By Rabbi Aryeh Spero
Those today pitching democratic socialism as a safe and benign form of socialism are hiding the truth about it. By nature, socialism disregards any aspect of democratic will when it is in conflict with its fixed social agenda and goal of economic leveling. Thus, democratic socialism is an oxymoron, a seductive syntax and play on words.
Socialist candidates running for office do not do so to offer greater liberty, income, opportunity, or greater speech rights, but to institute heavy social engineering aimed toward conformity and sameness. History shows how in the name of “fairness” socialist rulers and bureaucrats disregarded democracy, as well as citizens who do not accept the deprivations needed to bring about the “ideal state.”
Too many among our young assume that socialism will provide the same level of prosperity and easy consumption they currently enjoy, with an added feel-good patina. They see no downside. But current and past real examples prove that prosperity, abundance, and ease of purchase and opportunity, including free speech, dramatically decline with the advent of any form of socialism. Political and religious freedom is inexorably tied to economic freedom. There is no “right” type of socialism or a right time for it or even a right person to oversee it.
Today’s fashionable cultural Marxism puts in jeopardy even more freedoms than that of the economic Marxism of years ago. It attacks and severely diminishes freedom of speech, assembly, and religious freedoms. The intent of indicting “America as racist from top to bottom,” as do many on the Left, is to provide political license to tear down and rebuild America according to socialism’s leveling and confiscatory blueprint.
The Lie of American Socialists
Proponents of socialism, such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), employ a clever formula from the old playbook to disparage free markets while pointing to socialism as the only solution. Spotlighting a person who, for example, didn’t have enough money for insulin or food, they proclaim that capitalism is heartless and inequitable and must immediately be replaced. Instead of exploring remedies already available within our existing capitalist structure, they demand its nullification with a socialist system controlled by them.
We know, however, that between government programs already in existence as well as America’s generous and historic ethic of volunteerism, no one here seeking basic necessities of life would be denied if brought to the attention of authorities or the public. While socialists spotlight and exploit the occasional neglected person, it is only because of capitalism that hundreds of thousands have insulin to begin with and millions have a full array of high-quality medicines, healthcare, goods and services that would not exist for anyone on this earth absent the creativity and ease of production borne of capitalism. Even with robust full employment and more jobs available than those seeking work, socialist candidates dishonestly agitate about a lack of opportunities for employment.
Caring and sensible people do not deny the miracles proffered to millions of people by capitalism because a few people momentarily fall under the radar. Only those seeking power or envious of the wealth and success of others would succumb to such irrationality and seek to destroy that which has been the best source of invention, production, and distribution of goods and services for virtually everyone.
Too many Americans intentionally are being taught in schools that capitalism is something filled with warts and prejudice, while socialism is judged only by its theoretical fantasy. It’s given a pass for its historical failures because it promises something equal and fair because all are said to share equally in what is available, even though that which is available is most often nondescript, erratic, and far from the best.
Beyond the economic dearth and loss of freedom redolent in socialism, once America crosses the Rubicon into socialism, we will negatively change forever—both in national character and in regards to the aspirations and potential of individuals. Those who love what this country is and what it has offered should be alarmed and fight against such a transformation.
Socialism nullifies the individual on the altar of the masses, creating the opposite of the American spirit and essence. America has sparked the embers of individual initiative and eagerness and has summoned us to find and burst forward with the God-given potential within each of us: to become the best we can. This is because, not in spite of, free market capitalism and the Judeo-Christian ethic that supports it. But, those individual sparks are readily snuffed out when people are forced to submit to mass conformity and the artificial equalizing endemic to the Marxist utopia.
The Dreary Future Socialism Promises
America’s national personality has always been optimistic and cheerful, with a philosophy of fair play, and one which generally eschewed envy and bitterness. These positive characteristics are a consequence of liberty and free markets that suffuse society with an aroma of unlimited potential for all, where one’s achievements and place among the stars is not stymied by the success of others. The pie in capitalism is not finite but open for unlimited growth.
All of this, that which makes America exceptional and a magnet for achievers around the world searching for a platform, is in jeopardy with the deployment of socialism that feels irked and threatened by the outstanding success of others, frowns upon unbridled confidence, promotes fear, and speaks ill of the idea of meritocracy that is capitalism’s and America’s foundation.
Meritocracy allows people to feel upbeat and happy, to expect that things will be fair. This comes from knowing their accomplishments and upward mobility depend not on cronyism, but on their own individual hard work, investment and risk, and perseverance. In contrast, socialism is tied to cronyism and depends on connections to the right people in government bureaucracies and, in today’s world of intersectional preference, one’s race or religious views.
Three of the most important American characteristics depend on free markets and the condition of meritocracy: self-reliance, personal responsibility, and independence, all three being attributes favored by the Bible. The Bible equally enshrines liberty: “Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land, to all the inhabitants therein.”
The call for socialism, even so-called “democratic socialism,” is an attack on America itself. No doubt this is intentional, to malign what and who we are so as to upend what has been handed down to us.
Inequality Imposed from Above
The push for socialism cannot be considered a moral endeavor. Capitalism is not incidental to America, but rather the engine and springboard behind Americanism itself. Without it America is not America, nor will its people adhere to that which we proudly call Americanism.
No one in America has become poorer because of capitalism’s opportunities. In contrast, socialism makes people poorer. Capitalism allows people to become wealthier and better off. No one in America became poorer because Bill Gates became very wealthy. On the contrary, because of what he did (as with Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie before) society benefited greatly and vast numbers of people found jobs lifting up their standard of living.
The much-heralded “income equality” is not possible unless imposed from above. It is accomplished by dragging entrepreneurs, talented and hardworking people down to unfair levels. Income equality is not a sign of good societal health, for it reflects a society bereft of overachievers and wealth creators, where no industrial breakthroughs are happening. It is not greedy to wish to keep that which we earn, though it is greedy and immoral to demand for yourself as an entitlement, things for which others worked and sacrificed.
Much of the income equality jargon is rooted in envy, envy that has become approved when done in the name of politics and equality. But, envy in any form it takes shape is a cardinal sin, marqueed in the Ten Commandments itself. Furthermore, when the Bible speaks of equality it does not aspire to sameness or wages disassociated from what we produce; it means we are all entitled to equal justice under the law.
Free this and free that is not a noble paradigm. “Six days shall you work” replaced the care-free Garden of Eden. Nor is the culture of entitlement and envy the seed that sprouts inner strength, rather the virus that induces frailty and feebleness, lowers the horizons, and atrophies the heroic struggle.
Thus, socialism is especially detrimental to younger people beginning life’s journey into adulthood and responsibility. Free markets and the life of personal responsibility are demanding, but they provide what the Bible precisely envisioned: liberty and ingenuity for a humanity created in the image of God.