Monday, May 13, 2019

What Is Socialism?

Socialism, as they say, is having a moment. Leftist educators have dumbed down a generation of young people… to the point where they will gullibly embrace any piece of idiocy that seems to be trendy or cool. Many of them even find bug-eyed buffoon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be the pinnacle of intellectual achievement. It’s not quite like the blind leading the blind, but it’s like an imbecile leading the imbeciles.

Anyway, American capitalism has seemingly produced a level of gross inequality. There is truth to the notion. The widening chasm between the rich and rest is obviously unsustainable. As it happens, most of those who have earned great fortunes have more than a little sympathy for socialism. They do not seem to understand that American capitalism is seriously hobbled by mountains of regulations, by a surfeit of bureaucrats, by environmental and diversity activists and by everyday lawyers. To call it free market capitalism is a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, the hyperrich do not mind paying more in taxes, because they do not really pay any taxes anyway. If you have billions of dollars in assets, nothing short of complete wealth confiscation, will make a dent in your life style. Since there are not enough very rich people, most of whose assets are not entirely liquid, to right the wealth imbalance, the tax burden will necessarily fall on the middle class.

About that the rich do not seem to care. They can no longer relate to those who work for a living and whose life styles would be seriously impacted by increased taxation.

As for socialism, we are happy to see Niall Ferguson clarify the issue. No doubt for the benefit of those children who toss around the word with wild abandon, not having a clue what they are talking about.

Anyway, Ferguson merely quotes the dictionary definition. Quaint objects, dictionaries:

In its original sense, socialism (as the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear) is a “system of social organisation based on state or collective ownership and regulation of the means of production, distribution and exchange for the common benefit of all members of society”.

I would note, even at the risk of being repetitious, that American capitalism has suffered severe regulation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Isn’t that what the Obama administration used to stifle economic growth? We do not have very much state ownership, but we surely have state regulation.

Naturally, young people think that socialism means getting free stuff. They think that with socialism the government, like a giant Mommy State, will take care of you. This generation has suffered so much therapy that it cannot compete in the marketplace. It has never grown up and is not planning to do so any time soon. It wants to be Mommied until it dies. Weak, feckless, pusillanimous… products of America’s educational system and its therapy culture:

That is not what young Americans think it means. They appear to associate socialism with government-provided healthcare and university education. (An ingenuous few think socialism means being sociable.)

As AOC put it in a recent interview: “What we have in mind and what my policies most closely resemble are what we see in the UK, in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.”

But, Ferguson asks, are these really socialist countries?

But how socialist is Sweden, a country often depicted as utopia by progressive types who have never been there? The country comes ninth in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness league table; 12th in the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business rankings; and 19th (out of 186) in the conservative Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom rankings.

State ownership is the purest form of socialism. It rejects private enterprise, but must also reject private property and even privacy rights. If everything belongs to the state, why wouldn’t your privacy?

Not only do American socialists not know what socialism is; they don’t know where it is either. Socialism does still exist around the world in various forms. If you want to see state ownership in action, along with the corruption, inefficiency and poverty that invariably go with it, I recommend Caracas, Pyongyang or — more picturesque — Havana. Don’t look for it in Europe, where even Social Democratic parties have been haemorrhaging voters since the 1990s.

Socialism, an idea whose time has come and gone. Only uneducated zealots think that the wrong side won the Cold War. Only the ignorant cannot see that when China rejected socialism for free enterprise, its economy boomed. Only the cynical believe that American voters are so stupid that they will actually believe that they can have something for nothing.

Good luck, America.


Anonymous said...

The Scandinavian countries are most definitely not socialist by any honest definition. They are capitalist with strong welfare programs. Only capitalist economies can generate the wealth to support welfare programs. Socialism has been a failure everywhere for 100 years and true socialist countries have all been economic disasters. It's scary when the people advocating socialism don't even know what it is.

Dan Patterson said...

Interesting discussion, particularly the idea that the very rich are disconnected from other strata and by that insulation their personalities are affected. Anecdotally supported, growing to the level of urban legend and tribal knowledge: "Everybody knows..." right?
"The widening chasm between the rich and rest is obviously unsustainable" is something I've seen written and heard innumerable times, so much so it, too, has risen to the level of truth (!) because...well...And if we were discussing an item of finite quantity of an item being horded by Richy McRich to the detriment of his fellow citizens then you'd be correct. But wealth is most certainly not that. Wealth is acquired by anyone skillful or lucky enough to encounter the circumstances of it's germination, but by doing so does not at all preclude someone else from doing the same thing. What it does, though, is provide a convenient vehicle for jealousy, envy, anger, and rage which are unfortunate parts of the human condition just as much as aggression, adaptation, and affection.
The widening chasm has nothing to do with wealth and it's distribution and everything to do with human failing. That failing plays right into the hands of power managers pulling the strings to foment rivalry and revolt, pushing the pawns around the game board. Don't be a pawn, or a puppet.

Sam L. said...

Why was Venezuela left out?

David Foster said...

The political attitudes of the Very Rich are heavily influenced by where they live, as well as the nature of the business they are in. Look at someone who has made a lot of money running a metal-bending business in the Midwest, and you'll very likely find a conservative. Look at someone in Silicon Valley, you'll probably find a Prog, although there are a few exceptions like the libertarian Peter Thiel.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism has some serious problems but most of them seem to be when the power of government is used to avoid legitimate regulation or to create rent-seeking subsidies or monopolies.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Recent British polling — in the aggregate — tells me they want nothing to do with socialism.

The wave is building.

jfmoris said...

Democratic socialism:

jfmoris said...

democratic socialism @ imgur

UbuMaccabee said...

Socialism is Communism with patience.