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Socialism Demands Surrender of Freedom and Offers Government Orthodoxy in Return

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Tom Copeland

Much ink has been spilled discussing the economic impact of socialism. Indeed, I’ve spilled some of that ink myself – at least in digital form.

But beyond its crippling economic effects, socialism takes something of even greater value: our freedom. Consider the lessons from history. Bill Federer writes that in the former Soviet Union:

  • privacy was nonexistent
  • press was censored
  • free speech disappeared
  • healthcare was rationed
  • economy was regulated
  • private industry was collectivized
  • political dissent was punished
  • media and entertainment was propagandized
  • children’s education became indoctrination
  • marriage and families were subject to social engineering
  • religion was suppressed
  • human life was valued only by its usefulness to the soviet society

Why? Because socialism is not just – or even primarily – an economic matter. History demonstrates that economic freedom is directly tied to other freedoms and benefits. As offered by Kay Cole James, the president of the Heritage Foundation, these include “greater individual freedom, better health, more educational options, and a cleaner environment.” 

In contrast, a government that “knows best” when it comes to economics will soon assert its superiority when it comes to education, parenting, religious doctrine, and even human sexuality. 

These are not theoretical shifts, nor is this idle speculation about slippery slopes. Consider speech codes on university campuses. Consider the Ohio court that removed a 17-year-old girl from her parents when they objected to her receiving hormone treatments and declined to refer to her by the male name she had chosen. Consider the case of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips and other creative professionals, whom government officials have repeatedly targeted with threats of fines or even imprisonment because of their faith. Or consider the proposed federal Equality Act, which would impose the government’s view of sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide.

In short, socialism offers forced conformity to a leftist worldview, both economically and socially. And it is not an a la carte menu. If you’re still not convinced, consider this excerpt from Jarrett Stepman’s article, I Went to a Socialism Conference. Here Are My 6 Observations.     

"Socialists at the conference focused more on social change, rather than electoral politics, but there were still many core public policy issues that animated them; notably, “Medicare for All” and government run-health care, some kind of Green New Deal to stop global warming (and more importantly, abolish capitalism), open borders to increase class consciousness and promote transnational solidarity, removing all restrictions on—and publicly funding—abortion, and breaking down social and legal distinctions between the sexes.

"They were particularly able to weave their issues together through the thread of “oppressor versus oppressed” class conflict—for instance, supporting government-run health care meant also unquestioningly supporting unfettered abortion and transgender rights."

These words should gravely concern supporters of freedom. Socialism is being used as a vehicle for attacks on religious freedom, children, the family, and even biological realities. Let us not forget, a government that gains more control does not easily surrender it. And a government that controls the means of production and the distribution of wealth will soon use its power to regulate the means of existence and the distribution of ideas. 

Socialism hands the government the keys to our economy, our cultural institutions, and our most cherished possession: our freedom. We are blessed to live in America, in a constitutional republic that guarantees government protection of certain inalienable rights that are bestowed by our Creator. We must stand firm against political or cultural efforts to surrender this freedom or to transform the government from the guarantor of our rights to the source of those rights. 

Socialism pulls back innovation, disincentivizes success, and rewards failure. And it comes at a steep cost that we cannot afford to pay: our freedom.

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