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AK Rockefeller

Question For Bernie: What Happens To Those Who Don’t Want To Join Your Commune?

I&I Editorial

Much like Hillary Clinton feeling the need to reintroduce herself to voters multiple times, Bernie Sanders has decided to tell us again exactly what democratic socialism is. Maybe the need for so much explaining indicates that voters know what DemSoc is and want no part of it.

Sanders, the nominally Democratic but realistically socialist senator from Vermont, made a speech Wednesday that the AP declared was “a strong defense of democratic socialism, the economic philosophy that has guided his political career.” It was “his most aggressive attempt yet to reframe the conversation about his political views.”

The big question that never gets addressed regarding these and other “explanations” of socialism is: Why do the self-identified “democratic socialists” feel it’s OK to force those who’d rather be free into their collective?

The system Sanders wants to force on this country of ostensibly free people requires more coercion than that which we are already under. Without force, both real and threatened, socialist systems cannot work. They require governments to take from some and give to others. Its subjects are obligated to participate.

National Review’s Kevin Williamson calls socialism “solidarity that is enforced at gunpoint, if necessary.”

British novelist Kingsley Amis, who was a young Marxist before he became a supporter of Margaret Thatcher and friend of the Adam Smith Institute, said that “if socialism is not about compulsion, it is about nothing.”

The Adam Smith Institute itself reminds us that “whenever socialism has been tried it has involved compulsion, as it attempts to make people behave in ways they would not freely choose to do.”

In the “Dostoevsky Encyclopedia,” author Kenneth Lantz explained that “lacking any spiritual basis for human brotherhood, the socialists must resort to compulsion to establish it.”

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul once asked if violence was inherent to socialism, to which he responded: “I think the answer is absolutely yes.”

And, finally, legendary economist Milton Friedman wraps up our argument.

“The essential notion of a socialist society is fundamentally force,” said Friedman. “If the government is the master, you ultimately have to order people what to do.”

America wasn’t built on coercive government. It was conceived and founded on liberty, and opportunity created by freedom, not artificially manufactured by the state. It has worked far better than any system implemented by man.

Of course the political left argues that without some degree of socialism, we’d have no roads, schools, parks, libraries, first responders, nor other “public” institutions and infrastructure. This argument is quite obviously nonsensical.

First, all of these “socialist” components can exist — and have existed throughout history — without government involvement. They might not be identical to what we see today, and in many cases would be an improvement. But they are not products unique only to socialism.

Second, we know, as economist Donald Boudreaux explains, that “government provision of public goods crowds out a sizeable portion of private investment in public goods.”

If Americans learn nothing else about socialism, they should at least know this. “The goal of socialists,” writes William L. Anderson, “is socialism — not prosperity.” In other words, the objective is to use promises of abundance and a better life to do nothing more than amass raw political power.

Also know: Both the hammer and the sickle have multiple purposes. They can be used as tools, and they can be used as weapons to force assent. The political left will say that’s a misinterpretation of their meaning. We can judge for ourselves if that’s true.


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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

39 comments

  • It’s not just “democratic socialists” who “feel it’s OK to force those who’d rather be free into their collective,” it’s basically any Leftist scheme–like Obamacare, that tried to force people into it with fines and coercion, and did force itself onto the medical profession with such onerous rules and bureaucracy that many private practices closed rather than tolerate. The same is true of Social Security and Medicare–people are given no choice about participation in either.

    Of course, the Right isn’t coercion-free, as shown by the recent spate of abortion laws passed in various Red states. What are they other than repudiations of individual freedom?

      • Whether or not a foetus is a “baby” or a blob of cells is not a debate that will ever be decided. My view follows Descartes: “I think therefore I am,” implies that in the the absence of thought there is no “I,” thus until that point in ontogeny when the brain is capable of cognition there is no “I.” Until that point, there is no “baby trying to live” because “trying” implies volition and without cognition there can be no volition.

    • You still have the freedom to go to another state to have your abortion if you choose. The whole point of these laws it the decision belongs to the states and the peoples of those states. If you don’t like your states law (be it to permissive or to restrictive) you can change the law at state level MUCH easier than at federal. What choice does socialism/communism give you if it is at federal level? Move to another country? If they let you? You are making a fallacy in comparison there.

      • “…the decision belongs to the states and the peoples of those states.”

        Actually, the 10th Amendment reads “…or to the people,” not “and the people.” I’m not saying the actions of the state are unconstitutional, I’m just saying they’re a “tyranny of the majority” and are thus in contravention of the principle–and expectation–of individual freedom.

    • The 10th amendment, which gets short shrift these days, says that the individual states can make laws that are in line with the values of it’s citizens. The red States that you elude to, obviously passed legislation that the majority of the people in the respective states wanted passed.

      Abortion is not a right enshrined in the Constitution, even though many people are under the (wrong) impression that it is.

      • Actually, the 10th Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

        I choose to emphasise the last four words.

    • The most common argument against abortion is forced sharing of the costs, The government must not pay to have it’s citizens butchered as most citizens don’t approve, and will not pay the bill.

      • The government shouldn’t be paying anyone’s medical bills for any medical service, the one exception being veterans benefits, that being a contractual obligation on government as part of the military compensation package.

        I.e., Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare should all be scrapped.

    • Exactly right. Socialism cannot be implemented without total government control. In other words only terror can implement Socialism.

  • History has shown us that there are only two possible places to which those who do not wish to join the collective can go, to the Gulag or to the grave.

  • Actually, last night (6/13/2019) read directly from the communist doctrines that were espoused in USSR. Almost identical! Lets move the real definition of Bernie into communism.

  • The answer is: “It’s off to the reeducation camps.”. Always has been and always will be. What Bernie needs to answer is whether the reeducation camps will be Soviet style, Chinese style, Cuban style, Venezuelan style.

  • There is no mention of democratic socialists countries as in all of Northern Europe (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, England), Australia and Canada. In Canada, single payer (through Govt taxes) for Medicare); one year off with pay after giving birth; each parent gets $6,500 per child under age of 6 and $5,500 per child between ages of 6 and 18 inclusive. Imagine if you had 5 children $$$$$$.
    https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/my-benefits-credits.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc-en&utm_content=ccb-3&utm_campaign=my-benefits-credits

    And most European countries are way more “socialist” gasp than the Canadians.
    Average income is not the measure, Median income is. A few Billionaires skews the average way higher than what the average middle class person makes…… Bill Gates, Jeff Soros, Koch Brothers and Warren Buffett bring that average way up….
    https://blog.datawrapper.de/weekly-chart-income/
    And the median income does not tell the whole story on its own. Canada, Australia, and the USA have similar median incomes, but Canada and Australia have single payer health care, a much better funded education system, old age security payments, infrastructure….
    And to add to this US citizens work more hours in a year than Canada, Australia and Western Europe…… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/nationalities-that-work-the-longest-hours/

    https://sweden.se/society/10-things-that-make-sweden-family-friendly/ <— 10 things that makes Sweden family friendly.

    I could go on tangents such as Finish Education system, the Germans working on average of 35 hours a week and an average of 24 paid holidays a year….https://www.huffingtonpost.com/amol-sarva/why-germans-work-fewer-ho_b_6172262.html and OMG don’t get me going on pensions.
    But my point is that the Average American worker is in bad shape next to many other countries where their citizens have a compatible income while working less and having much less stress…

    There are only a small percentage of truly evil people that are born that way. A population can be moulded through propaganda (lies, misinformation, and no reporting on relevant matters). This can occur through state controlled media (China, Saudi Arabia, etc) or through money controlling politicians and the media (USA as the current prime example). It is shocking a significant portion of the US electorate can be so so so easily manipulated. Since the topic is scary socialism, it is almost funny how the US media equates socialism with Venezuela and only Venezuela where there are so many successful democratic socialist countries. And yet crickets when it comes to pointing out horrific dictatorships like in Saudi Arabia and recently on its way to being one in Brazil.

  • Anybody else want to to barf every time liberals start whining about”inequality”? It’s a supposed problem with no definition and no solution. Who decides how far the rich must be brought down? How much free crap do the lower classes get and what happens if they squander it? Even if you give free college, how do you equalize ambition and talent? This becomes one of those stupid, feel good issues that the left can ride forever because the end is indeterminate…and someone should publicly point that out to all the D candidates.

    • first of all nothing is free. all those people that want both to get and to give the “free stuff” are all anti-slavery advocates yet they are perfectly willing to make other people go to work to pay for their “free stuff.” if someone doesn’t has the right to the fruits of their labor they are a slave. that is exactly what the American worker has become, a slave of the American politician. we are suppose to pay taxes to pay for the services that government provides us not have to give the politicians enough money to dole out so they can buy enough votes to keep themselves in office permanently.

  • What happens to those who don’t want to join? I’ll tell you: TOUGH…same as ‘you won’t lose your health care plan.

  • “lacking any spiritual basis for human brotherhood, the socialists must resort to compulsion to establish it.”

    Think twice before agreeing to surrender your 2nd Amendment rights.

    • We should learn from Venezuelan example – they voluntarily surrendered guns, because El Comandante Chaves asked them. They now know what fools they are.

  • You quoted several opinions of people who agree with you as “proof” of your argument. Wow, good job. What a smart writer you are. Is this article a joke?

    • And after reading the comments of the other nuts in here… wow. You guys don’t get how our tax system purely benefits the rich. Sad.

      • the rich? the people benefiting from the tax system are the politicians. the top ten percent of wage earners pay 70%. why should the rich have to pay more then anyone else? should success be a punishable offense? how can you have a successful country when if you punish success.

  • Fyi, I don’t take any tax deductions, even though I could, because I realize they’re garbage. I pay my fair share. Do you? No. Stop being garbage citizens.

    But I know you won’t, because you’re garbage people who only care about your garbage selves.

  • As is typically the case across virtually all “journalistic” attempts to “frame” what Bernie is saying in as unflattering a light as possible, this version again completely distorts his message. Commune has a completely derogatory embodiment as to the point of this article from the get go. So let’s see how my comment is treated here as I refute this effort to deride Mr. Sanders?

    There is an all out assault on Bernie Sanders by the establishment as those that approve of his message grow in numbers exponentially. Recently the American Medical Association gave its approval of Medicare expansion. To use the word commune in your title is a complete bastardization of Bernie’s recipe for change. A set of general change proposals that is sorely needed as “The Corporatist State” has matured to an abhorrent degree; Denigrating the lives of the many to servitude while those born to great wealth and the corporate entities who run this country violate macroeconomic principles for their own enrichment. Case in point… Trump tax cuts on borrowed $… Now amazingly determined to not pay for themselves… 75% of which went to corporations and the top 1/10 of 1%. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and others understand that change must take place. Entrepreneurism is stifled as megalopolist entities such as Amazon decide who plays and who wins. False premises widely publicized that blame immigrants for the societal displacement of workers mostly attributable to automation have bamboozled the masses. Both political parties in general march to the beat of the same drummer hence the Koch brothers now are lending their support to the Democrats. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is authentic, legitimate and who can be trusted to actually follow through on his policy proposals recognizing that the President of the United States is not a dictator. Thus as Bernie stated like his long deceased mentor Franklin Delano Roosevelt…”I love the hate.” This article and others like it in mischaracterizing his message fulfill roundly in that regard. May Senator Sanders be successful in his mission to halt the march of the corporatist nation and return this nation to a sense of balance both economically and politically.

    • The problem with socialism, whether soft as comrade Sanders is promoting, or the hard socialism of Cuba or the old USSR, is that pretty soon, you run out of other people’s money.

  • Appears you’re “censoring” comments; Only allowing comments that support your message. Waiting to see my previous comment published. Hmmmm?

  • Deal with it. Not reading your ignorant article. You’re either an idiot or a sell out. I don’t care which.

  • Snore. The neo-McCarthyism fear-mongering knows no boundaries. Anyone who knows anything knows that Sanders advocates programs that are successful in countries that have more successful economies than our own and where no one is worried about living in gulags, fetus murder or losing their 2nd amendment rights.

    • Really? Firstly, there are no more successful economies than our own. This shoots down your reasoning.
      Further, Socialism is good only for a few from the ruling Communist Party.

  • “when communism comes to the united states it will come under the label of “progressive democracy.”
    alexander trachenberg

    nyc city teachers union official and shot shot in the American communist party in the 1940s

  • In short form socialism is a system that frees workers, who produce the social wealth, from exploitation or the the theft of the surplus value of their labor by a small number of non-workers or the owners of commodity production. In this sense under the existing capitalist order it is workers who have no choice and are forced to accept less than the full value of their labor. So the article is far off base when it tries to turn the tables and say that it is socialism which limits the freedom of the majority when in fact it frees the majority from the shackles of capitalist production.

    • This is very naive, juvenile reasoning. Just go live somewhere where they have Socialism, only then you will understand.

    • How is that working out for Venezuela? Why can’t you see socialism doesn’t work. It never has. (please don’t give us the Sweden song and dance) Sure socialism sounds great on paper, but you can’t fight human nature. The power hungry and lazy will be power hungry and lazy in any system. There will be no equality of outcome and happily ever after – not ever.

      • I pretty much agree with you. Part of what I was trying to do here is show the various ways proponents of big government pretend it isn’t the failed, anti-freedom ideology it is, whether they call it socialism or think they only go half way to socialism, whatever. Biden, Bernie, Corbyn, AOC — they’re all guilty of this.

  • Note… It is “interesting” that comments posted here are not in chronological order… How does that happen? For example, how is it that the very first comment in the order of appearance is June 14 at 0941 AM? Typically, as is common practice the comments would appear with the first comment being last in the list as it was the very first to appear e.g., chronological order.

    In this instance, dates and times are scattered about. When I wrote my comment appearing at 0851AM on 15 June there were 10 comments that preceded mine. Now my initial comment is third from last in order of appearance.

    One may gather from this that the “editors” of this site have a specific agenda to promote right oriented comments rather than allowing comments to fall in order of time submitted. Thus, those that agree with the premise of your article are given preferential position in order to further “support ” your position. Thanks. JR

    • We have posted many comments that disagree with our viewpoints, so long as they comply with our simple rules. As to when they post, it depends on when we get around to reviewing them.

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