A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: What Is Socialism & Why It Fails

by | Aug 11, 2020 |

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When most Americans hear the word “socialism” they usually think of either a Scandinavian model full of happy educated people who are pleased with their government or a Venezuelan nightmare where people fight over a loaf of bread at the grocery store. The reality is neither. In most modern socialist societies only certain aspects of the economy is socialized and fewer still impose the sort of authoritarianism found in China, Russia and Venezuela, which are in fact merely old-style tyrannies.
In this three-part series, we will begin by clarifying what socialism actually is, the confusion over its meaning and the astonishing ignorance of human nature displayed by socialism’s adherents. In parts two and three we will take you from the simple, innocuous claims of today’s so-called ‘democrat socialists’ to the ultimate evils and immorality that must be the eventual result. We draw a great deal of information from “Socialism Is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx’s Radical Dream,” the 2018 book by conservative commentator Justin Haskins, Editorial Director and Research Fellow of The Heartland Institute, a world-leading Arlington Heights, Illinois-based free market think tank. Haskins’ book is available from Amazon here.
The main reason we oppose socialism is that, regardless of the outcomes a socialist country might experience, we know it requires the elimination of certain freedoms, many of which are identified in the Constitution as our inalienable rights. The economic outcomes of socialist models are far less important, and in time do not produce a healthier, safer and happier society than models that embrace individual liberty and free markets.
Our country now faces an embrace of Marxist socialism, which, in its final stages, degenerates into full-blown communism. The less draconian form as practiced in Europe is often referred to as democratic socialism. There they have a quasi-market system that uses state control, manipulation and welfare programs to socialize particular industries. Whatever form of socialism is enabled, it poses a serious threat to western capitalism since it has become popular among our youth who, generally speaking, know little or nothing of socialism’s history of failure and terror.
German philosopher and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx advocated for the end of private property in all of his writings, including his Communist Manifesto. Under many socialist models all, or nearly all, property is owned collectively, with no private business, and no free markets.
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of socialism is its goal of forming a one-world government, without national borders. All would supposedly share resources and make decisions collectively. We can recognize this amidst the growing power of the United Nations and the progressives who support its every effort.
Marx’s plan described in his manifesto includes, in summary:

  • abolishing private property (especially the confiscation of property of opponents to the regime)
  • a heavy graduated income tax
  • no right of inheritance
  • centralization of credit, communication and transportation
  • state-owned production
  • equal distribution of labor
  • distribution of population 
  • free education.

The overall delusional goal of socialism and its eventual arrival at communism is the elimination of classes in society. Without a global socialist system, it would be impossible to have a classless society. While it is theoretically possible to have separate nations with equal amounts of wealth, talent and resources, in reality it never exists. Thus, variations between nations, even socialist nations, will in effect create classes.
Regardless of the specific steps taken to transition to a fully formed socialist system and the length of time required to make such a transition, one thing was clear according to Marx: the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat (the class of workers who lack their own means of production) to the position of society’s rulers under the guise of ‘winning the battle of democracy.’ Could this be what is behind the riots in our streets and the destruction of our monuments?

There are few, if any differences between the purest and most complete forms of socialism and what Marx called communism. In the nineteenth century, many writers used the terms interchangeably to describe their imagined utopias.

In a 1959 recorded conversation with the US Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev said,

”We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have communism.”

Like George Orwell predicting many of the problems we are now encountering, Khrushchev appears to have been right on target from his vantage point 60 years ago.
Marxist socialism in its purist form is impossible to fully implement as it runs counter to human nature. Aldous Huxley was able to accomplish it in his dystopian novel, “Brave New World”, only by drugging the entire population of his fictional country. But there is no nonfiction way it can be accomplished. Marx’s delusion was that he could convince an entire population to voluntarily give up their natural tendency to embrace competition.
Socialists frame competition as being merely the fruit of greedy ruling class leaders’ schemes. According to socialists, we compete because we must, missing the fact that it is built into the human psyche. Children race on the playground, high schoolers compete in classrooms, on the basketball court and for admission to college. Hundreds of millions watch competitive sporting events every day. Competition excites people and, for many, makes life worth living.
Imagine working in a factory where the laziest, most unproductive worker is paid the same as the hardest working and most productive employee. This approach was in fact a major cause of the downfall of the Soviet Union as that was just how their system worked. Eventually output declines to the lowest common denominator of the people who do not want to work. Is it not what welfare has done to a large segment of American society leaving tens of millions of people preferring a couch to being productive on their feet?
Wherever socialism is imposed on a large scale, productivity always declines, absent the motivation of war or violence. When the lowest performing workers are awarded as generously as the highest performing workers, the economy races to the bottom and everything and everyone suffers, aside from a tiny ruling elite. 
Think also about the distribution of jobs and places to live. Can you imagine being told in which industry you must work and in which town you are to live? Clearly there are significant differences in the most attractive jobs and places to live. Those of us desiring to be productive compete for those jobs and places.
There will always be a segment of society who we must support because they cannot work due to disabilities. There will also be those who don’t care whether they are productive or not and we must manage that component of our society. But we believe that the vast majority of people want to meaningfully contribute to the betterment of society and also want the freedom to make their own decisions to the best of their abilities.
Marxism promotes the idea that future humans will not be nearly as concerned about competition or their personal welfare as they are today. They will voluntarily choose to perform the jobs no one wants, and they will do so in exchange for the same remuneration everyone else receives, knowing all the while that they will still be paid if they chose to not work at all. 
These ideas aren’t only radical, they are delusional. Yet America may be on the verge of jumping off this cliff if the next administration attempts to run our industrial society on a Marxist model and on the power of the wind and the sun. In part two of this series we will show how such an approach is dangerously immoral to the point of being what some would classify as evil. Stay tuned!
Note: Portions of the article were excerpted from the book Socialism is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx’s Radical Dream with permission of the author Justin Haskins. It is strongly recommended for a more detailed discussion of this important subject.

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Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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