My Family Fled Socialism. Let's Not Give It a Try Here in the U.S.

Here's my response to a Washington Post column calling for socialism in the U.S.

Socialism wasn't implemented correctly in the 20th century, we're told. Millions dying? "That wasn't supposed to happen under Marxist-Leninism!", leftists decry. We told, "If we're given a second chance, we'll do it correctly!"

Hogwash.

Global communism and its socialist variants have cumulatively killed over 100 million since 1917— following the ascension of the Bolshevik Revolution headed up by revolutionary terrorist Vladimir I. Lenin. This violent, bloody revolution propelled the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany, Joseph Stalin in Soviet Russia, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Castro in Cuba, Mao Zhedong in China, and countless other dictators—including those oppressing Venezuela and North Korea today. Millions were brutalized, tortured, or killed in the name of socialism. Socialism and communism deserve to end up in the ashtray of history alongside National Socialism—its equally ugly cousin.

When I came across this column from one Elizabeth Bruenig up at the Washington Post, I couldn't help but shrug. The WaPo opinion columnist seems to romanticize socialism like the rest of our generation—of which a staggering 50% of Millennials now favor. The romanticism of socialism, especially its economic policies, has long been regarded by many on the Left due to the influence of higher education. The equality socialism preaches sounds fine and dandy on paper—until it's implemented or until people get jobs. Upon further examination and examining past historical mistakes, the equality rendered by socialism results in the equitable sharing of misery. Sadly, free enterprise gets scapegoated for the failures of socialism.

Ms. Bruenig writes this about capitalism, discounting the value of individuals in favor of collectivism:

"Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual."

She goes on to call for a "new" socialism, one devoid of its totalitarian bent and one that breaks free enterprise's "strangehold over politics and culture":

Not to be confused for a totalitarian nostalgist, I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.

How is socialism democratic? How does reduce inequality? Given socialism's track record across the globe, it's resulted in more inequality and strained human conditions despite their so-called "humanitarian" intentions. Everything socialists or communists touch dies—from the human spirit to the human flesh.

The attacks on capitalism, or free enterprise (a phrase that better reflects this remarkable economic system), are unjustified. Usually these attacks come of a place of inexperience, poor attention to detail, or blatant naïveté. How many of these individuals who romanticize socialism have lived in those societies ? (Answer: very few to none.) Those calling for the destruction of free enterprise admonish wealth acquired by individuals, yet fail to surrender their iPhones, Starbucks gift cards, and similar luxuries afforded to them under American free enterprise.

If those calling for socialism or communism had it their way, barring exceptions of bureaucrats who'd implement such a system in this country, we'd all be equally poor and miserable at the behest of big government. That's a scary thought.

Imperfect capitalism, or free enterprise, is far more preferable than perfect socialism. Human progress is made possible thanks to free enterprise. When socialism is perfected, chaos, bloodshed, and death follow.

In societies where free market policies reign supreme or exist, greater human freedom flourishes. Why else do people flee here? To experience more socialism or communism? No, they come here to pursue the American dream, to give their children a better future, and to enjoy freedoms denied to them in their homelands.

My family saw firsthand how ugly totalitarian socialism is when implemented. My maternal grandfather endured torture and survived 18 months in one of Stalin's gulags on the Belomor Canal on the Russian-Finnish border for being a Catholic land owner. My maternal grandmother was similarly imprisoned in a German labor camp. My father's side of the family faced institutionalized anti-Semitism.

Free enterprise, flaws and all, best uplifts people from nothing to something. My parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles came here in the 1980s virtually penniless. There was no future for them in the Soviet Union. Had my family not come here 30+ years ago, they wouldn't have worked in corporate America or started their own businesses. Like countless other children of socialism's survivors, I'm so grateful they came here.

The next time someone calls for socialism in America, remind them of its failures across the globe. Remind them that however contorted and misguided their thinking is with respect to free enterprise, the freedoms afforded to them by the U.S. allow them to hold such views. Remind them that human progress and equality of opportunities best thrive in a society rooted in free enterprise, not socialism.

Comments
GerryMaine
GerryMaine

You're characterization of the VA is far off the mark. The VA exists because of a contract signed by each military member and the corresponding branch of the military they served in. The contract includes provision for medical care for injuries/illnesses contracted during their term of service. The contract also has other provisions/benefits that are promised should the person successfully fulfill other terms of service listed in the contract. It is hardly "socialist."

FloridaMan
FloridaMan

We actually did try Socialism in the United States. It's called SNAP Benefits, Section 8 Housing and the VA. All people who "want to try socialism" want to do is take these expensive inefficient fraud-rampant programs and expand them nationwide. Just say no.

meh130
meh130

Because Bruenig advocates for a system without goods having pries and without a medium of exchange, she is actually advocating for end-state Marxism, not European Democratic Socialism. Even the Soviet Union had the Ruble, and even with central planning setting them rather than the market, goods had prices. As long as goods have value, they will have prices. Even without a medium of exchange, barter markets will establish a price. The naivete in Millennial Bruenig's piece is staggering. Even government owned industries and so-called non-profits have a need for capital investment. Both need to operate at positive margins and either retain earnings for future investment or return those earnings to the owners. At the very least, they need to break even after investments in R&D and capital investment.

Personally, I hate the term "capitalism". It is an obsolete term. It was coined to reference the industrial revolution's use of "capital" to replace "labor". We should use "Free Markets", "Economic Freedom", or "Personal Economic Freedom" instead. An artisan selling custom wares at a mutually agreed to price would be considered a "capitalist" under Bruenig's definition. Bruenig is not opposed to capitalism, she is opposed to free markets and personal economic freedom.

We used to use the term "capitalists" to describe the self-funded industrialists of the Gilded Age (Getty, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt). Who owns industry today? Institutional investors, which means us. Our 401Ks and IRAs. Who has the title of "capitalists" today? Venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto. What capital do these "capitalists" fund? Human capital, in the form of white-collar software developers, intellectual capital in terms of patents and source code. Man of today's magnates, such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, got rich on ideas, not factories. On the backs of white-collar workers, not common laborers.

It is madness. Today's so called intellectuals are devoid of knowledge.

ekay
ekay

A group of Moravians (for those who have never heard of them they are members of a Christian Church) tried socialism when they first came to this country many years ago; i.e. everyone pitched in and everything was shared equally. After a few years it proved to be a non-working idea because people are people and some people worked hard and others chose to do as little as possible, but everything was distributed equitably with the one exception that always tears socialism down -- not every ablebodied person would share the work load. There are always "worker bees" who do the bulk of the work and those who choose to live off the labor of others. There will also be people who like to tell others what to do, when to do it, and how to do it (many politicians come to mind). Throw in those who will disobey the rules and those who believe they are the ones who should make the rules and you have a perfect receipe for Socialism or Communism. Right now there are people who can work, and should be working, but they would rather let someone provide them with money. Unfortunately, once a society gets so big that the individual members no longer know one another that the worst damage can be done: i.e. Those who want to always tell others what to do and when to do it will be able to get away with doing so, and those who don't want to work will gladly live off the work of others or steal from others. Yes, socialism does work in some societies, but they are usually societies that are small enough in numbers to know each other intimately (individual families and small towns come to mind). They can stop helping those who do not carry their own work load but often are willing to lend a hand to someone in need.