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Socialism plus ignorance: A toxic mix

Last month’s victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, in New York City’s 14th Congressional District Democrat primary over 10-term incumbent and Democrat Caucus Chair Joe Crowley gives voters in the district the opportunity to vote for a self-proclaimed socialist in the general election.

Thomas Perez, chairman of the Democrat National Committee, proudly proclaimed young Ocasio-Cortez as the “future of our party.”

Perhaps Chairman Perez is correct. After all, Bernie Sanders came very close to winning the Democrat nomination in 2016. In fact, some of his followers believe Sanders would have won the nomination if the Hillary Clinton-controlled DNC had not rigged the super-delegate selection in her favor.

If socialism is the future of the Democratic party, it is instructive to examine what socialism is and to consider its impact in the countries where it has been implemented.

Socialism is a form of government where the means of production, distribution and exchange are owned and controlled by the government. Socialism is the opposite of capitalism, in which private individuals and entities own the means of production and goods and services are distributed in a free market.

Karl Marx wrote that socialism was the precursor to the final stage of a society’s economic maturity — communism, where society is ruled by a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx, Fredrich Engels and other socialism apologists criticized capitalism, saying it produces unfair concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the rich.

Humans are competitive beings. In a capitalist society, a person born poor can become successful through hard work, innovation and ambition. Horatio Alger stories abound in capitalism, which has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system.

In socialist countries, power is concentrated in the hands of the party controlling the government, and the benefits of the means of production inure to the small group of party leaders who control the bureaucracy. Proximity and loyalty to the government ruling class is the path to prosperity, regardless of intellect or ability.

The European Union is somewhere on the spectrum between capitalism and socialism. Its all-encompassing bureaucracy has stifled individual freedom in favor of government control. In the United States, huge federal bureaucracy, if not curtailed, will cause us to continue slouching toward the European model.

If you like how the Swampsters run the United States Postal Service, Veterans Affairs, the IRS, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and other government agencies, and if you want bigger government and higher taxes, then socialism is the “ism” for you.

Socialist/Communist countries have been the most murderous in history. From 1922 until its dissolution in 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was responsible for one of the deadliest regimes in history. Most deaths occurred under Joseph Stalin, who not only had millions murdered but intentionally starved to death many millions in Poland, Ukraine and other satellite countries. For a chilling account, read “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin,” by Timothy Snyder (2010).

Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) killed at least six million Jews, an estimated 10 million Soviet soldiers, and almost 300,000 American soldiers. Socialist/Communists Mao-Tse Tung and Pol Pot killed and starved scores of millions in China and over two million in Cambodia, respectively.

Look at what socialism has done to Central and South America. In Venezuela, people are starving and hyperinflation has destroyed the currency. Venezuela was once a rich, prosperous capitalist country, but converted to socialism under autocrats like Rómolo Betancourt, Hugo Chávez and now Nicolás Maduro. The economies of Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador have been brought to their knees by socialist policies.

There’s not one country in the world whose economy and standard of living has improved under socialism. Socialism has failed wherever it has taken hold. Why the Democratic party would allow Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to lead them down the socialist path is a mystery. If Democrats prefer socialism, they should explain to us how it will make us a stronger, better country.

Perhaps the Left’s infatuation with socialism is best understood in the explanation last week of Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis, a candidate for governor in Florida, when asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s socialism.

“Socialism and ignorance is a toxic mix,” DeSantis said.

Michael Henry writes in Oxford and can be reached at mhenryauthor@gmail.com