Socialism Works (EP.40)



Socialism does indeed work–for a while. “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister.

Links and References

Karl Marx Was Right

Give a Man A Fish

Democratic Socialists of America NYC


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Socialism works…for a while. When a society chooses to adopt socialism, many things are now free that were not free before. Well, not free, because they still cost a ton of money, but are free to the recipients. It will take awhile before the added taxation, mounting debt–or both–that are required to pay for all of the now free stuff begins to be initially burdensome, and if unchecked, fatal. Whole countries have gone broke. And more are doing so today

Put simply, “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister.

Not long ago, the US was engaged in fighting the Cold War, a war against both Soviet Russia’s geographic expansion and its desire to instill its political and economic way of life on conquered nations. Communist thinking, an imposed way of life, really, is the philosophical, social, political and economic ideology, whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society. com This is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes. BTW, if you don’t think Communism needs to be imposed, think back to the Berlin Wall. And this wall needed to be built to keep people in–not out.

This was a necessary fight. Imagine, if you will, that the USSR, Soviet Russia, had not collapsed, but instead had spread its failed economic and political philosophy to even more countries instead of fewer. Example of the destructive power of communism: As a result of the communist philosophy, that way of thinking, the reunification of West and East Germany, basically the rescue of East Germany, was time consuming, costly and painful. It took decades and $1T (trillion) to rescue East Germany from the miserable lifestyle they had: few freedoms, few and poor consumer products, near-empty grocery store shelves and cars so bad they are a running (pun intended) joke even today. While West Germany was producing VWs, Porsches, Audis and Mercedes Benz, East Germany was making the Trabant, a completely sub-standard car most often called, a “Spark plug with a roof.” And you had to wait to get one, even if you could afford it.

This historical reminder is important because there are many similarities between Democratic Socialism and communism. We’ll get to those similarities in a moment.

Recently, and much in the news, Rep. Joe Crowley of New York City, one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives, lost his primary in a shocking upset on June 26th, 2018 to community organizer and avowed Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. When asked why she is a socialist, she replied, “I am a socialist because no one should be too poor to live in this country.” A statement, by the way, that many if not most people, capitalist or socialist, would find entirely acceptable. But her philosophy is far more complete than just that. Ms. Ocasio Cortez has claimed association with the New York City Democratic Socialists of America. Many Democratic leaders and party members have hailed the 28-year-old as a window into the future of the Democratic party.

Here are a few quotes from the New York City Democratic Socialists of America web site; you’ll find them under the Mission page:

  1. “New York City Democratic Socialists of America is dedicated to the project of building a socialist society — a society free of all oppression with a democratically-run, ecologically-sustainable economy. Such a society would secure real equality of opportunity for everyone. It would guarantee basic rights to housing, food, healthcare, education, a job, and an income. And it would eliminate all forms of oppression, including oppression based on race, gender, sexuality, and ability. Our goal is a socialist world.”
  2. “Socialists have learned through decades of fighting for reforms that the capitalist system serves the interests of the ruling class. It is designed to meet their needs and insulate their power from threats from below. Our strategy therefore is different from the liberal one. We work to organize millions of people into democratically-led movements that take militant action against bosses and politicians. It’s only through mass direct action, strikes, and confrontation that we can force those with power to make concessions — and eventually to take that power from them.”
  3. “Every year, people of color in the United States are the targets of police brutality, mass incarceration, and state-sponsored murder.” “We can expect renewed mobilizations in the coming year against these outrages. The Black Lives Matter movement continues to build resistance to the police and mass incarceration and a new generation of activists is being radicalized in these struggles. NYC-DSA needs to turn its members out in force to join this fight. We must also help to build the campaigns that will in the long-term help to roll back policing and mass incarceration (more on our tasks related to this work in the section on city politics).”

Let’s take a few of their points from the goals section in the Mission Statement, and look at the Revolution 2.0 response. Ms. Ocasio Cortez, soon to be elected to Congress in her heavily Democratic district, has associated herself with this site. As, I am guessing, would both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

  1. “It would guarantee basic rights to housing, food, healthcare, education, a job, and an income.” “Our goal is a socialist world.” RWR Response: How on earth are we going to survive as a nation, as a viable society, if, “…housing, food, healthcare, education, a job, and an income.” are all seen as basic human rights? And, therefore, free?
  2. “It’s only through mass direct action, strikes, and confrontation that we can force those with power to make concessions — and eventually to take that power from them.” RWR Response: In other words, they are calling for, among other things, evicting more people from restaurants, more scathing and foul social media attacks, and more harassing people up close and personal right in front of their homes. It is a call for a militant and confrontational agenda without any pretense of civility. In other words, exactly what Maxine Waters is urging.
  3. “We must also help to build the campaigns that will in the long-term help to roll back policing…”  RWR response: This is a time when we need more policing. Better policing would also be an improvement, and I am all for that. But more is clearly necessary in certain areas. Not less.

Democratic Socialism, as advocated by Ms. Ocasio Cortez, and Senators Warren and Sanders, is not merely a costly expansion of the welfare state. It calls for a sharp and dangerous turn toward free everything for everyone who wants it, along with major upheavals in our culture. Keep that in mind as you see our nation continuing to move more and more in that direction. (BTW, today’s photo was taken from a Democratic Socialist protest.)

If that is what you want, well, you can just sit back and let it happen. Others are already doing the job for you.

If that is not what you want, well, get up and do something. First, educate yourself so that you know what you are talking about. You can start with reading the Democratic Socialists of America’s NYC web site. Then contact your elected representatives and let them know where you stand, and why. Talk to people who agree with you, and give them the facts and lines of argument they can learn from and employ with others. Talk to people who think they want Democratic Socialism, and think it through with them. Start by caring about them–yes, caring about them–listening to who they are and where they are, and why they think the way they do. Then lead them–lead them–step-by-step, fact-by-fact, and with care and non agenda-based reasoning, to where you are. We can can this. Remember, what we have is better not only for our country, but for them as well.

But, Will, what about those few, but real, countries that appear to be making socialism work. Fair point, but they are vastly different from the US; tiny, homogenous, and already moving away from socialism for a variety of reasons. But that is another podcast.

It is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Revolution 2.0, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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18 Responses

  1. Ann Peckenpaugh Becker Reply
    • Will Luden Reply

      Ann, thanks for the post. I identify Sen Warren a socialist not in a pejorative way, but a descriptive one. It does seem that her philosophy and socialism line up well. Not in the state-control of industry way, but in the extensive redistribution of wealth way.

  2. Charles Cabral Reply

    Good cast. Perhaps it should be stated more emphatically that changing others’ opinions starts, as you said, with caring for them. Just as in Christian evangelism, you are not likely to change opinions by challenging others, but once they are aware of your caring, having a relationship, they are more interested in your point of view and willing to discuss issues. Who knows? Maybe your own opinion will evolve and improve during the discussion.
    I recently read a couple of things on the OpEd page of the local paper relevant to this. In the first, a writer from the NY Times, a respected but generally liberal pub, noted that retiring justice Kennedy had given a commencement speech in which he told the graduates to “find their own reality”. The writer noted that that particular view is contributing largely to our current combative state of affairs. If everyone is in his/her own reality, then what do we have in common? This actually would conflict with the socialists expectation of a society where we all work together for a common good. If everyone is doing his own thing, then who is doing society’s thing? If I were distinguished enough to be giving a commencement address, it would be, “You’ve just had 4 years (or more) courtesy of your parents, government, and/or your own hard work to develop knowledge, skills and discernment. You now have an obligation, not to find yourself, but to find a place where those acquired attributes can be put to use.” I was encouraged to see that it is finally dawning on those on the left side of the spectrum that this whole emphasis on self is leading our culture down a path of destruction.

    The second item was a letter to the editor which stated, rightly, that the immigration/refugee crisis needs to be addressed at the source. These people are fleeing violence and poverty in their homes. What can be done to cure that? Unfortunately, the writer then went off on a harangue that it is all America’s fault for interfering in those countries and encouraging dictatorships, etc., etc. As far as I know, the U.S. has spent the last 30 or more years (since the fall of the USSR) encouraging democracy and free elections in the Western Hemisphere. There were no mass migrations out of Central America when we were busy propping up dictatorships as part of our strategy against Communist expansion. It’s only since we took a hands-off approach that gangs and government ineptitude have taken over. Without getting into a deep discussion of immigration issues, my point is that this letter writer had unquestioningly quoted some other left wing intellectual without really examining the facts. I suspect that a similar incestuous relationship among the NYDSA folks is what resulted in the patently stupid and shallow points you quoted from their mission statement. (BTW, the right side of the spectrum is equally as guilty of this type of behavior.)

    • Will Luden Reply

      Ah, Charlie, seems the ESP is still strong within you…:). The newly-elected Mexican President gave an interesting speech, which, of course, included people emigrating from Mexico to the US. I wish that he had said something along the lines that his long-term approach to emigrating is to make his country, Mexico, so appealing that no one would want to leave. Cheers, Will

  3. Tim Larson Reply

    Interesting cast. Good friends of ours are Venezuelan nationals, who have lived in the US, legally, for 30 years. They are active on FB re the Venezuelan crisis. Their families are living it. Ask them how socialism is working there. Technically a federal republic, now dominated by an authoritarian regime, the government controls enough of the economy to ruin it all for its citizens. Funny how that seems to happen when socialism is established in any country (to your point re the USSR).

    Biblically, though, if you read Acts, one could suggest the first century Christian church was close to socialism.

    As to your point about reaching out to get to know someone with a different view, and Charlie’s comment, that’s a fascinating idea. Maybe you both saw Trey Gowdy and Tim Scott when they were in Colorado Springs on their book tour (Unified). A white and an African American, both from South Carolina, have a wonderful story of doing just that. Hearing them gave me hope for the future of our country. We need more men and women committed to building relationships, trust and then approaching legislative solutions from that context.

    Carry on!

    • Will Luden Reply

      Tim, great post, thank you! I, too, love the Acts II-style church. Modest (at best) surroundings, sharing everything and focused on the task. And communist is not too much of a stretch as a term to describe how they approached group economics. They were a family. And today, families are communistic in their approach to finances and other resources, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” In summary, parents use their abilities to supply their children’s needs. The oft-referred to small, homogeneous Scandinavian socialist countries far more closely resemble families than does the huge and highly diverse US. And the socialist model is beginning to breakdown in those countries; immigration and economic reality are two causes. Check out my Social Trust if you want more.

      BTW, your “Carry on!” means a lot to me. I know that I am called to this, and am driven to get better as a podcaster, and far better developing my audience. Cheers, Will

  4. Charles Bobo Reply

    Another great and non-offensive blog cast, Will! I have always applauded your practical ways of viewing these type of issues. The problem also includes the fact that history is so poorly taught in our schools, that young people don’t know the true outcomes of socialism and communism that millions have suffered through. This, in large part, is due to history being revised or completely left out of public school curriculums, since so many of the education industry support the socialist movement.

    I have no doubt, as you probably do, that my kids’ view and understanding the differences between socialism and capitalism has come from my teaching it to them, more so than through the education system. Much of this is the responsibility of the parents to teach the children to assure the worldview they develop is based on actual facts, rather than emotionally-based revisionism that we see too much of in today’s society.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Charley, perfect; I love it. Here is a preview of an already-written summary of a coming cast titled Dinner Table. “Some of the most valuable and enduring lessons that we need to learn are best taught at home. Conversations at the dinner table is one way, but activities and conversations in the car, while exercising, or while just hanging out are all wonderful opportunities. I include all of it under “The Dinner Table.”

  5. Tim Larson Reply

    Interesting article about Sweden and socialism in WSJ July 12. As a country where socialism is pointed to as working well, Erica Komisar, a self professed feminist and psychoanalyst, points out the costs:

    – 61% individual income tax rate;
    – Severe financial and peer pressure for mom’s to get back to work after having a child – government subsidies are predicated on mom going back to work – 90% of kids under 5 are in day care;
    – Social break down in kids – among various negative data, teen suicide hit a 25 year high in 2013 – due in part to institutionalized care;
    – Women work primarily in “stereotypically feminine fields like nursing and day care” and are “underrepresented in ‘masculine’ fields like finance and engineering”.

    Komisar points out that while “work[ing] hard to eliminate material poverty, it is creating a society whose children are suffering from emotional poverty”. Her view is that Sweden, and America is following, has devalued parenting, and specifically motherhood, creating emotionally impoverished young people who have difficulty sustaining intimate relationships and functioning as independent adults.

    Moral of the story: Be careful what you ask for. Socialism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    And back to your recent post, long live the dinner table!

    • Will Luden Reply

      Tim, many thanks for mentioning this opinion piece in the WSJ; I went and read right after I read your comment. Telling and insightful piece; thank you.

  6. Tim Larson Reply

    Will, you may have seen Karin Olofsdotter’s response to this op-ed yesterday. Olofsdotter is the Swedish Ambassador to the US. Her rebuttal does a pretty good job of responding to each of Komisar’s points. Sweden is doing a lot right.

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