Tag Archives: Socialism

“Liberal Socialism” — Another False Utopia, by Richard M. Ebeling

Good ideas are often ephemeral; bad ones have life everlasting. From Richard M. Ebeling at mises.org:

Very often bad and failed ideas do not die, they simply reappear during periods of supposed social and political crisis in slightly different intellectual garb, and offer “solutions” that would merely help to bring about some of the very types of crises for which they once again claim to have the answers. Socialism in its various “progressive” mutations represents one of the leading ones in our time.

The latest manifestation of this appeared on August 24, 2017 in the New Republic online in an article by John B. Judis on, “The Socialism America Needs Now.” He is heartened by the wide appeal, especially among younger voters, that Bernie Sanders received during the 2016 presidential contest. He thinks that this may herald a rebirth and a renewed possibility for a socialist alternative to the current American political and economic system.

Having traveled over the decades from the 1970s to the present from being a radical, revolutionary socialist to a more “moderate” one today, Mr. Judis admits that the Marxian-style socialism of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries is now long passé. The embarrassing experience of “socialism-in-practice” in the form Lenin and Stalin created in the Soviet Union or by Chairman Mao in China will not fly anymore.

From Soviet Central Planning to “Liberal Socialism”

Central planning seemed not to work too well, and the “communist” variation on the socialist theme also had a tendency to be “authoritarian” with some drawbacks for human life and liberty. (He tactfully avoids mentioning that Marxist-inspired regimes in the twentieth century murdered well over a 100 million people — with some estimates suggesting the number might have been closer to 150 million or more in the name of building the “bright, beautiful socialist future.” See my article, “The Human Cost of Socialism in Power”.)

He turns his mind and ideal to the “democratic socialist” parties and regimes in Western Europe in the post-World War II era, or as Mr. Judis prefers to call it, following John Maynard Keynes, “liberal socialism.” What makes this form of socialism “liberal”? It is belief that there can be a “socialism with a human face.” In other words, a form of “economic” socialism that leaves in place democratic politics with a respect for a broad range of personal and civil liberties.

To continue reading: “Liberal Socialism” — Another False Utopia

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Venezuela: Dictatorship, Collapse, And Consequence, by Brandon Smith

Socialists blame everything but socialism when socialist states collapse. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

If you want to outline the numerous failures of ideological and economic socialism, just name any socialist nation and you are sure to uncover an endless supply of examples. In fact, many countries where socialism is not total but making considerable inroads often suffer from severe decline — the U.S. being one of them. Whatever socialism touches it destroys, because forced interdependency does not work. It is a broken concept with no large scale successes (this includes China, which suffers from considerable poverty and a totalitarian government despite it being the most successful garbage economy out of a host of other garbage economies). Yet, proponents of socialism keep trying again and again claiming that “this time is different.”

So ample have been socialism’s failures in the past several years that socialists have resorted to a classic blame game in order to maintain the delusion. You see, when you bring up nations at the very end of the socialist cycle on the verge of extinction — nations like Venezuela, all you are going to hear is the argument that it was “the evil western capitalists that sabotaged the experiment.”

This is a fascinating journey into cognitive dissonance. Because in order to believe this nonsense, you have to first ignore the cold hard reality that socialist policies and politics have permeated every aspect of most western nations to the point that they can no longer be called free market societies. The fact is, IF sabotage of Venezuela can be proven as the cause of its economic ills rather than the inherent pitfalls of socialism, it would merely be a group of socialist nations sabotaging another socialist nation. “Capitalism” plays no part in this mess whatsoever.

In fact, it has been international banks like Goldman Sachs that continue to fund failed socialist projects like Venezuela through bond investment.  If anything, the banks have been artificially keeping the government afloat when it should be allowed to fail so that it can be replaced.

Venezuela is perhaps the easiest of modern examples of socialist collapse, and maybe it is lazy to pull the Venezuela card when discussing these issues, but consider for a moment that the country is important exactly because it is a cautionary tale. Venezuela as a disaster state is at the end of the path ALL other socialist nations are traveling down. Venezuela is the future, and the future is bleak.

To continue reading: Venezuela: Dictatorship, Collapse, And Consequence

 

Take Ownership of Your Bolshevism, Bernie! by William L. Anderson

Somehow you can chop down all the tall trees, which socialistic egalitarianism demands, without actually hurting the trees. From William L. Anderson at lewrockwell.com:

Once upon a time, the Great and Learned People of our society believed that we could have our own form of communism without all of the starvation, mass executions, and imprisonment that marked the establishment of communism abroad. When Leonard Silk, economics editor of the New York Times,wrote The Economists in 1978, he named his chapter on John Kenneth Galbraith, “Socialism Without Tears.” Yes, “American Exceptionalism” also extended to the imposition of socialism that would bypass the death and chaos that marked the communist “experiments” in the USSR, China, and Southeast Asia.

Galbraith believed that the Soviet economy would be superior to the distasteful market economy that plagued the USA, and so did Paul Samuelson, whose famed text showed how in due time, the Soviet economy would grow faster than that of the United States, and someday be more productive. All that was needed was the political will for Americans to reach for the Horn of Plenty, something that evil capitalists did not want to see happen.

Enter Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the erstwhile Democratic presidential candidate who could argue forthrightly that Hillary Clinton and the party leadership stole the election from him. Bernie promoted socialism, although socialism of the “right” kind, something practiced in Denmark and Scandinavia. (That those countries have lower taxes and fewer regulations on business enterprises is not something Sanders would admit aloud, as such information would have been anathema to him and his followers.)

That Bernie wanted a “nice” socialism, a “socialism without tears” is supposedly his political salvation. There is no need for the murder and violence that accompanied the Russian and Chinese communist revolutions, although even there one had to remember that many prominent Americans, including Galbraith, were effusive in their praise of the results of those revolutions. Galbraith even had been to China, was wined and dined, and wrote “A China Passage” as a tribute to the utopia that Mao and his underlings had created, and it is clear that Galbraith saw China as a shining example of what an “egalitarian” economy could be, plain shops and all.

To continue reading: Take Ownership of Your Bolshevism, Bernie!

Why Do Half-Measures Work for Markets, But Not for Socialism? by Ryan McMaken

The proponents of socialism proclaim that you need the whole loaf or socialism will fail. Proponents of capitalism don’t have to make such claims. Usually just moving in that direction leads to improvement in economic well-being. With a hat tip to SLL reader ikdr, from Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Socialists have attempted many times to put their ideology into action. Socialism has been applied in the Soviet Union, Cuba, China (before Deng), North Korea, and by many other less-famous regimes.

In each case, the result has been economic impoverishment and political authoritarianism.

But the die-hard socialists refuse to give up. “Don’t judge communism based on these results, ” we’re told. “Socialism has simply never really been tried.”

Socialism Doesn’t Work Unless It’s Pure Socialism

Indeed, in a recent back-and-forth between John Stossel and Noam Chomsky, Chomsky denied that the Venezuelan regime is socialist at all:

I never described Chavez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained … Capitalists were free to undermine the economy in all sorts of ways, like massive export of capital.

The thinking goes that socialism cannot work unless it progresses all the way to “full socialism.” No partial effort will suffice, we are told, and socialism keeps failing because the some elements of “private capitalism” remained. 

So long as any aspect of a state is not full-on socialism, the thinking goes, then the regime is not really socialist. Moreover, the failure of the regime’s socialist policies — such as expropriation of private companies and expansion of government-owned industries — are to be blamed on capitalism, not socialism. 

RELATED: “Why the Left Refuses to Talk About Venezuela” by Ryan McMaken

Naturally, were socialism able to achieve it’s final state — and all elements of capitalism expunged — we’d know it by its ushering in of a society marked by unparalleled prosperity and total equality.

Nevermind that for all intents and purposes, Lenin did achieve nearly complete and total nationalization of the economy during the Russian Civil War in 1922. The people began to starve soon after, and Lenin retreated to the partial socialism under his so-called “New Economic Policy.”

To continue reading: Why Do Half-Measures Work for Markets, But Not for Socialism?

Why the Left Refuses to Talk About Venezuela, by Ryan McMaken

If you ask leftists and socialists about socialist states like the USSR, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela, you invariably get a “That’s not what I mean,” and then a description of a socialist utopia not found on this planet. Frm Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

During the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders refused to answer questions about Venezuela during an interview with Univision. He claimed to not want to talk about it because he’s “focused on my campaign.” Many suggested a more plausible reason: Venezuela’s present economy is an example of what happens when a state implements Bernie Sanders-style social democracy. 

Similarly, Pope Francis — who has taken the time to denounce pro-market ideologies for allegedly driving millions into poverty — seems uninterested in talking about the untrammeled impoverishment of Venezuela in recent years. Samuel Gregg writes in yesterday’s Catholic World Report:

Pope Francis isn’t known as someone who holds back in the face of what he regards as gross injustices. On issues like refugees, immigration, poverty and the environment, Francis speaks forcibly and uses vivid language in doing so.

Yet despite the daily violence being inflicted on protestors in Venezuela, a steadily increasing death-toll, an explosion of crime, rampant corruption, galloping inflation, the naked politicization of the judiciary, and the disappearance of basic food and medical supplies, the first Latin American pope’s comments about the crisis tearing apart an overwhelming Catholic Latin American country have been curiously restrained.

This virtual silence comes in spite of the fact that the Catholic bishops who actually live in Venezuela have denounced the regime as yet another illustration of the “utter failure” of “socialism in every country in which this regime has been installed.”

Thus, for many Venezuelans, the question is: “Where is Pope Francis?”

As with Sanders, it may very well be that Francis has nothing to say about Venezuela precisely because the Venezuelan regime has pursued exactly the sorts of policies favored by Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, and the usual opponents of market economics.

It’s an economic program marked by price controls, government expropriation of private property, an enormous welfare state, central planning, and endless rhetoric about equality, poverty relief, and fighting the so-called “neoliberals.”

To continue reading: Why the Left Refuses to Talk About Venezuela

 

Eight Venezuelans Electrocuted To Death While Looting Bakery Amid Massive Protests, by Tyler Durden

Venezuela is falling apart. The over/under on the present government surviving is perhaps six months. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Venezuela’s ongoing protests against the Maduro regime took tragic turn when at least 12 people were killed overnight during looting and violence in Venezuela’s capital. Most of the deaths took place in El Valle, a working class neighborhood near Caracas’ biggest military base where opposition leaders say a group of people were hit with an electrical current while looting and trying to steal a refrigerator from a bakery.

The chaos turned deadly when looters entered a bakery protected by an electric fence and tried to remove a refrigerator. The accounts varied, but one opposition leader said 13 people were hit with an electrical current after tossing containers filled with water and making contact with the refrigerator’s power cord.


Criminal investigators look for evidence in front of a bakery, after it was looted

Daniela Alvarado, 25, who sells vegetables in the El Valle area, said the looting on Thursday night began after police officers fired tear gas and buckshot at demonstrators blocking a street with burning tires.

People starting looting the businesses and yelling that they were hungry and that they want the government out,” said Alvarado. “We’re afraid (the stores) are going to run out of everything, that tomorrow there won’t be any food.”

“Yesterday around 9 or 10 (p.m.)things got pretty scary, a group of people carrying weapons came down … and started looting,” said Hane Mustafa, owner of a small supermarket in El Valle cited by Reuters, where broken bottles of soy sauce and ketchup littered the floor between bare shelves.


Empty shelves, a day after a night of looting in El Valle neighborhood in Caracas

To continue reading: Eight Venezuelans Electrocuted To Death While Looting Bakery Amid Massive Protests

Why Socialism is Here to Stay, by Jeff Thomas

Socialism persists and does its deleterious work because it promises, although never delivers, so much for so many at the expense of the few. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com: 

“[T]he government has to take resources from someone before it can dole them out to others. This act of taking destroys an economy. The more you take from the productive members of society, the less productive they become. That’s the primary lesson of the history of socialism.”

The above quote is from Porter Stansberry – from his book, America 2020: The Survival Blueprint. It states a concept I’ve described for years, but Porter states it more succinctly than I ever have. In particular, it negates the argument by many “progressives” that, even if they don’t recommend full-on socialism, they believe in getting “just the right mix” of socialism and capitalism to create the ideal system.

Unfortunately, as viable as this concept may sound, even moderate socialistic national policies result in moderate deterioration of the system. It’s not unlike being “just a little” addicted to heroin.

It may be argued that, “That’s different. With heroin, the addict will always end up wanting more and he’ll become even more dependent.” Exactly so – and that’s unquestionably true for socialism as well. Once the concept of “free stuff” is part of a nation’s governing system, the desire for more free stuff will inexorably rise.

And, of course, historically, we have seen that governments always step up to the plate whenever the demand for more free stuff is suggested. But why should this be so? Wouldn’t a more conservative government be less likely to proffer entitlements than a more liberal government?

Actually, no. To believe this is to misunderstand the very nature of governance. Those who are governed like to believe that their government exists to serve them, and all political leaders are quick to encourage this perception. However, amongst themselves, political leaders fully understand that they exist primarily to feed off of and dominate the electorate. Of course, they can’t actually admit this, but, regardless of party affiliation, that is their very raison d’tre.

To continue reading: Why Socialism is Here to Stay