Tag: North Korea

“Not Real Socialism” is a Valid Argument

By Ian Brzeski | United States

When referring to countries such as Venezuela, the Soviet Union, North Korea, and other countries that have experimented with socialism and ultimately failed, the same excuse of “that was not real socialism” is continuously uttered by those that advocate for socialist policies. While that excuse is technically correct, it is not in the way that most people would think. Yes, it is true that these countries ended up failing in a state where pure socialist thought is no longer in place. It did indeed go from “real socialism” straight to “not real socialism.” So, what happened?

What happened was the fact that merely maintaining a “real” socialist state is impossible. The constant pattern throughout the history of experimenting with socialism is that these countries do admittedly start with real socialism, but then everything turns sour. There is a simple reason for this, and that is because power corrupts. What socialism is doing is giving the government complete control over the private sector to have equality and prosperity for everybody.

Putting all economic thought which disproved the validity of socialist economic theory aside, let’s say that economically speaking socialism is able to flourish. Redistributed wealth, prosperity to all, a bustling economy, free healthcare for everybody, and everyone living happily ever after. All of this sounds too good to be true as if it were only possible in a dream.

In reality, it really is too good to be true because, inevitably, there is going to be some ruthless dictator who will end up becoming in charge. Think about it; the driving force behind socialist thought is that people are inherently corrupt and always seek to exploit and take advantage of others, so they need a government to regulate their actions to be able to ensure that no exploitation goes on and that there will be complete equality. The problem is that these very same people that socialism identifies as the problem are in charge of the government. There will always, and I mean always, be a corrupt, vicious, disgusting, and morally perplexed person who will end up becoming in charge of the government. Guarantee that an ethically sound Jesuslike figure would always be able to be in charge of the government, then maybe there would not be a constant and blatant hatred of government by libertarians and other limited government advocates.

Government rightfully gets a bad rep because it always seems that power hungry people are seeking to seize control. The government in itself is the definition of power which aims to monopolize violence and potentially other industries. Wouldn’t it seem that being in government is the ideal job for any person? People inherently want to be in power or have control. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem here is too much power will end up corrupting even the most thoughtful and generous person.

Regardless of the initial intentions of a person who seeks to be in charge, the power of holding office will unavoidably lead them to use their power towards personal gain. Examples of this include practically every single socialist leader who promised the betterment of their society. Equality, peace, and prosperity are always promised but always seem to fail in being delivered. Who knows if leaders such as Josef Stalin or Hugo Chavez had true, honest, and good intentions from the start and their influx into power ended up corrupting them or if they had these horrible aspirations from the beginning? That does not matter. What matters is that these people in charge ended up using their power to directly or indirectly commit awful atrocities towards their people through murder or starvation. There is a reason as to why all these socialist and communist leaders were wealthy while the rest of their country was poor and starving. The government will always end up acting in its self-interest and not in the interest of the people.

Bernie Sanders in 2011 praised how great Venezuela was doing as a socialist state and how the United States could learn from them. Now that the government is murdering and starving its citizens, he seems to discredit Venezuela and say that it is no longer real socialism. Yes while that may be technically true, he fails to realize that real socialism is impossible to maintain and will always end up turning into this “fake” socialist state for the reasons mentioned above.

Besides its economic faults and the fundamental immorality of socialism, corruption and flawed human nature are principal reasons as to why socialism will always end up failing. Socialism is quite popular among people because of what it promises to deliver. The only problem here is that the deliverance of these promises is quite impossible.


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“Not Real Socialism” Is An Excuse for Bad Economics

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

When looking at the empirical evidence for economic systems, socialism/communism seems to be in dead last. Time and time again, socialist governments have met economic demise. The Soviet Union collapsed after starving massive amounts of people. Communist regimes throughout history have been notorious for massacring enemies of the socialist order. In the present, the Venezuelan state has hyperinflated the currency and is causing widespread economic degradation in their country. North Korea is held as the earth’s boogeyman of unfreedom.

But when confronted with this historical evidence, a proponent of any of the many forms of socialism will claim that it was “not real socialism.” They explain that if one small adjustment had been made to the economic-political order, we would have seen the worker’s utopia by now. Yet we have not. The twentieth century taught us that statism is a failure. Yet we have not heeded this lesson. Hoppe explains:

To this day, socialists claim that “true” socialism has not been refuted by the empirical evidence, and everything would have turned out well and unparalleled prosperity would have resulted, if only Trotsky’s, or Bucharin’s, or better still their very own brand of socialism, rather than Stalin’s, had been implemented.

At this early point, a leftist reader may make the claim that I am not using the terms “socialism” and “communism” correctly. When I use these words, I refer to a system where property is not owned privately. It is either owned by the state, the community, the workers, or any other body that is not private individuals/firms. If you as the reader brand yourself a socialist yet still believe in private property rights, I have no problem with your version of socialism. This is not the case of most socialists, though. They believe property should be owned by one of the aforementioned groups, rather than private individuals.

The Austro-libertarian critique of socialism is not purely based off of empiricism. It is a two-pronged critique, consisting of the Misesian problem of economic calculation and the Hayekian problem of knowledge. Both of these apply to any socialist/communist system that moves away from private property rights. They are not specific to any historical instance of communism or socialism. They merely apply to the economic theories behind such a system.

This puts pressure onto those that posit that socialism “is good and theory and bad in practice.” Its theory is where the Austro-libertarian critique is aimed. A similar empty statement is that “it would be good if it worked.” Well obviously – if socialism brought ultimate economic prosperity it would be good. But one of the conditions for socialism cannot be its success, yet this seems to have been tacked on to the definition. With such a definition, every failed socialistic regime can easily be brushed off as “not real socialism.” But the argument based on this definition is ultimately bankrupt for a socialist engaging in such an argument is merely playing with a bit of rhetorical trickery.

The Misesian side of the Austrian critique of socialism focuses on that issue of calculation. In the market, firms are required to create products that consumers are demanding. They can tell if they are by measuring the relationship between the total earnings and the costs. If costs exceed earnings, there is a loss, and the firm knows that it is not serving consumer demand. If earnings exceed costs, there is profit, and the firm will continue its present profitable action.

When the state is providing a good or service, it does not know if it is serving consumers. Because the state takes taxes and then produces, it does not need to worry about being profitable. Its earnings are secure because of its coercive nature. Thus, any bureaucracy faces an issue of unknown allocation. This includes any socialist agency that the state runs. The more processes of productions that are nationalized, the more resources are misallocated. Hoppe continues:

In distinct contrast, socialism means to have no economy, no economizing, at all, because under these conditions monetary calculation and cost-accounting is impossible by definition. If no private property in the factors of production exists, then no prices for any production factor exist; hence, it is impossible to determine whether or not they are employed economically.

On the Hayekian side sits the problem of knowledge. Hayek detailed that centrally planned economies are bound to fail because the central planner cannot know what to produce. They cannot hold in their head the needs of every individual. They cannot look out for the best interests of everyone all the time. It is only sensible that such a centrally planned economy should be delegated to subsidiary authorities. But when it comes to the workings of individual firms, who knows better for the firm than the individual in charge of the firm.

It does not matter if you define socialism as something different than what the historical instances have been. As long as you advocate for a system based upon the removal of private property rights and favor state/community ownership, there will inevitably be negative results. The state or commune cannot effectively allocate resources and satisfy the needs and wants of everyone. Socialism is ultimately a failure based simply off of its core characteristics.


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An Unprecedented Peace Summit With High Ratings. Now What?

By Craig Axford | United States

To give you some idea just how much of a priority the Korean Peninsula really is to the Trump administration, it just got around to nominating an ambassador to South Korea on May 23rd, about three weeks before Trump’s unprecedented peace summit with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. In fact, as of May 25th only 84 of the 188 career and political ambassadorship positions the president is empowered to fill had either ambassadors or nominees according to the American Foreign Service Association.

While talks between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will undoubtedly help to thaw tensions for a time, peace takes more than a handshake. Frankly, neither North Korea’s leader or President Trump is all that interested in true peace. They were meeting in Southeast Asia for a photo op each desperately wanted for their respective domestic audiences and little more.

As President Obama could have told Trump, and perhaps even did but he just wasn’t listening, negotiating a nuclear deal involves years of planning and effort. This president doesn’t do that. His neglect of the State Department leaves him with a less than adequate team to work out such details. Meanwhile, John Bolton, the president’s National Security Advisor and a well-known hawk, is standing in the wings looking for the first opportunity to blow the whole effort up should it start getting off the ground.

It doesn’t take a psychic to predict what the future is likely to look like here. Trump will come home thumping his chest having “accomplished what no president has before,” a meeting with a North Korean leader. He’ll never mention and his base won’t care that the reason such a meeting has never taken place is past presidents wanted the North Koreans to change at least a few facts on the ground in exchange for such a meeting.

Trump was willing to give the North Koreans an unconditional meeting so he could have his place in history. The foreign policy implications of the meeting never even entered his mind. We should be expecting a tweet regarding the ratings for the peace summit at any moment.

Having provided the world’s worst regime a greater measure of legitimacy and achieved his place in history books, tensions should remain low for a while. Neither government has any real incentive to invest much political capital in working out anything like complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID). The statement coming out of this meeting is certainly a far cry from that.

But even if CVID did get worked out, there remains the problem of the tens of thousands of long-range artillery sitting just north of the DMZ aimed at Seoul. True peace would require their removal as well. Both the media and the public ought to know better than to think any of this could have been worked out in a 35 minute face-to-face meeting between two leaders with a reputation for bluster.

Everyone agrees that the worst possible outcome here is conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Such an eventuality would be very unlikely to remain isolated to the two Koreas and could very quickly escalate to the use of nuclear weapons. Should such an event occur, Donald Trump’s name will replace Neville Chamberlain’s as our best example of an appeaser.

But Neville Chamberlain’s primary sin was naivete. He, at least, was motivated by a desire for peace even if he should have known a man like Hitler wasn’t really all that interested. Trump is inexperienced to be sure, but it’s narcissism that’s his Achilles heel. If diplomacy mattered at all to him he would have appointed someone other than Rex Tillerson to be his first secretary of state, or at least would have instructed him to make filling key positions in the State Department a top priority.

The best we can hope for now is a slightly more tolerant status quo than we witnessed during the first few months of Trump’s tumultuous presidency. Fortunately, that’s also far more likely than war. The North Koreans will still have their guns pointed squarely at downtown Seoul and will still have at least as many nukes as they have now on inauguration day in January 2021.

Even before the handshake, Trump’s ad hoc foreign policy had led Russia and China to ease the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, and that will probably continue without much opposition from Washington unless Trump sees some political advantage to making an issue out of it. In other words, the Singapore summit was just another episode in Trump’s reality TV presidency.


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Donald Trump, America, and the World are all Winning

By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

This one was for all the ‘resistance’ folks. For all those manic, sobbing, foaming at the mouth ‘Drumpf’ types. For the diversity seekers who balk at the thought of an ex-NBA star leading us hand in hand to the battleground of new ideas. This one was for them. And it was brilliant.

For those at wits end enough to think that this meeting wasn’t the work of madness and genius befitting a standing ovation, I feel pity. Not since Reagan stood at the foot of the Berlin Wall and demanded justice be done have we seen this sincere and tough a performance from a sitting president. Make no bones about it: this will be entombed forever in the book of memories as a moment, no matter how short, of victory for all. No wars. No bombs. No lies. Two enemies standing face to face and smiling. Forging a new partnership built on communication and gauged trust. Winning.

Pardon me if I sip the kool aid.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were supposed to be at war with North Korea by now. Remember? Mr. Trump’s infamous Twitter tirade in which he suggested he ‘had a bigger button’ than Kim was evidence enough to convince tired detractors of his true authoritarian intentions. The truth appears to be quite the opposite.

The handshake was firm from both men. The stares were eager. With his arm resting comfortably on Kim’s back, Trump guided our real live ‘arch-nemesis’ into a private room and reached a denuclearization agreement with the country we weren’t supposed to reach agreements with. There isn’t enough dust left in the meme cannon of time to make this one up. America, North Korea, and the world at large are winning.

Trump is an easy target for the drive-by media. He is a man of the old world caught at the crossroads of political corrective thought. The conventional wisdom told us this couldn’t be done. Not but six months ago we were promised disastrous war and institutional chaos by the talking heads and rag pushers at the towers of prescribed thought. And yet, in Singapore on Tuesday morning, there was Mr. Trump attempting to forge new lines of discourse. The smiles and niceties affirmed the tagline: Donald Trump, The United States and the world at large was winning.

It all happened so quick. The media was scrambling. After a short conversation, Trump and Kim signed a historic denuclearization deal. They couldn’t believe what had happened. North Korea wanted to deal and we had the President we needed to pull it off.

For those that hate our President, no hopeful handshake or peace agreement will ever be enough. They will attack Trump for dealing with a “dictator” they deem unworthy of his time while they chew on the entrails of the Obama era deals with Cuba & Iran. Already the creepy cabal was out in force bemoaning the new allegiance only days after Trump was firm in his critique of G7 members. For the news runners that dot the beltway, Trump will never satisfy. For the rest of us, we stood on chairs and drank champagne to the chorus of a thousand flickering photographs.

This is what the art of the deal looks like. This is what winning looks like. Brash, rough, and always pushing the button of your opponent. While Trump’s no-nonsense dealings at the G7 proved a ghastly site to those that call the TV channels home, a clear message had been sent to Kim: Trump meant business. For the intellectual elite who hold the sanctity of decorum like pearls around their lily-white necks, the only explanation for Trump’s twitter tirades was an acute exasperation of mania. For the more open-minded it grew apparent over the past few months that it wasn’t war Trump had in mind but a media event with him and Kim accomplishing the thing no other president had come close to since Carter: peace, in our terms, on the Korean Peninsula.

The American people, for all the mistrials of their military leaders, are a peaceful lot. When you talk to the common person in the streets they will tell you that they hold no hatred for North Korea. They will speak optimistically, as Rodman did, of a future without war where our exchanges are not met by bombs but through love, harmony and words. What Trump and Kim accomplished in their brief encounter on Tuesday is a firm step in that direction.

Against the odds, and with nobody in the media complex giving this trip the sort of fair critique it deserved, Trump looked sharp, spoke in upbeat terms and established a new line of discussion that will hopefully make our world a better place. The people of North Korea have lived under a homicidal tyranny for the better part of 100 years and this could very well be a chance at freedom and capitalism in the years to come. It appears the country is ready to start winning.

It was by no chance that the meeting was held in Singapore. In the 1960’s Singapore was destined to be brushed into the back annals of history. It was their progressive stance on free trade and open cultural boundaries with the West that helped establish them as key players in Asian and global markets. For a North Korean society plagued by a lack of economic and societal choice, this could be the opportunity for quick ascension into the middle class for everyday North Korean families.


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North Korean Sanctions Must Go

By Jadon Buzzard | United States

We often hear of the gruesome tyranny exhibited by the North Korean regime. The citizens of the country are starving as their government continues to siphon every ounce of economic activity into their devious nuclear programs. Liberty in the country is virtually nonexistent, as property rights, freedom of expression, and human life are irreverently swept aside by the horrendous dictator, Kim Jong Un. North Koreans are legitimately suffering, and we ought to recognize that.

Sanctions, however, are not the answer to the ailments of the North Korean economy. We should be careful not to jump to policy decisions too hastily, lest we worsen the problem at hand. Unfortunately, that reaction to North Korea’s nuclear program seems to have been a common element of almost every US administration. Instead of thinking logically about what actions are both morally and pragmatically justifiable, citizens and officials alike often jump to conclusions about how the US must react to this “imminent” threat.

I contend that economic sanctions on the North Korean economy are both morally unjust and pragmatically unsustainable. The degrading effects these sanctions have on the Koreans’ quality of life far outweigh any benefit they provide in changing the North Korean regime. President Trump ought to abandon these practices and promote a more open exchange with the country.

There are a few reasons why the efficacy of sanctions ought to be called into question. But before we dive into those elements of the trade barrier in question, it would be prudent to examine several negative effects of sanctions on a society, both at a pragmatic and at a moral level.

Sanctions often result in a severe undermining of the quality of life of citizens in the targeted society. Trade creates wealth: there’s virtually no doubt about that. Mercantilism, on the other hand, which looks at trade a as a “zero-sum game”, is an outdated and harmful philosophy. Trade happens because of two (or multiple) individuals’ consent, and that consent only happens because both sides benefit. So, on an individual level, trade always benefits each individual that participates. This benefit is conferred even at a societal level. As individual wealth increases, societal wealth with increase. Trade encourages competition and innovation, which in turn enhances quality of life.

You can imagine what happens to the citizens of a nation when trade is restricted. The North Korean people are starving, and it’s because they lack access to high-quality goods. Most nations, including the US, have virtually closed off their borders with the country. This action is justified to many because we want to ensure that Kim Jong Un doesn’t “get richer” so he can make his nuclear weapons. But here’s the problem: a dictator is a dictator no matter how rich the people are. With or without sanctions, the North Korean government will continue to steal resources from its people in order to fund their nefarious activities. Sanctions only hurt the people, forcing them into a position of weakness.

And it goes further than that. By weakening the people of North Korea, sanctions actually make it harder to replace the Kim regime. The people lack the resources necessary for a revolt against their dictatorial leader. Rather than weakening the Kim regime, sanctions just make the North Korean government stronger by weakening its people.

However, there is also an immoral aspect to sanctions as. In essence, trade barriers violate individuals’ natural rights. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that property rights exist, meaning that it is immoral to steal. You own what you work for and trade for, as do I. If you think about it, sanctions run directly contrary to this idea. I decide whom I will trade with and how much I shall trade for, and it’s no one’s business to tell me or anyone else how I should spend my money. Trade barriers, in effect, allow the government to be the sole arbiter of the economy. They get to make the decisions, instead of the citizens who worked for their wealth.

A common counter-argument here involves the shouting of, “Well, under that logic you’d have to get rid of all taxes!” (cue scary music for effect). I agree: at least all federal taxes. It is not the government’s job to tell people how to act in the economy, granted that you refrain from violating another individual’s natural rights. Either way, the idea is fairly simple: either you believe in natural rights, and thus the evils of sanctions, or you do not believe in natural rights and utilize a sort of quasi-utilitarianism rule.

And that’s just the problem. Individuals and governments claim a belief in “rights,” but few really have one. Natural rights theory is inherently a deontological moral paradigm, or if not, a form of rule utilitarianism (which basically says adopt the universal rule that would provide the most happiness). Either way, you can’t accept the right to property in only certain instances. Doing so, of course, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the idea.

Now, even if sanctions somehow weakened the Kim regime (they don’t), citizens still ought to oppose them. Why? They are an unnecessary exertion of government force. The government is arbitrarily using force in order to prevent you from making a simple transaction. That’s similar to a hypothetical situation in which I pulled a gun on you in order to prevent you from buying from a grocer who was “mean to me.” Do I have the moral authority to do such a thing? Of course not! Likewise, the government also lacks this authority in matters of international trade, no matter who is doing the trading.

Overall, there are several major problems with sanctions imposed on the North Korean regime. Trade barriers produce severe inefficiencies in the market, causing the citizens of the targeted nation to grow weak, thereby making them less able to fight back against their oppressors. But equally important are the moral implications that arise when the government interferes in the market. Yes, our gut reaction is to shut down trade with evil regimes.

In spite of this, we must remember that behind that ruthless, dictatorial government, there lies an oppressed group of people, suffering from our actions. All liberty-minded individuals ought to oppose sanctions against North Korea, and should work to foster an open, rational relationship into the future. Such a vision will both remove illegitimate governmental interference and gradually begin to liberate the nation’s suffering.


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