It’s the socialism episode! The COMMENTARY podcast dissects the appeal of modern “democratic socialism,” explores its agenda, identifies its historical antecedents, and, ultimately, diagnoses its flaws.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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eleven times here with me is always a Greenwald senior editor High Hi John Noah Rothman, pussy had a rhino hi John, Sorry Mari senior writer highs are hello, Jim. We just closed September issue. I really committed to your attention a commentary magazine dot com, it's a very fresh sprightly full of interesting things, including commentaries first entry from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who I know is, has long since passed this mortal pain. But a non published memoir, which has now been translated into English, is coming out. We have a piece of it about his first days in the west after his expulsion from the Soviet Union in nineteen, seventy four that is really stunning and there's a whole lot of other stuff. In this issue too, that I very much come into your attention,
uh. So we thought we'd back off the news, because there's a lot of news, but no one knows what to make of it about the molar probe and Giuliani, saying, truth, isn't truth and all kinds of stuff like that, thought, we would maybe have a conversation today about the puzzling but interesting and potentially very significant revival of interest and enthusiasm socialism in the United States that is now but accelerated because of the unexpected success of Alexandria, because Cortez, the first sanders Bro or Sis, to knock off a sitting Democrat in a primary and a and valid supporter of what she calls democratic social Noah Rothman. You have written extensively on this side,
our conversation for us. If you would write so the there appears to be a controversy among self described. Supporters of or socialism curious, democratic socialists about how you define the thing and if you were so, I wrote a piece just sort of trying to play by the rules, because, if you, if they are to talk to hostility, insists or antagonistic audiences are conservatives, they are likely to define what socialism is very narrowly, and so, even if you define it as I to find it in this piece very narrowly. In other words that which you could source to the communist manifesto. The writings of angles lens on the state and revolution in nineteen. Seventeen really Surely socialist literature that you cannot say anything other than that is a socialistic idea. You still
come away with a fair bit of socialist ideas in the democratic program. Miss Cortez, Ocasio Cortez has a few rhetorical. Flourish is, for example, that she likes to appear will, for you know, just just to name one when she was talking about how we could eliminate the homelessness problem. Bias you know this, noting the extent to which there are a lot of vacant apartments market in New York City, the suggestion There is right out of Frederick Engels in one thousand eight hundred and seventy two where he said you can expropriate the at the individuals who own the the property in their Ford does all the prod the homelessness problem. That was actually political act. Making that point for me from the you know, we say what you will about Medicare for all
single pair whatever you call, it is the nationalization of the health insurance industry. It is the forcible, does dissolution of an individual private sector healthcare providers and forcing them into a state owned monopoly. The notion that you know you can provide a right to higher education, a state funded free of charge, higher education or a half a dozen other aspects of the of the of the plank of federal jobs, guarantee, for example, you can. Find those in the nineteen seventy seven soviet constitution, so you know argue what you will about the intent. Those are socialistic. Now they might with that among mixed company, but among themselves, they're perfectly Rita, say yeah. Of course these are socialist principles. This is bedrock assumptions
The public generally agrees with, in fact, and that's Elizabeth pruning actually in the Washington Post today, is essentially written that relatively brave admission, that these are socialistic principles and we should call them socialistic principles and also there the relatively popular. So we should engage on those terms. I would think: ok so I understand there are two ways of looking at socialism from the larger historical perspective early. Socialists were levers that as Jonah Goldberg actually says in his book suicide of the West, reflecting some of the conclusions of Josh Merob Chick in his remarkable book. Heaven on earth having and earth. Um, that so early socialists were romantics, that is to say that they believe that the the revolution and the changes that it was having in
Creating in drill societies were in human anti human and were destroying the fabric of proper. Just and some society and that a society that was organized on different principles, not capitalistic principles, but socialistic principles under which rather than the king, owning everything or individual bourgeois was social capitalist, owning something that the people owned everything and that this was a a way of Turning to a kind of more natural state that refers to as tribal or that is you know. Sort of ownership is collective and everybody serve works to serve the common good, and that was early socialism. Then, as socialism hardened overtime into an economic philosophy
was simply based and quite simply, but basically based in the notion that there should be collective or state or state level, ownership of the means of production and of businessmen of private enterprise that private enterprise was inherently an equitable that it rewarded. You know the haves in favor of the have nots and that the work workers should have the benefit of the pro. Set from their labors and not their bosses, that, the ownership of the means of production should be collective and since the only way to own things collectively. He in our world. Unless you devolve into a totally anarcho syndicalist system would be for the state to own it and the state representing everybody else, that's Liz and then became a philosophy.
Nationalizing things in private hands for the larger public good Now, that's the the narrow definition that we We get lectured by progressives to stick to because is. That is something that you know. It's like. Nobody in America is saying that the state should own Kellogg so then right that that would be. There is still the you you people use the word socially thrown around like it's some kind of evil, no one's saying that, but then that Alexandria, because the court has burst through the wall like the Kool aid Man and says. Well, yes, I have the shoe shares the conservative definition of socialism and I will go through one recent tweet of her saying you know the last week and she was enjoying the fruits of socialism, which she defines as the national parks at CAFE, coops, which produce very good breakfast sandwiches, you'd like to say and worker owned businesses. Now, what is that worker owned businesses?
by which he means employee stock options, which is a is a bit more implant. Now, in my piece, where I talk about the return of socialism as an appealing philosophy, Democrats, even after twenty years, where they drove a stake through it liberals on both sides of the pond. She's, essentially saying that an ice explicitly say that these things are not social stick forcing is intrusive to in the public sector, forcing companies to engage and shot the stock option sharing with their employees is intrusive governance, but is it socialism, I don't think so, because, is engaged in the in the in the marketplace. We're still talking about private enterprise, even though there is a a really heavy regulatory environment on it not according intercut court, because the Cortez has that socialism to she is literally expanding the definition into terms that are very favorable to socialism's opponents right well oh 'cause she's right. It is so alisme in the sense that if the state mandates that corporation worth a billion dollars or more, which is Elizabeth, Warren's plan
compelled is a force to have what's called what she calls a federal charter that is organized it registered with the federal government and charted as a corporation at the federal level, some part of its stock has to devolve will have to devolve to employees in order for it to have this federal Charter, so that is essentially it's not the government seizing the means of production or seizing private property, but it is the federal government, And dating who owns what, where and in the end would serve practice. We as a middleman, because it would have to in some cases, sees the stuff in some fashion in for it to be distributed for calcitonin companies did not to do so Kevin Simpson wrote this piece called who is Elizabeth Warren?
daddy plan to nationalize. Everything in this then caused the great uproar among among left, liberal like medically CS at VOX, who said well, there's just insist: thing that a corporation American Corporation be chartered by federal government. That's not socialism! Well, it's it's not actively socialism, because it's the hasn't been seized by the federal government, but the federal government income addiction to everything that has gone on in the Org Station of the United States, since its founding, the empowerment of the federal government to charter or not, charter corporations based on their behavior is a form of control of the means of production, even if it is not absolute management and of same that strikes me as interest in these this, discovery of the socialist tradition, which I think
it's right by the way, in the sense that it's a real conscious rediscovery on the part of both young politicians and young thinkers and pundits, if you will, but one thing that's missing is that they only seem to offer a moral account of why a socialist economy or a pseudo socialist that a anime is better and the whole kind of science of history and science of Marxism Aspect of Marxism is missing. I mean, in other words, when I look. I have a personal stake, Yes, when I was eighteen or nineteen, I joined at a socialist group whose skill, if you well, it was called socialist alternative, and it was the trotskyist contracts. Kia's wing of a of a wider hard last I've call the committee for a workers international, but you know I was interested in it because Marxism offered a kind of tote
knowledge. Marxism wasn't just a moral account of well, it would be nice if workers earn more and we could have more eco, society. It claimed that by looking at the mode and means of production in any given society. You can predict how social change will happen, how the balance of forces were gradually shift and that there was an inevitability to it, that, as the productive forces at a the workers, would become more and more popularized and therefore would begin to see themselves as have sharing interests at that point would take revolutionary action to bring us to the most rational kind of society, which was a collectively owned, is actually a classless society. Now that was the orthodox classical Marxism. It went through all sorts of permutations, but none of that kind of messianic. Totalizing vision is there. It seems that you know On the one hand, if you press him on it, they say it's not socialism or
so yes, it's socialism on what does that mean? It means the public library, not it's all very petty yeah, and not only is there no socialist, science, accounting of how this all will actually work. But they can't account for how it would all sort itself out economically and mathematically they're. Actually, there completely hard pressed to explain well, they would accomplish any of these things and make economic sense of them. Ok, so there is one way in which they do offer an accounting that is different from socialism warm, warm or sort of like the later strictly economic socialism, which is this is a very rich country right. America is a very, very rich country, richest country in the world, and too much of its wealth is pooled at the very top and that wealth shaken free from the hands of the top point one percent can fund just
anything you want. It's like. There is a you know. Pinata hanging there and if you can just pierce it with the stick all the candy will just fly out, an it will fly out forever, there's another one too. That's not even that tethered to like an actual value of monetary system, is that the United States means its own currency sets its own value, and it can essentially definitely and said anything right in theory right, although that any any so any rational, Econo, just even a very left wing. Economists like Joseph Stiglitz, would say that It is not a long term strategy, inflating your currency, that's where you get that as well. If that's, where you have the road to Zimbabwe, to just ten trillion, right exactly right, so you so you can do it briefly
If you get it, you can set your own value artificially, and you can do that for as long as you want your hand, but it doesn't. Doesn't I mean it turns out that doesn't work like there's enough evidence in the world, but it doesn't work, but only what that works is the opposite works. What works is saving an economy from total self destruction deflated? But you have to be aware of that evidence and everybody around the table is coming to the final conclusion, which is that there's just a sort of, intentional ignorance about the history of this sort of hand, but let's see what we should go into because it is ultimately the focus on inequality is one what has led to the in my view, was, was led to the return of romantic Antic idea of socialism, which was in bad odor only thirty years ago, when around the time that the Berlin Wall well in the Soviet Union collapsed, and suddenly it became clear that states owning the means of production.
It was really bad and this the left, liberal in the on the planet in the 1980s. Started having to deal with the consequences of this philosophy in non communist societies like in Britain, error mark Thatcher was elected in nineteen. Seventy nine, because the policy of nationalizing certain industries over the course of the post war period had led to a per capita income in England, lower then in Puerto Rico, on the island of Puerto Rico, and the idea was that this was an unworkable financial system and by the way,
This is what's weird about the argument now about what what's defined as socialism, no one in England back end of of the Fabian Socialist School, which which, which believe that you could an axe, socialist change without revolution, but through sort of tinkering and reform, an incremental policy changes. They would never say, no we're, not socialist, they would, they would raise, said no we're the we're sort of that of a different approach. That's really important, actually, because it labor. Actually, is there their turning away from Clement at Leas? nationalization program and clause. Four of the Labor Party's constitution, which, in nineteen ninety five Tony Blair, drove a stake through the heart of with the popular acclaim of labor, bye rewriting this clause. That said, the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange the socialistic goal of a our government. They got rid of because it was absolute poison. Today, Jeremy Corbyn
the leader of the Labour Party, who explicitly says we should nationalize the railroads right as though it were one thousand nine hundred and eighteen the the railroads yeah. So basically, we have in the case of socialism or the return of social. The more the idea that socialism is something that these young liberals and leftists are left us really. Have decided to embrace is the great forgetting of the 20th century. Right that We came to a point at the end of the 20th century, at which there was a kind of general consensus that we had seen these efforts to organize societies along these principles and that they had failed and not only had they fail, but they themselves acknowledge that they had failed, Mikhail Gorbachev's, perestroika and glasnost was an acknowledgement that socialism in the Soviet Union had
failed, the reorganization of the chinese economy after the 1970s wasn't now meant the chinese socialism had failed and that what was it that Deng Xiaoping said to rich is glorious, or something like that. That was That was the idea of now was that everybody should be poor together. That was wasn't. Variety is the spice of life right. And to be rich is glorious Herbert uh, not not Hoover of nineteen sixty eight now democratic nominee Humphrey, Hubert Humphrey's when he met with Khrushchev. Apparently, according to his memoirs, he had an interesting exchange with them where they were talking about. Khrushchev was, the size of the Chinese for going the collectivist route and saying You know we did all this and it didn't work for us and you need to create some sort of incentive in and the he remembers being very taken aback by this and saying this kind of
in a capitalistic philosophy and crew ship goes according to his recollection and when I don't care what you call it. It works right you know the Gorbachev story, and this goes to why socialism failed. So the which story was and of course, the way socialism works in the Soviet Union was that they create create Stalin, Lenin, Stalin. It would create these five year, plans of which they would announce target goals for every sector of the. Hana me in the idea. Was these goals were to be met by any means necessary, so that, if you needed to have x, number of billions of tons of rain produced and they weren't being produced fast enough. You you killed you, you know forced people to work twenty or you or you too. You take away the substance subsistence share of the farmers right so that all of it with all of the we would have to
falsify the falsify the or or or because all parts of values were in conflict. You had in the in Ukraine in the 1920s you had had the Ukraine, which was consider the breadbasket of Europe, the most fertile best, cultural soil in Europe- and you Know- and was You sing well outside the any other region. The other regions abilities to produce anything, and so what would you do? Ukraine. You would seize the ownership of the property from the from the landowners who held it and just take it away from them and then the cultivation of the crops and the You know it all. That would would collapse and then you would kill them because they weren't working hard enough for you, because you had driven them into penury by nationalizing their land
so the five year plans the uh cultural revolutions, which is what the Chinese did every time. You know they thought the workers were getting too uppity. They would create a good, they would create a revolution. A condition which they would send the middle classes into the This patties and killed millions of people in all of that this was the was the experience the lived experience of socialism in the 20th century at was all sorts of romanticism romanticization of it, because it was very anti capitalist, anti american Anti Western and if you glorified all of that LMAO CHE. Astro. The sandinistas in their collective coffee bean, picking and, of course, the Soviet Union, which was a desideratum for many people all in the west Hg Wells, George,
heard Shaw I mean you had. You know, serve great thinkers gray, who believe that this was the future of the world. There are a bill, the bill, really to make that argument was collapsed so I have a thesis, sorry Noah about. So I think the great getting is a big component of why this is happening. But I have a piece about what other factors may be at play an. I would venture to say that this new rediscovery of socialism is
primarily a phenomenon of the of a of a sort of working at not a working class. The precise seven of them middle to upper middle class and young who the people who've grown up with a really high degree at a higher degree of economic, disorientation and uncertainty than their parents faced, which is why they don't, which is with that, their dick used to a degree of luxury from their parents that they haven't inherited, and that's a huge part of it is it is. It is like that. The kid who lives in Brooklyn works in some sort of create Edith job creative industry job, but has a degree of constant uncertainty about being able to make ends, meet and never white works at a part time job as well as a as a as maybe a bartender or something I have to say the the milieu. I think, I'm very torn because it at the same
You see that, but I also see sort of its opposite, which is very secure, comfortable young middle class or middle class sort of playing at it and celebrating something without really putting much meat on the bone. I think you're both right, because, if you're occupying the job, Sir Rev describe. You are comfortable by any rational definition. If your are in an artistic occupation in the most expensive part of America to live in, and you have to take a second job in order to against me, and you have two jobs and are living in a very comfortable place. You are, by any definition, a secure, economically functioning member of society. They are playing in a sense, a sense be a revolutionary politics. Okay. So the whole point is that socialism, as a as an organizing principle, as I think as I say, fell into fell into disrepair and decay, and it turns out
that we, a lot of people, thought that this was kind of like a closed subject that not only did is it in a moral system because it led to these. You know, countries turning into in camps, the the reason that the country's turned into prison camps is because the the concept of seizing private act picking private activity totally a public good, including economic activity, well, people resisted they want to own their own land. They want on their own proper. They want to have this, so you and you can't allow that, so you have to use the cold war. So the powers of the state to force it to and then they resist and then they're on their land, and then you either shoot them or you,
you go away and the and the process failed. Just make one point there that I think progressive have an actual complaint that is valid when conservatives overt broadly deaf defined socialism is that socialist regimes, as we understood them in the twentieth century, were very culturally reactionary. They were not progressive as we understand it today. Someone Democrats are confronted by Republicans who see, call Cheryl Progressivism and call it Marxism and they bristle over that they have every reason to bristle over that, because it is not Marxism, the society, is that embraced. Marxism were progressive, slow one has to be careful, there's variations among marxist regime. So you know Cherry China was so. The very sort of sort of it was very much progressive right as we defined in the 20th century. I don't think we would define their kind of progressivism today to be a special
forward thinking in terms of of of women in power in power in women, in a radical way, Grand totally contrary to chinese traditional society. On the other hand, even with him by the way communist parties on in the west, there were variations. So, for example, a you know that the typical italian or french communist party apparatchik was very right was very actually was very culturally conservative. They didn't in favor abortion. They thought that all the sort of a stuff they were alarmed by when, as it rose in the sixties, seventies and eighties, and what did they did not find themselves with it 'cause. They thought that was western decadence. Well there's only the Soviet Union was an abortion regime. I mean, if a boring for any use abortion as a mark of whether or not a country is a society, is progressive or not, but and remember so, is China right? China is the one child policy. Will how do you get rid of children? How do you get rid of more than one children right? but it's these are regimes in which now,
is abortion on demand, but abortion was demanded and progressives would define an abortion resume as choice and there wasn't much choice, so much Tracy Other also don't forget the so much influence from the the post, modernist academics, who were socialists, who were completely indulgent and and and progressive and socially radical in terms, and they were they the bill they were, they were taking Marxism somewhere. That was completely libertine actually, but if we Take the year two thousand we've talked about this last week you take the year two thousand as a marker. Ok, so the year two thousand, which is before nine hundred and eleven before you know, we're still in the serve the world of the of the Clintonian Francis Fukuyama end of history, everybody's now for the free market and all of that- and there was this rise
radical anti market philosophy that you know expressed itself at the Inn in Seattle. At WTO protests try the ninety nine there were these various radical thinkers who were the organizer or the organizing principles of it. Naomi Klein, the radical canadian sort of activist socialist flaw, and you know that all local Canadians just like I know she is the one of the only radical three done as far as I can tell, but she, but that that seems very much like an outlier like a kind of weird bizarre, o world reflection of Malaysia Like right wing militias or whatever this was coming out of nowhere, then I think what happened is that the two thousand and eight financial meltdown was the first real sense that people got on a mass scale that the market
capital post, cold war, market capitalism had significant problems and was, rather than being the answer to everything which seem to be the kind of general, more consent. This idea of the both the republican and democratic establishments that it was a problem right, so all through so Clinton was he was a big free marketeer Heath he's his treasury secretary was the head of Citibank. You know that we are we get to two thousand and eight everything sort of falls apart, and suddenly, the critique of capitalism that it was harsh that it was designed only to benefit the rich that it. You know that it was reckless that we were that it was. You know that it would also totally lead to its own destruction, which was Marx, is point. Suddenly that
not in art that suddenly, that was an arguable proposition in the in the world like you. Could you couldn't dismiss the idea that we that this system had fallen apart and that it had a lady that we did this tiny little mistake this. You know this bundling of real estate mortgages into a into a derivative was enough to Tang the entire western capitalist system. After that and after the Occupy Wall Street movement? The fact that people kept complaining that nobody went to jail for their malfeasance is during the during the. And then the fact that in as the as things were covered in Akwa economic inequality. Persisted grew well, it didn't just persist, but it grew because the recovery Ben headed the top this one's more quickly than it.
The lower, and so the gap between them grew larger. So here's why I think to follow on from from my comments earlier. I think it will not due for conservatives to just say spoiled kids, forgetting the lessons of the past. I think- also important to acknowledge that human beings have had a kind of moral code written into them, whether you think that's divinely fired or not, and therefore there is, there is an aspiration that social order orders should serve a common good and I think, for some young people they've grown up only seeing sort of rigid procedural liberalism. I mean I mean in the economic sense of liberalism, not leftism, where it says. Well, that's that's the procedure we've come up with and it's rational and it produces growth, and therefore, if there people falling behind, you know it more or less has to shrug, and
and I think it's very important for for conservatives to be able to say that there can be a call politics. We do have a tradition of thinking about the common good that need and go down the road of socialism, but at least we we can pose the questions and have crew and is to those questions that aren't only procedural and right space. This is where we get into an odd of vaguely theological construct, which is weird to put to a marxist context considering how hostile they work towards organized religion, but it is. It was the attempt by, as we've talked about before in our last concept episode the Enlightenment episode that there was an effort, a conscious effort to create a sort of theological answer to the invisible hand, the locking in the Adam Smith, ideal of blue,
common good advanced by individual self interest, and that was seen by many as threatening as anathema to particularly church teachings, and you see that evident in the eighteen, forty eight, which is precisely when the the communist manifesto was written and the revolutions around one thousand eight hundred and forty eight and the idea is that sprang from it that were hostile towards a protestant enlightenment ethic well so again refer a going back to Jonah Goldberg, who runs a really lovely little mish podcast, but has written a very important book suicide of the west. He makes the point that the capital of world of liberal, democratic capitalism, let's say liberal as defined here as classical liberal. Not as we use it. Ok is a natural, it does not speak It precisely does not fulfill the deep
hopes and wishes of the human tribe, which is much more tribal, much more communitarian community, during the gala terrian in its way, and that the thing is that and it doesn't, it does not offer a view of the of of the collective good, except except for this, which is that it was the the greatest create transmitter and and progenitor of prosper. Already the world has ever known and so forth. Last two hundred and fifty years. The economic growth on the planet, has skyrocketed after a period of two millennia of total stagnation and that's the charts. If you look at it's like black man, barely arising out and then like a sudden and sort of yeah, yeah yeah all across the planet, in the the for for two millennia, every per
then on this planet practically lived on three three dollars a day or something like that. So naturally he is exacerbated by that trend. All all- sorts of positive things result from it enhance life, excellency lower infant mortality, literacy well. What are you know, lack of low think of disease increase in living standards. Uh, you know all sorts of great things, but it's a little n. It can be, it can be entered rating. If all you're promising is money, our prosperity like it turns out that people want more than add and the one thing about socialism is if you are an atheist or you or somebody who does not particularly now, there's a whole catholic socialist tradition. So I don't want to go into that, but That's a whole, but if you are somebody who wants things to speak to the deepest in your soul
The notion that you were can work to the collective good by ad dating policies that level society and remove excess amounts of prosperity from People en shower it down on the you on the people who need it. That's that's seems like a very positive, wonderful the problem is, of course, that it doesn't work that once you organize societies on the basis of hello, Terry, this, the machine that creates the prosperity, breaks down and collapses. There is no wealth creation. The wealth create, and stops because nobody benefits from it individually and has no there's no advantage to innovating there's no advantage to to organizing economic activity that you know because you would gain the excess profit, so it's
None Drum, because maybe we would all like a world in which everybody was rich, but there is no such thing and, of course, socialism also benefits from being a utopian philosophy. Under which you can always strive. So there's you you can't get to where everybody's rich in even when you're poor, then maybe you just need to kill more people you need to to seize more economic activity. You need there are things you can do. That will lead. Finally, to this Heaven on earth, which is Josh more objects book, title for his book history, social, you know it's there's a strange thing whereby jewel champions of a of socialist, They're, I don't mean like a set Bernie Sanders because Ocasio Cortez, but like people who see their their victories in or their their speeches and cheer them on from the sidelines. When you engage in the kind of points that John just made there's it's sort of never ultimately, falsifiable socialist,
for them because they can just think they somehow get away with saying. Well, there's got to be a bit I see you, I see your point, but there's just it's can't go on like this and that somehow satisfies it's like it. Doesn't they're not deterred from from from core. It's well it's the heart in the right place thing, and I think this is also what is so far kept. True social champions in this country so far his doom them to be somewhat comic figures. Even Bernie I mean he absolutely. Great force in you know in and and just a lot of trash, but they're, not serious. Even The way that the you know, Obama was serious, there's they're, they're, they're right, ultimately come fish now, we're also very frighteningly live in a time where comic figures can can right can read rise to great heights. Now we we have there's. One thing has been talking with you know, philosophically, but they're in the was there is this phenomenon when they use the term democratic socialist part of what
referring to is an organization started by Michael Harrington, called democratic Socialists of America, which was a break off from the Socialist Party of the United States, which was essentially taken over by the Labor movement by George Meany and the AFL Cio, and these were Anti communist, and so the organization of the Socialist Party, United States and its young people's Socialist League off shooting all of that became an communist organization, because the Flcl was an anti communist organization working to help unionists in central and eastern European, trees help. As a bulwark against the state, so but that's what they mean. They mean that it's Michael Harrington's democratic, so which was sat there dormant and then started to come to life after two thousand and eight and helped organize the Occupy Wall Street movement. But there was p democratic socialism,
eight in the course of the 1970s, and I taste the Norwex, Sweden and Denmark and you really just the whole post war era, little bit of a lot of so you know: mostly, I think, we talked about it before it was a very painful process for organized labor to get rid of its communist elements, and there was a lot of four. It looks subtle, coercion by the government in the in in in the form of some the union. Legislation that compelled unions organized labor to make it very hard choice there right but show in Europe European market. Socialism took the form of cradle to grave welfare right and we had and we have the new deal which created, not a cradle to grave, well first date, but a welfare state where you could you know, and various forms of insurance and protection, or invulnerable and and from the out of work
employment, insurance and stuff like that, but in Europe, it was her cradle to grave protection and eve. There in the 1970s and it was very hard for those countries to argue they could argue that they were better morally better, but their economies were deeply hinder, by the size of their welfare states, which led to taxation rates of seventy percent so that that so that their wealthy fled- or you know when to tax havens elsewhere, Frances is still dealing with that. The the share of government spending as a share of GDP is a hundred percent yeah in in in some of these countries. It exceeds one hundred percent, and that's of course, what is wanted. One of the things that are democratic socialists want is basically that they want to grow the amount of spending on social programs to what looks to us like a completely unsustainable level, not know's been like ham,
bring on this for months right. What is what is the cost of thirty? Two billion dollars over ten years. The entire outlay for one fiscal year is four point one trillion right so think about this three point: two trillion dollars a year for Medicare Medicare for all, which is essentially cradle to grave health care right. So three point two Dollars the economy is seventeen. The US overall US economy is seventeen trillion dollars, so this is that's the address okay, so they would say well yeah but also we're going to increase a lot of taxes and we're going to force people to accept forty percent later the forty percent, fewer outlays to doctors and so doctors are even is a raven, so doctors see in the end, so somebody's gotta get it. Yes, so Doctors are a mystery that sells so we had to leave the house three or you put a gun to their heads to perform what they do. Yeah you have to liquidate the insurance industry. They will fight for their lives. You have to liquidate the
and even if you did all this stuff that, according to Addison an urban institute, both of which came up with the same figures, Bernie's plan, for example, with taxes, the coercion you still only get to around fifteen trillion in revenue so you're about sixteen trillion short, so it really terrible. Like you know, there's a whole world in which we say there is a is a rational world in which you say, don't you want your doctor to make a lot of money? Don't you want your doctor to be the successful doctor who makes a lot of money 'cause? Then he takes pride in his work. He has the best equipment to measure if something is going wrong with you. You want a doctor to be working to be somebody who makes less money than you and has your like huh. In his hands, but the doctors in this, You know in this formula become effectively like the cool locks. It's like oh you're, going to stand in the way of progress, you're going
steal money, you're, going to steal healthcare from the people who needed you get down there and you make ninety three thousand dollars a year and you do everything. The way you did when you made nine hundred and thirty thousand dollars a year well, Human nature doesn't do that. So then you have to that's where this becomes coercive. Now, And what is it? What is the classic socialist formula right for the? What is it for the greater good for the greatest number? So you don't count individuals, don't count individuals, don't it's not fair, that individuals benefit from the products of their labor, because they're, always somehow stealing it from someone else, so here it back now I want to return back briefly to Elizabeth Printing who's in you know, a very good faith I think advocate for her particular position and she concludes her column about how wonderful socialism, like this at the heart
the democratic socialist vision flowering on the american left is the recognition that more than policy tweaks will be needed to empower everyday people to participate meaningfully in social society ocracy whatever. That means, I don't know, but it sounds to me like the disparagement of what we do in this country, which is incrementalism. We don't do radicalism in this country. When we do reach sweeping legislative change, it produces a backlash, Anna pretty big one. So what that sounds like to me is pretty much the thesis of the piece that I did you want go for the magazine, the the fatalist can see, which is she's writing herself out of politics. We cannot do what we need to do, which is not policy. Tweaks be something grand and dramatic and radical. And we don't do that in this country. So either I withdraw from politics completely and just snip at it from the edges which she says she does or you adopt something a lot more radical, a lot more militant there's, a third possibility, which is that
they take over and they do they do that. I what I? What means? No, that by by that by seizing the ownership of the means of voting I mean I don't know, but no, but part of this is- and this is the interest- is that Tom all for a great essay. In nineteen. Eighty seven called the great relearning which was about how nobody remembers anything and you what and the horror here is that it looks like we are going through a period in which we are going to have to learn again why this doesn't work, in other words, 'cause, as Jonas says these, ideas speak to something very deep within us and they're not instantly dismissible and the say that people dismiss them, often with a kind of libertarian shrug by saying. Well, you know this is America. We don't do things like this well we're also humans and and and we we look,
One man's religious faith is another man's utopian leftism I mean, I don't think they are equal and I think religious faith is a real thing and utopian. Leftism is an illusion, but They both speak to a very deep strain in the human, Seoul and Technocratic Lib roll capitalism does not by definition it promises nothing and it's funny, because when you get the when you get the top point, one percent and they and they they try to, they admit they decide they're going to do something really good with their money right so there's that famous Warren Buffett initiative, where all rich people are supposed to give almost ninety percent of their money to charitable concerns and only leave some of it to their families right so you've got bill gates.
So what does bill gates do? Bill Gates says I'm going to cure malaria. I've how much money I can cure malaria, we maybe you can. Maybe you can do an enormous amount of a potable water, but you, but if you throw five hundred million dollars into the Newark public school system, as he did without an idea about how to fix the Newark school system with out of work cool idea that money sinks- just it's just it's just burns away. So and then they declare failure so part of what what's happening here is that the wealthy are trying to figure out some way to participate in producing things for the for the common good, but we no longer it's what what did they do a hundred years ago, they do, and it was fantastic, think about think about what it means they built museums, every city ' he has a museum. Every major city has a museum or two or some public facility.
That was created by the rich guy in the town it collected art you know, built the museum. And one hundred years later, people are benefiting from that the central institutions like one hundred were built by the gilded age millionaires in there and their followers, but now have this messianic crew of very rich people and they would we want to do is bring about Techno Utopia they think I'll cure. Malaria will end will end. Illiteracy will do you know where, as even there. The incremental philosophy is best. You want to help people give them a cook stove that doesn't explode, so they can cook food and sell it in the market. You know help them get potable potable water teach them how to teach people put in a filtration system in a town, so that
everybody into, and people don't get. You know a bacterial diseases and you know and and live like that for their lives, as opposed to I'm going to fix everything well in in keeping with what you're saying. I think another piece of the puzzle of why we're seeing the rise in the appeal of socialism now is that it's coincides with this huge drop off and religious faith among Americans I mean so. This is that there there is a when you talk about it with both appealing to something deep in the human soul. It's it's it's going to be directed somewhere, and if it's it's, you know best not in politics, but best that it's directed would it's appropriate, look through its appropriate religious channels, but it. But if, if that is the is losing he'll, then socialism has long been this receptor, receptacle and energizer for messianism I mean that is, that is a huge part right,
so where we, where we leave off, I think you know what. Once again Where we leave off is we need to talk about VPN yes 'cause, you know with all the recent news about online security breaches, it's hard not to worry about where my data goes, making an online purchase or simply accessing your email could put your private information at risk, you're being act online by social media sites, marketing companies in your mobile or internet provider. That's why I decided to take back my privacy by using Express we p express It is easy to use apps that run seamlessly in the background of my computer phone and tablet. Turning on this will protection only takes one click expressway. And secures anonymize. Is your internet browsing by encrypting your data and hiding your public ip address protecting yourself with expressly pm cost less than seven a month protect your online activity. Today and find out how you can get three months: free at Expressvpn DOT, com Slash commentary: that's e x, p, r e S, s v, P, n, dot, com, Slash commentary,
for three months, free with a one year, package visit dot com, slash commentary, to learn more. Can it is a real, quick that phrase late capitalism is extremely annoying. It is is an incredibly annoying because it assumes by with the capitalism in a late- and I would be I as it were in some sort of friends that phase yeah sunset, but that we could be the sun said. This is what's so interesting about only Rob rise of socialism right, so we could have a late antiquity because it ended and there was a period when the end of the late of it right now, but that lately it late capitalism is a is a wish on the part of any capitalist that we are in in the late stage of capitalism. The problem is what follows it. I mean here's here's. What happens. Venezuela is a rich country because it has this uh. You know has like it's on the lake swimming in money right, literally just you can just wallpaper your wall with currency yeah. So really only
six: two: three years for it to fall into a condition of the state of nature in which there is not enough bread. Simply because of in government nationalizing. Action, Ann RE, distributive effects so the problem with late stage, capitalism, if America's capitalist system is collapsing, which I see no evidence of- but if it is in fact collapsing- is that it take very little time for which country to become poor. That's that's! That's! What's it now we have all sorts of breaks against are falling. It's right. We have. We have fifty state governments. We have three thirty, three thousand three hundred counties in the United, so that we have all sorts of the power. Doesn't simply you know Washington and simply nationalize everything or take everything over or do anything like that. But you know, can we can can we we have this?
What's the story, Jonah again tells the book about the goose that lays the golden eggs of the story. Liz. A laser negs is is not is about how you destroy the goose that lays the golden eggs, because you want on the one and you decide that the goose should produce more eggs, and on the other hand, you decide that it's not fair, that only one person not enough eggs, are going around, or something like that. So you kill the goose the store So is that how you kill the goose we live with the all the with all of its problems. Capitalism is the goose that lays the golden egg, and yet there is an immense drive to kill it now, It's not so easy to kill, but you can make it more and more inefficient right you couldn't. I would argue that you ultimately cannot kill it. The the the socialist experiment of the 20th century was such. That you see markets forming everywhere, even in societies that are explicitly hostile towards markets. The Soviet Union was extremely fame,
for having barter economies, black market economies, where you didn't you traded that what you had available to you. You had a couple of nuts, for example, you needed a light bulb. You had access to a college that some of these kids when needed to get into you needed your door chain. These were That was how the economy in the Soviet Union worked. It was sub. Rosa black markets proceed where there is prohibition, though you cannot distinguish decanted divorce. The two and we toler intrusive policing around certain prohibitions, because prohibiting certain things are so heinous that we decide. We can live with that the police state around them, but you can't create a condition where police state doesn't follow. Prohibition there there and and black markets around them, things are, are concomitant. I'm gonna start referring too late, leftism. Yes, the point is that what I think really for okay, the point is that you don't own the head so hard there. The point is that the never ends. This is always, I think it's a
understanding of Frank Fukuyama's theory to say that he thought that we were that the end of history was upon us. In fact, his book was about how the end of history meant that all sorts of problems we're going to arise had been- you know STAR sized yeah. They write that it right that that they've been hit in his case. What he really thought was that people were just add identity. Politics is proving him right that people were gonna wants to be. The sign Modica urge that people were going to want to be recognized and and at the capital, h history of Galeon Marxism, yet meaning meaning right, but in some sense nothing ever ends, and so, if you don't, if you don't teach people why socialism doesn't work, why That sounds great. It's like you know, it's like the early socialist philosopher, well fourier? Who said if you, if you imposed, if you post all these solutions, radical solutions, collectivising
turns the oceans would turn to lemonade. That's fantastic! It would be great if the oceans turn lemonade. Then everybody could just drink. Threshing summary beverages out of the day. His left leftist. The brothers would not approve that because it's too sugar. It is your right, and what about the sea life by another thirty life would be fun to see, love you think fish don't enjoy. Eleven. Everybody loves a good glass eleven think of the coral bleaching yeah, but I I do think that that's where we were you end up, and I use that analogy of the pin yadda that there is this idea. It's no problem all this money at the top of the food chain, but just take it away. From them. They don't need all of it. What is I know, a couple of people have a couple of billion dollars so take eighty percent of it give it. You know let it go to other people. What's the problem like that the no one's hurt by that, but as I
the problem is, if you interfere with the machine, if you, if you throw, if you throw a wrench into the machine and that fashion, the machine will collapse and does it just life fission access allocations of capital no, there's nothing. The public sector does that is especially efficient. So when you allocate capital and in and in the public sector, it's nowhere near as efficient as what the private sector could achieve, and they that it frustrates people, because the x, you know not all of it goes to capital investment. A lot of it goes to you know here, VA the employee compensation, for example, are just sitting on your profits that that irritates the left, but there's no evidence that the federal is not nearly as as wasteful, if not more wasteful than the private sector. I mean in the end. Socialism also has this very dramatic, if
set of ideas that would interfere with private life. I mean, if you think, about the great socialist experiment of the kibbutz in Israel. One of the idea was that private property was totally outlaw. Right, so everybody shared everything, including their children children were not your own children, they were children of the collective, and so your chi had your child, and your child was taken from you and put in a nursery with other kids and raised in a collective environment. That was a radical experiment. Kibbutz expert, you could go see the kids
but after you did your farming. This is this is why I'm always slightly puzzled by some conservative Catholic sort out flirting with with full on socialism. Is it's like if you're worried about what the state can do in a capitalist system and the degree to which it seeks to alter our traditional precepts that you hold? Why do you think the socialist state is going to be friendly system, but anyway, I was in another win them New York Times contributing opinion right writer, Bryce Covert, who used to work for think progress, attacked Senator Marco Rubio's plan for a you to access social security. Early in order to have some sort of a child get child cares. You know service, and she said that that's wrong, that we should have some sort of a quote: unquote: training, new pay roll tax in order to sustain this thing, but also that it was conceptually flawed because it quote perpetuates the idea that
Child rearing is an individual, not a collective responsibility and again right, the communist manifesto was right. Important about that is note how what this expresses is. Not More in sorrow than in anger, but this notion that it is a it is settled, opinion. Oh yeah, that's right wasn't even a collective concert. It wasn't even an attempt to justify this. That was fiction. Is that it's individual, but I will say that since you mentioned Rubio when I said we on the right should embrace a kind of common good language as a ruby is a good example of it, I'm more and more open to the idea of if the kind of family leave policies that he favors. You know, and I think you know it's worth looking at the american experiment in europe- posts for this great new book out as a band style of the of the Marshall Plan, and it's remarkable. The extent to which the? U S ideologically supported social Social is Democrats, would call
it you know and was open to that, because they saw it as a as a necessary stop to prevent full on communist takeover, and if we're facing that, I'm all for for whatever. Well, that's no is incrementalism. I mean the fact is that if the country there was a there was a there's, been an argument in this country about government, provided our government mandated services right so for Again from cradle to grave and the right has not, the right is, only winning them by default, because the left doesn't have enough of a let's say does not have enough of Mass following to make them happen I, if you say to people, look the middle class. This. Country can get through three months leave from
ark and then, if you have a two parent family, somebody gets off and then the other spouse can you still have an income, but if you're like a single mother and son needs to spend three months like nursing. Maybe and all of that, how Is that how she knocking at all as their own people, who we are it's very important, but I also advocate confronting forcefully and aggressively ideas that need to be defeated. There's something a bit of a of this self kind of self consciousness and self criticism in the opportunity offering of that kind of idea- and I've said this before about Trump in nationalism and particularly with regard to trade. Is that they get away with this sort of victimhood complex and then impose their victimhood on you in the end that what happens is that if you internalize that- and you accept that premise and you approach it from this position of all well, the economy hasn't made everybody richer. Obviously, of course, that's just not the way economies work,
and but you're essentially ceded the the feel to them. I think you can offer a family leave plan, but you cannot see the field socialist. You had argued very forcefully in aggressively how wrong they are right, but the Ruby plan that you reference, the idea was you're paying into this insurance and severance isolate social. Security. So you can take some it's sort of like a for one k. You can. I take some out without penalty. The question: is there a couple of months to pay for your family leave because you Maybe a single mother and you have no other recourse, because you don't have any income coming in because you don't have a spouse
married to you who is still earning money or something like that. That is not as says, that's, not see. No, the question is of emphasis. You say you see you lean into your money rather than you lean into collective responsibility, but that whole thing right. So the collective responsibility part. That's the question that divides America from every other country on earth and where the american experiment has always been about a eat up that it places the individual. At the center of of self government and society. And that's where we're different right and the whole question is: is that a roading, although I don't really see much evidence to suggest America's becoming more cook the collective. You know. I don't think the rise of Trump suggests that there is a wonderful do. Collective cut just suggest the Trump also that leads to Trump's opposite. You know, which
is socialism I mean whatever Trump is socialism does not define it or you know, socialism is the opposite of it. So with that circular we only mentioned Trump right at there was sort of like Omarosa last week, So let's plan test never touched that story. Amazing, So far, a Greenwald Noah, Rothman and Surah Maryam John Podhoretz keep the candle burning.
Transcript generated on 2019-11-13.