Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stewed for a few hours over President Donald Trump’s critique of socialism in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, then lashed back on Twitter with this defense of his cherished ideology: “People are not truly free when they can’t afford health care, prescription drugs, or a place to live. People are not free when they cannot retire with dignity or feed their families.”
This should resolve any lingering doubts about socialism’s death grip on the Democrat Party because Bernie Sanders’ eruption is a core tenet of the party he allies with. Democrats are constantly parroting the line that people cannot be truly “free” unless their government provides the necessities of life, which they pretend will become “free” in the materialist sense because the government is giving them away.
This equation of material goods with freedom is nothing new. It is an increasingly popular element of Democrat rhetoric. For example, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi explained in 2012 that Obamacare meant “liberation” for Americans because it would allow them to quit their jobs and become writers, musicians, or artists.
To put this in Orwellian terms, Sanders and the Democrats are saying slavery is freedom: you cannot be “free” unless other people are enslaved by the State and compelled to provide essential goods. It is a materialistic view of freedom with deep roots in Marxist ideology, which holds that people cannot be authentic and emotionally honest when they are forced to work for their sustenance and bow before the wealthy jackasses who sign their paychecks.
The astute observer of current events will have noticed that “free” is the last word any rational person would employ to describe socialist systems in the real world. Socialism tends toward authoritarian control and the violent suppression of dissent — especially once socialist theory destroys the economy, essential goods become scarce, and inflation makes the national currency worth less than the toilet paper nobody can find in stores.
Socialists sputter defensively that this string of left-wing authoritarian nightmares occurred only because the “wrong” people run the decrepit systems in places like Venezuela and “true” socialism has never been tried. This is arrant and dangerous nonsense. When slavery is freedom — when you can only be “free” because the State forces other people to satisfy your needs — tyranny and violence are not bizarre aberrations. They are features of the system, not bugs. Socialists must fiercely punish any sheep who refuses to be fleeced so that another can have the blanket she “deserves.”
The core problem is that people should be free, but no material resource is ever really “free.” State power cannot truly make anything cheaper either, which is the slightly softer version of slavery-freedom peddled by Western socialists. The value of goods and services does not change to match political demands. Socialism simply changes the way these goods are paid for, transitioning from relatively simple and open capitalism to a baroque and opaque centrally planned system that lies constantly to everyone involved in it.
Lies become the currency of a socialist system. The elite maintains power by convincing people of absurdities, such as the notion that politicians can fine-tune the price of goods and labor by waving magic wands. The truth is that an hour of labor worth $6 to employers does not suddenly become worth $15 just because Bernie Sanders says so, nor does $1,000 of medicine suddenly cost $10. The only thing socialists can do is employ coercive force to change who pays for it.
The new payment arrangements are invariably more opaque and confusing than free-market capitalism. The apparent beneficiaries might be initially thrilled by their sudden access to free or artificially cheap goods, but soon they discover they do pay for it through everything from higher taxes to lost jobs, a degraded standard of living, and in the case of rationed socialized medicine, untimely death.
The working man simply is not present to see the final step in a very long series of secretive socialist transactions in which his confiscated dollar bounces around sinkholes of corruption and inefficiency, eventually arriving as a handful of pennies in the hands of the provider he might have freely hired at far lower cost if allowed to.
There are many ways to enslave people. The old-fashioned method of forcing them to work for nothing except relief from the lash is crude and requires enormous levels of physical force to impose. The sophisticated modern approach is to enslave people with lies. If citizens do not know how much anything really costs or who pays for it, they cannot make informed free choices, either at the cash register or ballot box.
A few days after Sanders erupted in fury over Trump’s insult to socialism, the radicals of the Democrat Party unveiled their “Green New Deal,” a very pure expression of the Sanders idea that freedom can only be achieved when the State controls everything. It is a towering edifice of compulsion that constitutes the most open declaration of war against the American middle class we have ever seen.
The Left loathes the middle class because it is prosperous enough to care about economic freedom and numerous enough to protect it with votes. The middle class already has everything Democrats claim the government must provide in order to make them free because they worked, saved, and invested to purchase those things for themselves.
Subjugating the middle class is the core objective of leftist politics, and the Green New Deal would accomplish it with a single stroke, effectively destroying everything that defines middle-class life in America — right down to the private ownership of motor vehicles.
When churlish critics with the sorcerous ability to perform basic math pointed out the cost of the Green New Deal would be utterly beyond reason, true believers shot back that the government can simply print as many dollars as it would take to pay for trashing the entire power grid and rebuilding every structure in the country. That kind of currency devaluation is another “freedom is slavery” trick.
Turning the dollar into confetti would be a very effective way of subduing and controlling the middle class. Dollars are votes, cast far more frequently and with greater potency than any election ballot. Devaluing the dollar would make the population more obedient, more dependent upon government, and less capable of pursuing any strategy except those cooked up by the political elite.
The Green New Deal would make Americans the one thing they have never been: obedient. That is the final logical extension of Sanders’ idea that people can only be “free” if the State cares for their material needs by removing the burden of working hard and spending wisely.
Obedience is the fossil fuel that keeps the badly tuned engine of socialism running. Disobedience is an impurity that must be removed. The journey leftward always begins with activists who claim work is slavery and ends with rulers who regard free choice as treason.