Sure, Capitalism Works in Practice...

...but does it work in theory?

Socialism has never really been tried anywhere. Don’t believe me? Ask a fan of socialism. They’ll tell you that the only reason socialism hasn’t been an unalloyed success everywhere it’s been tried is because it hasn’t ever been tried quite right.

Cuba? No, not really. Otherwise it would be a paradise by now. (Nitpickers will suggest that Cuba’s system has been communism, not socialism. But communists are just socialists in a hurry.) Venezuela? North Korea? No and no.

But why dwell on socialism's dreariest outposts? What about the good Socialist countries? You know, the ones that supposedly follow the "Nordic model," which, according to Wikipedia, "…includes a comprehensive welfare state and collective bargaining at the national level with a high percentage of the workforce unionized, while being based on the economic foundations of free market capitalism."

Bernie Sanders and his fellow travelers yammer obtusely about how we should move in the direction of that mode—the economic model of Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc. The trouble is that Bernie knows even less about those countries than he knows about basic economics. Or for that matter, Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell's remarkably comprehensible guide to the subject, currently in its 5th edition.

Poor Bernie has been complaining about being inundated with books on economics—including but not limited to Sowell’s. People keep sending them, and he keeps begging them to cut it out. Bernie says he hasn't read any of those books and he doesn't plan to start anytime soon. He suspects such books are "full of harsh facts” (yes, he really said that), while he prefers a more "emotion-based approach" to economics (yes, he said that, too).

What else don't Bernie and company know much about? While he and his ilk bray that America should be more like Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, et al, those countries are doing their level best to be more like us.

Consider Sweden: low taxes and regulations, a free economy, lots of prosperous companies and wealthy individuals plus the highest per capita income growth on Earth. 

Well, that was Sweden… from the 1870's to the 1960's, when, alas, a blue haze of dope smoke and socialist nostrums blew in off the Norwegian Sea. Anybody blessed with both sense and money left the country. ABBA flew the coop. IKEA bugged out. Socialism settled in for three decades, which is about as long as it took the Swedes to come to their senses, and begin to turn the ship of state in a more free-market direction.

While socialism is always judged by its results in theory, capitalism is always judged by its results in practice. Ergo: of the two, capitalism is the only one proven to be other than idyllic.

Capitalism recognizes that it is in the nature of human beings to look out for themselves and those close to them first, before casting a wider, more philanthropic gaze. Concentric circles of attention and care are built into us; we can do no other.

Capitalism has evolved into history’s most successful economic arrangement not despite human nature, but precisely because of it—because capitalism accepts as a given that 1) human beings will go on being human, and 2) there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Socialism, on the other hand, has never been workable because it fundamentally despises human beings as they are, and requires that they change to conform to it. It cannot work as a system so long as human beings remain imperfect. The theory is a fine and wondrous thing; it’s the people who need changing.

Thus the New Soviet Man, the Cambodian Genocide (communists in a hurry), Mao's Great Leap Forward and all the rest. Every one of those horrors were predicated on the need to remake societies—which is to say, the people who populate them—to fit a theory.

The result? One hundred million dead in the twentieth century, give or take a few. Yet still the theory lingers.

Communists in a hurry: the Cambodian genocide.