Why Communism Works and Socialism Does Not

One of the most amazing phenomena of current political thought is the fact that only a very small percentage of people on the political left have a clue as to what socialism and communism are.

If one were to ask 100 college students -- students who identify themselves as sympathetic to communism and hostile to capitalism -- ask them if they would favor a system in which "government withers on the vine," a system in which there is no government, no taxes -- probably very few of them would say they favor such a system. Yet, that is Marxist communism, the communism that they say is superior to capitalism.

Communism works. I know this first hand. When I was head of a household, I ran my family under the communist system. From each of us came goods and services according to our abilities. To each of us, those goods and services were provided according to need. Thus, I went to work and provided most of the money. The kids did no outside work and ate well every day. The wife held an outside job, and both she and I shared the domestic chores (me mostly outside, she mostly inside).

I never complained when I had to do the heavy lifting. She never asked me to sew on my own buttons. It never even occurred to us to complain.

There was no equality in this. We didn't care about equality. We cared about taking care of each other, and the system worked.

So why don't we apply these rules to society at large?

Alas, large societies do not have the same personal dynamics as do families. Perhaps they should, but reality does not obey "should."

Recognizing this, the early communists in Russia instituted what they called a "transitional" system. Socialism was established as a temporary bridge, to get the society from its prior feudal system to a future communist ideal.

But socialism actually has the opposite effect. Instead of reducing government, it establishes an all-powerful (and ever increasingly powerful) central government, a totalitarian system in which anyone suspected of dissent is imprisoned in a labor camp, usually never to be heard from again.

Such a government will never -- never -- hand over "power to the people." Once you've tasted raw, total power, you can't let go. It consumes you.

In Western Europe, a more docile brand of socialism was adopted, for the express purpose of avoiding the brutalities of Stalinist and Hitlerian socialism.

For almost 70 years now, this benign form of socialism has entrenched itself in Europe, so much so that for most Europeans, the thought of self-reliance has become something to ridicule and fear.

In Greece, for example, which has spent every drachma it has ever collected in taxes -- and spent every drachma it has ever borrowed but can never repay -- the people demand even more government-paid benefits. The question of "where will we get the money" has no meaning to them. Let the government borrow more, let it print more, let it do something, but never cut my benefits -- indeed, riot to force it to increase my benefits.

Other European countries are gradually following suit. Its citizens continually demand more from government, but continually demand that less be required of themselves in terms of personal responsibility.

Is there a problem in my family? Call in the government. Do I need surgery? Call in the government (which is why more people die of survivable medical conditions in Europe than do in the USA).

Socialism is not a bridge to communism. It will never get us there. On the contrary, it is a dead end, or worse, a road that leads off the edge of a cliff.

If the people of the USA do not wake up before election day, there will be no one to bail Europe out of the mess it has created -- because the USA will meet the same fate.