Socialism never stopped enticing young American minds. But the more Democratic Socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez open their mouths, we learn the movement’s most vocal proponents simply ignore socialism’s incompatibility with democracy, as demonstrated by Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises in A Critique of Interventionism. Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of them.
With the Vermont senator announcing he’s running for president, his past comments defending socialism and socialist countries notorious for their failures become the type of material critics are eager to dissect. Especially because he still calls himself a Democratic Socialist while using Nordic countries as examples of what he defends.
Thankfully, political figures from the very countries the good senator from Vermont calls “socialist” are here to remind him that the ideology is nothing but a trap.
Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994, Carl Bildt, took to Twitter to warn Sanders that socialism is not the key to creating a great society as he and Ocasio-Cortez seem to think.
After old footage showing Sanders and his wife, Jane, praising the Soviet Union for its programs targeting the youth went viral online, Bildt responded by saying “Sanders was lucky to be able to get to the Soviet Union in 1988 and praise all its stunning socialist achievements before the entire system and empire collapsed under the weight of its own spectacular failures.”
To the former prime minister, the damage socialism can cause is still fresh in his memory. After all, he was the first prime minister in 60 years to not subscribe to the ideology. And thanks to him, Sweden’s capital gains taxes were cut to 30 percent and corporate taxes to 28 percent.
Bildt also privatized several state-owned industries, deregulated multiple sectors of the economy, allowed people to invest portions of their pension, and introduced school choice policies, improving the country’s education system.
After Bildt, Sweden, which had completely lost its host of entrepreneurs thanks to business taxes that sometimes exceeded the 100 percent mark, once again flourished. Even as Social Democrat successor Ingvar Carlsson took over.
Seeing the wonderful changes just a few years worth of reform had done, Carlsson kept Bildt’s policies in place. And business start-ups rose nearly 25 percent as a result.
Unfortunately, politicians like Sanders like to use countries like Sweden as examples of how socialism can work.
The same politician who, in the late 1980s, praised breadlines and celebrated the Soviet Union for forcing its youth to dedicate their whole lives to communism, now tells Americans that the so-called “Nordic model” of socialism can and will work in America. And yet, he seems clueless to the fact that the policies he pushes don’t mirror those adopted by the countries he celebrates.
As explained by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in 2015, countries like his Denmark “[are] far from [socialist planned economies].”
“Denmark is a market economy,” he added. And as demonstrated by Mises in Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow, there’s “no western, capitalistic country in which the conditions of the masses have not improved in an unprecedented way.”
In other words, to claim the successes of Nordic countries are due to socialism is nothing but a lie.
As the Acton Institute pointed out, Sanders’ ideology, the same ideology upheld by Ocasio-Cortez and countless others who are now legislating in Washington, D.C., is about putting statism before freedom.
In order to apply the policies they push, we would have to relinquish complete control over our lives, allowing the state to squelch artistic expression, private initiative, and destroy any incentive left compelling people to serve each other better and more efficiently.
Is that the world we want to live in?