Review of

PragerU Video: Capitalism or Socialism: Which One Is More Democratic?

Our summary: Dinesh D'Souza argues that capitalism is more moral than socialism. Free markets work by satisfying our wants, and the moral grounding of free markets, just like that of our political system, is in the will of the people. Meanwhile, genuine popular control over government institutions is a mirage.

You Can Buy Whatever You Want If You Have the Money

David Foster Durham, NC Published 07 Nov 2020

Let’s see if I understand Mr. D’Souza… Socialists’ idea of democracy is winning an election and then stealing from Bill Gates’ $110 billion fortune. In contrast, he says, true democracy is when a citizen pulls his Tundra into a BP station for a fill-up, and, while there, picks up a sixpack of Corona and a carton of Marlboros.

Mr. D’Souza’s “buying is the same thing as voting” is a bizarre—though common—libertarian ruse. So then, what types of actions aren’t voting? Asking the boss for a raise? Watching a cat video on YouTube? All, certainly, are about getting what you want; however, none of these relate at all to having a say about how society should be run.

Yes, markets work great for guiding prices and production. And when people save more than they spend, and invest the surplus into new businesses and innovations, that’s great for economic growth. However, you can believe in these things and still be a social democrat.

Bill Gates

Which points to another tired ruse that D’Souza employs. No one (almost) wants pure socialism. Bernie Sanders, for example, is not a Socialist—he stresses repeatedly that he would like the US to be more like social democracies in northern Europe. However, when you equate progressives with Socialism (you know, like Stalin and Venezuela), who wants to defend that big, frightening monster? (This type of ruse is “motte-and-bailey.” Look it up.)

Another ruse is his pseudo-scholarly claim about what those on the left believe. He reports:

Leftist filmmaker Michael Moore explains it for us: “Democratic socialism means everyone has a seat at the table and everybody gets a slice of the pie.”
The famed socialist writer Irving Howe wrote something similar in his 1982 autobiography, “We believe that the democracy…in our political life should also be extended deeply into economic life.”

So, D’Souza cherry-picks statements from a filmmaker and from some dead writer’s book and pretends that they speak for everyone on the left. See, totally objective—he has citations. This therefore is what the left believes.

Less deceitfully, D’Souza does not hide his own belief that taxation is simple theft: “Confiscation.” “Robbery.” “Seizure.” “Extraction.” God, who can possibly take him seriously? What about defense, or roads, or government services?

The myth that innovation won’t happen unless billionaires get to keep all their money is wrong from several angles. For one, although Bill Gates is super smart and worked hard, he also had an extraordinary amount of luck, and was surrounded by social capital and infrastructure. For another, the super-rich are able to extract ever-larger shares of societal wealth—as Thomas Piketty showed—through returns on capital. Bill Gates’ fortune, for example, has grown dramatically since after he left Microsoft.

In summary… I think Mr. Gates is going to need to find a better propagandist than Mr. D’Souza.

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