My Family Fled Socialism. Let’s Not Give It a Try Here in the U.S.

Here’s my response to a Washington Post column calling for socialism in the U.S.

Socialism wasn’t implemented correctly in the 20th century, we’re told. Millions dying? “That wasn’t supposed to happen under Marxist-Leninism!”, leftists decry. We told, “If we’re given a second chance, we’ll do it correctly!”

Hogwash.

Global communism and its socialist variants have cumulatively killed over 100 million since 1917— following the ascension of the Bolshevik Revolution headed up by revolutionary terrorist Vladimir I. Lenin. This violent, bloody revolution propelled the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany, Joseph Stalin in Soviet Russia, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Castro in Cuba, Mao Zhedong in China, and countless other dictators—including those oppressing Venezuela and North Korea today. Millions were brutalized, tortured, or killed in the name of socialism. Socialism and communism deserve to end up in the ashtray of history alongside National Socialism—its equally ugly cousin.

When I came across this column from one Elizabeth Bruenig up at the Washington Post, I couldn’t help but shrug. The WaPo opinion columnist seems to romanticize socialism like the rest of our generation—of which a staggering 50% of Millennials now favor. The romanticism of socialism, especially its economic policies, has long been regarded by many on the Left due to the influence of higher education. The equality socialism preaches sounds fine and dandy on paper—until it’s implemented or until people get jobs. Upon further examination and examining past historical mistakes, the equality rendered by socialism results in the equitable sharing of misery. Sadly, free enterprise gets scapegoated for the failures of socialism.

Ms. Bruenig writes this about capitalism, discounting the value of individuals in favor of collectivism:

“Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.”

She goes on to call for a “new” socialism, one devoid of its totalitarian bent and one that breaks free enterprise’s “strangehold over politics and culture”:

Not to be confused for a totalitarian nostalgist, I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.

How is socialism democratic? How does reduce inequality? Given socialism’s track record across the globe, it’s resulted in more inequality and strained human conditions despite their so-called “humanitarian” intentions. Everything socialists or communists touch dies—from the human spirit to the human flesh.

The attacks on capitalism, or free enterprise (a phrase that better reflects this remarkable economic system), are unjustified. Usually these attacks come of a place of inexperience, poor attention to detail, or blatant naïveté. How many of these individuals who romanticize socialism have lived in those societies ? (Answer: very few to none.) Those calling for the destruction of free enterprise admonish wealth acquired by individuals, yet fail to surrender their iPhones, Starbucks gift cards, and similar luxuries afforded to them under American free enterprise.

If those calling for socialism or communism had it their way, barring exceptions of bureaucrats who’d implement such a system in this country, we’d all be equally poor and miserable at the behest of big government. That’s a scary thought.

Imperfect capitalism, or free enterprise, is far more preferable than perfect socialism. Human progress is made possible thanks to free enterpriseWhen socialism is perfected, chaos, bloodshed, and death follow.

In societies where free market policies reign supreme or exist, greater human freedom flourishes. Why else do people flee here? To experience more socialism or communism? No, they come here to pursue the American dream, to give their children a better future, and to enjoy freedoms denied to them in their homelands.

My family saw firsthand how ugly totalitarian socialism is when implemented. My maternal grandfather endured torture and survived 18 months in one of Stalin’s gulags on the Belomor Canal on the Russian-Finnish border for being a Catholic land owner. My maternal grandmother was similarly imprisoned in a German labor camp. My father’s side of the family faced institutionalized anti-Semitism.

Free enterprise, flaws and all, best uplifts people from nothing to something. My parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles came here in the 1980s virtually penniless. There was no future for them in the Soviet Union. Had my family not come here 30+ years ago, they wouldn’t have worked in corporate America or started their own businesses. Like countless other children of socialism’s survivors, I’m so grateful they came here.

The next time someone calls for socialism in America, remind them of its failures across the globe. Remind them that however contorted and misguided their thinking is with respect to free enterprise, the freedoms afforded to them by the U.S. allow them to hold such views. Remind them that human progress and equality of opportunities best thrive in a society rooted in free enterprise, not socialism.

About the author

Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman is a young conservative blogger and columnist based in Northern Virginia.

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