Senator Bernie Sanders' call for socialism has resonated among many Americans, particularly young Americans. They've fallen prey to the idea of a paradise here on Earth where things are free and there's little want. But socialists never reveal what turns out to be their true agenda. Let's look at the kind of statements they used to gain power. You'll note that all of their slogans before gaining power bore little relation to the facts after they had power.
Vladimir Lenin promised, "Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing." That's Friedrich Engel's prediction about "the withering away of the state." Lenin also promised, "Communism is Soviet power plus electrification," and "No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses." Lenin's successor, Joseph Stalin, said, "Advance towards socialism cannot but cause the exploiting elements to resist the advance, and the resistance of the exploiters cannot but lead to the inevitable sharpening of the class struggle." He also said, "Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union," and that "Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs."
Then there's China's Chairman Mao Zedong, who said: "Socialism must be developed in China, and the route toward such an end is a democratic revolution, which will enable socialist and communist consolidation over a length of time. It is also important to unite with the middle peasants, and educate them on the failings of capitalism." Mao advised: "A communist must be selfless, with the interests of the masses at heart. He must also possess a largeness of mind, as well as a practical, far-sighted mindset."
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro said: "Capitalism has neither the capacity, nor the morality, nor the ethics to solve the problems of poverty. We must establish a new world order based on justice, on equity, and on peace." He added, "I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating... because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition."
Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez promised: "I am going to do my best to try to create a country in which children are not living in poverty, in which kids can go to college, in which old people have health care. Will I succeed? I can't guarantee you that, but I can tell you that from a human point of view it is better to show up than to give up." Adding, "I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism."
His successor Nicolas Maduro said: "Fidel Castro represents the dignity of the South American continent against empires. He's a living legend: an icon of independence and freedom across the continent."
Bernie Sanders' statements are not that different from those of Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Chavez and other tyrants. Sanders says, "Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America," and "We need to change the power structure in America, we need to end the political oligarchy."
Stalin's campaign didn't mention that he would enact policies that would lead to the slaughter of 62 million people in the Soviet Union between 1917 to 1987. Mao Zedong didn't mention that his People's Republic of China would engage in brutal acts that would lead to the loss of 76 million lives at the hands of the government from 1949 to 1987. The late Professor Rudolph J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii documented this tragedy in his book "Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900."
Because socialism is a fight against basic human nature, it requires brute force in the attempt to reach its goals. The best warning about socialism comes from Aesop, who said, "Those who voluntarily put power into the hands of a tyrant ... must not wonder if it be at last turned against themselves." We shouldn't ignore Martin Luther King Jr.'s warning, "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."
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 webpage at www.creators.com.
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