Why socialism?

Given its abysmal track record, why would anyone advocate socialism today?

The reasons for suggesting socialism today are much like the reasons for proposing socialism in the nineteenth century, before it had been tried and had failed. Life is unfair. Poverty and oppression are wrong. All people deserve a fair chance to rise above their situation, to have a happy life, and to perform to the best of their abilities. Because that does not happen as often as it should, socialism was once suggested as a correction for the world’s problems. Even though socialism has failed, some people today are willing to overlook those failures and give socialism another chance, because in theory socialism addresses some of the injustices that exist in the world today.

It’s not fair that a back-up infielder can earn more money in one baseball season than a third grade teacher earns spending forty-five years in the classroom teaching children.

It’s not fair that a thousand people work in a factory forty hours a week, then go home to squalor and hunger, while the owner of the factory lives in luxury without ever having worked a day in his life (because he inherited the factory from his father).

It’s not fair that these inequalities are reinforced, to a measurable extent, by gender, ancestry, language, appearance, and zip code, not to mention physical and emotional disabilities.

Socialism promises to address these injustices, to make people equal, to eradicate poverty and its accompanying problems. Socialism promises to care for the poor and needy and oppressed, to rescue them from the clutches of greedy rich and powerful capitalists, to end their oppression and to allow them to live up to the potential of their lives as human beings.

But socialism has never kept these promises.

If wealth is to be redistributed, the first question is how it is to be divided. Should each person receive an equal amount of wealth? Should those with greater needs be given more and those with fewer needs be given less? Should those who work hard and produce more benefit for others be paid more than those who contribute less? All of these answers have been proposed, but none of them ever has been accomplished.

Compare North Korea to South Korea, and judge for yourself whether socialism reduces or increases poverty and injustice. Compare Mao’s China of 1970 to Xi’s China of 2020 and judge for yourself whether socialism heightens or lowers a nation’s wealth and the average wealth of that nation’s citizens. Consider again why people fled East Germany, North Vietnam, and Cuba—was it because they wanted to live where life is less fair, or was it because they believed that life would be better (and more fair) in a free market economy?

When Jesus said, “The poor you always have with you,” he was being realistic and not defeatist. Jesus still wants his followers to care for the poor and oppressed, for widows and orphans and foreigners among us. But Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 15:11, which says, “There will never cease to be poor in the land.” But that verse follows closely after Deuteronomy 15:4-5, which says, “But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today.” Poverty exists because people—even God’s people—have not lived the lives that God wants to see people living.

The world contains more than enough food to satisfy its population; but the food is not distributed evenly. The world contains more than enough room for everyone to live comfortably; but some people are crowded into cities and living on the streets. The world contains enough resources to meet the needs of people everywhere. Thanks to science, the food supply has grown even faster than the human population. But the world is not fair. Socialism tries to force justice upon all people, redistributing the wealth for the benefit of all. Instead, socialism supports a bureaucracy of managers while increasing rather than diminishing the misery of the workers.

Socialism claims to be a better way. Free market economies have shown themselves to be the better way. History demonstrates repeatedly that free market economies benefit more people than socialism. But some people listen only to the promises of socialism and do not consider the historic record. J.

17 thoughts on “Why socialism?

  1. I’m not sure what I think about this. I need to ponder… Most actual governments do not do anything that they propose in their theory or manifesto. You seem to refer to examples of Communism and label it socialism? I may just be confused. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is the evidence I see. I don’t see a right way operating anywhere in the world – only the way Jesus asks us to treat and care for one another. I don’t know the answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that no human way is perfect; nothing we think or do measures up to God’s standards. At the same time, some choices are better than others. In my next post (Defining socialism) I address genuine communism and also those governments that promised communism while remaining socialist, such as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which fell apart rather than keeping its promises. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not knowing much about political science, it’ good to have an explanation laid out there for me. My simple mind wonders what happens when the rich run out of money? (which they eventually will with a Socialistic government. If those in charge of working for the people of the US, forget what they were hired to do, they become nothing more than monarchs.

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  3. All truth. And, it never benefits its people but rather forms a ruling party of wealthy aristocrats of whom the rules imposed upon the “peasants” do not apply and instead of elevating everyone they impoverish everyone equally (except themselves who gain the spoils)
    The American dream made the US the greatest most powerful country in the world but the American dream has never been “give me free, everything”. Ask any and every immigrant who has come here and they can tell you what the dream is that they pursued, even at times, risking their lives for. The ability to improve their lives by what they are willing to personally invest. They no longer wanted to work to the bone to no effect, not being able to provide better for their families, their children regardless of how hard they worked. They wanted the freedom to work as hard or as little as they choose and reap the rewards of their labor to better their lives. It’s a fundamental freedom we have here and that we may own what we have worked for.
    No one drove that home better for me than my Russian neighbor who ran outside fearing I would walk on his lawn while strolling, yelling “No step on grass! I own this. THIS is not Russia!”
    Someone who had never possessed anything of his own before, cherishing a postage stamp of a yard because he was given the freedom to own the reward of what he worked for.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Good post! I think you’ve explained it well. Many people don’t understand how capitalism has actually reduced global poverty, exponentially. Today we have hunger programs, vaccine programs, charities the world over. Disease, famine, and the number of people in the world trying to live off a dollar a day has been dramatically reduced. Those numbers, if you look at them on charts are just phenomenal. Some 50 years ago when I was kid, there were children in Africa who had a 50-50 chance of survival. Half of them simply died before their fifth birthday, due to disease and famine. Today, life expectancy is much higher, famines have been reduced, diseases are being treated, agriculture is happening. We still have wars, politics, poverty, but the last 75 yrs have delivered some incredible global change, like the world has never seen before.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “… to care for the poor and needy and oppressed, to rescue them from the clutches of greedy rich” – That’s not the government’s job, it’s the job of the Church. I remember reading a piece by someone way smarter than I am, saying that if all Americans who CALL themselves Christians would simply tithe, there would be more than enough money to replace all the government welfare programs and have some left over. But the Church hasn’t done that, so people are turning to the government. Sure, socialism hasn’t worked in the past – EVER. But somehow man in his arrogance thinks, “It’ll work for US, because we’re smarter and we’re good people.” (Well, you know what they say about the road to hell.)

    Liked by 3 people

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