My problems with socialism.
From historical socialist states to modern day democratic socialism, the problems are too overwhelming.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines Socialism as: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. In other words, allowing more governmental control over the economy and the distribution of goods and services. Famous socialists include Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and 21st century prominent Democratic Socialists. But before we explain each socialist and their perspective, I must inform you more on what socialism is. In addition to this, I will discuss Capitalism later on in the essay to give an informative stance on both sides as well as ending with my own personal beliefs.
Socialism was first introduced to humanity by the Mauryan Empire in 3rd Century BC on the Indian subcontinent in the form of socialized monarchy. Thousands of years later, Karl Marx and Freidreich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848 in London after the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution gave birth to “Boss-Worker distaste” as I call it because there were masses of workers working in horrible conditions inside factories with low wages while the boss was doing little to no work yet gaining most of the profit. In addition, socialism was meant to steer away the profit-focused to product-focused, claiming that the profits were viewed as more important than individuals. Socialism also believes the government should control all sectors of industry and anything in relation to goods and services, meaning no private enterprise. At the same time, Socialism believes that the government should distribute wealth among the people and the government also decides on how to distribute it. Essentially, giving total government control of the economy and industry. Socialism, if placed on the political spectrum of left and right, would be on the left. These are just blanket summaries of socialism, as socialism does have many different viewpoints but this is a collective, cross-the-board, summary on what most socialist economists and philosophers think.
Now, from what I have previously stated, you think that socialism only applies to the economy and industry. That is false. Socialism also extends into healthcare, food, and all other areas controlled by the private sector. Socialism believes in governmental regulation of pricing of ALL goods and services that exist. The goal of socialism is too create the most equal society that one can create. Socialism intends to end the competitive market and replace it with an equal one. Examples of Socialist countries include Cuba, Venezuela, the Soviet Union. To understand Socialism better, here is a quote from Karl Marx “from each according to ability, to each according to need.”
Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin were some of the most influential socialists in modern day history. Their ideas alone were able to turn the entire Russian federation to the United Socialist State of Russia (USSR) and also influence other countries around the globe to convert to a socialist system. However, how effective was socialism? Between 1917–1987 in the Soviet Union, 20 million to 61 million people died under socialist soviet rule. Between 1958–1962 in China, 20 million to 41 million people died under the leadership of socialist Mao Zedong. Both those countries were socialists, holding the beliefs of trying to make society as equal as possible, however killed millions in the process of it. Former US presidential democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders toutes Denmark and many Nordic countries are perfect examples of true socialism. Yet Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, wrote a letter to Bernie Sanders stating that “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” Denmark being a market economy alone defeats the idea of it being socialist because socialism seeks to eliminate the competitive-based market economy. While Denmark does have many welfare programs provided by the state, that is not grounds to claim that Denmark is socialist. In my opinion, the Nordic model is not even that sustainable and doable in the United States. The high taxes and excessive government intervention along with low GDP all contribute to less economic growth.
The Nordic model has been a beacon of hope for the Left and many prominent democrats on how the United States should be. But is this model worth it? First, let’s look at Denmark. Denmark and Danish people score highest on the international happiness survey. They have extremely high levels of trust and social cohesion but also work fewer hours per year compared to the rest of the world. The productivity alone in Denmark is very concerning. It is one of the most expensive places on the planet to live in yet how do their citizens afford to live there? Danish citizens hold the highest level of private debt in the world according to the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and 50% of danish citizens admit to using the black market as a means of buying goods and services. Also the idea of Denmark being a sustainable, energy-clean country is a total lie. The Worldwide Fund for Nature reported in 2012 that Denmark has the 4th largest per capita ecological footprint in the world, outranking the United States who sits at number 5. Now many people claim that since Denmark invests heavily into it’s education system, so it must be good. Another lie. According to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment rankings (Pisa), Denmark ‘s schools rank even behind the UK in quality of education. Their healthcare system is also not that good if you evaluate the facts. How good can their Healthcare system really be if Denmark has the highest rates of Cancer in the world according to the World Cancer Research Fund? Also, many people view economic equality as a success of a country, yet Politiken reports that the population below the poverty line in Denmark has doubled over the last decade. Is Denmark the beacon of hope and inspiration we want the United States to be?
Now onto Sweden. Sweden is viewed as peaceful, tolerant, and a wonderland of freedom and prosperity where it’s citizens are happy and free and the government is not corrupt. I do not know where this idea stemmed from but what I do know is that Sweden is a one-party country. They have 1 political party in power. Sweden is totalitarian. They curb freedom by suppressing dissent for the sake of the consensus of the people and they also not that peaceful, Sweden makes billions off of exporting arms and weapons annually. In addition, Sweden’s youth unemployment is higher than the EU average. Also, 3% of crimes in Sweden are solved. Yes, they toute free healthcare but at the expense of waiting an average of 10 days to see a general practitioner and 9 months for seeing a specialist. In addition, their economy isn’t that competitive, there are barely any consumer choices. Most goods and services provided in Sweden are generic. Is this the kind of country you would want to live in?
The reason I am against Socialism is because it’s intent is to be a Utopian Society but in order to truly get to that utopia, it also needs to be totalitarian. Socialism claims it will get rid of poverty all together but all it does is create a Government Class and a Citizen class. The government class gets way more benefits compared to the citizen class for the sake of “equality”. In addition, it was Capitalism that has moved 700 Million people around the globe in the 21st century out of Deep poverty according to the American Enterprise Institute. I do consider myself a capitalist but first, let me explain what capitalism is like I did socialism earlier.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines capitalism as: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. In other words, privately held businesses and industries as well as consumers to influence the distribution of goods and services. Famous capitalists include Adam Smith, John Meyner Kaynes, and Milton Freidman.
Capitalism has its early roots in the Renaissance period. Years later, Adam Smith wrote many essays and books on the free market and free trade. Then came John Meynard Keynes and Milton Freidman, both having differing views of capitalism between each other, influenced many capitalistic policies we have today. Keynes was more focused on government spending to boost the economy in times of recession while Freidman believed that controlling money through interest rates itself in times of recession was more effective. In a nutshell, Capitalism believes in the free market, free trade, little to no government intervention. Capitalism also believes in private enterprise and private property, meaning citizens/ investors/ entrepreneurs/ consumers own their own businesses and property. Capitalism is also more profit concerned as well. Capitalism also believes in choices and competition in the market. Competition also forces others to work harder and make their product better compared to their competitors and drives up innovation and productivity.
However, the flaws of capitalism are: it is too profit-focused, greedy, and may also cause inequality, market failure, damage to the environment, short-termism, excess materialism and boom and bust economic cycles. However, no system is perfect. We as humans are not perfect individuals, hence anything we create can not be perfect. However, Capitalism has done more for poverty globally worldwide. As I stated before in the essay, The American Enterprise Institute stated that Capitalism lifted 700 Million people out of poverty. This is clearly seen looking at countries such as China, Japan, and India. While China may be communist, they hold many capitalistic values such as private enterprise and private innovation. China, Japan, and India have boomed the last 50 years thanks to their countries enacting more capitalistic ideals and values. In addition, Capitalism allows the individual to focus on what he/she likes and what he/she is good at. Capitalism allows one man’s trash to be another man’s treasure.
Socialism also likes to slander capitalism as allowing for a little few people earning most of the profit while the workers in the business earn little in comparison even though the workers do much more work. This idea about it to me is false. In capitalism, someone chooses to work for someone else, there is no forced labor. In addition, there is the potential for climbing the corporate ladder they say. Essentially, starting from the bottom and working your way up to the top. That alone incentivizes people to work better and smarter. The better you work, the higher your chance at a promotion, if you receive a promotion, you receive more pay. Socialism’s incentive is by force and regulation. Socialism would incentivize people to work harder if they had to but not receive the same pay at all.
Capitalism also birthed new technologies due to the competitive markets. Look at Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. Capitalism made things safer as well, look at the new safety features and blind spot detectors on cars nowadays, this was created out of competition. Capitalism’s competitiveness allowed for far greater innovation in technology, medicine, automobile industry, space technology, airplanes, military equipment, computers, and almost every area of the consumer market.
Another slanderous claim by socialists is that Capitalism is too consumer based and leads to excessive materialism which needs to be produced by factories that contribute to global warming and are bad for the environment. However, the Kuznets Curve, defined by Economicshelp.org, is the environmental Kuznets curve suggests that economic development initially leads to a deterioration in the environment, but after a certain level of economic growth, a society begins to improve its relationship with the environment and levels of environmental degradation reduces. This economic principle alone shows that once a certain level of innovation is achieved, we can reduce the amount of environmental degradation. Capitalism drives innovation through competition and profit-focused mentalities. Capitalism does what socialism can not, drive innovation. The incentives for innovation in Capitalism outweigh the incentives for innovation in Socialism.
While Capitalism may not be 100% absolutely perfect, no system is. Humans are not perfect, how can a non-perfect being create something perfect? But Capitalism has gotten us very far as a race. The competitiveness and driving innovation accelerated us in every area from technology to farming. Milton Freidman said “Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.”. This quote alone proves that Capitalism is our best chance towards innovating more and creating better, safer, and cleaner technologies and consumer goods while also lifting more and more people out of poverty.
In addition, a quote by Ludwig Von Mises says “The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!”. If that doesn’t hit the nail on the head about socialism, I don’t know what does.