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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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46 comments

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  • 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.

      • @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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

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Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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