AOC’s Dangerous Obsession With Socialism Needs to End

From when she was first elected to Congress in 2018 until now, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (often referred to as AOC) has religiously dedicated her career to championing social and racial justice in the House. Among her most heavily emphasized issues are societal wealth disparity and the maltreatment of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Her proposed solutions to these issues are to tax the wealthiest Americans at rates of as much as 70 percent, as well as the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Her recent projects include proposing the Green New Deal, which, if implemented, would result in an emphasized effort to eliminate carbon emissions from the United States by 2030. She also advocates for free public college and free healthcare for all Americans. 

Many political scientists emphasize that AOC differs from other politicians because her campaign survives off of the financial contributions of grassroots donors instead of large corporations. From being self-made, to becoming the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress—the story of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the ideas that she fights for are idolized by millions of Americans. Because she has seen life from a perspective most people in Congress have not, she is able to fight for the socially and politically underrepresented majority of every-day, working-class Americans. Whether you are a member of the working-class struggling to make ends meet, or a college student dreading your next loan withdrawal—AOC will have your back and fight for you. 

While Ocasio-Cortez has done quite a good job of painting herself as the new poster girl of the Democratic party, one must understand that while she is intelligent, successful and relatable, her policies embracing socialism are extremely dangerous for the future of America. With her rise to power, she has really popularized this concept of ‘democratic socialism’ and the many alleged benefits that it will bring to this country. Therein lies the problem: socialism doesn’t work.

History and human nature have proven time and again that socialism in the United States, if implemented, would fail miserably. While Ocasio-Cortez self-identifies as a democratic socialist, which many argue is different from socialism on its own, in reality, it would be  akin to identifying as an atheist while still worshipping God and wearing a Holy Cross pendant. It simply doesn’t work like that. 

In order to better understand the inconsistency within this concept, one must break down the words ‘democratic’ and ‘socialism’ individually. Webster Dictionary defines democracy as “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” To put it shortly: a government made for the people, by the people. Socialism, on the other hand, is defined as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” What many people refuse to see is that, in order for socialism to be implemented, a government must be given an immense amount of power and authority so that it could properly oversee the distribution of goods and services. It doesn’t matter if the democracy aspect is present at all—if you want any form of socialism in your country, you are going to have to surrender many of your rights to a powerful government. 

If you want certain benefits, stimulus checks, free education and healthcare, you need to understand that all of these things are going to be overseen by your government, not private corporations. When the government is in complete power, average citizens have a lot more at stake; friendly reminder that the government can sentence you to death if they need or want to. And given the unjust history of how the United States government operates—from the Civil Rights Act not being implemented until the 1960s despite slavery being abolished 100 years earlier, to the genocide of millions of American Indians that they still try to cover up, to the many Japanese Americans that were thrown into internment camps during World War II, to the countless war crimes that happened in the Middle East during the last 10 years—it’s safe to say that our government cannot be trusted. If America abused this much power under a capitalist democratic republic, I don’t even want to imagine what would happen if socialism became a reality in this country. Historically and psychologically speaking, the abuse of power is the exact reason why socialism has never succeeded in any country. It narrows down to the notion that putting people into a position of high and monetary power will inevitably cause serious abuse of authority. Additionally, implementing any form of socialism in America is the ultimate betrayal of all the values the Founding Fathers built this country on and which were heavily emphasized in the Constitution. Their underlying intention was to prevent our government from having too much power.

When Fidel Castro rose to power, people cheered as he promised his citizens a life devoid of stress, poverty and inequality, proclaiming capitalism to be the root of all evils. After Vladimir Lenin had the Czar and his family executed, he promised the people of Russia worker’s benefits, and the formal separation of church and state. He additionally implemented an eight hour work day, and promised free and secular organization to all Russian children. Embracing feminism before its time, Lenin introduced laws that gave women economic autonomy from their husbands and removing restrictions on divorce. Politicians like Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are currently promising similar things; a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, free healthcare, free public education, worker’s benefits… Sound familiar?

But what was the result? Lenin and Castro are now some of the most hated men in the world. These are the men who left millions dead, and turned even more into political refugees. In these countries, people may have been getting their worker’s benefits and free stuff, but it was all at the cost of the millions of lives that were lost in the process. A common theme with socialists is that they blame everyone but themselves for their problems. In the Soviet Union starting from 1923-1969, over 58 million people were killed in labor camps. Most of these people were Jews, Christians, leaders of faith, people who criticized the government, people of the LGBTQ+ community and innocent civilians who simply didn’t want to comply with the Soviet Union’s absurd lifestyles. My mother, an immigrant from the Soviet Union, recalled that these people were easy targets because they would defy the norms and expectations of Russian people. Jewish and Christrian children didn’t want to stand in their classrooms every morning with their hands over their hearts as they sang and praised the evil leaders who took their parents and grandparents from them. Little did they know that by not complying, they would ultimately pay the same price. From a young age, schoolchildren were also taught to condemn any form of religion, often memorizing little poems and chants that helped strengthen their hatred. They were additionally encouraged to report practicing religious figures to authorities for which the children would be rewarded. My mother can still recall the day that a girl in her class wore a small cross necklace that was later noticed by her teacher. The girl was called to the middle of the classroom and was subsequently shunned and humiliated for her faith, as her teacher went on about how Christianity was for the old and uneducated. In a similar instance, my mother recalls some of her peers throwing pebbles at an old rabbi as he tried to make his way home after purchasing groceries. 

The biggest factor that leads to people succumbing to this sort of evil is a sense of high power and authority. This was perfectly demonstrated in Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, in which the psychologist got a group of innocent college boys to mercilessly harass and torture their peers without even realizing how inappropriate their behavior was until external intervention was sought out. Appalled and disgusted at how he allowed things to get to that point, Zimbardo went on and wrote a five hundred page book called The Lucifer Effect. The only question that he needed answers to was simple: What is it that causes decent people to become evil? Intensive research on powerful historical figures—especially powerful, evil historical figures—gave him an answer: positions of immense power and authority can inevitably cause decent and good-hearted people to turn evil because they feel like they could get away with doing anything. The most interesting part of his book? Most of the evil men he researched were socialists. 

An example of this was Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin was a merciless psychopath who had no regard for human life. Stalin eliminated anyone and everyone who was a threat to his power, especially his former allies. Being in direct possession of people’s money, land, resources and welfare allowed him to feel a god-like level of superiority over his citizens, which marked the start of his terrifying abuse of power. Because Russia was a socialist country, he was able to get away with his many atrocities. People can do the unthinkable when they feel like they have all the power in the world. 

The total death toll under Stalin will never truly be known, but historians estimate that during his brutal 30 year regime, the number ranged from 20-60 million people. His known antics were purges, expulsions, forced displacements, imprisonment in labor camps, manufactured famines, torture, mass murder and massacres, and, of course, Russian participation in World War II, which resulted in a death toll of approximately 27 million. In any other country, Stalin would be tried for crimes against humanity and potentially executed, but with the amount of power he had, he could easily pull a ‘reverse card’ on authorities and instead have them executed for criticizing him. The fact is that socialist nations are more prone to becoming dictatorships; modern examples include North Korea, Uzbekistan and, more recently, Belarus. 

This is simply the cost of allowing governments to have too much power; once people in positions of authority get comfortable, they will start to test boundaries to see how much they can get away with doing. Once people start catching on to the abuse of power—which in socialist countries is often manifested as revocation of basic human rights—the government will begin blaming other people for their faults in order to get away with doing the unthinkable. For example, Soviet authorities blamed Jews and Christians for any national misfortunes. Jews were blamed for hoarding money, while Christians were condemned for brainwashing the nation into their ‘simple mindedness.’

The amount of hatred and persecution in the USSR was unparalleled, and what made it even worse was that the government encouraged it. The government oppressed minorities because they knew they were easy targets and because they had the right to silence anyone by execution or by throwing them into a labor camp. This is a very common and upsetting parallel seen in every single socialist country. When people begin protesting and speaking out against the injustices the government puts them through, they are silenced. The oppressive government can’t risk looking bad and being exposed for crimes against humanity in front of the whole world, which is why First Amendment rights don’t exist in socialist nations. Why are people surprised that nobody is doing anything about the genocide of Uighur Muslims in China? It’s because if any Chinese civilian attempts to step up and help, they know they will be met with the same fate as those being persecuted. As the famous quote goes: people shouldn’t be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people. This axiom is not a reality in places where governments are in positions of immense power over their citizens. 

Now, let’s break socialism down from an economic standpoint. Financially speaking, socialism is an unreliable system because it promises an array of benefits at the cost of other people’s labor. Right now, AOC is planning on taxing the wealthiest of Americans at rates as high as seventy percent. This is exactly how you run out of money within a decade. You can only rely on rich people’s money for so long before they either run out of funds or decide to move somewhere else so that they don’t need to pay obscene amounts of taxes. When the government inevitably runs out of funding, it just ends up printing more money to fulfill their promises of a stress free life, leading to serious inflation which is often rendered at about one million percent. To this day, Venezuela, a socialist country, has some of the highest inflation rates in the world. In order to keep up with the inflation, stores needed to raise their prices, which then resulted in the government shutting them down. This is because the whole point of socialism is to not allow one person to have more money than the other. If one store is making a bigger profit than the neighboring one, it causes a wealth disparity, and is therefore unacceptable in a socialist economy. Taking away from private businesses always leads to mass shortages because there is subsequently no longer a way to keep up with demand. Towards the end of the Soviet regime, my mother talked about how a singular slice of black bread and butter cost her $25 in American dollars. 

People often bring up Scandinavia and Denmark as places where socialism ‘succeeded’. In her campaigns, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez always brings these countries up as an example where ‘democratic socialism’ is perfectly implemented and people live happy and stress-free lives. While this is true—Scandinavian people have the highest life satisfaction rates in the world—this is also where a lot of people get caught in what I like to call the ‘socialism scam.’ The reality is that these countries are not remotely socialist. They are progressive. And yes, there is a huge difference between the two. The reality is that in these countries, private businesses are left alone to the point that governments don’t even set a basic minimum wage. On the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Iceland ranked 5th, Denmark ranked 6th, Sweden ranked 8th and Norway ranked 12th.  The United States ranked 17th. The results show that these counties have even less business regulations than the United States. Scandinavia and its neighboring countries offer large welfare states, but these benefits are funded by free enterprise, not the government. In a public statement, the Prime Minister of Denmark stated that they are far from a planned socialist nation because Denmark is strictly a market economy. The shocking reality that many fail to see is that these nations are even more capitalist than the United States. The notion that these countries are democratic socialist is not only incredibly false, but also very misleading and damaging. People like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have successfully convinced an entire generation of Americans that socialism works by using these countries as examples, when the reality is that socialism never even existed in these places to begin with. 

Despite me being a fierce critic of the democratic socialist movement in America and politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I just want to point out that I do not think that she has ever had malicious intentions. She genuinely does all she can to create long-term change in this country, which is very noble. This woman has accomplished so much in her young life, and despite me not agreeing with her proposed solutions, I will not sit here and tear her down like a lot of her opposers do. I just hope that someday she understands that the price we will pay to repair all the injustices caused by this country with socialism can and will result in more, if not worse injustices. Karl Marx had good intentions when he championed Marxism, communism, and socialism, but he unknowingly created a paradox. He decided to eliminate all of the evil and greedy CEOs and shareholders by putting them in charge of the government instead.