Is Socialism The Answer?
Socialism is defined as “A way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies…any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods…a system of society or group living in which there is no private property…a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.” (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2015) While this may sound appealing to some, history shows that any and all real-world application(s) of this concept leave much to be desired. Countries like Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela are merely three examples of this problematic issue. Admittedly, even the principal exponent of socialism in the 20th century, the USSR (or the former Soviet Union) arguably imploded because of it and ceased to exist in 1991. Indeed, even America experimented with the idea beginning in 1620, prior to the founding of the nation—with disastrous results. In the words of William Bradford, the leader of the Plymouth Rock colony:
“The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tired sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; –that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontente, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in divission of victails and cloaths, than he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victuals, cloaths, etc., with the meaner and younger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to doe service for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brooke it.” (Wickwire, 2002)
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While the Old English language may be somewhat difficult to decipher, the underlying meaning is not—the notion of having to work more for the benefit of others (or the State) while disregarding potential benefits to oneself debatably leads to a lack of drive, initiative, and desire to become better as an individual and thereby improve the human condition overall. Moreover, former British statesman Winston Churchill outlined the psychosocial core of socialism in 1908 when he stated:
”Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism (or freedom, or free enterprise, in this specific context, emphasis added) seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly. These are the great distinctions which I draw, and which, I think, you will think I am right in drawing at this election between our philosophies and our ideals.” Furthermore, four decades later, following World War II, then-Prime Minister Churchill said: “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” (Churchill, 1908,1948)
Likewise, history again exemplifies the nature of socialistic ideals—in Germany during the Second World War. In fact, the term ‘Nazi’ is actually an abbreviation for ‘National Socialist German Worker’s Party’, or simply ‘National Socialism’. ( Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2015) What more must be said? Yet, let us analyze the following hypothetical example developed by Miami-Dade Police Officer Jose Hidalgo (2015): Suppose that a college student currently holds a perfect 4.0 (A) Grade Point Average. Clearly, this student has worked hard to achieve this milestone. Now, suppose that another student in the same class holds a very low 1.0 GPA and is in all likelihood going to be expelled unless improvement is demonstrated and the GPA is raised to an acceptable level (this could be anything from a 2.0 [C] to a 2.5 [C+], depending on the particular program of study). Socialism would require that the high-achieving student ‘give’ some of his/her grade points (thereby lowering the ‘A’ average) to the underachiever. Now, would this be truly fair, or right?
Interestingly, there are some allegedly intelligent individuals today who, in spite of the historical record, still cling to this ideology. People like former Democratic Presidential contender Bernie Sanders, who openly calls himself a ‘Democratic Socialist’ (Democratic Primary Presidential Debate, 2015) As a matter of fact, it should also be noted there are those who believe that the current Democratic presumptive nominee for President [former US Vice President Joe Biden] has also seemingly embraced this dangerous and toxically failed ideal. (Chicago Tribune Opinion, 2020; The Economic Times Staff, 2020) In addition, Pope Francis has openly called for “legitimate redistribution of wealth in the world” (Timm, 2014), along with South Florida attorney Magda Montiel Davis who was famously (or infamously) caught on camera praising (and kissing) Fidel Castro and calling him her “teacher” during a trip to Cuba in 1994. (De Choisy, 2015) Another facet which is often overlooked regarding socialism is the human factor. That is, the cost in human lives. Apart from the many millions who died at the hands of the Nazis, there are the 40 million murdered by the regime of Joseph Stalin in the USSR (Ghosh, 2013); approximately 65 million killed by Mao Tse Tung during his revolution in China beginning in 1949 (Edwards, 2010), as well as the almost two million who perished by the hand of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during and after, the Vietnam War. (Leitsinger & Tolan, 2015)
Given these facts, two very basic questions must therefore be asked: Is it just that those who work hard to earn success have the fruits of their labors arbitrarily taken away and then simply given to those who may or may not have earned such fruits? And, for the good of the whole of humanity, is socialism truly the answer to all of our woes? By now, the true answer should be obvious.
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