The Myth of Democratic Socialism

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The Myth of Democratic Socialism

In 1989, nearly half of the world’s people lived in countries with de facto socialist governments; these included the People’s Republic of China, the USSR, Vietnam, Cuba and even India.  Today, China is run by mercantilist crony-capitalists, the USSR has disintegrated, and the socialists in India’s Congress Party have been displaced and marginalized.  Meanwhile, the “regulatory state,” that so dominated the countries of Western Europe and North America since the 1940s, began a halting retreat in the Reagan-Thatcher era.  Most importantly, everywhere it’s been tried (from Singapore to South Korea to Ireland) free market capitalism has been an unparalleled success in terms of delivering happiness, material well-being and innovation.  Meanwhile, we need look no further than Venezuela to demonstrate that socialism remains a primary source of misery, poverty, and stagnation.

Consider the USSR, the biggest and longest-running test of Marxist principles ever conducted in the real world.  Before its collapse in 1991, seven disastrous decades of centralized government planning had left the people of the Soviet Union in a stagnant poverty of empty shelves and shoddy, unwanted goods.  For decades, the “people’s” retail stores offered Soviet citizens meager quantities of all the things needed for everyday life.

This poverty, born of centralized economic planning and perpetual corruption, required consumers to establish underworld connections and bribes to simply get a pair of shoes for their child, a ticket to the theater, or the medicine that was essential for a loved one not to die.   Ironically, this “land of promised socialist equality” was a society that was politically and economically held together through an intricate network of privilege and favoritism. 

Obviously, soviet workers were protected from the supposedly corrupting evils of a capitalist consumer society.  However, they found that nothing makes people as crassly materialistic and “absorbed with a desire for stuff” as living in a society that has assured everyone that there will be no such temptations because the “socialist system” under which they live fails at every turn to supply them with the things they desperately need and want for a comfortable everyday life.

So, after comparing this alternative to the affluence of the United States, Japan, South Korea, or Canada, you would think everybody everywhere would laugh at the idea of adopting Marxism in any form.

Yet, at the 2019 California Democratic Party Convention, John Hickenlooper the former two-term Governor of Colorado was booed for saying that “socialism is not the answer...

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