Consider the Alternative
Consider the Alternative
Critiques of our American democracy are en vogue in recent years. However, a vast majority of these arguments exhibit a critical flaw: they compare our country to a hypothetical “utopia” rather than alternative models found in the real world.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with reaching for an ideal. In fact, our country was founded on this principle. Furthermore, the means to do so — mainly consisting of the passing of legislation, our process of judicial review, and our ability to amend our constitution — are key parts of our governmental mechanisms. Yet, many of the radical calls to “tear it all down” would, in fact, destroy the very mechanisms that enable us to better ourselves and our government. Then what would be erected in its place? Have we really thought this through?
Before we dismantle the pillars of our democracy and its unique strength to protect individual liberties, it would be wise to carefully examine the possible alternatives that might arise, not based on imaginary hypotheticals, but rather, real-world examples of socialist models.
West vs. East Europe
In the aftermath of World War II, neither the U.S. nor its allies had the will to secure the freedom of Eastern Europe, which fell under the shadow of communist Russia. For the next 45 years, democratic Western Europe flourished, while Eastern Europe fell into stagnation, environmental toxicity, and repression. In Berlin, the difference was cast in stark relief where a single wall marked the boundary between prosperity and near-destitution. The only difference that separated the two halves of this city was its governmental system — democracy on one side and a socialist regime on the other.
North vs. South Korea
Democratic South Korea is one of the most prosperous and free countries in Asia. Communist North Korea on the other hand, is one of the poorest and most reclusive nations on Earth. They have been divided since 1948 and nowadays, the difference between the two could hardly be starker. South Korea is a flourishing democracy, with an abundance of economic opportunities and significant freedom for its people, whereas North Korea is a barren land, nearing on destitution, where people regularly starve to death or are killed in state-run prisons.
China vs. Taiwan
Taiwan and China share the same ethnicity, culture, history, and language. But there’s one very big difference: since 1949, China has been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party whereas Taiwan, with extensive assistance form the U.S., is now a thriving democracy. That one difference has caused these two places, situated a mere 100 miles from each other, to seem like two different worlds.
Since taking power in 1949, 60-80 million Chinese people have died at the hands of the communist regime, whereas Taiwan has flourished to become one the Four Asian Tigers — the prosperous and free democracies of Asia.
In the 1990s, Venezuela was one of the wealthiest nations in Latin America with huge oil reserves. In 1999, democratic socialist Hugo Chavez, who ran with a promise for “Hope & Change,” was elected and immediately began taking over entire industries. The immediate effects of redistributing wealth saw a decrease in poverty, and Chavez was praised by Sean Penn, Michael Moore, and Bernie Sanders. Within a few short years, however, the state ran out of funds to seize, and like a giant ponzi scheme, the model fell apart, and the country fell into a tailspin. Nearly 2 million Venezuelans fled the country, as inflation and hunger sky-rocketed. Today, hunger and abject poverty is rampant, while Chavez’s successor has doubled-down on repressive tactics, jailing reporters and many opposition forces. In short, Venezuela is the most recent and most relevant example for the United States as to what happens when electing a socialist to power.
The “Scandinavian Model”
Many in the U.S. like to point to the “socialist” Scandinavian countries as a model to follow. The problem, however, is that none of the Scandinavian countries are socialist. The misconception escalated to such levels that Denmark’s prime minister felt compelled to correct U.S. politician Bernie Sanders when we publicly rebuked the U.S. senator, clarifying that: “Denmark is a market economy.” The Nordic countries do have high taxes and elements of a welfare state, but many have less bureaucracy surrounding small businesses and no minimum wage. More recently, many of the socialist policies has had negative effects on the economies. Consequently, many of these countries have begun to rollback these socialist programs and re-privatize key sectors such as telecom and transportation.
Socialism’s Fatal Flaw
The rhetoric utilized by advocates of socialism and communism tout the idea that equitable control of the means of production and distribution of wealth is a universally fair approach. This is often referred to as “the people” or “the workers” being the beneficiaries of the equal distribution of the resultant wealth or goods. What they fail to mention is that, in practice, “the people” don’t actually have any power. It’s always a small group of communist or socialist leaders who possess the power to manage the means of production and distribution of wealth. This is known as “state owned,” but again, who is really in control? A small circle of powerful elite. This makes the centralized control of socialist and communist governments more powerful than emperors or monarchs, and as the saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
It is, therefore, no surprise that in every single case throughout human history when socialism or communism has been tried, it has always resulted in the accumulation of enormous wealth and corruption by an elite few, all while “the people” are given very little or left destitute.