Education Is Socialism’s Only Antidote
Socialism is having a moment in America. Everyone knows about Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but the phenomenon goes much deeper. At the local level, self-identified socialists are running for office and winning, usually as Democrats, from Seattle and St. Louis to Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York. In many places across America, their electoral success is transforming what it means to be a Democrat. Meanwhile, the country’s most prominent socialist political organization, the Democratic Socialists of America, grew in membership ninefold from 2014 to 2019 and now has 50,000 members.
Young Americans rightly fear tyranny, which is why they typically distance themselves from the label “Communist” and call themselves “democratic socialists.” But that distinction has little basis in reality. Self-described democratic socialists may think they are advocating Scandinavian policies — never mind that the Scandinavian countries in question self-identify as market economies and are properly understood as high-tax welfare states. If there is such a thing as democratic socialism, it means you vote once or twice before the socialists in power begin to erode the institutions of law and democratic representation as they suffocate enterprise and control the use of property. Democracy withers as socialism grows; they will not coexist for long. When the tipping point is reached, democracy quickly gives way to restrictions on freedom, and ultimately outright dictatorship.
At the time of publishing, Marion Smith was executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Originally published in National Review.