Ah yes, they’re at it again. Venezuela isn’t real socialism. North Korea isn’t real socialism. Cuba isn’t real socialism. In fact anywhere that’s tried socialism wasn’t an example of real socialism, and its results cannot be held as evidence against socialism. Those shortages, that inflation, that impoverishment – none of it counts against socialism, not even the riots, the beatings, the intimidation by street thugs, the prison camps and the murders. They are all terrible things, but none of them are admitted as consequences of socialism.
On the other hand, capitalism has been dreadful, leading to inequalities, no healthcare for the poor, no investment in education, rising poverty and mental illnesses. Street sleepers, beggars, food parcels, people living in squalid, damp rooms and eking out an existence on scraps, that’s capitalism.
It’s those apples and pears again. We are invited to compare what capitalism has achieved in practice, and what has happened in capitalist countries, with some pure and never-yet-tried ideal of what socialism might be like. Now then, to most fair-minded people it makes sense to compare the actual real-world results of capitalism with what the outcomes have been in socialist countries. Or you could compare a theoretical ideal of what socialism could involve with similar consideration of pure capitalism as an abstract ideal. Either both have to account for what was achieved in their name, or both merit consideration as theoretical abstractions untainted by the roughness and uneven results of their application in practice. Apples compared with apples, or pears with pears.
From our side of the fence, we think it no accident that ‘the revolution’ is always betrayed. It always falls from the high perch that its shiny-eyed visionaries hoped it would reach. Failure is in its very essence because it doesn’t work. It is founded upon a concept of what human beings might be like if they were not the actual human beings we live and move amongst. Because it aims at behavior that does not come naturally and spontaneously to people, there is an element of compulsion at its very core. It wants people to be what someone else thinks they could be like.
There’s more, of course, in that the economic principles of socialism exhibit zero knowledge of actual economics, of the day-to-day behaviour in which people engage as they make decisions about where to work, what to buy, and how to live. It lays down plans for the future, blithely ignoring the fact that the world in practice shows no signs of conforming to those plans.
Socialism is pears. It’s a theoretical world constructed by dreamers, and which must never be compared to the real world. Now that real world is apples. It’s human nature. It’s how people behave when they are allowed to make their own decisions. It’s messy, and its record is spotty. But it’s a thousand times better that the world that results when socialists try to apply their fantasy to real life.