Let’s Talk About Socialism

Socialism is the first thing people run to when they see the inherent inequality and unfairness that exists under capitalism. And, in case you haven’t noticed, socialism is a hot topic in America today. A YouGov survey reported that given a choice, 44% of young people between the ages of 16 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist nation rather than a capitalist country, AND this is in addition to 7% who would choose communism. But what are we talking about? What is socialism? Let me start by saying, most people do not know the answer to this question.

Yet, socialism is now the new panacea, the magic formula, the remedy for all that ails the world, or more specifically, the US. I recently watched an interview with an individual who, when asked if he likes socialism, said “I like it because I like socializing with everyone”. The YouGov survey mentioned above showed that only 33% of the respondents correctly defined socialism as based on the common ownership of economic and social systems as well as the state control of the means of production. This means that American citizens don’t really know what socialism is (nor capitalism for that matter) but how about the American politicians who are championing the idea of socialism? Do they know what it means?

What Socialism Means to American Democratic Socialists

My view of democratic socialism builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, their elderly citizens, the children, the sick and the poor.

— Bernie Sanders

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says of her socialist philosophy that “we should treat healthcare, housing, and education as rights,” and says of socialism:“To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America that we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live.”

—-Ok, humor me while I take a moment to respond to this “definition”. There are so many questions I have in response to these quotes, questions that I’ll have to really engage another time. For now, I’ll simply ask the questions that first come to mind.

Who is “we” in her first quote? The government? If the government, does that mean that the government now has the power to define what rights are and are not? And if the government can do this, does that means that the government is then responsible for all the laws and regulations that would be required to protect and ensure such rights? Also, what is her definition of a basic level of human “dignity”? Who defines that? Her? What if others disagree? What if someone else defines a basic level of human dignity as a being a millionaire and therefore it’s the government’s job to guarantee that? Who is she to say otherwise? What is a dignified education? Is it being able to get through grade school for free? Or is there a certain quality of grade school education that she means? If so, what quality? Who defines that? Can it be quantified to be guaranteed? She is speaking in vague generalizations with no real grasp or concept of what she is saying.—-

“Socialism has a lot of different messages to different people. I think the issue of socialist ideology and what that meant or means is not terribly important. I think the positive of it is that it indicates to people that I am not a conventional politician. If they are not happy with the status quo, then that is a positive thing. The negative of it obviously is that there are people who equate it with totalitarianism and the Soviet Union.”

— Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, another self-proclaimed democratic socialist says: “All that socialism means to me, to be very frank with you, is democracy with a small ‘d.’ I believe in democracy, and by democracy I mean that, to as great an extent as possible, human beings have the right to control their own lives. And that means that you cannot separate the political structure from the economic structure.” and “To me, socialism doesn’t mean state ownership of everything, by any means, it means creating a nation, and a world, in which all human beings have a decent standard of living.”

Notice a trend? Both Sanders and Cortez say, “to me” socialism means etc etc. Socialism meaning one thing to one person and another thing to another person doesn’t change what socialism actually means just as much as saying that “to me” fish means beef doesn’t change that fish actually means fish!

What Socialism Means

So, let’s dispose of all the vague generalities and manipulative word games and get down to the basic hard facts about what socialism actually means.

Here’s the Webster dictionary definition for a start:

  • Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

  • A system of society or group living in which there is no private property

  • A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

  • A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

Good. That should make things a bit clearer for you. Socialism exists when the government controls the means of production.

Here’s my fancy summary: Socialism, at its core, is the removal of the individual for the communal. It is a communal governmental society in which the government controls the means of production, and monitors profits to maintain equality of outcome.

We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.

— Democratic Socialists of America: Official Website

In other words, there is no “private industry”, there is only “public industry”. Let’s get this straight. Have you noticed in the United States that we have both a public sector and a private sector? Right? Some people work for the government/the “public” sector/bureaucracy, while others (the majority) work for the private sector. There is a government run post service and a private postal service—like Fed Ex.

Alright, just take this concept of the “public” sector and expand it to all businesses and all companies. This is socialism. Socialism, at its core, is simply a government run and regulated economy where there is no private industry and there are no private companies.

This should help you realize that those who say that “Europe” is socialist have been lying to you. Europe is not socialist. Europe is capitalist with a heavily involved government via social programs and heavy regulation of private industry. Get that? A country can’t have a private industry to heavily regulate if it is socialist. Why? Because if it was truly socialist there would be no private industry. In America, we have “socialist” government programs that regulate private industry. The key here is that there is still private industry. True socialism would eliminate the private industry aspect of the economy and make it all public for the “cause” of economic equality.

Socialism is a sacred cause for realizing the demand and desire of the masses of the people for independence; it is a revolutionary cause that advances amid a fierce struggle against imperialism and all other counterrevolutionary forces.

— Hugo Chavez

All of that to say, what Sanders and Cortez are talking about is not real socialism. They are either lying to us or they are clueless themselves. Something tells me that, at least Sanders, is well aware of the difference between what he is saying and what he is actually wanting. I’m sure that he knows he can’t come out and say to Americans that he wants to eliminate the private sector of our economy. Why? Because I have a sneaky suspicion that even the most rabid socialist American might cringe at the thought of our entire economy being just like our current bureaucracy.

Theoretical Foundations

As I always say, we have to establish a firm theoretical foundation to understand any belief or system of government. Socialism is a form of government and therefore has a theoretical foundation. This means it has an answer to why government exists and a belief about human nature.

Socialism is a concept that started years before Karl Marx took the concept and made it popular. The core ideal behind socialism is this: “we” is better than “I”. The “communal” should outshine the “individual”.

Socialism’s answer to “why government?” is simply that government exists to enforce or maintain equality in the economic realm of society. Ironically, socialism also assumes the best of human nature. That those who are oppressed will not oppress once given the means to oppress.

Socialism is about pitting the ruling class against the working class and using government to help the working class eliminate the ruling class. Socialism is about righting the wrongs of capitalism. Karl Marx said, “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite”. There is so much more that I can get into here, but I want to spend a bit more time focusing on what socialism assumes about human nature.

Why Socialism?

Democratic socialism means that our government does everything it can to create a full employment economy.

— Bernie Sanders

I’m writing this series on the theories of the progressive left to help equip and educate you, my readers, so that when you run into supporters of these progressive theories you can easily and efficiently dispel the lies and lay out the truth. Of course, I’d love for those that have been duped by the progressive left to read my articles and have their eyes opened, but I believe that equipping you all is far more practical than expecting progressives to read my blog.

So, the most important activity that, we, as Americans, can do to help our fellow Americans is to educate. I think the first way we can do this is by understanding why so many of our fellow Americans are so drawn to socialism. I don’t believe that many of the individuals in America today who support socialism or socialist ideals have America’s worst interest in mind. In fact, many are simply idealists, hoping and wanting to see inequality vanquished. Many Americans see inequality in our nation and become ripe for the picking.

Candidates like Cortez and Sanders know this and offer socialism as the cure to the evils of capitalism—never addressing or acknowledging the real problem at hand—humans. Get this. Their argument for socialism is based more on the flaws of capitalism than it is on the virtues of socialism. Even Sanders says so in a quote where he says that it doesn’t really matter what socialism means because people are just fed up with the status quo.

So, many Americans have been duped into buying into the “ideal” of socialism without really understanding what it is they are buying into (my guess is that most Americans would say they would not want government to run the entire economy but would at the same time say they would support socialism). And can we blame them? They don’t know any better. They have been taught, via our government run schools, to see America as an unequal, racist country and have been led to believe that capitalism causes pain and suffering and that socialism is the answer to this pain and suffering.

Socialism is a sacred cause for realizing the demand and desire of the masses of the people for independence; it is a revolutionary cause that advances amid a fierce struggle against imperialism and all other counterrevolutionary forces.

— KIm Jong-un

So, I’m not surprised that some Americans, who hold a basic understanding of socialism’s tenants, like socialism. At face value, socialism (and similarly, communism) possess attractive traits. Both theories offer the hope of equality of living standards, as well as a communal society with everyone working together to benefit each other, and little individual responsibility. Seriously, who genuinely doesn’t want to live in an equal, loving, sharing, mutually beneficial community, where there is no poverty and where everyone has equal access to quality healthcare, quality food, and quality living conditions? Of course, socialism/communism is attractive to people. Perhaps it’s simply that many Americans have personally struggled taking care of their own health because of the egregious expense of healthcare in the United States; or perhaps, some Americans are tired of driving past the homeless every day on their way to work; or maybe they are tired of reading about the percentage of children in their community who go hungry every day.

Newsflash, even those of us on the “right” side of the spectrum notice and dislike these problems. For some reason, there is a belief out there that only progressive liberals notice and care about these inequalities and economic hardships. I can’t speak for all conservatives or liberals, but I can say that as a libertarian on the “right” side of the spectrum, it’s ridiculous to think that I wouldn’t notice and dislike the suffering I encounter in the world. I would have to be a coldhearted psychopath to dismiss it as nothing, and I doubt that half of the United States is made up of coldhearted psychopaths who all hate minorities and want suffering to continue.

When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’ I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.


Why then do we, conservatives/libertarians who still believe in the benefits of capitalism, not run after socialism if we are aware of and dislike what ails society? Here’s where it’s essential to understand that all theories of government/economy are based on assumptions. Remember, capitalism and socialism are merely theories, ideas for how we believe the world works, and would presumably work best. These theories are based on assumptions about humanity, and specifically human nature.

At the core of socialism is the belief that humans are, by nature, kind, selfless, altruistic, diligent and giving. Thus, implementing the ideal communal society mentioned above is merely a case of eliminating those in power who hinder it, and allowing all the good-natured oppressed a chance to demonstrate that good nature and come together as a sharing, loving community. Capitalism on the other hand assumes that mankind is by nature selfish, lazy, and corrupt. This means that for capitalism to work, humans must be motivated by their own selfish greed, or selfish need to stay alive, to work and produce. Mankind is out to benefit number one and will, presumably, do whatever it takes to reap that reward.

Thought Experiment About Capitalism and Socialism

Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

— Webster Dictionary

These are two antithetical perspectives of humankind. So, I want you to go through a thought experiment with me, one that I hope will help you better take on the flaws of socialism, beyond simply pointing out the practical failures of socialism throughout history.

If we go with capitalism’s assumption that human nature is flawed and selfish, what happens to socialism? Conversely, what happens when capitalism is implemented using socialism’s assumption of human nature?

Think about it. If we set up a socialist government and economy but in a world where humans are naturally selfish, lazy and corrupt, what happens? Well, socialism’s “ideal” end goal of equality does not happen. We quickly find that the socialist system falls apart when sticking selfish, lazy people in a communal society that is based upon selfless giving, diligence and community aid. Even just the slightest bit of selfish gain distorts and warps the theory of socialism. You cannot give pay to lazy, selfish people and believe they will all work diligently for the benefit of others—if they could abstain from work and make the same amount of money. Also, you cannot give the government (also made up of the same selfish humans) such complete power to control the economy without this power resulting in corruption, distortion and abuse at the highest levels of government.

Socialism is the ideal state, but it can never be achieved while man is so selfish.

— Annie Besant

Now let’s consider what happens in a capitalist society that is made up of selfless, kind, altruistic, diligent and giving people? They will still work hard, because they would have even if it didn’t help their personal interest, but they will work hard to help others as well. They will build and promote for each other rather than simply for themselves. They’ll by default work diligently without needing personal gain, well-being and wealth as motivators. They’ll give generously from the fruits of their labor. This results in an ideal society where everyone is working hard for the community with no government intervention or control.

I remained a socialist for several years, even after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.

— Karl R. Popper

Consider what happens if there are exceptions to the rule of selfishness in a capitalistic society. If, in a capitalist society, there are exceptions to the rule and humans do act altruistically and selflessly, the capitalist system only improves. If, however, in a socialist society, there are exceptions to the rule and humans act selfishly, the entire socialistic community begins to crumble. It cannot withstand human corruption as it is based on the presumption that humans are not corrupt. As soon as corruption and greed enter, the whole communal system fails.

There are many examples of failed socialistic experiments throughout history and yet it is still brought up consistently as the one alternative to capitalism. While capitalism does allow for inequality of outcome, and there are usually those who are very wealthy and those who are very poor, the overall status of the poor is always elevated along with the increases of the wealthy. In socialism however, mankind has typically just been reduced to the majority of the population all living equally but poorly while a few wealthy powerful leaders rule. In this context of socialism, one ideal is mostly met, which is that most everyone’s living conditions are equal—but at the expense of so much else.

The fundamental theoretical flaw inherent in the theory of socialism is this: the belief that human nature is good. History has proven this to be false and therefore, no matter how hard we hope, or how many times we try, even the best, most idealistic systems of government cannot remedy the flaws of human nature. At least in a capitalist society, it attempts to utilize the flaw of humanity for its own advantage.


Democracy is indispensable to socialism.

— Vladimir Lenin

There is so much more to socialism than I am able to explain in this one post, but I hope I’ve given you enough to chew on for this week. Before I conclude though, I want to leave you with one final important warning.

Don’t be fooled when people say “democratic socialism”. “Democratic socialism” is not a crazy concept. In fact, Karl Marx said that “democracy is the road to socialism”. Sanders said, “I am confident that the vast majority of the people will understand that there is nothing incompatible between socialism and democracy.” Many on the “right” balk at this merging of seemingly incompatible concepts. But again, I say, don’t be fooled. Democracy is very compatible with socialism, which is why, here in America we have anything but a democracy.

We have a Constitutional Republic. This means that the government is subservient to the Constitution first and then to the people. In other words, if the people demand for the government to pass unconstitutional laws, the government cannot and will not. Our founders wanted to avoid democracy like the plague. I will expand on the dangers of democracy in an upcoming post. I’m excited to explore and explain to you all Federalist 10 and why we do not have a democracy in America. So, don’t fight for a democracy and don’t defend democracy when you hear others claim that there can be such a thing as “democratic socialism”. Instead, you can agree and then say, “and that is why America is not a democracy.”

Until next time!

The Liberty Belle

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