Approximately 36% of young Americans, ages 18 to 22, hold a positive view of socialism. However, for exiled Cuban journalist Yoe Suárez, this positive view of socialism is not based on reality. On a recent episode of the Outstanding podcast hosted by Joseph Backholm, Suárez and Washington Stand Editor-in-Chief Jared Bridges discuss their firsthand experiences with socialism and its wide-ranging consequences.
“The first time I ate a tangerine in years was here in [the] USA,” Suárez said. “It’s amazing because Cuba is a tropical island, you know? It should have fruits there. That’s an image that can maybe portray what’s happening in Cuba.” Suárez went on to discuss the various crises Cubans endure, including blackouts, inaccessible medicine, and a lack of necessities like food and milk for families. When Backholm asked Suárez what the government’s objective was, he replied, “The principal goal is political control. And then they have to build a narrative of goodness behind that.”
Bridges shared his experience living under a socialist government in Minsk, Belarus. “At the time, the things I ran into was just seeing how that system for that long a time oppressed people,” he said. He discussed his inability to find prescribed medicine after going to seven different pharmacies. “To put it in perspective today, here in America, I’ll go to the drug store and get upset if I have to wait 15 minutes.” Bridges further noted that his experience shed light on how, rather than everyone being equal in their belongings and opportunities under socialism, people are stripped of basic needs including medicine. “What became evident to me was that something is not what it says it is,” Bridges stated.
Backholm wondered how to change the phenomenon happening “here in the United States where you have a growing number of young people who actually seem enthusiastic about socialism,” with Bridges adding how this enthusiasm takes place amongst Christians as well.
“The saddest thing is that socialism takes a lot from envy,” Suárez said. People want what they can’t have, and, for Suárez, socialism feeds the flame of envy toward those who have more. “Socialism is institutionalized envy. It’s that. Socialism is just that.” He went on to observe that the fundamental issue is when too much power is centralized in one place. Sharing is good, but it must come from a place of voluntary charity. As Suárez stated, “If it’s voluntary, it’s charity. And charity is good.” But as Backholm added, “Compelled generosity is not generosity, it is theft. It is totalitarian. It is robbery.”
Backholm further pointed out how our sinful nature, whether living under capitalism or socialism, leads to the exploitation of others and often manifests into greed. “If our hearts are unregulated, we will take advantage of other people to our own benefit,” Backholm stated. “What a biblical worldview argues for is a decentralization of power. … The free marketplace, by nature, decentralizes power.” In response, Bridges reflected on how a free market society also gives us the ability to speak out.
When the discussion turned to equality, it was noted that the desire for ultimate equality does not have an end because nothing will ever be enough to satisfy. Suárez, for instance, was kicked out of his home country for speaking out against socialism. As Bridges pointed out, this socialist view of equality does not lead to actual equality, but rather a totalitarian sense of political control where the government tells you what you can and cannot do with your goods, needs, and opinions.
For Backholm, Suárez, and Bridges, the ability to distinguish between voluntary charity and compelled generosity is the difference between socialism and capitalism. Neither is without flaw, but as Suárez stated, “The solution to a headache is not cancer.”
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