The Democratic Socialists of America are a sensitive bunch. At their recent meeting in Atlanta, one delegate complained that “guys” whispering in the room infringed upon his rights to be free from sensory overload. Some used “jazz hands” instead of applauding to avoid startling their fellow conference-goers. But another delegate formally objected to the use of the gendered term “guys.”
For a group so easily offended by noises and gendered words, they seem eerily comfortable with the label “socialism,” in spite of its bloody historical connotations. After all, it is an undisputed fact that socialist and communist regimes killed hundreds of millions of innocent people. What could be more “triggering” than a tradition of gulags, purges, and weaponized famines?
This is where the whole thing turns from comical to macabre. Tarantino couldn’t have envisaged better lines. Activists arguing about gendered language but united in their support of an ideology that starved, shot, and incarcerated millions upon millions of innocent people, of every age, class, and gender.
How can one be overly sensitive to chatter, but completely insensitive to the suffering of hundreds of millions under socialism? Selective amnesia? I wonder if there is a psychiatric term for someone who is very sensitive to minor irritants to himself, but completely insensitive to the pain of others.
Of course, any good 21st-century upper-middle class socialist worth his salt would engage in a lengthy escapist tirade about how the Soviet Union or any other horrible large-scale human experiment was “not really socialist”. Venezuela? Cuba? Not socialist!
Instead “democratic socialists” point to Scandinavia. Yet Scandinavians themselves reject the socialist label. The prime minister of Denmark said, “I know that some people in the United States associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
Weird, isn’t it? “Democratic socialists” say that overtly socialist countries, e.g. Soviet Union, Venezuela, are “not really socialist.” But the countries which openly deny being socialist, are in fact “socialist.” “Democratic socialists” talk about democracy, when no socialist country in history has been democratic, nor could socialist regimes survive if their people could vote them out. Find me one socialist country where government maintained power through free elections.
The shortsighted self-importance of college students and middle-class populists meeting in Atlanta should not worry us too much. But when their champions — presidential candidates of the Democratic party — openly declare that they are “democratic socialists,” that is disturbing and important.
How would you treat a politician who said that Nazi Germany wasn’t “really Nazi”? Yet we have a whole bunch of politicians who spout that the Soviet Union wasn’t “really socialist.”
To say that the tragic failures of all socialist states that existed (or still exist) in no way discredit socialism requires extraordinary mental gymnastics. Not that different from the claim that it was aliens who built the pyramids, and all scientific evidence to the contrary is a conspiracy.
To deliberately choose the moniker “socialist” requires either an unimaginable ignorance of recent political history, or in place of that ignorance, a willingness to prey on envy and discontent, a readiness to relive horrific human suffering.
Zilvinas Silenas is the president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He served from 2011-2019 as the president of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI), bringing the organization and its free-market policy reform message to the forefront of Lithuanian public discourse.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.