Why Socialism Is the Failed Idea That Never Dies
Kristian Niemietz’s book, “Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies,” is an incredible book and should be compulsory reading at schools and universities, where today the song sung by anti-capitalists reigns supreme.
Kristian Niemietz, Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies. Institute for Economic Affairs, London 2019, 374 pages.
What would you say to an amateur chef who baked a cake following a certain recipe only for everyone who ate a slice to fall ill quickly afterward? Being such an enthusiastic baker, they bake the same cake a second time just a few weeks later, again following the same recipe, but this time with one or two slight adjustments. Unfortunately, the result is the same—everyone who eats the cake soon ends up feeling sick.
The cake baker repeats this more than two dozen times, always modifying the recipe a little, but the basic ingredients remain more or less the same despite the fact that their guests throw up every time. Of course, there’s no way such a thing would happen. The cake baker would soon realize that there is a major problem with the recipe and throw it away.
More Than Two Dozen Failed Experiments
Yet this is exactly what socialists have done:Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society. It has been tried in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Albania, Poland, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, North Korea, Hungary, China, East Germany, Cuba, Tanzania, Benin, Laos, Algeria, South Yemen, Somalia, the Congo, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Nicaragua and Venezuela, among others. All of these attempts have ended in varying degrees of failure. How can an idea, which has failed so many times, in so many different variants and so many radically different settings, still be so popular? (p. 21)
This is the central question asked by this extremely important book from economist Kristian Niemietz, who works at the London Institute for Economic Affairs. He manages to provide the answer to his question in one sentence:It is because socialists have successfully managed to distance themselves from those examples. (p. 55)
As soon as you confront socialists with examples of failed experiments, they always offer the following response: “These examples don’t prove anything at all! In fact, none of these are true socialist models.” During the “heyday” of most of these socialist experiments, however, intellectuals held quite a different view, as Niemietz illustrates with many examples.
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