Hitler’s party was socialist, but there again so are today’s Scandinavian countries. You couldn’t ask for a more contrasting set of ideals and outcomes.
Britain’s Labour party of the 1960s and 1970s was socialist – I remember getting pay rises of almost 25 per cent every year when I first started working, and that still didn’t keep up with inflation. The best doctors, scientists and entertainers simply left the country.
I visited socialist Poland both just before and just after Perestroika/Glasnost – before, everyone could afford the basics but there was very little available to buy. Queues for everything – you joined one, not knowing what product may be at the end of it. Everyone had a job, a roof over their head, and nobody died of hypothermia. Everyone was equal, which meant, if you called a plumber to fix your leak, nobody rushed to your aid, why should they? They would get the same pay whether they were efficient or whether they couldn’t care less.
After the wall came down, there were no queues, and there was Mcdonalds (and can you believe they said “Have a nice day” in Polish – “Miłego dnia”), sex shops, and oh boy there was plenty of stuff to buy, but guess what, no one could afford it…..and suddenly, people had to actually work for a living rather than just turn up and smoke cigarettes for 8 hours.
At that time, Western capitalism flourished, while Eastern European socialism collapsed. Because, rightly or wrongly, one system was able to provide its people with everything, (by hugely increasing their debt mind you), while the socialist policies of places like Poland, Russia and the rest were completely unable to satisfy the basic needs of its population.
Socialists take into account needs like transport, defence, education and of course health care. It also provides for those who can’t work – it’s supposed to eliminate poverty and create equal access to health care and education. So no discrimination.
But I think that most forms of socialism don’t work because they rely on us fairly stupid humans being cooperative. What really matters is that too many of us are instead competitive and we only look at ways to get richer through sheer greed. Socialism also gives government too much power, which can, and in most cases does, lead to abuse.
The Scandinavian countries have strong socialist systems, providing brilliant services such as health and pensions. But they also have very successful capitalists….. So, what’s the difference? Well, because of the superb lifestyle and services that are supplied through huge taxes, most people there don’t feel the need to become greedy and ever more wealthy. But they sure are happy. (And my youngest son, who has spent most of his working life in Copenhagen, will agree.)
That kind of socialism may well be a great blue-print for the future – Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.
But it won’t work unless we all, and I mean all of us, change our mind-sets to accept that we are all in this together.
Maybe Einstein was right when he talked about what he called the economic anarchy of capitalist society. “I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.”
That will never happen, and I am sad about that. So that means, basically, unless you have the Scandinavian personality, socialism sucks, just like it did in the 1930s and 1960s. And most times in between.
Time to feel some bern
There’s a good Chrysler commercial featuring Bob Dylan. Right at the beginning of it, he’s saying: ‘Is there more American than America?’
Let me put it straight: socialism, if it ever roots in the US, would destroy that country much faster than you could imagine.
Lots of people, especially young folks in the US like leftist populists such as Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, etc. Their agenda might sound attractive but, in fact, it’s the same old story: take away and distribute. It didn’t work in Russia.
Been there, done that. In 1913, just before the First World War and the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Russia, with its booming economy, huge natural resources, rapidly growing population and maturing political institutions was to become the world’s greatest power, on par with the fast-developing USA. This is what the statistics and forecasts were pointing at back then.
Then we had the so-called ‘revolution’, then the Civil War, then Stalin came. To make a long story short, the project ‘The great (and modern) Russia of the 20th century’ has become an epic fail. Instead, we’ve got injected with an almost lethal dose of a cure called ‘socialism’. The rich become poor. Or dead. The poor never made it to become rich.
In 1991, when it all came crushing down, the Soviet Union was an advanced country in only 2 areas: military power and space, which was really close to military. The rest was like any other Third World country.
I mean, socialism, communism, whatever you call it, doesn’t work. Seems like some people in the West don’t want to learn other’s mistakes. Look at China: they made their true Great Leap forward only when they skipped socialism in most areas of the economy.
It is the Third World refugees flooding the West, not vice versa. You know why? Because capitalism and freedom work. Even in ‘socialist’ places such as Sweden. The trick is, in its core, Sweden is a capitalist society, not socialist. It has private property and the rule of law with independent courts. True socialism is about state property, not public property. Yes, Sweden’s got higher taxes but it still is not a basic difference compared to the USA or the UK. High taxation system has its big problems, too. Last time the UK was experimenting with socialism it was known as ‘Europe’s sick man’.
Everything else don’t work. Otherwise, we would have noticed the backward flood of people from the USA and Europe to those societies, considering themselves very proud and high-spirited, including Russia. Because it is bad to be rich, ya know.
Many people in the West just take their system for granted. Let me tell you something because I’ve been to the West but I’m still an outsider: this is a huge mistake.
The Western system’s been built for centuries and it has to be protected from idiots or clowns. Let’s get some Bernie plus Ocasio-Cortez. Shake not stir. Add some Hugo Chavez on top of it. Then in a generation you might go down to where now Mexico is. Not sure you will like this brew.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to strike the ‘New Green Deal’. Cool. Literally. How do we get there? Oh, yeah, overtax the rich. This way pretty soon you won’t have any rich. They will move out to pay their taxes somewhere else and you will have to tax the poor. And be sure you will not make any deal, including that ‘New Green’ one. I’m not even talking about its scientific grounds, which are pretty doubtful to me.
Back to Bob Dylan: capitalism has made America what it is now, it is American. Socialism is not. Some might not like capitalism but it is the most effective thing for a society to economically develop and, at the same time, protect the human rights. It is all the things we are: we want to live well, do whatever we want, and feel protected.
So some me folks are richer then you are? You don’t feel it’s absolutely fair? Fine, visit Africa, or Latin America, or Asia, or Russia. Listen a word or two to what its people think of their societies and about social justice, too.
Once you ‘feel the bern’, come back home.
Stupid may be the best we can hope for.
If you have read several of these you already know that I think capitalism will not survive in its current form. I have yet to read or see anything that makes me reconsider that position.
So maybe Socialism is the future? Sorry, that ship sailed years ago. Allow me to enter a short list of formally private institutions that are now government controlled (social):
- The Military: US President Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough Riders in Cuba as being an example of a private army. There are still few exceptions, Blackwater for the Americans and Wagner Group for the Russians for example, but militaries are now nationalised.
- The Police: We (former colonials) wanted something a bit more professional than what you left us, so we started our own Police Departments.
- Fire Department: Private fire brigades would pull up to a house on fire and watch it burn if the owners hadn’t bought insurance. The problem is nobody told the fire not to jump to the next house, as they have paid their “protection money”. Whole cities would burn.
- Retirement: Every advanced nation now has some form of support for those who retire or cannot work.
- Health Care: Every industrial nation on the planet, except one, has national healthcare.
Perhaps a definition of Socialism is past due. Was the Soviet Union Socialist? I suppose it was… although I tend to think of it as a dictatorship by committee that paraded in Communist clothing. A phase three communist country would have been an interesting experiment. Probably would fail, but we will never know.
In the USA, there is a huge difference in how people view socialism based on age. Older folks tend to view socialism as evil, they came of age during the Cold War. By the way, the AVERAGE age of a Fox News viewer is 75. This is not a coincidence.
Younger folks tend to reject the evil socialists label. They look at the world as it is today and see Norway and its neighbours with the highest standard of living on the planet.
It is fair to say that real socialism cannot exist in America today with our current politicians. These are the people who decided to fight an entire war in the Middle-East without paying one single penny for it. Just put it on the kid’s Visa card, let them worry about it.
Our politicians understand that you cannot purchase a vast military while giving tax cuts to the very people who could pay for it. But who cares? Facebook in the USA is filled with memes of black folks above text talking about how our soldiers cannot get health care while others eat lobster on Food Stamps. Screw the truth.
A Socialists USA would be like Greece, throwing money around and running up massive debt. Then the American politicians would shout about how we must do something about all this debt those other guys created.
I’ll close with my opening statement: capitalism will collapse. Then we can look at what pieces are left and see if socialism is the answer. That’s stupid, but stupid may be the best we can hope for.