New Republic Editor Declares Socialism is Simply Bargain Sales – JONATHAN TURLEY

The New Republic’s  contributing editor and Guardian columnist Osita Nwanevu had a curious posting this week as he offered a new definition of socialism for the public: socialism is simply cheaper products. Even Dell apparently is a socialist enterprise under Nwanevu’s new take. Capitalism? Anything that is too expensive. In other words, voters should elect socialists if they like sales.

There is a rising number of Democratic Socialists in Congress and in the Democratic party. Many are seeking to push this trend by getting young voters to identify as socialists. It may be working.  Polls show that socialism is now as popular as capitalism with young voters.

Hopefully, they have a better handle on the subject than Nwanevu, who has also written for the New Yorker, Slate, and Harper’s.

“Fundamentally, socialism is about buying affordable consumer products. Are you an Android user? That’s socialism. Do you have a Dell? That’s socialism. Shop at H&M? That’s socialism. The more expensive your stuff is, the more capitalist it is. Marx lays this out in Capital.”

It is wonderful to see those socialists hard at work at that proletarian paradise. . . Dell.

It is not clear where Marx laid out that socialism is like a never-ending Black Friday sale.  He did say that “a commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties. ”

However, Marx was not exactly keen on the capitalist production system, even at a discount. He declared “Accumulate, accumulate! This is Moses and the Prophets!” He also noted “Just as man is governed, in religion, by the products of his own brain, so, in capitalist production, he is governed by the products of his own hand.”

Putting that aside, socialist and communist systems historically have resulted in cheaper but fewer products. The old Soviet joke: A man walks into a shop. He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?” The clerk says, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”

The infamous five-year plans of the Soviet Union led to widespread starvation and reduction of goods. What was produced was cheap but shoddy:

“For example, in the 1970s the Soviet Union produced 800 million shoes every year—enough to provide every citizen with three new pairs. But the quality, design, and fit were often so poor that many residents had to spend hours looking for a perfect pair, or buy imported shoes at vastly higher prices.”

Under no interpretation of Marx would Dell undercutting the market be viewed as socialism at work. To the contrary, such supply and demand decisions are more in line with Adam Smith than Karl Marx. The invisible hand of Smith favors certain goods and price points.

You can clearly have soft socialist systems that centralize economies and force the redistribution of wealth without the authoritarianism of communist. They are not synonymous. There are also variations of socialism from command economies to “market socialism.”

However, socialism also has not been shown to reduce prices as much as reducing products. Indeed, systems in countries like Venezuela often trigger rampant inflation and other collateral crippling economic problems.

Still confused, here is the famous primer often used on the rivaling systems in the context of a farmer with two cows:

Socialism: If you have two cows, the Government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

Communism: If you have two cows, Government takes both and then gives you some milk.

Fascism: If you have two cows, you keep the cows and give the milk to the Government; then the government sells you some milk.

New Dealism: If you have two cows, you shoot one and milk the other; then you pour the milk down the drain.

Nazism: If you have two cows, the Government shoots you and keeps the cows.

Capitalism: If you have two cows, you sell one and buy a bull.

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