Forward Observer: Expanding the Socialist Insurgency

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer discusses socialist split within the Democratic party in 2021: Expanding the Socialist Insurgency.

One of the more interesting trends we’re watching is the bifurcation of the Democratic Party.

In structure, it’s slightly reminiscent of how the Republican Party broke along the Conservative Inc. establishment and the Tea Party starting in 2009.

Progressive political action committees like Justice Democrats and Courage to Change — the political action committee of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — are running primary candidates against incumbent liberals in a bid not just to unseat the moderates, but to change the political makeup of Congress. There’s a political insurgency being waged within the Democratic Party, pitting establishment moderates against their socialist challengers.

In last week’s livestream, I provided an update on the progress of the Far Left. Justice Democrats candidates, for instance, have won three primaries, lost three, and still have three in upcoming primaries. Jamaal Bowman, endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, is one to watch — an AOC clone from New York trying to unseat Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY).

The failed Bernie Sanders campaign squashed any hope of putting a socialist in the White House next year, and the reaction to Joe Biden has been downright cold. While Sanders has been busy campaigning for socialists in primaries and down ballot elections, Democrats have criticized Sanders for not doing enough to support Biden. Similarly, instead of expending resources to help Biden, socialist outlets have promoted winning locally, too.

By gaining more power at the local and state levels — electing lower court judges and district attorneys, for instance — socialists can do more to form a judicial blockade against what they describe as neo-liberal and fascist policies at the national level.

The argument has proven accurate with regard to the political power exercised by the courts and city councils during the COVID-19 shutdowns and, more recently, the riots and civil unrest. Local politicians can also provide cover for socialist disruption and facilitate the socialist insurgency.

Earlier this month, Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative political party and Seattle city council member, unlocked the doors of City Hall to allow hundreds of protestors inside.

More recently, professor Frances Fox Piven encouraged the socialist movement to not shy away from violence in local activism. Calling for “a revolutionary transformation,” Piven warned socialists not to “fall on this very narrow path of nonviolence,” and argued that “the violent capacity of the crowd is an important way of defending its ability to exercise disruptive power.”

You may have heard the name Piven before. In the 1990s, Piven and another socialist professor, Richard Cloward, pushed a plan to continually expand entitlement benefits and the welfare system until spending morphed into a guaranteed basic income. It’s well-known as the Cloward-Piven strategy, and has been a moderately successful one, given the growing popularity of a universal basic income.

While the socialist movement builds counter-institutions, militant trade unions, local economies, and autonomous zones — and turns grassroots organizing into social power — its political organizations are expanding representation in Congress and injecting socialists into state and local political positions.

This is yet another sign of how the United States is changing, and is another indicator that socialist success has staying power. As they rack up political and social victories, the country’s low intensity conflict will worsen.

 

FFF: America Is and Has Been a Socialist Country

In Socialism in America, author Jacob Hornberger of The Future of Freedom Foundation discusses the idea that America is a preeminent socialist country and has been for some time, but Americans live in denial of this truth. There are no pure socialist countries, though North Korea comes closest, because they are doomed to failure and always require some private enterprise to be allowed in order to be taxed to fund the rest of the socialist enterprise.

Lost in the ongoing debate in America as to whether the United States should embrace socialism is a discomforting fact: America embraced socialism a long time ago. The problem is that many Americans have simply not wanted to accept that fact and instead have preferred living a life of denial.

A complete socialist system would be one in which the state owns everything in society, including businesses and real estate. In a pure socialist society, the government is the sole employer, and everyone is a government employee. No private grocery stores, computer companies, restaurants, movie theaters, or anything else. The government owns and operates everything, and everyone works for the government.

Moreover, in a pure socialist society, all the homes are owned by the state. There are no private houses or apartments for sale or rent because nothing is privately owned. Everyone lives in public housing because the state owns all the dwellings. How do people determine where they are to live? The state assigns everyone his own particular housing unit.

How does the socialist state fund all this? It owns and operates all the businesses and enterprises in the hope of generating revenues to finance its socialist system. One problem, however, is that state-owned enterprises are notorious for inefficiencies and corruption, which means that they inevitably end up losing money rather than making money. Think of Amtrak and the Postal Service. Or state-owned petroleum companies in Latin America. They produce losses, not gains, for the state.

Thus, to fund its socialist enterprises, the socialist state inevitably permits a small number of citizens to engage in private enterprise. Once those people begin making money, the state taxes them and uses the money to fund its operations. The state does its best to
extract as much money as it can from these private-sector enterprises without pushing them out of business.

There are few purely socialist countries. North Korea comes closest to the socialist ideal.

There are countries, however, that adopt programs and policies that are socialist in nature. The United States is a premier example of such countries, even though many Americans are loathe to acknowledge it. They have convinced themselves that America is a “free enterprise” country and that they themselves are “capitalists.” The last thing they want to confront is that they are living a life that embraces socialism.

Let’s examine socialism in America.

Social Security

Contrary to popular opinion, especially as held by seniors, Social Security is not a retirement program. There is no investment fund into which people place their savings for retirement. There are no lock boxes at Fort Knox labeled with each person’s name and containing his “contributions.”

Social Security is a straight socialist program, one that uses the government to take money from people to whom it belongs and gives it to people to whom it does not belong. This process of coercive redistribution of wealth is based on a principle enunciated by Karl Marx: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The state takes money from those who have produced it and gives it to people who are said to need it more.

For more than a century after the United States was founded, Americans lived without Social Security. The idea for this particular socialist program originated among German socialists in the late 1800s. The so-called Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, adopted it into law in Germany. The program was later imported into the United States and became a legally established program in the 1930s. Today, the U.S. Social Security Administration displays a portrait of Bismarck on its website.

From its inception, Social Security has been a straight socialist, welfare-state program, one that uses the state to forcibly take money from some and give it to others. It
is no different in principle from food stamps, education grants, farm subsidies, or other socialist programs.

Seniors have a valid point when they say that the state plundered and looted them throughout their work lives, which has left them without savings for their retirement years. They say that they are just getting their money back under this program.

But that is simply not the case. Their money is long gone. It was spent in the same year that it was collected, on Social Security payments to people who are now long dead, to fund other welfare-state programs, or to fund the national-security establishment and its vast and ever-growing array of warfare-state programs. The money that is being given to seniors today is coming out of the pockets of their children and grandchildren and their friends in those generations, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. The problem is only getting worse because seniors are demanding more, which means even more taxes must be imposed on young and middle-aged people who are still working.

Proponents of Social Security say that this socialist program reflects how good, caring, and compassionate Americans are. That’s ridiculous. Social Security is founded on force. Young people are forced to pay Social Security taxes. There is nothing voluntary about paying such taxes. If a young person refuses to pay his Social Security taxes, the authorities will come after him, arrest him, fine him, and send him to jail. If he resists with force, he might well find himself dead at the hands of some trigger-happy cop.

Goodness, care, and compassion can come only through the voluntary choices of people. When a young person chooses to help his parents in their old age with financial assistance or personal care, that’s goodness, care, and compassion. When the IRS takes a young person’s money and gives it to seniors, that’s just political stealing.

There is no way to reconcile Social Security with the principles of a free society. Freedom necessarily entails the right to keep everything you earn and decide for yourself what to do with it…

Click here to continue reading at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Mises: Four Reasons Inequality Isn’t What You Think It Is

Here is a short article from the Mises Institute, describing why free markets are no enemy of inequality, but rather regulated markets are greater causes of harm – Four Reasons Inequality Isn’t What You Think It Is.

One of the defining characteristics of advocates for socialism is an obsession with equality. According to this line of thinking, inequality is the central problem of the modern world, and it demands a centralized solution. Thus, socialists—and more mild social democrats—push to use the power of the state to force the transfer of wealth from the productive and successful to those who are less so. This is the way to achieve social justice, they contend.

But inequality is not the societal plague that socialists allege it to be.

The Source of Wealth: Consumer Judgment

Contrary to popular belief, the way to make money is not to exploit one’s customers. The reality is the opposite. Wealth is created by identifying the problems that people have and creating products that provide a solution and improve their lives.

In this process, the consumer leads the process by expressing his own preferences in the marketplace. If a consumer feels that a product is overpriced, he will not make an exchange. If a product seems worthwhile, he will buy it willingly. The sum of these individual choices—to purchase or not—make or break a business on the market, and this is the consumers’ prerogative. In order to meet his own needs, a person must produce something that satisfies another’s needs, whether they be labor, industrial machinery, or fine cuff links.

Does Wealth Accrue at the Expense of the Poor?

One of the socialists’ key assumptions is that there is always a losing side in a transaction. They think that wealth is like a pie, and that the rich take the largest slice, leaving workers and customers with almost nothing. In reality the market is always expanding the pie, and voluntary exchanges are always win-win when they are made.

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and all the other “evil capitalists” have managed to create an unprecedented amount of wealth, but not only for themselves. Those working for them have benefited from their jobs, and the people who buy their products and services have benefited from better or cheaper goods (or both). Other benefits include more time to pursue more important things, and in ways that cannot be quantified (i.e., they are measured in psychic profit). The entrepreneurs, in turn, have benefited from the services of their workers—which are well worth paying for. Entrepreneurs also benefit from the voluntary purchases made by their customers.

Profit and Competition Are Not Antithetical to Collaboration

Socialists pit profit and competition against an ideal of sharing and collaboration. But rather than being a wicked, stolen good, profit is a crucial incentive for collaborative human action.

People are always searching for the best and cheapest products in order to satisfy their needs, and their demands raise prices. The prospect of profit quickly pushes entrepreneurs into producing what people want—and what they are willing to pay for. Profits illustrate how much people value an entrepreneur’s services. Consumers only pay if the entrepreneur satisfies their desires.

As long as there are profits to be made, others enter the market. The competition spurs entrepreneurs to make production more efficient and cheaper, because the greater the competition, the more the businessman will have to do to earn the customer’s business. As more goods enter the market, consumers can be more picky about whom to purchase from, and prices drop. It’s their own demand that sets the prices, and once they are satisfied and there’s not as much profit in the business, entrepreneurs shift to making other things that people want.

As many Austrian and non-Austrian economists have figured out, the market is an everyday “voting system” of what needs to be produced. Every penny acts as a vote for how best to use limited resources. Profits point entrepreneurs toward what people want most badly. The resulting production is a form of collaboration rather than exploitation. People can do more, because they don’t have to do everything themselves, and they can focus on what they do best.

Income Inequality Is Heightened by a Restrained Market

The Left makes the mistake of arguing that only the rich have gotten richer and attack capitalism without looking at the facts. The market has made nearly everyone richer, not only in terms of income but also in terms of the overall quality of life and the products that they own.

Leftists also ignore income mobility in market economies, when studies show that in fact most people born to the richest fifth of Americans fall out of that bracket within twenty years while most of those born to the poorest fifth climb to a higher quintile and even to the top.

Though their rhetoric makes it seem surprising, this makes sense. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, the businessman owes his wealth to his customers, and this wealth is inevitably lost or diminished when others enter the market who can better satisfy the consumer through lower prices and/or a better quality of goods and services.

The problem with income inequality today is that it isn’t entirely a byproduct of the free market but instead is the result of a market crippled by interventionist policies, such as regulations, expensive licenses, and the most complicated tax system in the history of this country. Such restrictions have limited competition and made wealth creation more difficult, causing the stagnation of the middle and lower classes.

Though leftists contend that these restrictions protect people from the “dangers” of the free market, they actually protect the corporate interests that progressives claim to stand against.

Colossal businesses like Amazon and Walmart in fact favor higher minimum wages and increased regulations. They have the funds to implement them with ease, and such regulations end up acting as a protective barrier, keeping startups and potential competitors from entering the market. With competition blocked, these businesses can grow artificially large and don’t have to work as hard to earn people’s business. Instead they can spend money on lawyers and DC lobbyists to fence small businesses out of the market.

Ironically, efforts to regulate businesses in the name of protecting laborers and consumers harms small businesses and makes everyone less equal than they could be in a free market.

Conclusion

Markets are not the enemy of inequality. Regulated markets are. The income inequality that naturally occurs in the free market as a result of human uniqueness is needlessly amplified by restrictive government policies to the detriment of all.

Voluntary exchanges in capitalism are mutually advantageous. If they weren’t, the exchange would never take place. People who live in countries with more economic and social freedom enjoy greater incomes and a higher standard of living. Free trade has contributed more to the alleviation of poverty than have all the government-run programs. Socialist intervention in the market can only distance man from eradicating poverty and from happiness: only unrestrained competition driven by profit can bring about the expansion of choice, the fall in prices, and the increased satisfaction that make us wealthier.