In today’s follow-up column, let’s start with an excellent video from John Stossel.
Before addressing the three myths mentioned in the video, it’s worth noting that there’s a technical definition of socialism based on policies such as government ownership, central planning, and price controls, and a casual definition of socialism based on policies such as punitive tax rates, welfare state, and intervention.
That’s why I came up with this flowchart to help illustrate the different strains of leftism (just as, on the other side of the spectrum, Trumpism is not the same as Reaganism is not the same as libertarianism).
Now that we’ve covered definitions, let’s dig into Stossel’s video. He makes three main points.
- Socialist policies don’t work any better if imposed by governments that are democratically elected. Simply stated, big government doesn’t magically have good consequences simply because a politician received 51 percent of the vote in an election.
- Scandinavian nations are not socialist. I’ve addressed this issue several times and noted that countries such as Sweden and Denmark have costly welfare states, but they are based on private property and rely on private markets to allocate resources.
- Socialism has a lot in common with fascism. Stossel could have pointed out that Hitler was the head of the National Socialist Workers Party, but he focused on the less inflammatory argument that socialism and fascism both rely on government control of the economy.
By the way, Stossel also narrated an earlier video on this same topic that addressed two other topics.
First, he countered the argument that we can’t learn anything from the failure of nations such as the Soviet Union and Cuba because they did not have not “real socialism.” My two cents on that topic is to challenge socialists (or anyone else on the left) to answer this question.
Second, he addressed the specific argument that Venezuela can’t teach us anything because its collapse has nothing to do with socialism. The New York Times may want people to think Venezuela’s failure is due to factors such as low oil prices, but the real reason is that economic liberty has been extinguished.