The Threat of 'Socialism'
Senator Daines has submitted a resolution to ban ' socialism ' in the USA. In effect, this resolution is stating that any policy that can be labeled ' socialism ' is a threat.
It is one thing for people to talk loosely about a term, but when a self-contradicting meme becomes the subject of a proposed resolution it is difficult to suspend disbelief that many of our elected officials are incompetent.
S. RES. 289
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 29, 2019
Mr. Daines submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
RESOLUTIONExpressing the sense of the Senate that socialism poses a significant threat to freedom, liberty, and economic prosperity.
Whereas Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines socialism as—(1) any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; and
(2) a system of society or group living in which there is no private property;
The resolution initially establishes that 'socialism' is that defined by Merriam-Webster. Okay, so we have the word 'socialism' defined in basic terms as it is commonly used. That is what dictionaries do.
The first problem is the 'government ownership ' aspect. That immediately contradicts Marxism and implicitly tags statist approaches with the former USSR as the exemplar. But, that is how the senator wants to define socialism, so at this point he has defined it as a system where either the people (as a collective) or the state (a minority consisting of officials) controls the productive resources of society (the means of production and distribution of goods).
Continuing on ...
Whereas socialism and the policies advocated by self-described democratic socialists have an underlying historical connection to the Marxist theory;
Seriously? This basically refers to the collective policies of anyone who self-references as a 'democratic socialist'. Thus if Bernie Sanders advocates a policy as 'socialism' (such as worker-owned businesses or making it easier for kids to get college degrees), this resolution would deem it ipso facto 'socialism' and reject it.
Whereas history has witnessed countless failed Marxist-inspired regimes;
True. The states who historically claim to be 'socialist' all do indeed also claim to be inspired by Marx. Being 'inspired by' Marx does not say anything about the system. Which part of Marx' volumes of work are they inspired by? Are they inspired by the ultimate goal of economic utopia? Are they inspired by economic power by the people? Something else?
Whereas, because of the perverse incentives and inherent flaws of the Marxist theory, socialism inevitably leads to societal rot, resulting in devastation, economic poverty, and destruction;
This is just name-calling. Name the perverse incentives and the inherent flaws. Some call China socialist; Red China certainly was 'inspired by' Marx since they were 'inspired by' Leninism who was in turn 'inspired by' Marx. So is everything in the Chinese system perverse and flawed? Some call the Nordic states socialism (Bernie Sanders for example). They all are based on social democracy which was based on the Fabian movement which was 'inspired by' Marx. All perverse and flawed?
Whereas prominent elected officials in the Senate and the House of Representatives are self-described socialists and espouse socialist proposals;
Why does it matter if they self-describe as 'socialists'? Especially since most of what they advocate is social democracy (and the USA is already a weak social democracy).
Whereas socialist policies such as the Green New Deal and socialized medicine would— (1) eliminate the private property rights of all people of the United States; and (2) force taxpayers to pay trillions of dollars to implement;
Immediately, ' socialized medicine ' is not socialism. It is redistribution of wealth. It can be properly labeled a common policy of social democracy or a public service. Next, ' eliminate the private property rights of all people ' means what? What does this resolution mean by ' private property ': the means of production and distribution (conventional meaning in the context of socialism) or personal property (as in home, car, iPhone)? Seems like an important thing to define if it claims that legislation would remove private property rights for everyone. Second, I think it would be great if Congress would actually put forth a bill that stops them from spending trillions of dollars of tax revenues to implement anything without a referendum from the people. Much better than this wasting time on an ambiguous meme resolution.
Whereas Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.;
Whereas Margaret Thatcher once stated, Socialist governments … always run out of other people’s money, and thus the way to prosperity is for the state to give the people more choice to spend their own money in their own way;
Quotes from dead people sans specifics (for example Thatcher was referring to redistribution of wealth when she used the term 'socialist governments') is just more vague nonsense in what is supposed to be a serious resolution of the US senate.
Whereas free-market capitalism is the greatest engine for human advancement in the history of the world, bringing more people out of poverty and into prosperity than any economic model in the history of mankind;
Capitalism thus far is indeed the best economic system that has been put into effect.
Whereas the United States is the single greatest country in the history of the world, due in large part to its system of government that secures the private property rights of all citizens through the genius of the Constitution of the United States; and
Our system of government is one of the best. But again the senator adds on with language that does not distinguish between private property (means of production and distribution) and personal property (homes, cars, etc.). Nothing in the CotUS states that the productive resources of the economy must be controlled by a minority. Personal property rights are not affected by socialism.
Whereas, on February 5, 2019, in the State of the Union address, President Donald J. Trump declared—
(1) We are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country; and
(2) America will never be a socialist country: Now, therefore, be it
So now the senator notes that Trump declares the USA will not adopt socialism yet the term 'socialism' (as Trump used it) is undefined. Does Trump include social democracy as 'socialism'? How about statism? Certainly Trump likely would include failed states such as the former USSR and Venezuela in his definition, but what about China, the U.K., France, the Nordic nations, etc.?
That the Senate—
(1) acknowledges that Marxism and socialism are failed ideologies;
( 2) recognizes that socialism poses a significant threat to the freedom, liberty, and economic prosperity of all countries and people around the world;
(3) accepts that socialism is a failed experiment of governance that inevitably ends in misery and suffering;
(4) declares that, throughout the history, tradition, and national civic spirit of the United States, the United States has been a beacon of light shining like a lighthouse to the rest of the world, demonstrating that freedom and liberty are the surest foundation of government; and
(5) affirms that the United States should never be a socialist country.
Great! The USA will never be a 'socialist' country where 'socialist' is by this resolution an entirely vague term. Tell us senator, if the SCotUS had to use just this resolution, how would that body determine if the USA has crossed any 'socialist' boundaries? What, senator, are the defining characteristics of socialism? Is there a level of statism (control by the state over economic and social factors) that would mean the USA is now 'socialist'? A level of taxation? A level of public ownership of businesses? A level of wealth redistribution?
If you are going to put forth serious content, senator, then state what you mean by 'socialism' using specific language. It is easy enough to do, the terms for various factors that are oft-used when identifying 'socialism' are well-known and have good definitions. For example the resolution could have stated factors that it considers a threat such as ...
- redistribution of wealth : Lay out the limits on how much the US can tax private citizens.
- expropriation of private property : Specifically outline measures. A good start is to ensure the state can never just seize businesses and make them state-run enterprises.
- excessive public services : Define your limits on how much 'free stuff' the state can provide.
- single payer, etc. : Might need to be a bit more specific
- funding support for higher education : Same here, preclude all federal support or specify the limits.
- command economy : State that.
- single party rule : State that.
- brutal authoritarian regime : State that.
- reducing everyone to the same economic level (pure egalitarian) : State that.
- productive resources of the economy from being owned by the people as a whole vs a minority of people : Specify your threshold.
- public services labeled 'socialized _____' : State what must be true for a public service to be 'socialized' and thus ( apparently ) bad.
- statism : Too late. Specify how much statism is allowed.
- social democracy : Too late. Specify what percentage of revenue can go to public services and how much businesses can be taxed to fund this.
Montana might need to consider electing a senator who contributes more than wasting time on a vague resolution for a very confused meme.