When Sen. Rand Paul described Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro as a ‘socialist’ during an appearance on ABC’s The View Friday, co-host Ana Navarro refused to believe it. ‘Maduro is not a socialist,’ Navarro insisted. ‘He’s a corrupt, murderous thug who is starving his people.’ She made these two statements as if they were mutually exclusive.
When Paul tried to explain why Maduro was indeed a socialist and why that was bad, Navarro wouldn’t hear it. She told him to stop ‘mansplaining’ to her.
Yes, the exchange was as dumb as it sounds: A man was invited on a television show to explain something, and then told him to stop explaining because he is a man.This is today’s left.
This illiberal left is the target of Paul’s new book The Case Against Socialism where the senator spends 40 succinct chapters libertariansplaining why socialism is not only woefully wrong, but a threat to freedom as most Americans have known it.
Paul details the relevant history obvious to anyone with cursory knowledge of the last 100 years: the 20th century proved that unadulterated socialism doesn’t work, with the totalitarian governments of the Soviet communists and Germany’s national socialists producing humanity’s worst tragedies.
This is important history, but it is not the true value of this book.
Where Paul is most effective is in taking every key pro-socialist argument made by today’s left and picking them apart. While so much of our political discourse has devolved into the sort of identity politics one-upmanship exemplified by Paul’s appearance on The View, the senator takes seriously the ideas and policies advocated by self-described socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and thoroughly dismantles them.
More importantly, and also very much unlike his View experience, Paul’s arguments aren’t personal. They aren’t partisan or personality based. ‘I don’t hate Bernie or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,’ Paul says forthright. The senator simply believes their ideas are dangerous and he’s here to tell you why.
It’s easy for conservatives to dismissively say socialism sucks — but someone needs to explain why to those who don’t necessarily share this sentiment from the outset.
The first section of the book delves into why socialism has been a primary driver of poverty around the world and why free markets have always benefitted the middle class of any country. But the most valuable tool for anti-socialists of any stripe might be the second section, ‘Capitalism Makes Scandinavia Great.’ Paul takes the praise Sanders and other Democrats often lavish on ‘socialist’ European countries, nations they insist the US should emulate, and explains why any success they have had has actually been due to capitalism.
In the chapter, ‘Bernie Sanders is too liberal to get elected in Denmark,’ Paul writes that ‘Denmark’s economic success is inseparable from free trade and low corporate income taxes’ and notes that ‘before Republicans lowered the corporate income tax in 2018, Denmark’s corporate tax was significantly lower than ours.’
This is a significant fact Sanders would never bring up and most Americans aren’t aware of. Despite his love for Denmark, Bernie obviously does not want more free trade or lower corporate incomes taxes for the US.
Recalling a 2018 tweet from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, in which she lamented the closing of a New York City coffee shop where she used to work, Paul writes, ‘What AOC failed to acknowledge to her followers is that her 150 former coworkers didn’t lose their jobs because of a failure in capitalism, but because of aggressive government intervention.’ The owner of the coffee shop, Charles Milite, said he had to shut down because ‘rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up.’
Ocasio-Cortez is not only a staunch advocate of raising the minimum wage, but like Sanders, also points to Scandinavia as a successful ‘socialist’ model for the US. Paul notes, ‘Not only are the Scandinavian countries largely free of consumer price controls, but they also largely lack governmental control of minimum wages.’
‘Those on America’s left who clamor for $15-an-hour federal minimum wage laws might be somewhat embarrassed to discover that Scandinavian “socialism” has no minimum wage and yet workers seem to thrive,’ Paul adds.
As the left continues to increasingly romanticize socialism, it will be up to conservatives and libertarians to remind everyone what Marx’s pipe dream actually wrought. The Case Against Socialism takes today’s socialists seriously, many of who are currently running in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, and fights them on their own ground.
Jack Hunter is a contributor to The American Conservative and the Washington Examiner and a former adviser to Sen. Rand Paul.