Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series where Colorado Times Recorder contributor Gregory Hill asks readers to email him their concerns about the Biden administration in order to engage in meaningful conversation. Read the first “Conversation About Socialism” here.
Hi. Remember me? I’m back, and I’m still talking to my brave volunteer, Leona, about the idea of socialism. Over the past six months, I’ve discovered that conversations of this nature (that is, conversations between people with completely divergent ideas of the established facts of existence) can take a long time to unfold. Good news: things are about to start moving much more quickly. There might even be a moment or two of conflict to sweeten the pot. Onward.
When we last parted, Leona had asked me if I had “any actual examples of where Socialism, as a form of government has actually worked.”
Here’s my reply to Leona:
Does your definition of “Socialism as a form of government” include the governments that have forms of socialized health care? If so, then here’s a partial list (I’m limiting myself to nations that presently exist, as any that have perished would not qualify as “working”):
Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guernsey, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Oceania, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Scotland, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, and Wales.
Clearly, this reflects a great variety of styles of governance, ranging from democracies all the way to dictatorships. And while there are exceptions (China and Cuba stand out, for instance), I’m sure that we can agree that the vast majority of the countries I listed do not, strictly speaking, employ Socialism as their exclusive, overarching political ideology.
Do all of these countries “work”? I suppose that depends on how you define “work”. For example, all of these countries exist, and I suspect they’ll continue to exist for many decades to come. So, as far as persistence goes, they do work. If we’re looking exclusively at gross national product, the listed countries range, from “struggling” to “thriving”. When we include factors like quality of life, state of the environment, human rights, respect for intellectual property, or whether or not a government endorses any particular theology, things start to get complicated. Point being, unless we use extremely simplistic arguments, it’s not that easy to define what is a “working” government.
But that’s not really the point. No matter one’s criteria for “a working country”, socialized health care has clearly been successful in dozens of countries (pretty much all of Europe, for example) and within a wide variety of systems of governance. Given that the vast majority of these nations are not teetering toward fascism, it would seem that there’s little correlation between socialized healthcare and the downfall of humanity.
COMING SOON: Leona’s exasperated reply.