Garry Kasparov published a piece in the Daily Beast on Thursday in which he offered a follow-up to his Facebook status criticizing the socialism supported by Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that went viral last week.
Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster and chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, garnered widespread social media attention after he published a Facebook post March 1 in which he stated that he was “enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means!”
“In practice, [socialism] corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty,” Kasparov wrote on Facebook. “Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd.”
The original 113-word Facebook post has since been shared more than 58,000 times and garnered in excess of 3,000 comments and had a reach of 9.3 million, as Kasparov noted in his Daily Beast follow-up piece, much to his surprise.
“My goal was to remind people that Americans talking about socialism in the 21st century was a luxury paid for by the successes of capitalism in the 20th. And that while inequality is a huge problem, the best way to increase everyone’s share of pie is to make the pie bigger, not to dismantle the bakery,” Kasparov wrote as he discussed why he felt his original post resonated so deeply with many Americans. “There is a growing consensus that America has deep troubles, and no one can agree on solutions.”
Kasparov went on to discuss the need to restore a vision of America as a “positive force in the world” for “liberty and peace” following what he described as storyline flip in the decades since the Cold War ended.
“The essential complement to this is having big positive dreams at home as well, of restoring America’s belief in ambition and risk, of innovation and exploration, of free markets and free people. America transformed the 20th century in its image with its unparalleled success. American technology created the modern world while American culture infused it and American values inspired it,” Kasparov wrote, adding that in recent decades, American complacency has led to “slower growth, stagnant wages, and the steady shift of wealth from labor to capital. In such situations many people turn to the government for help and the siren song of socialism grows louder.”
Although he admitted that he liked and respected Sanders as a person, Kasparov firmly opposed his idea of a socialistic vision for America.
“The problem is with the proposed solutions. A society that relies too heavily on redistributing wealth eventually runs out of wealth to redistribute. The historical record is clear. It’s capitalism that brought billions of people out of poverty in the 20th century. It’s socialism that enslaved them and impoverished them,” Kasparov wrote. “Of course Senator Sanders does not want to turn America into a totalitarian state like the one I grew up in. But it’s a valuable example of the inevitable failure of a state-run economy and distribution system. Once you give power to the government it is nearly impossible to get it back, and it will be used in ways you cannot expect.”
Kasparov also added, “To give credit, Senator Sanders supports breaking up the giant banking institutions that dominate American finance and politics in a way that would evoke jealousy from John Pierpont Morgan himself. However, Sanders’s socialist policies would replace banks that are too big to fail with a government that is too big to succeed.”
Ultimately, Kasparov championed the American free market with its innovation and hard-work ethic as the solution to the country’s troubles.
“Yes, the free market can be cruel and it is by definition unequal. It has winners and losers. It also sparks the spirit of creativity that humanity desperately needs to flourish in our ever-increasing billions. Failure is an essential part of innovation and the free market,” Kasparov stated. “The government does have a role in addressing rising inequality. I turn not to Denmark or Venezuela or, god forbid, to the Soviet Union. Instead let us look to the last great battle between labor and capital in America, between public and private power.”
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