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Why did Rep. Hillary Scholten vote for the Republican resolution that condemns Socialism?

February 8, 2023

In one of her first votes as a member of Congress, Rep. Hillary Scholten voted for a Republican resolution named, Denouncing the horrors of socialism.

In fact, Scholten was one of 109 Democrats who voted for the resolution, which means that more Democrats voted for the resolution to condemn socialism than those who voted against it.

Rep. Scholten doesn’t provide us with any reason(s) as to why she voted yes on this resolution, she only refers to it “a non-serious messaging bill from Republicans.” 

Granted, the resolution is not a “deliverable”, as Rep. Scholten refers to it, but it is part of a larger ideological battle that should not be minimized. 

The resolution is fairly brief and begins with these sentences: 

Whereas socialist ideology necessitates a concentration of power that has time and time again collapsed into Communist regimes, totalitarian rule, and brutal dictatorships; 

Whereas socialism has repeatedly led to famine and mass murders, and the killing of over 100,000,000 people worldwide; 

Whereas many of the greatest crimes in history were committed by socialist ideologues, including Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and Nicolás Maduro;

The first sentence makes the claim that socialism necessitates a concentration of wealth. I not really sure how they landed on this statement, but the economic system of Capitalism has clearly led to the concentration of wealth. Here is a brief part of the summary from a 2022 report by Oxfam entitled, Inequality Kills:

A new billionaire has been created every 26 hours since the pandemic began.6 The world’s 10 richest men have doubled their fortunes, while over 160 million people are projected to have been pushed into poverty.7 Meanwhile, an estimated 17 million people have died from COVID-19—a scale of loss not seen since the Second World War.8 

These issues are all part of the same, deeper malaise. It is that inequality is tearing our societies apart. It is that violence is rigged into our economic systems. It is that inequality kills.

In the second sentence, which claims that 100 Million people have dies because of socialism. Like most of the Resolution, none of it is sourced to substantiate any of the claims made. Now, I am no apologist for socialism, and millions have suffered under the former Soviet regime, China, North Korea, etc, but we will do well to acknowledge how much suffering has occurred at the hands of Capitalism, particularly in the US. 

The US was founded on genocide and slavery, meaning; 1) the killing of at least 1 million Indigenous people in the territory that is now the US, along with taking most of their land; 2) the enslavement of 12.5 million Africans who were sent to the Americas, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. In terms of number of people who have been killed because of US foreign policy, it is hard to quantify, since it would include out right war the US has been engaged in, US military support for dictatorships and the use of proxy forces, along with sanctions and economic policies that have resulted in millions of deaths. See Ward Churchill’s book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U. S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality.

Later in the text of the Resolution, it quotes Thomas Jefferson, “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” The irony here is that Jefferson, while President, owned 10,000 acres of land and at least 185 people he bought who were enslaved. In fact, Jefferson gave he daughter as a wedding present 25 of the people he had enslaved, like they were just another commodity. 

Now, I know that this was just a resolution and maybe Rep. Scholten did not want to provide an opportunity for the GOP to attack her, but for me it sets a problematic tone for how she might vote in the future. 

Lastly, it is worth quoting from an article by Liza Featherstone, who is a columnist for the Jacobin magazine, entitled, Democratic Leaders Join House Republican Attack on “Socialism”:

The resolution, which took the obligatory shots at Lenin, Castro and Maduro for taking money from rich people, asserts that the U.S. “was founded on the belief in the sanctity of the individual, to which the collectivistic system of socialism in all of its forms is fundamentally and necessarily opposed.” There was quite a lot of unpaid, collectivized forced labor supporting the “sanctity of the individual” founders, as I recall.

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