Donald R. Burleson, PhD – September 7, 2018


Long after it should have died a natural death, the strangely seductive idea of socialism lingers in America. History and current events have repeatedly and abundantly shown this socioeconomic system to be an abject failure, de-incentivizing personal accomplishment while rewarding laziness, incompetence, mediocrity, and the entitlement mentality; yet millions of Americans still believe it to be the effulgent savior of humankind.

Perhaps, though, the seductiveness of this fatally flawed system is not so strange or hard to understand when one considers the diametrically opposite kinds of people who favor socialism on the one hand or capitalism on the other.

Supporters of socialism are in love with the notion that if one is disinclined to take adequate material care of oneself, it matters little, because in a socialist society the government will redistribute wealth in such a way that money from hard-working, responsible people is taken from them and given to those who didn’t earn it. Clearly, it’s difficult to imagine an ambitious, productive person wishing to be on the wrong end of that redistribution scheme, or wishing to be no better treated economically than some handout recipient who makes little or no effort to be self-sufficient. But the “free stuff” parasite is only too enamored of such a plan.

The opposite kind of person is of course the responsible, productive individual who takes capitalism and free-market economics as the ideal medium in which a capable and ambitious mind and body can thrive. This sort of person understands quite well that the world doesn’t owe anyone a living, that to prosper in a capitalist system of opportunity typically requires an enormous amount of hard work, but that to the person willing to make the effort, the rewards can be most attractive. This dichotomy of opposite personality types is complicated by the fact that leftists often have the attitude “capitalism and comfort for me and my cronies, socialism and squalor and poverty for the rest of you.” Money, to the limousine liberal, is fine when he or she acquires it, by whatever means, but the epitome of evil when you or I earn it.

This appalling species of hypocrisy and ethical fraud is peculiar to the political left; one can scarcely imagine a reverse phenomenon of its kind on the political right. There are covertly capitalistic self-proclaimed socialists, but no covertly socialistic self-proclaimed capitalists, because one does not get to be a true, honest capitalist by proclamation—one has to earn it. To be a socialist, however, one has only to disavow the mindset of earning one’s way, the mindset that it’s desirable to make money and keep it.

In short, socialists in general are losers and moochers, while capitalists in general are winners and achievers. That so many Americans fail to appreciate that fact, sadly enough, reflects poorly on human intelligence. But let’s not do the American Left the unearned favor of attributing their demented agenda to stupidity altogether; they often know perfectly well what they’re doing, championing an untenable position, to their shame.