FORT WASHINGTON, Md.—Panelists broke down the realities of socialism during a segment on the third day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—the largest conservative gathering in the country, whose theme this year is “America vs. Socialism.”
Morgan Zegers, CEO of Young Americans Against Socialism, and Joshua Philipp, a senior investigative reporter with The Epoch Times, spoke about the roots of the ideology during a morning discussion at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
Philipp said socialism is the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which involves the government seizing every aspect of society and driving it toward its ultimate goal—communism. The Feb. 28 discussion was hosted by Ian Walters of the American Conservative Union.
“‘The Communist Manifesto’ says that communism destroys all religion and all morality,” Philipp said. “We make the mistake of negotiating with these socialists just on the basis of economics when in reality it is about metaphysics and ontology—it is about attacking and destroying your values, your culture, your ideas and the foundations of your society.”
Philipp pointed to the Chinese Communist Party, which he said uses a system of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Under the rule of the party, between 50 million to 70 million people people died of unnatural causes during peacetime.
The regime is also at the forefront of religious oppression.
“To this day they [China] still have concentration camps, they still kill people for believing in religion, they still dictate what you can or can’t believe,” he said. “They still say that if you want to be a Christian you have to recognize the state first and God second.”
Chinese people today are living “under a tyrannical regime that masquerades as a capitalist society” according to Philipp.
Philipp added that young people living in the United States today think that socialism is going to free them from the corporations, when in reality, “[socialism] is state capitalism.”
Zegers said recent polls on socialism are worrying but she still feels optimistic about the future of the country.
“I know a recent poll came out a few months ago that said 70 percent of people my age would vote for a socialist,” she said at the conference. “My counter to that is I don’t think 70 percent of people my age want to ‘seize the means of production.'”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic socialist and 2020 presidential candidate, has been under fire since praising the communist regime of Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator who imprisoned and killed dissidents during his decades in power. Sanders said during a recent interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that it was “unfair to simply say everything is bad” about Castro’s regime and lauded what he called its “massive literacy program.”
In response to criticism of his comments—including from some Democrats—Sanders told the audience at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, “Of course you have a dictatorship in Cuba.”
Philipp said socialism does not resolve any issue its followers believe they are fighting against. He called it a “system of slavery” that involves the state seizing control of the factories which then leads to the control of every economic power in the country.
“It is one that takes control of every single part of your life, denies you the access to the fruits of your labor, tells you what you can and cannot think, and tells you what you can and cannot believe,” he said. “That is slavery in every single form, down to a level beyond what we’ve ever seen before. Down to your spiritual level and your ability to think freely.”
At an earlier panel discussion on the same topic, Jarrett Stepman, a contributor to the Daily Signal, said that in the United States, there is a “concerted effort” to rewrite history and to “change the narrative about what we are.”
“It’s for the sole purposes of changing what America is, changing us to become a nation that embraces ideas like socialism, radical ideas that are very much against the original American concept,” Stepman said.
However, Philipp said he sees a “resurgence where people are waking up and seeing [socialism] for exactly what it is.”