PragerU’s Dishonesty on Brazil and the Global Recession

One of the YouTube channels that have appeared with immediate popularity due to their budget to advertise their videos, is Prager University. The institution is really no different than any other “anything the government does is socialism” group. It might as well be the Mises Institute for the lack of academic honesty it has.

The channel recently put out a video on the situation in Brazil called, “How Socialism Ruined My Country.” In it, “Felipe Moura Brasil, a journalist and Veja magazine columnist, explains how his country has fared under socialism.” The problem should be immediately identifiable- Brazil isn’t, nor was it ever socialist. The video used the same falsehoods that a lot of the far right uses against socialism. Someone called themselves socialist so therefore it was, regardless of what socialism actually is. A leader or party advocates alleviating poverty with income redistribution, so therefore socialist. Because in their minds, income redistribution doesn’t appear in bourgeois economics for any reason, even though it does.

In this blog post I will break down the absolute dishonesty and logical holes in their absurd video.

  1. It said: “Many American millennials seem to be drawn to socialism. They came out in big numbers for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries.” He claims Bernie Sanders was a socialist. This is false, he was never a socialist, he was a social democrat. Moreover, during his campaign, he was just a Democrat. Mr Brasil here is outright lying. He’s redefining socialism to mean anything he disagrees with, or anything government does. He has already demonstrated that he has no intellectual honesty.
  2. “In 2002, a socialist politician named Lula da Silva ran for the presidency. He was a socialist, but painted himself as a modern, cool kind of socialist.” False, Lula da Silva was never a socialist and actively attempted to preserve capitalism. At no point was private property abolished in totality, the market was still allowed to rein, as well as the capitalist class. There was, however, a modicum of nationalisation, and increasing the minimum wage – which does not equal socialism.
  3. “The media, academic elite and celebrities assured Brazilians that by transferring the money from the rich to the poor, the poor could finally be richer. But the only ones who really got rich were Lula and his corporate and political friends.” Brasil outright contradicts himself here. Socialism is attacked as being a redistribution of wealth, but he claims redistribution didn’t take place. Later he says the minimum wage was increased (which it was), but that redistribution of income doesn’t count. Ironically, what he describes here is normally passed off as “crony-capitalism”, or just capitalism which it actually is. When capitalism does something unethical it’s usually blamed on the actions of a single individual with a prefix attached to capitalism. It’s interesting to see how socialism is blamed for something capitalism actually did.
  4. “Socialism always works at the beginning. But government spending just kept going up, and then Lula’s socialist paradise fell apart and the economy fell with it. The outcome: from 2008 to 2015, government spending grew nearly four times as fast as tax revenue.” Immediately something should be painfully apparent – anything that might have happened in 2008 that would have caused economic woes – like say a global recession? This fact is completely ignored by Brasil and is instead blamed on “socialism” without actually providing an explanation on how it caused it. He merely claims a “socialist” was in power when things went bad, so therefore socialism is at fault. This is also known as a non-sequitur. Of course, he leaves out the global recession because it was caused by capitalism.

As we can see, Brasil and Prager University don’t actually show why socialism supposedly caused the catastrophe Brazil finds itself in. Instead, they merely claim the leader of the country was a socialist, so therefore it was socialism’s fault. The fact that Silva isn’t a socialist, and that the global recession (caused by capitalism) took place is just conveniently ignored.