Why has socialism become trendy? Why would Democrat presidential candidates laud a government system that carries a heartbreaking record of failure? Millions have died under socialism and its more virulent permutations. Hundreds of millions have suffer deprivation and bondage under this egregious form of authoritarianism. Venezuela is crumbing with people fleeing in every direction. Misery and despotism entrap North Koreans while their brethren to the south live in the eleventh richest nation on Earth. There are no boats of refugees risking life and limb to get to Cuba. Despite a mass inflow of Muslim immigrants into Sweden, the supposed Shangri la of socialism has a net emigration rate of 5.3 per thousand. Not a ringing endorsement for the Left’s utopia.
(Technically, Sweden is not socialist. They’re a welfare state adept at allowing enough free enterprise to bankroll government distribution of services. Sweden recognizes that only capitalism builds wealth. Despite slow growth and skattetrat, this model has previously worked relatively well because of a small population and homogeneous culture. This will be tested in coming years with the influx of cultures eager to seize the benefits of Swedish welfare.)
People who have lived under socialism certainly don’t like it. Eastern Europeans aren’t buying this crap. Cubans who escaped are ardent conservatives and Castro haters. Even people in Russia and Albania prefer a kleptocracy to communism. You don’t see India or China backing away from their shift to a market economy because they’ve witnessed capitalism lifting scores of millions out of poverty.
So, again, who in the world likes socialism? To answer this question, we need to examine capitalism. Capitalism is competitive. Competition is the engine of free enterprise. Businesses and entrepreneurs strive to invent or concoct stuff people will buy. To thrive, they need the public to willingly trade hard-earned cash for products and services. It's rough and messy and stressful. You could be on top this year and find yourself run over by some whippersnapper next year. If you’re an individual contributor, you need a marketable skill or talent. If you want more of the American Dream, you need to continuously hone your skill or talent. This constant tension to invent, innovate, and work hard drives wealth creation under capitalism. Sometimes the rug gets pulled out from under you, and although you may get a tad of help from safety nets, the ultimate onus is on you to pick yourself up. Capitalism is not a laid-back system. Some thrive under it, others not so much.
Capitalism disperses power between government, business, religions, and non-profits. It also disperses it broadly. When capitalism is mentioned, most people think of big corporations, but family businesses account for 64 percent of gross domestic product and 62 percent of employment. Family businesses grow faster, hire faster. New entries that knock Fortune 500 companies off the listing come from up-and-comers that previously resided below the last ranked firm. Turmoil and change is endemic to capitalism.
Under socialism, government owns most or all the means of production. (Under fascism government and large corporations collude to the same result.) Socialism concentrates power and money in the government. Checks no longer exist because no balance exists. Power-crazed politicians hunger for socialism because it makes them and their friends all powerful. Government, enterprise, and doctrinal adherence are consolidated into a single entity. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the way Europe was ruled during the Middle Ages. Nobility and the Vatican colluded to hold all power in a few noble hands. The outcome was slow growth, a lack of societal advancement, and little social mobility. Everyone had a place, and everyone knew their place. Enforcement of the system led to repression and extreme concentration of wealth.
So, who in the world likes socialism?
Under social justice norms, calling someone a loser is a pejorative. But the fact that there are losers under capitalism is undeniable. Some who can’t make it in the rough and tumble world of capitalism join government or run for office. A few lust after the rewards of capitalism. They’re jealous of capitalists and they’re ability to accumulate wealth. They see it as a wrong. They want to get their hands on the largess of a free market system. Socialism provides the answer for these losers.
How do they sell socialism to the general populous? By appealing to people without job skills, people without education or training, people with impairments, people with addictions, people with a criminal past, people with debts, people who made poor life choices, people here illegally, and the marginalized who can’t get a fair shake. Are there enough of these people to overthrow the greatest wealth creation engine ever invented. Elections have proved no. So the power-crazed manufacture and/or import more losers.
Capitalism broke us out of feudalism and brought a decent livelihood to the masses. Socialists want to create a new nobility and make the rest of us serfs again. Being a slave to the state is no different than being a slave to a master. Others decide how you live, what work you do, and how much you are paid. To keep everyone in their place and maintain discipline, government bureaucrats control what you say and even what you think. If you don’t believe me, seek out someone who has lived under socialism.
Politicians ought to forthrightly debate the human and financial cost of forcing equality among commoners. Unfortunately, socialism consumes wealth until it's gone or hijacked by politicians. But that not the primary reason to avoid socialism.
The real crime of socialism is that it sucks the heart out of a nation and its people.