The ulterior shadows of socialism are not hard to spot, if one looks with the right eyes. The truth is rather simple: those who amass power are rarely eager to relinquish it.
Socialism sits on the key tenant of wealth redistribution. Take wealth from those who have it and distribute it among the given population. In order to take that wealth however, a strong centralized force must be administered—i.e. the federal government. History, as a long bloody carcass, has shown that governments who suddenly accrue great influence over their subjects, are inclined to retain such power. This is why the world has never known a successful revolution. Humanity does not know the value of limits. The virtuous rebels fighting for an ideal, upon the threshold of victory, cannot stop themselves from consolidating their victory. They seek to cement their newfound authority. They become the tyranny they originally opposed.
Socialism is like a great first date. She’s seductive in a smattering of makeup and brings all her best qualities to dinner, but on the second or third date, you wake up next to who she really is—all the makeup comes off, leaving the naked truth that was hiding under the surface all along. History is littered with such horrors—the collapse of the Soviet Union, the gaunt faces starving in the streets of Venezuela waiting for bread rations, Cubans risking the tumultuous journey across the open ocean on makeshift rafts, China’s state-run media that censors anything not in favor of those in power, the sheer degradation of North Korea. These are the enduring legacies of socialism—these are the lineages to which many young Americans are dreaming now.
The folly of youth is its romance for remaking the world. Eager to carve their name into history, eager to reduce everything to the idealistic, the bold, and the benevolent, youth is so often guilty of ignoring history’s empirical lessons. Youth wagers it will be different this time, that those who are young now are radically different than those who were once young themselves. One good long look at history will tell you that people do not change, they simply wear different costumes. The one constant is human greed. Where capitalism channels it towards personal achievement, socialism emboldens it with a conqueror’s justice. Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America thanks to a prodigious opulence of oil reserves—years of socialist practices by a corrupt government has disintegrated the nation into a daily mess of starvation, lawlessness, revolt, and hopeless tomorrows. How seductive and powerful greed can be, when draped in the robes of equality.
Socialism fails because capitalism works. Socialism destroys the human flame—there is no incentive to create, to improve, to design better than what was—innovation dies at the indifferent arms of a government with nothing and no one to answer to. Surrender your freedom and you’ll be returned security—this is the demand of youth like Ms. Ocasio Cortez. What we find is we’re returned nothing. We lose both.
James Joyce once wrote, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
Some of us, it seems, are still dreaming.