opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
10 Feb 2016
Sloppy Language and Thinking

George Orwell said, "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." Gore Vidal … Read More.

3 Feb 2016
Isn't It Strange?

There is a letter titled "Isn't It Strange?" making the rounds in email boxes. It asks questions to which our … Read More.

26 Jan 2016
Education Insanity

Some credit Albert Einstein, others credit Benjamin Franklin, with the observation that "the definition of … Read More.

Liberals, Progressives and Socialists


In Europe, especially in Germany, hoisting a swastika-emblazoned Nazi flag is a crime. For decades after World War II, people have hunted down and sought punishment for Nazi murderers, who were responsible for the deaths of more than 20 million people.

Here's my question: Why are the horrors of Nazism so well-known and widely condemned but not those of socialism and communism? What goes untaught — and possibly is covered up — is that socialist and communist ideas have produced the greatest evil in mankind's history. You say, "Williams, what in the world are you talking about? Socialists, communists and their fellow travelers, such as the Wall Street occupiers supported by our president, care about the little guy in his struggle for a fair shake! They're trying to promote social justice." Let's look at some of the history of socialism and communism.

What's not appreciated is that Nazism is a form of socialism. In fact, the term Nazi stands for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The unspeakable acts of Adolf Hitler's Nazis pale in comparison with the horrors committed by the communists in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People's Republic of China. Between 1917 and 1987, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and their successors murdered and were otherwise responsible for the deaths of 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, China's communists, led by Mao Zedong and his successors, murdered and were otherwise responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese. The most authoritative tally of history's most murderous regimes is documented on University of Hawaii Professor Rudolph J. Rummel's website, at, and in his book "Death by Government."

How much hunting down and punishment have there been for these communist murderers? To the contrary, it's acceptable both in Europe and in the U.S. to hoist and march under the former USSR's red flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle.

Mao Zedong has been long admired by academics and leftists across our country, as they often marched around singing the praises of Mao and waving his little red book, "Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung." President Barack Obama's communications director, Anita Dunn, in her June 2009 commencement address to St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral, said Mao was one of her heroes.

Whether it's the academic community, the media elite, stalwarts of the Democratic Party or organizations such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Green for All, the Sierra Club and the Children's Defense Fund, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism — a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.

Today's leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from those of Nazi, Soviet and Maoist mass murderers. One does not have to be in favor of death camps or wars of conquest to be a tyrant. The only requirement is that one has to believe in the primacy of the state over individual rights.

The unspeakable horrors of Nazism didn't happen overnight. They were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for "social justice." It was decent but misguided earlier generations of Germans — who would have cringed at the thought of genocide — who created the Trojan horse for Hitler's ascendancy. Today's Americans are similarly accepting the massive consolidation of power in Washington in the name of social justice.

If you don't believe it, just ask yourself: Which way are we headed tiny steps at a time — toward greater liberty or toward more government control over our lives?

Perhaps we think that we are better human beings than the German people who created the conditions that brought Hitler to power. I say, don't count on it.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



18 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... . Do you really think the murders by Communists have been covered up???... Was that not our excuse for going to Korea, and Vietnam??? Only more murders and deaths of our own to avenge the deaths of so many was cover up???... And what of our support of the White Russians following the first great war???... Only more death we could blame on those bad old commies, and even those we killed were better dead than red...
Have you ever seen how many people in the west welcomed hitler as chancelor of Germany only because of what he promised and delivered to those Commies...Do you get that hitler was an alternative to Hindinburg, of taxing the great Junker estates which were not supporting the people or paying taxes??? The only reason we don't like him is that he killed ours too...In most respects, hitler would have shone in the republican party...
Do tell me great sage: Why, if communism is so terrible and directly responsible for so many deaths do we deal with the communist Republic of China??? Could it be that in spite of everything, that they actually understand economy and know how to balance their books??? We will not tax the rich because ideologically we expect some nectar of virtue to drip from the abscess of greed, and we will borrow from the rich, but once they have safely hidden our loot and capital abroad, and drained our economy of wealth buying what is produced abroad, and run down wages until taxes on them no longer support the government; then the government runs up inflation to steal from rich and poor alike, to make all scramble for their wealth and risk it to have it...
Yes; Communism spread misery on every population it touched... What did they have before??? The generalisimo in China starved as many or more of his own soldiers to death as were killed in battle, and it was all out of corruption and incompetance... Russia was crying for a constitution long before the Commies came to power, but those who asked were sent to Siberia... A good constitution might well have saved that people from two wars and left their Czar in power to the present moment; but he wanted absolute power without the brains or strength of will to manage it...And I will admit, that I am not much of an ideologue... Too many human beings have died for ideas that are alive and well and dancing on their graves...If you look a Russia simply as a closed system, which it never was, you can see that they suffered every death they inflicted; and that often it was people imbued with ideals not showing the least bit of common sense or restraint that killed the most whether it was what was actually wanted by the government or not...The cities needed the country, and the country did not need the cities... When the country, as in Russia, acting out of fear and greed, goes about killing of all the live stock to prevent the city from eating it, perhaps some should have died; but a little politics might have saved live stock and life; and idealogues cannot think politically...
It was not in the end, ideas that killed people, but people with ideas and guns that killed people who had a few ideas of their own... My point is, that what failed in communism is failing here... Everyone should be cut in... Everyone should get greased... We should all have a piece of the action...We should all have a stake in the course of the country and the economy; and now we have the rich calling the tune government dances to, and the people looking around for loose change with none of us getting rich but those already rich... There is no dealing with economies and governments that do not work for people, and that fact has nothing to do with ideology, but is simple reality... Failed forms bring every society to failure...
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Aug 6, 2012 1:52 PM
The Nazis are vilified because they lost the struggle against Communism.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Liam Astlel
Tue Aug 7, 2012 2:41 AM
Good column, Dr. Williams. Thanks!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Doug Morelly
Tue Aug 7, 2012 2:08 PM
We need modified capitalism for the employed and modified socialism for the unemployed and destitute. This way capitalism and socialism can both play an important role in society where they are more applicable. My books CHANGES IN WELFARE LAWS, EDUCATION REFORM, and HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD all show how this hybrid form of political leadership can be a more just system of rule. Available on Kindle and Nook Book.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Uldis Sprogis
Wed Aug 8, 2012 4:14 AM
A hybrid form of political leadership is needed. Modified captialism for the employed and modified socialism for the unemployed and destitute. This form of government is covered in my books CHANGES IN WELFARE LAWS, EDUCATION REFORM, and HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD. Available on Kindle and Nook Book.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Uldis Sprogis
Wed Aug 8, 2012 4:18 AM
Re: Sweeney, am really busy, but have to take the time and recognize your intelligent well thought out comment.You clearly pose strong counter arguments to "Williams" column and your reasoning is flawless. Would like to be in a room with you & Williams having a conversation on this or almost any topic. Well done.
Comment: #6
Posted by: morgan
Wed Aug 8, 2012 4:52 PM
Having also been born in 1936, I have alway admired the wisdom of Dr. Williams. I just wish more blacks would have him as their mentor. When he talks about the evil of National Socialism, where the evils of Hitler were carried out on an unarmed society; then you hear to many people say, "it couldn't happen here." I don't believe that for a minute. If we don't turn this ship wreck around soon, we could see civil war and if things get even worse, ethnic cleansing may be included. We could be headed for a time in history where our citizens are going to have to choose sides; are they going to be on the side of liberty, or on the side of tyranny.
Comment: #7
Posted by: jag57
Thu Aug 9, 2012 2:17 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney,

If everyone is to be cut in, where do you fine those people willing to have someone else enjoy the fruits of their own labors ? It was tried at Massachusettes Bay Colony and failed miserably and was abandoned. Looking at Obamacare provides a sterling example - millions are finding ways to opt out of the program leaving only those who have no other options - the sick, thr mentally ill and the aged and infirm - high incidence users. Obama still claims his plan will lower costs - this is an actuarial impossibility before you include those now uninsured with serious pre-existing conditions. Who will volunteet to give of their own resources to equalize things across this terrible warped and slanted board ? Not you, oh moral preacher, certainly not you.
Comment: #8
Posted by: oldephardt
Thu Aug 9, 2012 4:36 PM

I find it funny how many of the people who advocate Socialism submit that Capitalism is bad because greedy rich people take advantage of the poor. LOL. Do these idiots really believe there will be no greed in Socialism?

Sometimes it amazes me how dumb a human brain can think.

First, blaming bad human behavior on greed is like blaming gravity for a plane crash. As far as I can tell “greed” has always existed where humans have existed and it does not matter if the chosen economic system is socialism or capitalism.

Second, “greed” is not an evil thing. On the contrary, almost all the good performed by humans comes from actions motivated by “greed.” When people strive to improve their life they often accomplish such a task by improving the lives of others. The guy who invented air conditioning, for example, did not do so out of love for his neighbor; he was motivated by “greed” to make his life better by selling a product that made the lives of other better.

Third, the human emotion that motivates evil human actions is ENVY, not greed. Envy occurs when person X lacks Person Y's achievements and/or possessions and resents it and Person X believes that “fairness” entitles Person X to at least some of Person Y's achievements/possessions. Envy, like greed, is always around humands, so we can actually blame bad human behavior on Envy, Envy is simply the motivation for bad humand actions. It is the economic/political system that have policies that enables people to indulge their envy by allowing them to "legally" take the stuff of others that is evil. One such system is Socialism.

Envy not only makes envious people unhappy, envious people wish to inflict misfortune on others. Such is often accomplished by taking the stuff of others. Envy is clearly the fuel of Socialism and explains many of the redistribution policies of Socialism.

Next time you see an angry Liberal demanding the possessions of others, just remember, such Liberals are motivated by envy, not greed, and such envy result in sadness for all.

Next time you see a selfish “rich” person working to create yet another service/good he can sell to others, he is indeed motivated by greed and the result will be a better society.

Greed is one of the best of human emotions and is the fuel of true Capitalism.

Envy is one of the worst human emotions and is the fuel of Socialism.

Comment: #9
Posted by: SusansMirror
Thu Aug 9, 2012 7:33 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney

"In most respects, hitler would have shone in the republican party..."

I generally wouldn't take the time to respond to your ravings, but with that comment, you've managed to sink to a new low.


Comment: #10
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:16 AM
Re: oldephardt... Sir... Socialism is/was the economy of all primitive peoples, and was even an element of Feudalism... Our free market economy has many socialistic elements, and no matter how much people want to make money off of others, in times of war or disaster they will often give all they have without regard to reward to save life...
Democracy is political socialism, so we should not be surprised when the common good is put forward as an element of an idealized progress... But I am not advocating socialism... I recognize that playing for greed, for personal advantage- has accounted for much of human progress... I recognize that the socialism of primitives, while it increases the chances of group survival which equals genetic survival and individual survival also made technological progress slow, though technology must be built upon technology so it is always a slow progress at the beginning...
The exploitation of people through interest, usury, and capitalism put us far ahead of the Muslims who were in many respects our intellectual superiors in the middle and late middle ages... Still, I am not saying that intelligence, and innovation and ambition should not have its rewards... I am saying people should be honest about the cost of those rewards... What is the true cost of a quart of oil or a gallon of gas when more oil is spilled on our roads every day than was lost in the Exxon Valdiz??? Things are sold below their cost... The labor of people is bought below its cost... Even the invention and innovation of people is bought for wages when it is not just, but only as the law was crafted... We do not know what we might have if people could more easily know the reward of their inventiveness...Capital having the power uses it to make more and stronger laws in support of capital and property... We cannot look to any modern example of socialism to contrast with it, and I do not advertize for ideals... As a practical matter we can see the flaws of capitalism become daily more clear... What ideal should people embrace??? Not One...
Our salvation is in a certain understanding of the situation, primarily that we have the power to change our forms, and that the changing of forms has been the story of all human history...Because forms like government and economy are only seldom changed, and people grow up with them they do not understand how often forms are and have been changed, and that the inability of a people to change their forms often leads to their failure and extinction...
We already have many elements of socialism, and they are not killing us... We need to realize that primitives used social control of the economy, and of their environment because they did not have technology, and without those controls of economy would have been controlled and ultimately destroyed...
We let our economy control our government, and this situation is backward and dangerous...You see that while the economy accepts no government, it is to the government they go when they need rescue from their own greed and excess... Where does the support of the free market economy by government appear in our constitution???... It is not a goal in the preamble, but it comes out of the guiding principal of capitalism, that what is good for business is good for all... This is not true, and is false; and the economy should support the government that defends the privilages only property and wealth enjoy...Wealth made off the commonwealth ought to be returned to the commonwealth so that those who want it have some goal to inspire their intelligence and invention... All the wealth in private hands is a brake on social progress...
Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #11
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:26 AM
Re: Jeff Gunn... As one asked after Hitler came to power: What victory??? There was no opposition...
It is the same with the democrats... They are not organized... They have no guiding principal other than a general humanism...In most respects they agree completely with the republicans... But they play to play rather than playing to win as the republicans...
If democrats are going to let themselves be beat around the head with a blunt object like Carl Rove they deserve to lose; and Hitler, playing to win without the least intelligent plan other than anything he could get away with would have been a great republican candidate... You see; the weakness of the democrats is that just like the republicans they have sold their morallity for a vote... Who can say to anyone what both parties imply, that we can manage your affairs better than you can??? If you cannot call a spade a spade, if you cannot be honest, then you will never be able to call the mass of those bastards the sonnovabiches they are... It is all pot calling kettle, and the people know it...
Moral people avoid such pollution...I find it offensive to have a defensive vote forced upon me... I feel dirty voting, and that is the price of not seeing criminals make progress... I don't have to like it... I clean my own toilet too... The high and mighty noble lord in me is repelled, but I do it to have it done... It is always the maid's day off around here...
Comment: #12
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:41 AM
Re: SusansMirror... You conclusion that greed is the best of emotions and envy is the worst is easily refuted... Greed has always been the worst, and envy, while it played a part in the second great sin in the Bible, the murder of Able, by Cain has also been responsible for much good... When people could only be envious of honors they acted honorably to deserve honors... Greed in such societies was a dishonor and is yet so... When we look at the ten commandments, we see thou shall not covet thy neighbors goods... What else is behind capitalism??? Now that they poor have been dispossessed of the commonwealth is no reason for the rich to deny their envy, for now they envy the political power as well as the last rights to the commonwealth the poor survive upon...
People may make revolution with a streak of envy, but there are so much easier ways to find expression for envy than revolution, which is a hard and thankless occupation...No one is socialist but out of necessity...People do not ride the bus out of envy, but are envious out of having to be socialistic...In the past you could look at Sparta who made their money out of pickled iron, and yet who individually could be persuaded with gold... Envy is a result rather than a cause... People cannot be made to do good out of evil, and if some good comes out of capitalism motivated by greed it is accidental, and a byproduct rather than the goal...
It is necessity only that makes people socialistic, and when the wealth of a society grows, it soon departs from socialism, and very often as soon dies from self inflicted wounds...Behind the necessity that makes socialism possible is the universal need for justice that no person can live without...
We are reaching the point in society where insatiable greed cannot be satisfied, and the rewards of past wealth are few and fleeting; and yet the new, and the ambitious, and the willing must also be satisfied, and so envious eyes are turned on the rights and incomes of the poor as a sort of last frontier... What will this country look like if greed should have its way???
What protection have the poor from the rich but the demand for justice... People do not accept justice any more than socialism, but out of necessity...When the people cover their meager part of the commonwealth and their common rights as citizens from the envious eyes of the rich it is not for fun, but because some where, and some time they must plant their flag and say: not one step back... If anyone should give up anything to make more rich, to advertize to the poor the value of avarice, and the charms of cupidice it should be the rich... The poor cannot be more poor without being slaves... If the rich think many rich is some protection from the gathering storm of poor, then let them make millionaires out of their own billions... Forget their envy of the poor for the safety social net protecting them from grinding despair... Leave the poor their poverty, and their little dreams of hope...
Comment: #13
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:15 AM

James "the logic inverter" Sweeney is once again perfectly out of phase with reason.

One of your problems is that you make up your own definition for words.

Comment: #14
Posted by: SusansMirror
Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:26 AM
Re: SusansMirror;... I do not think so... I am a dictionary man, and if I have one then I have twenty and more of all sorts, languages, and etc... As Voltaire said: If you would discuss with me, define your terms... We should all do so; but also bear in mind that moral forms/concepts have no clear definition... It is good if a government as ours, a social form created to give reality to moral forms like those listed in the preamble: liberty, justice, tranquility, et al- has some notion of the goods it seeks to achieve, but things like justice can only be defined in the most general fashion... And the same might well be said of emotions... What it often comes down to is the decisions people make when the situation arises...
If two people in a dispute have to decide what justice is, what it is to one, it will be for the other, and for both but not for all in every circumstance... Infinites, as justice is, in its expression cannot be defined because they are infinites...For emotions as you tried to define them, greed and envy, it is best to see if either is cause and effect... As I said of socialism you may have said of envy, that it makes one unhappy... Since the one grows out of want in the presence of plenty, and the other grows out of want and necessity; where is the cause in either for happiness???... People moved away from socialism as soon as they were able, but the move was not complete...Socialism is forced on the many poor still, and free enterprise is the privilage of a few... I would rather people split the difference, and have the socialism of wealth rather than the socialism of poverty we will some day share... I don't care if you define socialism as absolute evil... All the more reason to moderate that evil by sharing more of the commonwealth...
Comment: #15
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:57 AM
Re: Susan's Mirror, a suitable choice of names as you seem incapable of understanding or seeing anything that does not reflect your own opinion back to you.
Comment: #16
Posted by: morgan
Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:17 AM
Yeah but those people were murdered in the name of fairness so it was for good reasons.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Liberaljoe
Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:52 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney You seem to have lots of time on your hands, Sweeney. One thing you tend to overlook in the victimization (let's call it that, based on your views) of the "poor" or those who you claim are downtrodden in society, is that a major portion of the population is inherently uninspired and just plain lazy when it comes to planting and tending their own financial garden. It seems that those of us who have passion for creating a product, widget or better gardening tools spend more of our waking hours in the process of "seeking" rather than relaxing. Work time is playtime for those who have a creative AND proactive soul. If you were to poll a random group of 100 people, you'd find that a majority of the crowd is waiting for Friday or "Beer-thirty", and a small portion of the crowd doesn't think of Saturday or Sunday as a day off. It is a very simple equation. Whether a child becomes a producer or a consumer largely depends on what he/she sees and hears while munching their Cheerios every morning, what they see their parents and grandparents doing with their free time, etc. This is the basic chasm between financial success and struggle; how motivated is the individual to envision and plant his own garden using his own imagination, energy, time and resources? How much better will his life be in terms of overall comfort and satisfaction after twenty years of intelligent effort in his own personal life mission?
Compare this to a child who sits listening to complaining parents who think they are victimized by their jobs, their boss, etc? There's a mile of difference between being reactive and proactive. We either get off our duffs and make the best of our EQUAL time and opportunities, or we don't. According to your logic, society's "victims" are entitled to share the rewards of those who bust their butts to make something great happen or to fulfill a life dream. Last time I checked, everyone I know gets the same 24 hour day, same oxygen, same opportunity to dream, same privilege to live in an free enterprise-based country and the absolute freedom to invest their time in any way they see fit. Whether I head to the shop to reinvent my widget or you head to the lake to sunbathe, we both had the choice to make.
Socialism is a sickness suffered by a society which has no sense of self-empowerment. During feudal times when kings and queens, churches kept people downright stupid in order to monopolize their labor and energy, I suppose socialism was an improvement over being a slave or a serf. THAT was THEN, THIS is NOW, Sweeney. There is no henchman standing at your front door demanding your wheat or your life. Modern Socialism in my opinion is synonymous with laziness and apathy in the general public, to such a degree that a solution for the individual's financial difficulties seems available only by the hand of government redistribution. It's called "theft" from the productive and a "handicap" for those who went to the beach rather than try harder. Look at those highly successful, extremely well-known business tycoons such as Dave Thomas of Wendy's, Vidal Sassoon, LL Bean, Steve Jobs. Even these orphaned children possessed or developed so much passion about a dream or an idea that they went to the moon in their chosen fields. Let's talk about "victims" Sweeney... It's about gettin' off our asses, not looking for favors or privileges. I'd venture to say that these people didn't whine very much about the accomplishments or the wealth of others.
To the European or Asian paradigm, filled with a horrific history of dynasties, empires, tyrants and bloodshed, modern Socialism might seem like Nirvana in comparison. However, we've not suffered queens, kings, rulers or bloody tyrants since our US Constitution was enacted, so Socialism is more of an appeasement by politicians and a Band Aid for lack of motivation. It will make us an extremely lazy population which penalizes those who still want to excel at their own chosen endeavors. If people like Barack Obama continue to pander to the lazy psyche and drive wedges between the productive and consumptive classes, he will succeed in ruining our country and our freedoms.
Don't know about you, but that is not an acceptable scenario.
Comment: #18
Posted by: banh
Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:45 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Walter E. Williams
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Author’s Podcast
Veronique de RugyUpdated 11 Feb 2016
Matt Towery
Matt ToweryUpdated 11 Feb 2016
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 11 Feb 2016

19 Dec 2011 China Trade: Myths vs. Reality

24 Oct 2007 Congressional Constitutional Contempt

25 Jan 2011 Can Our Union be Saved?