The Hollow Promise of Socialism

In 1989, the concrete barrier that ideologically and physically divided Berlin, and thus Germany, finally collapsed as part of a wave of anti-tyrannical sentiment across Eastern Europe. The communist sectarianism established in the Eastern Bloc by the Soviet Union along with its socialist ideologue, collapsed under the one-party system’s own incompetence. And in 1991, these inherent flaws were solidified with the disintegration of the USSR. Marking an end to nearly a century of communist totalitarianism, which had bred instability and chaos in nearly every country it had controlled. After massacring 100 million people, socialism and communism had taken its hefty toll on the face of the world. And in place of its ruin, Western governments, spearheaded by the United States, lifted billions out of poverty, established free market systems, individual freedoms, and in place of economic stagnation, sparked a new era of globalization which enriched economies all over the globe. Only the West, only capitalism, has been able to achieve such a feat. And yet, we are on track to throw it all away.
New generations are now lured into the prospect of communism and socialism; of supposed equality, egalitarianism, free healthcare, property redistribution, and the like. Bernie Sanders, a geriatric communist, has advocated for the exact same ideals. Sanders has openly advocated for democratic socialism, even “honeymooning” in the Soviet Union in 1988. But the simple fact of the matter is, democratic socialism is still socialism. The only difference between democratic socialism and socialism is that we can vote for it. In a 148 student poll by The Jet Jotter, 46.8% of the 51% democrats in LHS opted to vote for Bernie Sanders. And 32.6% of the 29.1% of the independent voters in LHS did the same. Yet this way of thinking could never be more wrong. Socialism isn’t just dysfunctional, it is morally incorrect. Socialism is wrong because it states that it will take the wealth and property of the rich substrata of the population and divide it equally among the people. If I earned 5 dollars, and everyone else has zero dollars, then I am to divide my money until everyone has 1 dollar whether I like it or not. Everyone is better off except for me. It is wrong to beat me up and take my money. It is still wrong if you vote to beat me up and take my money. In socialism and communism, this is done through the government. I am to give my earnings to the government in order for the government to divide my money for the supposed betterment of the people. This is not fair, this is theft. Socialism steals the wealth that you have earned and gives it to the government who gives it to the poorer, supposedly “working-class” of the population. Not only is this stealing but this is also selfishness. It states that just because you are breathing, you deserve free stuff.  And for those who believe in Abrahamic religion, socialism/communism violates three of the Ten Commandments God gave us: it turns government into God, it advocates stealing, and it makes you covetous of your neighbor’s property.
But you may be wondering, why should I care? Shouldn’t the filthy rich give to the destitute poor? Why should I care what happens to them if everyone else is better off? Because those who are rich earned the money, and the privileges that come with the money. If you know that when you earn money the government will take some of that money away from you and give it to someone else then there is not much of an incentive to earn money. It may even be more beneficial to you if you worked the bare minimum since, after all, you’re going to get a set payment from the government anyway. This discourages innovation and industriousness. It should be also noted that since socialism and communism instill this responsibility to the government, it comes to no surprise that corruption ran rampant in many previous socialist/communist countries.
As for the Nordic countries, they aren’t socialist. Many advocates for socialism today point to the Nordic countries as a model for socialism when it is in fact the opposite. They only seem socialist since they have socialist programs such as universal healthcare or have the typical indicators of a socialist economy such as high government spending. And the majority of the Nordic and Scandinavian countries have privileges or aspects that allow them to have such extensive programs. For example, the United States has largely funded the defense budget of the Nordic countries through NATO for years. In 2016, Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen stated in a speech at Harvard University that Bernie Sanders was wrong to call Denmark (and the Nordic countries) socialist when they are capitalist. It should also be noted that the Nordic countries have an extraordinarily ethnically and culturally homogenous population, have an extremely high tax rate, and most of their social programs happen on a local, not federal, level. In fact, the Nordic countries have been stumbling towards bankruptcy in the past decades, experiencing a 15-20 year period of stagnated economic growth which have pushed them to elect more right-wing governments and an increasingly deregulated economy. Because, as it turns out, people don’t want to pay twice the cost of an average car or pay a 60% income tax rate. When the ruling classes in Denmark, in the late 60s and the early 70s, preoccupied themselves with wealth redistribution it led to a severe economic crisis. The national debt of the country skyrocketed, the economy stagnated, the GDP per capita fell, and widespread tax revolts ensued. As Otto Brons-Peterson, an economist at the Center for Political Studies in Copenhagen and a Danish citizen himself, puts it, “It took decades of consolidation, structural reforms, and curtailing of welfare schemes to straighten out this mess. This is the stuff you never hear from the ‘Danish model’ crowd.” If the Nordic countries truly were socialist establishments, they would’ve went the same path communist Venezuela did a long time ago: reduced to picking stray dogs off the street for food, breaking into morgues to find cadavers to eat, and having to spend an entire month of hard-earned wages for a single hot dog.
So after all of the chaos, executions, and tragedies, why are young people once again advocating for such an erroneous ideology? The answer is simple. Socialism and Communism give a person a utopia to live for. It focuses on the group, not the individual. Working towards a utopia for the betterment of society inspires purpose and speciality for someone, whether or not we have to drag your family to be shot and killed in the gulags. Because no matter how much you reap the benefits of capitalism earning millions of dollars, having a successful business, etc., there is always a yearning in the human soul for something more. If you ask a Russian person who has lived through the Soviet Union, chances are they will tell you of it with nostalgia. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, annual polling by the Levada Center showed that roughly 66% of Russian citizens lamented the USSR’s collapse in 2018 and even more say that its collapse did more harm than good. And nearly every post-soviet state will say the same except for Ukraine or the Baltic states. This is because they were enticed by the communist state’s economic programs, enjoyed having the sense of belonging to a superpower, and were content with a universal Soviet national identity but blind to the millions of lives lost spent to make it so.

Jacob Wu '23

Assistant Opinions Editor
I am a junior at LHS. I enjoy reading and studying history. I am most interested in the history of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian, Basil II, and the Komnenian dynasty. I consistently read the Lord of the Rings and Sun Tzu’s Art of War. I also take a keen interest within the Soviet Union, it’s economics, history, and it’s ideology. My favorite movies are The Lord of the Rings, Waterloo, Zulu, and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

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