Jeffrey A. Tucker writes: There is vast intellectual work to do to come to terms with the great delusion of the 20th century, namely that there would be a workers’ revolution against private ownership of capital that would end in something called socialism, whether of the right or left variety. Or perhaps what is needed is psychological work.
To believe in socialism, I’m convinced, requires a dogmatic theory of the direction of history. In this case, history means more than just stuff that happens. It postulates history as an actor independent of human choice, some kind of irresistible wind that buffets humanity from stage to stage.
This mental template is remarkably impervious to processing contrary information. Socialism is a case study in the capacity of the human mind to allow ideology to get in the way of good sense, to the point that nothing is what it appears to be.
It’s a common feature of all socialist ideology that it is dismissive of individual choice and replaces it with some form of Hegelian theorizing about what must be. It presumes that one’s own intelligence is capable of discerning directions of change that rise above normal human aspirations.
We like to think that this way of thinking is gone but this is doubtful. Socialist thought is the delusion that never quite fully goes away. It represents the fulfillment of a fundamental mistake, the belief that intellectuals can outsmart people’s choices in the course of their normal lives.
Gumballs on the Subway
What comes to mind for me is an amazing scene from 1917 New York. Leon Trotsky (1879–1940) was visiting the U.S. to cheer up the growing communist movement in the United States. He briefly hung out on the subway platform. He saw workers buying gumballs from machines and chewing madly as they rode. Trotsky might have been delighted that capitalism was providing such joy to regular people, but no: for him, the gum itself was evidence of exploitation and the inevitability of socialism.
“The car of the subway is jammed,” he wrote in a letter to friends. “In the subway are those who have become weaker. The color of their faces is greyish, their hands are hanging down weakly, their eyes are dim. . . . Only their jaws are moving, submissively, evenly, without joy or animation. . . . What are they trying to find in this miserable, degrading chewing? Capital does not like the working man to think and is afraid. … It has therefore adopted measures. … It has put up automats in each station and has filled them with disgusting candied gum. With an automatic movement of the hand the people extract from these automats pieces of sweetish gum, and they grind it with the automatic chewing of their jaws. . . . It looks like a religious rite, like some silent prayer to God-Capital.”
Look, I’m not a huge fan of gum, but honestly, this is just too much. Maybe gum is not evidence of the Marxist parable. Maybe instead people were just buying and chewing gum because they enjoy it?
Sombart the Great
To gain a grasp of this intellectual disorder and its tendencies, let’s look back at an early work of communist/Nazi Werner Sombart (1863-1941). He was a German professor of sociology and economics, a gigantically influential socialist whose works rocked European intelligentsia, as much as that of Karl Marx or Max Weber. He shaped the thought of several generations. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s everything liberals have done in the last few weeks to promote their values throughout this country.
How to properly understand this system
S.G. Cheah writes: Have you ever wondered why, despite the continuous systemic failures of socialistic, communistic or fascistic regimes, -as evidently proven by the observable catastrophes of 2018’s Venezuela, Mao’s China, and the Soviet Union — this idea of the Utopian collectivist commune never seem to die? Witness the popular resurgence of this idea in today’s celebratory praise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s push for Democratic Socialism.
The secret to the existence and survival of these ideas is far more sinister than you may have realized.
George Orwell, who was a Democratic Socialist himself, anxiously warned us about this in his book ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’. Ayn Rand laid out their calculated plans in ‘The Fountainhead’. Friedrich Hayek illustrated the imminent dangers of what’s to come if they succeed in his ‘Road to Serfdom’.
Literature is brimmed with thinkers who had alerted us to the dangers of this idea throughout history. What they would have warned us today, which they did in the past, is how Democratic Socialism is simply slavery re-branded.
If you make the argument that Democratic Socialism is slavery, you will likely be accused of exaggerated fear mongering. But are you wrong? Read on to know why Socialism is essentially slavery.
Socialism does away with property rights.
It is a basic tenet of life and liberty that without property rights, no other rights are possible. The problematic error of which most of us tragically hold today is to view property only as inanimate matter because this materialistic view classifies property as being separate and apart from man’s life.
The truth is, property is the implementation to life and liberty. It is crucial to understand how the bond between private property and political freedom is an indissoluble one, because an individual’s property is an extension of his own life.
Why property rights is essential to freedom
It is important for people to learn the connection between property rights as being directly protected by liberty, and how this connection ensures life. To help picture this clearly, think of yourself as Robinson Crusoe. Or Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Or if you’re talking to the very young, Matt Damon in The Martian.
These fictional characters illustrate this bond between property and life. When these castaways were shipwrecked alone, the only choices presented to them is either to survive or to perish. In order to live, they will have to employ the use of their mind and direct their body to produce the necessary requirement of survival: shelter, water, food.
Socialist guilt tripping
A socialist will bring up the example: imagine if a year later, another castaway is stranded on the same patch of land as you. Don’t you have the moral obligation to share your shelter, water and food with him? The answer to this is not “yes you’re obligated morally to share” nor “no, you’re not obligated morally to share”, but rather, the correct answer is: “you shall decide”.
Why is “you shall decide” the right answer? It is because the shelter, water and food you’ve created is a product of your mind and body, which is an extension to your very life. Read the rest of this entry »
“Cuba’s longtime oppressive dictator Fidel Castro is dead. Let me be absolutely clear: We are not mourning the death of some revolutionary romantic, or a distinguished statesman.”
“We’re not grieving for the protector of peace or a judicious steward of his people. Today we are thankful. We are thankful that a man who has imprisoned, and tortured, and degraded the lives of so many is no longer with us. He has departed for warmer climes.”
See more here.
Sen. Bernie Sanders proudly proclaims himself a “democratic socialist,” and many in the Democratic Party seem to have no problem with it and, in fact, are embracing him and his ideas. Listening to all of this, one gets the feeling that for a significant portion of the population, history began in the year 2000. Where have been the great socialist success stories? Much of the world’s population greatly suffered under various forms of socialism in the 20th century. Not one of the various socialist models proved to be a success.
There was the communist variety of socialism in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China and Cambodia, which resulted in tens of millions of deaths from starvation and from the gulags. There was the national socialist (Nazi) model in Germany and Italy, which, like the communist version, resulted in tens of millions of deaths. Somewhat more benign, but still coercive, versions of socialism were prevalent in India, many places in Africa and South America, and all resulted in economic stagnation — because productive effort was separated from reward. The two most socialist countries today are North Korea and Cuba — both being very poor and repressive. The average Cuban government worker has a monthly wage which is less than what the average American worker makes in an hour.
It is true that every country has some socialist enterprises at the federal, state or local levels. For instance, the U.S. government owns Amtrak, and the city of Flint, Mich., owns its water department. Arguably, both would do much better in private hands. France has many more government-owned enterprises than neighboring Switzerland. Even France is still basically a capitalistic free-market economy [Meh. – LAL] — but with far less freedom and prosperity than Switzerland.
Why does socialism always fail, and why will Bernie Sanders‘ schemes and, to a lesser extent, Hillary’s Obamacare version, also fail? Under a capitalist free-market system, the business person seeks to produce goods and services that the consumer wants at the lowest possible cost — which includes having the smallest and most productive work force possible — in order to maximize profits. Under the socialist model, the political leaders decide what the consumers should have (which is often very different from what they want or need). Productivity and innovation are given short shift, needless workers are hired and few are fired. In almost all cases, costs soon outrun revenues, and the losses are made up by ever higher taxes or more debt — eventually causing an economic collapse.
As economic stagnation increases, the citizens become more restless and either throw off the yoke of government through the ballot box, as was done in 1979 in the United Kingdom with the election of Margaret Thatcher, or the protesters are imprisoned until often a bloody revolt occurs. Read the rest of this entry »
Jews, particularly those of European descent, likely will continue to support left-leaning politics more than those of the Right. But lock-step support for the Left seems destined to weaken, says Joel Kotkin.
Joel Kotkin writes: Jews are a contradictory people. Overall, achievement-oriented and very capitalistic, Jewish educational and self-employment statistics are among the highest for any religious group. They are also politically powerful; amounting to roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population – half their percentage a half century ago – Jews account for nine of 100 U.S. senators and 19 of 435 members of the House.
Yet if Jews have achieved significant economic and political power, they have done so primarily as Democrats. Only one of the 28 Jews in Congress is a Republican – Lee Zeldin from New York’s Long Island – and the one independent, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, is enough of a Democrat to be running, with surprising success, for that party’s presidential nomination….
…in recent years, anti-Semitism and, particularly, anti-Zionism have shifted ever more to the Left. Over a decade ago, my wife and I visited Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, the famed French Nazi hunters, at their Paris office. Although they expressed concern about the traditional anti-Semitism of Jean Marie Le Pen’s National Front party, they were more alarmed about a rising new virulent strain from a combination of Islamic and left-leaning sources.
The massive movement of Muslims into Europe – now accelerating into a tsunamic wave – is accelerating these trends. The European Left, long enamored of radicals from the developing world, increasingly adopts the notion that Israel represents the ultimate political atrocity.
The most obvious manifestation now is the powerful drive to force European universities to divest themselves of investments in Israeli companies and even ban Israeli academics. This is occurring even though Israel, with all its many imperfections, is by far the most democratic, feminist and gay-tolerant country in that exceedingly bad neighborhood.
It’s hard not to see anti-Semitic ideas in this assault. You can certainly oppose, as I do, some Israeli policies – notably settlement expansion in the West Bank – as both wrong and tactically disastrous, without censuring an entire country. Anti-Israel protesters seem less than troubled to associate with Hamas and other terrorist group who have even chanted “Jews, Jews to the gas” at demonstrations joined by the Left.
Fear is also on the streets; there are so many incidents of violence against Jews in France that Jewish children are advised not to wear yarmulkes or any other outward signs of their faith.
These trends are reshaping European politics. Long tied to the Left, Jews in France, for example, by a good margin now support the Gaullist right. Even Marine Le Pen, who has submerged her father’s anti-Semitic views, appeals to Jewish votes by opposing Muslim immigration. At the same time, as Muslim voters already vastly outnumber Jews, the French Left has to respond to its growing constituency, the vast majority of whom supported Socialist Francois Hollande in the most-recent election.
A similar process has occurred in Britain, where, even with the nominally Jewish Ed Milliband at the top of the ticket, Labor lost heavily to the Conservatives among Jews. Milliband’s successor as Labor leader, far-left icon Jeremy Corbyn, describes the Islamists of Hamas and Hezbollah as “good friends.” Polls show two-thirds of British Jews alarmed by Corbyn’s rise. Read the rest of this entry »
— Jimmie (@jimmiebjr) June 6, 2015