Over the past few weeks, massive anti-government protests have been raging across Cuba. In response, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said that he was “prepared to do anything” to stop the demonstrations, adding that “We will be battling in the streets.”
Voices from across the political aisle in the United States have come out in support of the protesters and against what many perceive to be repression by Cuba’s Communist government. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted that, “All people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society. I call on the Cuban government to respect opposition rights and refrain from violence.”
By criticizing a socialist regime’s anti-democratic behavior, Sanders seems to be burnishing his credentials as, not just a socialist, but a democratic socialist. Democracy and socialism naturally go hand-in-hand, Sanders insists.
This has been a major rebranding project. Due to its track record, socialism had become associated not with democracy, but with authoritarian regimes like those of Soviet Russia and Communist Cuba. But Sanders and fellow democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez purport to offer a “kinder, gentler” socialism that is compatible with, if not economic freedom, at least “political freedom”: free elections, free political expression, etc.
But not all democratic socialists managed to stay so on-brand regarding Cuba. For example, the Democratic Socialists of America tweeted: “DSA stands with the Cuban people and their Revolution in this moment of unrest.”
At first glance, it may appear that they are supporting the protesters. But their use of capital-R “Revolution” — the same way the Cuban president wrote it — suggests that they are actually supporting the Cuban government as representatives of “the people.”
For the DSA, apparently, what matters most is the permanent Revolution, which means supporting and preserving the guardians of that Revolution: the Communist Party and regime. If safeguarding socialism requires “breaking a few eggs,” then so be it.
Socialism and Democracy
While the Democratic Socialists of America, by throwing democracy under the bus of socialism, are being more hypocritical than Bernie, they are actually being more realistic. The reason is simple: socialism and democracy are incompatible.
Free-market economist Milton Friedman explained why. “It is widely believed,” wrote Friedman in 1961 for The New Individualist Review, “that economic arrangements are one thing and political arrangements another, that any kind of economic arrangement can be associated with any kind of political arrangement. This is the idea that underlies such a term as ‘democratic socialism.’”
But Friedman argued that “‘democratic socialism’ is a contradiction in terms,” explaining that, “there is an intimate connection between economic arrangements and political arrangements, and that only certain combinations are possible.” For political freedom (i.e., democracy), economic arrangements matter a great deal “because of the effect which they have on the concentration or the deconcentration of power.”
“The essence of political freedom,” Friedman wrote, “is the absence of coercion of one man by his fellow men. The fundamental danger to political freedom is the concentration of power. The existence of a large measure of power in the hands of a relatively few individuals enables them to use it to coerce their fellow man.”
The issue is that under socialism — properly defined as the state owning the means of production — it is the central government, not individuals freely exchanging with each other in the market, that determines the allocation of resources. This means that economic power is concentrated among a few people at the top, not diffused among the millions of people making individual economic decisions each day, as it is under a free-market system.
As FEE’s Brad Polumbo noted in The Washington Examiner, such centralization of economic power, “gives that authority enormous leverage it can use to repress personal and political freedoms, such as the freedom of speech, that it would never have in a free market economy.”
This can be seen throughout history. Stalin used his control over the Soviet Union’s food supply to try to starve the Ukrainian people into either submission or oblivion. And today, the Cuban regime is using its economic stranglehold on the country to suppress key personal freedoms — such as the right to protest — as well.
What About Scandinavia?
The counterpoint often raised is that Scandinavian countries, which are alleged to be socialist, are still democratic. But the truth is that those are not actually socialist regimes, as much as Bernie Sanders may want to convince the public that they are. The prime minister of Denmark publicly addressed this, saying “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
As Polumbo explains, “The Scandinavian nations are market-based economies with robust economic freedom, simply with higher taxes and more welfare spending than the United States. In fact, Denmark ranks above the U.S. on the Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom index. In terms of actual government control of the economy, the vision embraced by Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and their ilk is actually much more radical than anything found in Scandinavia.”
The Misleading Rhetoric of Socialists
Claiming that Scandinavia is socialist is just one way that socialists mislead people with their rhetoric. The other key way is through using the language of “human rights,” “fairness,” and “equality,” in order to appeal to the egalitarian instincts of young generations.
But the truth is that every time somebody sees the condition of Cuba or the plight of Venezuela, they should understand that those are not examples of regimes straying from the political values that socialism encourages. Rather, they are staying true to them.
As Milton Friedman said over 50 years before the term became fashionable, “‘democratic socialism’ is a contradiction in terms.”
Jack Elbaum is a Hazlitt Writing Fellow at FEE and an incoming sophomore at George Washington University. His writing has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The New York Post, and the Washington Examiner. You can contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Jack_Elbaum.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.
American Patriots Uniting to Fight Tyranny from, Well, Everywhere
We’re building a new conservative news network. Based on responses from fellow patriots, we’re heading in the right direction.
It may be hard to believe based on what we’re seeing around the nation today, but there are many reasons to be hopeful. First and foremost, the false narrative that most of America hates traditional values or the foundations of our nation are finally being proven false. Despite the best efforts of globalists and Neo-Marxists, patriotic Americans are starting to unify in droves. Meanwhile, Joe Biden can barely muster a half-filled auditorium to deliver his message to the scant few watching CNN and the paid shills in the “crowd.”
The “silent majority” that drove Donald Trump to victory in 2016 and 2020 (yes, he won by a landslide but was robbed along with the American people) is finally starting to realize we cannot stay silent any longer. We used to win with our votes, but those are being stolen. We used to win with truth, but the radical left and their agents in mainstream media, Big Tech, and academia are building a post-truth society to drown out reality. Today, we are waking up to the realization that only through direct action and fearlessly spreading the truth can we overcome the nefarious forces working against us.
We are proud to be working our way up to the tip of the conservative media spear. Our network is growing. We’re establishing strong partnerships with like-minded news outlets and courageous journalists. Even as Big Tech suppresses us, the honest messages they’re trying to quash are finding their way to the eyes and ears of patriots across the nation. With the help of new content partners like The Epoch Times and The Liberty Daily, we’re starting to see a real impact.
Our network is currently comprised of nine sites:
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Some of our content is spread across all of these sites. Other pieces of content are unique. We write most of what we post but we also draw from those willing to allow us to share their quality articles, videos, and podcasts. We collect the best content from fellow conservative sites that give us permission to republish them. We’re not ego-driven; I’d much rather post a properly attributed story written by experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola or Natural News than rewrite it like so many outlets like to do. We’re not here to take credit. We’re here to spread the truth.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $2200-$7800 per month. May, 2021, for example, was amazing and we almost broke even. June, revenue was sluggish at best and we had to make up a big difference out of our pockets. But we’re not just trying to get out of the red. If and when we start getting enough contributions to expand, we will do just that. Very few get into journalism to try to get rich and we’re definitely not among those who do. Our success is driven by spreading the truth, profitable or not.
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They’re Trying to Shut Us Down
Over the last several months, I’ve lost count of how many times the powers-that-be have tried to shut us down. They’ve sent hackers at us, forcing us to take extreme measures on web security. They sent attorneys after us, but thankfully we’re not easily intimidated by baseless accusations or threats. They’ve even gone so far as to make physical threats. Those can actually be a bit worrisome but Remington has me covered.
For us to continue to deliver the truth that Americans need to read and hear, we ask you, our amazing audience, for financial assistance. We just launched a GiveSendGo page to help us pay the bills. It’s brand new so don’t be discouraged by the lack of donations there. It’s a funny reality that the fewer the donations that have been made, the less likely people are willing to donate to it. One would think this is counterintuitive, but sometimes people are skeptical because they think that perhaps there’s a reason others haven’t been donating. In our situation, we’re just getting started so please don’t be shy if you have the means to help.
Thank you and God bless!