Written by: Yaho Quintana
Socialism. Since its inception it has been a subject of great contention. With 2020 just around the corner it is to no surprise that one of history’s most divisive philosophies is once again being openly and hotly debated. The real surprise is that it is being openly debated here in America and not some far off and distant land. Some would say this is fitting as these are arguably one of the most divisive times in American history.
Although there still seems to be something we’re missing when discussing this relentless encroachment of Socialism in the West. Something that to many seems so simple. One side says it will enslave you and the other says it will save you. Obviously both sides can’t be right in this debate. So what exactly haven’t people been able to get across when discussing “Socialism?” One side is based on facts and reality while the other is based on theory and naïve idyllic longings.
Sometime last year my friends and I were all having dinner after our church group. This was right after the congressional elections. Soon enough we were on the topic of “Socialism”. To my surprise one of my good friends boldly stated that he is a registered Democrat and also a Bernie Sanders supporter (we were all still getting to know each other then). As he started to give his defense of Socialism my other friend (a 29 year old from Venezuela) objected to his stance and gave her opinion as gracefully as her latin flair and accent could basically say “shut up about Socialism, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
You see, my friend had seen firsthand what the promise and implementation of Socialism had done to her country. Those marches that we have seen on the news in Venezuela? She was in them. She saw her friend get hit right in the chest with a gas canister and countless other unsettling scenes. But almost as fast as Bernie Sanders could rip off his shirt and join in the hymns of the Red Army choir, my buddy leaped to the defense of Socialism with that tried and true argument “but that isn’t real Socialism” and “Socialism failed in Venezuela because bad people were in charge”.
It certainly raises the question then of what IS real Socialism, because every time you point to a failed example they respond exactly as my friend did. In the words of the late, great economist Milton Friedman, it also makes me wonder where are we going to find these “better angels” to put in charge of the rest of us? This is king of nonsense is always what makes my head spin. I can understand why a secular materialist might believe in Socialism or Communism considering they are philosophies that come from a more materialist, atheistic worldview. Karl Marx hated the idea of Christian theology and a fixed God-given human nature. But I cannot understand how Socialist always seem to suspend rational thought and empirical evidence every time the discussion comes up.
It is really quite simple. Socialism cannot work given what we know about human nature. Humans are easily corruptible because we are already corrupted. Whether you are secular or religious, the idea that people can be dishonest, opportunistic, self obsessed, and easily tempted creatures isn’t news to anyone. The reason the Founding Fathers set checks and balances, a separation of powers enumerated by our Constitution is so that ambition checks ambition. They understood this better than anyone. The lust of one man’s natural striving for power is checked, controlled and kept at bay by the lust for power and control of other people. Better angels? They only exist on paper, and in the minds of the Socialist ideologues.
While sitting in one of my church groups, again I was astounded to hear the words uttered by my socialist friend. “I believe people just ruin everything…” Right! Power to the people! Now apply that logic to Socialism where a society would naturally need a centralized and organized group in order to redistribute the nation’s collective wealth and seizure of private property. How is that not bound to fall into deep corruption? That is why in nations that embrace socialism it is always the elites that live in massive estates, with security, electricity and warm food. All of this while people outside with no government connections have to break into zoos and eat horses in order to avoid starvation.