Socialism’s march
across America

By Henry Lamb

Americans were appalled when Castro nationalized private property in Cuba, and led the nation into socialism. Many but not all Americans were appalled when the governments of Zimbabwe and Namibia confiscated private property for redistribution. But a new generation of Americans has emerged who never learned what socialism is, or why their fathers and grandfathers fought so hard to prevent it in America.

For the benefit of those who didn’t learn it in school, Socialism is:

  1. : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods;

  2. a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state;

  3. : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism.

Socialism is overwhelming capitalism in America because socialist policies are called “smart growth” or “environmental protection.” The proponents of these policies either fail to recognize or don’t care that they are systematically transferring private property to government ownership and control, and are empowering government to effectively “administer” the means of production.

This process is under way across America. Perhaps the most blatant example is in King County, Wash., where a decade-long comprehensive planning process has produced a plan that will prohibit private landowners from using 65 percent of their property. The people whose ownership is being confiscated by government see the plan as pure theft. Led by so-called environmental groups, proponents of the plan have no problem empowering government to take the property of others.

The sanctity of private property is no less violated in King County than it was in Cuba or in Zimbabwe. In other nations, the process is called confiscation or nationalization; in America, it is called “smart growth,” or “environmental protection.”

The Clinton/Gore administration launched a massive campaign through the President’s Council on Sustainable Development to coerce state and local governments to implement the socialist policies recommended in Agenda 21. These policies have been developed through local “visioning councils” and “stakeholder councils,” which bear a remarkable resemblance to soviets and are now being imposed on people who have never heard of Agenda 21.

A generation of Americans was never taught why socialism must not succeed in America. Instead, they were taught that the environment must be protected by government, without learning why government must never be allowed to confiscate private property or manipulate free markets. Consequently, private property is being transferred into government ownership or control at an unprecedented rate. Government is meddling in the administration of free markets to a degree that distorts the markets and restrains economic development.

Neither socialism nor communism can succeed as a system of governance; three fundamental faults doom any long-term success. First, no collection of policy-making individuals can muster the wisdom of leadership required to satisfy a diverse population. Second, enforcement of collectivist policies requires government to take from the producers and redistribute to the non-producers. Third, producers become non-producers when they realize the rewards for their efforts are redistributed to others. Ultimately, the system collapses under its own weight, as it did in the Soviet Union.

On the other hand, capitalism in a democratic republic allows the people to change their leadership at will to reflect the wishes of a diverse population. People are free to produce as much or as little as their ability allows in the knowledge that government can take no more than they are willing to pay.

Capitalism crumbles when the majority requires government to restrain the productivity and behavior of others to conform to their will. Both socialism and communism crumble when the majority of people become dependent upon government and demand that government meet their needs.

Socialism is marching across King County, and across America, under the flag of “smart growth,” and “environmental protection.” It’s time to stop the parade.