David Harsanyi’s July 30 column in The Gazette (“Sorry if you’re offended, but socialism leads to misery”) omits so much from history that it paints a woefully distorted picture of socialism.
One might wonder why The Gazette gave it four columns at the top of the Insight page. Maybe the article’s sledgehammer approach forces us to think beyond the ends of our noses. Socialism, like ice cream, comes in more than one flavor. And it’s the distinctions that make all the difference.
No reasonable person denies many forms of 20th century socialism are bad. Adolf Hitler’s Germany was a form of socialism, fascism to be exact. The Soviet Union’s form was communism. China is adding capitalism to Communism and it’s a bad brew.
Significantly, none of these countries, including pre-World War II Germany, had a background in democracy; neither does Venezuela or Nicaragua.
France, Great Britain, modern Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Canada use capitalism plus socialism, but Harsanyi doesn’t mention them. He makes an anemic passing nod to use of socialism in developed nations. Western Europe and the U.S. have mature democracies with the constitutional framework to support strong applications of socialism’s concern with equity.
Left unchallenged, the column can scare us. It could be useful in elections as an under-the-radar attack on substantive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressives. But the story won’t fly with people exposed to more than one-sided history.