The free market has definitely seen better days…
A Gallup poll released conducted in April 2019 and released in May shows American attitudes towards socialism have changed dramatically over the decades, with 43 percent of survey respondents saying they favor the philosophy. The poll’s release comes as the Democratic Party’s primary season amplifies with over 20 candidates vying for the nomination.
According to the poll, a majority of Democratic voters have already had a positive view of socialism, and that has been mainly unchanged over the past eight years. The poll also shows that a growing number of Americans are beginning to associate the world “socialism” with social equality, rather than the classical definition that included government control over the means of production.
A deeper look into the poll, however, indicates that socialism isn’t being explained very well — and perhaps that’s intentional. The same survey showed that 75 percent of Americans preferred the free market to lead the way in technological innovation, with 65 percent feeling the same for the distribution of wealth.
Again, the classical definition of socialism — penned by Karl Marx and his own followers — is the redistribution of wealth through a working class-driven revolution. The stated goal of the philosophy is correct historical wrongs based on the misinformed understanding that people are only wealthy because they have stolen resources from others.
Socialism enjoys a lot of publicity in 2019. Not long ago, it was regarded as a fringe ideology, even among the majority of Democratic voters. In 1942, only a quarter of Americans believed socialism was a good thing according to Gallup. Now, the philosophy gets near-constant lip service from mainstream politicians.
“Capitalism, to me, is an ideology of capital. The most important thing is the concentration of capital, and it means that we seek and prioritize profit and the accumulation of money above all else, and we seek it at any human and environmental cost,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once said. “But when we talk about ideas for example like democratic socialism, it means putting democracy and society first, instead of capital first.”
But again, as we just saw earlier, Americans still tend to prefer the free market to take care of almost everything in the economy. The notable exceptions where the reverse is true, according to Gallup, are education and environmental protection. Survey responders were fairly split on healthcare, with just over 50 percent preferring the government, and 44 percent preferring the free market.
What seems like what’s happening is that Democratic politicians are attempting to change what Americans think of when they hear the word “socialism.” For many Americans born after 1990, this isn’t difficult. They grew up without hearing about the Soviet Union’s mass killings of political dissidents. They didn’t witness the failures of communism in Russia, East Germany, Maoist China, and other locations.
Almost every time Senator Bernie Sanders is asked to explain his political ideology, he uses Scandinavian countries like Norway and Denmark as examples, rather than the now-defunct country where he honeymooned. Norway and Denmark are both functionally capitalist countries with generous welfare states — although even those have shrunk in recent years.
So, are conservatives finally losing the socialism v. capitalism debate? It’s hard to tell. It appears that, for many, socialism no longer calls back to authoritarian communism, but to the feel-good European utopias that are anything but.
Conservative thinkers, Republican politicians, and anyone with any sympathy for constitutional freedom at all needs to remember what socialism really means: the abolition of private property, the tyranny of the majority, and the supremacy of the state. When socialism is property defined, there is simply no moral way to justify supporting it.
~ Liberty Planet