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Three nations that tried socialism and rejected it

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 15, 2019

By Lee Edwards, National Review 

Socialists are fond of saying that socialism has never failed because it has never been tried. But in truth, socialism has failed in every country in which it has been tried, from the Soviet Union beginning a century ago to three modern countries that tried but ultimately rejected socialism — Israel, India, and the United Kingdom.

While there were major political differences between the totalitarian rule of the Soviets and the democratic politics of Israel, India, and the U.K., all three of the latter countries adhered to socialist principles, nationalizing their major industries and placing economic decision-making in the hands of the government.

The Soviet failure has been well documented by historians. In 1985, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev took command of a bankrupt disintegrating empire. After 70 years of Marxism, Soviet farms were unable to feed the people, factories failed to meet their quotas, people lined up for blocks in Moscow and other cities to buy bread and other necessities, and a war in Afghanistan dragged on with no end in sight of the body bags of young Soviet soldiers.

The economies of the Communist nations behind the Iron Curtain were similarly enfeebled because they functioned in large measure as colonies of the Soviet Union. With no incentives to compete or modernize, the industrial sector of Eastern and Central Europe became a monument to bureaucratic inefficiency and waste, a “museum of the early industrial age.” As the New York Times pointed out at the time, Singapore, an Asian city-state of only 2 million people, exported 20 percent more machinery to the West in 1987 than all of Eastern Europe.

And yet, socialism still beguiled leading intellectuals and politicians of the West. They could not resist its siren song, of a world without strife because it was a world without private property. They were convinced that a bureaucracy could make more-informed decisions about the welfare of a people than the people themselves could. They believed, with John Maynard Keynes, that “the state is wise and the market is stupid.”

Read more of this column from National Review here.

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