Our legacy: Capitalism, not socialism, is our basis
The title of a great book by Todd Andrlik: “Reporting the Revolutionary War; Before it was History, it was News”, has a lot of truth embedded in it, much like the adage, “it’s too good to be true.” But what about when today’s news is history?
“History repeats itself.” Unfortunately, we can’t always separate history from news and looking at our upcoming election, some things should be considered, as we, the drivers of this country, determine what we want. Remember, our Constitution starts with what in actuality IS the Government: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union” — not “form a perfect Union.” It is you, me and everyone else in charge of this Republic and while our system is not perfect, we strive to make it better.
Another notable adage: “Watch what you wish for.”
Every four years we go through an election cycle — some are good, some are bad, and always a percentage of the population isn’t happy. Most often, Americans have accepted “the bad” with the plan to try and change it in four years. But in each case, we have always kept the same form of Government.
Some today still remember the McCarthy era in regard to Communism, but in each case, our country’s people have risen to the occasion to keep our country a Republic, because it works, and even today we have the longest standing Constitution that is the envy of the world. Capitalism, not Socialism, is what got us to where we are today.
But now we are seeing an unprecedented push to elect a Socialist as president. Offers of free education, a free weekly check from the government, free healthcare and open borders, to name a few, are being touted. To many of our younger people going to or already in college, this obviously sounds good.
So, if the government has all this money and can do it, what’s the big deal? In a nutshell, the big deal is no private property, companies nationalized and the government controls production and distribution in everything from our necessary products to health care.
Definitions of Socialism and Communism and Capitalism from Webster’s unabridged dictionary:
Socialism: The theory or system of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products.
Communism: a) an economic theory or system of the ownership of all property by the community as a whole; b) a theory or system of the ownership of all means of production (and distribution) by the community or society, with all members of the community or society sharing in the work and the products.
Sounds pretty much the same, doesn’t it? Basically following the doctrine of Marx, Engel, Lenin and Stalin, (also from Websters) “characterized by state planning and control of the economy, ruthless suppression of all opposition political parties and all deviation within the Party, and the suppression of individual liberties under a dictatorship.”
Capitalism: The economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution, as land, factories, railroads, etc., are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions. It has been generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth and, in its later phase, by the growth of great corporation, increased governmental controls, etc.
What people fail to understand is that in the Socialist, Communist doctrine, the ideal, or “intelligentsia” is running the country — or Government.
F. A. Hayek, in his book, “The Road to Serfdom” states there are three premises that are fertile grounds for socialism(1) (my synopsis):
1. (More intelligent people are individualistic, free thinkers and lower intelligent people think alike and are easier to rally around a cause).
2. (The totalitarian party would prefer the intelligentsia, but can more easily recruit the people who don’t think through ideas and who respond to emotional hype).
3. (Rallying against someone or something is more effective than rallying in support of something).
When you look at any facet of government, is that what you want running the entire economy and country?
“During the promising crisis of 1857, Engels wrote to Marx: ‘A continuing economic depression could be used by astute revolutionary strategy as a useful weapon for a chronic pressure … in order to warm up people'” … or a general strike could become a “Napoleonic battle as a prelude to a great international civil strife.”(2) As a quote from Rahm Emmauel, former Attorney General is famous for stating: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”.
Socialists beginnings are “optimistic and well-intentioned. In contrast to contemporary varieties that tend to bemoan prosperity, romanticize poverty, and promote the idea that civil rights are a secondary concern, at least some of the early socialists sought the fullest possible flourishing of humanity — which is to say, the common good.”(3)
But Socialists in our time we believe oppose capitalist excess. “They accuse the mass consumer market of institutionalizing false needs, commodifying the commons, glorifying the banal, homogenizing culture — all at the expense of the environment and of equality of condition, the highest socialist goal.” Improving the standard of living in society is far down the list of modern socialist priorities.
Predicted by Marxism is the rooted belief that there would be a decline in the living conditions of workers with Capitalism. But time has proven this isn’t the case. Working conditions have improved and “Prices were falling, incomes rising, health and sanitation improving, diets becoming more varied, and working conditions constantly improving” and beyond that, “The new jobs being created in industry paid more than most people could make in agriculture. Housing conditions improved. The new heroes of society came from the middle class …”(4)
One only has to look at those countries that existed under Socialism to see that between Hitler, Stalin and Mao, close to 50 million people died — that is roughly the population of Spain today. Even among those existing in more recent times such as East and West Germany, or North and South Korea and the horror stories of those escaping the North — of the starving, treacherous and threatening conditions of life there, and more recently, China and Hong Kong. Venezuela, under Chavez who took over in the 2000s and was praised saying Socialism is great. Today “the average person in Venezuela has now lost 20 pounds. People are literally eating their pets. This is what’s happened in what had previously been the richest and most prosperous country in South America”(5) “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win … Working men of all countries, unite!”(6)
Capitalism today achieves the goal of the common good. Workers today can afford nicer cars, homes, living conditions and can improve themselves by working longer hours for more money, changing jobs for perhaps better conditions and more money, but in any case, capitalism is better meeting the goals of improved conditions for the common good than any government under Socialism. Perhaps those who embrace Socialism do so from an ideological standpoint of the, “neo-socialist concern for the well-being of plants, animals, lakes and rivers, rainforests and deserts-particularly when the concern for the environment appears far more intense than the concern for the human family.”(7)
In the United States we have our dignity, private property, the right to choose where to work. Capitalism has increased living standards, medical care and the common good. Will we allow socialism to be our final legacy after 250 years of accomplishments?
Thank you. I felt compelled to write this, but I look forward to going back to early American history next month!
1. F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents: The Definitive Edition University of Chicago Press, 2007 p. 160.
2. Peter Paret, Makers of Modern Strategy; Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1986
3. Rev. Robert A. Sirico, Socialism, Free Enterprise, and the Common Good. Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College
4. Ibid, Sirico
5. Paul, Rand, Cato’s Letter, Cato Institute, Washington, D.C. A Quarterly Message on Liberty, Winter 2020, Vol. 18, #1
6. Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1977 p96
7. Ibid, Sirico
Mark DeVecchis is an independent historian of early American history. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, Brigade of the American Revolution, 5th Battalion Cumberland County Militia, Virginia Historical Society and the Mifflin County Historical Society. He and his wife, Valarie, live near Lewistown.