Last fall, we startled many people in this city when we published the results of a YouGov poll that revealed that 44 percent of millennials in America would prefer to live under socialism rather than capitalism. Another seven percent said they would prefer communism. But, I wonder, would 44 percent of millennials really choose socialism if in exchange for “free” education and health care they would have to give up all their private property, including their iPhones?
Would seven percent of millennials declare their willingness to live under communism if they knew the real costs of communism—the denial of free speech, a free press, and free assembly, the imprisonment and execution of dissidents, no free and open elections, no independent judiciary or rule of law, the dictatorship of the Communist Party in all matters and on all occasions?
According to the YouGov survey, one third of all Americans would prefer to live under socialism rather than capitalism. Why? Is it due to idealism, the desire for a classless society in which everyone is equal and envy does not exist because everything is owned in common? Is it a lack of knowledge, sheer ignorance? When asked how many people have died under communism, less than one-third of Americans could provide the correct answer, over 100 million. Commented one millennial about his peers: “They haven’t seen socialism’s failures firsthand.”
My friends, we have our work cut out for us—to educate young Americans about the many failures of socialism. Here are a few failures to get us going.
One, Socialism has never worked anywhere in the 100 years of its existence. Socialism in all its forms—from Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union, National Socialism in Nazi Germany, Maoism in China, “state socialism” in India, and “democratic socialism” in Sweden—has never come close to realizing the classless ideal of its founding father, Karl Marx.
Two, Karl Marx, the founding father of socialism, has been proven wrong about nearly everything. The nation state has not withered away. Capitalism did not break down under the pressure of industrial concentration. Workers did not become revolutionaries but reformers and in many cases capitalists. The middle class has not disappeared but expanded exponentially around the world. Marx’s attempt to use Hegel to create a “scientific socialism” has been an abject failure.
Three, socialism denies the existence of an essential human trait–human nature. Marx borrowed from the Enlightenment to say that human nature was malleable rather than constant. The communist state established by Lenin, wrote the historian Richard Pipes, was “a grandiose experiment in public education” to create an entirely new type of human being—Soviet Man. Seventy years later, Mikhail Gorbachev gave up trying and dissolved the world’s greatest failure in mass education.
Four, socialism depends not upon the power of the people but on the dictatorship of the Party to remain in power. In The God That Failed, six famous Western intellectuals describe their journey into Communism and their exit when they encountered the gigantic gap between their vision of a socialist utopia and the totalitarian reality of the socialist state.
After visiting the Soviet Union, the French Nobel Laureate André Gide said, “I doubt whether in any country in the world—not even in Hitler’s Germany–have the mind and spirit ever been less free, more bent, more terrorized and indeed vassalized—than in the Soviet Union. “
What price socialism? We should not limit ourselves to numbers. The Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang listed the “little terrors” that prevailed in China—making children of 12 subject to capital punishment, sending women to work in underground coal mines, harassing workers during their lunchtime with threats of prison if they were late returning to work. There were the costs in terror. A Soviet defector said of Soviet life: “We lived in a world swarming with invisible eyes and ears.” There were the costs to the world. Throughout the 20th and into the 21st century, there has been no crisis anywhere from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean, from sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East in which the ideological ambitions of Moscow and its imitators were not involved.
This is the reality of socialism—a pseudo-religion grounded in pseudo-science and enforced by political tyranny. This is the case against socialism that must be made to the millennials and to all Americans: Socialism is a god that failed, a science that never was, a political system headed for the ash heap of history. In our conflicted world, telling the truth about socialism has become a revolutionary act. So, my friends, let us all join the revolution!
These remarks were delivered at the 11th annual Roll Call of Nations wreath-laying ceremony on June 8, 2018.