Socialism. The word has been subject to the utmost controversy since it’s formal introduction into the political spectrum in the mid 1800’s. People fear it, despise it, or embrace it. Wars have been fought over it. The scariest time in American history, the Cold War, was a result of it. Why has socialism taken the world by storm, and why is it subject to so much controversy?
Let’s clear up what true socialism is. Socialism takes on the idea of equality (in contrast to capitalism, which focuses further on equity), meaning that everyone is given and respected the same amount. Socialism is characterized by a large central government, heavy taxation, heavy regulation, and a large police presence. The people are supposed to coexist and contribute to a greater society by working hard, and giving whatever they create to the majority. Everyone is respected and paid equally.
That’s all fine and well, but how does that result in over 150 years of turmoil? To put it simply, the select few in power deceive the majority. Classically, it starts with the election process. Politicians stand on soap boxes in streets and preach directly to the workers, promising better conditions, individual attention, and other things capitalism often fails in providing them (keep in mind without Capitalism we wouldn’t have weekends, shifts, regular working hours, entertainment, and social mobility). The next election, the workers then continue to vote socialist politicians into power, and from policies gradually begin to change. Historically, this is where things go wrong. Promises made are never met, food suddenly becomes scarce, taxes rise on the already underpaid, and regulations on everyday life increase immensely. The politicians, however, prosper. They receive large paychecks, exemptions to regulations, and almost unlimited power.
The core issue with what socialism is, is that the people don’t get to decide what equality is, the government does. The government decides how much food the people eat each month, how much they get paid (IF they get paid), and generally how they will treat the people. To be socialist is to entirely submit to the government, and remove what makes you an individual.
That isn’t even the worst of it, however. The worst starts coming early in the 1900’s, specifically comes in 1917. This year marked the beginning of the October Revolution in Russia. Led by Vladimir Lenin and orchestrated by Leon Trotsky, it was one of the first major socialist revolutions in history (mark your calendars for the 100th anniversary of oppression). Lenin, taking advantage of Russia’s continued ineffectiveness during the Great War and German support, organized a revolution against the established system of Tsars. Trotsky (a man that looks oddly like Colonel Sanders) was put in charge of the provisional army and, using terror tactics, ultimately won the war and put socialism into power.
Its terrible affects were seen instantly. The Great Famine of 1921 was a result of the constant warring and inefficiencies of socialism. An estimated 8 million people died, and eventually the new Soviet Government had to accept American humanitarian aid.
Famines and mass deaths started to become a hallmark of socialism as it spread across the world. Various communist regimes, past and present, have seen similar famines in their respective countries. China’s socialist revolution, coined as the Great Leap Forward, killed an estimated 45 million in a matter of 4 years. Russia even had second bout with starvation under Joseph Stalin. Stalin tried to quickly industrialized his country in 1933 by starting his “5 year plan”, however ended up killing an estimated 8 million people. Overall, socialistic regimes have killed an estimated 100 million people. This is something hardly comprehensible to me, yet it is a cold hard fact.
The thing is, we could have stopped this, we were warned. During the still early 1900s a slew of novels (Anthem, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, etc.) released specifically telling the world what a society under socialism was like. It’s almost jarring, knowing what we know, that any form of socialism still exists in our world today, whether it’s Venezuela or North Korea. Socialism kills, and it’s going to keep on killing until we as mankind says enough is enough.