Every once in a while, a so-called Democratic Socialist will write something completely honest, in which they actually tell us that their public political personas are a lie Megan Day recently wrote such an article for VOX. In this article, Ms. Day openly tells us that Medicare for All and a broader social safety net are not what they are looking for. Those are, to use her phrasing, “part of the long, uneven process of building.. support, and eventually overthrowing capitalism.”
After clarifying that fully socialized medicine is the goal for healthcare (Medicaid for All being but a stepping stone), Ms. Day goes further, telling the world, “Of course, even socializing a whole industry like medicine wouldn’t automatically lead to the socializing of others. But through the process of the campaign, democratic socialists want to build into the popular consciousness an awareness that the market is not capable of meeting society’s needs. This sets us up for other fights, whether something defensive such as stopping school privatization or something proactive such as nationalizing energy companies.”
If this sounds a bit like a domestic version of the ‘domino effect,’ it is. Ms. Day, and the Democratic Socialist movement in general, wants to topple industry by industry, in a long march toward the end of free market economics.
What Ms. May, and the rest of the Democratic Socialists, do not seem to understand, is that Karl Marx’ writings only covered half of the economic equation. To put it bluntly, before Ms. Day can distribute bread, someone has to bake that bread. There are a whole myriad of ingredients that go into bread, such as sugar, salt, oil, water, flour, and yeast. All of those ingredients need to be produced. In the case of flour, wheat needs to be grown and milled. Making bread is a complicated process involving farming, milling, mining (for salt), producing oil, drilling for water, growing sugar cane or beets and producing it into sugar, transportation, distribution, and finally, baking.
Marx looked at the amount of bread being produced and simply said, “We can distribute this better.” Marx ignored the farmers, millers, miners, drillers, truckers, distributors, bakers, and other workers who make the bread, assuming that if X many loaves are currently being produced, X many loaves will be produced in the future no matter what changes Marx made to the process of distribution and consumption.
Marx assumed that production was a given. Marx did not bother to concern himself with the incentives that drive people to produce.
I’m going to assume that the majority of people reading this article have jobs. I am going to further assume that the majority of the people reading this article are paid to work. Marx’ assumptions regarding production were based on the belief that those reading this article would continue to work, just as hard as they do today, even if they were not paid. “Don’t worry,” Marx would say, “You are working for the common good. We will feed and clothe you. We will give you a place to live when you are not working. We will take care of your basic needs.”
In Marx’ own words, he said it more succinctly: “From each according to his abilities. To each according to his needs.”
Lenin and Trotsky thought Marx was correct, and implemented his theories, creating the Soviet Union. They soon found that, without incentives to work, people don’t like to farm, bake, mine, or mill. Production collapsed, and people starved.
The solution was, of course, obvious. Some people were working – just not enough. Lenin ventured that the people not working out of the goodness of their hearts were bad communists. He decided he could fix that problem by punishing those who did not work ‘according to his abilities,’ and the gulag system was formed.
I have never been to a gulag, but I have been to two concentration camps (Dachau and Auschwitz), and I wrote about my recent trip to Auschwitz here. People were sent to concentration camps for different reasons than they were sent to gulags, but the death rates and living conditions of gulags and of concentration camps were the same. I invite you to read my article on Auschwitz, and imagine being sent to such a place for the crime of baking too little bread. Over 100 million people were killed in the name of socialism, during the last century. Our ability to kill at industrial levels has grown exponentially since then, so don’t think it can’t happen to you.
Several Italian philosophers, including Giovanni Gentile, who was also a devout followers of Marx, noticed that without incentives to produce, Lenin had to commit terrible atrocities against his own people to force them to work. Giovanni Gentile reasoned control of the economy was infinitely more important that was paper ‘ownership,’ and he devised a system in which private individuals would ‘own’ businesses, but only under the stewardship of the state. The state would centrally run the economy, but would allow the profit system to operate, under state supervision, as an incentive system, such that gulags would not be necessary. Gentile called this ‘improved version of socialism’, ‘fascism’.
Megan Day, Bernie Sanders, and the other Democratic Socialists are not fascists. These people view profit as inherently evil, and want a society in which everyone works for the common good, receiving in return what they need to survive. These people, if put in charge, will face the same choice Lenin faced, and that Maduro is facing in Venezuela today: without any other incentive to work, the state must resort to forcing people to work, through a system of punishment. Venezuela will be the latest in a long line of countries to build a gulag system, and if Megan Day gets her wishes, we will build one too. The gulag is an inherent part of socialism.
One would think that the need for gulags would be enough to turn people against socialism, but it is not going to sway true socialists, who say instead that America got rich off the backs of Native Americans, African Americans, and poorer peoples from around the world, whose land, labor, and wealth we unfairly stole. Socialists would then assert that all but a handful of us are oppressed by our capitalist overlords, who force us into a debt-based bondage, where we must work to survive. ‘Freedom’ is, to a socialist, a form of slavery. True freedom comes only when all of your needs are met independently of the need to work, and as for rights, no socialist believes in the existence of negative rights. Socialists only believe in positive rights – the right to food, the right to housing, the right to healthcare, etc.. Furthermore, taking more than what you absolutely need to survive is oppressive toward those who have less, and as such, the most anyone should have is the amount that will keep them alive for another day.
Each person having only what they need to survive – this is what the phrase ‘sustainable economy’ means.
Marx’ theory called for the creation of a temporary ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat,’ that would manage the transition to a world without a government, in which the workers of the world would manage the economy through democratic means. If you re-read Megan Day’s article, you will see that she is calling for the exact same thing. And kudos to Ms. Day – at least she is honest enough to tell us about it.
Incidentally, when I was at Auschwitz, I walked down the same road the Jewish people walked down when they marched to the gas chambers. You walk to the gulag exactly as Megan Day describes – one step at a time.
Ms. Day says that only a few benefit from free markets. That’s not really true, but it is true that some benefit more than do others. Is her system any different? If we look at examples of it in action, we can answer that somehow the higher-ups of the socialist movement always live in opulence. Just as in Orwell’s book, Animal Farm, the socialist leaders don’t overthrow the existing overlords so much as they replace them. Greed exists under any system.
Socialists believe in socialism, and people like Megan Day will never stop working to deliver it. Socialists will not stop until socialism is the only economic and political system on the face of the Earth. And they will lie to deliver it. Ms. Day states as much.
The siren song of socialism is infectious. Everyone likes ‘free’. No matter how many times socialism fails, and no matter how many people it kills, there will always be new socialists, happy to fail, and to kill, yet again. They will never stop, and nor can we. We must be prepared to fight them forever.