Those enticed by the promises of socialism dismiss its disastrous history by saying “true socialism” hasn’t been tried. Ignoring the evidence, their numbers are increasing.
According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 39% of all Americans have a positive view of socialism, up four points since 2010. By political party, 65% of Democrats, 41% of Independents, and 9% of Republicans view socialism favorably.
As discussion of socialism increases under the Biden administration, here’s an idea. Create a market test in which supporters practice the true version (however defined) of their own free will. After all, no rule says it can only be tried in, on, and by a full nation. If there really is a natural market for socialism, a test will show it. If not, why implement something – with necessary force – that even its staunchest advocates cannot make work?
This test-market experiment should include the key points of socialism:
- Bring money and property and combine them with the resources of other volunteers, so there is a pool of goods in common.
- Everyone will be equal. No one will have more or less than anyone else.
- No private property ownership will be allowed. Under the experiment, everything belongs to the participants.
- The experiment will control the means of production. Whether volunteers are business owners, farmers, consultants, technicians, or laborers, the experiment will control and dictate the use of whatever businesses, tools, machinery, technology, patents, etc., are used to earn money.
- Everyone must be dedicated to working diligently for the good of the whole, so there will be no poor among them.
- Leaders will naturally arise and will be in charge of distributing goods according to the needs of each participant.
One other thing: People must have the freedom of exit. If participants decide it’s not turning out as they envisioned, they can quit. This has not been a feature of nation-practiced socialism, but it’s a useful way to measure true appeal.
Of course, socialists need not worry about that. The obvious advantages of socialism should quickly become apparent, and people who hold a favorable view of the system will want to remain in the experiment. Right?
So who will be the most likely volunteers? Who are today’s champions of socialism? From everything I have observed, they fall into two main groups.
First, the young – those for whom the abject failures of socialism throughout history are but old debates not easily encapsulated in today’s excessive, emoji-laden texting.
Second, the power-seekers – those who yearn to tell others what they must and must not do. That they have plans to retain their own wealth while distributing the wealth of others is not well hidden but naively ignored by the first group.
The stage is set, socialists. Follow the science, as the in-vogue saying goes. Show us socialism can succeed without coercion. Demonstrate the vaunted superiority of your system through voluntary participation.
Socialists of the world … experiment!
I can hardly wait to see the results.
• Gary C. Lawrence is a public opinion pollster in Orange County, CA. He served as Vice President of the research firm that conducted Ronald Reagan’s polling from 1970-1986.