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Sunday, September 20, 2020
HomeOpinionThe Bizarre Allure of Socialism, Part II

The Bizarre Allure of Socialism, Part II

Bernie Sanders stands at the podium on stage during a walk through before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 25, 2016. (Photo: SS)
Bernie Sanders stands at the podium on stage during a walk through before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 25, 2016. (Photo: SS)

Bernie Sanders stands at the podium on stage during a walk through before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 25, 2016. (Photo: SS)

Back in June, I wrote about the bizarre allure of socialism and said that advocates (who generally don’t even know what socialism really means) were some of the most anti-empirical people in the world.

…even though the real-world evidence against big government is so strong, it’s rather baffling that many young people are drawn to that coercive ideology and disturbing that a non-trivial number of voters favor this failed form of statism. …Socialism has a technical definition involving government ownership of the means of production and central planning of the economy. But most people today think socialism is big government, with business still privately owned but with lots of redistribution and intervention (I’ve argued, for instance, that even Bernie Sanders isn’t a real socialist, and that there are big differences between countries like Sweden, China, and North Korea). For what it’s worth, that’s actually closer to the technical definition of fascism.

Now let’s update that column.

It seems that the cancer of socialism is spreading, at least if this story in The Week is any indication.

Things are looking up for the Democratic Socialists of America. With a membership of 25,000, it is now the largest socialist group in America since the Second World War. And last weekend in Chicago, it held its largest convention, by a considerable margin, in its history. …Membership has more than tripled in a year, gaining a large boost from the candidacy of Bernie Sanders… That sharp surge in new recruits — most of whom are fairly young — has created a fairly stark age bifurcation among members. Somewhat akin to Sanders campaign, there is an old guard of people who have been carrying the left-wing torch for years, and a recent surge of new members…most of the major proposals were adopted with large majorities. Among other things, delegates voted to…endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (directed at ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza), …and to endorse Medicare for all as a major priority.

I’m guessing that the bifurcated conference meant a handful of old people who are genuine socialists and a bunch of young people who think socialism is just a bunch of government-coerced redistribution and intervention.

Both groups, however, deserve scorn for favoring a system that elevates the state over individuals. That approach is grossly immoral.

Not to mention that it’s never worked. Nobody has ever provided a good answer to my two-part challenge.

Mitchell-Challenge

There is no example of a successful socialist nation anywhere in the world. Cuba? No. North Korea? No. The Soviet Empire? Don’t make me laugh. Venezuela? You must be joking.

Denmark or Sweden? Umm…, they’re not socialist, though their economies have been hurt by excessive redistribution. Greece? Give me a break.

I could continue, but no sense beating a dead horse.

Written by
Contributing Economist

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy. Mitchell’s articles can be found in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and the Washington Times. He is the author of "The Flat Tax: Freedom, Fairness, Jobs, and Growth," and co-author of "Global Tax Revolution: The Rise of Tax Competition and the Battle to Defend It."

Latest comments

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    You sound like a Douche

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    The ‘cancer of socialism’??? I’ve never heard it called that before. We do now know that our ‘crony capitalism’ is doing immense harm to the nation and society. And there’s all the indication of the US becoming a fascist state within the next few years. Corporate puppet Obama started it and billionaire Trump will ably complete the task. http://bit.ly/fascism-14points

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