Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were not the first presidential candidates to introduce socialism into mainstream America. Previous presidents did so and it has been in our diet for most of a hundred years. All 20 Democratic Party 2020 presidential candidates, as per their debates last week, would make militant socialist Eugene V. Debbs, founder of the Socialist Party of America (1901) and five-time presidential candidate, look like today’s conservative Republican. Why are many Americans accepting socialism? Because socialism promises everything for free.
Athenian democracy (the “great idea”) profoundly changed the world that was formerly ruled by monarchies; a king stayed in power and passed it on to posterity until removed. It gave ever-larger portions of vote power to the masses but democracy had no brakes. Should everyone have an equal vote? Are they equally informed, equally intelligent, equally gifted? No, but as it expands the next level wants everything as well. Once tasted it enlarges until all have equal participation despite their differences, gifts or ignorance.
Nearly 300 years after democracy was first introduced in Athens, Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), wrote of democracy’s inherent weakness, that being, when every man is allowed to rise to the level his talent and industry permit him, some will become rich and others poor. The rich will always despise the poor, and the poor will always envy the rich. When the poor obtain the same vote power as the rich under a democracy, as they always will given their greater numbers, they will use that power to take from the rich.
It may take time for this to happen because democracy does initially encourage the profit motive, which stimulates everyone’s desire to get rich. This is good for society because to do so they invest, creating additional businesses, employing more people, and developing an ever-larger middle class. The middle class, Aristotle believed, should be the ruling class as it is closer to the poor and better understands its legitimate needs and, at the same time, it has enough of the world’s goods not to covet, thus destroy, the rich class. Still, in time the less productive will grow and become more politically powerful, especially as they learn to attach their vote to politicians who, to get elected, promise freebies.
Democracy self-destructed in both Athens and Rome because it had no brakes. Every western civilization history textbook speaks to the “bread and circuses” (free food and entertainment) of Rome.
Thus the Founding Fathers rejected democracy as our form of government in favor of a republic inserting the brakes democracy lacked in their Constitution. Today’s enemies of a republic intentionally favor the word democracy over republic because they despise the brakes.
At what moment is society democratized or socialistic enough? As things become freer for the non-productive part of society, more money must be confiscated from the productive middle and upper classes and it is the rich class and entrepreneurial middle class that risk their money to create the jobs making the republic successful. When has a poor man ever created a job for anyone?
In time the productive classes cannot provide the money that is demanded of them to feed and otherwise subsidize the less productive class. They are disincentivized, and then destroyed, by ever-higher taxes. All too soon the definition of rich is lowered until socialism devours the middle class as well — even until all are poor. Despite the unrealistic promises, the only thing that socialism gives is slavery and shared poverty.
Aristotle recognized this when he wrote, “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” The force to democratize more increases as voting becomes more universal which is what democracies encourage. Shouldn’t everyone have an equal vote? Those in Athens came to believe so. Wrote Aristotle, “Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.”
As voting becomes more universal, vote power favors the poor as they, in time, become the majority. This process is accelerated, and corrupted, when politicians link government gift-giving with their election. As the poor, as a class, always tend to favor financial favors from government to their benefit, and since all government money comes from the middle and upper classes through ever increasing taxes, (presently 47 percent of the adult population pay no federal income tax and a good share of these make up the non-productive class) they eventually destroy the productive base of society as government takes over more of the economy by confiscation or regulation. The overriding principle is, the more socialism the higher the taxes and burden on the producing class. Why?
Because in exchange for the vote the socialist politician advocates that everything be free. This is his most powerful lure and works well on the idealistic youth and already dependent.
As government controls more portions of the economy, democracy transcends to socialism. Sometime in this transition democracy ceases to be democracy although the term continues to be used, hence Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s warning in 2009 to Fidel Castro, both devout socialists, “We have to be careful lest we become right of Obama.” It needs noting that all 20 of the 2020 democratic presidential contenders are far left of Obama, thus decidedly socialists.