No matter how many times socialism is resurrected, repackaged, or its name is changed, the results are still the same. It has a 100-year-long record of failure. Where ever it has been tried it fails. Every. Single. Time.
Socialism always fails, even so-called democratic socialism
Over the last 100 years, the world has seen more than two dozen socialist experiments. It has failed in every country every time it has been tried: in the Soviet Union they implemented one form of socialism, in Yugoslavia another; Chinese socialism differed from the socialism of North Korea; Venezuelan socialism was not the same as Cuban socialism — but every single one of these experiments failed. In response to this catalog of failures, socialists complain, “The idea was right, it was just never properly executed!”
Venezuela, Socialism of the 21st Century
The last time left-wingers rhapsodized about a socialist experiment was 20 years ago when Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela. Leftist intellectuals around the world were enthused, deeming Chavez the founder of “Socialism of the 21st Century.” Even in the United States, Chavez had a coterie of admirers among left-wing intellectuals. One of their most prominent figures, Tom Hayden, who died in 2016, explained: “As time passes, I predict the name of Hugo Chavez will be revered by millions.” Another of Chavez’s left-wing intellectual cheerleaders was the Princeton professor, Cornell West, who declared: “I love that Hugo Chavez has made poverty a major priority. I wish America would make poverty a priority.” And the prominent journalist Barbara Walters swarmed: “He cares very much about poverty, he is a socialist. What he’s trying to do for all of Latin America, they have been trying to do for years, eliminate poverty. But he is not the crazy man we’ve heard … This is a very intelligent man.”
But even this experiment ended in poverty and dictatorship. No other country in the world has experienced such rampant inflation as Venezuela. Ten percent of the population has already fled. Venezuela has even resorted to importing gasoline from Iran, even though Venezuela is the most oil-rich country in the world. Those who stayed are starving. And what do the socialists tell us? They say the same thing they say after every failed socialist experiment: “Sorry, that wasn’t real socialism.” Or they blame the U.S. for imposing economic sanctions, as if North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela would ever have been prosperous economies if it weren’t for these sanctions. This is, of course, absolute nonsense.
The process is always the same, as Kristian Niemietz documents in his major work, Socialism. The Failed Idea That Never Dies. In the earliest stages of any new socialist experiment, left-wing intellectuals praise it to the heavens. Leading Western intellectuals extolled Stalin and Mao, for example, but after the failure of these experiments, they said, “Well, that was never real socialism. Things will definitely work out better next time.” But the question is: What should we make of an idea that has always failed, that has caused more than 100 million deaths?
The second argument socialists make is: So, let’s give “democratic socialism” a go! “Democratic socialism” has attracted widespread support from many politicians in the Western hemisphere, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and many on the left wing of the Democratic Party. In Britain, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was a figurehead for this political course but was deposed after his party’s defeat at the 2019 general election. The British, in particular, should know better because they had already experienced the pain caused by “democratic socialism.” In 1945, when the Labour Party came to power in the first post-war general election, it implemented a form of democratic socialism. The Labour Party’s policies closely mirrored much of what Bernie Sanders and other socialists hope for in the U.S. today: extremely high taxes on the rich and far-reaching state influence on the economy.
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