It is horrifying that this even needs to be said, but, given socialism’s resurgence in modern American politics, it does. I’ll say it in nice, big, bold letters for you:
Socialism is bad.
The largest and most “successful” socialist country was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). We all know about the terror it unleashed in the world, not least of which being the Cold War buildup of offensive nuclear weapons. Less well known is the havoc and destruction that the Soviet government unleashed upon its own people.
The official Soviet records indicate that about three million people were executed in their prisons, gulags, and resettlement camps…and this number is generally regarded as a gross underestimation. During the “great purge” alone, about a million people were murdered, including more than 100,000 Russian Orthodox priests, monks, and nuns.
And then there are the famines. The ‘natural’ famines were the direct result of the poisonous and ineffective Marxist economic system, but the Soviets also intentionally caused regional famines to kill their enemies. The Soviet famine in 1932 and 1933 was targeted at the Ukraine and Kazakhstan in an effort to stem their nationalist movements. Between 3.3 and 7.5 million Ukrainians died. About 1.3 million Kazakhs did.
Defenders of socialism will say things like, “Well, that wasn’t real socialism.” But it was. And if you need more evidence that socialism leads to death and destruction, you need only look at Mao’s China, or North Korea under the Kims, or the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia. Not enough? How about you look at the communist eras in Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cuba, East Germany, Ethiopia, Romania, or Vietnam? How about what’s happening right now in Venezuela? These are the inevitable outcomes from drinking the poison of socialism.
The countries on the above list that have since emerged as relatively safe and stable places have done so by liberalizing their economic policies…by reestablishing private property and private businesses and by allowing greater individual freedoms. Some did so rapidly in peaceful revolution (e.g., East Germany), and others by slow steps in the right direction (e.g., China), but none did so by doubling-down on socialism. Those that tried to do that are still poor, repressed, and dysfunctional (e.g., North Korea).
Some American advocates of socialism soften their rhetoric by putting the word “democratic” in front of it. “Democratic socialism,” they say, “isn’t like those dastardly, murderous systems.” They point to the kind of soft socialism in many European countries, where the government is much more active in the economy than it is here. But even there, the same poison is working…just much slower.
The systems of government in much of Europe are not sustainable. The highly taxed and highly regulated societies are facing economic instability, and the far-away bureaucracies are breeding resentment (which is leading to an unfortunate over-correction — the resurgence of nationalism). And the anti-religious and anti-humanist undertones of socialism are leading to many small horrors, like the forced state killing of sick children (e.g., Alfie Evans) and the imprisonment of people who say unpopular or hateful things (e.g., Tommy Robinson).
The human rights to life, liberty, and property are not in good health in much of Europe. It is only a matter of time before their kind of democratic socialism leads, too, from these small horrors to much larger ones.
And let’s not forget that even the most hardened and murderous versions of socialism also considered themselves to be democratic republics, and may even have started with legitimately republican intent. The official name of East Germany was the “German Democratic Republic.” China calls itself the “People’s Republic of China.” Cuba is the “Republic of Cuba.” North Korea is the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” So forgive me for not warming to the idea of socialism just because it gets the word “democratic” stuck in front of it.
The baby steps we have already taken toward a socialist future must be promptly reversed, and the whole idea of socialism — already discredited by history — needs to be discredited in our press, in our political debates, and in our policies. It is a system that has been tried many times, and only visits evil and oppression upon those who embrace it.