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DBH: Can we relax about “socialism”?

David Bentley Hart reworks his Facebook post from last year (which I posted about at the time) into a New York Times opinion piece. It’s still sharp and incisive in all the best ways. A snippet or two:

I have lived abroad often enough to be conscious of the flaws in various nations’ social democratic systems. But I know too that those systems usually make possible something closer to a just and charitable society than ours has ever been.

One need not idealize any of these nations or ignore the ways in which they differ in balancing public and private financing of civic services. But all of them are, broadly speaking, places where — without any unsustainable burden on the national economy — the cost of health care per capita is far lower than it is here and yet coverage is universal, where life spans are longer, where working people are not made destitute by serious illnesses, where a choice between food or pharmaceuticals need never be made, where the poor cannot be denied treatments by insurance adjusters, where pre-existing health conditions could never be denied coverage, where most people have far more savings and much lower levels of debt than is the case here, where very few families live only a paycheck away from total poverty, where wages generally keep pace with inflation, where every worker has decent vacation time each year, where suicide and opioid addiction are not the default lifestyle of the working poor, where homelessness is exceedingly rare, where retirement care is humane and comprehensive and where the schools are immeasurably better than ours are.

Americans, however, recoil in horror from these intolerable impositions on personal liberty.


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