Is America having a socialist moment? Democrats are more likely than ever to embrace the label. Republicans strongly condemn it. Both sides agree that socialism is a live issue.

They’re wrong. If we assume that socialism is only about the efficient management of the economy—no small assumption, to be sure—it is as dead as a doornail. Two economists, Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek, put that theory to rest by demonstrating that it’s impossible for socialism to out-produce capitalism.

Let’s be clear: Socialism is not actually on the agenda in the U.S. As it’s traditionally defined, socialism means public ownership of the means of production—i.e., government control of the economy’s commanding heights. Socialism does not mean the welfare state, public services, public–private partnerships, or even the occasional state-owned enterprise. Western Europe is not socialist. The Nordic democracies are not socialist. And despite their collectivist proclivities, the likes of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are not—in any intellectually rigorous sense—socialists, regardless of what they may call themselves on occasion.