“Actually, socialism is ‘a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.'”
When we publish our Anti-Socialism messages in various publications, both on- and off-line, we often face the above dictionary citation, and the following argument in opposition. Here’s how we generally handle it.
The following is an excerpt from a Facebook exchange that I had with some Socialist fellow travelers.
First, to set the stage, I posted on Facebook one of the posts that we published in these pages. (see Appendix, at bottom)
In response, someone posted the dictionary definition at top, and the following argument. To which I responded.
First: here’s the response to my original Facebook post:
Response to My Original Facebook Post:
“Actually, socialism is ‘a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.’ What you described is more closely related to Communism as Socialism is just a theory.”
(Editor’s Note: Here, the responder quotes a dictionary definition of Socialism. He then suggests that Socialism and Communism are two different things. I disagree, and make the point, below, that Socialism and Communism are simply different degrees of the same thing. Note: I’m, by far, not the only one to believe that: Nearly all Communists throughout history have used the terms “Socialism” and “Communism” nearly interchangeably.)
My Response to THAT Response:
This is the part that always gets to me. When I asked what “owned or regulated by the community as a whole” actually means in real life, after some back-and-forth, everyone conceded that it means “owned and regulated by the government.” That no actual, real people have any meaningful ownership or control over those things “owned and regulated by the community as a whole.”
Meaning, as I said: under Socialism the rich and powerful take from those who aren’t rich, and have no power, and then control it themselves.
In essence, Socialists are reverse Robin Hoods: Take from the poor and the powerless, and give to the tiny, powerful, ruling élite.
Socialism is all the bad stereotypes that Socialists say of Capitalism. Because “owned or regulated by the community as a whole” is either meaningless, or proves all my points about Socialism being really evil stuff.
Some say that Socialism – with its emphasis on the equal worth of “all men” — is what the American Constitution ACTUALLY describes, and not Capitalism at all.
Socialism, though — at least how actual Socialists have practiced it — is not what is described in the Constitution. In the Constitution, there are certain (insufficient) protections for private property — especially land ownership — that are anathema to Socialism. The Founders knew that land is power, and tried to protect land ownership, albeit insufficiently.
Both Socialism and Capitalism are principally economic belief systems, describing on the one hand (Socialism) a flattened, very non-hierarchical society, organized around the notion that a tiny group of élites know best how to organize and run the lives of the people. On the other hand, under Capitalism, the reigning assumption is that the people know best how to run their own lives and affairs.
You can argue over which is correct, or which is best, but you must concede that #1: Socialism is nothing new — this is how societies around the world have always been organized, and that #2: Socialism is not any kind of progress, and #3: that vesting that kind of power in the hands of a tiny group of élites is a recipe for society-wide oppression, the very first moment that you get a bad egg at the top of the government structure. (cf, eg: Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Mussolini, the Kims, Ho, Castro, Chavez, Dmitrov, Tito, Honecker, Gomulka, Ceaușescu, Hoxha, Kadar, Husak, and so forth… Socialist mass murderers, all.)
Sadly, scenario #3 has played itself out every time there’s been a Socialist revolution that overthrew the previous (authoritarian, granted!) régime. That was the case in Russia, China, Vietnam, North Korea, vast swathes of Africa, Venezuela, Cuba and so forth.
In each case, admitted, avowed Socialists swept the old corrupt, autocratic government out, and replaced it was a vastly more corrupt, vastly more autocratic government, willing to slaughter millions.
When there were true believers, who tried to implement “Socialism with a human face,” or “Goulash Socialism”) the rest of the Socialist world stepped in to crush them: Dubček (of then Czechoslovakia, 1968), Nagy (of Hungary, 1956) Socialism can’t have a “human face,” else the people might think they have freedom to order their own lives.
Furthermore, as is the case with anything: when there are hundreds of thousands around the world proclaiming their willingness to slaughter people in its name, at some point, you have no choice but to conclude that the problem might be with the thing itself.
As it is with Socialism.
When, as history has shown, there are hundreds of thousands around the world who are perfectly willing to slaughter hundreds of millions of people in Socialism’s name, at some point, you have to conclude that the problem just might be with… Socialism itself.
The great writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn saw that, and detailed its consequences in The Gulag Archipelago. If you haven’t read all three volumes of that incredible work, you can’t say you have an adequate understanding of Socialism.
Finally, there’s no practical difference between Socialism and Communism. Or between Socialism and Fascism. Just a question of degree.
Every country is moving on a trajectory, in a direction. Absent checks to that direction, the country will end up at the extreme of that direction. If you wish to comfort yourself that Socialism is “Not-Quite-Communism,” go right ahead, but it doesn’t change the reality that, as Karl Marx said: “Socialism is just a step on the road to Communism.”
Just as the child precedes the man, the two are not different people. The difference is that we hope that the man is a whole lot different from the child: more mature, more responsible, wiser, more knowledgeable. The man grows from the child. Socialism degenerates into Communism, if you want to make a distinction between the two, but the two are not different systems. Communism is merely a degenerate, perverted, sadistic, purer form of Socialism. A different name for a different degree of… the same damned thing.
As I’ve often said, Socialism is a spectrum disease, and it needs to be understood as such. Its goal is to do as the doctrine demands, and to continue to increase its hold on any society until that hold is complete. There is no such thing as “Democratic Socialism,” because Socialism requires that the people not be able to oust them from power, and replace them with people who might dismantle what they’ve implemented.
My Original Post in the Facebook Exchange:
Socialism is a reductionist worldview. It requires taking in order to bring about its stated goal: equality for all.
It’s important to understand what the Socialist means by “equality.” For the Socialist, “equality” refers to: having stuff. Owning things (but not land, because land is power). Therefore, for a Socialist owning things is happiness. It’s why Socialists are constantly referring to the “Haves” and the “Have Nots.” The Socialist believes that everyone ought to have as much as everyone else.
For a Socialist, happiness is: having. In the Socialist worldview, the Haves are happier than the Have Nots. And: having more = being happier. Or, more having in the world equals more happiness in the world.
Okay, now that we’ve set the stage, here’s proof that Socialism is actually bad. By their own definition!
Let’s take two people for an example: #1: Jeff Bezos, hundred-billionaire founder of Amazon, and #2: John Q. Public, average dude, earning $50,000 a year, and helping to support a family of four.
The long and the short of it is simple: you can’t make John as happy as Jeff, but you can make Jeff as happy as John; by nearly completely dispossessing Jeff.
You can make Jeff as happy as John with the stroke of a pen, and by taking from Jeff nearly all that he has. However, by the Socialists’ own definition, they’ve made the world a whole lot sadder, by removing a whole boatload of having stuff from it!
Now, let’s say that you distribute all of Jeff’s worldly wealth — and there’s a whole lot of it! — to every man, woman and child in the United States. What would that do for every American? Well it would give every American about… $303. Yep. Three hundred and three bucks. [Insert Big Deal emoji here]
In other words, everyone would now be as “happy” — or would have as much — as everyone else. There’d be no “Haves” or “Have Nots“… only “Have Nots.” But everyone would be equal, and equally happy, just as the Socialists want. The Socialists make everyone equal by taking, by increasing misery throughout the nation.
Now, let’s look at the Capitalist point of view.
Real Capitalists are all about equality too. Why? Simple: if everyone’s poor, then they have no money with which to make anyone rich. A common lie of the Socialist is that Capitalists bend their efforts to ensure that they get richer, while the poor get poorer. Wrong! That’s a nightmare scenario for a Capitalist! Because it can never last very long, and it inevitably leads to societal instability and dislocation.
For the real Capitalist, by far the best scenario is one in which everyone is getting richer… and he’s leading the pack. In other words, the best scenario for a Capitalist is one in which Jeff B.’s and John Q.’s happiness are equalized by John Q’s having a whole lot more.
Capitalism is an expansionist philosophy. Since it’s an economic philosophy, it agrees with the notion that more having = more happiness, and it posits that to make people happier, you should do all you can to enable those who Have Not, to… Have.
- Socialism: Makes Jeff and John equally happy by taking nearly everything from Jeff. Guarantees equal happiness by reducing total happiness in the world.
- Capitalism: Enables Jeff and John to be equally happy by making it possible for John to have as much as Jeff. Guarantees greater happiness by adding to total happiness.
- Socialism: Makes everyone equally happy, by making everyone miserable. Guarantees overall misery.
- Capitalism: Gives everyone equal opportunity to be as happy as anyone else. Guarantees at least some will be happy.
- Socialism: Guarantees less happiness in the world by making everyone miserable. But equally happy.
- Capitalism: Guarantees more happiness in the world by allowing everyone to be happier.
- Socialism: Making everyone equally happy by reducing happiness.
- Capitalism: Making everyone happier by adding happiness.
All of the above couplets are true.
Socialism is… bad. Very bad. The only Socialists there are in the world are either profoundly ignorant, or profoundly evil people.