The political opposition’s fixation with incoming Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York continued in December 2018 with the online sharing of a graphic that attempted to link her to a quote whose origins have been disputed.
The graphic, first posted a month earlier, showed a black-and-white picture of the congresswoman-elect alongside the phrase “Under capitalism, man oppresses man. Under socialism, it’s just the opposite.”
The meme was subsequently spread by a Facebook page listed for musician Ted Nugent, with the addition of the caption “Do not shut this woman up. This shit is gold”:
We consulted Ocasio-Cortez seeking comment but have yet to hear back. However, not only did we find no record of her having made such a statement, the phrase itself is a misstated version of a much older phrase with unclear origins.
The original version — “Under capitalism man exploits man. Under socialism it’s just the opposite.” — has long been attributed to economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who passed away in 2006. But it has also been described in other accounts as an “old Soviet joke” or a “wry Russian joke,” including in Jules Archer’s 1977 book Police State: Could It Happen Here? — published 12 years before Ocasio-Cortez was born:
As we have previously chronicled, Ocasio-Cortez has been particularly targeted by mockery and false claims about her.
Crook, Clive. “John Kenneth Galbraith, Revisited.”
The Atlantic. May 2006.
Archer, Jules. Police State: Could It Happen Here?
Harper & Row, 1977. ISBN 0060201533.
O’Brien, Anthony Patrick. “Your View: The Pitfalls of Socialism in America.”
The Morning Call. 13 December 2018.