Socialism is on the rise in the US, according to an August 2018 Gallup poll. Democrats have a more positive view of socialism than capitalism by 57% to 47%. The trend is even more pronounced among young people aged 18 to 29, who favor socialism to capitalism by 51% to 45%. Obviously they don’t know about the repeated failures of socialism and the misery it always causes.
Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has increased. Two DSA members are now in Congress – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Rashida Tlaib (D). The DSA’s mission statement is: “…we share a vision of a humane society based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equity and non-oppressive relationships.” This may sound compassionate, but to achieve “control” they must confiscate private property, regulate anything they don’t confiscate and then prosecute anyone who breaks any of their many new rules. There is nothing “democratic” about this, and it is not compassionate.
The latest example of this failed idea is Venezuela. Since Hugo Chavez took over in 1999, 1.5 million have left the country. The Venezuelan economy contracted by 16% in 2016, 14% in 2017, and the prediction is for another 15% in 2018. Starving Venezuelans are looting stores to find food, and nationwide rolling blackouts have resulted in the death of hospital patients.
Another blazing example of socialism’s utter failure comes from the mother country, the United Kingdom. The UK gave us the hallowed institutions of private property rights, common law, rule of law and representative government. It is an efficient country; the trains and buses run more or less on time and the mail gets delivered. If any country could make socialism work, it’s the UK. But they couldn’t make it work.
In 1945 Britons tossed the conservative government of Winston Churchill in
a landslide in favor of Clement Attlee’s Labor government. The Labor slogan was “a socialist party and proud of it,” and they meant it.
The Attlee government nationalized banking, utilities, transportation, health care, mining and steel. What they did not take over they hyper-regulated. The coal industry is a prime example. At the time, coal was used to heat homes and power industry and the railroads; it was the fuel that made
British society go. The Minister of Fuel and Power (similar to a Cabinet appointee in the US but more powerful) appointed a board of nine coal industry leaders to run every coal company in the UK. Coal shortages left Britons in the cold during the unusually chilly winter of 1946-47. But the misery didn’t end there.
Britons still had food rations three years after the end of WWII. In 1948 the average weekly ration for each citizen was 13 oz. of meat, 1.5 oz. of cheese, 6 oz. of butter or margarine, 1 oz. of cooking fat, 8 oz. of sugar, 2 pints of milk and 1 egg. That’s for a full week. Naturally, people were losing weight.
When people are hungry and cold they will find ways to fill those needs, and that leads to prosecutions. The Ministry of Food criminally charged a grocer for selling a few extra pounds of potatoes. Another shopkeeper was fined for selling candy made with his own sugar ration.
Every vestige of this failed program has since been torn out, root and branch, except for the National Health Service (NHS). Why the creaking NHS remains is the subject of another article.
Certain of their success and giddy when they seized the reins of power, the socialists had said,“…a planned socialist system is more efficient than a private enterprise capitalist system…within democratic socialist planning the individual can be given broader social justice, greater security, and more complete freedom than under capitalism.” Does this sound familiar? These same tired promises are heard now from Bernie Sanders, AOC and the rest.
The term Democratic Socialist is literally non-sense. The DSA attaches the word “democratic” to socialism to make it sound friendly. The Nazi party was elected, too, but was Nazism democratic? No. An elected totalitarian is still a totalitarian. Fancy language and gaudy promises disguise the true intent, which is the intent of every totalitarian: control. Elections will not change the ugly spots on this dangerous cat.
Here’s what Winston Churchill said about socialism. “The French have a saying, ‘Drive nature away, and she will return at a gallop.’ Destroy the free market and you create a black market: you overwhelm the people with laws and regulations, and you induce a general disrespect for the law…you may try to destroy wealth, and find that all you have done is increase poverty.”
And now Democrat presidential candidates are proposing to nationalize health care and energy production in the guise of a “Green New Deal” and “Medicare For All.” Having failed to learn history, they want us to recreate the human misery caused by socialism.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.