CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A Review of The Case Against Socialism. By Rand Paul.

Nov 9, 2019

Broadside Books, 2019.

Rand Paul’s new book on socialism is a must read:

Today there are far too many Westerners – including politicians, opinion-makers and leaders – who are seemingly oblivious to the historical record concerning socialism. Sadly we have people like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US singing its praises. They desperately need some education on the issue.

Thus the importance of this brand-new book by the US Senator from Kentucky. It is a helpful expose of the failure that is socialism – in theory, and especially in practice. In 40 short but highly informative chapters Paul makes his case.

It should be pointed out at the outset that Paul is a committed libertarian. I am not. Therefore we differ on some matters. But we are basically at one when it comes to this book and its contents. Ignorance about the real nature of socialism is exceedingly harmful.

In the introduction he explains why this book is necessary:

This is the story of an evil well documented and yet still somehow enticing, even in America. This is the story of socialism in all its drab and dreary machinelike destruction of individual thought, creativity, and ambition. This is the story of socialism in all its violence, bloodshed, and tyranny. It is a cautionary tale of how America has so far eluded the siren call of something for nothing, of an equality determined and enforced by government – but also of how close we still are to succumbing to socialism.

Paul demonstrates how socialism always becomes authoritarian, and only fully comes about by the coercive power of the state: “Unless you imagine a voluntary revolution where all owners of industry or commerce give up their wealth to the state, you have to acknowledge that state ownership of the means of production can only occur at the end of a truncheon. Around the world, time and time again, strongmen have come to power promising the free stuff of socialism, only to succumb to the siren song of power.”

It is like a broken record: when socialists overthrow authoritarian regimes, they end up becoming just the same – or worse. Think of Cuba where Castro replaced Batista; Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas replaced Somoza; or Russia where Lenin and Stalin replaced the czars.

“Each time a revolt of the ‘people’ promised the manna of socialism and justice. And each time the result was rule by an elite that degenerated into rule by the few or even by one, often with the democratic title of president but with the ominous title – ‘for life’.”

And remember, Hitler was also a socialist. Says Paul, “National socialism was part and parcel to Nazism from the beginning. In 1920, Hitler first presented the Nazi Party a twenty-five-point plan for national socialism. Most of the plan could be found in any Bolshevik platform except for the racial animus against the Jews.”

The book has a number of chapters on Communist China with plenty of gory and graphic details. But consider Cambodia and Pol Pot. He had studied in France where he “became enamored with Marxism, visited socialist Yugoslavia, and joined the French Communist Party.”

He was intent on fully implementing socialism and the complete abolition of private property in Cambodia: “Of course, it didn’t work. Even after he killed more than a million ‘resisters,’ starvation killed another million or more. Estimates are that the Khmer Rouge may have killed between 13 and 20 percent of the Cambodian population during Pol Pot’s regime.”

Image of The Case Against Socialism
The Case Against Socialism by Rand Paul Amazon logo

Paul also has an interesting chapter on how “Socialism encourages eugenics”. He lists a number of socialists who were infatuated with eugenics, including George Bernard Shaw, Marie Stopes, Margaret Sanger, Harold Laski, J. B. S. Haldane, John Maynard Keynes, and the Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Says Paul, “Socialism and eugenics are not a historical anomaly but a historical symbiosis that we risk any time we are tempted to accept an ‘ism’ that elevates the collective over the individual.”

He also deals with the various clichés of socialism. ‘Equality’ is one such mantra of the socialists. But in socialism all you get is an equality of misery, poverty and oppression except for those who are calling the shots. And those who complain about the wealthy top 1 percent in capitalism need to understand a few things. In the US “the top 1 percent income earners pay nearly 40 per cent of the total income tax revenue, and the top 10 percent pay almost 70 percent.”

Moreover, socialism also has its elite rich: “Under socialism, you still have one percenters, but they gain their lofty position not through merit but through party nepotism. In socialism, the one percenters are party members or bureaucrats of government planners who gain power not by giving the consumer what they want but by commanding the consumer to accept what they decree.”

Socialism makes the masses equally poor, while the free market allows anyone to climb out of poverty. Paul quotes Thomas Sowell: “None of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a standard of living for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.”

He also covers the myth of Scandinavian socialism. These countries are basically free-market economies with a large welfare state component. “Nordic countries generally don’t have state-enforced minimum wages. Not only are the Scandinavian countries largely free of consumer price controls, but they also largely lack governmental control of minimum wages…. Scandinavian countries typically do have sky-high individual income-tax rates on the middle class, but their corporate taxes have long been lower than American rates.”

Paul also deals with the myth of the great industrialists of the nineteenth century as so-called robber barons. He is worth quoting at length on this:

Yet as Andrew Carnegie’s wealth grew so did the economy. Poverty declined from over 90 percent of people living in extreme poverty worldwide in 1820 to around 75 percent of people living in extreme poverty in 1910. By the time the industrial revolution was in full swing, wages were rising and the standard of living known previously only to kings was becoming far more accessible. From the time of Carnegie’s death in 1919 until the present, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined to less than 10 percent. As much of the world embraced capitalism in the twentieth century, childhood mortality plummeted from nearly a third of children dying before the age of five to less than 1 percent in wealthy countries and 4.3 percent worldwide.

Those are impressive figures which the advocates of socialism decline to mention. And the story of Venezuela of course gets several chapters in this book. Paul cites one university professor: “I have known the reality of the failure of socialism in my own flesh. And as I live in Venezuela, I want to show that this is an absolute failure always and everywhere. Socialism, whatever form it may take, only brings economic destruction and worsening of the conditions of human life.”

Paul reminds us of the hypocrisy of the spruikers of socialism. Sanders for example is a millionaire. And the Hollywood rich kids who tell us capitalism is evil just need to zip it: Says Paul: “They scold us from their Beverly Hills mansions and private jets. They lecture us through their Juvederm-plumped lips. Perhaps we should send them travel brochures on income equality in Pakistan and Ethiopia. Citizens in those countries enjoy much greater income equality, albeit less access to fine dining and Prada sunglasses.”

He also has chapters on issues such as climate alarmism and the Green New Deal. In his closing chapter he finishes with these words:

I will continue to fight for a free market economy because it is the only system consistent with liberty and the only system that provides greater prosperity and opportunity for all. If your goal is to help the poor become better off, there is no more humanitarian economic system than capitalism…

Capitalism, the freedom of voluntary exchange, is what made America great. The pursuit of freedom is a noble quest and one not to be compromised. My hope is that the next generation of American youth will study and reflect on socialism’s long history of violence and famine. My hope is that the next generation will understand that free markets and free people have produced better health, longer life expectancy, and reduced poverty and suffering around the world. My hope is that they will choose liberty.

Those are my hopes as well. Thus I must heartily recommend this book and urge you to get it, read it, and pass it around.

[1426 words]

9 Responses to A Review of The Case Against Socialism. By Rand Paul.

  • May I respectfully point out that you have omitted China and North Korea, both of which are communist countries. There is probably a difference between communism and socialism which I am unaware of. But I think that the Great purges and famines under Chairman Mao deserve a mention.

  • Thanks Elaine. But I did briefly mention China in my review, and North Korea is also covered by Paul. A short review of a 340-page book can only cover so much of course!

  • Rand Paul says it all, clearly concisely and dispassionately unlike socialists who can’t resist a visceral urge to spit venom at anyone who disagrees with them.

  • This is a “MUST” read! It would make an excellent gift for your children who are of high school and college age. The book provides a counter argument for the propaganda they are being exposed to in school and the lying media. Get a copy for your pastor and yourself as well.

  • Excellent article but I don’t know why John Maynard Keynes is being denigrated. His economic teaching was purely capitalist and free market. The whole idea of government stimulus during recessions and depressions is to get capitalism back on its feet and is actually not far from the Biblical year of Jubilee. It is nothing to do with socialism.

    Keynes was proved right and the only real question today about government stimulus during recession is who should get it. Both the Bible and the evidence show that economic stimulus works best when given to the poor but even the Democrats, after the World Financial Crisis 07-08, did not use the stimulus to help those devastated by the immoral, sub-prime lending scheme but chose to bale out the big banks and corporations. The stimulus still worked but the morality of how it was done and whether it was as effective as if the funds had been used for the poor is the question. Baling out those who caused the problem while doing nothing for those affected by the immoral lack of government control is the moral dimension here. This difference in approach is also probably a large part of why the Scandinavian approach to capitalism is reasonably effective. It more closely reflects what we have learned from God from the Jubilee laws.

    The only reason to denigrate Keynes would be if you were a laissez-faire capitalist but this is not the capitalism the Bible teaches and is something which has proved to not work. If lassez-faire capitalism was the answer it is claimed to be, we would not need democracy nor the year of Jubilee.

  • Um no, Keynesian economics with its great emphasis on government intervention in the economy is not at all ‘purely capitalist and free market’. Far from it. Those who have actually read Keynes – such as The General Theory – know that he strongly made the case that market economies are inherently unstable, needing government intervention to “correct” things and make them run smoothly.

    And your errant appeal to the year of jubilee also shows how off the mark you are. See here for why the left’s appeal to Lev. 25 is misplaced: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/02/difficult-bible-passages-leviticus-25/

    I encourage you to get and read the book to help correct some of your thinking on these matters. Or read some of the works of those I list here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2013/09/21/economics-wealth-and-poverty-a-brief-bibliography/

  • Christian Economics in One Lesson by Gary North (at his website for free, last I checked) is another good critique of Keynsianism. Based on Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, and the government-intervention analogy ‘Parable of the Broken Window’.

  • We tend to easily forget that Socialism is rooted in Marxism.
    It cannot be separated from it.
    It is delusion.
    It is strong delusion, as 2 Thess 2:10-12 describes it –
    And God has sent it.
    That is the terrible indictment upon them.
    These socialists of all colours are Children Of The Lie because of it.
    They, as was the Pharisees, have “the Devil as [their] father”, as Jesus told them in His time on earth.
    They truly believe that they are in it for the good of humanity as they believe the lie, not having “loved righteousness”.
    Their righteousness is of another kingdom, the kingdom of darkness.
    They will not come to Christ, in Whom alone righteousness can be found.
    These reprobates feel good about every statement they make as they believe they are standing up for a better future for humanity.
    Yet we know & see & understand that their arguments that come forth from their philosophical base, cannot stand the test of truth.
    They however cannot see it & therefore willfully continue in the destructive course they have set.
    In core, their souls belong to Satan, under whose control they are.
    They are the real puppets of the New World Order, puppeteering an ideology that comes from the pit of hell.
    Roy Masters describes them very well & very revealing in his book “The Hypnotic States of Americans” (another book for you, Bill! i can recommend it).

Leave a Reply