In defense of socialism

Ever since the media reported how millennials are embracing socialism, there's been a non-stop parade of "Don't you know how bad socialism is?" articles in the press. In these articles you find claims like “the only thing that has ever raised large numbers of people from abject poverty is capitalism”.
I was reading one of those articles when I came across this.

Above all, consider the socialists’ vaunted concern for poverty. Yet socialism has a record of making rich countries poor, while capitalism has a record of making poor countries rich. The most relevant example today would be Venezuela, which was until fairly recently the wealthiest country in South America.

With both of these claims there is no effort to provide proof. Nor will there be because they are both wrong.
Hugo Chavez was elected President of Venezuela in 1999. The GDP of Venezuela tripled under his version of socialism.
Now many will point out the very real and serious economic and political problems in the country today, but that doesn't change the fact that the original claim was wrong.
Now let's examine the other claim about “the only thing". Consider the Soviet Union.

The economic story of the Soviet Union is actually a story of an amazing accomplishment.
In 1921 the Russian economy was nonexistent, having barely survived being invaded by Britain and the U.S. They were under a permanent global embargo, and the population was almost entirely illiterate.
The Soviet Union should have collapsed, especially when the Nazis killed 20 milllion. Instead, 40 years later they were the first nation to put a man into space, and undeniably raised tens of millions out of poverty.
Their economy only collapsed when they embraced capitalism.

Any time that you mention anything positive about the Soviet Union there is always the "But the atrocities" reaction. Without denying that there were atrocities, that's still a non-denial of the facts above.
The assumption is that you don't care about the welfare of the victims of the Soviet Union. Once again, these people don't bother to actually ask what the former citizens of the U.S.S.R think.

The majority of Russians polled in a 2016 study said they would prefer living under the old Soviet Union and would like to see the socialist system and the Soviet state restored.
According to the poll conducted by the Levada Center, over 50 percent of Russian citizens believe the collapse of the Soviet Union was bad and could have been avoided. Only 28 percent of the population surveyed felt positive about its collapse, while 16 percent were unable to answer such a complex question.

That is not the only poll showing that former citizens of the U.S.S.R prefer living under communism.
In fact, polls show that a plurality of people in Eastern Europe also prefer living under communism.
Right-wingers generally ignore these polls because they have no explanation for them.

To a lesser extent, Cuba also fits outside of the anti-socialist story.
Sure, Cuba is hardly wealthy, but it has outperformed capitalist Honduras and El Salvador, despite a brutal 60-year embargo.

Finally, I must address the various communist atrocities.
There is no doubt tens of millions died under communism, so there's no reason to artificially inflate the numbers.
However, there is good reason to distinguish between deaths from killing and deaths from other causes, which the anti-socialists don't do except when it comes to capitalist countries.

For instance, the Irish famine, WWI, and the genocide of the native Americans happened under capitalist nations. Yet few attribute these examples (and countless others) to capitalism, which is a double standard.
But let's overlook the double standard for the moment and look at examples that can't be brushed off.
Specifically, the Dutch East Indies Company, the British East Indies Company, and King Leopold's Congo Free State.
All three were for-profit capitalist companies that were responsible for the brutal deaths of tens of millions in India, Indonesia, and central Africa.
I've seen capitalist apologists jump through mental hoops trying to rationalize how a capitalist company that issues stock and pays dividends wasn't actually capitalist. These same apologists will shed crocodile tears over the victims of socialism.

Then there is this at one end of Wall Street.
No other capitalist enterprise was ever so profitable than the slave trade.
Some capitalist apologists try to say that the trade in slaves wasn't capitalism because the slaves were coerced, but that only shows that they don't understand capitalism. All that matters in capitalism is the free trade of the buyers and sellers, what the commodity wants (i.e. the slaves, livestock, etc.) is irrelevant to capitalism.
Thus capitalism is directly responsible for the deaths and enslavement of countless millions, but we all pretend this undeniable fact isn't true. Racism didn't cause slavery. Capitalism did.

It's virtually impossible to calculate the number of people killed by capitalism, but the number dwarfs the victims of socialism without a doubt, as long as you use consistent standards.
This doesn't excuse the crimes of socialist governments, but we are talking about comparing a socialist mugger to a capitalist serial killer.

Of course all of this is outside of the Overton Window, and beyond the ability of many Americans to even consider.
In America today, socialism equals Big Government, while capitalism equals freedom.
Nevermind that the first versions of socialism were anarchism, and the examples of the Dutch East Indies Company, the British East Indies Company, and King Leopold's Congo Free State prove that private enterprises are just as likely to repress, exploit, and murder as Big Government.
Just ask the slaves.

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From a smart guy

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil....
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
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divineorder's picture


There is decisive evidence that neoliberalism’s widening inequality tends to generate uncommon rates of physical and mental health disorders. (7) A Princeton study found that middle-aged non-Hispanic white Americans suffered a great increase in mortality between 1998 and 2013. (8) This was the first such case in American history. The increase is entirely concentrated among persons with a high school degree or less, a reliable criterion of poverty. Among whites with any college experience, mortality rates have declined during this period. And disease is not the issue. The predominant causes of death are suicide, chronic alcohol abuse and drug overdoses. Paul Krugman has noted that these statistics mirror “the collapse in Russian life expectancy after the fall of communism.” (9) The Princeton study labels these mortalities “deaths of despair.” It is noteworthy that among the population in question, wages have fallen by over 30 percent since 1969. (10) In a detailed study of the health effects of austerity, based on data from the Great Depression, Asian countries during the 1990s Asian Financial Crisis, and European countries suffering austerity policies after the 2008 crisis, researchers found that the more austerity was practiced in a country, the more people became ill and the more people died. (11)
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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.


It's universal. Psychopaths - by any name, although the pre-existing 'conservative' label is a popular one, which such as the pre-visitation Scrooge (unaware of his own self-interest being so deeply involved in and with humanity in both senses) simply never bothered to adopt as a more legitimate-sounding 'brand' - are bad for the health and survival of life forms.

Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
More suicides under Conservative rule

The suicide rate increases under Conservative governments, research suggests.

Australian scientists found the suicide rate in the country increased significantly when a Conservative government was in power.

And an analysis of figures in the UK seems to suggest a similar trend.

The Australian team analysed suicide statistics for New South Wales between 1901, when the federal government was established, and 1998.

They then looked at the political regimes dominating both state and federal governments in New South Wales, which have consistently been under either Labour or Conservative control. ...

... But after adjusting for these factors, the figures clearly showed the highest rates of suicide occurred when both Conservative state and federal governments were in power.

Men at risk

Conversely, the lowest rates occurred when state and federal governments were both Labour. ...

... The researchers concede that ideological distinctions between Conservative and Labour politicians have become more blurred over the past 20 years.

But they say public perceptions that their policies differ may still remain intact.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Taylor, of the University of Sydney, told BBC News Online: "We think that it may be because material conditions in lower socio-economic groups may be relatively better under labour because of government programmes, and there may be a perception of greater hope by these groups under labour.

"There is a strong relationship between socio-economic status and suicide."

The research is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

British situation

In one of a series of accompanying editorials, Dr Mary Shaw and colleagues from the University of Bristol say the same patterns were evident in England and Wales between 1901 and 2000.

Rates have been lower under Labour governments and soared under the last Conservative regime, which began in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher.

They fell under 'the more moderate' John Major and after a slight rise when Tony Blair came to power, have since fallen again.

Interestingly, the authors point out that although suicide rates tend to increase when unemployment is high, they were also above average during the 1950s when Britain "never had it so good," but was ruled by the Conservative party.

Overall, they say, the figures suggest that 35,000 people would not have died had the Conservatives not been in power, equivalent to one suicide for every day of the 20th century or two for every day that the Conservatives ruled. ...

Unicorns really do save lives...

Changes in government spending on healthcare and population mortality in the European union, 1995–2010: a cross-sectional ecological study
Show all authors
Sanjay Budhdeo, Johnathan Watkins, Rifat Atun, ...
First Published October 28, 2015 Research Article
Download PDFPDF download for Changes in government spending on healthcare and population mortality in the European union, 1995–2010: a cross-sectional ecological study


Economic measures such as unemployment and gross domestic product are correlated with changes in health outcomes. We aimed to examine the effects of changes in government healthcare spending, an increasingly important measure given constrained government budgets in several European Union countries.

Multivariate regression analysis was used to assess the effect of changes in healthcare spending as a proportion of total government expenditure, government healthcare spending as a proportion of gross domestic product and government healthcare spending measured in purchasing power parity per capita, on five mortality indicators. Additional variables were controlled for to ensure robustness of data. One to five year lag analyses were conducted.
Setting and Participants

European Union countries 1995–2010.
Main outcome measures

Neonatal mortality, postneonatal mortality, one to five years of age mortality, under five years of age mortality, adult male mortality, adult female mortality.

A 1% decrease in government healthcare spending was associated with significant increase in all mortality metrics: neonatal mortality (coefficient −0.1217, p = 0.0001), postneonatal mortality (coefficient −0.0499, p = 0.0018), one to five years of age mortality (coefficient −0.0185, p = 0.0002), under five years of age mortality (coefficient −0.1897, p = 0.0003), adult male mortality (coefficient −2.5398, p = 0.0000) and adult female mortality (coefficient −1.4492, p = 0.0000). One per cent decrease in healthcare spending, measured as a proportion of gross domestic product and in purchasing power parity, was both associated with significant increases (p 

2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

divineorder's picture

institutions and professional classes just now ,like the Russians did when Clinton aided Wall Street and the Russian oligarchs to destroy their safety net and institutions.

An opposition is building:

It is not the Democratic Party that is leading the search for alternatives to the wreckage created by Republican policies: a tax plan that will soak the poor and middle class to benefit the rich; a heedless pursuit of fossil fuels that is already resulting in the contamination of the water supply of the Dakota people; and continued support for police policies of militarisation and mass incarceration. It is local populations that are threatened by oil spills and police beatings, and that is where humane populism survives. A multitude of insurgent groups have begun to use the outrage against Trump as a lever to move the party in egalitarian directions: Justice Democrats, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, as well as a host of local and regional organisations. They recognise that there are far more urgent – and genuine – reasons to oppose Trump than vague allegations of collusion with Russia. They are posing an overdue challenge to the long con of neoliberalism, and the technocratic arrogance that led to Clinton’s defeat in Rust Belt states. Recognising that the current leadership will not bring about significant change, they are seeking funding from outside the DNC. This is the real resistance, as opposed to ‘#theresistance’.

Great essay!

33 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

snoopydawg's picture


This whole Russian propaganda scheme has various reasons for it. To explain why Her lost the election. To distract what Wikileaks exposed. Giving democratic voters something to focus on instead of demanding that the democrats create policies that will help us and for them to fight against what the republicans are doing.

I really don't understand how the people who are buying into this can't see that there has been any solid evidence showing that Putin himself ordered his minions to interfere with the election. No one has asked why the FBI didn't investigate the DNC computers themselves or why they weren't allowed to do so. Only the Ukrainian company ClowdStrike determined that the hack came from Russia.

Like any orthodoxy worth its salt, the religion of the Russian hack depends not on evidence but on ex cathedra pronouncements on the part of authoritative institutions and their overlords. Its scriptural foundation is a confused and largely fact-free ‘assessment’ produced last January by a small number of ‘hand-picked’ analysts – as James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, who perjured himself before congress, described them – from the CIA, the FBI and the NSA.

As the article states, if an outside organization did hack the DNC computers they would have seen it and released their evidence to the public.

The Russian propaganda is a smoke screen so that the democrats don't have to actually come up with a plan in case they take back congress in 2018 because we know that they have no intention of doing this.

The Democratic Party’s claims of fighting for “working families” have been undermined by its refusal to directly challenge corporate power. This is true. We've watched as they have voted for some of Trump's appointees, judges and some of the republicans' legislation.

Thanks, DO

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg Thanks.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

snoopydawg's picture


Obama and Hillary and just wow. We had no idea what they were doing behind the scenes on all kinds of issues. They blow the idea of there being a difference between the two parties and how far they were willing to go to get them passed.
One is about how Hillary's presidential campaign started in 2013 which means that her speeches to Wall Street were against campaign finance laws. Her attempts of neutering Warren for the banks and so that she wouldn't be able to run for president. Hillary also had social security and Medicare in her crosshairs going back to when Bill was president.

Obama working with the Koch brothers to make Europe accept tar sands and other stuff. I'm not really surprised by anything I read, but a few things were new to me.
Remember how he spent two terms working on the TPP?

Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks

Eric Holder's law firm held his position open during the time he was playing as the attorney general so his job would be waiting for him when he returned to protecting financial institutions from lawsuits.

Then some things about Schumer and other democrats. I'm still holding out hope that we can find a way to fix things, but we're up against a lot of people and organizations who have been planning their agendas for some time.

Heh, it might be easier for us to find a country we can all move to Smile

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

@snoopydawg I'm moving to Bimono

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snoopydawg's picture


Bimono, as in the World of Warcraft?

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg country to move to. Jb and I depend on our teacher government pension plus social security, Medicare plus teacher retiree medical

If that goes away well ....

6 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

of Americans and colonists before that. My ancestors helped build this country; they were teachers, farmers, carpenters, engineers, people who make and do. While freely admitting that we owe much to both Native Americans and to the descendants of slaves, I am not willing to turn our country over to the mercies of Russian mobsters, Chinese billionaires, idle Saudi princes, or Mexican drug lords.

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SnappleBC's picture


That pretty much summed up #Russiagate in a nice tidy non-existent little bundle.

4 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

ppnortney's picture

@divineorder It is a great essay, he absolutely nails it.

The most immediate consequence is that, by finding foreign demons who can be blamed for Trump’s ascendancy, the Democratic leadership have shifted the blame for their defeat away from their own policies without questioning any of their core assumptions. Amid the general recoil from Trump, they can even style themselves dissenters – ‘#the resistance’ was the label Clintonites appropriated within a few days of the election. Mainstream Democrats have begun to use the word ‘progressive’ to apply to a platform that amounts to little more than preserving Obamacare, gesturing towards greater income equality and protecting minorities. This agenda is timid. It has nothing to say about challenging the influence of concentrated capital on policy, reducing the inflated defence budget or withdrawing from overextended foreign commitments; yet without those initiatives, even the mildest egalitarian policies face insuperable obstacles. More genuine insurgencies are in the making, which confront corporate power and connect domestic with foreign policy, but they face an uphill battle against the entrenched money and power of the Democratic leadership – the likes of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Clintons and the DNC. Russiagate offers Democratic elites a way to promote party unity against Trump-Putin, while the DNC purges Sanders’s supporters.

Before the primaries had even begun, the supposedly neutral DNC – which had been close to insolvency – had been bought by the Clinton campaign.

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Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men. - John Adams

shaharazade's picture

maybe Red China? as I'm often told by the ass backward cappies, who for some bizarre reason like to haunt socialistic sites and posts. How long ago did both China and Russia become efficient competitive capitalist's. Seem to me that regardless of whatever economic theory the gangster, global oligarchical collectivists fly under they are all players in the latest version of the great game. American's have a lot of nerve to complain about human rights abuses by the so called socialist's who were in actuality totalitarian nasty regimes. What do they think this country is about? I do not understand why people are not willing to let go of historical ideological propaganda that has been dusted off and now is new again. How many times do we have to go through this horror show of dueling ideological, economic bs. that keeps the world in the clutches of the true villains of this current rerun? Maybe humans need some new words or theories instead of dragging out the old chestnut's with all their worn out baggage.

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These are among the targeted countries, and there's nowhere else but Earth to go, where nothing and no-one's safe as long as The Psychopaths/Parasites That Be are running things - especially the already grossly out-sized and ever-expanding US military, of necessity, planned to become large enough to take over the world. TPTB'd rather fight than switch to enjoying having extreme wealth without having literally everything that anyone else has, or at least depriving everyone else of everything they still retain, even knowing that they destroy the ability of life to survive on the planet in doing this. And they're very handy with their proxy-dukesnukes.

They evidently believe that either Super-Jesus or Super-Tech will swoop down at the last minute to save them (only them, of course,) because they believe that enough money can buy literally everything. Even the impossible.

A decent life for all is a 'unicorn dream', but an unliving 'immortality' for them in some virtual reality/robotic form on a murdered planet devoid even of oxygen is apparently, for at least some reality-free billionaires, a 'feasible plan'. Even if at least some have started to switch over to 'head transplants' and the like, silly buggers...

Denying reality is a bad idea, especially in those buying up/taking over the capacity to enact their fever-dreams of destructive lunacy, destroying the natural life-support system and all chance of human survival, never mind of achieving civilization, to only - perhaps even more slowly and horribly - destroy themselves, in the end.

Think we could just sell them a bridge to jump off themselves, without taking the rest of us with them?

4 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

shaharazade's picture

@Ellen North Your comment is right on. What strange bedfellows the psycho's who run and own the place are. Technocrat's from hell and the believers in their divine right to rule.

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SparkyGump's picture

Health care, infrastructure, education, incarceration rehabilitation, defense, environment, welfare and a bunch of other services are much more efficiently delivered when there is no profit motive involved. Imho, the main reason they're giving state and local law enforcement all that military gear is because the powers that be may be greedy but they're not stupid. They know a poorer populace is a less complaint populace. They've got theirs and they're not going to give it up easily.

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The real SparkyGump has passed. It was an honor being your human.


If I may, would just like to add

...They know a poorer populace is a less complaint populace. They've got theirs and they're not going to give it up easily. ...

that much of this has been drained from that populace, from workers, consumers, smaller business driven under/swallowed up to gain monopolies, the public purse, the poisoned and flattened environment forming our life-support system...

It's often not so much that they don't want to 'give theirs up' because it's all their rightful property (which should not be 'stolen' away for taxes merely because they rely upon the public to given them charity, both in a free ride and in carte blanche in every area of rights and sane law, as their prerogative for being so very, very rich, too-often already at everyone else's expense,) but that they don't want to give it back, regarding either stolen money or stolen rights. And the thefts in both areas are ever-more blatant and 'legalized', (even retroactively, as also with 'blanket pardons' given to each of these political lackeys by successive political lackeys following them in taking often-stolen public office at best under false pretenses, with intent to betray their oaths, country and people in order to serve hostile and destructive self-interests,) by government also stolen from The People.

We need to drop their propagandist framing; The People are not begging for charity from a Rightfully Ruling Mob organization. The People need to demand justice in a land of public-protective laws and not the rule of self-interested men, along with democracy within government truly of, by and for the people, ensuring by rule-of-public-protective-law equal rights, treatment and opportunity for all within a sustainable society which looks after its own. And we need to do that while anything still remains to salvage.

0 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Minimum government means minimum civilization. Yes, government can stifle creativity, but it can also provide the means for creativity to thrive.

When only a few have the means to pursue the "luxury" of creativity then that civilization is drastically under-performing.

It is inconceivable that Capitalism is the long-term answer. Capitalism is saying that we are not smart enough to design a well-working, fair society. That we have to leave it to chance and inherited wealth and a few oligarchs and their political sycophants. We inherited a lousy economic system from the English. We cling to it because the upper class says that the alternative is much worse. Well, really much worse .. only for them. Our economy performs poorly, while developing countries that are more centrally planned and socially conscious do much better. The big difference today is that these competing counties have technologies that are as good or better than ours. China has not only the fastest super-computer in the world, but also the second fastest super-computer. And, with their own integrated circuit designs and software. Compounding differences in growth rates will make this really obvious over the next 5 years.

I'd like to think that there is some hope for the US to move towards socialism. But I also thought that there would be some hope for the US to move away from war as a political solution after we were defeated in Vietnam. Nonetheless, I think that it is really important for smart, enlightened people in the US to understand that socialism is going to be the preferred economic/political solution for the world and to be able to say bullshit when the oligarchs, the politicians and their captive press say repeatedly that socialism will not work.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

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Meteor Man's picture

Also Public Libraries, the U.S. Post Office, strong unions and Eisenhower's Interstate Freeway System among other things.

This is an educational, political and media mis-information problem that keeps American wage slaves in the dark. Bernie, DSA and similar groups are starting to turn the tide.

As was pointed out there are any number of successful socialist countries. The real battle is against corporate propaganda and the American Exceptionalism mindset.

20 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

CalvinV's picture

There is also Socialist China. From this article in Business Insider which happened to discuss the history of Chinese economy (and not how horrible socialism is):
Since 1950, at the start of socialism, to 2015, the Chinese economy grew from 3.8% of world economy to 17.1%. During the same time period, the two best capitalist countries, Britain and the US, both shrunk.

4 users have voted.