If you’ve been watching the Left lately, you’ve probably noticed they’ve been trying to make socialism sexy again. If you haven’t, consider yourselves lucky because…well, they’re trying to make socialism sexy again. What started with the Bern Outs in 2016 has been reborn in 2018 thanks to new Leftist “it girl” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beating out a Democrat stalwart in a House race in New York. Granted, both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are couching their pro-socialism talk by supporting what they call “democratic socialism”, but it’s still socialism.
As a result, Leftists are putting a new coat of paint on an old ideology in the hopes of attracting new people to their cause. In the meantime, let’s traipse into the world of socialism.
What the Left thinks it means – a social system where everyone pitches in to help each other
What it really means – a socioeconomic system where everyone is encouraged to be mediocre
One of the Left’s primary talking points when talking about socialism is to try to separate the social element of it from the economic element. For that, they bring up communism as the economic side of socialism, which is of course complete bunk. Socialism and communism are ideological cousins of the kissing variety, if you know what I mean. They really can’t be separated effectively because they have the same basic tenets: government control of all aspects of an economy and its societal counterpart. There are slight differences, I grant you, but those difference revolve around how much force is used to attain the equality they both claim to want to achieve. Socialists tend to rely on a call to community unity, while communists rely on a call to arms. Put another way, socialism is communism on pot, and communism is socialism on PCP.
Even so, socialism is attractive to people because it seems so friendly. Bernie Sanders wasn’t on the stump telling people to tear down the ruling class. He looked too much like your grandpa or crazy uncle you occasionally see at family reunions. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t look like a female Che Guevara; she looks like someone you might have gone to school with or saw in a coffee shop. Even some of our best-known celebrities say socialism is okay, and we can trust celebrities, right?
That’s one of the great historical ironies about socialism. It’s an idea that curries favor with the wealthy, but it’s rarely acted upon by those same people. Socialism is easy if you never intend to be held to its standards, but for those who went along with it and weren’t rich enough to live behind the gilded gates of private communities, it sucks.
And that’s a dirty little secret behind socialism: there is a class structure within it that negates what it stands for. The former Soviet Union is a prime example of this. (And before any Leftists say the Soviets weren’t real socialists, see my earlier comparison of communism and socialism.) Although the average Russian communist was living hand to mouth, government officials had far more luxuries (and, oddly enough, freedoms) than their proletariat brethren. Socialism runs on the same principles as communism and the results are the same. There will always be the haves and have-nots, thus making socialism as realistic as James Comey’s excuses for why he didn’t prosecute Hillary Clinton.
Leftists pushing socialism like to point at Europe and some of our own government programs as proof socialism isn’t scary. Why, we could just look to the Swedish model of socialism and use that (at least according to Bern Outs). The problem? Sweden isn’t really socialist. They are capitalist economically and statist socially, meaning…they’re ultimately capitalist because they have to be. Money doesn’t come out of thin air, and in Sweden it comes from…wait for it…high taxes. The minute the haves decide to move away to a country that doesn’t tax them for being rich, there is no backup plan and their socialism-lite goes the way of Crystal Pepsi and New Coke. For socialism to truly exist, there has to be an income source that can be drawn upon. In other words, socialism doesn’t work unless there is wealth to be distributed.
Then again, socialism doesn’t work, period. But we’ll get to that later.
But what about our government programs, like Medicare and Medicaid? Surely they are examples of socialism working, right? Annnnnnnd no. These programs aren’t actually socialist either because they take mainly from the working class instead of the rich and give to the non-working class and poor. In short, if you put in any significant amount of time at a job, you’re a have. Doesn’t matter if you make the poor on Skid Row look like Bill Gates. You are a source of income to socialists because you have what others don’t.
Really makes you wonder why anyone would back socialism, doesn’t it?
And here’s the kicker. There can never be true socialism because humans aren’t uniform and many have a desire to excel. Granted, some people want to be good at Xbox, but it’s still a desire that cannot be taken away. When you have that, you will always have people who are better than average and others who are worse than average. Try building a society based around equality when you can’t even find two people who are equal across the board and share the same interests at the same level. You’ll have better luck finding a Kardashian with actual marketable skills.
The way socialism deals with the problem is to treat everyone as though they were exactly the same. It works great if you suck at your job because you get paid as much as the ones who are doing just enough to get by. On the other hand, it sucks if you’re great at your job because you have no incentive to do more than you have to since you’re getting paid the same. That tends to make everyone mediocre at best. It also tends to stop innovation because you aren’t rewarded for it. Capitalism isn’t perfect, but you’re more likely to get rewarded for hard work and being good at a job than you are under socialism.
So, why is socialism so popular today? That’s a good question. I think it’s due to a combination of factors from a lack of historical and economic knowledge to trying to protect kids from experiencing failure by celebrating even minimal effort to making the marginally passable into the excellence of today. (I’m looking at you, Starbucks. Five bucks for coffee made from beans more burnt than my skin after falling asleep on the sun?) At the core of it all, however, is the elevation of laziness as a virtue and the downgrading of excellence to a vice.
No matter whether it’s someone who looks like your grandpa or your college roommate telling you socialism is the wave of the future, remember we’ve tried socialism before in America. It’s called the Mayflower Compact, and it didn’t work out so well for the Pilgrims. And if it didn’t work when there were far fewer people in the country, there’s no way it works with today’s America.
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen young men and women rethinking their positions on capitalism and socialism, and…well, let’s just say capitalism is faring worse than Bill Clinton at an abstinence only rally put on by Playboy Playmates. More and more, young people think socialism is the way to go. After all, on paper, it’s the most fair system out there.
Unfortunately, that paper and $3.50 will get you a cup of coffee-flavored steamed milk at Starbucks.
Where did we go wrong that socialism is faring better than capitalism in the United States, the bastion of capitalism? There are so many culprits, it’s hard to point fingers at them all, but let’s start with one that we might have overlooked.
Us. We, the people, failed to make the case to the young skulls full of free range soy based granola that capitalism is the best socioeconomic system out there, bar none. Oh, sure, we lived like we believed it, but somewhere along the line we decided capitalism didn’t require excellence. We settled on the mediocre, and in some cases the below average, because it was easier than demanding more. Why do you think Starbucks can charge $3.50 for a cup of coffee-flavored steamed milk instead of making a good cup of coffee with only a little milk? Because it was just too hard to demand more, so we swallowed our pride (and a lot of burnt coffee beans) and settled.
But that’s not capitalism is about. Capitalism gives you a choice because there will always be a market for a product or service other people and companies don’t offer. In America, if you don’t like Starbucks, you can go to Caribou Coffee or Seattle’s Best or Dunkin Donuts or any number of other places to get a cup of java (or at least a cup of java with less steamed milk in it). It’s not like you have to get Starbucks, kids.
In a socialist economy, choice isn’t one of the options on the menu. You may want a triple mocha espresso with a shot of butterscotch, but what you get…is watery sewer sludge in a broken cup, and that’s if you’re lucky! As neat as socialism seems to look, the reality is far less rosy.
Let’s say there’s a Justin Bieber song you really like. (Granted, that may be impossible, but play along for the sake of an example, k?) You grow to love that song, no matter how many times you play it and no matter how many friends and family members you drive away with it. Then, after a while, you get tired of that Justin Bieber song and you want to listen to something else. You know, like Gordon Lightfoot, Triumph, Rush, or even William Shatner.
Under socialism, you really don’t get to skip ahead on the “Canada’s Greatest Musical Acts” CD. You wouldn’t even get to listen to Anne Murray! You have to keep listening to the same Justin Bieber song over and over again. (Provided, Amnesty International hasn’t determined such a feat would be considered torture.) Yes, kids, socialism is just like listening to a Justin Bieber song only with more rhythm.
At least with capitalism, you get to push the Skip button on your CD player or MP3 player and find another song. And if you don’t like the next song, you can move to a different one until you find one you like. Capitalism, for all of its faults and misuse today, treats you like an adult and assumes you can make good choices for yourself. Socialism not only treats you like a child, but assumes you can’t make good choices for yourself. Then again, if you think socialism is still viable in the 21st Century, the socialists might be onto something.
Two of the words that keep getting thrown about by socialists are “free” and “equal,” such as “free college for students” and “equal pay for equal work.” When you really think about it, these words have psychological power over us. America was built on the high-minded concepts of freedom and equality (even though some of the slaves in the Colonies might disagree). Yet, these aren’t the same concepts socialists use. When they want something to be free, they mean free for them. They don’t want to pay out of pocket for what they want; they simply want it.
If any of you reading this are parents of young children, you’ve seen this concept in action.
As far as equality is concerned, socialists see it in terms of tearing down the rich and powerful and propping up the poor and powerless. I’m sure a number of you wouldn’t mind Bill Gates dropping off a few hundred grand to your doorstep, but it doesn’t mean you’re equal. He will still be Bill Gates, and you will still be you. And not even a few hundred grand will change that.
And where does that leave people in the middle, neither rich nor poor, neither powerful nor powerless? Right where they are. Don’t try to excel; just skate by like Dorothy Hamill on truck stop speed. At least socialism guarantees equal doses of pain for everyone, so there’s that.
Listen. Thanks to people like Bernie Sanders, socialism may seem to be the next big thing, but it’s really the socioeconomic equivalent of the man bun. Not only does it make you look stupid, but it is harmful in ways you don’t comprehend yet. But, in America, you are free to believe socialism is the cure for all of our ills. I won’t stop you. After all, the more socialists there are out there, the more people I get to mock relentlessly.
Capitalism, as imperfect as it may be, still grants people a lot of leeway, including whether to be a socialist. Try being a capitalist in socialist society and see how that turns out for you. Spoiler Alert: I hope you enjoy your new prison cell because there’s a chance you’ll be in there for a while.
This is not to say capitalism can’t use a bit of sprucing up by any means. When we have people like George Soros, Donald Trump, and Michael Bloomberg raking in the cash through various means, the moral core of capitalism gets overlooked a lot. But, without a moral core, capitalism can easily be the worst idea in the world. Yes, even worse than letting Hillary Clinton store our nuclear codes on her home server. If we let the want of stuff overtake the want of a better future, we run the risk of letting stuff become the entirety of our being.
And, no, that’s not unfettered and unregulated capitalism leads to, folks. That kind of behavior results from greed. Capitalism with a moral core comes from enlightened self-interest. For example, how many times have you heard the Left complain about lumber companies ruining forests through their desire to cut down every tree? Any lumber company worth its sawdust will tell you they wouldn’t engage in that kind of behavior. Why? Because if there are no more trees, the lumber industry goes the way of the third season of “I Am Cait.” (Too soon?)
Even if you’re not big on capitalism and aren’t seeing how bringing up the bad parts about socialism actually defends capitalism, there is one element to consider. Under a capitalist system, we get to be governed. (Not well these days, I grant you, but still governed.) Under a socialist system, we get to be ruled. There is a big, big difference, folks.
In closing, I have to say socialism and its various related movements may have already given up Lenin’s ghost when it comes to their ideology. The fact you can buy a Che Guevara t-shirt, take a selfie of yourself wearing it using your iPhone, and post it to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #socialismrocks makes the best argument for capitalism ever.