A March survey from 1,700 Americans recently published by the Cato Institute foreshadows a few ominous signs for our Republic. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit that came out of the 2019 National Survey: Welfare, Work, and Wealth is the number of socialists who believe violence is acceptable to implement their political and policy goals. Here are the numbers:
47% of Strong Socialist Sympathizers Say Violence against the Rich Is Sometimes Justified.
About a fifth (17%) of Americans agree that “citizens taking violent action against the rich” is sometimes justified; 82% say it’s never justified. More than a third of strong liberals (36%) and Americans under 30 (35%) and nearly half (47%) of those who have very favorable attitudes toward socialism say violent action against the rich is sometimes justified.
One can clearly hear echoes of the sound from the guillotine during the French Revolution. A revolution that was very different from America’s brand of ordered liberty.
But why is socialism so often violent? Ronald Reagan offers some insight on the violence, particularly as it relates to the state or government against its own people. The line below is from his 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech:
A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And [America’s Founding Fathers] knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.
Maybe you’re one of those people who are inclined to say, well, sure, socialist revolutions in totalitarian Marxist countries are violent, but democratic-socialism is peaceful, loving, and a utopian paradise. Crashing that myth is Phillip W. Magness over at AEI in a superb piece titled, “Even Swedish Socialism was violent.”
Once the rights of the individual are eroded and personal property is seized, legalized plunder is unleashed. We often talk a lot about greed in society, and rightly so, but envy is too often neglected. If and when personal property rights are tossed aside, it’s certainly not that much of a stretch to justify violence against those with wealth and capital.
Class warfare has been a continual problem in this nation but has remained relatively checked because of our strong middle class. If a strong and vibrant middle class erodes here it would undoubtedly be lethal for our long-established property rights.
Citing the Cato survey, a recent piece in the Washington Examiner notes the consequences of all the recent punish the rich rhetoric on the campaign trail. The article pokes holes in the persistent the “rich must pay their fair share” narrative. Indeed, our federal tax code is quite progressive:
In fact, the top half of income earners currently pay 97% of all federal income taxes. Indeed, the ever-reviled “1%” pay 37% of all income taxes, despite earning just under 20% of national income. That’s almost twice their share.
Finally, over at Liberty Fund are some great words by the 19 & 20th century French journalist and politician Yves Guyot on the inherent violence and lawlessness in socialism. Guyot called socialism “a permanent menace to the liberty and security of citizens.”
Socialism is inherently violent because it relies on plunder and ultimately seeks to control people. It leads to a kind of authoritarianism that relies on ordering people what to do. The free market offers the people choice. Centralized planning is empowered by coercion.