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A ‘Good-Faith’ Argument About Socialism Doesn’t Start By Dismissing Its History Login/Join 
I believe in the
principle of
Due Process
Picture of JALLEN
posted
The Federalist
David Harsani
March 13, 2018

If you discount catastrophe, starvation, shallow graves, mass murder and widespread poverty, then yes, there’s probably a case to be made for socialism.

Socialism is perhaps the only ideology that Americans are asked to judge solely based on its “successes.” Considering the massive human suffering that collectivism has inflicted over the past century in nearly every corner of the world, ignoring its most consequential moments seems like an odd way to approach a good-faith debate on the subject.

Yet, after The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Bruenig penned a column imploring narrow-minded Western-style capitalist dead-enders to give socialism a spin, she was unhappy with the reaction. Too many critics were pointing to the moral and economic costs of instituting collectivist policies. In a new piece, Bruenig implores critics to make a “good-faith” case when considering socialist “remedies” for the “ongoing failures in the American experiment.” What she meant, and what everyone should have known, was that she was referring to the non-threatening Nordic iteration of socialism.

This is an exceptionally convenient framing of the debate, one that’s been used by fans of the Scandinavian welfare state for decades. It’s tantamount to asking Americans to consider adding a little theocratic monarchy to their liberal democracy because the economies of Oman and Abu Dhabi are doing so well.

Bruenig’s good-faith argument, incidentally, emphasizes the “failures” of capitalism, ignoring its vast and historic successes; and then hitches the case to the roiling anxieties that have sprung up around the election of a single president, Donald Trump. At the same, it demands you disregard Mao, Stalin, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Jong-un, Pol Pot or the dozens of others champions of collectivism — not to mention democratically elected socialists of the Hugo Chávez and Slobodan Milošević variety. Pay no attention to the failed socialist states of Eastern Europe or Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Somalia or South Yemen.

It’s true, of course, if we discount all these people and nations and catastrophes and the starvation and poverty and the shallow graves and mass murder, then yes, there’s probably something of attractive case to be made for instituting fairness by force. And if you completely pry socialism apart for Communism, and act as if one isn’t the outgrowth of other, then yes, a collectivized economy certainly looks more appealing. But there’s no other debate in politics, history or economics that allows for this kind of dispensation. I’m not sure why this one deserves it.

After all, we have plenty of data on the topic. At the height of the socialistic world in 1980, 44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty. By 2017, that number was around nine percent. Nearly every nation on earth that has turned away from collectivist economic policies and embraced market-based capitalism has seen the lives of their people improve dramatically.

As for the Nordic welfare state, it’s propped up capitalistic institutions and functions under circumstances that are alien to us. Norway not only has a homogeneous populations, but as Nima Sanandaji — the author of a book that debunks many of the prevailing talking points about the success of Nordic socialism, “Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism,” — points out, Norway has “non-governmental social institutions that are uniquely adapted to the modern world. High levels of trust, a strong work ethic, civic participation, social cohesion, individual responsibility and family values are long-standing features of Nordic society that predate the welfare state.”

Perhaps many Americans now think of Oslo rather than Caracas or Pyongyang when socialism comes up. Perhaps this distorted history of socialism — in addition to the expected idealistic attraction to it — has helped popularize the notion at home. Growing up without a Soviet Union and a liberalizing China makes a difference in perception as well. It’s working. Because without super delegates, the United States might have seen the first collectivist candidate leading one of its major parties. Nearly half of American millennials would rather live in a socialist society than a capitalist one, according to YouGov polling data. Millennials polled showed vast ignorance about socialism and communism, with only 71 percent of those asked being able to properly identify communism of socialism correctly.

Of course Bruenig, and most American socialists, aren’t consciously or explicitly “campaigning for genocide” or violence or tyranny. Of course socialistic remedies don’t all turn into tragedies. Of course socialism exists on a spectrum and the Nordic experiment is the most benign version. Bruenig argues that she would “support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor.”

Immunizing the majority of citizens from market forces has never worked in the history of mankind because it’s impossible. In fact, attempting to immunize most people from market forces has never been tried without coercion. But your good intentions don’t give you the right to demand we dismiss a history of socialistic mission creep that most often degenerates into widespread violence and tyranny (at worst) or widespread economic suffering (at best), simply because Nordic nations are an outlier.

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Luckily, I have enough willpower to control the driving ambition that rages within me.

When you had the votes, we did things your way. Now, we have the votes and you will be doing things our way. This lesson in political reality from Lyndon B. Johnson

"Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible." - Justice Janice Rogers Brown
 
Posts: 46113 | Location: Texas hill country | Registered: July 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Step by step walk the thousand mile road
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I DENOUNCE Elizabeth Bruenig!!!!

She asserts a form of government based on WHITE PRIVILEGE!!

That is socialism as practiced by NORDIC [i.e., WHITE] COUNTRIES [i.e., NATIONALISMS].

Send her forthwith to Kolyma Gulag Camp.



Nice is overrated

And people wonder why I carry a SIG P320

Death to Terrorists
 
Posts: 27115 | Location: Loudoun County, Virginia | Registered: May 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
delicately calloused
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The failure of socialism is that it is imposed. It is imposed because few would participate voluntarily who have more to lose than gain. I'll assert the goals of socialism will always fail until every man, woman and child has refined greed, envy, avarice, covetousness, selfishness and sloth out their character. The irony is that Leftism promotes those characteristics in its adherents. And so regardless of which individual and which gov't body attempts a socialist model, it will always have to be imposed and thus failure is a matter of time.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: darthfuster,



...but resist, we much. We must, and we will much, about that, be committed. Al Sharpton 2011
 
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But socialist failures are so often spectacular. Look at Venezuela, as a socialist failure, it is simply magnificent. It is like a painting by HR Giger's or some by Pieter Bruegel. It is powerful and evocative. Those souls caught on its canvas can not adequately appreciate the sublime beauty of their suffering.


(Corrected spelling of Bruegel's name.)

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Fenris,




The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People again must learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. ~ Cicero 55 BC

The Dhimocrats love America like ticks love a hound.
 
Posts: 15816 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 08, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Uh, excuse me, but Norway is not a socialist country. It is a capitalist country, with an expansive welfare system. The government does have ownership interests in industrial companies, but companies are also accountable to private shareholders.

Like most of the models that the socialists view favorably, they are not socialist at all, but rather welfare states, with relatively small populations, funded by access to vast natural resources. In Norway, the "state" oil company Statoil has vast offshore oil resources that fund the welfare programs. The same is true of the UK. Canada can afford universal health care only through the sale of oil, timber and other resources on vast government owned lands.


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Posts: 1645 | Location: Eastern Virginia | Registered: October 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
10mm is The
Boom of Doom
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The US government would be able to fund far more social welfare programs, if it confiscated all private property and the auctioned it to the highest bidders.




The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People again must learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. ~ Cicero 55 BC

The Dhimocrats love America like ticks love a hound.
 
Posts: 15816 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 08, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I believe in the
principle of
Due Process
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posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by Fenris:
The US government would be able to fund far more social welfare programs, if it confiscated all private property and the auctioned it to the highest bidders.


If it confiscated all private property, nobody would have any money to bid.




Luckily, I have enough willpower to control the driving ambition that rages within me.

When you had the votes, we did things your way. Now, we have the votes and you will be doing things our way. This lesson in political reality from Lyndon B. Johnson

"Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible." - Justice Janice Rogers Brown
 
Posts: 46113 | Location: Texas hill country | Registered: July 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
No double standards
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Socialism is a ruse. Politicians promise to help the people, but their goal is to subjugate the people.




"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it....While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it"
- Judge Learned Hand, May 1944
 
Posts: 29283 | Location: CA | Registered: November 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
No double standards
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by JALLEN:
quote:
Originally posted by Fenris:
The US government would be able to fund far more social welfare programs, if it confiscated all private property and the auctioned it to the highest bidders.


If it confiscated all private property, nobody would have any money to bid.


And the gov't would spend most of the money on themselves first, the people would get the leftovers.




"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it....While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it"
- Judge Learned Hand, May 1944
 
Posts: 29283 | Location: CA | Registered: November 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
His diet consists of black
coffee, and sarcasm.
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quote:
Perhaps many Americans now think of Oslo rather than Caracas or Pyongyang when socialism comes up.

I characterize Norway and those other European countries as welfare/nanny states more than true socialist. Socialism light. Razz
 
Posts: 20400 | Location: Johnson City/Elizabethton, TN | Registered: April 28, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Isn't the reason it is 'successful' in Nordic countries because of cultural hegemony?

Same reason why Japan has such a low crime rate?

There is a mono-culture that everyone must buy in to if they want to succeed/be accepted.
 
Posts: 2580 | Registered: January 27, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
10mm is The
Boom of Doom
Picture of Fenris
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by JALLEN:
quote:
Originally posted by Fenris:
The US government would be able to fund far more social welfare programs, if it confiscated all private property and the auctioned it to the highest bidders.

If it confiscated all private property, nobody would have any money to bid.

Wealthy leftists like Soro and Bezos would be exempt.




The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People again must learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. ~ Cicero 55 BC

The Dhimocrats love America like ticks love a hound.
 
Posts: 15816 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 08, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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