The evils of socialism quickly emerge wherever it is tried

Josh Muravchik & Andrew Walworth:
Young Americans are flocking to the “socialist” banner that Bernie Sanders is waving. It sounds new and exciting, but it’s anything but new. It’s a tempting political vision that has been tried many times, in many ways, and in many places. The results make for a long litany of failure, most recently in Venezuela.

In 1998, Hugo Chavez came to power, proclaiming a vaguely defined “revolution” that was “anti-Yanqui,” pro-Cuba, and solicitous of the poor. Government intervention in the economy increased exponentially and spending on social programs multiplied, sustained by seemingly limitless oil revenues. Chavez won four national elections in a row. But shortages began to appear in basic commodities, and when oil prices fell under Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, the fatal flaw in “Chavismo” was starkly revealed.

Inflation zoomed past 1 million percent and the poverty rate past 80 percent. The majority of Venezuelans said they went to bed hungry. Electrical power is spotty, medicine is scarce, and this once-thriving Latin America nation has become a failed state. Some 15 percent of the population has fled the country, producing more refugees than Syria.

That is only the most recent installment of the story a generation of young Americans need to hear. It’s a narrative that begins nearly two centuries ago.

The word “socialism” was coined in the 1820s by the followers of British and French visionaries, including Robert Owen and Charles Fourier, who set up experimental communes, mostly on American soil. They wanted to live lives of sharing and equality that they believed would be happier and more harmonious than what they had known. They hoped that their example would convince the rest of the world that they had discovered a better way.

Some 40 to 50 such communes were established, and all collapsed. Their median lifespan: a mere two years. The cause of failure was documented in the surviving correspondence from the most celebrated socialist commune, New Harmony in Indiana. “The gardens and fields were almost entirely neglected,” wrote one participant. “There has been much irregularity of effort,” wrote another. A third reported: “Instead of striving who should do most, the most industry was manifested in accusing others of doing little.”

Despite such an unpromising start, socialism lived on thanks to the theoretical powers of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They dismissed communal experiments as “utopian,” claiming to have discovered “scientific socialism,” a prophesy that inevitable revolution by the proletariat would turn entire societies to socialism.

Inspired by this vision, although not content to wait for the inevitable, Lenin seized power in Russia in 1917, launching the world’s next big attempt at socialism. Fourteen surrounding nations were absorbed into what became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and eventually some 17 other countries came under Communist rule. This effort to impose socialism by force claimed tens of millions of lives, produced a police state epitomized by the “Gulag Archipelago,” and generated neither prosperity nor happiness.
There is more.

 It is a system that does not work because it does away with any incentives.  If you are going to get the same as someone who does little or nothing,  people easily gravitate to little or nothing.  The Pilgrims found that problem pretty quickly with their "tragedy of the commons" approach to survival in the new world.

What is really hard to understand is why so many people are willing to impose a failed system on this country.  It takes willful ignorance and an ability to ignore history and economics.


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