To understand socialism, one needn’t fixate on its most-horrifying elements—gulags, executions and endless repression. Think about the simple stuff.
After Boris Yeltsin joined the Soviet Politburo in 1989, he visited Johnson Space Center and stopped in a typical Texas grocery store. “When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” he later wrote. At the time, Russians waited in line for whatever crumbs the bureaucrats would sell them.
These days, some progressives describe themselves as “democratic socialists,” which makes the idea sound kinder and gentler. They aren’t thinking about crumbling buildings in Cuba, starving children in Venezuela and genocide in Cambodia, but might be envisioning a facsimile of Portland, Ore.,—a place with cool, fair-trade, vegan restaurants and hip bars, but without all that private ownership stuff. Yet socialistic policies could turn the nicest cities into wastelands.
Apparently, the leaders in those bad socialist places didn’t do socialism right. As a former Barack Obama national security adviser told the Post, “I think the challenge for Bernie is just going to be differentiating his brand of social democratic policies from the corrupt turn—and authoritarian turn—socialism took in parts of Latin America.”
A turn? Authoritarianism is the inevitable outcome—a feature of socialistic systems, not a bug, because those systems empower government at the expense of individuals, writes Steven Greenhut.