We hear this from leftists all the time. They try to convince Cubans who have experienced socialism firsthand that Cuba is not socialist. It’s an odd argument considering the fact Cubans on the island are force-fed socialism from the moment they’re born until the day the die.
But what the hell do Cubans know? Bernie, it seems, thinks he knows better.
After being hammered for his long history of defending Communists — specifically for praising Cuba’s “literacy programs” — Democratic Party presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is now employing the other age-old, and equally deceptive, defense of socialism.
At a Fox News Town Hall on Monday, Bernie was asked by a Russian immigrant and student from the University of Michigan: Could Sanders assure her that his brand of “democratic socialism” wouldn’t cause the same kind of harm that socialism always causes?
“What happened and existed in the Soviet Union was not socialism. It was authoritarian Communism,” Bernie replied, inducing a bunch of his historically illiterate fans to applaud.
“And Communism,” Bernie goes on, “whether in Cuba, whether in the Soviet Union or whether in other countries was marked by totalitarianism, was marked by throwing millions of people into the Gulag.”
But leftists like Bernie like to act as if socialist ideology is incompatible with totalitarianism, when the opposite is true. The nationalization of industry and dispensing with property rights — necessary for any genuine socialism to occur — can’t be instituted without coercion and a centralized authoritarian effort. And even if the effort to redistribute property is first supported by the majority, as soon the state comes for your stuff — and it always does — the “democratic” part of the equation starts to dissipate.
Stalin’s five-year plans to collectivize agriculture, nationalize energy, and industrialize Russia were by definition socialist ventures. Mao’s Cultural Revolution was undertaken in part to destroy the entrepreneurship that had emerged when people tried to circumvent the collectivization of Great Leap Forward, another socialist venture.
The truth is the old “that’s not real socialism” argument, like socialism itself, has never worked, does not work, and will never work.