When Socialism has failed (which it’s batting 100% right now) the proponents of Socialism keep repeating, “The right people weren’t in charge” or "it wasn't 'perfect' Socialism." Let’s set the record straight.
First of all, this is an argument on people controlling the system, or a system that guides the people.
When I talk about "People" I am talking specifically about individuals in positions of power and influence in a national-level government. These are the people who when they say "make this happen," others go and carry out the actions necessary to achieve that result.
When I talk about "Systems" I am talking about political and economic processes and concepts that large groups of people live and work under. Capitalism is an economic system that carries over into the political sphere through the concept of individual freedom. Socialism is a political system that carries over into the economic sphere by force and coercion. Communism is a hokey pipe dream that if we would manage to get there, would last all of 5 minutes.
Communism and Socialism are not the same political system. According to Marx, societies were supposed to “naturally progress” from Capitalism, to Socialism, before arriving at Communism.
Here are the definitions of those systems as I will relate here:
an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
2 c : a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably
The main point of Socialism was the centrally-planned economy, where committees formed by and answerable to the national government told the factories what to produce, decided what was built (roads, housing, schools, etc.) then controlled the distribution of those goods and services.
Consider this carefully: We have had a number of countries in the last century that had Socialist practicing Oligarchies, namely the Soviet Union and their Eastern Europe puppet states, North Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, North Korea, Rwanda, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and others.
All of them have either failed and reverted to another form of government, have moved into a modified "Capitalistic Socialist" government or are on the brink of failure and are struggling to survive. As I write this, citizens of North Korea and Venezuela are starving to death because the governments for those countries that control everything cannot produce enough food to feed anybody other than the elite. If you were to rank the countries of the world by the personal wealth and individual freedom of the citizens, the countries under a Socialist type of government are going to rank near or at the bottom.
If you were to bring up in a discussion any of these failures, Pro-Socialist Leftists have claimed either “That wasn’t ‘perfect Socialism’” or “the right people (i.e., them) weren’t in charge.” So, we shouldn’t use any of these points of data to say “Socialism doesn’t work.”
If you seriously believe or say either of those things, I’m not going to pop your balloon. I’m going to make that balloon explode by filling it with hydrogen and setting it on fire.
The main point here is if millions of lives are at stake, never hope that the "right person, in the right place, at the right time with the right motivations" is going to happen, because 99 times out of 100, it won't.
What we should focus on is a system that once it is set up, is self-sustaining, self-correcting, robust enough to have graceful failures rather than catastrophic failures* and most importantly, flexible enough to adapt to and withstand unusual changes.
Graceful failure: something happens, yet the system can still function to a limited degree. Think of a metal cup. You hit the lip of it with a hammer. The cup is dented, the capacity of the cup is reduced but it can still hold liquid. It's still a cup.
Catastrophic failure: A system cannot continue to function at all after something happens. Hit a glass cup on the edge with a hammer. It shatters and it is no longer a cup and thus unable to hold any liquid.
We as humans are imperfect, flawed beings. The best of us at their best day could not make nor run a system that comes close to perfection. Socialism and Communism are designed to be “perfect systems” where everything “just works perfectly.” Of course, in theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.
Capitalism, at its’ best is a kluge of patches, workarounds and hotfixes. It is held together by hope, sweat, positive thinking, vigorous wishes and lots of duct tape. The good news is, it works. Not perfectly, not by a long shot. However in the end it really is the best we have.
Socialism expects and requires people to act against their own best interests. People under such a system work hard and most of what they earn is confiscated. What is left is barely enough to survive, sometimes not even that much. People get the same no matter how hard they work to advance the collective. A citizen voicing their displeasure of the way things are can quickly earn themselves a bullet in the head. This is a system that is destructive to itself and the people who are forced to live under it. It has to feed on itself just to survive after a while it runs out of things to confiscate and consume, or in Margaret Thatcher’ words, “It runs out of other peoples’ money.”
And don’t give me that “the right people weren’t in charge” bullshit either. All of those Leftists who demanded that President Obama be given more and more power seemed genuinely shocked and scared to realize that the all-powerful, intrusive, overbearing, invasive, militarized federal government that they clamored for is now under the control of President Trump, most assuredly (in their eyes) not the right guy.
If a system requires “the right person in the right place at the right time” in order to work properly, it’s a very bad system because you are betting the right person will be in the right place, at the right time, with the right motivations to run things. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work in the future because to bet that way is a sucker’s bet at best. The odds of “right person/right place/right time” are slim to begin with. What about the guy currently at the top of the heap when the “right guy” comes along. Do you think the current guy will calmly give up his power and control to the new guy? I wouldn’t be on it. That’s Sucker’s Bet #2.
A system where a few people in government who control the outputs of the entire country, what is made, how its’ made, where do the products go, is impossible to manage because the allocation of resources or products will be hit or miss at best (more missing than hitting). A top-down system like this needs a perfect data acquisition network to deliver the proper and correct information in a timely manner. That system will never exist. A bumbling bureaucratic system like this cannot adapt to changes. Invariably the wrong things will be made due to incomplete/bad information given to the controllers. Think of your brain having to specifically allocate where every blood cell goes to which alveoli in your lungs to pick up oxygen, how much to pick up and what cell to deliver it’s oxygen.
Or, we could have a system that lets the individual choose for themselves, good or bad. In this case, the individual blood cell pick where to get the oxygen and where to deliver it. In the end, it all evens out and the brain is free to do things like use the body to gather food and not walk into lamp posts.