Socialist candidates ran for political office in the United States, notably Norman Thomas for president, in the past. Many modern Democratic candidates also espouse socialism to varying degrees. This election cycle Bernie Sanders openly and proudly campaigns as a socialist. Candidates peddling socialism are not new to the political landscape, but have historically succumbed to a relative lack of support. Striking about Bernie Sanders is his popularity with millennials. Millennials lack command of national politics right yet, but they will inherit the nation and eventually decide the course of history. This blog is to educate and inform the coming generation of leaders. As a millennial myself, I want to fight the advancement of illogical and immoral political philosophies. The spread of truth, ethics, and individual liberty must recede the tides of socialism overcoming the hearts and minds of future leaders.
Millennials are a very morality conscious generation in terms of politics. Why does socialism capture millennials so strongly? As an economic theory, socialism criticizes the morality of capitalism, castigating excessive greed and subjugation of the poor. Rather than criticizing the economic consequences of free market capitalism, socialism criticizes the morality of the system as a whole. What millennials fail to understand is what capitalism and socialism actually are. To win the debate libertarians, conservatives, and other lovers of freedom must use moral arguments for the superiority of free market capitalism and defeat socialism on its own grounds.
Firstly, what is the free market? What is capitalism? Before even starting a philosophical debate, a foundational definition of terms is necessary. As a libertarian, I have a very specific definition of market capitalism. Surprisingly, market capitalism is not the economic system of modern America. Free market capitalism is an economic system that strongly protects property rights, free association, and strictly limits—and punishes—fraud and the use of force. Through the modern welfare state, the military industrial complex, the Federal Reserve, and corporate welfare, the American economy is far from market capitalism. Since the early 1900s the United States has gradually drifted towards an political economic system of corporate fascism: an unholy mixture of capitalism and socialism. One critical of modern United States society cannot possibly blame the free market, given that such a system has long morphed into something else entirely.
The moral case for market capitalism comes from the Non Aggression Principle. The non aggression principle is simple and clear: do not initiate force against peaceful parties. A peaceful society is necessary, but not sufficient, to establish a free society. American society at a time valued voluntary and peaceful association, but modern American politics has largely departed from such respects. Aggression is a fact of life for the American political class. The state routinely abuses property rights in America, a direct imitation of force. Through the welfare state, resources are taken from one group and given to the other. Whether corporate welfare or welfare for individuals, the welfare state is a large and powerful component of modern American society. The resources for such an apparatus comes from taxation. Objections to the levels of taxation or to where the money goes are irrelevant to the state. Pay taxes or go to jail, regardless of any moral objections of where the money goes. Does that sound like a society that values freedom?
Bernie Sanders provides legitimate criticism of the current system, a system where the state picks winners and losers, where political clout leads to fortunes equal to or greater than providing value to voluntary customers, where the poor are trapped in economic ghettos of state dependency. His answers, socialism, however lead to an intensified degree of present problems, rather than real solutions. The moral case against socialism, and the current socioeconomic order, is unassailable. Socialism turns one into a ward of the state, rather than a freeborn citizen. Through coercion and force, the state, like a divine puppet master, redistributes wealth according to class, whereas in market capitalism rewards accrue to those providing value to customers through goods and services. Voluntary association is the foundation of a moral and just society, not force and coercion seen in socialist nations. Millennials are right to showcase outrage towards the present order of the United States. Rather than rebuking market capitalism, millennials must first recognize our departure from free enterprise to propose effective reform.