Responding to Socialist Nonsense

Ok, someone is wrong on the internet, and I can’t let it go. This time it’s author Cory Doctorow. He’s supporting Bernie Sanders for president, and he apparently loves him some socialism. I recently came across a pro-socialism rant he spewed onto twitter. Doctorow’s words are in the quoted sections below. Rants like this are sometimes called a “Gish Gallup,” where a list of arguments is presented one right after another, without opportunity for rebuttal, in such a way as to make one’s side look like the clear and undeniable winner. It’s just a rhetorical technique, and it doesn’t actually make anyone right. Anybody of any belief can make a list that only cites their ideology’s supposed benefits.

Man, you guys are gonna HATE socialism. We’re going to make companies stop spying on you, ensure that the sick and hurt people you love get the care that they need, get your kids through college without crippling debt… - Cory Doctorow

This makes three assumptions about a Bernie-led socialist government: it will stop cooperate spying, health care will be better, and there will be no student debt.

  • Socialism has no built-in mechanism to make companies stop spying on you. And even if they could stop business from doing it, aren’t socialist governments right up there with the worst of them as far as mass-surveillance goes?
  • There are many counter-examples of socialist states providing horrible healthcare to their people. The thought that a socialist government will “ensure that the sick and hurt people you love will get the care they need” has no solid basis in reality.
  • No one is forced to get crippling debt now. A reason that so many are in debt now is because the government backs student loans, so there is no risk for institutions to make the loans. And because everyone can get the loans, there is more demand for the education that the loans pay for. More demand without increased supply of educational opportunities equals higher prices. And with those higher prices comes more debt…

…create a sustainable energy revolution that lifts up the people who have been worst-done-by through climate change: racialized people in toxic dumpgrounds and the industrial workers who have been poisoned by extracting those toxins… – Cory Doctorow

So in this tweet socialism makes an energy revolution that lifts the oppressed. There is no obvious mechanism that socialism has that would do this. As examples, see existing and historical socialist states where workers have been abused and made to do dangerous and environmentally destructive work.

There’s not even a clear case that socialism itself will start an energy revolution. The movers and shakers for all innovation in sustainable energy all have a profit motive (are capitalist.) You take away that motive, innovation slows.

…maintain the planet in a state that is fit for human habitation, end the forever wars that have stolen your children, and take care of the maimed veterans who fought in them. – Cory Doctorow

So now socialism will save the environment, end all wars, and again provide health care. Right, except:

  • Evironmentalism and conservation are not causes that can only be championed by socialism, and socialism has no unique mechanism to make them priorities. Socialist states still burn down forests. Socialist states still produce plenty of toxic emissions and garbage.
  • Socialist states still go to war.
  • There is no evidence that a socialist state is better equipped to meet the health care needs of veterans. As with the rest of medicine, there are plenty of examples of socialist states who don’t care for their veterans.

We’ll break up the monopolies that steal your wages and crush your entrepreneurial dreams, and replace the ailing, crumbling American infrastructure with modern, sustainable, safe infrastructure that will withstand the climate chaos ahead – Cory Doctorow

So corporations steal your wages and kill entrepreneurial businesses. And socialism means better infrastructure.

  • Are there socialist countries that are hotbeds of innovation and startups?
  • I can’t let the “steal your wages” thing slide. The government steals my wages, not companies, and socialism makes that problem worse. I choose to give corporations my money when I decide what to buy. But if I don’t pay taxes, I go to jail. What do you call it when someone takes away your things when you don’t want to give them up? Stealing.
  • Concrete poured by socialists does not withstand hurricanes better than concrete poured by capitalists.
  • Also, what about socialism makes infrastructure better? Are government-paid planners magically better at civil engineering than firms who have to hustle and then rely on their track record to stay afloat?

It’s going to be a nightmare for you, but your kids? They’re gonna LOVE IT. – Cory Doctorow

I’m not sure why my kids would love having less control over their own lives and less money, but hey, to each his own.

The bottom line for me is that moving to more socialism by definition grants more powers to the government. I don’t trust the people running government operations now, and I have no reason to believe they or their replacements will behave any better or smarter if I just give them more power and money.

Posted 01/30/2020