Thor Halvorssen is the founder and president of the Human Rights Foundation and is strong advocate for individual liberties, civil rights and democracy. He recently gave an interview to Fox News, in which he explained his take on democratic socialism. The principles underlying democratic socialism have been the subject of plenty of media coverage as of late, thanks to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Senator Sanders has been promoting democratic socialist principles as an alternative to the current U.S. economic model and as a way to improve the plight of America’s poorest and middle class. While many of these democratic socialist polices sound good in paper or make for interesting reading in college textbooks, Halvorssen cautions that real world application of democratic socialist principles can be a recipe for disaster.
For an illustration of Halvorssen’s warning, we need look no further than Venezuela, he says. When an authoritarian regime operates using democratic socialist principles, Thor Halvorssen warns that this is a surefire way to restrict individual liberty and afford the government an excessive amount of power over its citizens. Although countries such as Denmark and Sweden have subscribed to democratic socialist principles, the idea of the government owning property in the place of private citizens or the government being able to set prices and control supply can be a scary proposition. Halvorssen is much more in favor of the potential of the free market to help society prosper as a whole because he contends that it does not have the potential to erode individual freedoms, as does socialism in practice.
Halvorssen’s family has had more than its fair share of negaitive experiences with socialist authoritarian regimes. While Halvorssen was studying at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, his father was imprisoned over preposterous charges of terrorism because he had the gumption to investigate and infamous and powerful drug cartel. Halvorssen’s mother was also shot during a peaceful political protest in Venezuela, and his first cousin is currently being held as a political prisoner. While these may seem like extreme examples, Halvorssen warns that democratic socialism can be a very slippery slope. Find him on Facebook for more news and updates.