Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies

Front Cover
Do Sustainability, Feb 7, 2019 - Business & Economics - 398 pages
Socialism is strangely impervious to refutation by real-world experience. Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society, from the Soviet Union to Maoist China to Venezuela. All of them have ended in varying degrees of failure. But, according to socialism’s adherents, that is only because none of these experiments were “real socialism”. This book documents the history of this, by now, standard response. It shows how the claim of fake socialism is only ever made after the event. As long as a socialist project is in its prime, almost nobody claims that it is not real socialism. On the contrary, virtually every socialist project in history has gone through a honeymoon period, during which it was enthusiastically praised by prominent Western intellectuals. It was only when their failures became too obvious to deny that they got retroactively reclassified as “not real socialism”.
 

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Contents

1 The enduring appeal of socialism
1
Figure 1 Support for public ownership by sector in
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Figure 2 Support for public ownership by sector in
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Figure 3 Support for price controls by sector in
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Table 1 Support for regulation
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Figure 4 Support for a larger state in
7
The pervasiveness of socialist assumptions
10
Socialism and social democracy
17
The working class is in power
177
Figure 8 GDP per capita PPP Albania vs Romania and Bulgaria 19852017 in current international
178
The organised might of the working class
184
the early years
190
the later years
198
Remnants of GDR apologetics today
205
A note on proGDR revisionism
212
A different and a better way of doing things Its called socialism
217

Figure 5 Economic Freedom scores
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A lazy straw man?
21
Not for a lack of trying
34
The straw men that were once alive
54
A whole nation marched behind a vision
59
Stalins pilgrims
63
Remnants of Soviet apologetics today
86
Conclusion
94
A revolutionary regime must get rid of a certain number of individuals that threaten it
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Maos pilgrims
102
Figure 6 GDP per capita PPP Peoples Republic of China vs Republic of China Taiwan 19802017
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Remnants of Maoist apologetics today
112
Conclusion
114
The beginning of building the new man
116
Castros pilgrims
120
Why is Cuba different?
128
A messiah rather than a dictator
132
Kim Il Sungs pilgrims
133
Remnants of North Korea apologetics today
146
The kingdom of justice
155
Figure 9 GDP per capita PPP in Chile and Venezuela 19802016
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Figure 10 Oil prices in current US 19892017 by presidency
224
Figure 11 Key governance indicators 20002015
226
Chávezs pilgrims
232
After the zenith
240
Coming full circle
247
not real socialism again
253
10 Why socialist ideas persist
260
Intuitive anticapitalism or anticapitalism as a default position
278
Figure 12 Global GDP per capita over time in constant international 1990
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Figure 13 Global population and global poverty 18502010
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Figure 14 Global average life expectancy at birth years 18702015
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Figure 15 Annual number of hours worked per worker
282
The Gary Lineker fallacy
287
Conclusion
293
real socialism is being tried
304
Table 2 Distribution of seats in the new Peoples Chamber
310
References
360
About the IEA
374
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Dr Kristian Niemietz is Head of Political Economy at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He studied economics at the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Salamanca, and political economy at King’s College London. Kristian previously worked at the Berlin-based Institute for Free Enterprise (IUF) and taught economics at King’s College London. He is the author of the books A New Understanding of Poverty (2011), Redefining the Poverty Debate (2012) and Universal Healthcare Without the NHS (2016).