It is a fact that all socialist socio-economic systems – even those benevolent, munificent democratic socialist systems approved by Bernie Sanders – are doomed to eventually slide toward totalitarianism and tyranny.
I tend to quote Freidrich Hayek a lot because he wrote the book on how such an endpoint in inevitable. In 1944, he published “The Road to Serfdom” about the UK and its failure to return to a market oriented society following the government dominated and controlled society existing during WWII.
Hayek wrote primarily of economic matters – but I would propose that it also applies far more broadly:
“I believe it was Lenin himself who introduced to Russia the famous phrase “who, whom?”– during the early years of Soviet rule the byword in which the people summed up the universal problem of a socialist society. Who plans whom, who directs and dominates whom, who assigns to other people their station in life, and who is to have his due allotted by others? These become necessarily the central issues to be decided solely by the supreme power.
As soon as the state takes upon itself the task of planning the whole economic life, the problem of the due station of the different individuals and groups must indeed inevitably become the central political problem. As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power. There will be no economic or social questions that would not be political questions in the sense that their solution will depend exclusively on who wields the coercive power, on whose are the views that will prevail on all occasions.”
He also notes why these socialist systems purportedly create “equality” by the creation of inequalities and “ends” discrimination by increasing discrimination:
“Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order.”
Once a citizen abdicates the power to make choices for himself in order that some arbitrary authority may make those decisions, there is no limit to what decisions that authority will justify to make for them – there are no limits, anything can be justified – just look at the coercion rampant in Obamacare for example. Once a state controls behavior by deciding who can do what things, the aspect of who promulgates and enforces those rules becomes even more germane. Referring once again to Hayek’s Road to Serfdom and a chapter titled “Why the Worst Get on Top”:
“Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own. They must, above all, be unreservedly committed to the person of the leader; but next to this the most important thing is that they should be completely unprincipled and literally capable of everything. They must have no ideals of their own which they want to realize; no ideas about right or wrong which might interfere with the intentions of the leader.
There is thus in the positions of power little to attract those who hold moral beliefs of the kind which in the past have guided the European peoples, little which could compensate for the distastefulness of many of the particular tasks, and little opportunity to gratify any more idealistic desires, to recompense for the undeniable risk, the sacrifice of most of the pleasures of private life and of personal independence which the posts of great responsibility involve.
The only tastes which are satisfied are the taste for power as such and the pleasure of being obeyed and of being part of a well-functioning and immensely powerful machine to which everything else must give way.”
Being “a little socialist” is like being “a little pregnant” – there is no such thing. Hayek’s observations in real time are proof that socialist systems will always result in a slide toward totalitarianism and tyranny because the “authority” must be greater than the people. The central entity making the decisions will hold the power, not the people it supposedly serves. Its survival, expansion and priorities will take precedence over liberty and individual freedom.
That eventuality is exactly what the Constitution of the United States was devised to prevent by always giving precedence to the people – governance via consent of the governed. No form of socialism is compatible with the American experiment in liberty.