Some are treating “avowed socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory over Democrat war-horse Joe Crowley as a watershed moment. Assuming she wins the general election, she’ll join 434 other socialists in the House of Representatives. That’s not a watershed political moment, it’s a watershed truth-in-advertising moment. She’ll be one of the few socialists there who admits to it.
The partisans on both sides of the barricades are a hundred years too late. The battle is over, victory to the socialists. In the US, it’s impossible to find an industry or economic activity that’s free from government ownership or regulation. Governments have their hands in agriculture, manufacturing, communications, finance, insurance, banking, transportation, technology, housing, medical care, advertising, entertainment, warfare, welfare, charity, and every other human endeavor of consequence. When children need to get a permit and pay a fee to set up a sidewalk lemonade stand, what’s left?
I wish I could find a way to argue with that. This next, too, is difficult to contradict:
Socialism doesn’t work; history is littered with its failures. That is why it’s embraced. Government derives its power from coercion and violence. It is no coincidence that the twentieth century, history’s most socialistic, has also been its most murderous, with governments inflicting an estimated 100 to 200 million deaths.
Socialism’s failure, death, and inevitable restrictions of liberty account for its odium among those who oppose it. The clearest lesson of history is the most ignored. Man versus the state is history’s overarching theme. Humanity flourishes when it’s free to do so (man wins) and deteriorates when it’s not (the state wins).
There is only one way to eradicate a weed without pesticide: pull it up by its roots. Well over 99 percent of arguments against government—inadequate border security, military interventions, out of control spending and debt, the national security state, loss of liberty, etc.—essentially try to kill the weed by pulling off its leaves and stems, but leave the roots intact. As long as there is unquestioning acceptance of the government’s self-granted right to forcefully relieve the productive of their honestly earned incomes, those issues amount to diversionary sideshows.
Since the dark year 1913, government has grown relentlessly larger, more powerful, and more corrupt. The tax take has gone one direction. Even with all that loot, the government has plunged into the abyss of debt and unfunded liabilities. The US has become an oligarchic empire spanning the globe. At least half its population rely on the state for some or all of their sustenance. Occasionally the socialists have lost battles, but those have amounted to mere tactical retreats. They’ve won the war.
The nice thing about socialism—well, maybe “nice” ain’t exactly the right word—is that the seeds of its destruction are carried within it, right from the start. But it’s always a long time a-dying, with much human misery accompanying the death throes, and it always seems to rise again from its crypt eventually. Which makes Glenn’s brilliant quip from a couple of weeks ago the more pungent: “Socialism is the Axe Body Spray of political ideologies: It never does what it claims to do, but people too young to know better keep buying it anyway.“
Like Islam, socialism is one of the greatest scourges foolhardy humanity ever inflicted on itself. That its name isn’t uttered by one and all in the same horrified and disgusted tone that its foul offspring Naziism is amounts to a crime all on its own.