September 8, 2020
Is there still a place for labor at the table of a “Conscious” company?
By Larry Fedewa, Ph.D. • DrLarryOnline.com
My first experience with a union came when I represented the newsroom’s intention to hold a vote for a union to the publisher of a national weekly newspaper. I had a summer job there after my first year as a high school teacher.
Later, as a training developer, I wrote, produced, and oversaw one of the largest industrial training programs in history for the Railway Labor Executives’ Association (a council of all major rail union presidents). I also executed major projects for the Federal Railroad Administration, AMTRAK, Conrail, and others. Still later, I worked very closely with the National Education Association, the professional teachers’ union in a major joint venture, a national research project, and addresses to two national conventions.
The reason I mention all this background is to establish my position as an ardent supporter of the labor movement. My comments come from a firm commitment to the need for workers to take their place at any table which determines their fate. The purpose of this essay is to explore a possible alliance between unions and “conscious” companies.
The first factor in this dialog would be the fact that “Conscious Capitalism” promotes the most expansive view of workers’ rights ever to be advocated by corporate management in the history of capitalism. At last, workers are accorded the respect due to major stakeholders in the organization, whether a corporate giant or an entrepreneurial start-up. Almost always this means sharing in the profits of the company if not outright stock ownership.
This view of the business flows from an idealistic definition of the enterprise which includes, among other things, the function of profits as a necessary means to a greater good. The greater good is the mission of the firm as providing a community service through the sale of its goods or services. Conscious Capitalism challenges everyone in the organization to contribute to the fulfillment of this mission and provides the resources to do so.
Conscious Capitalists also tend to be anti-union.
Most believe with former Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, that unions introduce an adversarial relationship between management and labor which detracts from the collegial environment necessary for the Conscious Capitalist company to be successful.
True to that description, the unions argue that underneath the sheep’s clothing, Conscious Capitalists are really hiding their power to dictate and enforce their own definition of workers’ rights. The workers ultimately have to accept that definition or find another job. With every company defining workers’ rights in its own way, no standards will be set or recognized. This is just the same old thirst for power presented in modern dress.
So, what’s the answer? Is there a place for unions in a Conscious Capitalist company or not?
The first element of the answer is: if the employees want a union, there is a place for a union. During a transitional period such as the current one, there will continue to be employers who do not accept the new ways. The old paradigm of management versus labor will be in place and needs to be followed.
Over time. however, more and more companies will join the new movement – particularly since there is much evidence accumulating that indicates “Conscious” companies are substantially more successful financially.
In order to maintain its relevance, therefore, labor will have to adapt. The first step in that direction is to find a new answer to the question of a union’s role in a worker-friendly enterprise. Here are some ideas.
First, many companies will be trying to transition to the new style. Unions could help them succeed. But why not hire a consultant or new senior staff to guide the company in the new direction? These may be useful measures, but no one outside the organization has the same motivation and investment in success as the people working there now. However, they are generally as inexperienced as the owners.
Involvement of a knowledgeable and sympathetic third party can be welcome to all sides. However, the union must be truly invested in the cooperative approach in order to be credible. To achieve this posture, unions should be reaching out to the small but growing body of Conscious Capitalism experts. Honest discussions about sensitive issues will profit both sides.
Another role for unions in the new world of work we face is that of advocating national (and international) standards of what constitutes workers’ rights in this new century. As movements like Conscious Capitalism illustrate, 40-hour-workweeks, paid vacations, pensions and health care are not always enough to keep the economy going in the right direction.
Today’s workers want to be part of the company in new ways, ranging from profit-sharing, to shareholders, to open communication with governing bodies, including full financial disclosure, to a “cooperative culture”, and many other new practices. Workers want to be treated as persons, not robots.
This transitional period is reminiscent of the early days of the TQM (Total Quality Management) movement, which can be seen as an earlier step in this direction. The eagerness of workers to become involved in contributing their ideas and expertise to product development and manufacturing was often almost tangible. It revealed to many of us just how much talent had lain dormant in our workforce.
The contention here is, of course, that unions as well as management must embrace this new style of company culture as the means to solving our wealth gap between the rich and the middle class. The reduction of taxes and regulations of the Trump era are doing much to enhance the wages of the lowest income workers.
But from a macro view, the real challenge is to enrich the middle class, which is responsible for much of the consumer economy on which our national wealth ultimately depends. The Leftists want the government to use the tax system as the instrument for re-distributing America’s wealth from the very rich to everybody else (legal or illegal). That would weaken the individual’s motivation to work hard on which America’s free market capitalism has been built and which has created all this wealth.
Conscious Capitalism is an answer to the question of how we solve the wealth gap without turning to socialism. Union support – with an updated agenda – will help America achieve the right outcomes.
September 2, 2020
By George Landrith • Breitbart
President Trump has done a lot in his first term to strengthen the U.S. Economy, make America more competitive, and bring good paying jobs back to America. As a result, before the Chinese COVID pandemic and the almost complete economic shutdown imposed by various governors and mayors, Americans saw their wages on the rise at record levels and had record high employment opportunities. So President Trump gets high marks for his work on the economy and understanding market forces. But I am concerned that his administration’s “most favored nation” executive order, which would impose an international pricing index on medicines and drugs in Medicare Part B, is a huge mistake and will do a great deal of harm both to our economy and to those who suffer from illness and disease and are in need of cures.
Most of the nations that would be used in the international pricing index have socialized medicine. So, effectively such an approach would simply import an element of socialized medicine to America. President Trump has wisely opposed attempts to socialize our medical industry.
It is worth noting that the U.S. is the unchallenged world leader in the development of new, innovative, and life-saving medicines. There is a reason for this, and it isn’t because all the smart medical minds are born in America. We are the world’s leader in innovation because our system of intellectual property makes it potentially profitable to invest millions and even billions into research to develop new devices, processes, and medicines. Most medicines cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. Some work and provide miracle cures. Some don’t pan out. But that investment has to be recovered at some point. That’s simply how reality works.
If you’re going to invest and risk millions of dollars trying to develop something new and innovative, you want to know that if you’re successful, you can get your investment back over time when the new product is sold to the public.
If government makes it clear to those who do such research that the law will not permit them to recover their investment, that needed research will come to an effective end. Then we will see far fewer innovative cures that save and improve lives in the future. Who pays the cost of that policy? Everyone who at some point during their life becomes sick, needs medical help, and hopes not to live a diminished life or even worse, die. People who are suffering and dying of terrible diseases will be left to suffer and die because government de-incentivized medical research that could have treated them.
Many of the nations that would be used in the international pricing index tell American drug manufacturers what they will pay and typically demand prices well below the costs of developing the medicine. Often, they are only willing to pay the cost of producing the pill, but won’t accept paying for the full research and development that made the pill possible.
Why do American firms sell to them given the legal plunder that these governments engage in? Because often if they don’t sell at the demanded price, they are told they cannot sell any medicine in that nation. So in effect, these foreign governments engage in legalized robbery or blackmail of American pharmaceutical firms. That leaves Americans to pay the full cost of the research and development. And it is one of the big reasons Americans pay more for medicines than Europeans. Simply stated, Europe cheats and steals.
President Trump has worked hard to be sure that Americans are treated fairly in the trade agreements that he has negotiated. As a result, we see a resurgence in American manufacturing and good paying American jobs. The administration should use trade agreements to require developed nations — like those in Europe — to pay their fair share for the medicines they use.
Every developed nation should be sharing the costs of research and development. When Europeans buy mobile phones or computers or TVs, the cost they pay includes not just the cost of the parts to build the device, but also the costs of research and development for the product. There is no reason why they shouldn’t do the same for medicine.
If developed nations are paying their fair share of the research and development costs, Americans won’t be forced to bear the full cost. So if you want to have lower cost medicine and lots of future new and innovative medicines and cures, forcing developed nations to pay their fair share is a much better approach than importing their incentive-killing socialized medicine tactics.
I encourage the administration to continue to use trade agreements as a way to make sure that Americans are not cheated and robbed by other nations. This is a win-win approach. We will get the benefit of less costly medicines and we will get the benefit of a system that incentivizes innovation and research into new cures and medicines. This will save American dollars and lives! That is a policy that we can all get behind!
August 17, 2020
By Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Frontiers of Freedom
Presently, in the United States of America sanity is on the defensive and ubiquitous idiocy is on the offensive. The destructive fascination with money and power has overtaken not just the entire Democrat Party, but also the most radicalized and extremist fringes of their fellow travellers. The labels they all employ against their real and perceived opponents are stupid and non-sensical. Moreover, those labels are meaningless too, because they do not define the essence of human intentions and conduct. Finally, anything that does not fit their anti-American, anti-Democratic, and anti-Capitalist rhetoric is simply eliminated from their vocabulary. Calling the police, the national guard, and the military racist for just doing their duty, which is the maintenance of law and order, is an outright lie. Designating illegal aliens who break the law dreamers, while those whom they kill or injure are not even mentioned, are the height of hypocrisy and heartless cynicism. Their ideologically blinded harping on “White Supremacy” demonstrates that they still do not understand why they lost the 2016 elections so badly.
American society appears to be on the brink of an approaching civil war. The only person standing between law and order and total anarchy is President Trump. Therefore, the ultimate success of his campaign for reelection lies in how effectively it can manage to face his opponents, to provide a positive vision for the present and the future, and to unite the people around the motto of genuine love for the country.
For the better part of the second half of the 20th century and the subsequent two decades of the 21st century, the marauding anti-American forces, headed by the Democrat Party, have been attempting to undermine the constitutional principle of rule by majority, the concept of equality under the law, and the theory of political, economic, cultural, as well as educational freedoms. With such a mindset, the Democrats’ policies have been shaped for the streets and not for the country at large. The result has been the abandonment of the political culture based on the rule of law and the glorification of anarchy and chaos. Their latest campaign to substitute in-person voting with mail-in ballots amounts to an attempted revolution at the ballot boxes, which surely will result in wholesale electoral fraud. Clearly, no democracy can be built on lies.
Their other hoax has been identity politics. In essence, this is tribalism on steroids. Ultimately, it is based on false racist authority and not on individual merit. Its application in real life has led to lies, abuses, and ultimate betrayal of the constitution and the objectivity of the judiciary. If the United States loses its merit-based character, Americans will end up with a spineless and dysfunctional society. The fake Steele Dossier, the Flynn investigation, the Russia Hoax, and the attempted coup d’etat by former President Barack Obama and his political appointees should be sufficient warning signs for the future.
To sum up, the Democrat Party has set itself on a collision course with the majority of the people and adopted a political strategy that will ultimately destroy the United States of America. The most glaring trait of the Democrats’ destructive politicians is their nauseating hypocrisy by putting social justice before freedom. The Democrat Party’s current so-called leaders have created in the last three and a half years a crisis every month with different persons and groups of people as a way to fan political extremism and hatred, while distracting from the hollowness of their policies. Thus, by emphasizing diversity to the extreme, they have undertaken to divide the nation, while employing poisonous rhetoric to ensure that the thus differentiated groups will hate each other. In this manner, politics and justice have been corrupted for nefarious power purposes.
Diversity has also given rise to the politics of personal dislike. Under this mentality, President Trump is an enemy, because he has been doing what is best for America and not for privileged minorities that will support discriminatory policies. To add international insult to domestic injury, the newfound hatred of the Democrat Party against Russia is also based on personal emotions rather than sound policy. Russia is the living reminder for Democrats that Socialism failed before reaching the political apex of Communism. Simultaneously, they hate the United States of America, because it beat the Soviet Union and thus demonstrated the superiority of Democracy and Capitalism over the Communist Party’s dictatorship. Conversely, the People’s Republic of China appears to be more successful with its Communist Party in total control of the country. Accordingly, Democrat criticism of President Xi has been minimal, if at all.
Not trying to be facetious, but the Democrat Party has succeeded to rewrite Marx’s Communist Manifesto by calling upon their “Sturmtruppen” to destroy America thus: “Looters, Marauders, Criminals of the World Unite.” Furthermore, as the Manifesto claims, a “spectre” or specter is haunting the United States of America, and this “spectre” is the Democrat Party’s convulsive and insane attempts to replace the Republic with a pseudo-Marxist Communist dictatorship. Not unlike Marx, who never gave any attention to the individual, because with him it was always about the cause and the ideology, the Democrat Party inspires to gain absolute power to the detriment of the national soul of the United States of America. Clearly, Marxism has always run against human nature. For this reason alone, the current Democrat Party’s policies are absolutely inhuman and antisocial.
However, history has taught the world that there is no greater disaster than greed. If a government becomes a bureaucracy of men and not the laws, the entire nation is destroyed. If the political culture abandons conversation and relies exclusively on hateful argumentation, national unity will cease to exist. Clearly, the Democrat Party maneuvered itself into a vacuum of lies. It has no useful messages, no leaders, and no consistency. The macabre return of Joe Biden, a totally useless idiot and at best a mental case, will only further radicalize the party and its followers. His tortuous selection process that produced Kamala Harris reinforces the fact that America was founded by geniuses but under the current misguided political requirements are claimed by idiots. The Democrat ticket only offers a progressively demented presidential nominee with a running mate that is a complete fraud.
For all these reasons, the Republic is in mortal danger. A minority that worships absolute power wants to overthrow the constitutional order by undemocratic means. Having failed to obtain permanent majorities on the local, state, and federal levels, they have targeted the weakest branch of the federal government, the judiciary. In addition, for this purpose, they have also conquered the media and the institutions of education from kindergarten to universities. With the election of Barack Obama, the most incompetent president in American history, who famously promised to “fundamentally change America,” meaning to introduce Nkrumah’s amd Kenyatta’s African Socialism in the United States of America, this minority, which only amounts to no more than 20% of the population, believed that they finally reached their goal. They thought that the country is marching toward Socialism. Suddenly they were stopped on their tracks. The dream was over and the momentum was gone with the unexpected defeat of their nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. This development understandably pushed them into total desperation. They just could not reconcile themselves to the new situation. Thus, the movement of illegal, unconditional, and total resistance to President Trump was born. Since his inauguration, the Democrats have been fighting like the rat that is cornered.
Meanwhile, Democrat presidents have reacted by launching political as well as economic campaigns with alternating intensity and varying degrees of success. Strategically, all of them have shown hesitation as well as weakness, and almost total disregard for the cultural aspects of a fringe minority’s extremist agenda. In general, mostly it was the politics that was more public, while the economic efforts were discussed and implemented usually behind the scenes.
Yet, the political and the economic measures taken have lacked coherence. With the exception of President Reagan, his Democrat successors were more concerned about protecting their electoral base, rather than creating a comprehensive vision for the future. For this reason, instead of confronting the destructive challenges of the radical and extremist minorities, they tried to survive politically by forging ambiguous compromises with the latter. These usually unprincipled and multipronged solutions were totally inadequate to successfully face the uncompromising and increasingly violent forces, especially the irrationally radicalized and insufficiently educated black gangs.
At least from the justified shooting of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014, by Officer Darren Wilson, that gave rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the Democrats have undertaken several attempts to change the political and legal foundations of the nation, while further eroding the constitutional order. In spite of repeated attempts by the Republicans and from 2017 by President Trump, measures to protect the constitution have failed to stop the Democrats to promote the domestic and international destruction of America. Therefore, if the Democrats could maintain their control over the House of Representatives, additionally take over the Senate, and defeat President Trump in November 3, 2020, they assuredly will try to force the country into a new and politically disastrous equation. In this case, the United States of America as we have known it for over 240 years will cease to exist. Coupled with the present economic situation that is already significantly damaged, due to the pandemic, the present and future viability of the greatest nation on earth will be fatally compromised.
Under these exceptional circumstances, the skill and prowess of President Trump have lay in how he has managed thus far to simultaneously promote his pro-American, pro-rule of law, and pro-economic growth agendas in an unimaginably hostile and even hateful political atmosphere. Yet, for the better part of his presidency, President Trump has been on the defensive against the Democrats as well as the overwhelming majority of the written, electronic, and social media. By trying to exploit the pandemic, they routinely disseminate false information and outright lies about President Trump, the Republicans, their supporters, and the international reactions.
In order to counter these nefarious attacks, the President and his campaign must launch a comprehensive political and cultural campaign. The effectiveness of his campaign will depend on how it will manage addressing the electorate on a number of fronts: in the written, electronic, and social media, within the various groups of society, in the different regions of the country, and in the mobilization of all patriotic Americans. Each of these fronts presents in and of itself a unique challenge, but taken together they comprise the great Leftist threat. Therefore, instead of executing a global election strategy, the campaign must be broken down into more individual components and apply heightened flexibility and creativity to confront each one in a unique way.
Being on the offensive mainly means that the campaign’s chief target should not be the ticket, but rather the American electorate. As far as the ticket and the opposition to President Trump are concerned, the strategy must be relentless and aggressive attacks on all possible and imaginable fronts. In this context, exploiting human and non-human weaknesses of the opposition is a must. Planting fact-based stories with lightning speed and utilizing the methods of investigating journalism must be a priority too.
Lastly, and perhaps the most complex challenge, is the international situation. Recognizing this complexity is important, because the Democrat Party will use Joe Biden’s non-existent experience and expertise to criticize President Trump’s and his administration’s handling of foreign affairs. Neither is Kamala Harris endowed with any foreign policy knowledge and experience. In fact, she knows nothing about foreign affairs or the global economy. Consequently, major efforts must be exerted to expose these glaring weaknesses of the Democrat ticket. Any distortion and lie must be immediately rebutted. This will require a group of specialists and close cooperation and coordination among political, economic, financial, cultural, and global international experts. Whether through American or foreign individuals, the extent of the Democrat ticket’s incompetence is so obvious, any option must be welcome and put into practice without any delay. Any opportunity to expose the ridiculous claim that Joe Biden is a foreign policy genius must be utilized to its full extent. At the same time, President Trump’s campaign must emphasize that America’s allies and friends must unite against Joe Biden and his supporters, because together they represent a common threat to everybody.Finally, the campaign must adopt a slogan that would encapsulate its essence: “Love America.” Protecting and maintaining the Republic must be the overriding requirement for all Americans. To be loved is to be understood. Those who want to erase, to falsify, and to distort American and world histories must be confronted with decisive force. Those who falsely glorify tribal racism, also called “multiculturalism” must be exposed and defeated. What will save America and the world from the onslaught of the uneducated, destructive, and immoral mob is the vigorous defense of American and universal values. On this issue alone there cannot be any compromise. Any guilt syndrome, namely a psychologically sick response wherein a goodhearted individual starts to identify with his or her executioners, has no place in the United States of America or in the rest of the world. Otherwise, the infantilization of America and the world would only lead to the denial of reality and the glorification of hopeless destruction.
August 8, 2020
By Dr. Miklos Radvanyi • Frontiers of Freedom
In today’s America, as so many times before in the country’s history, the responsible majority that has always desired to uphold the founding principles of the Republic and the good-for-nothing miniscule minority that has been hell-bent to destroy everything, are splitting up into a non-symbiotic rite of passage between the past and the present, as well as between assuming power through legitimate elections versus seizing power by employing malicious lies combined with ruthless violence. However, when these two conflicting viewpoints to political and economic powers are juxtaposed, the events and occurrences of the past several months can be put into perspective for anyone paying even scant attention to the future of the United States of America.
The protests that have been triggered by the death of a hardened criminal George Floyd during his arrest for alleged criminal acts on May 25, 2020, first in Minneapolis and then in several other Democrat controlled cities, have taken over an outsized portion of the political discourse in America and across the globe. Quickly joined by an opportunistic as well as politically braindead Democrat Party and an irredeemably corrupt media, the often hate-filled narrative surrounding George Floyd’s death first became a spicy and exciting story, and then a discombobulated myth nurtured by racial hatred toward the overwhelming majority of the American people.
The pernicious and highly inciting narrative initially has focused on the misleading reporting that George Floyd was an innocent and even saintly black man murdered without any reason by four evil, racist policemen. As the protests have spread, this lying narrative has expanded to claiming that all anti-racist, meaning non-white, people are taking to the streets and rightfully demanding wholesale changes in a disciplined and peaceful manner.
At the same time, America is marking three-and-a-half years of the Trump presidency with the new presidential election looming on the horizon amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The artificially manufactured baseless political crises by the Democrat Party slavishly propagandized by most of the official and social media, have given rise to a general atmosphere of mutual hatred. What started out as protests against alleged police brutality and racial bias has quickly deteriorated into ubiquitous mayhem and senseless violence. Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and an assortment of loosely organized mentally unstable groups that later have become known as “anti-racist” and “social justice” protests, have come together to oppose the Trump Administration as a systematically racist and even “Nazi” and “Fascist” government.
Yet, these increasingly hateful and extremist fringe groups have not captured the minds and hearts of the vast majority of Americans across the nation. Clearly led by individuals who admittedly espouse extremist Communist ideas and egged on by like minded idiotic Democrat members of Congress, their hateful and overtly political message against the President has already alienated the overwhelming majority of the American people. Moreover, beyond alienating this majority, the claims that the United States of America is an institutionally and systematically racist country, with all the police forces, national guards, and military, which is trained for brutality against the black population, have angered not only the Caucasians, but also all the non-black minorities.
Clearly, the political strategy of the Democrat Party is to utilize this destructive mob to propagate lies about the United States of America, its citizens, and the rest of the world. Moreover, this political strategy also aims at preventing everybody from fighting against these egregious lies by getting to the truth. Finally, the deeply complicit official and social media are used to disseminate subjective, unreliable, and untrustworthy information, in order to hide the facts from the people.
Allowing these viscerally anti-American and scantly educated so-called politicians, journalists, and rag-tag idiots to control the political, economic, and social narratives is a sure recipe for an inevitable national catastrophe. For this reason alone, they must be stopped decisively. Dialogues and compromises will only lead to the gradual erosion of the federal, state, and local institutions, and the constitutional principles upon which their legitimacy rests.
Accusing almost the entire American nation of its alleged moral shortcomings for being the most predatory and humanly despicable country is factually absolutely incorrect. Its purpose is to create moral equivalency between the current lawlessness that destroys statues, expresses utter disdain for the national anthem by kneeling, burns the flag as an expression of anti-patriotism, wages war on America’s history, intimidates law abiding citizens, terrorizes nonconforming students, distorts world history, spreads lies about the state of affairs across the globe, and attacks free speech by using hateful sobriquets against all opponents, and the real historic achievements of a great country.
A mere rejection rather than the total defeat of this toxic and evil movement would only mean the steady weakening of the Republic as we know it. Even well-intentioned political compromises would result in the likely regrouping of the destructive forces to repeatedly attempt their coup d’etat in the future under more favorable circumstances. In the minds and at the hearts of individuals championing a single issue, proposing compromises is perceived as weakness on the part of their opponents that can be exploited rather than being viewed as constructive offers that should be contemplated, and even reciprocated.
It is in this uncompromising and hateful context that the presidential election in November will have to take place. Allowing a mentally clearly demented person to assume the presidency would only move the United States of America closer to the global abyss. Being governed by the lies of the Democrat Party would take America into a political vacuum with no chance of future recovery. To prevent such an outcome the American people must reject the destructive forces and vote for the constitution-based constructive vision of President Donald J. Trump.
March 22, 2020
By Steve Forbes • Real Clear Policy
Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently told “60 Minutes” it would be “unfair” to say “everything is bad” about Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the Communist revolution he staged during the 1950s. Even fellow Democrats could not believe their ears. Sanders went so far as to describe Castro as a man of accomplishment, noting how Castro started a “massive literacy program” for the people of Cuba. Sure he did, right after he wiped out thousands of his political opponents, created forced labor camps, seized the property of all dissidents, and imposed country-wide religious repression. Sanders sounds like the defenders of Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy, who praised Mussolini for making the trains run on time and draining the malarial swamps around Rome.
Bernie conveniently ignores how the brutality of Castro’s government forced millions of Cubans to flee their homeland, leaving behind all their possessions. And let’s be clear, Sanders’ commentary was not a mistake. Even the New York Times notes how Bernie has a long history of lauding Castro’s government, expressing “…praise not only for Mr. Castro in Cuba but also support for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Sanders’ remarks likely cost him the recent Florida Democratic primary given the widespread opposition to communism and socialism within the Latino community.
The sad reality is that Bernie Sanders honestly believes Cuba’s model of government should be replicated all over the world. This process is happening in Venezuela, where another brutal dictator, Nicolas Maduro, with the backing of Cuban security forces, is destroying the nation he is supposed to represent.
The situation in Venezuela is tragic. The country has experienced near-total economic and social collapse under Maduro’s corrupt regime. President Trump is correctly acting to oust Maduro by imposing harsh economic sanctions against Maduro’s government and the Russian and Cuban businesses helping him. The tough sanctions are placing massive pressure on Maduro, and the president should stay the course.
But the Trump administration should take care not to eliminate America’s presence in Venezuela as part of a strategy to drive Maduro from power. America has maintained a century-long relationship with Venezuela — specifically with Venezuela’s energy industry. Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil fields, and it’s imperative that Russia, China and Cuba are not allowed to gain unconstrained access to these oil fields. If American companies remain in the country, they will be able to help the next democratic Venezuelan government rebuild quickly.
Some of President Trump’s advisors believe it might be a good idea to force American companies to exit Venezuela and further tighten the economic screws on Maduro. But if American companies leave Venezuela, it will likely make it harder for the Trump Administration to remove Maduro and his criminal regime from power. An American exit would only empower Maduro and strengthen Russia, and Cuba’s hold on the country.
We certainly don’t want Venezuela to become another Cuba, but this could happen if America withdraws completely. If American companies leave, it will remove the last barriers to a complete Communist takeover by Cuba, financed by Russia, drug cartels and other criminals.
President Trump has wisely imposed crippling sanctions against Venezuela’s Maduro and the international actors that support him. The Trump team should let this process play out while preserving America’s Venezuelan presence for the future.
Sanders’ flippant remarks are a sharp contrast with President Trump’s tough but fair approach to Venezuela. Hopefully, America will continue to stand strong against Maduro while keeping the door open for a future relationship with a democratic Venezuela.
March 17, 2020
Everybody gets a free ride!
By Dr. Larry Fedewa • Dr. Larry Online
Recent polls show that a large plurality of Americans prefer socialism over capitalism. On its surface, such a preference is shocking. Digging beneath the surface, however, we find a somewhat less alarming reality. So, let’s dig a little.
The first question is, what do most of those Americans think “socialism” means? To many of our fellow Americans, “socialism” has been defined by Bernie Sanders, the socialist Senator from Vermont. He describes socialism in terms of an expansion of “human rights” into services, notably health care, higher education, and income parity, if not equality. He advocates free delivery of these services to every American. He also believes that the USA should have open borders, inviting anyone who wishes to become an American citizen to come at will.
Then there is the other side of his views. He also believes that Americans’ access to gun ownership should be severely restricted. He says that climate change is “an existential threat” to the world and adopts the “green agenda”. That agenda includes the elimination of fossil fuels, and the substitution of renewable forms of energy (even though no such energy sources exist) and the re-entry of America into the Paris Accord, which obligates the USA to pay the bill for converting the major polluters of the world (China and India) to renewables. These are samples of the price we would pay under a Sanders idealized world-view for all the “free” services.
The Sanders followers tend to be one of three types: 1) inexperienced and idealistic youths, 2)people who see themselves as victims of life because of poverty or rejection or discrimination, and 3) the educated idealists who long for a perfect world, frequently from the safe perch of academia. They are not the people who have to pay the price of this fantasy. It is therefore not hard to understand why this vision has attracted so many followers that it now dominates the Left Wing of the Democrat Party.
While this description of socialism consists principally of concrete policies, there is an underlying theory on which these policies rest, and which is not much discussed by Mr. Sanders and his followers. That theory in a nutshell is that the rich and privileged of society occupy their elevated position due to their oppression of the poor and neglected people in that society. Justice therefore demands that the elite be rejected in favor of the underclass and the wealth of the society be spread equally among all its members. Essentially, that means the riches of the elite be taken away and be distributed to the poor. The only instrument which could accomplish this feat is government. But, in the end, the means by which the upper class retains its power over the underclass is force through police and army. The shorthand for this is “whoever has the guns rules”.
Revolution is therefore inevitable. To this point the description of socialism follows the views of Karl Marx, a 19th century German philosopher. It was his works which were the basis of the Communist revolutions of Russia and China, among others. Marx’s ideas led to dictatorships because, the revolt of the proletariat (i.e. the oppressed) took military force to achieve, and the strong leaders of these armies were not about to give up power as soon as they won the war, especially since the transitions to new leadership were long and bloody. Once established, the leaders became dictators, and in the name of the revolution, the new State took over virtually everything. Personal freedom was no more available to the Communist society than it had been under the royalty.
Another version of socialism evolved in Europe and other areas, such as Canada, Australia, and South America. This version maintained the supremacy of the State and its obligation to provide free services to the masses, but it recognized private property as well as democracy in the form of elections of government officials. Some countries found this system very unstable, with frequent changes of government, e.g. Italy and Greece. For others, it was stable and productive, e.g. Germany and France. Many of these nations adopted strong strains of capitalism (i.e. free markets and independent judiciary). Some of these countries cannot be called “socialist” in the 21st century (e.g. Denmark, Iceland).
It is reasonable to assume that Bernie Sanders is talking about this form of socialism, which he calls “democratic socialism”, although he does not speak in ideological terms. The issue then becomes, what is the difference between “democratic socialism” and “democratic capitalism”?
There are two major differences: 1) Government responsibilities versus individual responsibilities; and 2) Restrictions on government versus restrictions on individual freedoms.
Responsibilities: government and personal
Restrictions: government and individual
In the 21st century, however, our experience is that many of the characteristics of capitalism are also evident in socialist countries. The differentiator is the trajectory into the future which each form of government is on. Socialism leads invariably to dictatorship (China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba) or bankruptcy (Greece) and capitalism leads to resilience and prosperity (USA).
For now, Americans must follow their instincts – freedom forever!
March 14, 2020
Column: Bernie Sanders isn't a relic. He's a preview of things to come.
By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon
Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief. Joe Biden’s victories on “Mini Tuesday” make his delegate lead all but insurmountable. Bernie Sanders’s electoral weakness, compared with his performance four years ago, has dulled the fear of an incipient socialist takeover of the world’s oldest political party. The left is said to have talked itself into believing its own propaganda and helped President Trump equate Democrats with socialism. Victory in the primary did not come from pledges to eliminate private health insurance or impose wealth taxes. It followed from the perception that Biden is the candidate best able to defeat Trump.
Don’t write off the socialist revival just yet. Sanders might not win the Democratic nomination. But this outcome does not mean the forces that propelled him to second-place finishes in the two most recent Democratic primaries will vanish overnight. Abandoning the intellectual fight against socialism, both inside and outside the Democratic Party, would cede the field to an increasingly sophisticated and networked band of ideological activists whose influence in media and politics is greater than their numbers. Such ambivalence could have devastating consequences for American society.
The resurgent left has pushed Biden far beyond where he stood as vice president. And a socialist infrastructure guarantees the philosophy’s longevity. Aspiring Democratic politicians must at least deal with, if not pay obeisance to, groups such as the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America. Especially if they inhabit a deep-blue district ripe for picking by the “Squad.”
Fashionable, lively, radical, and controversial outlets, including Jacobin, Current Affairs, the Young Turks, Chapo Trap House, and Secular Talk, complement popular Instagram and Twitter accounts. And the New York Times magazine’s “1619 Project” shows that the mainstream media is responsive to, and willing to participate in, the latest trends in anti-Americanism.
The most obvious reason not to dismiss the Sanders phenomenon is demographic. On Super Tuesday, Sanders won 30- to 44-year-olds by 18 points, and 18- to 29-year-olds by a staggering 43 points. He defeated Biden by 9 points among Hispanic voters and by 25 points among Asian voters. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country. Hispanics are second. Sanders’s protegée, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 30-year-old woman of Puerto Rican descent, represents this ethno-generational cohort. Their place in American life will not be denied.
Right now, socialism is unpopular. Last month only 45 percent of adults told Gallup they would vote for a socialist for president. Last year a 51-percent majority said socialism would be a “bad thing” for the United States. But Gallup also found that the number who said socialism would be a “good thing” had risen to 43 percent in 2019 from 25 percent in 1942. A majority of Democrats have held positive views of socialism since 2010. A willingness to adopt the socialist ideal is most pronounced among the young. A YouGov poll conducted last year for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 70 percent of Millennials are either “somewhat” or “extremely” likely to vote for a socialist.
It is the decline in institutional religion that drives the resurgence of socialism. Gallup found that church membership among U.S. adults has dropped precipitouslyover the last two decades, to 50 percent in 2018 from 70 percent in 1998. Why? Because the percentage of adults who profess no religious affiliation has more than doubled. It has gone to 19 percent from 8 percent. The Millennials exhibit the lowest percentage of church membership among generations. Pew says the number of Americans who identify as Christians fell more than 10 points over the last decade as the number of religiously unaffiliated spiked. Here too the largest falloff was among Millennials.
Religion not only offers answers to the most powerful, definitive, and ultimate questions of human existence and purpose. It anchors individuals in a particular authoritative tradition defined by doctrinal orthodoxy and refined through multigenerational practice. People released from these bonds are capable of believing anything. Thus, socialism has returned at the same time as climate apocalypticism, transhuman and transgender ideology, anti-vaccination movements, anti-Semitism, conspiracies, and ethnonationalism. In this climate of relativism and revisionism, where the most outlandish theories are a Google search away, both Marxism and utopian socialism seem credible. Nothing is too absurd.
Irving Kristol said that it is easy to point out how silly and counterproductive and even deadly socialism has been, in so many respects, but difficult to recognize its pull as an emotional attachment. The love of equality and progress makes for a special and durable political passion. “Socialism,” wrote Irving Howe in 1954, “is the name of our desire.” In the absence of an intellectually coherent and morally compelling account of the inequalities inherent to liberal democracy, so will the desire remain.
March 10, 2020
Joe Biden’s improbable resurrection suggests that Bernie Sanders and the ideas he champions are more appealing in theory than in practice.
By JOHN HIRSCHAUER • National Review
The public’s support for Medicare for All varies wildly depending upon the language pollsters use when asking voters about it. When the Kaiser Family Foundation informed respondents in a recent poll that Medicare for All would “guarantee health insurance as a right for all Americans,” 71 percent of them supported the plan; when they were told that the plan would “lead to delays in people getting some medical tests and treatments,” 70 percent opposed it.
In short, single-payer health care is more appealing in its blurriest outlines than it is when it comes into focus — much like its most prominent proponent, Bernie Sanders.
Sanders enjoys significant personal popularity and has for most of his career. He has become the most popular senator in America by sticking to the same operative philosophy for most if not all of his professional life. (Joe Rogan called him “insanely consistent.”) His policy positions — free college, universal health care, and other expensive giveaways — poll fairly well among voters when framed in abstract terms that elide the costs involved in implementing them. As he frequently reminds the American people with a sense of conviction and moral urgency that stirs up an almost religious fervor among his supporters, he “happens to believe” health care is a yoo-man right.
At some point, though, utopian platitudes have to become concrete policy proposals. Once Elizabeth Warren released her “plan” to upend the American health-care system, she forced voters to confront the actual tradeoffs involved in the sort of “big, systemic change” that she was selling. It’s one thing to tell a pollster you’re for Medicare for All, but it’s quite another to support the same policy after being confronted with the tax hikes and private-insurance ban it would necessitate. Idealism is fine, National Review’s founder famously quipped, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.
To be sure, idealism has still gotten Sanders pretty far in his quixotic effort to execute a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party. The apparent popularity of his progressive agenda before its downsides are made clear to voters has helped to fuel his diehard supporters’ intense consternation and anti-establishment sentiment. The obvious antipathy that the Democratic establishment holds for Sanders and his supporters has only furthered their sense that the entire political ecosystem is working in concert to prevent the sort of “political revolution” that they claim, with at least superficial plausibility, has the mandate of the popular will.
All of this — the support for Sanders’s agenda when sketched in its vaguest terms, the real and perceived grievances against the party establishment — has in turn allowed Sanders and his supporters to craft a compelling story: Their movement is a People’s revolution, militating against the forces of dark money and corporate interests, waging a heroic war on the Wall Street tycoons who wield outsize influence on our political process and both political parties. Since public polling shows popular support for the Sanders platform, the narrative goes, any suggestion that Bernie is a “radical” is little more than wishcasting by a bourgeois, neoliberal press, a group of capitalist bootlickers desperate to uphold an indefensible economic order.
This narrative worked better than anyone had a right to expect against Hillary Clinton four years ago, and until last Tuesday, it appeared on track to deliver Sanders the nomination in 2020. With a horde of “moderates” in the race splitting the centrist vote and clear possession of the party’s “progressive” lane, Sanders had been able to finish in a virtual tie in Iowa and command a plurality of support in the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucus. While he failed to capture an outright majority in any of the three opening states, his performance was sufficiently strong that his exponents in the press saw fit to take a victory lap. “Why do they never learn?” asked Mehdi Hasan of The Intercept. “The only way to test ‘electability’ is through actual elections, and so far Sanders is two for two.”
Unfortunately for Sanders, after those electoral victories, he became the race’s clear front-runner. Once that happened, Democratic voters were no longer weighing Bernie in the abstract — the jovial, if curmudgeonly, senator whom Paul Krugman strained to depict as a Scandinavian social democrat — but Bernie as a committed ideologue, happy to defend Fidel Castro’s literacy program and the poverty-reduction efforts of Communist China.
For all of the Bernie Bros’ indignation with a Democratic establishment that richly deserves their scorn, it was still the voters who handed Joe Biden — a doddering old warhorse who had seemed a dead man walking for months — a resounding victory on Super Tuesday. He won ten of 14 states, captured 573 delegates to Sanders’s 491, and now leads Sanders in the popular vote by over 900,000 votes. Sanders is still alive in the race, to be sure, but his chances of a comeback are getting slimmer by the minute.
If the origin myth of Sanders’s movement were true — if scheming “ah-li-garchs” were really to blame for keeping his broadly popular agenda at bay — then one would think his campaign could have convinced actual voters that he was a superior candidate to Biden, who often struggles just to put together a coherent sentence on the stump. Perhaps Sanders, and the philosophy he champions, are more appealing in theory than in practice.
March 9, 2020
The U.S. system remains the best equipped to handle challenges like the coronavirus.
By Steven Malanga • City Journal
When he was President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel famously advised never to let a crisis go to waste. Advocates of universal, government-controlled health care in the United States are pursuing that strategy as the nation confronts the prospect of a coronavirus epidemic. Last week, seizing on a story about the $1,400 bill that a Miami man received for a hospital visit to get tested for coronavirus, they charged that the American system of private insurance isn’t up to fighting the spread of the virus. Critics contend that episodes like the one involving the Miami man, who has a high-deductible policy that some call a “junk” plan, will discourage people from seeking testing and treatment, thereby enabling spread of the contagion. The solution, according to Bernie Sanders? A national health-care system—the only system, he and his supporters believe, capable of handling a crisis like the coronavirus.
The problem with this claim, as with much of what advocates contend about nationalized health systems, is that it ignores how such systems really operate. Because health care under these plans is inexpensive or even “free,” people overuse it, driving up costs and forcing governments to limit access. That’s why long wait times and denials of service are typically more characteristic of national health systems than the American one. Indeed, last week, Japanese citizens bitterly criticized their government because its national health service, which citizens must enroll in if they don’t have employer-provided insurance, had limited coronavirus testing to just 5,700 people. Some critics accused the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of suppressing testing to minimize the seriousness of the virus’s spread. Others saw it as a cost-saving move.
Government-controlled health-care systems are especially vulnerable to epidemics because, to control costs, they must strip as much overcapacity as they can out of their operations. During the 2017–2018 flu season in Britain, for example, the National Health System was overwhelmed. Patients regularly spent 12 hours in hospital emergency wards awaiting treatment, corridors were jammed with beds, and doctors postponed all but the most urgent surgeries, the New York Times reported. British doctors complained of “battlefield medicine” and “third world conditions.” That spring, in order to save money, the NHS stopped paying for a broad range of remedies for common ailments, including those treating constipation, cold sores, conjunctivitis, infant colic, and backache. About a year later, the country reported widespread shortages of some 80 common medications, such as the anti-inflammatory Naproxen. One reason: the service had driven down the price of drugs so far that manufacturers found “the U.K. a less attractive market.” At the same time, the NHS is notable for restricting access to expensive drugs that treat much more serious conditions. Before relenting to criticism, for example, the NHS spent four years refusing to give cystic fibrosis patients—including an estimated 5,000 children—access to Orkambi, a drug developed by U.S. manufacturer Vertex International.
What critics deride as America’s “patchwork” health-care approach is in fact a system that attempts to offer choices, rather than a one-size-fits-all national service. The Miami man’s “junk” plan is one of those choices—a low-cost, high-deductible plan, in which the patient agrees to pay for many ordinary procedures in exchange for cheaper premiums. These plans were in place in states like California before Obamacare; they were aimed at consumers, such as young adults, who were looking for protection against catastrophic costs but balking at the price of more comprehensive insurance. Obamacare placed restrictions on these plans, looking instead to force people into insurance exchanges. Two years ago, President Trump signed an executive order expanding access to these insurance policies. While critics have charged that some of the plans, like AARP’s limited insurance for seniors, fail to inform customers adequately about the restrictions on coverage, some consumers have expressed satisfaction at the services offered and the savings they accrued.
The real issue in the Miami case was where the man went for service. The costs he incurred were not even from a coronavirus test, but from other fees associated with visiting a hospital emergency room for examination. Indeed, after an exam showed that he had the flu, the man was not tested for coronavirus, even though the Centers for Disease Control is providing the tests without charge because it has designated coronavirus a public-health emergency.
The CDC has been justly criticized for ramping up its testing regime too slowly. But, as experts predict an inevitable increase in cases in the U.S., the agency is now working to make the tests widely available. As testing expands, so should the network of facilities that provide the tests, extending well beyond expensive hospital emergency rooms. Some health-care providers have even suggested setting up the equivalent of “drive-through” facilities, where people can be tested quickly and inexpensively, as South Korea has done. Similarly, when an effective vaccine becomes available, Washington can subsidize production to get the population immunized quickly.
All these efforts, and others like them, to address the coronavirus can be accomplished without revamping American health care. In fact, it is a system like ours that makes such efforts possible. Contrary to Sanders’s claims, the American health-care system, flaws and all, is better equipped than any other to handle a challenge like the coronavirus.
March 6, 2020
Socialism is having its moment on the left.
By Jarrett Stepman • National Review
Key point: There wasn’t a wide gap between what was being discussed at Socialism 2019 and the ideas emerging from a growing segment of the American left.
While you were enjoying your Fourth of July weekend, I was attending a national conference on socialism.
Why? Because socialism is having its moment on the left.
Since there’s often confusion as to what socialism really is, I decided to attend the Socialism 2019 conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend last year.
The conference, which had the tag line “No Borders, No Bosses, No Binaries,” contained a cross-section of the most pertinent hard-left thought in America. Among the sponsors were the Democratic Socialists of America and Jacobin, a quarterly socialist magazine.
The walls of the various conference rooms were adorned with posters of Karl Marx and various depictions of socialist thinkers and causes.
Most of the conference attendees appeared to be white, but identity politics were a major theme throughout—especially in regard to gender.
At the registration desk, attendees were given the option of attaching a “preferred pronoun” sticker on their name tags.
In addition, the multiple-occupancy men’s and women’s restrooms were relabeled as “gender neutral,” and men and women were using both. Interestingly enough, the signs above the doors were still labeled with the traditional “men’s” and “women’s” signs until they were covered over with home-made labels.
One of the paper labels read: “This bathroom has been liberated from the gender binary!”
While the panelists and attendees were certainly radical, and often expressed contempt for the Democratic Party establishment, it was nevertheless clear how seamlessly they blended traditional Marxist thought with the agenda of what’s becoming the mainstream left.
They did so by weaving their views with the identity politics that now dominate on college campuses and in the media and popular entertainment. The culture war is being used as a launching point for genuinely socialist ideas, many of which are re-emerging in the 21st century.
Here are six takeaways from the conference:
1. Serious About Socialism
A common line from those on the modern left is that they embrace “democratic socialism,” rather than the brutal, totalitarian socialism of the former Soviet Union or modern North Korea and Venezuela. Sweden is usually cited as their guide for what it means in practice, though the reality is that these best-case situations show the limits of socialism, not its success.
It’s odd, too, for those who insist that “diversity is our strength” to point to the culturally homogenous Nordic countries as ideal models anyway.
It’s clear, however, that while many socialists insist that their ideas don’t align with or condone authoritarian societies, their actual ideology—certainly that of those speaking at the conference—is in no sense distinct.
Of the panels I attended, all featured speakers who made paeans to traditional communist theories quoted Marx, and bought into the ideology that formed the basis of those regimes.
Mainstream politicians may dance around the meaning of the word “socialist,” but the intellectuals and activists who attended Socialism 2019 could have few doubts about the fact that Marxism formed the core of their beliefs.
Some sought to dodge the issue. One was David Duhalde, the former political director of Our Revolution, an activist group that supports Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and that was an offshoot of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
Duhalde said that Sanders is a creation of the socialist movement—having had direct ties to the Socialist Party of America in his youth—but hasn’t maintained an official connection to socialist political organizations throughout his political career.
Sanders’ position, according to Duhalde, is “anti-totalitarian” and that he favors a model based on “neither Moscow, nor the United States, at least in this formation.”
It’s a convenient way of condemning capitalist-oriented societies while avoiding connections to obviously tyrannical ones.
It was also difficult to mistake the sea of red shirts and posters of Marx that adorned the walls at the conference—or the occasional use of the word “comrades”—as anything other than an embrace of genuine socialism, but with a uniquely modern twist.
2. Gender and Identity Politics Are Ascendant
Transgenderism, gender nonconformity, and abolishing traditional family structures were huge issues at Socialism 2019.
One panel, “Social Reproduction Theory and Gender Liberation,” addressed how the traditional family structure reinforced capitalism and contended that the answer was to simply abolish families.
Corrie Westing, a self-described “queer socialist feminist activist based in Chicago working as a home-birth midwife,” argued that traditional family structures propped up oppression and that the modern transgender movement plays a critical part in achieving true “reproductive justice.”
Society is in a moment of “tremendous political crisis,” one that “really demands a Marxism that’s up to the par of explaining why our socialist project is leading to ending oppression,” she said, “and we need a Marxism that can win generations of folks that can be radicalized by this moment.”
That has broad implications for feminism, according to Westing, who said that it’s important to fight for transgender rights as essential to the whole feminist project—seemingly in a direct shot at transgender-exclusionary radical feminists, who at a Heritage Foundation event in January argued that sex is biological, not a societal construct, and that transgenderism is at odds with a genuine feminism.
She contended that economics is the basis of what she called “heteronormativity.”
Pregnancy becomes a tool of oppression, she said, as women who get pregnant and then engage in child rearing are taken out of the workforce at prime productive ages and then are taken care of by an economic provider.
Thus, the gender binary is reinforced, Westing said.
She insisted that the answer to such problems is to “abolish the family.” The way to get to that point, she said, is by “getting rid of capitalism” and reorganizing society around what she called “queer social reproduction.”
“When we’re talking about revolution, we’re really connecting the issues of gender justice as integral to economic and social justice,” Westing said.
She then quoted a writer, Sophie Lewis, who in a new book, “Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family,” embraced “open-sourced, fully collaborative gestation.”
3. Open Borders Is Becoming a Litmus Test
It’s perhaps not surprising that socialists embrace open borders. After all, that’s becoming a much more mainstream position on the left in general.
The AFL-CIO used to support immigration restrictions until it flipped in 2000 and called for illegal immigrants to be granted citizenship.
As recently as 2015, Sanders rejected the idea of open borders as a ploy to impoverish Americans.
But Justin Akers-Chacon, a socialist activist, argued on a panel, “A Socialist Case for Open Borders,” that open borders are not only a socialist idea, but vital to the movement.
Akers-Chacon said that while capital has moved freely between the United States and Central and South America, labor has been contained and restricted.
He said that while working-class people have difficulty moving across borders, high-skilled labor and “the 1%” are able to move freely to other countries.
South of the border, especially in Mexico and Honduras, Akers-Chacon said, there’s a stronger “class-consciousness, as part of cultural and historical memory exists in the working class.”
“My experiences in Mexico and my experiences working with immigrant workers, and my experiences with people from different parts of this region, socialist politics are much more deeply rooted,” he said.
That has implications for the labor movement.
Despite past attempts to exclude immigrants, Akers-Chacon said, it’s important for organized labor to embrace them. He didn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.
For instance, he said one of the biggest benefits of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was that there was a brief boost in union membership amid a more general decline in unionism.
Besides simply boosting unions, the influx “changed the whole AFL-CIO position on immigrants, [which was] still backwards, restrictive, anti-immigrant,” Akers-Chacon said.
“So, there’s a correlation between expanding rights for immigrants and the growth, and confidence, and militancy of the labor movement as a whole,” he said.
4. ‘Clickbait’ Communism Is Being Used to Propagandize Young Americans
It would be easy to write these articles off as mere “clickbait,” but it’s clear that the far-left nature of its editorials—and its attempt to reach young people with these views—is genuine.
Teen Vogue hosted a panel at Socialism 2019, “System Change, Not Climate Change: Youth Climate Activists in Conversation with Teen Vogue.”
The panel moderator was Lucy Diavolo, news and politics editor at the publication, who is transgender.
“I know there’s maybe a contradiction in inviting Teen Vogue to a socialism conference … especially because the youth spinoff brand is a magazine so associated with capitalist excess,” Diavolo said. “If you’re not familiar with our work, I encourage you to read Teen Vogue’s coverage of social justice issues, capitalism, revolutionary theory, and Karl Marx, or you can check out the right-wing op-eds that accuse me of ‘clickbait communism’ and teaching your daughters Marxism and revolution.”
The panel attendees responded enthusiastically.
“Suffice to say, the barbarians are beyond the gates. We are in the tower,” Diavolo boasted.
5. The Green Movement Is Red
It’s perhaps no surprise that an openly socialist member of Congress is pushing for the Green New Deal—which would essentially turn the U.S. into a command-and-control economy reminiscent of the Soviet Union.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti recently said, according to The Washington Post: “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.”
“Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti asked Sam Ricketts, climate director for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running for president in the Democratic primary. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”
Economic transformation barely disguised as a way to address environmental concerns appears to be the main point.
One of the speakers on the Teen Vogue climate panel, Sally Taylor, is a member of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-oriented environmental activist group that made headlines in February when several elementary school-age members of the group confronted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about her lack of support for the Green New Deal.
The other speaker on the Teen Vogue climate panel was Haven Coleman, a 13-year-old environmental activist who has received favorable coverage for leading the U.S. Youth Climate Strike in March. She was open about the system change she was aiming for to address climate change.
She noted during her remarks that she was receiving cues from her mother, who she said was in attendance.
Haven said the answer to the climate change problem was moving on from our “capitalistic society” to something “other than capitalism.”
6. Socialism Can’t Be Ignored as a Rising Ethos on the Left
According to a recent Gallup survey, 4 in 10 Americans have a positive view of socialism. Support among Democrats is even higher than among the general population, with a majority of Democrats saying they prefer socialism to capitalism.
But many who say they want socialism rather than capitalism struggle to define what those terms mean and change their views once asked about specific policies.
As another Gallup poll from 2018 indicated, many associate socialism with vague notions of “equality,” rather than as government control over the means of production in the economy.
What’s clear from my observations at Socialism 2019 is that traditional Marxists have successfully melded their ideology with the identity politics and culture war issues that animate modern liberalism—despite still being quite far from the beliefs of the average citizen.
Socialists at the conference focused more on social change, rather than electoral politics, but there were still many core public policy issues that animated them; notably, “Medicare for All” and government run-health care, some kind of Green New Deal to stop global warming (and more importantly, abolish capitalism), open borders to increase class consciousness and promote transnational solidarity, removing all restrictions on—and publicly funding—abortion, and breaking down social and legal distinctions between the sexes.
They were particularly able to weave their issues together through the thread of “oppressor versus oppressed” class conflict—for instance, supporting government-run health care meant also unquestioningly supporting unfettered abortion and transgender rights.
Though their analyses typically leaned more heavily on economic class struggle and determinism than what one would expect from more mainstream progressives, there wasn’t a wide gap between what was being discussed at Socialism 2019 and the ideas emerging from a growing segment of the American left.
February 28, 2020
By Charles Fain Lehman • The Washington Free Beacon
Facing mounting pressure to explain how he will raise enough revenue to cover the largest peacetime budget in American history, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in advance of Tuesday evening’s debate released a plan outlining how he will pay for his proposals.
The plan, which debuted Monday evening, projects additional revenue of more than $37 trillion over the next 10 years, the product of a cross-section of aggressive new taxes on everyday Americans as well as the top percentile of earners. That figure pales in comparison to the tens of trillions Sanders expects to spend over the next 10 years, leaving a substantial budget shortfall even under the rosiest of assumptions.
Sanders, the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, released his plan the day before the South Carolina Democratic debate amid increasing scrutiny. Although the plan partially addresses critics’ charges that Sanders has been evasive on how he will pay for his proposals, it also opens up new lines of attack, allowing moderate opponents to charge him not only with excessive spending but also financial irresponsibility.
In total, the plan covers seven major components of Sanders’s agenda: Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, universal college and canceling student debt, universal pre-k, universal public housing, expanding Social Security, and eliminating medical debt. Its $37 trillion of added tax revenue reflects a bevy of old proposals—especially Sanders’s wealth tax—as well as new details on, for example, Sanders’s projected revenue from Green New Deal jobs.
Although prodigious, the total sum Sanders plans to raise would fall short of his full spending goals. A CNN analysispegged Sanders’s total spending at $60 trillion, substantially larger than any prior peacetime administration. An analysisfrom the left-leaning Progressive Policy Institute estimated the cost of Sanders’s plans at roughly $47.8 trillion—still well short of what he plans to raise. Sanders’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on this and other disparities.
Even under Sanders’s most optimistic assumptions, massive shortfalls remain. For example, the campaign indicated that it expects to bring in $4.35 trillion per year from the wealth tax. But the right-leaning Tax Foundation estimates that it will only bring in $3.2 trillion per year, due to higher rates of tax avoidance. That would leave Sanders with $10 trillion less over a decade than he expects.
Much of the measurable shortfall is attributable to Sanders’s cost assumptions about Medicare for All. The campaign offers methods to raise $17.5 trillion, citing research from Yale epidemiologists arguing that that total is the amount of added government spending needed to cover Medicare for All. But that figure falls well short of standard projections of around $2.5 to $3.6 trillion in added costs per year—a figure Sanders himself has cited. In other words, only by lowballing the cost of the largest health care program in American history can Sanders credibly claim to have outlined a way to pay for his plan.
Sanders also outlines his plans to pay for a $16.3 trillion Green New Deal that would substantially overhaul American homes, vehicles, and communities without funding carbon capture and alternative energy technologies. To pay for the proposal, Sanders’s plan would not only tax fossil fuels and increase the corporate tax rate, but would also cut military spending $1.2 trillion “by scaling back military operations on protecting the global oil supply.”
Of the expected revenues, $10 trillion comes either from income taxes on wages from jobs Sanders expects the Green New Deal will create, lower safety net spending thanks to those jobs, or the sale of electricity by publicly owned power utilities. These benefits, however, might be outweighed by the economic costs of a Green New Deal.
“While there may be some gains from eliminating duplicate spending (e.g., safety net duplications under Medicare for All and the job guarantee), there would be an equal or greater than equal offsetting decrease in revenue from reductions in the tax base,” Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon. “The same source of tax revenue is taxed multiple times in his plan, which has an interaction effect that lowers the revenue that can be gained from the entirety of his plan. Overall, the sum of each component tax is likely an upper bound for what can be raised realistically.”
Until this point, Sanders has been mum on how he would pay for many of his proposals. In so doing, he has avoided the fate of fellow 2020 contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), who in November released a widely panned explanation of how she would pay for Medicare for All. That plan, alongside Warren’s eventual announcement that socialized health care would be phased in with a public option, likely contributed to the Warren campaign’s sinking fortunes.
February 27, 2020
He’s defended virtually every Communist tyrant he’s ever been asked about over the past 50 years.
By DAVID HARSANYI • National Review
Did you know that infamous Nazi Hermann Göring was a great lover of animals, a protector of birds, and head of the forestry service in Germany? Unless you’re a history buff, probably not. After all, almost no one feels the need to preface their comments about the Third Reich with “Sure, the authoritarianism was pretty bad, but, boy, that Göring was one hell of an environmentalist!”
Western elites, however, like to use this kind of absurd criterion whenever they talk about socialism, ignoring its vast failures and praising its piddling and alleged successes — you know, “Denmark,” but not Algeria, Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burma, Cambodia, China, Congo, East Germany, Ethiopia, Hungary, Latvia, Mongolia, Romania, Somalia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, and so on and on.
And unlike many modern progressives, Bernie Sanders is old-school, still in the habit of praising old comrades. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing?” Bernie told 60 Minutes this past weekend, reacting to criticism of his near-complete praise of the dictator back in the 1980s.
The answer is: Yes, massive literacy programs instituted using the machinery of a tyranny are, indeed, a bad thing. For one thing, you can institute massive literacy programs without authoritarianism, just as you can build impressive highways without fascism or alleviate most poverty without collectivism. Just ask the United States, or any other capitalistic nation with wealth and high literacy rates.
Even then, Sanders is regurgitating Communist propaganda. Cuba already had the highest literacy rate in Latin America before the revolution, and it basically kept trending in the same direction as every other nation in the region. When Castro triumphantly entered Havana in 1958, he didn’t bring truckloads of books; he ordered thousands of arrests and summary executions. When Castro “came into office,” he canceled elections, terminated the free press, and turned Cuba into the island prison that still exists today.
Cubans haven’t been able to freely read about their own oppression since Castro took power. (Cuba, though, has nearly eradicated the scourge of “inequality,” with most people making around 20 bucksa month.) And the only possible reason any American would feel the need to defend that dictator’s programs — Sanders once said Castro “educated the children, gave them health care” — is because they’re sympathetic to the cause.
What might be “helpful” in explaining “the nuances of [Sanders’s] views on the Soviet Union & the international left would be a degree of literacy about them from commentators,” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski recently noted. Bernie, after all, “was always critical of authoritarianism in the Soviet Union.”
Can you imagine this kind of goodwill being extended to someone who had spent 50 years praising fascist regimes? It’s truly unfathomable. The Soviet Union was authoritarianism — it had no other way to exist. When Sanders was honeymooning in Moscow, refuseniks — fellow Jews he didn’t think enough about to mention once between the singing and drinking — were still begging to leave the place.
But okay, let’s concede for the sake of argument that Bernie was genuinely impressed by some of the commissars’ more liberal reform ideas. Sanders claimed that Americans could learn a lot from the Soviet Union. So which of these nuanced ideas did Bernie admire? Does he still admire them? It’s a shame there’s no one at CNN who has access to the candidate and can ask these questions.
When Vox’s Ezra Klein, joining the effort to reimagine Sanders as some innocuous idealist, argued that the now–Democratic Party favorite isn’t really running on socialist economic ideas (highly debatable) but rather on a “socialist ethic,” “a deep, animating belief that our political and economic system is unjust,” he inadvertently hit on an ugly truth.
There’s little doubt that Bernie believes collectivism — the discarding of property rights, for starters — offers a more equitable and decent option than capitalism. Bernie’s career has never been propelled by policy, most of them untenable here, but rather by class warfare.
And younger voters are, and often have been, more susceptible to the “ethics” of socialism. At this point in history, they’ve not seen the economic infeasibility of those ideas, many of the massive disasters spawned by them, or the coercion that’s inevitably required to make them “work.”
Or, maybe they don’t care.
A number of people – some on the right, who are increasingly comfortable with statist economic ideas — have told me that no one wants to relitigate the 1960s or Bernie’s old opinions. “Socialism” is not the pejorative it once was. Voters, they say, are uninterested in a candidate’s decades-old actions or positions.
I suspect there are a few thousand people in Florida who still care very much about Cuban totalitarianism and who might disagree. It’s also worth remembering that Bernie defended a Communist dictator this weekend — a dictator whose brother still holds millions of people hostage. Bernie has never walked back his positions.
No, Bernie isn’t Stalin, but he also isn’t some naïve college freshman high off of reading his first Chomsky screed. Bernie is a socialist. He’s been a lifelong defender of authoritarians. We’re debating his positions. If it were really about “Denmark,” Bernie wouldn’t have defended virtually every Communist tyrant he’s ever been asked about over the past 50 years. This is who he was, and more importantly, this is who he is right now.
February 25, 2020
Column: And the fall of the political establishment
By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon
There are 329 million people in the United States of America. They are spread across 3.8 million square miles. The presidential race will be determined by the actions of three of them: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Michael Bloomberg. Each is a New Yorker. Each hails from a different borough. Trump was born in Queens, Sanders in Brooklyn, and Bloomberg, a native of Massachusetts, has worked and lived in Manhattan since 1973.
For a long time New York City politics stopped at the Hudson River. Now the nation faces the prospect of eight months of septuagenarian New Yorkers yelling at each other. The geographic, regional, ethnic, and racial diversity of America is nowhere visible. Religion is an exception: The first Jewish presidential nominee of a major party will also be, in all likelihood, the most hostile nominee toward Israel ever.
How did this happen?
Trump’s presence is the easiest to explain. For one thing, he’s the incumbent. He’s also the most significant political figure of the last 30 years. His appeal has never been limited to area code 212. The audience that bought his books and his board game, that visited his casinos and watched his television show, drew from all walks of life, all corners of the country. President Trump is from New York, he lived in a triplex in his black skyscraper on the most coveted piece of property in the city, but he isn’t really of New York.
The Manhattan crowd treated him like an oddity. He was an object of fun. Even today Bloomberg brags that he is wealthier than Trump. Rich and famous he may be, but Donald Trump never has been an insider. Since he first appeared on the scene in the late 1980s, his key constituents have been the type of men who build his hotels. He speaks their language, he shares their tastes, and he embodies their aspirations. That is why he connects with the coal miner in West Virginia, the farmer in Wisconsin, the factory worker in Ohio, the restaurant server in Pennsylvania.
The 2016 Republican primary was the first step in New York’s political takeover. Trump’s victory is instructive. He did it through savvy manipulation of media—his city’s stock and trade—and by identifying and winning over a growing pool of potential Republican voters whom GOP elites ignored. Disaffected Democrats, often without college degrees, alienated from a party defined by the values of liberal professionals and woke Millennials, are the most important element of the Trump coalition. They were up for grabs for a reason. The center left was hollowed out.
Plenty of center-left Democrats remain, of course. The Democrats would not have won the House in 2018 without them. The problem is the communications apparatus of the Democratic Party—the cable networks, social media, newspapers, and public radio—is to the left of the median voter. And media deliver the cues for national politicians. Media set the agenda. The headlines are filled with discussions of the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, the 1619 Project, trans rights, “Abolish I.C.E.,” Russian collusion, Mothers of the Movement, the March for Our Lives. This discourse titillates the left. It drives the rest of us away.
Four years ago Trump leveraged his committed supporters against a divided field. The institutional party couldn’t stop him, partly because it was unable and partly because it didn’t want to. Which institution in America today, after all, is willing to deny “the people” its choice? Trump won a plurality of votes and the nomination. When that happened, the GOP faced a decision: Trump or Clinton. You know the rest.
Bernie Sanders is following a similar path. He defeated the competition in Iowa and New Hampshire with around a quarter of the vote. His splintered opposition prevents the anti-Bernie Democrats from consolidating around a single candidate. Not since 1992 has a party nominated someone who failed to win either of the first two contests. Not in the modern era has a party denied the nomination to the winner of the most delegates. (Walter Mondale entered the 1984 convention with less than a majority of pledged delegates, but got the nomination.) That is why Sanders is in a commanding position.
And why the third New Yorker, Bloomberg, is lighting $400 million on fire trying to prevent the Democrats from nominating a democratic socialist. He may not be able to close the deal. It is telling that Trump, Sanders, and Bloomberg have flexible relationships with the political parties they seek to control. Trump has changed his party registration five times, most recently coming full circle to Republican in 2012. Bernie Sanders has never registered as a Democrat. Bloomberg has been a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, and, since 2018, a Democrat again.
The top two vote-getters in the 2016 Republican primary were Trump and Ted Cruz. Both men ran against the party establishment. The top two vote-getters in the 2020 Democratic primary are Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (so far). Try finding more concrete evidence that voters want outsiders than in the Democratic embrace of a man who praised the Moscow subway after a visit to the Soviet Union, and a 38-year-old who spent eight years as mayor of Indiana’s fourth-largest city.
The power of media, collapse of the center left, revolt against the political establishment, and a realignment of campaign finance that privileges small-dollar contributors on the one hand and self-funding billionaires on the other have elevated the Big Apple to preeminence. This election will be the equivalent of a Subway Series, a UFC fight at the Garden between Norman Thomas and Frank Costanza. In such an absurd situation Larry David becomes a contested symbol, imitating Sanders on Saturday Night Live as Trump tweets clips of him wearing a MAGA hat on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And the bartender from the Bronx waits in the wings.
Only in New York, kids. Only in New York.
February 16, 2020
By Peter Roff • Newsweek
If no one ever said, “If people are talking about you, it means you’re important,” someone probably should have. It’s always been true in America, a place where hype is king. The mere fact that you’re mentioned in the columns makes you a player.
Some would argue that’s one of the reasons Donald Trump got to be president. But it’s also the way New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got to be the ideological leader of the Democratic Party. She has a lot to say, doesn’t shy away from the spotlight and has views that land far from the center of the bell curve.
Lately, while attempting to argue that the Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is centrist, she’s had a lot to say about how bad the American economy is under Trump.
If she wasn’t serious, it would be silly. But she is, and should be taken that way because, like it or not, someday she and her kind may win a national election and set policy for the entire nation. And, with the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire showing a late surge for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist independent who caucuses with the Democrats and agrees with Ocasio-Cortez’s assessment of the economy, that chance may come sooner than many people expect.
Here’s the reality. By most traditional measures, the economy is stronger than it’s been in over three decades, especially where job creation is concerned. Trump’s policy of tax relief and deregulation—the president likes to brag his administration has eliminated more than a dozen regulations for each new one it has imposed—has led to the creation of the three most important things in U.S. politics: jobs, jobs and more jobs.
“On a scale of 1 to 10,” economist Steve Moore recently wrote of the job market, “it’s an 11.”
Moore has it right. The unemployment rate soared above 9 percent during President Barack Obama’s early years in office. Obama promised it would soon plateau at a manageable level if Congress would only approve his stimulus package to kick-start the public works projects we were all told were “shovel-ready.” It did, but they weren’t. And although unemployment began falling after 2010, as Moore wrote, “from January 2009 to December 2016, almost 10 million jobs were added, but amazingly, 1.6 million working-age people dropped out of the workforce.”
Under Trump, unemployment has continued to go down and the labor force participation rate is rising, contrary to what the Congressional Budget Office predicted would be the continuing trend just as he came into office.
More people are working, and because real wages are rising, they have the “hope,” finally, that Obama promised but found so hard to deliver. We’re as close to full employment as economists in the 1970s and 1980s said we’d ever be.
The reason Ocasio-Cortez and others who subscribe to her agenda regard this as a bad economy is precisely because it demonstrates people do not need the government as a mediating institution to succeed. Market capitalism, even in the hybrid form in which it exists in the United States, is enough to, as the late Jack Kemp used to say, create “a rising tide that lifts all boats.”
When that happens, the folks who want to use the government to plan the economy and redistribute the rewards of hard work, creativity and invention (not to mention luck) among the masses have no arguments to make. Their model doesn’t come from Adam Smith so much as it comes from Karl Marx. The people they claim to represent apparently can get ahead without their intervention or their interference. Ocasio-Cortez and her allies want the government to control the means of production, the allocation of resources, individual employment tracks and every important macro- and micro-economic lever. They believe they are necessary when the current economic realities show they are, at best, superfluous.
People should realize she’s serious. She’s not exaggerating or trying to score political points. She believes this, and not just because the numbers show income inequality is increasing. Even if some are better off than others, most everyone is better off now than they were four years ago. To Ocasio-Cortez and her kind in the Democratic Party, that’s unacceptable.
It’s as if, as Margaret Thatcher put it on the floor of the House of Commons in the waning days of her prime ministry, those who promote socialism—even the American kind, which is supposedly kinder and gentler than the East German version—would rather “the poor were poorer provided the rich were less rich.”
February 9, 2020
The problem with ‘democratic socialism’ is that it is both.
By KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON • National Review
Iain Murray grew up reading and writing by candlelight, not because he lived in premodern times but because he lived under democratic socialism.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and other contemporary American advocates of democratic socialism lean heavily on the democratic part, which is at least in part a matter of marketing. To take their talk of democratic principle seriously requires forgetfulness and credulousness: During the last great uprising of democratic socialism in the English-speaking world — in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, where young Iain Murray, now a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was doing his homework by the light of coals and candles — the so-called democratic socialists embraced democracy when it suited them and anti-democratic, illiberal, and at times murderous modes of government when those suited their political agenda better, with left-wing activists such as young Jeremy Corbyn acting as tireless apologists for the Soviet Union, its purges and its gulags. In the United States, Noam Chomsky dismissed reports of Pol Pot’s genocide as right-wing propaganda; later, young Bernie Sanders and his new bride would honeymoon in the Soviet Union even as the Communist Party bosses were creating a new and more modern gestapo to put down democrats and dissidents. History counsels us to consider the first adjective in “democratic socialist” with some skepticism.
But the socialism that reduced the United Kingdom from world power to intermittently pre-industrial backwater in the post-war era was thoroughly democratic. The policies that turned the lights out in London were not imposed on the British people by a repressive junta. And that is part of the problem with democratic socialism even as notionally presented by Sanders et al.: It is both of those things. In the United States, we use the word “democratic” as though it were a synonym for “decent” or “accountable,” but 51 percent of the people can wreck a country just as easily and as thoroughly as 10 percent of them. That is why the United States has a Bill of Rights and other limitations on democratic power.
The United Kingdom, having a parliamentary form of government, does not enjoy such formal protections. A British government with an electoral mandate can run wild, as it did under the democratic-socialist governments of the post-war era, climaxing in the “Winter of Discontent” in 1978–79.
“I grew up in the north of England,” Murray says. “It gets dark very early in the winters there.” A series of strikes by government unions left the United Kingdom without trash collectors, and garbage piled up in the streets; there were shortages of food and fuel as strikes crippled the transportation system; medical workers in the country’s monopoly national health-care system went on strike, with nurses, orderlies, and hospital staff abandoning their posts and leaving sick Britons with nowhere to turn for medical attention; the bodies of those who died piled up for months, because the gravediggers’ union was on strike, too; eventually, the interruptions of fuel and labor caused the electrical system to fail. Hence the candles.
This wasn’t the first time: In 1970, a similar labor action had forced Britain’s hospitals to operate by candlelight. Think about that: A year after Americans had landed on the moon, Englishmen were undergoing medical procedures under neo-medieval conditions, in a medical world lit only by fire.
This did not happen in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, in Kim Jong-il’s North Korea, in Chairman Mao’s China, or in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. This happened in England, within living memory, only 41 years ago. Bernie Sanders was pushing 40 — old enough to remember, just as he is today old enough to know better.
The problems of socialism are problems of socialism — problems related to the absence of markets, innovation, and free enterprise and, principally, problems related to the epistemic impossibility of the socialist promise: rational central planning of economic activity. The problems of socialism are not the problems of authoritarianism and will not be cured by democracy. Socialism and authoritarianism often go hand in hand (almost always, in fact), but socialism on its own, even when it is the result of democratic elections and genuinely democratic processes, is a bottomless well of misery. The Soviet gulags and hunger-genocide, the Chinese prison camps, and the psychosis of Pyongyang are not the only exhibits in the case against socialism, and the case against socialism is also the case against democratic socialism, as the experience of the United Kingdom attests.
Murray, talking about his forthcoming book The Socialist Temptation at a CEI event in New Orleans, describes the inherent tension within democratic socialism. “The tyranny of the majority means you have no rights,” he says. “Early democratic societies realized that you had to have rights; how extensive those rights are is normally determined by how powerful the democracy is — one reason why the United States had such an extensive bill of rights so early is because the democracy was quite powerful. Socialists coopt the language of rights by introducing positive rights rather than negative rights — they will speak of the right to a job or the right to housing — but not the right to be left alone, which inherently contradicts democratic socialism.”
The destructive nature of socialism comes not from its tendency to trample on democracy (though socialism often does trample on democracy) but from its total disregard for rights — rights that are, in the context of the United States and other liberal-democratic systems, beyond the reach of mere majorities. We have the Bill of Rights to protect freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the free exercise of religion, etc., not because we expect that majorities will reliably support and protect these rights but because we expect that majorities will be hostile to them.
Hence the stupidity of complaints about our commitment to free speech protecting speech that is offensive, divisive, extreme, etc.: That’s precisely the point of the First Amendment — the other kind of speech doesn’t need protecting, because it is unobjectionable. Other rights — property rights and the right to trade prominent among them — also find themselves on the wrong side of majorities, constantly and predictably. But they are no less fundamental than the right to free speech, and they are no less necessary for a thriving and prosperous society. Socialism destroys societies by gutting or diminishing those rights. Doing so with the blessing of 50 percent plus one of the population does not make that any less immoral or any less corrosive.
Conservatives understand the case against socialism. But in a moment of ascendant populism, making the case for keeping democracy in a very small box — recognizing the difference between useful democratic procedures and a more general majoritarian democratic ethos — can be difficult. Those who have made a cult of “We the People” have left themselves without a very plausible moral or political basis for telling Them the People to go jump in a lake when they demand immoral and destructive policies.
But it was the people who ruined the United Kingdom with socialism in the 1970s, and it is the people who threaten to do the same thing to these United States today.