When cocktail party discussions veer off in the direction of socialism, a couple of things typically happen: Someone immediately adds the adjective “democratic”—as in democratic socialism—as if a majority of voters can transform a wrong into a right or make something bad, better.
Even more often, discussions of socialism inspire people to trot out their favorite examples. Those who dislike socialism present Venezuela as Exhibit A. Those who favor socialism point to Sweden (even though Sweden has moved away from its earlier socialist policies) and other Scandinavian countries.
The examples are meant to focus our attention on the results of socialism. Yet, the results, as terrible and murderous as they’ve been, are not the central, core, fundamental problem with socialism. The fundamental problem with socialism is that it’s intrinsically immoral, inherently unjust.
Socialism, no matter how it’s dressed up, no matter what label it wears—even if it’s adorned with “democratic” or similar adjectives—always boils down to some people confiscating property that belongs to others and deciding what to do with it.
1. Socialism is incompatible with the idea of private property.
2. Private property is synonymous with individual freedom.
3. Socialism, therefore, is incompatible with individual freedom.
That’s why it is no coincidence, nor a mere matter of a few bad “leaders,” when socialist regimes start commanding subjects to work on the behalf of others while punishing those who dissent or disagree. Commanding subjects and punishing dissidents is what happens when some make promises to deliver via government programs, policies, and power what must be produced by others.
To boot, the basic immorality of socialism cannot be changed by “What about…?” questions such as: What about this person who’s in a terrible predicament and did not work or save or prepare for it? The irresponsible choices of some—and the genuine misfortunes of others—do not make socialism right for the simple reason that protecting private property is no vice and stealing is no virtue.
It’s true that wealth, and the material resources that can be purchased with it, are the solution to many of the challenges many people face. It’s also true that wealth can and must be created.
If you want to be able to help those you love, financially, especially when they are in dire straits, your plan should be to create wealth. You’ll need two things: Legal protection for your individual freedom and whatever you create, produce, or earn, and a personal willingness to be productive and become more valuable.
We know from history, and human nature, that where people are secure in their private property, they tend to create much wealth by producing value for others. Strict protection for private property, therefore, coupled with productivity and wealth creation, is how human beings flourish and improve their lives and help their loved ones, not by stealing from others and calling it “socialism.”