Are They or Aren’t They?

Donald Trump insists that the Democrats are embracing socialism. Senior Democrats running for the Party’s presidential nomination call themselves socialists. We would seem to have a rare moment of bipartisan agreement.  But…Chris Edelson, an assistant professor of Government at American University writes in Market Watch that Trump’s references to the Democrats embrace of socialism is a “smear”. 

How So?

The term socialism, says Edelson can have many meanings and interpretations. If so, one is led to wonder how using the term socialist as a descriptor constitutes a smear. In this respect Professor Edelson helpfully notes that Stalin was a communist, not a socialist. (Note that the Professor seems to have forgotten Bernie Sanders’ love affair with the USSR, whose initials stood for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which we are supposed to believe was not socialist.) 

What Professor Edelson is apparently trying to do is to separate “good socialism” from “bad socialism”. It is a hopeless task; there is no such thing as good socialism. Its adoption (or imposition) inevitably leads to one of two outcomes. The first is that the people throw off the shackles in time to revert to a market economy with property rights and the rule of law. The second is more typical and follows the path of Venezuela or Greece. 

There are those who cite Norway, Sweden and Denmark as countries with socialist economies that “work”. They have not been paying attention. Perhaps they should consult the World Population Review of Walnut, CA, which publishes a rank-ordered list of capitalist countries. Hong Kong is at the top of the list. The U.S. is #18. Denmark is #12, Sweden is #15 and Norway is #23, two steps ahead of Germany at #25. 

Freedom House publishes a similar rank-ordered list of economic freedom. Once again, Hong Kong is at the top. Singapore is #2 and New Zealand is #3. The United States is #12, behind Canada which is #8. Denmark is #14, Sweden is #19, Finland is #20, Norway is #26, just behind Germany at #24. Russia clocks in at #98, China at #100 and Greece at #106. Venezuela at #179 falls just behind Cuba at #178, and edges out North Korea which comes in dead last at #180.   

Perhaps sensing the danger of labeling themselves as socialists, Democratic politicians and their cheerleaders are starting to backpedal a bit. But not too much because the energy in the Party’s base is decidedly with lefty radicals who actually mean what they say. So we will have to wait and see if any of them pivot toward sanity after the primaries and before the general election. The smart money isn’t on it, though. 

Socialism, along with its cousins communism and fascism, is the greatest killer the world has ever known. It has an unbroken record of failure and has produced famine, war and human suffering on an unimaginable scale. Liberalism, which encompasses individual freedom, property rights, the rule of law, liberal institutions of governance and subsidiarity, has created conditions in which human beings can flourish. And they have done so, using their talents to create unparalleled prosperity and well-being.  

There is a reason why the path taken by immigrants leads toward, and not away from, Liberal democracies. Maybe socialist apologists ought to think about that for a minute. 

JFB

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Joe Benning