Socialism is not only death and repression, it is anarchy, too. Under socialism there is no means of coordinating economic activity. The planners plan for five years or they plan for ten, but the best they can do is guess what goods are needed and where they are needed most. Economic calculation is impossible without prices, and prices are impossible without property. Socialism nationalizes all property in the means of production, and the result is a complete lack of any price signals generated by supply and demand on an open market. With no sense of the relative scarcity of different means of production (factories, heavy equipment, and other capital goods) there cannot be accurate prices for the consumer goods they produce. Without accurate prices for consumer goods, planners cannot discern relative scarcities; the politburo might get word that a province needs more grain, but they have no way of knowing how much more or less that province needs grain relative to another province that also needs grain — not without prices to show how much more one province or the other has bid up the price.

What is the result of this anarchy? Shortages in some goods, surpluses in others, poverty, starvation, subsistence living, black markets, violence, repression, and death.

Therefore, with the failure of socialist regimes, the problem is not the low price of oil, it is not economic sanction or “imperial capitalist” oppression. The problem with socialism is that it is a backward and destructive economic system, the consequence of which has been the deaths of over one hundred million people. This is why the term carries a negative connotation. This is why we should distinguish the hard-leftism of a contemporary political movement from the moniker behind which it rallies. Words mean something, no matter how perverted their definitions have become. Before you claim an idea as the mantle of your movement, face the reality of what that idea has wrought.

And after that reality is faced, a penance can be paid. We live in a post-socialist era, but we have yet to move on to an “after socialism.” No apologies have been made, no great monuments to the dead have been erected or solemn days of remembrance memorialized. We ought to pledge ourselves never to forget, had we not already all but forgotten. The great Alan Charles Kors, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Pennsylvania and National Humanities Medal recipient, put it best, and deserves to be quoted at length for his masterful take that should forever to lay the subject to rest: