Tag Archive for: socialism

Fetterman: I Didn’t Leave the Left, It Left Me

“I don’t feel like I’ve left the label; it’s just more that it’s left me.”

An interesting line with a lot of history to it from Sen. Jon Fetterman on dumping the “progressive” label he used to use.

“I don’t feel like I’ve left the label; it’s just more that it’s left me.”

President Reagan would often quip, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me.” Similar lines have been used by everyone from Bill Maher, “It’s not me who’s changed, it is the left” to Elon Musk.

It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with Fetterman after his medical issues, but a dividing line seems to have been the Left’s support for Hamas, but he’s also embraced a species of economic populism, fighting against land sales to China, and Japan’s takeover of U.S. Steel.

While Fetterman had never been a foreign policy guy, he did explicitly break with the far left on Israel during his campaign.

“I would also respectfully say that I’m not really a progressive in that sense,” he added. “Our campaign is based on core Democratic values and principles, and always has been, and there is no daylight between myself and these kinds of unwavering commitments to Israel’s security.”

Still, Fetterman said he was “eager to affirm” his positions on the record, lest there be any uncertainty among supporters of Israel who have similar questions. “I want to go out of my way to make sure that it’s absolutely clear,” he told JI, “that the views that I hold in no way go along the lines of some of the more fringe or extreme wings of our party.”

The Left did not take that seriously and assumed he was just pandering. Now they’re finding out that he really meant it.

So this did not come out of nowhere. And it’s not just about Israel.

He has also publicly encouraged Democrats in recent days to engage in border negotiations with Republicans, talks that have outraged progressives who object to efforts to clamp down on migration through the United States border with Mexico.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a secured border,” Mr. Fetterman said in the interview, conducted over Zoom. “I would never put Dreamers in harm’s way, or support any kind of cruelty or mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of people. But it’s a reasonable conversation to talk about the border.”

Now this may be a canny rebranding.

A moderate Democrat who emphasizes economic populism, border security and steers clear of crazier leftist stuff, has much better odds of holding on to a Pennsylvania Senate seat.

Fetterman would never have taken office if Republicans hadn’t run a Turkish Muslim leftist trainwreck like Mehmet Oz who appealed to no one except Oprah viewers (and they mostly vote Democrat anyway). Next time, Republicans may actually find a candidate that people might actually vote for. But next time around is a long time away and Fetterman doesn’t need to be picking fights with the Left.

The short version seems to be that he may be a leftist, but he’s an old-school leftist who actually doesn’t much like the Left.

The media castigates him for associating with Bernie Sanders, but Bernie was actually an old-school leftist who used to be against identity politics, culture wars and open borders. Under pressure, he jettisoned all of his views and became a generic woke. (At which point most people lost interest in him. Eventually so did the Left.)

Fetterman has pushed back against the pressure. Unlike Bernie, he refuses to be intimidated by people screaming at him.

Despite the headline, he hasn’t left the Left, but he’s not interested in the progressive label which tends to signify upper class wokeness.

The Pennsylvania senator said he still aligns with many progressive goals, including a $15 minimum wage, universal health care, legalizing marijuana and abolishing the Senate filibuster.

But he said he no longer relates to the overarching label of “progressive” — especially as the left has become more interested in demanding what he described as “purity tests.”

“It’s just a place where I’m not,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ve left the label; it’s just more that it’s left me.

“I’m not critical if someone is a progressive,” he added. “I believe different things.”

Fetterman is currently for fracking, and also for lots of social welfare. That is old-school leftism. It’s also fairly popular.

There’s a whole lot more support for social welfare than there is for culture wars, drag queens and Islamic terrorism. Not to mention radical environmentalism.

The old progressives used to argue (not even all that long ago) that they should run on a straight class warfare platform while shedding all the other garbage. This used to be the main argument for a Bernie Sanders campaign. Except that garbage is hard to shed. Just ask Bernie.

Fetterman is shedding a lot of the garbage. This doesn’t make him an ex-leftist or a friend to conservatives, but it makes him something worse: a serious threat to the Left as it currently is.

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Exiled Cuban Journalist: ‘Socialism Is Institutionalized Envy’

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.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Dog Meat, Human Meat, and Other Wonders of Socialist Cuban Hunger

I can imagine the face of the person who discovered that bag full of dog heads in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. Around those days in 2012, the tumultuous popular festivities of Humoranga had ended, and the local palate still remembered the fabulous skewers that, mysteriously, were being sold at pocket prices in the always hungry Cuban scene.

I can imagine people hearing about the sack. Tying up loose ends can be nauseating.

The possible sale of dog meat keeps reminding me of Donald Trump, who pointed out that people stand up for freedom because they want to walk their dog and not eat it. Sure, maybe not your dog, but the neighborhood dog, who passes a stone’s throw away and doesn’t wear a collar or answer to any name. People are hungry.

That is why a well-known Cuban writer told me that before going cat-hunting in his college years, he would swish some rum, as if to dilute his consciousness. Yes, in Cuba people have also eaten cats. The demand for this and any meat had a peak in the 1990s, the hardest crisis on the island, when this writer was studying to become an engineer, and the nights of hunger did not allow him to sleep.

In that fateful decade, rabbit meat buyers asked for the animal with its head, to make sure they weren’t selling cats. From that period comes an extensive survival recipe. From pizzas with condoms instead of cheese, to steaks with grapefruit peel and mop bedspreads.

Socialism has failed so much and in so many ways that, as Thomas Sowell said, only an intellectual would be unable to see it. In 2007, experts from the University of Loyola and the Cuban university in Cienfuegos studied the impacts of the so-called Special Period and concluded that it had done good for the health of Cubans. Yes, as it reads.

Due to the lack of food and fuel, which forced thousands of Cubans to pedal bicycles to get around, obesity decreased. And, as a consequence, the number of deaths were attributed to diabetes, coronary diseases, and cardiac arrests. At the same time, the famine minimized the amount of calories in the diet. Wow, after zombifying millions of souls, you have Big Brother to thank.

The experts can be, it is known, new tyrants of the postmodern state, and with Cuba, they have tried to rewrite its history to accommodate their delusions. The academics behind the study conveniently ignored the rise in diseases such as polyneuritis or depression during the 1990s.

What would they say about an act of cannibalism if it occurs in socialist Cuba? Would they change the moral compass to justify it? At the end of 2022, it emerged that a hospital employee “was extracting organs and body fat from the deceased to crush them and sell them as mincemeat.” The rumor spread on social networks, and through an official statement the Provincial Health Directorate of Santiago de Cuba confirmed it: the National Revolutionary Police was investigating a possible case of organ trafficking from deceased persons at the Ambrosio Grillo Portuondo Clinical Surgical Hospital.

“Certainly, there are two workers from the reference hospital who work as eviscerators and occupational therapy, arrested on December 9, 2022 for an alleged criminal act, having seized two hearts of possible human origin,” explained the state center. Will revolutionary progress lead to cannibalism?

The United States is one of the main importers of food to the island. In 2021, Castroism disbursed more than $124 million in frozen chicken quarters, a substantial increase compared to 2020, when it paid just over $67 million for the same product.

Yes, imperialism wants the hardened people to die of hunger, the people that (the regime believes) turns on the gossip in the blackout, thinking that at least the right wing does not rule in Cuba, the island that before 1959 produced meat and exported flowers south of the United States. Yes. When the system changes, how things change.

The revolutionaries of 1959 repeated that changes were good, that change was equal to progress, that they could only advance even as nobody knew for sure where it was going. But, as we have seen, progressivism does not mean progress. Having your feet on the ground, a minute, is enough to know.

Luis O. lives in Camaguey, inherited a shotgun, and after a cumbersome process he obtained a license to hunt. It is 2023, but Luis goes out to kill ducks, quails, and whatever he finds in front of the canyon to feed his brother, his mother, his wife, and their two children, as if the city of Camaguey was still Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe. While socialism imposes stores in capitalist currency (euro, dollar, everything) on an impoverished population, the people of Camaguey saw the stores in Cuban pesos dry up. Without food, Luis went back in time. He shares that his days are filled with the need to go into the bush and hunt.

The Cuban State cries about the embargo and paints it as a “blockade,” but the only blockade that exists is that of the State against the citizen, and it is the one that takes its toll, leaving land without crops and stomachs without food. The bureaucrats at the Palace of the Revolution kick their feet because Washington does not give credit to a country that does not pay, and because U.S. politicians consider it immoral to trade freely with a regime that prohibits free trade among its inhabitants.

As in India, for more than 40 years cows were “sacred” in Cuba. In one way by faith, in another by the hand of the god-State. It was only until 2021 that the sale of beef was authorized on the island, and its production and sale by private parties was decriminalized.

Since 1979, no producer could sell this meat, and buyers were punished with up to a year in jail for buying it. At the time of its decriminalization, the pound was paid in the informal market for up to $12. Castroism announced that it would pay the peasant for two kilos of meat. Magnanimous.

Faithful to the disconnection with natural laws, Cuban statism projected in 2021 the allocation of an additional 3,461 million pesos to the annual budget, “in order to stimulate agricultural production.” But the investment was nothing. The same voluntarism that “removed” money from the coffers, generated one of the highest inflation rates on the planet that year and its consequent devaluation of the peso.

He believed that subsidizing with “soft loans” electricity, water, fumigation, and feed costs for pig farming, he would magically compensate for the lack of economic freedom of 63 years.

In 1979, the first revolutionary Penal Code criminalized the slaughter of cattle. But the hunger was so great that, far from stopping, in 1987 the sacrifice of horses had to be made illegal in the letter. In 1999, the severity of sentences for slaughtering cattle increased. Whoever sold or transported that meat would receive up to eight years in prison. But there is no decree that stops hunger. Just freedom and work.

Before 1959, Cuba was an important regional cattle producer. In the first years, Castroism attributed its incipient reduction to sabotage by its internal opponents. However, once thousands of them were shot, and hundreds of thousands more thrown into jail or exile, the phenomenon did not reverse.

Today, the socialist paradise imports 80% of the food it consumes and dedicates annually, with frequent restrictions due to lack of liquidity and non-payment, about $2 billion to these imports.

On the other hand, hunger is an effective control mechanism. It prevents thinking beyond the day to day, to satisfy the urgent need that literally climbs the individual on the tightrope of life or death. At the same time, a desperate society can become a tsunami of violence. Castroism has played the drip strategy for decades: miserable portions through the ration card, enough to cover the cupboard for a few days, occupying your mind by “inventing” most of the month, but in a model that keeps expectant the body until the next sale of products.

So much has been “invented” in Cuba that in 2012, due to a national lack of oil, oil from crematoriums circulated on the Havana black market… for cooking food.

As the presenter, Juan explained at that time, with each cremation, about 20 liters of burning oil are used for the treatment of smoke gases. From a warehouse of the Guanabacoa incinerator, on the outskirts of the capital, the liquid came out of yore.

There was a scandal, in the proportions that the story warranted, and apparently, they cut the network. But what the revolutionaries have not cut is the shortage of oil, which appears from time to time on the island of “there is no.”

A painter friend who came to the United States in the late 1960s experienced a panic attack in Los Angeles. She entered a small grocery store and had to be taken out unconscious. From the empty shelf, the desperation for what to eat tomorrow, and the long lines, to endless shelves, full to the brim and with so many brands and prices to choose from.

My wife and I arrived in Miami already knowing other countries, on both sides of the Atlantic. The impact of overflowing shops was not as much as for compatriots who arrive from nothing every day to a nation of abundance. Even so, when I enter the cheap Dollar Tree or Walmart, the first thing I think about is my friends and their children, my mother, the ministries of my church, which help the elderly and abandoned children, the homeless. It sure happens to others.

One imagines filling suitcases, yes. That lucky patch. But I also think about how much free enterprise could bring to Cuba. Employment, food, and medicines. The more the free market is respected, the closer the paradigm of land flowing with milk and honey is.

For me, a clear mark of abundance in the United States manifested itself on Halloween. For that day, costumes and decorations are prepared for weeks. Candy sales skyrocket. On the night itself, I saw neighborhoods fill up with boys and families where no soul walks at any other time of the year. “Trick or treat!” they shouted before extending their hands.

The next day, on the pavement, the sidewalks, the gardens of the entire neighborhood, there were hundreds of candies, chocolates, and little toys. All sealed, slipped carelessly from baskets and baskets, forgotten because there are more and tomorrow there will be again, because buying a cookie for your son doesn’t cost ten hours in line and a shoving fight.

Children in Cuba, for example, skin pelicans to sell their little meat for 70 Cuban pesos (less than a dollar) each. The story does not take place at the beginning of the Revolution or in the 1990s, but in 2022, in the coastal town of Caibarién. Through dirt streets one of them pedals with a bucket full of pelicans without feathers or skin. Potential buyers appear from the rickety houses.

Meanwhile, the children who “fish” for pelicans kill their hunger by boiling the corpses of the birds with brown sugar and guava leaves. “You throw out the water three times,” they detailed to the reporter, “and that way they don’t taste so bad.”

*This article was done with the help of the Cuban Studies Institute.

AUTHOR

Yoe Suarez

Yoe Suárez is a writer, producer, and journalist, exiled from Cuba due to his investigative reporting about themes like torture, political prisoners, government black lists, cybersurveillance, and freedom of expression and conscience. He is the author of the books “Leviathan: Political Police and Socialist Terror” and “El Soplo del Demonio: Violence and Gangsterism in Havana”.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

How Government Lost 15 Million Acres of Public Land in the United States

Non-market allocations of resources are doomed to result in catastrophic waste and mismanagement, evidenced by a recent New York Times story exploring how ‘millions of acres of public lands aren’t really open to the public.’


Leave it to the United States Government to lose track of almost three states worth of public land. Only an institution with so little incentive and ability to allocate resources for the betterment of human wellbeing could instantiate such a catastrophic waste of potential.

The following is a story of an engineer named Eric Siegfried, a Montana man who caught public officials in almost unimaginable levels of incompetence and waste. It is also a cautionary tale about the way extreme misallocations of resources are the predictable outcome of America’s current form of land use governance, which systematically severs control over certain resources from anyone equipped to use them rationally and effectively.

Multiple articles in the New York Times have recently reported on the findings of a group of private hunters and wilderness enthusiasts who have brought attention to millions of acres that nobody previously knew existed. Times article published in February reported that, “Across America, 15 million acres of state and federal land is surrounded by private land, with no legal entry by road or trail. If this so-called landlocked land was one contiguous piece, it would form the largest national park in the country, nearly the size of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut combined.” And, “Most of these inaccessible public lands are in the West, and, until recently, their existence was largely unknown.”

The land was only discovered, according to another recent Times article, because of a smartphone app called OnX. “OnX was born when Eric Siegfried, a mechanical engineer and part-time hunting guide in Montana, decided to make a Google Maps for the wilderness,” the Times reports.

Unlike Google maps, OnX is optimized for use in forests and other wild areas, displaying property lines, wind patterns, fire histories, and other data useful to outdoorsmen but not to ordinary civilians.

Times contributor Ben Ryder Howe writes, “Property data is often inaccurate and outdated, and early in the development of OnX Mr. Siegfried found himself asking, ‘Why is there no nationwide picture of land ownership, of public and private property boundaries, of who owns what?’” And so, according to Howe, “By collating state and county data and putting it on a microchip, Mr. Siegfried turned the project in the scrapbooking room into a company that just received more than $87 million from investors and that understands the American landscape arguably better than the government does.”

Howe points out that, “In answering the question of who owns what, OnX helped bring to light how much public land — often highly coveted — is not reachable by the public.”

Land is highly coveted because it is a form of capital which, if allocated properly, can vastly enrich its owners and other participants in the market.

There are countless ways that individuals, or society generally, could utilize 15 million acres of land. People could live on it, thus increasing housing affordability and expanding the range of available options of where to live. People could convert its raw materials into transportable resources such as lumber or oil, thus improving commodity abundance and lowering the threshold at which the poor could afford to have their needs met. People could employ unique characteristics of its ecosystems to conduct scientific research. Or the land could be preserved in its current state, if its environmental, recreational, and/or aesthetic properties are deemed more valuable. Manifold possible uses exist, many of which can probably only be imagined by the innovators of the future.

It is impossible to know a priori which combination of potential uses are the best allocation of such an enormous supply of capital. But one thing is clear: When so much wealth and potential are on the line, the difference between efficient and inefficient resource allocation is the difference between countless livelihoods saved or destroyed. When housing prices, or food prices, or gas prices, are increased or decreased by the availability or unavailability of a few million acres worth of resources, it can make or break the health and safety of anyone whose current standards of living are near the margin of viability. And even for those well enough above the margin to be unconcerned about basic necessities, changes in the cost of living can still make or break their access to important commodities and opportunities such as a higher education, the ability to start a small business, or any other ambition they might have that requires significant investment.

So how could such a massive amount of potential wealth have been unaccounted for and untapped for so long, and what should happen to it now that it has been discovered?

It is commonly understood, even by avowed socialists as well as arguably Karl Marx himself, that socialist economies are generally less conducive to economic growth than market economies, hence the latter often being dubbed “capitalist.” One primary reason for this is that markets result in a mechanism of resource allocation that maximizes efficiency like no socialist, communist, or fascist economy has ever been capable of. And that mechanism is known as the price system.

The price system is merely the logical consequence of resources being controlled by individuals rather than collectives, and exchanged voluntarily rather than by force. These are the characteristics of a market economy, and they result in consumers and producers having extremely precise knowledge, communicated via prices, of exactly how useful each resource is for a wide range of potential uses, given the nature and scarcity of the resource relative to alternatives. And this precise knowledge allows budgeting, financing, shopping for the best among many available products, and so on to be subject to highly accurate calculations.

This crucial difference between market and non-market economies was first clearly articulated by the economist Ludwig von Mises in his 1920 essay, “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth.” In it, Mises offered the following example:

“Picture the building of a new railroad. Should it be built at all, and if so, which out of a number of conceivable roads should be built? In a competitive and monetary economy, this question would be answered by monetary calculation. The new road will render less expensive the transport of some goods, and it may be possible to calculate whether this reduction of expense transcends that involved in the building and upkeep of the next line. That can only be calculated in money. It is not possible to attain the desired end merely by counterbalancing the various physical expenses and physical savings. Where one cannot express hours of labor, iron, coal, all kinds of building material, machines and other things necessary for the construction and upkeep of the railroad in a common unit it is not possible to make calculations at all.”

This point was expanded on by Mises’s disciple, the Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek, who gives another instructive example in his seminal 1945 essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society”:

“Assume that somewhere in the world a new opportunity for the use of some raw material, say, tin, has arisen, or that one of the sources of supply of tin has been eliminated. … All that the users of tin need to know is that some of the tin they used to consume is now more profitably employed elsewhere and that, in consequence, they must economize tin. There is no need for the great majority of them even to know where the more urgent need has arisen, or in favor of what other needs they ought to husband the supply. If only some of them know directly of the new demand, and switch resources over to it, and if the people who are aware of the new gap thus created in turn fill it from still other sources, the effect will rapidly spread throughout the whole economic system and influence not only all the uses of tin but also those of its substitutes and the substitutes of these substitutes, the supply of all the things made of tin, and their substitutes, and so on; and all this without the great majority of those instrumental in bringing about these substitutions knowing anything at all about the original cause of these changes.”

Now think of the price system, or lack of one, in the context of Siegfried’s discovery.

When land is privately owned, the price system facilitates numerical comparisons between different possible uses of each plot of land (or useful subdivision thereof), such as people living on it, or excavating it for minerals, or growing crops on it, or conserving its current state—or countless other possibilities.

There is no way of knowing with certainty which is the best use of each plot of land, given the virtually infinite variables such as what alternative resources could be used for each of the possible uses of the land, how scarce and applicable to alternate uses each of those resources are, and so on. And of course, even the price system can’t account for all the variables, given that every event in the world comes with externalities, millions of uncertainties and butterfly effects that constantly shape our perception of the future into reality. But the price system accounts for more of the variables, and does so with more accuracy, than any other system because prices reflect each individual’s specific preferences and needs down to the cent whereas all other systems reflect either randomness or the preferences of some authoritarian subset of the population that has managed to dictate resource allocations according to their preferences while excluding the preferences of others.

(It is worth noting that the assumptions people make about the relative significance of one set of externalities over another tend to be totally unjustified. For example, there is a common assumption that the negative environmental externalities of industrial development such as logging or oil drilling outweigh the positive economic externalities. But it can just as easily be the case that when commodity prices are reduced by such supply increases, the resulting poverty alleviation and wealth creation generates positive externalities, such as more education and technological and scientific research, that outweigh the negative externalities.)

Private land is more likely than land governed any other way to be used for its optimal purpose, because its owner is free to sell it to the highest bidder, and the bidder with the most valuable idea of how to use it will typically be willing to pay the most for it. By contrast, “public” land is doomed to be allocated comparatively suboptimally. Because no individual is free to sell it to the highest bidder, it is instead trapped in its current use by whatever regulatory mire is preventing individuals from optimizing it.

Only in such a mire could the 15 million acres discovered by Eric Siegfried have been so tragically wasted. Individual property owners would almost certainly be too aware of their major assets to lose track of 15 million acres of real estate, because they themselves would be the ones to reap the rewards or punishments of the quality of their capital allocation choices.

Those acres, being “public” and thus illegal for individuals to settle, develop, or cultivate, were of so little use to anyone that nobody even bothered to do the basic research or exploration required to learn of their existence before it was discovered by accident. And all while there are millions of people without basic necessities, such as a peaceful place to sleep or grow food.

This arbitrary and incompetent allocation of 15 million acres should come as no surprise given the economics of public versus private ownership that have been well understood in the context of socialism and capitalism for more than a century. To solve the problem of rampant resource misallocation, the resources should be privatized so that individuals can start freely investing and innovating to make the most out of that which may otherwise be worthless enough to have abandoned completely.

AUTHOR

Saul Zimet

Saul Zimet is a Website and Data Coordinator for HumanProgress.org at the Cato Institute and a graduate student in economics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Joseph Goebbels’ Own Words Show He Loved Socialism and Saw It as ‘the Future’

Socialists will continue to argue that Nazism was not “real” socialism, but the Nazi propaganda despised capitalism and spoke like Karl Marx.


One of the comforts of growing older is knowing that some things will never change.

Sports fans will always argue over the designated hitter rule and over who was the best heavyweight boxer of all-time (Muhammad Ali). Movie fans will never agree which Godfather movie was better, the first or the second (the first.) And the trumpets will sound at the Second Coming before capitalists and socialists agree on whether the Nazis were “really socialists.”

The last item has always puzzled me, I confess, and not just because the word is right there in the name: National Socialism. If you read the speeches and private conversations of the Nazi hierarchy, it’s clear they loved socialism and despised individualism and capitalism.

In his new book Hitler’s National Socialism, the historian Rainer Zitelmann gives a penetrating look into the ideas that shaped men like Hitler and Goebbels. While it’s clear they saw their own brand of socialism as distinct from Marxism (more on that later), there is no question they saw socialism as the future and despised bourgeoisie capitalism.

Consider, for example, these quotes from Joseph Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party:

  1. “Socialism is the ideology of the future.” – Letter to Ernst Graf zu Reventlow as quoted in Goebbels: A Biography
  2. “The bourgeoisie has to yield to the working class … Whatever is about to fall should be pushed. We are all soldiers of the revolution. We want the workers’ victory over filthy lucre. That is socialism.” -quoted in Doctor Goebbels: His Life and Death
  3. “We are socialists, because we see in socialism, that means, in the fateful dependence of all folk comrades upon each other, the sole possibility for the preservation of our racial genetics and thus the re-conquest of our political freedom and for the rejuvenation of the German state. – “Why We Are Socialists?” Der Angriff (The Attack ), July 16, 1928
  4. “We are not a charitable institution but a Party of revolutionary socialists.” -Der Angriff editorial, May 27, 1929
  5. “Capitalism assumes unbearable forms at the moment when the personal purposes that it serves run contrary to the interest of the overall folk. It then proceeds from things and not from people. Money is then the axis around which everything revolves. It is the reverse with socialism. The socialist worldview begins with the folk and then goes over to things. Things are made subservient to the folk; the socialist puts the folk above everything, and things are only means to an end.” -”Capitalism,” Der Angriff, July 15, 1929
  6. “In 1918 there was only one task for the German socialist: to keep the weapons and defend German socialism.” -”Capitalism,” Der Angriff, July 15, 1929
  7. “To be a socialist means to let the ego serve the neighbour, to sacrifice the self for the whole. In its deepest sense socialism equals service.” – diary notes (1926)
  8. “The lines of German socialism are sharp, and our path is clear. We are against the political bourgeoisie, and for genuine nationalism! We are against Marxism, but for true socialism!” – Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Socialists? (1932)
  9. “We are socialists because we see the social question as a matter of necessity and justice for the very existence of a state for our people, not a question of cheap pity or insulting sentimentality. The worker has a claim to a living standard that corresponds to what he produces.” – Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Socialists? (1932)
  10. “England is a capitalist democracy. Germany is a socialist people’s state.” – “Englands Schuld” (the speech is not dated, but likely was given in 1939)
  11. “Because we are socialists we have felt the deepest blessings of the nation, and because we are nationalists we want to promote socialist justice in a new Germany.” – Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken (1932)
  12. “The sin of liberal thinking was to overlook socialism’s nation-building strengths, thereby allowing its energies to go in anti-national directions.” – Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken (1932)
  13. “To be a socialist is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole. Socialism is in its deepest sense service.” – as quoted in Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm
  14. “We are a workers’ party because we see in the coming battle between finance and labor the beginning and the end of the structure of the twentieth century. We are on the side of labor and against finance. . . The value of labor under socialism will be determined by its value to the state, to the whole community.”-Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Socialists? (1932)

These quotes represent just a smattering of Goebbels’ views on and conception of socialism. One can see that in many ways the Nazi spoke much like Karl Marx.

Phrases like “we are a workers’ party,” “the worker has a claim to a living standard that corresponds to what he produces,” “money…is the reverse with socialism,” and “we are against the political bourgeoisie” could easily be plucked from Marx’s own speeches and writings—yet it’s clear Goebbels despised Marx and saw his brand of “national socialism” as distinct from Marxism.

So what sets National Socialism apart from Marxism? There are two primary differences.

The first is that Hitler and Goebbels fused their socialism with race and German nationalism, rejecting the international ethos of Marxism—workers of the world unite!—for a more practical one that emphasized Germany’s Völkischen movement.

This was a clever tactic by the Nazis. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek pointed out, it made socialism more palatable to many Germans who were unable to see Nazism for what it truly was.

“The supreme tragedy is still not seen that in Germany it was largely people of good will who, by their socialist policies, prepared the way for the forces which stand for everything they detest,” Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom (1944). “Few recognize that the rise of fascism…was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies.”

The second difference is that National Socialists were less concerned with directly controlling the means of production.

In his 1940 book German Economy, 1870-1940, Gustav Stolper, an Austrian-German economist and journalist, explained that though National Socialism was anti-capitalist from the beginning, it was also in direct competition with Marxism following World War I. Because of this, National Socialists determined to “woo the masses” from three distinct angles.

“The first angle was the moral principle, the second the financial system, the third the issue of ownership. The moral principle was ‘the commonwealth before self-interest.’ The financial promise was ‘breaking the bondage of interest slavery’. The industrial program was ‘nationalization of all big incorporated business [trusts]’. By accepting the principle ‘the commonwealth before self-interest,’ National Socialism simply emphasizes its antagonism to the spirit of a competitive society as represented supposedly by democratic capitalism . . . But to the Nazis this principle means also the complete subordination of the individual to the exigencies of the state. And in this sense National Socialism is unquestionably a Socialist system . . .”

Stolper, who fled from Germany to the United States after Hitler’s rise to power, noted that the Nazis never initiated a widespread nationalization of industry, but he explained that in some ways this was a distinction without a difference.

“The socialization of the entire German productive machinery, both agricultural and industrial, was achieved by methods other than expropriation, to a much larger extent and on an immeasurably more comprehensive scale than the authors of the party program in 1920 probably ever imagined. In fact, not only the big trusts were gradually but rapidly subjected to government control in Germany, but so was every sort of economic activity, leaving not much more than the title of private ownership.”

In his 1939 book The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism, Guenter Reimann reached a similar conclusion, the economic historian Richard Ebeling notes.

“…while most of the means of production had not been nationalized, they had nonetheless been politicized and collectivized under an intricate web of Nazi planning targets, price and wage regulations, production rules and quotas, and strict limits and restraints on the action and decisions of those who remained; nominally, the owners of private enterprises throughout the country. Every German businessman knew that his conduct was prescribed and positioned within the wider planning goals of the National Socialist regime.”

The historical record is clear: European fascism was simply a different shade of socialism, which helps explain, as Hayek noted, why so many fascists were “former” socialists—”from Mussolini down (and including Laval and Quisling).”

Like Marx, the Nazis loathed capitalism and saw the individual will and individual rights as subordinate to the interests of the state. It should come as little surprise that these different shades of socialism achieved such similar results: poverty and misery.

Socialists will continue to argue that Nazism was not “real” socialism, but the words of the infamous Nazi propaganda minister suggest otherwise.

AUTHOR

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. (Follow him on Substack.) His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

A Child’s-Eye View of Communism’s Absurdities

Candid childhood memories of life behind the Iron Curtain


It is a truism to say that children have a grasp of reality different from adults; a clearer and more honest grasp that in most cases they lose with maturity. Rare is the man or woman who retains that innocent capacity to see through grown-up hypocrisy and pretence, presented to us so vividly in Hans Andersen’s memorable fairy-tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In this humorous memoir of growing up in a city (unidentified) of 40,000 in the southern Urals of the Soviet Union in the 1970s-1980s, Fr Alexander Krylov, of Russian-German origin, manages to retain the undeceived eyes of childhood as he relates the absurdities and contradictions of life under Communism.

God and family

So many memoirs of living under the Soviet regime are, understandably, riven with bitterness and anger; the suffering has been too great to forget. The young Krylov, an only child, was protected from this by the love and faith of his family: his Catholic mother and grandmother and his Orthodox father.

The latter died when he was aged seven; showing unusual understanding for his age, Krylov realised that he was now “the one man in the family.” A certain independence of outlook seems to have characterised him from the start — probably because, despite the constant atheist propaganda impressed on him at school and in the wider society, “God’s presence in everyday life was… self-evident for our family.”

Much of this was owing to his grandmother’s influence for, as the family breadwinner, his mother had to work long hours outside the home. This grandmother, who had grown up in a German-speaking colony in Russia, resembled a traditional Russian “babushka” in her fortitude, her generosity and her strong faith that years of living in Leonid Brezhnev’s decrepit Soviet society could not erase.

In this world, all its citizens were officially atheist yet, as Krylov relates, everyone in his neighbourhood “knew” who the believers were and what religion they followed. His grandmother “saw an ally in every human being who was seeking God — Jews, Orthodox and Muslims” because — especially in death — “common prayer was much more important than any disagreement.”

There were no churches in his city and he only saw the inside of an Orthodox church (in western Ukraine) before starting school, aged six. Overwhelmed by its icons, candles and awe-inspiring atmosphere, Krylov told his mother, “Let’s stay here forever.” Undeterred, his grandmother erected a homemade altar in their small apartment, with its holy pictures, holy water, hymns and secret celebrations of the great Christian feasts. A candle would be lit in the window at Christmas; it was “somehow implicitly clear that God does not abandon human beings as long as a light is burning in at least one window on Christmas Eve and at least one person is waiting for the Christ-child.”

Economic woes

The author takes a gentle swipe at western society, obsessed with dietary fashions, when he explains, in a chapter titled “Healthy Diet”, why Soviet citizens had no choice but a healthy diet. Trying to survive in a corrupt and inefficient command economy, almost all families had an allotment with fruit trees and vegetables, to compensate for what they could not buy in the shops: everything possible was pickled, canned, stored or preserved. For some reason chickens were plentiful:

“Thanks to the poor work of the chemical industry, they were raised with no additives and usually looked as though they had walked by themselves from the chicken factory to the grocery store.”

I laughed aloud as I read this and other reminiscences, narrated in the candid way of a man who has not lost the artless gaze of a child. (After a distinguished academic career in Moscow, Fr Krylov decided to become a priest aged 42, on Easter Monday 2011 and was ordained in 2016.)

Another anecdote describes how he briefly worked in a grocery store where the shelves were often lacking common items buyers craved. Organising the shop’s store room, he noticed many such items, piled them on a trolley and wheeled it through into the shop, to the delighted surprise of the customers. The teenage boy could not understand why the manageress looked so discomfited and why his employment was suddenly curtailed.

Inner life

Just as the late Russian poet, Irina Ratushinskaya, who spent four years in the Gulag for writing “subversive” poetry, commented she was told so often as a child “there is no God”, that she began to believe in Him, Krylov reflects: “The prohibition against owning a Bible in the Soviet Union could only confirm its importance.”

In a telling incident in his teens, he describes a classroom meeting where these young Soviet citizens planned “to put socialist democracy into action.” This meant denouncing a fellow student who would not obey the rules. Krylov, who had befriended him, defended him in front of his classmates. They then turned on him, aware that he too was somehow “different.” The author comments, “Although I was always present, I lived my own life”. This hidden, inner life, which they sensed though it was never made explicit, presented an existential threat to his fellow student ideologues.

Inevitably, Lenin’s image was everywhere. Joining the Communist youth group, the Young Pioneers, one wore a red neckerchief and star. “Depicted on this star were the head of Lenin and three tongues of fire. I shared with no one my impression that this star depicted the head of Lenin burning in hell.” This was the response of a child whose private faith, never mentioned in class, helped to protect him against the atheism he was forced to listen to in public.

Finally, aged 15, overhearing the jocular remark of a friend’s father that vodka was “opium for the people”, Krylov comments: “Suddenly my eyes were opened: [I realised that] Communism had simply become a new religion.”

If the Emperor in this case was not exactly naked, nonetheless the short, discrete chapters of this kindly memoir remind readers that his clothes were uncomfortable, unsuitable, ill-fitting and threadbare.

This review has been republished with the author’s permission from The Conservative Woman.

AUTHOR

Francis Phillips

More by Francis Phillips

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Deadly Sins of Socialism, Fascism, and Progressivism

Politics isn’t exempt from the allure of the deadly sins. Some political systems even magnify the allure…


The nineteenth-century philosopher Joseph de Maistre once wrote “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” This is true in a sense because, as Ludwig von Mises later wrote, “public opinion is ultimately responsible for the structure of government.” The beliefs and values of a people determine the institutions they embrace or accept.

The influence goes the other way, too. Different systems of government create different incentives. Some institutions foster virtue, while others foment vice.

Let’s consider some historically important political ideologies and the moral qualities they reflect and promote.

Socialism is, as Winston Churchill put it, “the gospel of envy.” A people afflicted with envy and resentment will gravitate toward socialism.

Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson discussed the connection between envy and Marxist socialism in particular:

“There is the dark side of it, which means everyone who has more than you got it by stealing it from you. And that really appeals to the Cain-like element of the human spirit. ‘Everyone who has more than me got it in a manner that was corrupt and that justifies not only my envy but my actions to level the field so to speak, and to look virtuous while doing it.’ There is a tremendous philosophy of resentment that I think is driven now by a very pathological anti-human ethos.”

Socialists are wrong to think that “leveling the field” will lift up the have-nots. But even if they are disabused of that economic error, envy may drive them to cling to socialism anyway, out of a malicious desire to harm the “haves.”

As Mises wrote of socialists:

“Resentment is at work when one so hates somebody for his more favorable circumstances that one is prepared to bear heavy losses if only the hated one might also come to harm. Many of those who attack capitalism know very well that their situation under any other economic system will be less favorable. Nevertheless, with full knowledge of this fact, they advocate a reform, e.g., socialism, because they hope that the rich, whom they envy, will also suffer under it.”

Just as envy advances socialism, socialism stimulates envy by inviting the masses to participate in “legal plunder” (as the French economist Frédéric Bastiat put it) of the rich and affluent.

In the twentieth century many countries fearfully turned to fascism to protect themselves from communism. Many in those countries believed that if communists and their ideas were violently suppressed, their revolution would be nipped in the bud. Fear turned to wrath, as anti-communist fascists violently cracked down on any dissent that might destabilize the state.

“The great danger threatening domestic policy from the side of Fascism,” as Mises wrote, “lies in its complete faith in the decisive power of violence.”

The wrath and violence of fascism is ultimately self-defeating.

“Repression by brute force,” Mises wrote, “is always a confession of the inability to make use of the better weapons of the intellect — better because they alone give promise of final success. This is the fundamental error from which Fascism suffers and which will ultimately cause its downfall.”

Wrath drives fascism, but fascism also stirs up wrath by fomenting tribalism and inviting members of society to use political violence to settle their differences.

Progressivism is alluring to those who imagine they can “optimize” people through social engineering. But, as Leonard E. Read illustrated in his classic essay “I, Pencil,” society is so vastly complex, that this is a pipe dream. To think one can centrally plan society, one must fancy themselves to have quasi-divine omniscience. In simple terms, progressivism is an ideology of excessive pride. As Sen. Ron Johnson put it:

“The arrogance of liberal progressives is that they’re just a lot smarter and better angels than the Stalins and the Chavezes and the Castros of the world, and if we give them all the control, and they control your life, they’re going to do a great job of it. Well, it just isn’t true.”

Progressives are incorrect in their assumption that they know how to run other people’s lives better than those people themselves. Even if they were hypothetically smarter and more ethical than any single member of the rest of society, they would still be wrong.

The amount of information any expert can handle at a given moment is infinitesimal in comparison to the sum of information all individuals have. Letting individuals be free to cooperate through the price system decentralizes the use of knowledge and actually results in more information being used than a centrally planned system of experts. As Friedrich Hayek explained:

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. To the naïve mind that can conceive of order only as the product of deliberate arrangement, it may seem absurd that in complex conditions order, and adaptation to the unknown, can be achieved more effectively by decentralizing decisions and that a division of authority will actually extend the possibility of overall order. Yet that decentralization actually leads to more information being taken into account.”

Thus, the progressive’s faith in technocratic power stems from supreme epistemic arrogance.

“It is insolent,” Mises wrote, “to arrogate to oneself the right to overrule the plans of other people and to force them to submit to the plan of the planner.”

Progressivism not only stems from pride, but stimulates it, because overweening power tends to go to people’s heads.

Must we pick from among political systems that are afflicted by one vice or another? Thankfully not. There is a virtuous alternative: namely, classical liberalism. Whereas socialism, fascism, and progressivism are dominated by the “deadly sins” of envy, wrath, and pride, classical liberalism embodies the “capital virtues” of charity, temperance, and humility.

Where socialism is based on envy, classical liberalism fosters charity. Classical liberals believe in voluntary exchange of goods and services which provides avenues for philanthropy. One can only be charitable when there is a choice to donate or help others. Forced charity is not truly charitable, for there never was a choice, just as giving away something you don’t actually possess is not a sign of selflessness.

As Murray Rothbard wrote, “It is easy to be conspicuously compassionate when others are forced to pay the cost.”

Where fascism is wrathful, classical liberalism has temperance. Fascists see dissent and difference as dangerous. Classical liberals see peaceful debate and competition as the key to progress. Classical liberalism embodies temperance in the way it upholds the rights of everyone, even those who are illiberal. Under fascism, violent hostility toward differences is the rule; under classical liberalism, peaceful voluntary cooperation for mutual benefit is the rule.

Where progressivism is prideful, classical liberalism has humility. Classical liberalism is humble because it doesn’t presuppose what society should value; it assumes that all individuals have goals that they alone know best how to achieve. Classical liberalism knows the limits of what any individual can know and consequently finds no reason to bestow power to any expert over the rest of society. As Hayek wrote, “All political theories assume […] that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ […] in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.”

As it says in the Bible, “the wages of sin are death.” And indeed, the sin-ridden ideologies of socialismfascism, and progressivism have yielded a staggering death toll. In contrast, the blessings of liberty include, not only peace and prosperity, but the encouragement and freedom to lead a virtuous life.

AUTHORS

Axel Weber

Axel Weber is a fellow with FEE’s Henry Hazlitt Project for Educational Journalism and member of the PolicyEd team at the Hoover Institution. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Connecticut. Follow him on InstagramTwitter, and Substack.

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor-in chief of FEE.org.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Why the People of Vietnam Have Surprisingly Warm Views of Americans, Despite the History

Anti-Americanism in Vietnam is less pronounced than in many other parts of the world, and it likely stems from Vietnamese views about wealth and capitalism.


You would be forgiven for thinking—and it would be all too understandable if they were—that the people of Vietnam are anti-American. But the opposite is true.

One reason for this might stem from the culture’s views on wealth: the Vietnamese people admire the rich and experience very little social envy.

As most people know, the consequences of the Vietnam War were devastating for the country. The chemical weapons used by the United States, including the defoliant Agent Orange, not only struck the North Vietnamese Army, they also hit the civilian population. Napalm bombs also inflicted heavy casualties among the civilian population. The South Vietnamese alone lost 1.5 million people, including 300,000 civilians. The US military suffered 58,200 combat deaths, plus another 300,000 wounded. Civilian casualties in North Vietnam were far lower than in the South, but they lost far more soldiers.

In the north, major industrial centers and much of the infrastructure were destroyed. The region’s industrial manufacturing plants were decimated. Three of the six largest cities, 12 of the 29 provincial capitals, and two-thirds of all villages were destroyed. Virtually all power stations, railroad stations, ports, bridges, roads and the entire railroad network were also totally wiped out. In southern Vietnam, two-thirds of villages were also obliterated, five million hectares of forest were razed, and 20 million farmers lost their homes.

Given all of this destruction and suffering, it would not be surprising if Vietnam was a hotbed of anti-Americanism. But anti-Americanism in Vietnam is less pronounced than in many other parts of the world. In fact, anti-Americanism is not only stronger in Arab countries and Russia, it is also quite prevalent in many European countries, such as Germany and France.

In 1998, the US ambassador to Hanoi married a Vietnamese woman. He had flown 60 bombing raids on North Vietnam during the war before he was shot down in 1966. He then spent seven years in Vietnamese captivity as a prisoner of war. His wedding attracted a lot of attention at the time, but very little hostility.

This is not uncommon. I was in a relationship with a woman for several years whose parents were from Vietnam. I never once heard her or her parents talk badly about Americans.

Dinh Tuan Minh, a scholar from a think tank I met in Hanoi a few days ago said, explained to me why so many Vietnamese people have a positive attitude toward America.

“We Vietnamese do not look back to the past, but to the future. Unlike with China, we have no territorial disputes with the US. Many Vietnamese people also appreciate the fact that working conditions in US companies that invest here are often better than in Asian companies that invest in Vietnam. In addition, people in Vietnam know that the US has become our most important export market.”

Indeed, in 2020, Vietnam exported as much to the US as it did to China and Japan, its second and third largest export markets, combined.

I also spoke on this subject with the entrepreneur Xuan Ngyuen, who is from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

“I was born in 1987. The war had already been over for 12 years. My parents and grandparents did talk about how terrible the war was, but they never had a bad word to say about the US and Americans,” Ngyuen told me while I was in Hanoi. “On the contrary, they told me, ‘You must learn to speak English, dress like Americans, eat the same food that Americans eat, and above all, learn to think like an American. Then you will be successful.’”

Independent surveys support these anecdotes.

In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 76 percent of Vietnamese said they had a positive view of the US. Among more educated Vietnamese, the figure was as high as 89 percent, and among respondents aged 18 to 29, 89 percent had a favorable opinion of the US. Even among those over 50 who had lived through the war, more than 60 percent viewed the US positively.

Perceptions of China, which has frequently waged war against Vietnam in the past and also has territorial disputes with the country today, are a different story. Surveys show Vietnamese people have much more negative attitudes toward China.

In a survey also conducted by the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Vietnamese said, “China’s growing economy is a bad thing for our country.” By comparison, only 36 percent of the survey’s respondents in Japan said the same, 23 percent in Australia and 49 percent in South Korea. In addition, 80 percent of Vietnamese in the same poll also said, “China’s power and influence is a threat to our country.”

I admire people who manage to look more to the future than to the past. Such people are usually far more successful in life than those who constantly focus on the past.

This applies not only to individuals, but also to nations.

In 1975, the Vietnamese defeated the Americans, and this already proud country became even prouder, for they had defeated the greatest military superpower in history. But their pride suffered over the next ten years as the introduction of a socialist planned economy had a devastating effect on the south of the country. Vietnam was the poorest country in the region. While other Asian countries that took the capitalist path – South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, for example – achieved incredible growth and escaped poverty, most people in Vietnam lived in bitter poverty, even ten years after the war had come to an end.

Forced collectivization of agriculture had been no more successful in Vietnam than it had in China or Russia. In 1980, Vietnam produced only 14 million tons of rice, despite the fact that the county needed 16 million tons to meet its own population’s basic needs. During the period of the second five-year plan (1976 to 1980), Vietnam was forced to import eight to nine million tons of rice and other foodstuffs.

Production stagnated, and state-owned industrial production actually declined by 10 percent from 1976 to 1980. Until 1988, only small family businesses were allowed as private enterprises in Vietnam; otherwise, everything was state-owned.

The Vietnamese realized that they were at an impasse. At the VI Party Congress (incidentally, the party still calls itself “communist”) in December 1986, the country’s leaders adopted a comprehensive package of reforms known as “Doi Moi” (“renewal”). As in China under Deng Xiaoping, private property was allowed and the party increasingly focused on the development of a market economy.

Today, Vietnam has shaken off its past and reinvented itself. GDP per capita has increased six-fold since the reforms (in constant dollars), from $577 to $3,373. Vietnam is now one of the world’s largest rice exporters, after India and only slightly behind Thailand. But Vietnam has long been much more than a country that exports agricultural products and textiles. It has now become a major producer of electronic goods and exported $111 billion worth of electronic products in 2020 alone.

Under the socialist planned economy, the majority of people in Vietnam lived in extreme poverty. As recently as 1993, 80 percent of the Vietnamese population were still living in poverty. Over the last decade in particular, poverty declined sharply in Vietnam, falling from 16.8 percent to 5 percent, lifting an estimated 10 million people out of poverty, according to the World Bank’s formula.

Poverty in Vietnam was not eliminated by wealth redistribution, but by a more free-market economy. Redistribution has never been a successful tool in the fight against poverty anywhere in the world. Capitalism works, and most workers in Vietnam benefit from tax rates that are comparatively low, ones that can only be dreamed of in Germany or New York. Sure, the top tax rate for individuals in Vietnam is 35 percent, but for that you have to earn about 14 times more than an average earner. In any case, social envy directed at the rich is a foreign concept in Vietnam. Here, wealth is admired and celebrated.

Of eleven countries where I commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a survey on attitudes toward the rich, Japan was the only other country in which opinions were as positive as in Vietnam.

In a paper from the Vietnamese social scientists Nguyen Trong Chuan, Nguyen Minh Luan and Le Huu Tang, which was published in the book Socioeconomic Renovation in Viet Nam, the authors explain how labor incentives work in the country.

“Those households who have good opportunities, better experience, talent for working and trading, and healthy labor, will be richer. Thus the polarization does not represent inequity but equity,” the authors write. “Those who work hard and well earn more, while those who are lazy and work inefficiently and ineffectively will earn less.”

The scholars also strongly oppose redistribution strategies: “In comparison with the subsidy system, where distribution was egalitarian, the current polarization between the rich and the poor shows the reestablishment of social equity.”

Inequality is not worthy of criticism and the pursuit of wealth should be encouraged, they argue: “Polarization has itself become an important motivating force behind the recent considerable economic growth.”

It would be a mistake to abandon the pursuit of free-market reforms simply because inequality between rich and poor is increasing, the Vietnamese sociologists and philosophers conclude. You won’t often find similar remarks from sociologists in the US and Europe.

The Vietnamese do not look enviously on rich people; they aspire to be rich. One of the questions in my aforementioned study in Vietnam was, “How important, if at all, is it for you personally to be rich?” The result: In Europe and the US, on average, only 28 percent of respondents said it was important to them to be or become rich. In the four surveyed Asian countries, in contrast, the figure was 58 percent. And nowhere did as many people say it was important to them to be or become rich as in Vietnam, where it was 76 percent.

Although Vietnam calls itself a socialist country, the way people here think is more in tune with capitalism than is the case in Europe. Incidentally, the ratio of government expenditure to gross national product in the US was 41.2 percent last year. In Vietnam, it was 21.2 percent.

AUTHOR

Dr. Rainer Zitelmann

Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is a historian and sociologist. He is also a world-renowned author, successful businessman, and real estate investor. Zitelmann has written more than 20 books. His books are successful all around the world, especially in China, India, and South Korea. His most recent books are The Rich in Public Opinion which was published in May 2020, and The Power of Capitalism which was published in 2019.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

New Museum Bears Witness to Communism’s Horrors, Honors Its Victims

In total, more than 100 million have been killed under communist regimes in the past 100 years.


In the heart of Washington, D.C., behind the doors of a building not unlike the others with which it shares a block, lies a most visceral testament to the horrors of communism—a political ideology still all too dominant in the world today.

The new museum, from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, has been in the works for many years. It opened to the public on Monday.

Entering it is like walking into a vault. Or possibly a tomb. Passing by a wall with large, embossed words reading, “REMEMBERING the victims of Communism,” the space quickly darkens and narrows.

Pictures and small video screens containing images of regimes and victims alike emblazon it, evoking a somber tone. Beyond those images, on a larger screen, a six-minute film lays out the rise of Vladimir Lenin and the Soviet Union as a communist power.

The room then funnels visitors into the world of the gulag. Here, there are artifacts from the notorious Soviet prison camps, physical remnants of the millions of Russians who passed through them. In one case sits a teddy bear and next to it a “valenki”—a felt boot that shod gulag prisoners.

There’s also a replica of “black bread,” an oblong, charcoal-colored loaf that gulag prisoners relied on for sustenance. Small measurements show how much of a loaf would be doled out as rations to each prisoner, depending on their docility or misbehavior.

From 1934 to 1947, an estimated 10 million were sent to the camps. Another estimate puts fatalities between 1.2 million and 1.7 million from 1918 to 1956.

An informational panel explains how Josef Stalin, the longest reigning leader of the Soviet Union, intentionally used a famine to starve more than 3 million Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933. Some estimate the death toll reached 7 million.

In total, the museum estimates, more than 100 million have been killed under communist regimes in the past 100 years.

On one wall runs a film, a slideshow of simple, hand-drawn images depicting the hardship of life in gulags, prisons, and work camps from communist regimes around the world. The images were etched by the survivors. Testimonies of what other survivors witnessed while imprisoned are read aloud as the images scroll.

“Every case where [communism] has been tried, it leads to mass atrocities,” Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, the president and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told me. “Truly, the worst examples of human suffering in history in terms of the most brutal, mass-murdering regimes.”

A broader scope of the suffering is played out in the museum’s largest space. There, a film animates the history of communism’s spread across the globe, detailing which nations fell to it. In one corner, the number of fatalities under communism, as well as those subjugated by it, rolls ever upward.

Informational panels throughout the museum detail specific atrocities, such as Pol Pot’s genocide of the Cambodian people, which wiped out 25% of the population of the Southeast Asian nation, and Mao Zedong’s failure in collectivizing China’s agriculture, resulting in a famine that killed anywhere from 20 million to 43 million people.

Juxtaposed to those are stories—written out and accompanied by photographs—of resistance to communism, ranging from peaceful demonstrations to armed uprisings: the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Prague Spring of 1968, and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 in Beijing, to name a few.

Bremberg said that the former two examples, while lesser known, are of equal importance to Tiananmen Square.

He also cited a statistic woven throughout the museum: 1.5 billion. That’s the estimated number of people still living under communism. The largest communist nation today is China, accounting for the vast majority of that number.

The Chinese Communist Party, which rules over the country, has subjugated more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority, to reeducation camps, forced sterilization and abortions, forced labor, and surveillance. It’s genocide on an industrial scale.

Last year, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation received a series of leaked internal documents belonging to the Chinese Communist Party. The findings offer damning evidence of its coordinated efforts against the Uyghurs. You can learn more about them here.

Several nations formerly under communist control, such as Poland, also have museums recounting their own stories of existence under communism. None, however, offer a singular snapshot of its global impact like the new one in Washington.

“There’s nothing like this in the world,” Bremberg said. “It’s extremely important to have this in our nation’s capital. We have millions of tourists, particularly school groups, that come through that really need to learn this, because communism is a horrible evil.”

Although research has shown that up to 1 in 3 millennials view communism favorably, Bremberg thinks it’s the failure to explain the legacy of the ideology—certainly not life under such an ideology—that has given it such an appeal.

“What we’re really trying to do is put the face of the victims of communism forward as a way of educating people,” Bremberg said. “You can draw a pretty obvious conclusion that this is a horrible system of government.”

“[It’s] the scourge of the 20th century, and unfortunately still with us in the 21st century,” he added. “If we want to prevent that from costing untold lives in the future, people need to learn about the crimes of communism … through the experience of its victims.”

Adjacent to the museum’s exit stands a wall visitors pass by before leaving. It’s covered in a patchwork of portraits—the faces of those who have fought back against communism.

Amid the portraits, there are two simple words: “Remember us.”

This piece was republished with permission from the Daily Signal.

AUTHOR

Philip Reynolds

Philip Reynolds is a digital specialist at The Heritage Foundation.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Why Do People Become Communists, and Why Do They Stick With It?

So if there is no rational case for communism as such, why do people go for this stuff?


For as long as I can remember, I’ve puzzled about why people become communists. I have no doubt about why someone would stop being one. After all, we have a century of evidence of the murder, famine, and general destruction caused by the idea. Ignoring all this takes a special kind of willful blindness to reality.

Even the theory of communism itself is a complete mess. There is really no such thing as common ownership of goods that are obviously scarce in the real world. There must be some solution to the problem of scarcity beyond just wishing reality away. Perhaps ownership and trade? Slogans and dreams are hardly a suitable substitute for a workable program.

But how communism would work in practice is not something they want to talk about. They just imagined that some magical Hegelian shift would take place in the course of history that would work it all out.

So if there is no rational case for communism as such, why do people go for this stuff?

The Red Century

The New York Times has been exploring that issue in a series of remarkable reflections that they have labelled Red Century. I can’t get enough, even the ones that are written by people who are—how shall I say?—suspiciously sympathetic to communism as a cause.

The most recent installment is written by Vivian Gornick. She reflects on how her childhood world was dominated by communists.

The sociology of the progressive world was complex. At its center were full-time organizers for the Communist Party, at the periphery left-wing sympathizers, and at various points in between everything from rank-and-file party card holders to respected fellow travelers….

When these people sat down to talk, Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them; above all, History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity into which they had been born, and gave them the conviction that they had rights as well as obligations. They were not simply the disinherited of the earth, they were proletarians with a founding myth of their own (the Russian Revolution) and a civilizing worldview (Marxism).

While it is true that thousands of people joined the Communist Party in those years because they were members of the hardscrabble working class (garment district Jews, West Virginia miners, California fruit pickers), it was even truer that many more thousands in the educated middle class (teachers, scientists, writers) joined because for them, too, the party was possessed of a moral authority that lent shape and substance, through its passion for structure and the eloquence of its rhetoric, to an urgent sense of social injustice….

The Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified. It was to this clarity of inner being that so many became not only attached, but addicted. No reward of life, no love nor fame nor wealth, could compete with the experience. It was this all-in-allness of world and self that, all too often, made of the Communists true believers who could not face up to the police state corruption at the heart of their faith.

Sounds fascinating, if bonkers (Marxism is hardly a “civilizing worldview”). It sounds less like an intellectual salon of ideas and more like a religious delusion. Those too can be well intentioned. The key here is a dogmatic ideology, which serves as a kind of substitute for religion. It has a vision of hell (workers and peasants exploited by private-capital wielding capitalist elite), a vision of heaven (a world of universal and equal prosperity and peace), and a means of getting from one to the other (revolution from below, as led by the vanguard of the proletariat).

Once you accept such an ideology, anything intellectual becomes possible. Nothing can shake you from it. Okay, that’s not entirely true. One thing can shake you of it: when the leader of the cult repudiates the thing you believe in most strongly.

Khrushchev’s Heresy

She was 20 years old in 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev spoke to the Soviet Communist Party about the crimes of Stalin. Apparently the unrelenting reports of famine, persecution, and mass death, from the early years of Bolshevik rule – and even the revelation of the Hitler-Stalin pact – would have demoralized them earlier. But no:

The 20th Congress report brought with it political devastation for the organized left around the world. Within weeks of its publication, 30,000 people in this country quit the party, and within the year it was as it had been in its 1919 beginnings: a small sect on the American political map.

Amazing.

The Early Reds

And speaking of this small 1919 sect, I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies: Reds (1981). I could watch it another 20 times. It explores the lives of the American communists of the turn of the 20th century, their loves, longings, and aspirations. The focus is on fiery but deluded Jack Reed, but it includes portraits of a passionate Louise Bryant, the gentile Max Eastman, an edgy Eugene O’Neill, and the ever inspiring Emma Goldman.

These people weren’t the Progressives of the mainstream that history credits with having so much influence over policy in those days. These were the real deal: the Communists that were the source of national frenzy during the Red Scare of the 1920s.

The movie portrays them not as monsters but idealists. They were all very talented, artistic, mostly privileged in upbringing, and what drew them to communism was not bloodlust for genocide but some very high ideals.

They felt a passion for justice. They wanted to end war. They opposed exploitation. They longed for universal freedom and maximum civil liberty. They despised the entrenched hierarchies of the old order and hoped for a new society in which everyone had an equal chance.

All of that sounds reasonable until you get to the details. The communists had a curious understanding of each of these concepts. Freedom meant freedom from material want. Justice meant a planned distribution of goods. The end of war meant a new form of war against the capitalists who they believed created war. The hierarchies they wanted to be abolished were not just state-privileged nobles but also the meritocratic elites of industrial capitalism, and even small land owners, no matter how small the plot.

Why be a communist rather than just a solid liberal of the old school? In the way the movie portrays it, the problem was not so much in their goals but in their mistaken means. They hated the state as it existed but imagined that a new “dictatorship of the proletariat” could become a transition mechanism to usher in their classless society. That led them to cheer on the Bolshevik Revolution in its early stages, and work for the same thing to happen in the United States.

The Dream Dies

Watching their one-by-one demoralization is painful. Goldman sees the betrayal immediately. Reed becomes an apologist for genocide. Bryant forgets pretending to be political and believing in free love, marries Reed, and tends to his medical needs before his death. O’Neill just becomes a full-time cynic (and drunk). It took Max Eastman longer to lose the faith but he eventually became an anti-socialist and wrote for FEE.

The initial demoralization of the early American communists came in the 1920s. They came to realize that all the warning against this wicked ideology – having been written about for many centuries prior, even back to the ancient world – were true.

Eastman, for example, realized that he was seeking to liberate people by taking from them the three things people love most in life: their families, their religion, and their property. Instead of creating a new heaven on earth, they had become apologists for a killing machine.

Stunned and embarrassed, they moved on with life.

But the history didn’t end there. There were still more recruits being added to the ranks, generations of them. The same thing happened after 1989. Some people lost the faith, others decided that socialism needs yet another chance to strut its stuff.

It’s still going on today.

As for the Communist Party in America, most left-Progressives of the Antifa school regard the Party as an embarrassing sellout, wholly owned by the capitalist elite. And when we see their spokesmen appear on television every four years, they sound not unlike pundits we see on TV every night.

It would be nice if any article written about communism were purely retrospective. That, sadly, is not the case. There seem to be new brands of Marxian thought codified every few years, and still more versions of its Hegelian roots that take on ever more complex ideological iterations (the alt-right is an example).

Why do people become communists? Because human beings are capable of believing in all sorts of illusions, and we are capable of working long and hard to turn them into nightmares. Once we’ve invested the time and energy into something, however destructive, it can take a very long time to wake us up. It’s hard to think of a grander example of the sunk-cost fallacy.

AUTHOR

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is a former Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

EXCLUSIVE: Immigrants Travel To Schools With Warning: Socialism Is Deadly

Immigrants who have fled socialist countries are travelling to schools across the U.S. for free under a new program to teach students about the dangers of socialism.

The Dissident Project launched Monday with speakers set to “travel to high schools across the U.S. to speak to students about authoritarian socialism” at no cost to the schools, Dissident Project founder and Venezuelan-born economist Daniel Di Martino told the Daily Caller.

The speakers include activists from Venezuela, Cuba, Hong Kong and North Korea who have immigrated to the U.S. and are dedicated to speaking about how socialism has destroyed their countries.

Grace Jo, a speaker from North Korea, came to the U.S. after almost starving “to death as a child” under the country’s socialist regime. Two of her brothers and her father died from starvation, according to the Dissident Project’s website.

“All of us Dissident Project speakers came to America for freedom, and it is our duty to preserve that love for freedom among the youngest generation. That’s why we’re stepping up and doing our part so Americans never forget that this is an exceptional nation, that free enterprise and the rule of law made it great and that socialism can destroy it all like it did in our native countries,” Di Martino said.

The project was inspired by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legislation recognizing a statewide “Victims of Communism Day” annually on Nov. 7 and requiring Florida schools to teach students about “the evils of communism.”

“Honoring the people that have fallen victim to communist regimes and teaching our students about those atrocities is the best way to ensure that history does not repeat itself,” DeSantis said in a statement about the bill in May.

Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, students in Florida will be mandated to receive at least 45 minutes of instruction in their required U.S. Government class about the evils of communism. Potential topics to cover include “Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet System, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, Vladimir Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and Nicolás Maduro and the Chavismo movement,” according to the bill.

Di Martino began the Dissident Project “after learning about Florida’s new curriculum.”

“I thought we needed a unified platform where schools could find immigrants from socialist countries to speak there at no cost to them so we could reach every single American,” he said.

The Dissident Project will focus its efforts in speaking to school districts in Florida, given DeSantis’ legislation, but will also advertise the opportunity to teachers across the country, Di Martino concluded. Teachers who wish to host a speaker can do so for free by filling out a form.

AUTHOR

DIANA GLEBOVA

Associate editor. 

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

How Socialism Discourages Work and Creates Poverty

Socialism diminishes people’s incentive to work to improve their circumstances by depriving them of the fruits of their effort.


Advocacy for “socialism,” which the Socialist Party USA defines as a “social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production,” has made a comeback in American politics in recent years. Public figures such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sing its praises. But the truth is that socialism deeply undermines people’s ability (and motivation) to improve their own living conditions. The misery socialism has caused for millions of people refutes its promises—horrifically.

Socialism, advocates claim, will bring prosperity and better living conditions for everyone, a claim also made for communism, in which the government controls the means of production and the distribution of the results. British philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that socialism is “calculated to increase the happiness, not only of proletarians, but of all except a tiny minority of the human race.” As have its advocates throughout history, the now-defunct Socialist Labor Party of America depicted socialism as utopian, writing: “Under socialism our farmlands would yield an abundance without great toil; the factories, mines and mills would be the safest, the most modern, the most efficient possible and productive beyond our wildest dreams—and without laborious work.” The website doesn’t specify how such magic would occur.

The website further insists that socialism would improve virtually every aspect of life, stating: “Our natural resources would be intelligently conserved. Our schools would have the finest facilities and they would be devoted to developing complete human beings, not wages [sic] slaves who are trained to hire themselves out for someone else’s profit. Our hospitals and social services would create and maintain the finest health and recreational facilities.”

But socialist policies, when enacted, have catastrophic effects on the lives of the people living under them. To enforce such policies, governments must take control of people’s property—whether by fully nationalizing businesses, mandating what and how much a company must produce, or seizing and distributing their products—thereby violating people’s right to the product of their own effort. The victims include entrepreneurs who have built or purchased businesses, landlords who maintain and manage properties, and everyone who earns a wage, from construction workers to artists.

By violating these rights, socialism diminishes people’s incentive to work to improve their circumstances by controlling or taking away the results of their effort. However hard you work, whatever you achieve, whatever value you create—it won’t be reflected in your earnings.

The novelist Ayn Rand dramatized the effects of such a doctrine in her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. In the novel, a small town factory enacted Marx’s slogan “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” as policy, so that each person’s pay depended on what managers considered as their level of need compared to their colleagues’. They did this based on such factors as the number of children the employees supported, family members’ illnesses, and so on. People began to spend more time sharing their woes with the management than working, and many of the best employees left the company entirely. Within four years, the factory closed. One character explained the hopelessness the policy created: “What was it we were supposed to want to work for? For the love of our brothers? What brothers? For the bums, the loafers, the moochers we saw all around us? And whether they were cheating or plain incompetent, whether they were unwilling or unable—what difference did that make to us? If we were tied for life to the level of their unfitness, faked or real, how long could we care to go on?”

He explained that the company had once been a thriving one that people were proud to work for, but now hard times were the status quo: “We were beasts of burden struggling blindly in some sort of place that was half-hospital, half-stockyards—a place geared to nothing but disability, disaster, disease—beasts put there for the relief of whatever whoever chose to say was whichever’s need.”

This story, although fictional, points to an important fact about human nature: If people can’t change their situation, they won’t try to. Knowing the outcome in advance, they will feel no motivation to make Herculean efforts for miniscule or nonexistent rewards. As economist Ludwig Von Mises put it:

To make a man act, uneasiness and the image of a more satisfactory state alone are not sufficient. A third condition is required: the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness. In the absence of this condition no action is feasible. Man must yield to the inevitable. He must submit to destiny. [emphasis added]

Socialist policies severely restrict individuals’ ability to improve their conditions, so productivity suffers and living conditions plummet. Historical examples of socialism, as well as modern-day Venezuela and North Korea, show the misery that results.

In Soviet Russia, the government attempted to distribute the results of sixty years of steady GDP growth equally by seizing personal fortunes and dictating wages. But buying power for the average person dropped sharply, and whether a person could actually spend his or her wages was largely dependent on knowing the right people. Economist Mark Harrison explains: “The distribution of consumer goods and services was characterized by shortage and privilege. Every Soviet adult could count on an income, but income did not decide access to goods and services – that depended on political and social status.”

People who lived under the Soviet regime and now live in modern Russia appreciate that they have more opportunities to improve their lives than they used to. Back in 2007, interviewers asked Russians about their memories and opinions of life under the Soviet regime; many of them recalled that the USSR had “fewer possibilities.” One respondent explained, “Now there are so many chances. You can earn enough money even to buy an apartment. Certainly it is very, very difficult, but possible.” Another participant elaborated, “Now I can earn money and there are many ways of doing so. . . . In the Soviet Union, engineers and other technical employees of middle and high rank did not have [a] right to a second job. People who had the time and energy and wanted to provide more for their families could not do it.”

In other words, people were willing to work extremely hard to improve their conditions—but weren’t allowed to.

In Venezuela, socialism has driven a once-prosperous country into the ground. University professors juggle multiple jobs to keep food on the table. Others try to escape a desperate situation; more than six million have fled in recent years, and in 2017 the suicide rate was nearly double the global average. Venezuelans are willing to work to improve their circumstances—but the socialist regime’s oppression and economic destruction consistently frustrate their efforts.

North Korea was conceived as a communist nation following the Second World War, but formally switched to a form of “self-reliant” socialism following the Korean War. The leadership of the Worker’s Party of Korea has brought widespread misery in the form of horrific rights violations, including torture, severe censorship, forced labor, and arbitrary detention. Their policies have also led to nearly half the country suffering from inconsistent access to food and water—in stark contrast to their far more capitalist neighbor, South Korea, which has flourished in recent decades.

Advocates of socialism protest that historical examples of socialism were not “true socialism” or “the right kind of socialism.” But it is socialism—people giving government control of producing things—that undermines people’s ability and willingness to produce and provide for themselves in all these examples.

With free markets, by contrast, people are free to own private property and run businesses without the government dictating production or distribution. People are rewarded for their hard work and ability. By innovating, excelling at work, and creating more and better products or services, they can make more money, which they can use to pay for better living quarters, education, electronics, travel, or other life-improving goods or services produced by others. Hence, in mostly free and capitalistic countries, such as the US, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Hong Kong, people have enjoyed massive economic growth, which has corresponded with a major increase in average living standards.

When human beings struggle, create, and innovate, but their efforts do not improve their own circumstances, they burn out or give up. Marx, Russell, Sanders, and other proponents of socialism and communism claim that their preferred systems are “for the people”—but the truth is that they work against the nature and needs of human beings.

AUTHOR

Angelica Walker-Werth

Angelica Walker-Werth is an Ayn Rand Fellow with FEE’s Hazlitt Project and a recent graduate of Clemson University. She is an assistant editor and writer at The Objective Standard and a fellow and research associate at Objective Standard Institute. Her hobbies include gardening and travel.

RELATED ARTICLE: Bernie Sanders Just Proposed a 95% Business Tax. Here’s Why That’s So Absurd

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

INDEPENDENCE DAY TRUTH: Equal People Are Not Free and Free People Are Not Equal

“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the “I have a dream” speech in Washington, D.C.


Today we are hearing about equality, equity, along with the big lies of “Wokeism.” These words are Marxist false flags that force, via government mandate, the elevation of one group over another group for political purposes.

MAKING PEOPLE EQUAL

The goal of Marxism is to make everyone equal as humans, as workers and as a people. The problem is when this is put into practice the individual is replaced by the state. As the powers of the government increase the freedoms of the individual shrink or disappear completely.

History tells us repeatedly that as government grows the individual shrinks. Just look at the former Soviet Union to understand what is now happening in America.

QUESTION:  Will Independence Day 2021 go down in history as the day we the people lost our freedom?

In The Revolution Betrayed Leon Trotsky wrote:

The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat. Exactly how many Bolsheviks have been expelled, arrested, exiled, exterminated, since 1923, when the era of Bonapartism opened, we shall find out when we go through the archives of Stalin’s political police. How many of them remain in the underground will become known when the shipwreck of the bureaucracy begins.

The people are replaced by government bureaucrats. The laws change from defending individual liberties to taking away the individual and replace the people with crushing state mandates, take the Covid pandemic as a recent example.

Covid shifted power from the individual to that state overnight. The pandemic was used by bureaucrats to take away individual freedom to assemble and replaced it with lockdowns and social distancing.

Covid took away the rights of business to remain open and prosper. It took away individual livelihoods and replace it with government hand outs.

Rev. William J. H. Boetcker spoke of the “Seven National Crimes.”

  • I don’t think.
  • I don’t know.
  • I don’t care.
  • I am too busy.
  • I live well enough alone.
  • I have no time to read and find out.
  • I am not interested.

These seven crimes are the fundamental laws of Wokeism writ large. When we stop thinking, understanding, caring and find ourselves alone, bored and uninformed then our freedom is lost!

A FREE PEOPLE ARE NOT EQUAL

In a truly free society people are never equal. They are different and do things differently throughout their lives. From birth people are influenced by both nature and nurture. No two people are exactly the same when born. The same is true about people who have different life experiences. Even biological twins do not have the same life experiences.

It is fundamental that society understand that it must create opportunities that encourage and use these natural inequalities for the good of all.

The following sentiments were created by the Rev. William J. H. Boetcker, who lectured around the United States about industrial relations at the turn of the twentieth century. They are all the truth.

  • You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
  • You cannot further brotherhood of men by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
  • You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

There are those who are hell bent on tearing down big men, weakening the strong, destroying the rich, inciting class hatred and taking away man’s initiative and independence.

The founding fathers understood this and that is why they wrote the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.

CONCLUSION

QUESTION: How many American patriots have been expelled, arrested, exiled, exterminated, since the 2020 election?

As we Americans approach Independence Day 2021, let us reflect on our freedoms and defend our liberties. If we fail to do so then American, as we have known it, will cease to exist as One Nation Under God and become one nation under big government.

Is this what we want for our children and grandchildren?

I think not.

Have a blessed July 4th.

©Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.

RELATED TWEET:

VIDEO: Donald Trump Appeals to Us Because of You!

Reader Cristina sent this explanation (that has been making the rounds) of why Donald Trump will win on November 3rd (or some day thereafter) and although I couldn’t find the author, I found this version of it (and a short YouTube clip echoing the same theme)—we support him because of you!

I’m posting it all because it hits the nail on the head (for me anyway!). LOL! Even if the source turns out to be some Russian campaign!

(Emphasis is mine.)

First, here is a YouTube clip using some of the words and sentiment expressed below:

For Socialists Who Can’t Stand Trump And Can’t Grasp Why Anyone Would Ever Vote For Him…

“If you are a liberal who can’t stand Trump, and cannot possibly fathom why anyone would ever vote for him, let me fill you in.

It’s not that we love Donald Trump so much. It’s that we can’t stand you! And we will do whatever it takes — even if that means electing a rude, obnoxious, unpredictable, narcissist (your words not ours) to the office of President of the United States — because the thing we find more dangerous to this nation than Donald Trump is YOU.How is that possible you might ask?

Well, you have done everything in your power to destroy our country. From tearing down the police, to tearing down our history, to tearing down our borders.From systematically destroying our schools and brainwashing our kids into believing socialism is the answer to anything (despite being an unmitigated failure everywhere), while demonizing religion and faith, and glorifying abortion, violence, and thug culture. From calling us racists every time we expect everyone of any skin color to follow our laws equally to gas lighting us about 52 genders, polyamory, grown men in dresses sharing public locker rooms with little girls, and normalize the sexualization of young children, you simultaneously ridicule us for having the audacity to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or hang a flag on the 4th of July, stand for the national anthem, or (horror of horrors) don a MAGA hat in public.

So much for your “tolerance.”

(See why we think you are just hypocrites??)

We’re also not interested in the fact that you think you can unilaterally decide that 250 years of the right-to-bear-arms against a tyrannical or ineffective government should be abolished because you can’t get the violence in the cities you manage under control. That free-speech should be tossed out the window, and that those who disagree with your opinions are fair game for public harassment or doxing. That spoiled children with nose-rings and tats who still live off their parent’s dime should be allowed to destroy cities and peoples livelihoods without repercussions. That chaos, and lawlessness, and disrespect for authority should be the norm. This is your agenda. And you wonder why we find you more dangerous than Donald Trump?

Your narrative is a constant drone of oppressor/oppressed race-baiting intended to divide the country in as many ways as you possibly can. You love to sell “victim-hood” to people of color every chance you get because it’s such an easy sell, compared to actually teaching people to stand on their own two feet and take personal responsibility for their own lives and their own communities and their own futures. But you won’t do that, you will never do that, because then you will lose control over people of color. They might actually start thinking for themselves, God forbid!

This is why we will vote for Donald Trump.

Not because he is the most charming character on the block. Not because he is the most polite politician to have ever graced the oval office. Not because he is the most palatable choice, or because we love his moral character or because the man never lies, but because we are sick to death of you and all of the destructive crap you are doing to this once beautiful and relatively safe country.

Your ineffective and completely dysfunctional liberal “leadership”(?) has literally destroyed our most beautiful cities, our public education system, and done it’s damnedest to rip faith out of people’s lives. However bad Donald Trump may be, and he is far from perfect, every day we look at you and feel that no matter what Donald Trump says or does there is no possible way he could be any worse for our country than you people are.

We are sick to death of your stupid, destructive, ignorant, and intolerant behavior and beliefs — parading as “wokeness.” We are beyond sick of your hypocrisy and B.S.

We are fed up with your disrespectful divisiveness and constant unrelenting harping and whining and complaining (while you live in the most privileged nation in the world), while making literally zero contributions of anything positive to our society. Your entire focus is on ripping things down, never ever building anything up. Think about that as there is something fundamentally very wrong in the psychology of people who choose destruction as their primary modus operandi. When Donald J Trump is reelected, don’t blame us, look in the mirror and blame yourselves.

Because you are the ones that are responsible for the rise of Donald Trump. You are the ones who have created this “monster” that you so despise, by your very actions.

By your refusal to respect your fellow Americans, and the things that are important to us. You have made fun of the “fly-over states,” the people who “cling to their guns and religion,” the middle class factory workers and coal miners and underprivileged rural populations that you dismissively call “yahoos” and “deplorables.” You have mocked our faith and our religion. You have mocked our values and our patriotism. You have trampled our flag and insulted our veterans and treated our first responders with contempt and hatred.

You have made environmentalism your religion, while trashing every city you have taken responsibility for. You scream from the rooftops about “global warming” and a “green new deal” while allowing tens of thousands of homeless people to cover your streets in literal sh!t and garbage and needles and plastic waste without doing a single thing to help them or solve the environmental crisis your failed social policies are creating. But we’re supposed to put YOU in charge of the environment while gutting our entire economy to institute this plan when you can’t even clean up a single city??

You complain — endlessly — yet have failed to solve a single social problem anywhere. In fact, all you have done is create more of them. We’ve had enough. We are tired of quietly sitting by and being the “silent” majority. So don’t be surprised when the day comes when we finally respond. And trust me it’s coming, sooner than you might think. And also trust me when I say it won’t be pretty. Get ready.

When Donald Trump is reelected it will be because you and your “comrades” have chosen to trash the police, harass law-abiding citizens, and go on rampages destroying public property that we have all paid for and you have zero respect for. When Donald Trump is reelected it will be because we are sick of your complete and utter nonsense and destruction. How does it feel to know that half of this country finds you FAR more despicable than Donald J. Trump, the man you consider to be the anti-Christ?
Let that sink in.

We consider you to be more despicable, more dangerous, more stupid, and more narcissistic than Donald Trump. Maybe allow yourself a few seconds of self-reflection to let that sink in. This election isn’t about Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden.

This is about Donald Trump vs YOU!

So if on the morning of November 4 (or more likely January 19, by the time the Supreme Court will weigh in on the mail-in ballot fiasco that we are headed towards), and Donald J. Trump is reelected, the only people you have to blame is the left-wing media drones and yourselves.

You did this. Yep you.

If Trump does not win there are millions of Americans who will be looking for a political way to oppose the Harris/Biden Administration’s every move by keeping the Trump legacy alive. I know it is a cliché, but the sleeping giant is awake.

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

AOC: ‘Freeing People’ From ‘Existential Havoc’ of Capitalism

In a conversation with the online Interview Magazine published Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) promoted fellow Democratic Socialist Jabari Brisport from New York as another candidate who hopes to fundamentally transform the country.

AOC asked the openly gay, black nominee for the New York State Senate what Democratic Socialist means to him, Brisport replied, “For me, it’s really about getting people out from underneath the thumb of capitalism, and freeing them from the very small group of people that manage—or I should say mismanage—our economy and our society for their own wealth and benefit. It’s about freeing up people to truly experience all the joys in life by making sure they don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to keep their home from month to month, or whether or not they’ll be able to pay for health care when they get sick.

“It’s about freeing people from all the existential havoc that capitalism wreaks on us, and allowing them to truly thrive,” Brisport added.

The duo didn’t offer any examples of where and when in history people have truly thrived under socialism.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

27 Known Connections

Lauding the Protesters and Rioters in America’s Streets

In an August 2020 photo essay in which Vanity Fair magazine “celebrat[ed] the founders of Black Lives Matter [BLM] … and more on the forefront of change,” Ocasio-Cortez called it “profoundly exciting” that the Marxist/anarchist revolutionaries of BLM and Antifa were “discovering their own power” by participating in the massive wave of protests and violent riots that had swept the country since late May. Some excerpts:

  • “I believe that people are really discovering their own power in a broader sense that we have not seen in a very long time. So, yes, we’re starting to see some of this emerging power at the ballot box and at the polls, but we’re also starting to see it in the streets, and people standing up for themselves in the workplace, in organizing themselves and their labor, and it’s profoundly exciting. And it’s really incredible to see how people are really taking the reins for themselves in the direction of systemic change.”
  • “I think that all these people in the streets that are educating others, that are engaging in this elevated and amplified way, have really emboldened me, and it’s given me a lot of courage and encouragement to try to match the energy of everyone else right now who’s really fighting for progressive change.”

To learn more about Ocasio-Cortez, click on her profile click here.

EDITORS NOTE: This Discover the Networks column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.