What exactly is socialism? It is an attempt to achieve economic equality so that everybody is “taken care of” by the almighty government of the wonderful country you happen to be living in.
HERE IS A FIRST-HAND, ABSOLUTELY TRUE ACCOUNT OF HOW (AND WHY) SOCIALISM DOESN’T WORK.
The romanticizing of socialism by Bernie Sanders is dangerous and delusional. I know, because I have experienced firsthand the human tragedy of socialism in China. Real socialism is cruel, dehumanizing and even deadly; there is absolutely nothing romantic about it.
I was born in 1963, under the reign of Mao Zedong. Sanders and his intellectual comrades, such as New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, like to invoke socialism as the cure to economic inequality in America. Under real socialism in China, however, I saw “equality” firsthand — everybody lived equally and in extreme poverty.
All economic activities were controlled by the government in Maoist China. Private enterprise and market transactions were banned. Profit incentives did not exist. As a result, technological progress stagnated and the economy collapsed.
This is because the state thought it knew how to allocate resources better than the market, but it did not. In Chinese cities, rice, meat, vegetable oil, and even clothing for citizens was rationed. Each urban citizen only had one or two pounds of meat to eat for an entire month. There were frequent supply shortages. On numerous occasions, I had to rise at 4 o’clock in the morning to wait in line for hours to buy meat.
From 1958 to 1962, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a gargantuan collectivization movement, led to mass famine and more than 20 million dead. Born in the aftermath of this disastrous social experiment, I escaped famine and death, but I could not escape another core element of socialism: political control and repression.
When I was three, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution. He mobilized tens of millions of naive college and high school students and called them Red Guards. They labeled Mao’s political adversaries as traitors to socialism and at times tortured them to death.
In order to suppress opposition, Mao intensified a nationwide class struggle by dividing Chinese people into two groups: the poor against the rich, and revolutionaries against counter-revolutionaries. Classified as an counter-revolutionary, my father was persecuted for five years. He endured torture, public humiliation, and forced labor. He lost his personal freedom. My family could only see him a couple of times each year. Subsequently, my grandparents and I were forced to move out of our hometown — a city with relatively fair living conditions — to a poor remote village where there was no tap water, no electricity and no medical clinic nearby. A few months after moving to the village, my grandmother passed away from a heart attack.
During that time, China only allowed one type of ideology: socialism and the near-worship of Mao. People were not allowed to say anything politically incorrect, or they risked being arrested. Ancient wisdom was trashed, as most historical temples were destroyed, including those of Confucius, the greatest sage of Chinese history. Worse yet, the state put ideology above practical results and people’s concrete needs. One political slogan read: “We prefer producing socialist weeds to capitalist rice.”
In other words, there was no freedom to pursue a happy life, let alone think differently. Chinese citizens suffered immensely as a result. By 1978, even socialist China decided that it did not want the equality and tragedy delivered by socialism. Upon Mao’s death, the country shifted, embarking upon a path toward market reforms, liberalization, and international trade. Over the last four decades, those policies propelled China from abject poverty and misery to become the second largest economy of the world.
Unlike Mao in China, Sen. Sanders and other socialist politicians in the Democrat Party believe in peaceful, democratic implementation of their policies, not state violence. Nevertheless, in their proposals of Medicare-for-All, free college for students and jobs for everyone, and in their rhetoric maligning the rich versus the poor, America’s socialists sound a lot like socialist dictators of the 20th century. They advocate for massive government control of resources and industries to solve economic inequality, all the while ignoring incentives for efficiency, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Meanwhile, radical progressives in America act very much like Mao’s Red Guards in one way: They use political correctness as a weapon, suppress different viewpoints and assault America’s founding principles. Those with whom they disagree are no longer fellow citizens with whom to have a civil discussion, but bad people who must be attacked, at times violently.
These developments are appalling and alarming. Sanders and his socialist colleagues in the U.S. Congress have never lived under real socialism; I have. My personal experience in China tells me that the social experiment advocated by Sanders will only lead to human disaster. That’s why I was heartened when President Trump declared at last year’s State of the Union address, “America will never be a socialist country.”
My experience in America has convinced me that the key principles of democratic capitalism — private ownership, free market competition, the rule of law, equal opportunities, and freedom of speech — are essential for human beings to prosper and succeed.
NORM ‘n’ AL Note: We hope you noticed this line: “Over the last four decades, those policies [market reforms, liberalization, and international trade] propelled China from abject poverty and misery to become the second largest economy of the world.” This writer has lived under socialism, and he has lived under capitalism and a free market system. China failed under socialism, but it has thrived under a free market system which rewards hard work, imagination, and private enterprise. If Bernie Sanders should become president and convert the USA to a socialist economy, he will not like living here, and neither will you. Go back and re-read the last sentence of this article. Memorize it. Put in on your refrigerator and your bathroom mirror. And always remember it was written by someone who lived through the dark days of Chinese socialism, but who now lives in the USA by choice. And who is doing all he can to improve the country he lives in by trying to become a member of Congress.
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis