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Listen to Immigrants Who Have Lived Under Socialism

Proud self-described socialist Bernie Sanders is running for president again and has already raised over $10 million for his campaign. Rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also a proud self-described socialist, has promoted a Green New Deal, which has whipped up a frenzy among young populist activists and “emerged as a key litmus test for prospective 2020 presidential candidates,” drawing support from Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and—of course—Bernie Sanders. Even if one assumes that the shift of mainstream progressive politicians towards the far Left is a calculated, self-serving act, the renewed calls for massive government interventionism and, worse, the rising acceptability of socialism, should concern all of us who wish to preserve a free society.

For the purposes of this article, I will use the Library of Economics and Liberty’s definition of socialism: “a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production.” This is synonymous with communism. The end goal of socialism is to abolish private property, free markets, exchange, prices and profits, and substitute collective ownership and decision-making to determine the allocation of resources. Throughout history, socialism’s advocates and practitioners have made heartfelt appeals in the names of fairness, egalitarianism and humanitarianism.

Many millennials lived through the 2007–8 financial crisis and graduated college with uncertain job prospects and crushing student loans. Gen Z (iGen), the newest kids on the block, grew up with smartphones in their pockets before they started high school and “do not remember a time before the internet.” Living in an economically uncertain world, in which anyone with a smartphone can easily document an unjustified police shooting, it is understandable that many young people are drawn towards social justice activism. Thus, it’s unsurprising that radical ideologies such as socialism, with its promise to deliver a fairer, more equal and more just world, are gaining in popularity among youth.

Real injustices and systemic oppression do exist in the US. But, as a young, first-generation Chinese-American immigrant, I have a message for my peers and fellow American citizens: socialism is not the answer. Despite its lofty promises to deliver freedom from want, perfect man (and even transform human nature itself), and ultimately usher in heaven on earth, socialism has instead resulted in hell in every place it has been tried. The gruesome historical evidence is well documented in sobering books such as Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow and Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine. Today, the ongoing collapse of socialist Venezuela continues to bring untold suffering to its people.

In his foreword to the fiftieth anniversary edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Jordan Peterson asks us to reflect on this indisputable reality:

No political experiment has ever been tried so widely, with so many disparate people, in so many different countries (with such different histories) and failed so absolutely and so catastrophically. Is it mere ignorance (albeit of the most inexcusable kind) that allows today’s Marxists to flaunt their continued allegiance—to present it as compassion and care? Or is it, instead, envy of the successful, in near-infinite proportions? Or something akin to hatred for mankind itself? How much proof do we need? Why do we still avert our eyes from the truth?

In sum, socialism has failed empirically and morally. So, why are so many young Americans, enjoying political freedom, stable institutions and economic opportunities envied and desired by so many other people across the world, willing to sell their birthright for a failed, regressive ideology?

I’m not sure I can add much to the powerful cases against socialism made by Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Fyodor Dostoevsky. But, knowing how my generation values personal essays and lived experiences, I think first-generation immigrants and those with family from former and current socialist countries have a unique voice to add.

Writing in the Harvard Crimson, Romanian student Laura Nicolae lambasts her peers for strutting around on campus in Che Guevara T-shirts and romanticizing communism:

Roughly 100 million people died at the hands of the ideology my parents escaped. They cannot tell their story. We owe it to them to recognize that this ideology is not a fad, and their deaths are not a joke.

Communism cannot be separated from oppression; in fact, it depends upon it. In the communist society, the collective is supreme. Personal autonomy is nonexistent. Human beings are simply cogs in a machine tasked with producing utopia: they have no value of their own.

In USA Today, Venezuelan student Daniel Di Martino recalls living under and fleeing Chavez/Maduro’s socialist regime and warns his adopted country not to embrace the failed statist policies that destroyed his homeland:

I watched what was once one of the richest countries in Latin America gradually fall apart under the weight of big government.

I didn’t need to look at statistics to see this but rather at my own family. When Chavez took office in 1999, my parents were earning several thousand dollars a month between the two of them. By 2016, due to inflation, they earned less than $2 a day. If my parents hadn’t fled the country for Spain in 2017, they’d now be earning less than $1 a day, the international definition of extreme poverty. Even now, the inflation rate in Venezuela is expected to reach 10 million percent this year.

Venezuela has become a country where a woeful number of children suffer from malnutrition, and where working two full-time jobs will pay for only 6 pounds of chicken a month.

I’ve heard plenty of horrific stories from my parents, who grew up in Maoist China, with regular food shortages and deprived of other basic needs we take for granted today. Censorship and ideological conformity were rigidly enforced in an environment that has been described as an “Auschwitz of the mind.” My mother’s grandfather and uncle were killed during the Cultural Revolution, for the crime of being privileged landlords. Red Guard thugs beat them to death with shovels and dumped their bodies in a nearby river—a favorite disposal site, which was used so frequently that the waters flowed red with blood.

Such ghastly accounts were common during that era. Communism produced destruction and death on an unprecedented scale in the world’s oldest civilization. The Red Guards destroyed more Chinese treasures and artifacts in one decade than the European imperialists and Japanese invaders combined. Millions perished. Tens of millions more were persecuted, exiled, imprisoned, beaten or tortured (often in horrifically creative and sadistic ways). It was only after Mao’s death, once the chaos from the Cultural Revolution had subsided, that Deng Xiaoping’s reforms gradually (and still incompletely) opened up one of the most repressive regimes of the twentieth century.

In 1993, as soon as the opportunity emerged, my mother immigrated to the US, with less than $200 in total assets. My father and I followed a few months later. Like so many others before us, we arrived as strangers in a new land, found freedom and opportunity, gradually assimilated into our adopted country and eventually worked ourselves into the upper middle class.

I feel an affinity with Cubans, Eastern Europeans, Koreans, Venezuelans, Vietnamese and other first-generation immigrants who made similar choices, given the terrible circumstances they faced. As Jordan Peterson points out, despite coming from countries so different in geography, history and culture, all their narratives share the pain of immense suffering under a government imposing socialist ideology. Immigrants who have experienced real material deprivation and systemic oppression firsthand truly understand and appreciate what it means to experience the blessings of liberty.

The resurgence of socialism in our adopted country has spurred many of us to speak out. This gives me hope as an American citizen concerned about the future of the country. As the United States becomes more diverse and technology makes it ever easier to make connections, it is time for us to reach out to socially conscious peers committed to making the world a better place.

Young people concerned about minorities and marginalized groups should be especially aware of the dangers of concentrating coercive power, even under democratic control. Alexis de Tocqueville, one of the best foreign observers of the American political system, highlights democracy’s timeless problem, the tyranny of the majority:

In the United States, political questions cannot be taken up in so general and absolute a manner; and all parties are willing to recognize the rights of the majority, because they all hope at some time to be able to exercise them to their own advantage. The majority in that country, therefore, exercise a prodigious actual authority, and a power of opinion which is nearly as great; no obstacles exist which can impede or even retard its progress, so as to make it heed the complaints of those whom it crushes upon its path. This state of things is harmful in itself and dangerous for the future.

Although he was cautiously optimistic about the American experiment, Tocqueville could not see any legal guarantee or barrier to check the tyranny of the majority but the “circumstances and the manners of the country.”

Balancing the exercise of popular sovereignty, while protecting the rights of minorities, is an ongoing challenge in the age of globalization. Furthermore, minority status does not stop at ethnicity or religion. Consumer preferences and lifestyle choices differ widely among members of a pluralistic society. Atlantic columnist Conor Friedersdorf raises serious questions about politicizing decision-making over the allocation of scarce resources:

How popular is Islam? How many Muslim prayer rugs would the democratic majority of workers vote to produce? How many Korans? How many head scarves? How much halal meat would be slaughtered? What share of construction materials would a majority of workers apportion to new mosques? Under capitalism, the mere existence of buyers reliably gives rise to suppliers. Relying instead on democratic decisions would pose a big risk for Muslims. And Sikhs. And Hindus. And Jews. And maybe even Catholics.

How important would worker majorities consider hair products for African Americans? What if a majority of workers decided that only English-language commercial reading material should be printed in the United States? Would planning bodies decide for or against allocating materials for sex toys? Or binders for trans men? Or sexually explicit artwork?

Would you prefer a socialist society in which birth control is available if, and only if, a majority of workers exercise their democratic control assents? Or would you prefer a society in which private businesses can produce birth control, per their preference, in part because individuals possess economic rights as producers and consumers, the preferences of a majority of people around them be damned?

These are not hypotheticals. Unorthodox beliefs, eccentric causes, unpopular groups and dissident individuals will be thrown under the bus when a political majority can force their vision on everyone or when people need a scapegoat. No amount of propaganda or political will can eliminate the constraints of limited resources or the reality of human nature. The well-connected and unscrupulous have the most to gain from the growth and centralization of government power. Far from abolishing corruption, cronyism and privilege, socialism delivers a megadose of the disease itself.

Tracing the rhetorical strategies of demagogues that come into power riding the wave of compassion and humanitarianism, economist Bryan Caplan notes that the “transition from bleeding heart to mailed fist is common.” To bring about the “abolition of capitalism,” the vision and openly stated goal of the Democratic Socialists of America, massive government control is all but required over people’s lives and livelihoods. As Matthew Harwood of the American Civil Liberties Union recognizes, social and personal freedoms, including the “individual’s liberty to think, speak, write, work, and associate as they wish” will have to be sacrificed at the altar of collectivization in a socialist political order.

Nobel Laureate F. A. Hayek dedicated his classic The Road to Serfdom to “the socialists of all parties.” Acknowledging the sincerity of most egalitarian reformers, he nevertheless warns that central planning is inherently incompatible with liberal democracy:

That democratic socialism, the great utopia of the last few generations, is not only unachievable, but that to strive for it produces something so utterly different that few of those who now wish it would be prepared to accept the consequences, many will not believe until the connection has been laid bare in all its aspects.

The painful consequences were felt by tens of millions of Chinese, Cuban, Korean, Romanian, Russian, Venezuelan and Vietnamese people. For them, the road to serfdom was not an academic thought experiment, but a lived experience.

Today’s internet generation grew up in a world in which the Cold War is a distant chapter in a history textbook—no wonder so many young people find it difficult to connect socialism to the tyranny, poverty and oppression that have been the hallmarks of every self-described communist and socialist regime. But, for first-generation immigrants from such countries, memories remain fresh. We know that monsters are real. My mentor Laura Tartakoff regularly documents human rights abuses from Cuba to China. The legacy of socialist tyranny is not over. It is our moral duty to share our stories and remind our fellow Americans that freedom should not be taken for granted.

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises showed immense moral courage by standing virtually alone against the dominant socialist intellectual zeitgeist during the darkest days of the twentieth century. Although his foes enjoyed overwhelming numerical superiority and widespread institutional support in academia, journalism and government, Mises continued to argue for individual liberty and never compromised his principles:

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards de­struction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. No one can stand aside with unconcern: the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.

Vindicated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the millions freed from socialist despotism, the ideas of Mises continue to inspire people today. By every major benchmark, today is the best time in history, thanks to the triumph of free peoples, free minds and free markets. We should be grateful for our inheritance and should make it even better. I am proud to add my voice to this intellectual battle. I hope more courageous young people with similar views and backgrounds do the same.

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54 comments

  1. This article did not discuss the sort of socialism that Bernie Sanders advocates at all. One would get a better idea from looking at the Scandinavian countries’ social democracies.

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  2. Sorry to the author and editors, but this is what one might call “Leftism” (following the example of ‘Orientalism’ by Edward Said). It is full of logical mistakes that can’t really grasp anything apart from the personal agenda of the author and the only result of this is a mystification. The hotlinks are awesome, I mean… “Refugees” trying BBQ for the first time, while explaining how only the rich ones in their home countries had the opportunity to eat meat regularly? Is that what you call a strive for an objective intellectual inquiry?

    That’s why the best critiques are always and will always come from left thinkers and positions – because they attack your statements, not just multiplying what people of their corner said, as you did. Take an article by someone from the left – try Nathan J. Robbinson of Current Affairs for example – and see how many times his argument is based on what some of the guru’s of left intellectualism had ever said and how much they are based on statements made by the chatters of right-wing think-tanks; or even more – open up Marx and you’ll find a massive critique of the mainstream thinkers of his time, even from his corner.

  3. The cultural revolution was indeed a very difficult time, I’m sorry for your grandparents. Cambodia too modeled itself after Maoist ideals of an agrarian communist society and a personality cult. In Laos the central government had much less control over the provinces. I think much of the problem isn’t socialism but the particular authoritarian flavor of it that is Communism.

    Thank you for writing, in an open society though one might disagree with the idea, the frank expression of that idea is also important.

  4. The examples of Maoist China and Castro’s Cuba do not speak to the moral iniquity of socialism. The problem with those regimes is that they were authoritarian, employed thought reform to control their citizens, and functioned as cults of personality. The fact that Marxist ideas were coupled with these regimes of bounded choice and thought reform speaks to the iniquity of authoritarian and autocratic regimes, not the moral shortcomings of a redistributive agenda. Social democratic and democratic socialist programs have shown up in other contexts – for example, in Uruguay after the overthrow of military rule in 1985 – without being tied to authoritarian and autocratic methods.

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  5. Well, Mr. Tao. I’ve read your piece and I’ve read all the comments. The singular truth that we can embrace from this entire exercise is that most people here think that you’re talking shit. As to how this got published; Hmmm. Are sleeping with the editor?

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  6. “For the purposes of this article, I will use the Library of Economics and Liberty’s definition of socialism: “a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production.”

    When I read this at the start of the second paragraph I stopped reading as an article based on a ridiculous strawman definition is going to be totally worthless .

    I read Areo for well reasoned interesting articles not constrained by political correct orthodoxy. I do not read it for blatant political propoganda based on deliberately misrepresenting whatever group the author wants to demonise.

    A critique of american politicians who describe themselves as socialists is fine, one that portrays them as communists bent on implementing a command economy controlling all production should be thrown out by the editor(s) as paranoid fantasy.

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    1. Yeah, we should just desert the platform and go elsewhere. Given there are no editorial standards here, there’s no telling how much nonsense is buried behind author’s references either.

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  7. The more I read this, the more intellectually dishonest it is. And shamefully so. To the point that it’s very appearance in this forum is despicable. It’s one thing to advocate for thoughtful rationality separated from irrational postmodernism; it’s a completely different thing to advocate for fraudulent slander because it’s unpopular.

    The author makes the conspicuous assertion that “the ‘abolition of capitalism,'” is “the vision and openly stated goal of the Democratic Socialists of America.” The author’s source for this assertion is an opinion piece by ex-Vox columnist Jeff Stein — a writer with a long track record of slamming left-of-center individuals and groups.

    Never mind that Stein links directly to the manifesto of the DSA’s website, in which *nothing of the sort* is said anywhere. The only mention of the word “abolish” near the word “capitalism” is in a paragraph describing Leninism, which, three paragraphs later, it *explicitly refutes* as flawed, unsound, and undesirable. (It does the same later on to Marxism, and further, decries the Marxist and Leninist [and Stalinist] nations as having been miserable failures at their stated goals.)

    This is a shamefully fallacious article. It’s one thing to subvert the dominant paradigm. It’s a completely different thing to flat out misrepresent, slander, and lie.

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  8. I keep reading the same, old arguments in the comments, either “that wasn’t real xxx” or “xxx doesn’t want to go that far”.
    The exact same cries that led to the atrocities described in the article.
    It’s telling that a warning about the extremes of a movement draw such criticism; if the movement wasn’t already well on that path what would there be to criticise?
    In short, the powers demanded by those driving the movement are the problem, not the movement itself. Virtually no-one else in the world outside of the US would argue that social welfare and healthcare are anything other than a good thing. But instead of leading people the movement drives them instead,and will brook no resistance, granting itself the power to force and creating the exact same tyranny as has happened every time before.
    When politicians learn, once again, to lead, we might see more traction for their ideas. So long as they resort to forcing their ideology they will inevitably fail, but cause untold damage in the process. And no amount of historical prescedent seems to be able to teach this to some people.

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    1. When you keep seeing the same arguments from different (presumably) people, isn’t it strange? Same arguments, same concern trolling. One comment posted twice under a different name.

      Feels like a bunch of Putin’s trolls work hard in the comments section.

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      1. Julia, you’re failing to understand. The main criticisms are of the article’s definition of socialism which is generally accepted to be outdated.

        If anything, you’re showing yourself to be a bit daft.

        Even mentioning Putin in the context of communism/socialism seems strange. I tend to associate him with oligarchy.

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    2. Would the same not follow for the apologist arguments of deregulated anarchic capitalism who insist that they don’t *mean* for it to lead to dirty drinking water, or they don’t *mean* for people to end up homeless, or they don’t *mean* for people to end up bankrupt from medical debt? Yet it happens. Why can one side hide behind a shield of intent but not the other?

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  9. How does this article make you all feel about the editorial standards at Areo?

    If they allow this irrelevant nonsense, I wonder how many other articles are horseshit?

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    1. Apart from relevance, they can’t even stick to their other editorial principles:

      “Areo does not want:
      Sensationalist, hyperbolic or partisan speaking points
      Obscure theoretical, theological or metaphysical musings
      Hit pieces on individuals – address ideas rather than people”

      No sensationalist, hyperbolic or partisan speaking points! No obscure theoretical musings! LOL.

      Most of the articles are sensationalist (the end of rational discourse). Most are partisan (libertarianism IS partisan). And the philosophical musings in articles is so verbose as to be virtually unreadable, never mind simply obscure. Largely designed to bury authors’ prejudices in a black hole of cod philosophy.

      The editorial standards at Areo are LOW. And its readers are of demonstrable low intelligence, based on the comments on each article. Areo is like a public service for the eternally confused.

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    2. I think anyway you should always make up your own mind about whether what you’re reading is horseshit or not. Best to take the default position that it is horseshit, until it shows itself to be otherwise.

      THe question for me, though, is, given that there seems to be a slippage of standards at Areo, is it worth the effort of checking out what each article has to say, since a growing proportion of them aren’t even worth arguing over.

      1. Yep, horseshit. To debate properly, you need to head to centrist sites where the choir is more diverse.

        Then Areo readers will see just how flaky their outdated libertarianism is.

  10. “For the purposes of this article, I will use the Library of Economics and Liberty’s definition of socialism: “a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production.””

    Using this definition, almost no country in history would qualify as “socialist”. Even the Soviet Union didn’t control all of the means of production; after Lenin’s New Economic Policy in 1921, private enterprise was permitted on a small scale. Many commenters have pointed that what the author seems to be arguing against is pretty far removed from what most people understand as “socialism”, however, it also seems to be removed from what most people would call “communism”.

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    1. “Lenin’s New Economic Policy in 1921, private enterprise was permitted on a small scale”…

      …which was de facto shut down in 1928 and officially ended in 1931 when any private enterprise (big or small alike) got outlawed.

      Why do you need to spread this propaganda?

      For the record, it was MY history (but learning to use Google is very helpful too). The provided definition of socialism in USSR is correct to the letter.

      My strong suspicion is that support for socialism is a form of narcissism. Me-me-me, let me ‘splain socialism to those who’s seen socialism with their own eyes. Unless, it’s a bunch of useful idiots hired by Mr. Putin.

      1. “which was de facto shut down in 1928 and officially ended in 1931 when any private enterprise (big or small alike) got outlawed.”

        Ok, I messed up. Thank you for correcting me. You probably won’t believe me, but it was an honest (though still very stupid) mistake. I vaguely remebered learning about the New Economic Policy in high school. Confirmation bias being what it is, I only checked that it had indeed actually happened, not if and when it was ended.

        “let me ‘splain socialism to those who’s seen socialism with their own eyes.”

        Ok, I have a serious question. I’m Candian; is Canda a socialist country? If yes, then I am in fact qualified to “‘splain socialism”. If not, then universal healthcare, as well as many of the other policies advocated by “socialist” politicians in the US, aren’t actually socialist.

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        1. Thanks Ben L, I appreciate how you can admit your mistakes while still preserving an overall argument. My father came from Marxist-Leninist East Germany, and I’m sufficiently interested in family history to appreciate how morally and intellectually bankrupt such regimes were. However, I’m from Australia and am often bemused by the tendency of (some) Americans to glimpse a dose of social-democratic policy and cry ‘commie’. All economies are mixed economies, and I suspect that the US could use a bit more of the welfare provision we still enjoy in Commonwealth nations.

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  11. Anonymous, Joakim, & friends, I believe countries like Finland are better described (hell, best defined) as Welfare Capitalist, not Social Democratic, states. Indeed, describing them thus would be a kind of Left/Right win-win because each side would have to articulate their least favorite words: the Right-wingers would have to say “Welfare” and the Left-wingers would have to say “Capitalist” and neither side would enjoy doing so. Let’s do this; say it: “Welfare Capitalism.”

    1. The term already means that and has been used in that context for decades. That the right can’t accept this is a result their tribal blindness, not a semantic issue.

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  12. The author has presented a persuasive critique of an ideology which relatively few people are actually advocating. There is actually a gray area between American-style ‘everyone for themselves’ capitalism and Stalinist Russia, and that is where most people would like to steer the country. ‘Yes’ to socialized healthcare and education, ‘yes’ to a generous social safety net. ‘No’ to social credit systems, single-party dictatorships, and re-education camps.

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  13. This is neither edgy, nor insightful, nor popularly controversial. It may as well be in the pages of National Review or the chiron of Fox News. It commits the same, tired, almost embarrassingly cliche’ oft-trotted-out false dichotomy of libertarian no-rules capitalism versus fascist economic totalitarianism to rail against progressivism, by painting Sanders and Stalin et al with a one-size-fits-all paint roller on the same side of a wholly arbitrary — and grossly fallacious — shibboleth. This is so unoriginal it’s almost shameful.

    Either the author doesn’t actually know what Bernie Sanders believes in, or doesn’t know what most Americans consider “socialism,” but either way, the author is either horribly misinformed, or being deliberately obtuse.

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  14. This is neither edgy, nor insightful, nor popularly controversial. It may as well be in the pages of National Review or the chiron of Fox News. It commits the same, tired, almost embarrassingly cliche’ oft-trotted-out false dichotomy of libertarian no-rules capitalism versus fascist economic totalitarianism to rail against progressivism, by painting Sanders and Stalin et al with a one-size-fits-all paint roller on the same side of a wholly arbitrary — and grossly fallacious — shibboleth. This is so unoriginal it’s almost shameful.

    Either the author doesn’t actually know what Bernie Sanders believes in, or doesn’t know what most Americans consider “socialism,” but either way, the author is either horribly misinformed, or being deliberately obtuse.

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  15. One problem with the article: Bernie or no one else is advocating for a Chinese or Russian or Venezuelan model. They are advocating for some of the more socialist policies of Western Europe (where no one goes bankrupt over health costs, no one carries huge student loans through life, etc., enabling the middle class to better enjoy the fruits of its own productivity). If Mr. Tao is against these policies, that’s where he should place his focus rather than on the straw man argument about Russia and China and Venezuela.

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  16. Your use of the dictionary definition of socialism as the basis for your article is its Achilles heel.

    Very few people want full-on socialism. You’ll actually find that in modern parlance, socialism actually refers to ‘social democracy’, i.e. socialist principles alongside a market economy. That simply means state run public services, more employee-owned co-ops, social healthcare and welfare, but all alongside a market economy.

    In fact, two of the most respected brands in the UK are the BBC (publicly funded state broadcaster) and John Lewis (a co-op).

    Talk of socialism = communism is rather naive and outdated. It shows you are good at reading read old books, but you clearly haven’t travelled much and don’t understand the nature of modern ‘socialism’.

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    1. Greetings from Finland, which, by American standards, is a ‘socialist’ country. My university education cost me nothing and I do not need any health insurance. We are currently involved in 0 wars. Finland was also ranked number 1 in the World happiness report 2018.

      This is of course because we are not a communist country but a social democratic country.

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      1. Thanks Joakim. The scare mongering bothers me. Even if he goes farther left than I’d like, Bernie is not advocating anything like Cuba.

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      2. @Jaokim

        How many choices did you have for your university and for your health care? (I realize Finland is very small compared to the United States…)

      3. @Joakim

        Also, if you please, if you had many choices in University, was there much difference between the education provided? Thank you.

        1. @Jujucat

          Yes, Finland is small 5M people, so you could think it as an avarage sized US state. These systems are quite complicated and I’m no expert in this field but I’ll try to explain best I can.

          Healthcare: Thing with government run health care is that if you want government run health care thats the only option. Basic level health care is done by municipalities and there is a lot of variation between places. We have a lot of really small municipalities that are far away from big cities.

          High level health care is done by university hospitals in bigger cities. These I would say are top notch and I would say can compete with the best world has to offer. Basic level health care is in my experience quite poor and the wait times are long.

          If you want private sector health care you take health insurance. I think mostly healthy adults just have an accident insurance But its quite commont to take full health insurance to your children before they are born. This also what we did so that you don’t have to wait long in queues with small children.

          Companies are also mandated by law to organize health care. This can be done through government hospitals or private sector.

          There is also a private health care system. They are clearly only competing with the basic level of health care. If they find a cancer or such they will send you to the goverment run university hospital. Also increasingly small municipalities are doing deals with private firms to organize.

          The whole thing is quite old and our government has been trying to change it last 12 or so years to make it more efficient but so far to no end.

          Schoolsystem: (I’ll write this later if you are still interested) Gotta go now.

    2. Very few people want full-on socialism. You’ll actually find that in modern parlance, socialism actually refers to ‘social democracy’, i.e. socialist principles alongside a market economy. That simply means state run public services, more employee-owned co-ops, social healthcare and welfare, but all alongside a market economy.

      Your definition is circular. What you’re describing is what economists call a mixed economy, part command (state-controlled), part free market. Every Western nation already has a mixed economy. So if people want more “state-run public services,” then, by implication, they want less free market = more state control/ownership of the means of production.

      Socialists have long tried to re-brand themselves as “social democrats” or “democratic socialists” because of the stench attached to socialism without a modifier. But there are only two options: the state runs the economy or it’s a free market. “Modern socialism” is therefore no different from the ancient kind.

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      1. Huh? You start by saying every Western Nation is a mixed economy and finish by saying it’s a binary either or. Are you arguing that Finland and the US are both simply ‘free market’ by virtue of the fact the state doesn’t control either economy in which case your comment is banal and meaningless or you think neither are free market, in which case I’d suggest you try reading something other than Atlas Shrugged some time.

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      2. “Every Western nation already has a mixed economy… part command (state-controlled), part free market”

        “There are only two options: the state runs the economy or it’s a free market”

        Did you even read what you wrote?

        1. @KT,

          I was speaking to two separate points:

          1. All Western economies are mixed ones. The gov’t runs some things (e.g., in Canada much of our health care is state-controlled) and the rest is left to the free market, though almost everything in the free market is regulated to a greater or lesser extent.

          2. Politicians and activists brand their platforms in myriad ways to make them appealing to voters. They call themselves social democrats or democratic socialists and draw all kinds of fine distinctions between the two and between either and socialism. But these distinctions are drawn in the air because there are only two options for any given business or sector or for the economy as a whole: it’s run by the gov’t or it’s not run by the gov’t.

          1. That really didn’t help your case. All you’ve added to the mix is the perception you have no idea what social democratics are advocating.
            Just because a business is either public or private (actually even that’s not true and it’s way more complicated) but that tells you nothing about how a society is ordered other than it’s probably not North Korea or The Fictional Utopia Republic of Randronia.

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