Have you ever heard anyone make the case that socialism has triumphed everywhere it was tried?
I know I haven’t – not even as one of many former young radicals who met some of the most famous U.S. socialists in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
You’ll likely never hear any sane person make the case that socialism always works – with good reason, as Kristian Niemetz explains in a timely piece on the Foundation for Economic Education website: Socialism fails 100 percent of the time.
But that doesn’t stop the expectation of the political left that the first success is always right around the corner, he shows. In fact, there are more suckers or dupes or propagandists making the case for it than seemingly ever before.
“Socialism is extremely in vogue,” he writes. “Opinion pieces which tell us to stop obsessing over socialism’s past failures, and start to get excited about its future potential, have almost become a genre in its own right.”
Some of the advocates insist that debate, deliberation and voting will lead to socialism’s first triumph.
Others explain that socialism has not really failed, it just hasn’t been executed properly, simply dismissing the worst mass murders of socialists and communists of the 20th century.
Others suggest what appear to be failures today still have a chance to become successes in the future.
“Socialists insist that previous examples of socialism were not ‘really’ socialist, but none of them can tell us what exactly they would do differently,” writes Niemetz. “These are not some trivial technical details that we can just leave until after the revolution. These are the most basic, fundamental questions that a proponent of any economic system has to be able to answer. Almost three decades have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall – enough time, one should think, for ‘modern’ socialists to come up with some ideas for a different kind of socialism. Yet here we are. After all those years, they have still not moved beyond the buzzword stage.”
Well, there is one new idea under the sun of socialism’s advocates – “universal basic income.” Yet, in Finland where it has been tried, even the strongest advocates are backing away from the idea that government can sustain giving money away to people for doing nothing. The left likes to talk about “sustainability,” but socialism is the least sustainable system in the world – except through the terror of totalitarianism and a monopoly on force.
Even where socialist experiments have managed to avoid mass murder of citizens, economic success remains elusive for the long term.
Would North Korea be a more hospitable place without the secret police, labor camps and terror? Sure, but without it, North Koreans would be fleeing the country in droves for a better life somewhere – anywhere.
“Ultimately,” Niemetz write, “the contemporary argument for socialism boils down to: ‘next time will be different because we say so.’ After more than two dozen failed attempts, that is just not good enough.”
He’s so right. In fact, he understates the case. The consolidation of power necessary to carry out the socialist model defies the very idea of socialism. There can be no “democracy,” because socialism could never survive in a democracy. It could never survive in a representative republic or under the rule of moral law. It ultimately must be sustained by the rule of men who “know better” what’s good for the people than the people themselves.
But, let’s give credit where credit it due. Socialism does bat a thousand when it comes to total and utter failure – every time it is tried and everywhere it is tried.