What Is the Real Difference Between Communism and Socialism?
Those of us that have lived under communism have a riddle we like to spout off. “What’s the difference between a communist and a socialist? The socialist hasn’t yet decided on how to kill you.”
During our last election cycle, we had a candidate who claimed he wanted democratic socialism. How does that work? Do you vote who starves? I suppose it was ironic during the New Hampshire primaries that Bernie Sanders did a majority of the work getting his message out and getting most of the delegates but then Hillary, who did almost no work in New Hampshire comes away winning the state with “Super Delegates.”
These proponents of Democratic Socialism insist that it has no communist basis yet the former name of Communist Romania was Socialist Republic of Romania. For those of us old enough to remember Russia’s former name (USSR-Union of Soviet Socialist Republic), it was another communist regime bragging how socialist it was.
On that note let’s be fair and compare the two. For ease of reference, I will use some of Bernie’s platforms.
In April 2015, the Associated Press quoted him:
What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels. This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans … You know, this country just does not belong to a handful of billionaires.”
That sounds nice but now let’s look at what previous “visionaries” said in their day. Vladimir Lenin was the father of the communist movement in Russia. In fact, he was considered socialist but he brought it forth via the Bolsheviks, Russian Communist Party. Lenin saw in Russia the potential, and desperate need, for socialism. The oppression endured by the Russian people was extreme. Peasants barely survived tilling the fields of wealthy landlords, and workers labored 14-hour days in the industrial sweatshops of Russia’s capitalists. Frequent uprisings against these conditions rocked city and countryside, and the people were open to revolutionary ideas. Lenin showed the people that the source of their oppression was capitalism, and the solution lay in socialism.
Deja-vu? What eventually happened to this socialism? Who took over after Lenin? A man that killed more of his own countryman that all that died in WWII, Joseph Stalin.
Bernie’s plan to redistribute the wealth was to tax the rich. Who amongst us thinks the rich alone will be taxed? Who are the rich? Those that own business: banks, manufacturing, food processing, etc.
Let’s take a look at what the communists did when they first took power in Romania.
One of the first actions taken by the Communist Party in Romania soon after coming to power was the so-called “nationalization” of private property. The term itself was coined by the Communist propaganda, to reflect the ideology they were trying to impose: the property was “returned” to the nation, i.e. to the people who helped build it in the first place. In reality, nationalization meant the confiscation of property from upper social classes (deemed “the enemies of the working class”), without any retribution or compensation.
The first phase started with the confiscation of commercial property: banks, factories, mines, workshops, shipyards, media and telecommunication companies, insurance and transportation companies, etc. The National Bank and all credit institutions were the first to be nationalized in December 1946, followed by the rest of private commercial property on June 11, 1948, when a law was adopted by the Communist government of that time. This also marked the switch to a planned economy, which was to be directed and supervised by the “State Committee for Planning”.
What Sanders calls the average American the Romanian communists called the working class. Sander’s democratic socialism wants to punish entrepreneurs. His version is to strip them of their hard earned money. In Romania, they were sentenced to prison for “having undeclared inventory and for selling goods without an invoice.”
It didn’t end there in 1950 the communist Parliament passed decree 92.
Decree 92 for the nationalization of real estate, issued on April 19, 1950, and published in the Official Bulletin, issue 36/April 20, 1950:
In order to support the strengthening and the development of the socialist economy of the People’s Republic of Romania,
In order to ensure the good management of the housing sector, which has been subjected to degradation through sabotage by rich landlords and exploiters who own a large number of houses.
Does that sound like Bernie’s top 1%? When the Party’s appetite for more land and houses guess who they came after next? The working class.
As in economics, the Bernie propagandists feel health care should be equal across the board. No matter the cost, no matter the person, no matter the government intrusion into your personal life healthcare must be State run. Although that may sound like something from Sanders’ campaign trail that was actually a similar mantra of the Bolsheviks of 1917.
In Old Russia, medical care was a consumer-oriented business. Doctors’ incomes and their standard of living were totally dependent upon professionalism and reputation in the wider community. Patients decided which doctor to use, which hospital to go to, and which pharmaceutical products to trust. Doctors worked hard to establish their reputation, an important part of which came from providing charity care for the poor. Expectations of high income, along with the status of being a member of a respected profession, generated strong competition for acceptance into medical schools. Contrary to the socialist myth-makers, medical care in Imperial Russia was widely available and provided in a fairly cost-efficient manner. Both the profit motive of the competitive marketplace and the spirit of charity assured the provision of quality medical services throughout Russian society.
As you see, the only difference between socialism and communism is the spelling.