Communism Vs. Socialism
Even to the ideologically learned, the distinction between communism and socialism is challenging to identify. Both suggest “the open public possession of the ways of production.” Sanders checks that box. In 1976, he said, “I favor the public ownership of resources, financial institutions, and significant industries” and have never refuted his stance.
Since the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 in Russia, the distinction between socialism and communism has come to mean the method of execution. Socialism primarily operates within the established system. In contrast to communism is revolutionary in personality, planning to eliminate the existing system by a brutal, totalitarian overrule.
It is well worth mentioning, however, that in Europe, those who refused communism never referred to themselves as socialists but instead used the term social democrat. All social democrats virulently dismissed the Soviet Union and sided with the United States through the Cold War. Sanders, by distinction, honeymooned within the U.S.S.R. as late as in 1988. In 1985, he went to a festivity of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. He also frequented communist Cuba, and as late as 2011, he praised Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela.
More disturbingly, Sanders claimed that “Donald Trump, well before he was president, as a private businessperson, he acquired $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury property in New York. Now, what does that mean when the government gives you $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies?” The senator added that “the difference between my socialism and Trump’s socialism is I believe the government should support working families, not billionaires.”
If a tax break is socialist, Sanders must believe that all of Trump’s money belongs to the state and that preserving the wealth one has gained is a present from the government. In this statement, Sanders reveals his real ideological core: Your life and everything you develop belongs to the state.
No Social Democrat
Although Sanders uses the term democratic socialist to describe himself and praises Scandinavia, he is certainly not a social democrat. His policy proposals are closer to that of Venezuela than Sweden. Sweden has among the lowest corporate and business tax rates on the planet. It stands beyond the United States on economic freedom on all metrics except welfare, which is mostly paid for by taxing the middle class, not the rich.
The president is, therefore, far closer to the truth than most people know when he explains Sanders as a communist.