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Issues & Insights

America’s Growing Approval Of Socialism Is A Rejection Of Freedom

I&I Editorial

In February 2009, just after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Newsweek declared on its cover “We Are All Socialists Now.” More than a decade later, socialism has taken over the Democratic Party, and has a strong hold on young Americans. It’s gone mainstream in a nation founded on principles opposite the tenets of socialism.

Seven in 10 millennials say they would vote for a socialist candidate, while 64% of Generation Z told pollsters last year it is “somewhat/extremely likely” they’d vote for a socialist, according to a YouGov-Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation poll taken last fall.

Among Democrats of all ages, socialism is held in high esteem. Seven in 10 (again) said last spring socialism is “a good thing,” marking a disturbing shift. The year before, only 57% of Democrats held the same opinion of socialism.

Cultural critic Camille Paglia has said that young Americans lean toward socialism because they are ignorant of history. So maybe they just don’t understand what socialism is. To them, it’s an avuncular white-haired guy yelling about concentrations of wealth, which they’ve been led to believe is an evil that must be broken by the state, and too many choices in deodorant; a frail but angry-for-some-reason woman promising to cancel the debt on their student loans who says she has a plan to fix all economic and societal ills; and a young, photogenic New York congresswoman with a tippy-top coolness factor who they think speaks for them.

Socialism, though, is coercion by the state, “a boot,” said George Orwell, “stamping on the human face forever.” It requires the exclusion of freedom, operates by command, requires reluctant participants to yield to its plans. Socialism “cannot co-exist with individual rights,” its solidarity “is enforced at gunpoint,” its notions of equality and fairness ensured by squads that will ultimately “show up with truncheons.”

And we’re not talking about just the Cubas, North Koreas, East Germanys, and Soviet Unions of the past and present. The utopian welfare state that the democratic socialists – and socialist Democrats – say they want to establish would still require a coercive authority. Welfare states are funded only by the forced redistribution of income and wealth. Economic freedom and property rights have to be surrendered to the collective.

At one time Americans cherished freedom. While some still do, it’s obvious a large portion of the population prefers comfort provided by others, don’t want to hear ideas and opinions they don’t agree with, and are happy to see the liberty of others restricted, and even eliminated, if those restrictions are holding back freedoms they don’t care about, such as the right to bear arms. They have also grown “apathetic about their freedom,” writes James Bovard, “because most of the media continually assure them that Big Government is nothing to fear.”

Not every Republican, conservative, and libertarian is on board with President Donald Trump. Some of his bitterest enemies, it seems, would have supported any other Republican president.

But at least we have a president who declares “we were born free and we will stay free,” and has promised “America will never be a socialist country.” This is the real “resistance.”


— Written by J. Frank Bullitt


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62 comments

  • Do you often engage in hyperbole? And speaking of all caps how about “show up with truncheons” links? You do not win hearts and minds with an article such as this.

  • There is a lot of confusion among our youth about what Socialism actually is, and no doubt that confusion is intentional. Apart from progressives in our own country, those in other countries who despise us would like nothing better than to see us go down this self-destructive road.

    • Whereas judging from your screen name you’d rather have a Libertarian society, which has never existed outside of fiction?

      • No true ideal has ever existed anywhere. However, America in 1910 was quite close to that ideal.

        As for my screen name, I chose it for unending schadenfreude. The irony that the mere appearance of the name of a 70 year old fictional character invariably draws immediate and predictable irate judgement from those who judge things on appearances rather than reality would have delighted Ms Rand as proof of her theories about human nature.

      • 1910. Women’s right to vote not added to constitution. Black people often lynched and subject to Jim Crow. According to Jonathan Galt it was “close to ideal”. Speaks volumes about what some people actually value… and it certainly isn’t freedom.

      • We had 13 million immigrants in the U.S. in 1910, constituting over 12 percent of the population. Why on earth were they coming here? It just speaks volumes about what some people value, doesn’t it? It certainly can’t be freedom!

      • @SteakAndChips I was speaking of our economic system. All systems are flawed, and if ours had issues it was still better than virtually every other in its day – so whining about what we had not gotten around to fixing yet does not change the fact that we were a far freer society in 1910 than today, and were STILL the best deal going in the world.

      • Some people were far freer in 1910. Children working 60 hour weeks in dangerous factories were certainly not better off than children today in industrial nations.

      • @Thomas McArdle Yes, despite what some perceive as flaws today, we are and were better by almost any metric you can name at any given point in history.

      • @macsmarvels Good grief – are you utterly incapable of differentiating between different subjects? The subject was, “When did we have near perfect capitalism / Libertarianism in this country.” In 1910 we still nearly did – I picked that year only because it predates the 16th and 17th Amendments, which together with the establishment of the latest iteration of a national bank (the Fed) guaranteed the monstrous growth we have seen in our Federal government. I did NOT pick it as an example of “when race and sex relations were best in this country.” They were bad EVERYWHERE in 1910.

        For the record, we had BETTER African American representation (as a percent of Congresspersons) in our Congress in 1870s than we do today. They were all Republican. Democrats put a stop to that.

        Take your grievance whining somewhere else. This was, and in most respects remains, the best country ever on the face of the earth – with the notable exception of race- and sex-baiting trolls. There is a process to fix things still imperfect, and whining that some things were imperfect in the past is not that process.

      • @macsmarvels “Rand must be rolling in her grave.”

        At what people like you have done to this country, yes. I met her at one of her final public appearances. Smart woman, prophetic.

      • You don’t have a clue what I have done For this country. Name a single place on the planet where Rand’s over reaction to whatever it was communism did to her has been successfully applied.

  • It’s ironic that people born under freedom are willing to toss that precious status and opt for a socialist jack-boot on their necks.

    • It’s unfortunately part of nature that one cannot fully appreciate something until it’s gone. Young Chinese students and soldiers gleefully cheered their revolution of 1949. Their grandchildren were mowed down in Tiananmen Square forty years later trying to cheer for Miss Liberty.

  • “don’t want to hear ideas and opinions they don’t agree with, and are happy to see the liberty of others restricted” — Is that why this site censors the comments section, especially posts that they don’t disagree with? Is that the authors here — in bold font — claim that comments is a “privilege not a right”? I guess right-wingers don’t value freedoms and want to shut down those that disagree with them. True resistance is to resist the censors.

  • “Cultural critic Camille Paglia has said that young Americans lean toward socialism because they are ignorant of history. So maybe they just don’t understand what socialism is.”

    Sure they do: the state controls the means of production. Like Health Care in almost every other civilized nation.

    • They aren’t any more civilized, and the pay for that healthcare with long wait times, poor service, lower survival rates, lower standards of living, and sometimes death before getting care.

      While you may rejoice at free healthcare that requires your neighbors all work additional decades before they can save enough to retire, the country as a whole suffers. Many, perhaps most, feel that your well being at that cost simply isn’t worth it. So sad.

      • The US is about to be 64th out of 195 nations for life expectancy and spends 17% of GDP on healthcare. These are the top ten life expectancy countries – asterisk is some form of universal healthcare and the number is the %GDP

        Spain – 85.8 years * 9%
        Japan – 85.7 years * 11%
        Singapore – 85.4 years * 2%
        Switzerland – 85.2 years * 12%
        Portugal – 84.5 years * 9%
        Italy – 84.5 years * 9%
        Israel – 84.4 years * 7%
        France – 84.3 years * 11%
        Luxembourg – 84.1 years * 5%
        Australia – 84.1 years * 9%

        Notice a pattern?

      • Publicly funded universal health care systems actually perform just as well as the US and better in many areas. The US does not lead the way on survival rates or quality of care. The US has good quality healthcare but vastly more inefficient than what is provided in other countries because it is designed to maximize profit not health outcomes.
        Americans pay a premium and do not actually receive the value they should. Publicly funded systems do employ wait times to ration services. Private systems deny coverage to poor people to ration services. Overall the public systems perform better in general. It is demonstrably false that the country “as a whole suffers”. They spend a fraction per capita and achieve superior health outcomes.

        Support for socialism is not about ignorance of history, it is knowledge of the present. Young people know how to access information and know how to verify what people tell them. They can go online and discover how blatantly false your claims are, for instance. They don’t just read some opinion writer and think to themselves “that sounds about true, I’m going to believe it”. No, they can actually verify one way or another whether it actually is true. They can look directly at the statistics.

      • @SteakAndChips Well, I suppose by twisting the meaning of the word “better” to match your ideology you can construe just about anything as being “better.” But, it’s not. 10 year cancer survival – best in the world. Innovation – leading the world.

        Your assessment that those other systems operate as efficiently as ours does is likewise a complete fairy tale. Government NEVER ADDS VALUE to any process whatsoever. Government is force, and what one person gets more cheaply must come because another was denied the right to sell their services for what they are actually worth. You “young people” who have access at your fingertips to more knowledge in an instant than ever before in history are still utterly gullible when it comes to people selling you a bill of goods, as in believing in “free money” or “policies without consequences.”

        Feel free to point out a single thing I said that you believe is untrue, and show us how easily you can “prove it” with facts and figures.

      • Government is an agreement, not force. In most industrial nations today the people of the means and opportunity to rewrite the agreement. If you as an individual do not like the agreement then you must convince a sufficient number of people that the agreement needs changing. So far your arguments are not convincing. The US in 1910 was not exactly the high watermark of an ideal society unless, of course, you favor child labor.

      • If people would do voluntarily, it would not require and act of government. Your premise is disproved. Goodbye.

  • This is result of years of public school indoctrination and having been told what to do and how to do it for your whole life. We have allowed our children to become Socialists and now we’re gonna reap what we have sown.

  • We are now reaping the seeds sown by the public schools in this country for the last 60 years. Reagan said the loss of freedom is only one generation away. Looks like we’re already there.

  • — Not every Republican, conservative, and libertarian is on board with President Donald Trump. Some of his bitterest enemies, it seems, would have supported any other Republican president. —

    Those other Republican candidates for president, with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, would have been far less fierce in defense of freedom than is President Trump. The true priorities and agenda of those “bitterest enemies” are best revealed by that.

  • We have our school teachers to thank for this. Funny since they will some of the first to be led to the “killing Fields”.

  • Growing Socialism is the result of liberal educators who indoctrinate youth rather than teach them critical thinking skills.

  • It’s the “participation award” generation getting older. Younger Americans are drawn to Sanders’ schtick. They don’t like the idea of competition among themselves or with other nations. They want to “cooperate” meaning they want the government (other taxpayers) to make life easy… free college, free healthcare, freedom from working…. It’s a downward spiral once it starts.

  • No matter how well-intentioned or carefully planned, socialist schemes administered by government invariably result in societal carnage. When it comes to socialism, the cure is invariably worse than the disease. The reasons for this are simple. Its politicized remedies are (1) inflexible, (2) coercively implemented at the expense of individual liberty, and (3) focused on promised, utopian outcomes, not on actual results.

    By now the science is well and truly settled: Permitting social-engineering bureaucrats, self-serving politicians, and hyper-politicized lawyers posing as impartial judges to use government power to play God with the lives of others never works. It is now, ever was, and always will be, a surefire formula for disaster (ref. http://www.newguardsforliberty.com).

    • Science? What science? Here’s a list of the Democratic Socialist countries. There are some real failures in there, but the majority are doing just fine and some have a much higher life expectancy than the US. The * countries have a higher life expectancy than the US (there may be others as we are 64th) and spend far less of their GDP on healthcare. There’s “surefire formula for disaster”.

      Armenia
      Bolivia (fastest growing GDP worldwide)
      Brazil
      Croatia
      Denmark
      Ecuador
      Finland
      France *
      Germany
      Greenland
      Iceland
      Italy *
      Luxembourg *
      Moldova
      Netherlands
      Nicaragua
      Norway
      Peru
      Portugal *
      Serbia
      Slovenia
      Sweden
      Tunisia
      Turkey
      UK
      Venezuela

      • “ The US is about to be 64th out of 195 nations for life expectancy and spends 17% of GDP on healthcare….
        …Notice a pattern?”

        Why yes, I do. You are obfuscating by conflating longevity with quality of health care. It is a false and deliberately misleading comparison.

        American lifespans are very similar to the countries you named, and would most likely be higher than theirs but for causes unrelated to healthcare. #1 is obesity caused heart attacks, which ironically is due in part to our greater prosperity. Unintentional injuries also arise from more leisure time, again related to prosperity. Phentynol is another killer hitting us harder and younger than in most of Europe. Culturally, Europeans eat a healthier diet which affects longevity in other ways I didn’t already mention.

        As a propagandist, you aren’t very convincing.

      • There is no such thing as “democratic socialism”.The countries you list are primarily capitalistic.

      • If there is no such thing as Democratic Socialism and the countries I list are primarily capitalistic, then what’s all the drang und sturm about?

      • @macsmarvels Oh dear, I’m not a pharmacist. So sad.

        I am acutely aware of GDP issues. In most cases, when you pay less, you get less. Government does not improve that equation – it can at best only shift costs, and at worst do so so inefficiently that the entire standard of living of a society is reduced substantially. That is why the average poor person in the United States is as well off as the average middle class person in Europe, and still has inferior healthcare. It is also why reducing taxes and slashing regulations resulted in 5 million jobs the CBO deemed impossible by this date during the Obama administration – a transfer of wealth equal to about $300-400 billion to the poorest people in our nation. Socialism doesn’t accomplish that.

        Speaking of GDP, with less than 5% of the world’s population we produce 25% of its GDP. Despite that immense wealth, leftist policies are literally leading us over the economic cliff towards the largest fiscal collapse in history. Last year, over 96% of record Federal revenues went towards Entitlements (things Congress must spend by law due to prior laws passed, and which the sitting President has no chance to veto). That is up from about 64% in 2000, and will probably exceed 100% next year. It takes a 2/3 majority in the Senate to pass such budgetary changes, meaning any reform MUST be bipartisan. Unless Congress willingly enacts reform, in about 12-15 years the crash will be so epic that literally millions dependent on Entitlements will die. Meanwhile, one political party calls any suggestion to balance the budget “radical,” refusing to even discuss it but instead demands to INCREASE spending.

        You’re probably in your 20s, full of energy and great ideals. Like most people, you prefer lies to the truth either because you wish they were true or are afraid they might be. But, there are no fairy farts, unicorn horns, or free money – and there is no such thing as a political policy without a cost. Someday when you realize that basic fact you will understand why Socialism fails every time it is tried.

      • @macsmarvels “I’m 77, formally educated (M.S.), a veteran and worked for a living from age 15. Some of us learned the hard way.”

        All of that is true for me as well, plus several years in the front seat of pointy jets – except I’m 15 years younger and I actually learned some of the underlying lessons. Our country is now $23 Trillion in debt; over 96% of all record Federal revenues were spent on Entitlements your generation voted into being; and next year they will probably exceed 100% and headed for inescapable fiscal collapse unless intransigent Democrats agree to Entitlement reforms. So far, their message is not only no but “hell no” and “we’re going to jack up taxes and spending even higher.” Call me vindictive, but I sincerely hope you live long enough to suffer the consequences when the house of cards you and those like you built collapses.

      • “Entitlements”. Your crowd have a nasty habit of calling Social Security an ‘entitlement’ and that was voted in long before I was eligible to vote. As for vindictiveness, you’ll probably live longer than me though some in the family have topped 100. I am a bit surprised at your age as most people of your peculiar political persuasion stop calling themselves ‘John Galt’ after their junior year in college. I was in the military during what might have been my junior year in college and that’s when I stopped.

      • More settled science: Compared to the private sector, any product or service provided by government will be (1) more expense, (2) lower quality, and (3) less available. In light of your biography and the 20th Century’s tragic lessons, it bewilders me how you can be so sanguine about the promises of unconstrained, centralized government. I’m inclined to subscribe to the wisdom inherent in the observation–usually attributed to George Washington–that “government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force, like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left without supervision.”

      • Tom Paine: “Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. Man has no property in man, neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.”

      • How can you be 77 and not know that Entitlements are anything which by law MUST be paid without further passage of bill, budget, and are immune to veto? Really, I’m coming to suspect you are another teenage basement dweller stealing time on mommy’s computer.

        So my screen name triggered you, eh? Lol then it has served its purpose once again. A source of endless amusement, I always know when my opponent has conceded defeat when they stop spouting debunked party talking points and start raving about the name of a 70 year old fictional character.

  • that young americans are so willing to embrace an economic system in which the worker has no right to the fruits of their labor so how phony their dislike of slavery is.

  • The way of the tribe. They yearn for the “good old days” of their Messiahs – Lenin and Stalin!!!

  • One needs only look to the admin of liberal universities and colleges to see the seditious nature of cultural relativism at work. I don’t have a clue what can be done. When Donald Trump assumed office in 2016, he believed his presidency would be a walk in the park, only to discover over his three years as President, how all-pervasive is the “Deep State”. Not sure he (or any one) knows now.

    • Congress has proven itself immune to pressure to reform itself. Historically, we are overdue for collapse of our empire. President Trump has accomplished a lot for a President, but like a pebble in the stream cannot stop the river. There remains a very small hope – a Convention of States. But, that too is a long shot.

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