a post like mine is offered, an angry response goes like this:
People are trying to mislead the public and characterize us and our proposed programs and policies as "socialist" but that's not what they are!
Hmmm. Every poll of the Democratic base indicates widespread support for socialism in general and policies that have all of the attributes of hard-left socialist thinking. Almost every candidate for the 2016 Democrat presidential ticket panders to that base.

But there's something else. If socialism is such a good idea; if history indicates that it has worked so well in so many places; if the programs and policies offered under its broad ideological umbrella are so beneficial to so many over the long term; if it does NOT compel everyone to opt into its programs; if it does NOT operate to silence or at least suppress opposing views, then why is the suggestion that Democrats are veering toward socialism a bad thing?

UPDATE -2 (6/15/2019):

Almost a decade ago, conservative commentator Andrew Klavin commented on the new presidency of Barack Obama and the concommitent ascendency of the Left:

His words then are equally true today as social media sites work hard to "shut up" views that oppose Leftist orthodoxy (a.k.a. socialism) by labeling those views as "hate speech." The intent, of course, is to be sure that social media criticism of Democratic candidates for president is muted or in the extreme, eliminated entirely.