Socialism: Evil and Stupid


Of the 4,000-plus columns I’ve produced since starting International Liberty in 2009, two of the most popular posts involve semi-amusing stories that highlight the failure of socialism, redistributionism, and collectivism.

The Tax System Explained in Beer” is the third-most-viewed post of all time, and “Does Socialism Work? A Classroom Experiment” is the fourth-most-viewed post. At the risk of oversimplifying, I think these columns are popular because they succinctly capture why it’s very shortsighted and misguided to have an economic system that punishes success and rewards sloth.

For those who want details, I have dozens of columns about real-world socialist failure, looking at both the totalitarian versionin places like Cuba, China, Venezuela, and North Korea, as well as the majoritarian version in nations such as France, Italy, and Greece.

And for those that want to get technical, I even have several columns explaining that the pure version of socialism involves government ownership of the means of production (government factories, state farms, etc), whereas the “democratic socialism” in Europe is actually best viewed as extreme versions of redistributionism (while the pervasive interventionism favored by the left actually is a form of fascism).

Yet notwithstanding the horrible track record of every version of socialism, we actually have a presidential candidate in America who actually calls himself a socialist. Though, as pointed out by my colleague Marian Tupy in The Atlantic, he’s more of a redistributionist than a socialist.

Socialism was an economic system where the means of production (e.g., factories), capital (i.e., banks), and agricultural land (i.e., farms) were owned by the state. …Sanders is not a typical socialist. Sure, he believes in a highly regulated and heavily taxed private enterprise, but he does not seem to want the state to own banks and make cars. …Senator Sanders is not a proponent of socialism, and that is a good thing, for true socialism, whenever and wherever it has been tried, ended in disaster.

Here’s an article about real socialism by Mark Perry that’s more than 20 years old, but its analysis is just as accurate today as it was in 1995.

Socialism is the Big Lie of the twentieth century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery. …Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior. …it is a system that ignores incentives. …A centrally planned economy without market prices or profits, where property is owned by the state, is a system without an effective incentive mechanism to direct economic activity. By failing to emphasize incentives, socialism is a theory inconsistent with human nature and is therefore doomed to fail.

Ben Domenech, writing for Commentary, analyzes the current version of socialism, which – particularly in the (feeble) minds of young people – is simply more middle-class entitlements financed by high tax rates on evil rich people.

Sanders holds massive events populated by kids who think what he is preaching is very cool. …When did it become acceptable for Americans to back an avowed socialist? …For Americans today, the visible and unmistakable connection between socialism and totalitarianism has faded dramatically. …For America’s young, socialism’s definition isn’t to be found in the desperate, sad reality of peoples held captive by regimes that proudly declare themselves socialist. It’s more of a vague ideal… This makes it easier for someone like Sanders to say that socialism just means middle-class entitlements… It is…Barack Obama…that we have to thank for socialism’s rise in 2016. Republicans…have been describing President Obama’s domestic program as socialist… The takeaway for today’s younger voters seems to be: If everything Obama is trying to do is socialism, …then perhaps we need to go full socialist to actually get things done.

The final part of the excerpt is very insightful.

Young people have no idea about the real nature of socialism.They don’t know that communism was an ideology of international socialism. They don’t know Nazism was a form of national socialism.

Heck, they don’t even understand the modern-day failure of socialism in Venezuela or North Korea.

To them, socialism is simply bigger government.

Which is very offensive to people who actually have suffered under socialism. Garry Kasparov, the chess champion turned Russian dissident, doesn’t mince words in his response to the Sanders crowd.

Let’s close with something amusing. Or at least ironic.

It’s the socialism version of this communism image.

And it’s something young people should think about because socialism fails every place it is tried. As Mark Perry explained, it’s grossly inconsistent with human nature.

That’s true whether we’re looking at the totalitarian version of the majoritarian version.

The latter version is preferable, of course, though the end result is still economic misery.

P.S. Here’s a very clever video that asks college kids whether they would like a socialist grading system. Unsurprisingly, they say no. Though the video was put together before Bernie Sanders attracted a cult-like following, so perhaps today’s students would answer differently.

P.P.S. Speaking of videos, I’m guessing this bit of satire won’t be very popular with Bernie’s supporters.

P.P.P.S. There are several rather amusing Obama/socialism cartoons. You can see my favorites here, here, and here.

P.P.P.P.S. You can also use two cows to teach about socialism, as well as other theories.

This is a guest post by Dan Mitchell “a high priest of light tax small state libertarianism”
  • Robert

    I suppose if you want to twist everything to suit your means you can call Socialism, Communism. The fact is most of Europe has been very successful with what they, and even the Government of the United States call Socialism, Industry flourishes as much there as it does here and is owned by private enterprise and not the state. Nearly all industrial machinery used in this country is made in Europe, nearly all transmissions for automobiles are made in Europe, the US cars are made in Canada another Socialist country. If Socialism makes everyone a dead beat how do they have all this industry. The people in England make better wages for the same work, than Americans and have better safety standards and job protection. Taxes are a necessary item, and help for the less fortunate is also necessary.
    The Corporations in the USA get billions every year in handouts from the Federal Government but there are those that are opposed to helping someone who had a $30 dollar an hour wage before the company moved out of the country to get cheaper labor force. The companies keep saying they move because corporate tax is so high when nearly every corporation is incorporated in Delaware where the corporate tax rate is below 8%, This is the reason most do not understand the Capitalism is not Communism or anything similar to it.
    Please read and find out for your self about European Capitalism which has worked successfully fro at least 150 Years.

    • leerich1

      You mention the 8% corporate rate in Delaware, that is the rate Corporations have to pay for business they do there. That has nothing to do with the 35% Corporate Rate they have to pay the Federal Government.
      That 35% corporate rate is also one of the biggest reasons why jobs and industry have gone overseas and why U S Corporations are buying foreign Corporations and then changing their Home Country domiciles to the country of the Corporations they are buying.
      That 35 % Corporate rate along with the massive amount of Regulations we are forcing on our U S corporations makes increases their cost so much they have become uncompetitive with foreign firms. So part of the answer for them is to build manufacturing facilities etc in other countries or just buy the foreign firms and export their products to America. Then they keep their profits for this activity in overseas accounts as if they brought the funds back to the U S to invest etc they would have to pay the difference between the U S Corporate Rate (35%) and whatever rate they had to pay in the country where they made the goods. Current the U S Government says that our U S Corporations have over $2 trillion of funds in this category overseas. That is $2trillion that if brought back to the US that could be used for expanding business and hiring people in this country, which doesn’t happen now.

      The high U S rates and regulations currently helps all these Democratic Socialist Governments and has allows them to continue their wealth redistribution schemes FOR NOW If we lowered our U S rate, especially below what other countries are imposing (my choice would be 0% as these taxes just get passed down to the consumers in the form of higher product prices anyway – it is just a way for the government to get more money and be able to blame it on the corporations instead of the Politicians having to take the heat for increases citizens taxes – they know the citizens would be irate at them if they actually saw how much they are being forced to fork over to the government)

      These Socialist-lite countries currently offer more generous benefits etc then us, but remember that goes along with 20 – 25% unemployment rates – which are 4 or 5 times as high as ours. Students there get low cost or “free” college etc – but when they graduate they can’t find any jobs so they try to come here and to other more desirable countries then their own.

      If we drastically lowered the Tax rate and the greatly reduced the regulations that imposes over $2trillion per year on our economy, within a few years you would see our manufacturing businesses etc come back to the US and bringing millions of jobs with them. When that happens you will see those Democratic Socialist country start to fall apart and advance toward tyranny which all of them eventually go.

    • wolfpack907

      So those you mention are on the verge of total collapse and chaos, or do you not read the news? Why are they? 2 reasons, first they do not have a strong prosperous US to fund their socialism anymore and they have been run over with raggies.

      • Robert

        The countries I mentioned are in no worse financial shape than the USA and they are no where near collapse. Tell me how the US funded the Socialism of Europe, Yes we support industry there, like the transmissions in nearly every American ca is made in Europe, I suppose you think Canada is about to collapse also being it is a Socialistic country.
        My old Daddy one told me “Believe nothing you read in the news and only about half of what you see in person.” the newspapers are run by the wealthy and it is no longer news it is commentary put forth by what ever the paper wants pushed, A good example they say the Government is trying to shut down FOX News, the fact is they are investigating the paper because of Rupert Murdock and how his papers that were shut down in England, operated like tapping persons phones including the Royal Family illegally.
        Yes Europe is over run with persons from the Middle East but it will overcome it like it has other crisis.


    The article is obsessed with totalitarian states to attempt to make it’s point. It seems to conveniently ignore the democratic – socialist states like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, etc. Sanders has never advocated an NK, CHINA, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. Type of system. He has consistently mentioned the Nordic countries. Why would someone use the examples that were used in this article unless their only intent was to obscure the truth?

    • leerich1

      You are referring to tiny, little countries with a few million people that CURRENTLY have enough natural resources (Oil etc) to be able to afford generous benefits etc.When those resources dry up so will the benefits etc and you will see what will happen then. All Socialistic countries run out of other peoples money and then start their slide toward tyranny..

Sign up for our FREE newsletter!

Sign up to receive daily updates, political news, action letters and additional messages from Conservative Republican News

View our Privacy Policy

Join our FREE Newsletter!