Socialism, Minority Groups, and Personal Liberties
Socialists have managed to acquire the loyalty of a coalition of disparate groups by championing the principle of personal liberty. Especially in the United States, many women, disabled, gay people, transgender people, racial and ethnic minorities, and immigrants are among the proud supporters of the socialist cause, foolishly believing that capitalism or the free market is antithetical to their livelihood or lifestyles.
They could not be more wrong. Unfortunately, under socialism, people are not self-owners; they belong to the state.
The state owns everyone’s bodies under socialism. No example is more extreme than the gulags of the Soviet Union, where the state sent millions to forced-labor camps in which about 1.6 million died. The individual was merely a producer good in the state’s grand schemes. In current and former socialist countries, the minority groups that support socialism experienced this as well.
For example, in Dr. Paul Kengor’s book, Takedown, he retells the Bolsheviks’ history concerning the most cherished of modern women’s rights: abortion, or the right to choose. The Bolsheviks did legalize abortion once taking power (at that point, it helped wither away the family), but Joseph Stalin, under the fear of depopulation, outlawed abortion in 1936.
This ban continued until Stalin died and Nikita Khruschev’s more progressive administration revoked it in 1955. On the flip side, Fidel Castro’s socialist regime forced abortions as a means for cutting back on risky pregnancies. Additionally, through China’s one-child policy, many of the state’s abortions are compelled in what Kengor describes as “one of the most severe infringements on family life ever inflicted by a government on its people.”
Despite the right to choose being supported by feminists of socialist countries, it is among many of the rights that go by the wayside. Any instance of women being granted the right to choose merely means that the natural rate of abortion was aligned with the goals of the state, or the rates were tolerable.
Convenience, not principle, becomes the criterion for rights. Births become a statistic to the socialist tsar. Whenever births exceed what the directors believe to be the optimal level of births, abortion is allowed or even forced; if births are below what is desired, then abortion is prohibited. There is no room for the rational calculation of individuals in family planning. The socialist woman is not ultimately the owner of her body—the state is, and it exercises that power arbitrarily and totally.
Antifeminist abortion regulations bleed into “ableism” as well. Prior to China’s ending its one-child policy, prenatal screening was successfully used to detect children with Down syndrome so that they may be terminated. This may not immediately seem like socialist management. However, given that families would be less willing to bring a child into the world if it is disabled in some way, parents would maximize the one-child policy by opting to terminate the pregnancy in favor of a more “desirable” child. It is obvious that the socialist management of women’s bodies is to blame for the desire to terminate disabled children.
Given the prevalence of abortion, especially compulsory abortion, in socialist countries as well as the attitude against the disabled, mentally or physically disabled children become a burden on the state rather than on individual parents. To the bureaucrat, these children are merely a statistic. Ordering an abortion is nothing to them but numbers.
Moving away from the abortion issue, those with unorthodox sexual desires have not had a good time under socialist regimes either. Kengor notes, “the Bolsheviks were rooting out the slightest traces of so-called culture cancers such as prostitution and ‘homosexualism.’” Stalin even criminalized homosexuality in 1934. Castro’s Cuba locked up gays in the name of healthcare. As AIDS spread to the island, Castro imprisoned gays in sanitariums against their will, and Che Guevara personally executed and tortured gays as well.
Again, this is all about the public. You do not own your body under socialist regimes. If you own your body, you can spread diseases, and that is a threat to the “public” health regime. Gays were routinely subjected to this violation of human rights under socialism under unjust pretenses.
Regarding racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants, the Soviets were just as cruel, with a catalog of various persecutions of racial and ethnic minorities. This list includes mass deportations of entire people groups out of Russia and mass exterminations. Koreans were among the first groups systematically removed from the Soviet Union. One might be reminded of the same kind of abuses happening in modern day China with the Uyghurs in West China.
The egalitarian ends of socialist regimes require the elimination of differences in nationality, race, and ethnicity. When the state is placed in charge of accomplishing such an end, the results are terrifying. Lives are systematically terminated, people are sent to work camps, and mass deportations occur. One might be surprised to find that modern communists such as Bernie Sanders (at one point) supported hardline immigration policies that reflected those of the Soviets.
It would even be expected that socialist regimes are opposed to the minority groups listed above. There is a very low cost for bureaucrats to prohibit the minority groups from continuing unhampered in their daily activities and a potentially high cost of inaction. If they do nothing, a problematic statistic might be found, and that would not be good for the bureaucrat. When the lives of people are owned by the state, people can be disposed of however the bureaucrat desires.
Furthermore, bureaucrats may desire discrimination according to arbitrary characteristics. In the absence of market forces, they are able to exercise these discriminatory desires unfettered by the incentives of the market. Socialism allows prejudices and discriminatory ends to run rampant.
This is the reality of socialist regimes. The persistence of socialism is completely opposed to the activities of the minorities that today are among the most vehement supporters of socialism. For our sake, let us hope that they don’t learn that lesson the hard way.