Bernie Sanders wants you to be mad about capitalism

Bernie Sanders has come out with a new book: It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism. As its unsubtle title makes clear, the book is about the evils of capitalism, and the need for democratic socialism—which basically means top-down government redistribution brought about by vote, rather than by violent revolution. 

I will probably get around to reading Sanders’s book, though I don’t expect to find much within its pages that I haven’t already read or heard from its author. Bernie Sanders, after all, has been a public figure since the 1980s, and a central figure in our national politics for roughly the last decade.

The chapters of It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism include such gems as “This is a Class War—It’s Time to Fight Back” and “Capitalism is the Problem”. 

From the introduction to It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism

Bernie Sanders, at age 81, is an adherent of early twentieth-century leftism. His ideology is based on a time when American leftists looked to the former USSR for inspiration. Sanders traveled to the USSR in 1988, where he extolled its system (which would collapse three years later). Sanders has also praised the repressive Marxist regime in Cuba.

There is no shortage of room for reasonable people to disagree about what capitalism should be, and what it should provision. For example, plenty of people on the right and in the center—including Lou Dobbs and Ross Perot—have raised concerns about the astronomical heights of CEO pay in recent decades. (Ross Perot raised this issue as an independent candidate in the 1992 US presidential election.) 

Most of us can also agree on the need for decent public schools and affordable health care. We can agree that there is a legitimate role for government, and that one of these roles is to address instances of market failure. There are some things the private market can’t do—or won’t do. That’s where we need an activist government.

I’m not here to argue for the abolition of the EPA, in other words; and I’m not here to shove Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman down your throat. 

That said, “Capitalism is the problem” is the kind of foolish non sequitur that no thinking person takes seriously nowadays. Not even the Chinese Communist Party believes that anymore. After all, many of the CCP’s older comrades suffered through real socialism during 1950s and 1960s.

Capitalism, for starters, makes Bernie’s book available on Amazon. Capitalism—free enterprise motivated by profit—is what gives us iPhones, automobiles, and cheap, abundant food. Notice that nothing useful comes from countries where the government owns the means of production (the defining characteristic of socialism). This is why they’re literally starving to death in North Korea, and very close to that point in Venezuela. 

This is why Bernie Sanders never became president, nor even the nominee for the Democratic Party. At a personal level, Bernie Sanders is hard to dislike. (He really does come across as your lovable socialist grandpa.) At an intellectual level, he’s impossible to take seriously.

While responsible adults dismiss Sanders’s rhetoric as goofy, the aging revolutionary is simultaneously out-of-touch with younger lefties. Wild-eyed Gen Z and Millennial radicals are focused not on class-based economic issues, but on the self-absorbed politics of race, sexual identity, and gender. Once in a while, Sanders tries to pay lip service to the concept of intersectionality. That never goes well. 

Sanders briefly became a favorite among young progressive voters in 2015 and 2016. (Remember the “Bernie Bros”?) He did this by appealing to the narrow self-interests of a specific subsection of young voters. 

Specifically, he promised them free college. The mostly white, mostly middle class Bernie Bros were far less interested in the plight of Rust Belt factory workers or inner-city single mothers. Those Democrats, it turned out, preferred the staid Hillary Clinton as their nominee.

 But perhaps the Bernie Bros, with their focus on free college that would specifically benefit them, gave us an important object lesson on why socialism always results in some combination of graft, moribund economics, and violence when it’s actually tried in the real world. It turns out that human beings are inherently self-interested creatures. We may work hard for ourselves, our spouses, our children, and other people who are actually connected to us. Very few of us, though, are going to put in much extra effort to benefit the nameless masses. This is especially true in a large country of 334 million. Socialism doesn’t work, because once you establish it, no one has much motivation to give their all—except when they’re trying to subvert the system for personal gain.

As one might expect, Bernie Sanders’s book has received scores of 1-star reviews from people who have not read it, and make no secret of the fact that they have not read it. This is a shame. Whether or not Sanders’s central arguments deserve a serious debunking, such a debunking is required. 

The socialist dream arises about once every generation. With it come fresh promises that if we just let this latest group of social engineers confiscate and redistribute, everything will turn out all hunky-dory.  

Bernie Sanders is, on one hand, a millionaire who owns three homes, and he has spent precious little time engaged in honest labor. (Most of his active life has been spent in politics and/or activism.) The majority of his wealth, though, has been recently acquired. No one, moreover, would claim that he comes from a plutocratic background. 

But still—does everyone get $2 million and three houses in the Peoples Republic of America? Is that the plan?

Sanders, though, is not even in the same league of hypocrisy as Hollywood limousine socialists like Cynthia Nixon. When making her ultimately failed bid for the New York governorship in 2018, Nixon declared herself a socialist, too. 

The problem was that Cynthia Nixon, the former star of Sex and the City, has a net worth of $25 million. That is some serious money, by anything but Elon Musk standards. Nixon was yet another 1-percenter who declared herself an enemy of the wealthy.

We should pass a new law: no one may publicly declare himself a socialist if he has a net worth exceeding $999,999. There should be no seven-figure advocates of socialism, and certainly no socialists with fortunes of eight or nine figures, as is so common among the Hollywood crowd.

If you wish to declare yourself a socialist, you should begin by giving away all your excess money and assets. The future leaders of the People’s Republic of America should lead by example. 

But that brings us back to the troublesome issues of self-interest and human nature, and all the reasons why socialism can never work in the real world.

-ET

Cynthia Nixon: the epitome of limousine leftism

Note: Since we are free-thinkers here, I won’t discourage the reader from buying Bernie’s new book.

Since I’m also a capitalist, I’ll even provide you with a convenient Amazon affiliate link.

**View It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism on Amazon**