Communism is an idea. Ideas do not kill people; people kill people.

Stalin, Hitler, and Mao killed millions in the name of, and to further, their respective utopian ideas.  Such ideas are inherently deadly.  They instill a religious fervor in their followers because they are attempting to create their notion of “heaven on earth.”  Anyone who gets in the way of “heaven” is denying future generations inestimable good and is therefore evil and can be slaughtered with no qualms. As German philosopher Friedrich Hölderlin observed, “What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it heaven.”


Socialism prevents corporate monopolies from forming.

Why is it that monopoly by corporations – which must satisfy their customers to survive – is bad, while monopoly by government – which can use deadly force to survive – is good?

Without government intervention, a company can maintain a dominant market position only by satisfying its customers well enough to discourage competitors.


Goods are distributed fairly under Socialism.

Probably not. The issue is one of incentives. What incentives do the following economic actors have?

  1. Producers of goods being confiscated for redistribution
  2. Government personnel doing the confiscation
  3. Government personnel doing the redistribution
  4. People receiving redistributed goods

Producers want to minimize their losses, so their incentives are to:

  1. Hide some or all of what they’ve produced.
  2. Produce less.
  3. Bribe the people trying to confiscate the fruits of their labor.

The people doing the confiscation are just as “human” as anyone else and just as subject to temptation. They want to increase their own material well-being and that of their families and loved ones. So, their incentives are to:

  1. Confiscate more than is required so they can “skim off the top”.
  2. Accept bribes from people trying to keep their goods.

The people redistributing the goods also want to improve their well-being, so their incentives are to:

  1. Skim off the top.
  2. Accept bribes from people who wish to receive confiscated goods.
  3. Always have goods available for important people (i.e., people who can affect their well-being), so they tend to…
  4. Skimp on the goods given to “non-important” people.

The people receiving goods have incentives to:

  1. Exaggerate their needs.
  2. Bribe the people who are redistributing the goods.
  3. Obtain whatever goods they can; even things that they don’t need can be sold or exchanged on the black market.


Real socialism has never been tried.

True, if by “real socialism” you mean “perfect socialism.”  By the same token, “perfect capitalism” has never been tried either. Because people are imperfect, perfect societies aren’t an option. What we’ve found through experience, though, is that imperfect capitalism works quite well – well enough to pull billions of people out of poverty.  By contrast, imperfect socialism always fails miserably and, often, fatally.

The claim that real socialism has never been tried depends largely on the definition of socialism. Certainly, many forms of socialism have been tried in the last two centuries – both on large and small scales.

Although Senator Bernie Sanders enthusiastically supported Venezuelan socialism until the country’s economy collapsed, he claims that what he’s wanted all along is the kind of “socialism” practiced in the Scandinavian countries. But none of the Scandinavian countries are socialist.  All are capitalist welfare states that, in many respects, regulate business more lightly than does the United States.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which claims to be the “largest socialist organization in the United States” and which supports the Maduro dictatorship.  Article II of the DSA’s constitution reads in part:

We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships. [emphasis added]

The highlighted text is far more in line with the Venezuelan, Soviet, Cuban, and North Korean regimes’ brand of economics than with that of any of the Scandinavian countries.


Richard Fulmer worked as a mechanical engineer and a systems analyst in industry. He is now retired and does free-lance writing. He has published some fifty articles and book reviews in free market magazines and blogs. With Robert L. Bradley Jr., Richard wrote the book, Energy: The Master Resource.