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Ex-Soviet Citizen Garry Kasparov Schools Bernie Sanders on Socialism

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Americans who are most receptive to socialism are those who have yet to experience it firsthand. Such is the case with socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and many Democrats today.

The Democrat presidential candidate isn’t shy about his support for wealth redistribution or  a 90 percent income tax rate to make society more “equitable.” In fact, his affinity for collectivist policies only grew after honeymooning in the so-called workers paradise, the now-defunct Soviet Union.

Why does a washed-out Bolshevik septuagenarian have widespread appeal among young leftists? Like his comrades in academia and the media, Sanders has cast a magical socialist spell on Millennials with “cool” promises of free college tuition, cradle-to-grave dependency, student loan forgiveness, and unicorns-for-all.

Heaven forbid someone who lived behind the Iron Curtain and later fled it educate Comrade Sanders and his supporters about the grim realities of big government policies!

Thankfully, one outspoken survivor of Soviet communism – Garry Kasparov- is bold enough to challenge Sanders’ rallying cry for socialism in America. The former world chess champion and freedom activist took it to his Facebook page to address the problem with socialism–which then prompted a massive firestorm on social media shortly after:

I'm enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism…

Posted by Garry Kasparov on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

In a follow up to his viral Facebook post, Mr. Kasparov elaborated on the harsh realities of socialism he endured and saw firsthand in the Soviet Union in The Daily Beast yesterday:

A society that relies too heavily on redistributing wealth eventually runs out of wealth to redistribute. The historical record is clear. It’s capitalism that brought billions of people out of poverty in the 20th century. It’s socialism that enslaved them and impoverished them. Of course Senator Sanders does not want to turn America into a totalitarian state like the one I grew up in. But it’s a valuable example of the inevitable failure of a state-run economy and distribution system.

Kasparov is absolutely correct in his analysis of socialism’s deleterious effects. As the late Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Much to the dismay of Sanders and his supporters, socialism touts “equality”– the equitable sharing of misery, not equal opportunities. (I would know–my family escaped Soviet-occupied Lithuania 30 years ago.) Except for the elites comprising the Soviet politburo, the majority of people who endured collectivism in the former USSR were subjected to low incomes or worse–poverty, gulag imprisonment, or death. Private property was seized by the state. Competition was crushed. Food shortages defined the landscape. (It’s a fact: life behind the Iron Curtain wasn’t rosy or fun.) That’s why free enterprise, Kasparov argues, is the perfect antidote to the abject poverty produced in collectivist societies–and he’s right. Free enterprise is the greatest anti-poverty program ever created–benefitting millions like my parents who came to the United States in search of greater freedom and greater opportunities.

Kasparov then explained the Soviet Union ultimately failed because it couldn’t effectively compete with American free enterprise:

Yes, the free market can be cruel and it is by definition unequal. It has winners and losers. It also sparks the spirit of creativity that humanity desperately needs to flourish in our ever-increasing billions. Failure is an essential part of innovation and the free market. Of every 10 new companies, perhaps nine will fail in brutal Darwinian competition. A centrally-planned economy cannot imitate this engine of creative destruction because you cannot plan for failure. You cannot predestine which two college dropouts in a garage will produce the next Apple.

Mr. Kasparov prefers free enterprise to a centrally-planned economy because the latter utterly failed and led to ruin in his former homeland. Sure, the Soviet Union may have had some great gymnasts, cosmonauts, and vodka distillers–but they pale in comparison to America’s countless innovators. The Soviet Union never could have produced the iPhone, Uber, or Starbucks; only America has bred an environment that invites creativity, ingenuity, and individual success to flourish.

Sanders supporters cling to their safe spaces, echo chambers, and trigger warnings to avoid the realization that socialism, when implemented and tried, fails. It’s troubling they dismiss Garry Kasparov’s telling account of life behind the Iron Curtain.

Over 100 million people died at the hands of totalitarian and collectivist regimes in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America in the 20th century. The false notion of “equality” found in these societies ultimately divided people, permitted crimes against humanity, and resulted in misery–all in the name of socialism.

No, socialism doesn’t need to be retried or “perfected” once again in a place–let alone here in the United States. It should be rejected and permanently thrown into the dustbin of history.


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