The near panic associated with the possibility of Bernie Sanders, after winning the New Hampshire primary and doing so well in South Carolina and Nevada, overtaking Hillary Clinton and becoming the Democratic nominee for president, is treated by the establishment press as a gigantic move into socialism, but it shouldn’t. Seven years ago, Feb. 16, 2009, Newsweek’s cover story proclaimed “We Are All Socialists Now.”
Editors Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas wrote, “Whether we want to admit it or not, the America of 2009 is moving toward a modern European state,” toward socialism, they observed, “even before Barack Obama’s largest fiscal bill in our history.” The cover of the magazine featured a red hand (Republican) shaking a blue hand (Democrat) in favor of socialism. Both parties accepted the “growing role of government in the economy,” they observed. “The U.S. government has already — under a conservative Republican administration — effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries.” Moreover, “it was, again, under a conservative GOP administration that we enacted the largest expansion of the welfare state in 30 years: prescription drugs for the elderly.”
If the “growing role in government” was how Newsweek measured socialism, the Obama years thereafter were even more socialist than they could have expected. In this time period the federal government obtained a controlling interest in General Motors, absorbed 1/7th of the economy under Obamacare, and expanded the power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to oversee most homes in America. This land expansion was in addition to their ownership of a third of all the landmass in the United States known as federal land. This does not count the controlling influence over all businesses by the eighty thousand new pages of bureaucratic rules and regulations descending upon businesses annually that effectively manage most everything else.
Clearly we were replacing our Constitutional Republic, which emphasizes limited government and individual freedom, with socialism long before Sanders became a household name. His appeal to tax the rich even more to pay for free college is but a deeper step into the socialism that already exists in the United States. Newsweek observed correctly then that this was just the beginning. In light of their honesty it might behoove us to understand where socialist might be taking us by noting where socialism has taken others.
In 1975 the book, “From Under the Ruble,” authored by a variety of Soviet dissidents, all but one of whom were still living in the USSR, was published in the West. The participants were fully aware that their commentary on the socialist system smuggled to the “Free World” would undoubtedly unleash the wrath of the Soviet Bear and result in imprisonment, torture, and possibly death for them. Nonetheless, they felt that the West could avoid the loss of freedom they experienced if only it were warned.
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Igor Shafarevich, a corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and former Laureate of the Lenin Prize, attempted, in his chapter “Socialism in Our Past and Future,” to tell the West what socialism eventually worked out to be in practice. This is, of course, after any significant means of resistance had been removed by gun control. That is the first thing that goes in any tyrannical government. He found the economic definition of socialism, the meaningful governmental control of the means of production and distribution, shamefully incomplete.
Socialism resulted in complete control of private property. Property was defined as anything that existed including one’s own family and person. This included subordination of the individual to the power of the bureaucracy and state control of everyday life. Sexual promiscuity is first tolerated, even encourage, but ultimately procreation on a selective and supervised basis follows.
For the USSR socialism meant the destruction of the family as the basic institution of society and the rearing of children away from their parents in state schools or daycare centers. Marriage, as an acceptable practice, was also minimized.
One of the most defining characteristics of all profoundly socialist countries was the government’s extreme hatred of religion and their commitment to its ultimate destruction. It competes with the state as God.
The destruction of the hierarchy into which society has arranged itself was yet another characteristic under which Shafarevich lived. The idea of equality to a socialist had a special character. It meant the negation of the existence of any genuine differences between individuals: “equality” was turned into “equivalence.” Socialism aims to establish equality by the opposite means of destroying all the higher aspects of the personality.
Newsweek’s invitation to “think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world” should dissuade us from going there at all. Why would anyone want to embrace a system that ended all semblances of freedom and which, for them, self destructed in 1989? At least in the USSR, at that time, they would have been happy to trade their socialism for our freedom. Are we smart enough to listen to them and avoid all socialists in either party, of which there are several, this election?
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.