All Commentary
Saturday, December 1, 1990

Socialism Works

Evelyn Pyburn is editor of the Big Sky Business Journal in Billings, Montana, where an earlier version of this article first appeared.

Hidden in the half-light of a seldom-seen nook, “Socialism Works” is scrawled across the cold concrete girders of an overpass in Missoula, Montana.

Considering the untold misery and suffering socialism has brought to so many people around the world, the statement seems appropriately placed.

Considering the glaring contradiction of Eastern Europe, it’s almost inconceivable that the words were written at all; but then, that would be to underestimate the undaunted perseverance of those who believe that their fantasies can supersede reality—of those who believe that it is possible and just to live off the production of others.

“Socialism Works.” For the sake of accuracy, the statement needs a substatement that would in essence say, “but only as long as it has a capitalistic base to suck dry”—for it is only the remnants of a capitalistic free market, depleted as it is, that sustain the ever-growing and expanding socialism of the United States. And, as much as freedom lovers might wish to the contrary, the events of Eastern Europe have been brought about, not so much by an intellectual revolution, as by the final draining of the lifeblood of what was the productive sector of those economies.

From all the rhetoric one hears about establishing—not freedom or capitalism—but a “mixed economy,” and with all the pleading for foreign aid, it’s obvious that the upheaval in Eastern Europe has primarily to do with the shedding of a used and wasted host and the casting about for a more vibrant, living one to which the socialists can once again attach themselves.

A mixed economy is nothing more than a variant strain of socialism having grudgingly acknowledged its dependence upon the producers it condemns. A mixed economy—in any country—must, by its very nature, slide inexorably toward the same end as Eastern Europe. Those who advocate it are only asking to repeat the “grand experiment.” They have no interest in freedom, and their avowed love of humanity is false.

Of course, there are those who recognize the root cause of the failure of the grand experiment that wasted the lives of a whole generation of Eastern Europeans, but they are not the “leaders” who are redesigning the future or being quoted by mainstream media—not in those countries and not in this country.

For freedom lovers the events of Eastern Europe are indeed a victory—a victory of truth, of reality, of facts—but it is not a victory of convincing people who don’t recognize facts, who believe that reality is but what they wish, so long as they control the necessary political powers to force other people to do their bidding.

In all its barbarity, socialism is still the dream for the East German woman who on television said that, yes, she wants jobs and food and clothing, but she sees no reason to give up free day care. She doesn’t see that having forcibly expropriated the resources from those who produced them to fund free day care (and social programs ad infinitum) is essentially the reason she and everyone else must do without jobs, food, and clothing.

In explaining such attitudes, a friend once said that people can think in such a way because they don’t believe that actions have consequences. Thus they Can allow themselves to look at the events of Eastern Europe and fall to understand their meaning—they do not see the events as a consequence of their ideas in action. It allows them to look at a failed socialistic program, lay the blame upon capitalism, and beg for more of the same.

It allows them to witness the events of Eastern Europe and go right on advocating free day care, free housing, socialized medicine, socialized education, guaranteed incomes, and regulated industry in the United States—because they don’t believe that actions have consequences. For them, “Socialism Works” because they say it does.