The term socialism in my view is misunderstood. For me it is nearly synonymous with the idea of collectivism. Statists (those who believe in government) are socialists. All political parties, even the Libertarian Party are socialists. They all advocate collectivism. Collectivism has many connections to democracy (another misunderstood term). Democracy is idea that a majority can oppose their will on everybody else.
So 51 people think 49 should die, they vote, they win, and they kill the unwanted 49.
An extreme example I admit. Lets look at more ‘realistic’ examples. A collectivist democracy votes to have taxes. Now I, the individual (in agreement with the policy or not) ‘must’ pay the voted upon taxes. And by must I mean if I don’t I am kidnapped and put in a cage. If I resist my ‘arrest’ (the loss of my freedom) with force, I will be killed.
“If you need violence to enforce your ideas, your ideas are worthless.”
In order to enforce collectivist, democratic ideas, you need enforcers. All democracies are enforced under the threat of violence. Governments seek to have a monopoly on violence to enforce ‘the ideas of the majority’ on everyone else.
Now there are degrees of this of course. Although Republicans, for example, often accuse Democrats of being socialists, neither US political party considers themselves socialists. In other places, like Venezuela, the politicians openly admit to being socialists.
These so-called socialist countries have a few things in common.
The state controls a lot. Often even things like food production. Always media. They always have a HUGE paramilitary police presence.
And their economies are shit.
When you have a political system that concentrates power and resources in the hands of the few and distorts the marketplace to the degree socialism does, you better have those types of controls in place if you wish to have a chance to remain in power.
While the historical examples of the failures of socialism are to many for anyone to argue its merits with a straight face (somehow Adolf Hitler doesn’t get remembered as the self proclaimed socialist he was), I came across a few examples recently of just what is happening in the failed socialist experiments of Cuba and Venezuela.
In Venezuela the President Nicolas Maduro has launched a socialist sneaker (I’m serious).
Venezuela, writes Simon Black, is the most expensive country in the world (when using official exchange rates).
Andrea Rodon Garcia gives a sprawling account of the disaster that is Venezuela.
Fergus Hodgson gives an interesting on the ground report out of Cuba.
An here we have an account of what life is like for dissidents under Cuba’s repressive regime.
And lastly a look at the state of Cuba’s hospitals.
Personally, my former brother in law and dear friend lives in Venezuela and I have seen first hand what has taken place there dating back to Chavez’ take over. The socialist president who coined the slogan ‘socialism or death’ has overseen the deterioration of my friends’ country to the point that he must leave to avoid the risk of lack of food and basic services.
While it seems impossible in this context socialism could have survived as an ideology, it has. And sometimes it appears Ecuador’s leaders are following the Cuban/Venezuelan playbook.
The good news is people have stopped buying it.
When President Correa recently proposed 2 new taxes, protests stopped him in his tracks.
Here the people have real power. When people get upset enough they shut down the roads. And in Ecuador, the socialist appeal that seemed so effective in the past years has lost its ideological shine.