There are two lies, two foundational pillars, that the left have convinced the youth especially, and many other people in this country are true, two very nuanced half-truths really, that even many political wonks fail to grasp as lies and half-truths, which have effectively enabled a generation of people to believe first and foremost that free-market capitalism doesn’t work, and secondly that socialism isn’t as bad as many Americans in the past have claimed. The first of those two lies is that the United States, right now, is a free-market capitalist country. The second lie is Western Europe are by in large a bunch of socialist countries, or at the very least are “democratic socialists”, or quasi-socialists.
What do I mean America is not a capitalist country? More on that later. First, its important to understand that built on these two lies are the half truths and lies that 1) America’s economic system isn’t working, which is partially true and partially false, and 2) the claim that Western Europe’s economic system works great, which is also a partially true and partially false over-generalization. These two main foundational lies, that America is capitalist, and Western Europe are socialists, are ingrained in most peoples minds as fact, and when taken in conjunction with other lies about what these two systems present, what they are, and how they function, have created the predicament we now find ourselves in, where Bernie Sanders, a 74 year old socialist, almost wins the Democratic Party primary, and perhaps even should have.
In short, what capitalism is, what socialism is, and which countries are practicing what have been wholly misrepresented, the distinction lines purposefully blurred by the left for decades, and its what has purposefully enabled so many people to embrace socialism and reject capitalism.
So what do I mean this isn’t a capitalist society? “Of course it is!” Well, partially, sure. Maybe even mostly. But its becoming less and less of one by the day. A more apt description would be to say that we have a crony capitalist system, which is something the left actually largely agrees with, but to which they have a different solution for, and which is a large reason for the decreasing prosperity and equity in our economic system. This system of crony capitalism is one of the biggest enablers of the rise of the social democrat, though the social democrat ignores its existence, and refers to it merely as “capitalism”. So what is crony capitalism?
Crony capitalism is what you get when you have big government, you have big business, and the two are in cahoots with each other, usually to the detriment of much of the rest of society. Its a system where big business lobbies government for things like favorable tax loopholes, and gets them, in exchange for money or political favors or both, the result of which is that you have a mega-company like GM effectively paying no corporate taxes. Smaller businesses do…but not GM. The important thing to note about crony capitalism is you need big government for it to survive.
What the left don’t understand as they complain that our economy is not working and blame it on capitalism is not only do we not have a truly free-market capitalist system right now, but that big business, which they hate, has no better friend than big government, which they ironically love. Again, the crony capitalism we all hate cannot survive without big government, and in fact thrives on it. Big government is the real problem in our current economic system, not the solution, regarding crony capitalism, aka, a corrupt economic system, or a corrupt bargain. The left’s solution to crony capitalism, as they mistake it for real capitalism: grow government even more, of course exacerbating the problem.
What many on the left who have come to distrust capitalism, and who want bigger and bigger government, and more and more rules and regulations on business, to make things “fair” of course, is that all these big companies, big oil, big pharma, you name it, they are already established companies. They have their own legal departments to both deal with government regulations, and to lobby government to their favor. So when more regulations are put on businesses, its not big business which is hurt, its the little guy, because its the little guy who doesn’t have their own legal department to work through all the various infinite regulations, and who doesn’t have the lobbyists to give them the advantage they need to survive in the “free-market” marketplace. Such regulations have the end result of growing big-business even more, not shrinking it.
The second mistake people who fancy themselves “democratic socialists” or admirers of “social democracy” are making is in believing that Western Europe, which they love, are socialists, or a least quasi-socialists. This is a lie to soften what socialism really is by taking a system many people admire, or are at the very least indifferent to, and slapping a label on it which historically has been rejected, i.e., socialism. Western Europeans are not socialists. The net effect of their governments heavy taxation and regulation on their economies, much like how ours operates in many respects, may have a net effect similar to that of socialist countries, where the economy is outright controlled and directed by a central government, but they aren’t socialists in any manner of the word.
The truth is, Western Europe has free market economies that operate with large welfare states. Socialists own all the land and the means of production outright. In socialist systems there’s no private property, no private business, its central command and control from A-Z. You’re a slave to the state and their will in a socialist country. If you want to know what a real “democratic socialist” looks like, look to Venezuela. Their government owns all property and industry, and, the regime there was even democratically elected at one time. This is much different than the economic systems of Western Europe. The truth is, democratic socialism is just a made-up phrase, a propagandic phrase.
“You’re talking about socialism socialism, not democratic socialism”, most on the left would say. “Socialism isn’t half as scary as you make it sound. Socialism is having roads, and having schools, and having a military. Will you get social security some day? That’s socialism!”. I’m sorry to have to turn those people’s worlds upside-down, but those things have nothing to do with socialism. Again, socialism is the state controlling the means of production, that is, the economy. Its complete command and control, like the Soviet Union. That’s socialism.
“No, those were communists! They were Stalinist socialists, not democratic socialists”. No, those were socialists. Why do I say that? The lack of appreciation and understanding for what I’m about to point out is another really big reason for the embrace of socialism: communism is a fictitious theory that has yet to be realized in the history of mankind whereby all power is put in the hand of the state, and once that is done, and all power and wealth is divided, the state just melts away, and everyone holds everything in common. That is communism, as described and taught by Marx. Its a theory, though people aren’t taught that in schools today sadly…a yet to be realized theory. Whenever its tried, even if its called communism, the net effect has always been a socialist state that doesn’t let go of power, because of the vision of communism fails.
Most people who claim the mantle of communism are actually studied in Marx and socialist theory, unlike many of the people who romanticize about it, and falsely attribute notions to it that are untrue. The official name of the Soviet Union was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Vladimir Lenin said that the purpose of socialism was communism. All facts conveniently ignored by the left, as they try and change and soften the definition of what socialism really is.
Not only do we not have a working capitalist system, and not only does Western Europe not have a socialist system, but the claim again that the U.S. has a system of partial socialism now, and it works great, is a lie, again, born as a consequence of redefining terms. Again, you can have a military, you can have roads, you can have public education, you can even have social welfare programs like social security…without the state wholly owning and owning and controlling the economy.
I recognize that there are no pure economic or political systems today in the world, i.e., China claims a communist system but it also employs some capitalism, we are largely capitalist, but also politically have social safety nets not part of the capitalist system, and that economies and political systems are often grey and mixed. I get that. I’m not denying that. But even this being the case, it doesn’t make my point in this regard semantics. The reason for my writing this article is there is a very purposeful distortion underway by the left to soften the idea of socialism and make it more palatable, and I for one will not let this word be redefined, let it be misapplied and lied about by the left to try and make it more appealing.
We don’t have socialism in this country. Not yet. And none of those things mentioned, schools, roads, or a military, are socialistic programs. Its not socialism if the state owns something or does something, like the military, or building roads, or directing education. Those things are functions of government people chose by in large to put in the hands of government, the monies of which come from a capitalist economic system. No, we don’t have socialism in this country, and no, Western Europeans are not socialists either, democratic or otherwise.
Speaking of democracy, there’s no such thing as “democratic socialism” and are two ideas incompatible with one another. The word “democratic” simply describes the means by which a system of socialism, a system inherently undemocratic and illiberal, is introduced into a country, contrary to the opinions of many on the left, who believe so precisely because socialism has been misinterpreted in the first place. The word “democratic” was specifically added to the word “socialist” precisely because so many people have rightly recognized socialism as a brutal totalitarian and undemocratic system, as window-dressing.
Socialism isn’t a program whereby the people hold everything in common. That’s the desire of such a system, never the reality. Its a goal, not a working system. And its a system that works against its stated goal. Its a system where the state holds everything, not the people. I’ve seen the definition of socialism over the last decade or so be changed from the latter, to the former. And it scares me a little. It really does. That we live in an age where an edit button pressed by some anonymous individuals on major websites such as Wikipedia can make definitions readily appear as if they were always a certain way, instantly, and so many people accept those definitions so readily.
All these willful lies and half-truths and distortions about capitalism and socialism have birthed the “social democrat”, that is, the Bernie voter. As a millennial, I think I can speak to the desires and wants and needs and perceptions of millennials better than many older folks can regarding the appeal of a Bernie Sanders. Millennials aren’t making it today. Not like our parents did anyway. Opportunity is drying up in many ways because of an increasingly rigged system. No matter what millennials do, we can’t seem to get ahead. People may make fun of our work ethic, you name it, and those things are not entirely unwarranted, but neither is the point I’m making about the lack of opportunity today. They see it. I see it. Yes, people can still “make it”, but its getting harder and harder.
And so Millennials blame capitalism because. And when people become convinced through failure after failure after failure, having grown up in the 80’s and 90’s, during one of the most prosperous booming times this country has ever seen, having seem our parents success, and having lived through it, that now they can’t and won’t succeed, because they’ve been trying, and failing, and they are good people, and they are smart people, and they remember how things used to be…then they blame it on the system in place, a system which they think is capitalist, but which is actually less and less so every day, which is the real cause of their problems. “Capitalism doesn’t work”, they say. I’ve heard it from Millennials with my own ears.
So its pretty understandable why so many young people love Bernie, love “democratic socialism”, “social democracy”, call it again what you will. Things aren’t working now like they once did in this country, and all their lives they’ve been taught lies about what capitalism is, and what socialism is, and they’re blaming the system they believe is in place, namely capitalism. Its not working they say. No, its not working. But not for the reasons they suppose.
The truth is we don’t need more bureaucrats and more regulations in this country, we need less. We need to unleash entrepreneurs once again, and attract business to this country, not tie them down with endless regulatory agencies and taxes and force them either away or in bed with the government, while at the same time demanding more government to undo the very atrocities that government has created. We need more freedom, not more government control.
The easiest of ways out of our current dilemma is to throw our hands up and hand everything this country has ever stood for over to the all-powerful hand of the state, and pretend its progress, in return for…some guarantees. I submit that’s not victory, and certainly not progress. Bernie voters see there is a problem in this country. There is. Sadly, they’ve been lied to their whole lives as to what the real solution is. Socialism isn’t the solution. Its the problem.