Those old socialist murals that were seen all over the Eastern Bloc sure looked eerie and cool, in the process suggesting that a juggernaut of governmental benevolence was going to make things better for everyone: You’d be protected and taken care of, you’d be part of something great, you’d get to do vodka shots and toss the glass into the fireplace, and your side would clean up at every Olympics and chess tournament. Well, those murals are still there, but the buildings they embellish are run down, the cars parked in the lots are old and unreliable, and the people living there have a lousy standard of living (although the Russian Olympic team still does well).
Well, the socialist mural is back, in Kirby, Vermont, of all places, where an image of presidential candidate and self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, painted on a barn, looks enough like Big Brother that George Orwell would be proud. Despite a track record that makes the New York Jets franchise look like a roaring success, socialism has supporters in the US, and Sanders, the junior Senator from Vermont, is currently outpolling the wobbly Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Of the mural, the barn’s owner said,
That’s not actually what I see; I see worry, maybe because deep down Bernie knows that the seductive promises of socialism make running for office easy but governing a catastrophe, as Stanford University’s Thomas Sowell explains below:
Worst of all, the concentration of political power necessary to try to reduce economic inequalities has allowed tyrants like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot to impose their notions and caprices on millions of others — draining them economically or slaughtering them en masse or exploiting them sexually….There is no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over other people is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else. Socialism has long sought to create a heaven on earth but an even older philosophy pointed out that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Milder versions of socialism, with central planning of national economies, took root in India and in various European democracies. If the preconceptions of the Left were correct, central planning by educated elites who had vast amounts of statistical data at their fingertips and expertise readily available, and were backed by the power of government, should have been more successful than market economies where millions of individuals pursued their own individual interests willy-nilly. But, by the end of the 20th century, even socialist and communist governments began abandoning central planning and allowing more market competition. Yet this quiet capitulation to inescapable realities did not end the noisy claims of the Left.
Then again, if Sanders wins, everything will seem fine after a few vodka shots.