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 »
SHAPIRO: It’s really interesting because when you watch your movies, there are…some lines that have become just part of the American parlance. Obviously, there’s the whole “Chicago way” speech from “The Untouchables,” or the speech that, in the movie version, Alec Baldwin gives in “Glengarry Glen Ross” – the “always be closing” speech.
A lot of folks on the Left tend to use these particular lines actually a fair bit. So, Barack Obama famously suggested that you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight in his sort of political heyday, and people on the Left are constantly suggesting that capitalism is this dog-eat-dog business where people are attempting to tear each other down, and they use that as an excuse for government interventionism. But it sounds like your basic view of human beings [is] that all human beings are basically at each other, and that’s why we have to come to these basic agreements to leave each other alone.
MAMET: Well, yeah. I was watching yesterday the great Tucker Carlson – I’m crazy about him. He had some cockamamie, I think Democrat something or other congressmen or something, and he says to the guy, the Democrat, he says, “Wait a second,” he says, “you guys got nothing left in the golf bag. What in the world are you gonna run on in the midterms?” And the guy says, “Economic justice and social justice.”
So I said, okay, you know, let’s break it down to the English language, right? What does economic justice mean at the end? How is that different than justice, right? It’s communism. It’s statism. It means that someone is going to stand above whatever rules we have for commerce, and decide what’s just to whom, right?
As Thomas Sowell said, whenever anybody says, “It’s gonna help A,” you say, well, who’s it gonna hurt?
So, economic justice is, at the end of the day, it’s communism. Read the rest of this entry »
Citizens of the ultra-progressive city have lost patience with political leaders’ failure to address the homelessness crisis.
Christopher F. Rufo is a filmmaker, writer, and executive director of the Documentary Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing and distributing documentaries about the American experience.
Don’t believe the hype that “Amazon killed the Seattle head tax,” the new levy that the city recently passed on businesses to fund an affordable-housing initiative. The truth behind the city council’s stunning reversal—repealing the tax by a 7-2 vote, just four weeks after passing it 9-0—is that Seattle citizens have erupted in frustration against the city’s tax-and-spend political class that has failed to address the homelessness crisis, despite record new revenues.
“To my astonishment, I’ve heard at least a dozen neighbors, friends, and colleagues whisper that ‘Seattle needs a Giuliani’—that is, the city needs to recognize that, in addition to public programs, we need to get tough on street homelessness and enforce the law.”
As recently as a few years ago, it seemed as if Seattle voters largely viewed our hyper-progressive city council as a harmless oddity in an otherwise tolerant, thriving, liberal city. But times have changed. Now, according to recent public polling, 83 percent of Seattle voters are dissatisfied with how the council has addressed homelessness, 65 percent believe that the local government hasn’t used new tax revenues effectively, and 63 percent believe that the city has enough money to solve the problem but isn’t pursuing the right policies.
Progressives have tried to paint the anti-head tax campaign as corporate astroturfing, but beneath the surface, it’s being driven by this broader shift in public opinion. In just two weeks, the No Tax on Jobs campaign, led by local businesses, recruited 2,000 volunteer signature-gatherers and collected nearly 46,000 signatures—more than double the amount required to qualify as a ballot measure. When I spoke with one of the volunteers in the liberal Fremont neighborhood, he told me: “I’m retired and I wanted to volunteer for the cause. I think the tax is a bad idea: if you tax something, you get less of it. I’m going to collect two pages of signatures and then go home.” Read the rest of this entry »
It’s sending a chilling message.
Stephanie Hamill reports: The tragic death of British toddler Alfie Evans is heartbreaking and the details surrounding his death will chill you to the core.
It’s hard to comprehend how a nation can take a child from a loving family, rip him off life support and deny him the care he needs to stay alive — all this because bureaucrats didn’t think his life is worth fighting for.
Let’s not sugarcoat what happened, this was a state-ordered execution of an innocent baby thanks to socialized medicine.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the Christian legal group that took the lead in representing the Evans family may be investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, a watchdog group that works with the government. Read the rest of this entry »
No government can equitably divide what it does not first control. And controlling the economy also requires controlling the rest of society.
My family was better off than that, but we still lived along the U.S. poverty line. We didn’t own a house, car, or TV. My parents rented a three-bedroom apartment in a ramshackle compound, made us kids a big bookshelf out of plywood, and taught us how to type on a used Mac with a 1995 facing-smile logo that spent a lot of time looking at me above progress bars on the screen.
That life wasn’t bad. Or, at least, most of the bad parts weren’t caused by “poverty.” You see, we lived in a socialist country where the government allowed enough free enterprise to fuel economic growth but maintained firm control to ensure economic equality. President Xi Jinping described our government’s strategy: “We want to continuously enlarge the pie, while also making sure we divide the pie correctly. Chinese society has long held the value of ‘Don’t worry about the amount, worry that all have the same amount.’”
Previous instantiations of this long-held value meant pretty much everybody (except powerful Communist Party members) did not have enough to eat. But 1980s reforms aimed at enlarging the pie had improved matters a great deal, so the common people lived better every day. Kids of my generation had soft little jaws and even chubby tummies. We did not eat the leaves off trees. We lived in apartments with electricity and, in the cities, running water.
The bad part of life was that the government maintained such a firm control of everything. This meant no freedom of speech or of religion. A couple million innocents were ground through the labor camps while I grew up, and one or two family acquaintances subjected to physical torture, but it was the only way government could firmly control everything. Without this control, they could not ensure that the pie, instead of simply growing larger, would be correctly divided. No government can equitably divide what it does not first control.
From Poverty to People’s Ideas of Poverty
From this environment, I was grafted, at the age of 18, into the American Ivy League. I became interested in U.S. politics: wrote for the newspaper, attended debates, tickled my brain with honors classes and the popular books of the American elites.
Young American elites love to talk about income inequality. Last spring, a great lecture hall was filled with them, debating a proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to fight poverty in America. The Left side of the room gave impassioned speeches on the moral necessity of fighting poverty. Read the rest of this entry »
The experiment in paying a basic income to 2,000 jobless Finns will not be expanded.
Laurence Peter repots: The Finnish government has decided not to expand a limited trial in paying people a basic income, which has drawn much international interest.
Currently 2,000 unemployed Finns are receiving a flat monthly payment of €560 (£490; $685) as basic income.
“The eagerness of the government is evaporating. They rejected extra funding [for it],” said Olli Kangas, one of the experiment’s designers.
Some see basic income as a way to get unemployed people into temporary jobs.
The argument is that, if paid universally, basic income would provide a guaranteed safety net. That would help to address insecurities associated with the “gig” economy, where workers do not have staff contracts.
Supporters say basic income would boost mobility in the labour market as people would still have an income between jobs. Read the rest of this entry »
Alain Tolhurst writes: Living under communism makes countries poorer and less healthy for decades, according to a landmark new study.
Researchers testing historical connections between cultures found that whether a country had been under communism was the biggest factor for those with lower health, income and educational levels.
In the first undertaking of its kind, they analyzed the fortunes of 44 countries across Europe and Asia and looked at geography, religion, systems of government and a more intangible quality called “deep cultural ancestry.”
Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, they matched these factors against where they ranked on the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures per-capita income, life expectancy at birth and the number of years its citizens spend in education.
Most of the issues they looked at appeared to have little or no effect on the disparities between the countries, except for Islamic countries scoring a little worse on education. Read the rest of this entry »
There are several great things about living in a non-democratic society. Here’s my top-ten list.
- You’re not responsible for what happens to your country. Your kids won’t be asking you, “How did you guys allow these morons to ruin our health care/ education /defence?” Your conscience is pristine.
- You spare lot of time and effort consumed by civil activity and the fight for your interests. Why did China become so strong and wealthy in so short time? Because they were busy making money, not rallying in the streets, or shouting slogans at each other.
- If the regime gets repressive, you can make a few good career moves snitching on your colleagues and neighbors, doing little else.
- Noisy minorities, bums and panhandlers disappear from the streets, which visibly enhances the urban environment.
- Police violence and corruption disappear for good. Effective order maintenance takes its place.
- There is much more stability in the corridors of power. It makes relationship-building much more predictable, if you know who you want to make friends with, and how to do it.
- The yoke of political correctness is gone. Your rulers, your boss, and the police are the only ones who you might offend, and you always know what they do like to hear, and what not. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese state media will be getting more propaganda now that the Communist Party has announced it will be in direct control of broadcasters and the regulators of everything from movies and TV to books and radio programs.
The move is part of a push by President Xi Jinping — emboldened by the removal of term limits on his time in office — to tighten party supervision over broad swaths of Chinese public life as he pushes for what he calls “unity in thought” among officials and citizens.
Analysts say having direct oversight of the media will help the party hammer home its message domestically and also work to improve its image internationally.
“It’s one vast effort to get everybody thinking together,” said David Zweig, director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology … (read more)
Source: The Japan News
No laughing matter: China regulator bans TV parodies amid content crackdown
BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Pei Li and Adam Jourdan report: China’s media regulator is cracking down on video spoofs, the official Xinhua new agency reported, amid an intensified crackdown on any content that is deemed to be in violation of socialist core values under President Xi Jinping.
The decision comes after Xi cemented his power at a recent meeting of parliament by having presidential term limits scrapped, and the ruling Communist Party tightened its grip on the media by handing control over film, news and publishing to its powerful publicity department.
Xinhua said video sites must ban videos that “distort, mock or defame classical literary and art works”, citing a directive from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
“The ideas of socialism, that the means of production, distribution and labor should be owned, controlled and regulated by the community as a whole are the worst sort of collectivist ideas which exist.”
Seattle’s bogus ordinance is not authorized under state law.
Sandi Doughton reports: Seattle’s income tax on wealthy households failed its first legal test on Wednesday.
Seattle’s income tax on wealthy households failed its first legal test Wednesday, with a King County Superior Court ruling that the measure is illegal.
In a summary judgment, Judge John R. Ruhl agreed with multiple challengers that the city ordinance adopted in July is not authorized under state law.
“ … the City’s tax, which is labeled ‘Income Tax,’ is exactly that. It cannot be restyled as an ‘excise tax’ on the … ‘privileges’ of receiving revenue in Seattle or choosing to live in Seattle.”
— Judge John R. Ruhl, in a summary judgment
“The city knowingly violated several laws in imposing this tax,” said Brian T. Hodges, a senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented several Seattle residents challenging the law. “This ruling is probably the worst scenario for the city and the best scenario for the opponents of the income tax.”
While Wednesday’s decision is disappointing, the city intends to appeal it directly to the State Supreme Court, where officials always expected the question to be decided, a spokeswoman for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said in an email.
In a joint statement, Holmes and Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess said their goal is to eliminate the state’s overreliance on regressive sales taxes and ensure the wealthy pay their fair share.
Washington’s tax system has been called the most regressive in the country, meaning that low-income people pay a much higher percentage of their earnings than wealthier residents.
“has been called”.
Really? When? Where? By whom?
This is a passive lazy gesture, using weasel words.
Passed by a unanimous City Council vote in July and subsequently signed into law by former Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle measure would impose a 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for married couples filing together. The city estimates it would raise about $140 million a year. Read the rest of this entry »
This survery claims one in two U.S. millennials would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy.
Millennials: Communism Sounds Pretty Chill!
Shawn Langlois writes:
… According to the latest survey from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit, one in two U.S. millennials say they would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy.
What’s more, 22% of them have a favorable view of Karl Marx and a surprising number see Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong Un as “heroes.”
Really, that’s what the numbers show.
“Millennials now make up the largest generation in America, and we’re seeing some deeply worrisome trends,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the organization. “Millennials are increasingly turning away from capitalism and toward socialism and even communism as a viable alternative.”
I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism. pic.twitter.com/3ie9C0jv2G
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 31, 2017
But do they even know what it is?
The survey, which was conducted by research and data firm YouGov, found that millennials are the least knowledgable generation on the subject, with 71% failing to identify the proper definition of communism.
Smith explained that this “troubling turn” highlights pervasive historical illiteracy across the country and “the systemic failure of our education system to teach students about the genocide, destruction, and misery caused by communism since the Bolshevik Revolution one hundred years ago.” Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Sixsmith writes: We must give the Bolsheviks their due. Their success in gaining power was astonishing. A ragtag gang of activists and intellectuals, they seized control of Russia in October, 1917, and defended their rule in a vicious, bloody civil war. No one can deny the force of their conviction, or the scale of their courage, or the keenness of their talents.
But wielding power was a different matter. Revolutionaries dream that crops will grow out of their fire but in most cases it leaves scarred and arid earth instead. Collectivisation, with its monstrous violence and inefficiency, left millions dead in Russia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. Paranoia and persecution, all too evident in Lenin’s “cleansing” of “harmful insects” — landowners, dissidents and priests the Bolsheviks interned, starved, tortured and killed — reached its absurd apotheosis in Stalin’s purges.
Stalin killed so many people in the Great Purge that it is remarkable that anyone was left to do the killing. Former comrades, artists and intellectuals, military officers, clergymen, dissidents, outcasts and normal Russian men and women were slaughtered in a tidal wave of blood. What is striking is not just who Stalin killed but who he spared. While hundreds of thousands of innocents were massacred, Lavrentiy Beria, who was not just a bloody killer but a known rapist, received generous promotion.
Having carved up Eastern Europe with Adolf Hitler, and oppressed its beleaguered inhabitants with such atrocities as the Katyn massacre, where 22,000 men from the Polish officer corps and intelligensia were shot in cold blood, Stalin was himself subjected to invasion. The Red Army fought with startling courage and conviction to prevail, but as the West looked on they became embarrassed. A storm of rape and murder followed the Soviets, carried out by callous and vengeful soldiers. The Nazis in Eastern Europe were replaced with cruel and subservient Stalinist officials. Bierut in Poland, Hoxha in Albania, Rákosi in Hungary and Gottwald in Czechoslovakia kept their people mired in poverty and persecution.
The Soviets inspired others. Mao took power in China and launched a sweeping campaign of modernisation that left millions of expendable victims starved or killed. Juche arose in North Korea, wrapping itself around the country in a chokehold that has persisted to the present day. Pol Pot butchered almost a quarter of Cambodians. Mariam mass-murdered in Ethiopia. Perhaps the most successful of the communist states was Cuba, where, at least, there was not large-scale killing or famine.
As the years dragged on, and Marxists alternately identified with and then disassociated themselves from regimes which took power and promptly used that power to wicked and foolish ends, their search for an impressive Marxist state became a kind of force. The great red hope of the 21st Century was Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez gained popular support and some economic success. Any achievements were undone as the economy shrank, inflation sky-rocketed and violent crime left tens of thousands of people dead. Now, a statue of Chavez has been pulled to the ground as Venezualans, sick of queuing for hours to pay thousands of bolívares for bread and toilet paper, have marched in the streets.
It would be simplistic to blame all of these events on ideology. We live in an imperfect world and those imperfections have been unequally distributed. No conceivable government of Russia, or China, or Venezuela would have left no citizens impoverished or oppressed. Nonetheless, a hundred years of communism has presented us with an intimidating record of catastrophe, in a moral, political, and economic sense. Time and again, ambition has exceeded potential. Time and again, coercion has encouraged conflict. Time and again, violence has perpetuated itself. Time and again, absolute power has hardened into tyranny. Read the rest of this entry »
Gabriel Calzada, the executive president of Guatemala’s Universidad Francisco Marroquín talks with Reason’s Nick Gillespie about trade restrictions and the role of higher education.
President Trump’s move to raise “barriers to people, to goods, to services,” says Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, executive president of Guatemala’s Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM), “is a danger not just for Central America [but] for the U.S. and for the world.”
The great irony, Calzada says, is that the U.S. has benefited immensely from free trade and immigration and “now wants to raise barriers.”
Calzada sat down with Reason’s Nick Gillespie at Freedom Fest 2017 to talk about the impact of trade restrictions on Latin America, the changing role of higher education, and how students are bringing capitalism to the region.
UFM, a private, secular university in Guatemala City, teaches free market economics and emphasizes the importance of intellectual debate on campus. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, Millions Were Tortured and Murdered Under Socialism: But Sexually Liberated Dead Women Enjoyed It MorePosted: August 13, 2017 | |
Yes, there was mass genocide behind the Iron Curtain. But doesn’t that mean they didn’t enjoy sexual liberation!
CARACAS (AP) — The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled Congress.
That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.
Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in Congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.
“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”
Leaders of Congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.
The opposition to President Nicolas Maduro also faced another fight Wednesday before the government-stacked Supreme Court, which scheduled a hearing on charges against a Caracas-area opposition mayor. The judges convicted another mayor Tuesday for failing to move against protesters during four months of political unrest.
In calling the July 30 election for the constitutional assembly, Maduro said a new constitution would help resolve the nation’s political standoff, but opposition leaders view it as a power grab and the president’s allies have said they will go after his opponents. Before its decree declaring itself all-powerful, the assembly ousted Venezuela’s outspoken chief prosecutor, established a “truth commission” expected to target Maduro’s foes and pledged “support and solidarity” with the unpopular president.
The latest surge of protests began in early April in reaction to a quickly rescinded attempt by the government-supporting Supreme Court to strip the National Assembly of its powers. But the unrest ballooned into a widespread movement fed by anger over Venezuela’s triple-digest inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and high crime.
Opposition lawmakers said security forces led by Rodriguez broke into the congress building late Monday and seized control of an unused, ceremonial chamber almost identical to the one where lawmakers meet.
“This government invades the spaces that it is not capable of legitimately winning,” Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition lawmaker, wrote on Twitter, alluding to the opposition’s overwhelming victory in the 2015 congressional elections.
Before the assembly met Tuesday, the pro-government Supreme Court sentenced a Caracas-area mayor to 15 months in prison for not following an order to remove barricades set up during anti-government demonstrations. Read the rest of this entry »
Rich Lowry writes: Venezuela is a woeful reminder that no country is so rich that it can’t be driven into the ground by revolutionary socialism.
People are now literally starving — about three-quarters of the population lost weight last year — in what once was the fourth-richest country in the world on a per-capita basis. A country that has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia is suffering shortages of basic supplies. Venezuela now totters on the brink of bankruptcy and civil war, in the national catastrophe known as the Bolivarian Revolution.
The phrase is the coinage of the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, succeeded by the current Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro. The Western Hemisphere’s answer to Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Maduro has instituted an ongoing self-coup to make his country a one-party state.
The Chavistas have worked from the typical Communist playbook of romanticizing the masses while immiserating them. Runaway spending, price controls, nationalization of companies, corruption and the end of the rule of law — it’s been a master class in how to destroy an economy.
The result is a sharp, yearslong recession, runaway inflation and unsustainable debt. The suffering of ordinary people is staggering, while the thieves and killers who are Chavista officials have made off with hundreds of billions of dollars. At this rate — The Economist calls the country’s economic decline “the steepest in modern Latin American history” — there will be nothing left to steal.
Any government in a democratic country that failed this spectacularly would have been relegated to the dustbin of history long ago. Maduro is getting around this problem by ending Venezuela’s democracy.
The Chávistas slipped up a year or two by allowing real elections for the country’s National Assembly, which were swept by the opposition. They then undertook a war against the assembly, stripping it of its powers and culminating in a rigged vote this week to elect a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. The opposition boycotted the vote, and outside observers estimate less than 20 percent of the electorate participated. Read the rest of this entry »
Science Shopping: Seattle Socialists Commission New Minimum-Wage Study After Dismissing Unfavorable Results of First OnePosted: June 29, 2017 | |
City officials stopped funding the UW team when they didn’t like the results.
Dan Springer reports: When a University of Washington study came out this week showing Seattle’s minimum wage has cost 5,000 jobs and is hurting low income workers, city leaders attacked the messenger –- a team of respected economists at Washington’s premiere public university.
The researchers, led by Jacob Vigdor, were hired by the city in 2014 to study the effects of Seattle’s $15 wage experiment. The contract called for five years of research. City officials stopped funding the UW team when they didn’t like the results.
“The moment we saw it was based on flawed methodology and was going to be unreliable, the Vigdor study no longer speaks for City Hall,” said Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.
Sawant, a former economics professor at Seattle Central Community College who ran for office as a Socialist, accused the UW team of “ideologically editorializing.” She and Mayor Ed Murray then contacted Michael Reich, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Reich is currently co-chair of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Before earning his PhD in economics from Harvard, Reich was a founding member of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE), a group seeking a “human-centered radical alternative to capitalism,” according to its website.
Reich has authored several studies on the effects of raising the minimum wage. They all concluded that increasing the minimum wage only helps low-skilled workers.
As soon as Seattle politicians knew the University of Washington study found raising Seattle’s minimum wage from $11 to $13 an hour led to a 9-percent cut in hours worked and an average of $125 less earned each month, they commissioned Reich to do his own study and then criticized UW’s research.
According to emails obtained by Fox News, Reich was given a deadline by Murray. His work was to be completed just before the University of Washington team announced its results. Vigdor, the director of the study, shared with city council staffers the preliminary results of the research and provided a timeline for when it would be made public. Read the rest of this entry »
Thaddues Russell (Author, Professor) joins Dave Rubin to discuss growing up in a socialist family in Berkeley, the climate on college campuses, repressive puritanism of left wing politics, politicians and pop culture, Trump and Hillary breaking down walls, the evolution of politics, and more.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 of Dave’s interview with Thaddues Russell coming tomorrow, and the full interview airing Friday 6/30.
To fight state media censorship in Venezuela, journalists are using cardboard television screens to present news reports on city busses. “El Bus TV” is aimed at providing news to people who lack access to the internet or social media.
Frankfurt School Zombie Apocalypse: Students Demand Administrators ‘Take Action’ Against Conservative JournalistsPosted: April 17, 2017 | |
Truth is a ‘Myth’, and a “White Supremacist Concept’.
Matthew Reade reports: In an open letter to outgoing Pomona College President David Oxtoby, a group of students from the Claremont Colleges assail the president for affirming Pomona’s commitment to free speech and demand that all five colleges “take action” against the conservative journalists on the staff of the Claremont Independent.
“Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples … The idea that there is a single truth–‘the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment … “
The letter, written by three self-identified Black students at Pomona College, is a response to an April 7 email from President Oxtoby in which he reiterated the college’s commitment to “the exercise of free speech and academic freedom” in the aftermath of protests that shut down a scheduled appearance by an invited speaker, scholar and Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald, on April 6.
“Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live.”
“Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses,” Oxtoby wrote. “What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society.”
In their open letter, the students sharply disagree.
“Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry,” they write.
“Thus, if ‘our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,’” the students continue, citing Oxtoby’s letter, “how does free speech uphold that value?”
The students also characterize truth as a “myth” and a white supremacist concept. Read the rest of this entry »
Venezuela Supreme Court Assumes Powers of Opposition-Controlled Congress.
CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela‘s Supreme Court has assumed all powers of the opposition-controlled congress, a move lawyers and rights activists said amounted to the effective dissolution of the legislature in Latin America’s largest oil producer.
“This ruling marks the point of no return for the dictatorship,” National Assembly Vice President Freddy Guevara said. Assembly President Julio Borges called the act a coup and urged Venezuelans to rally on Saturday to defend the country’s democracy.
“This is despotic rule. There is absolutely no counterweighting [to Mr. Maduro].”
— Michael Shifter of policy group Inter-American Dialogue
The Supreme Court, which is packed with allies of President Nicolás Maduro, ruled late Wednesday that the congress was in contempt of court for having sworn in three lawmakers from the remote Amazonas state whom the ruling party had accused of electoral fraud. The court said it takes over all “parliamentary capacities” until the conflict is resolved.
“Maduro now has all powers in his hands, without any checks and balances,” Mr. Borges said. “This is the action of a desperate man who knows the whole world is turning against him.”
Several opposition lawmakers who tried to enter the Supreme Court building Thursday afternoon were blocked by soldiers in riot gear and manhandled by government supporters shouting “get out.”
Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski called the court’s action unacceptable and recalled his country’s ambassador to Venezuela on Thursday. In Washington, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States called for an urgent meeting of member states to discuss “the subversion of democratic order” in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s opposition won overwhelming control of the assembly in December 2015, in a victory it called the first step toward ending almost two decades of rule by a far-left movement created by the late Hugo Chávez.
Since then, however, Mr. Maduro has marshaled allied judges and prosecutors to jail dozens of opposition officials and activists, torpedo a recall referendum on the president, and indefinitely postpone all scheduled elections for posts ranging from state governors to labor union heads.
Mr. Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party, or PSUV, never presented any evidence of wrongdoing by the three opposition lawmakers, and government-appointed prosecutors still haven’t requested voting data 16 months after the start of an investigation, according to electoral officials. Read the rest of this entry »
“Comrade, your statement is factually incorrect.”
“Yes, it is. But it is politically correct.”
Angelo M. Codevilla writes: The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what the progressives say about themselves and the world, progressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e., what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.
Communist states furnish only the most prominent examples of such attempted groupthink. Progressive parties everywhere have sought to monopolize educational and cultural institutions in order to force those under their thumbs to sing their tunes or to shut up. But having brought about the opposite of the prosperity, health, wisdom, or happiness that their ideology advertised, they have been unable to force folks to ignore the gap between political correctness and reality.
Especially since the Soviet Empire’s implosion, leftists have argued that Communism failed to create utopia not because of any shortage of military or economic power but rather because it could not overcome this gap. Is the lesson for today’s progressives, therefore, to push P.C. even harder, to place even harsher penalties on dissenters? Many of today’s more discerning European and American progressives, in possession of government’s and society’s commanding heights, knowing that they cannot wield Soviet-style repression and yet intent on beating down increasing popular resistance to their projects, look for another approach to crushing cultural resistance. Increasingly they cite the name of Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), a brilliant Communist theoretician for whom “cultural hegemony” is the very purpose of the struggle as well as its principal instrument. His writings envisage a totalitarianism that eliminates the very possibility of cultural resistance to progressivism. But owing more to Machiavelli than to Marx or Lenin, they are more than a little complex about the means and are far from identical with the raw sort of power over culture enforced by the Soviet Empire or, for that matter, that is rife among us today.
My purpose here is to explain how progressives have understood and conducted their cultural war from the days of Lenin, and how Gramsci’s own ambiguous writings illustrate the choices they face in conducting that war in our time and circumstances—especially with regard to political correctness in our present culture war.
Every form of progressivism bases itself on the claim of a special, “scientific,” knowledge of what is wrong with humanity and how to fix it. The formula is straightforward: the world is not as it should be because society’s basic, “structural” feature is ordered badly. Everything else is “superstructural,” meaning that it merely reflects society’s fundamental feature. For Marx and his followers that feature is conflict over the means of production in “present-day society.” From the dawn of time, this class warfare has led to “contradictions”: between types of work, town and country, oppressors or oppressed, and so on. The proletariat’s victory in that conflict will establish a new reality by crushing all contradictions out of existence. Other branches of progressivism point to a different structural problem. For Freudians it’s sexual maladjustment, for followers of Rousseau it’s social constraint, for positivists it is the insufficient application of scientific method, for others it is oppression of one race by another. Once control of society passes exclusively into the hands of the proper set of progressives, each sect’s contradictions must disappear as the basic structural problem is straightened out.
But wherever progressives have gained power, all manner of contradictions have remained and new ones have arisen. Progressive movements have reacted to this failure by becoming their own reason for being. Theoretically, the Revolution is about the power and necessity to recreate mankind. In practice, for almost all progressive movements it is about gaining power for the revolutionaries and making war on those who stand in their way. For example, transcending private property, the division of labor, and political oppression was never Marxism-Leninism’s core motive any more than worker/peasant proletarians were ever its core protagonists. In fact, Communism is an ideology by, of, and for ideologues, that ends up empowering and celebrating those very ideologues. This is as true of progressivism’s other branches as it is of Marxism.
Lenin’s seminal contribution was explicitly to recognize the revolutionary party’s paramount primacy, and to turn the party’s power and prestige from a means to revolution into the Revolution’s candid end. Lenin’s writings, like Marx’s, contain no positive description of future economic arrangements. The Soviet economy, for all its inefficiencies, functioned with Swiss precision as an engine of privilege for some and of murderous deprivation for others. The Communist Party had transcended communism. The key to understanding what progressive parties in power do is the insight, emphasized by “elite theorists” like Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, that any organization’s practical objectives turn out to be what serves the interests and proclivities of its leaders.
What serves progressive revolutionaries’ interests is not in doubt. Although each of progressivism’s branches differs in how it defines society’s “structural” fault, in its own name for the human reality that it seeks to overcome, and in the means by which to achieve its ends, progressives from the 19th century to our time are well nigh identical in their personal predilections—in what and whom they hate even more than in what they love. They see the culture of what Marxists call “bourgeois morality” as the negation of their identity and authority. That identity, their identity, is to be promoted, endlessly, by endless warfare against that culture. That is why the cultural campaigns of otherwise dissimilar progressives have been so similar. Leninist Russia no less than various Western democrats have tried to eradicate religion, to make it difficult for men, women, and children to exist as families, and to demand that their subjects join them in celebrating the new order that reflects their identity. Note well: cultural warfare’s substantive goal is less important than the affirmation of the warriors’ own identity. This is what explains the animus with which progressives have waged their culture wars.
Yet, notwithstanding progressivism’s premise that individual minds merely reflect society’s basic structure and hence are incapable of reasoning independently about true and false, better and worse, reality forces progressives to admit that individuals often choose how they think or act despite lacking the “structural” basis for doing so, or that they act contrary to the economic, social, or racial “classes” into which progressive theories divide mankind. They call this freedom of the human mind “false consciousness.”
Fighting against false consciousness is one reason why Communists and other progressives end up treating cultural matters supposedly “superstructural” as if they were structural and basic. They do so by pressuring people constantly to validate progressivism’s theories, to concelebrate victories over those on the “wrong” side of history by exerting control over who says what to whom. Read the rest of this entry »
Perhaps you’ve wondered why so many college professors are so left-wing. In your freshman year, you might have noted with dread—as I did—some of your fellow students “going with the flow” and molding their beliefs to fit in. Perhaps one of them was you, before you grew up and snapped out of it! The Frankfurt School is the answer to why so many universities are Social Justice Warrior factories.
The origins of the Frankfurt School
They began as a Communist think tank at the Goethe University Frankfurt. They noted that the masses didn’t rise up during the First World War to overthrow capitalism; instead, the citizens fought for their countries. Only Russia became Communist, a place they didn’t expect Communism to take hold. Since they took the writings of Marx as gospel, all this was quite shocking. They decided they needed to prepare the way by breaking down traditional social ties—country, family, and religion—and afterwards the masses would embrace rule by a global Communist state. That’s not working out too well lately, but all that’s another story.
Because the proletariat just wasn’t interested in revolution, they rebranded Communism, taking out the elements of class struggle, and adding contributions from Freudian theory. This was a mistake; Communism emphasized hard work and heroism; that much is respectable even if the rest of the ideology is badly flawed. If you compare the Motherland Calls statue to Trigglypuff, you’ll understand.
How cultural Marxism took root
“You see, what Antonio Gramsci called ‘hegemony’ is, like, the value system of the Establishment, man! So don’t trust anyone over thirty, dig?”
They had two strategies: ensconcing themselves into academia, and the criticism of society (hence “critical theory”). Ultimately, this meant ideological subversion and basically badgering society to death. (It seems incredible that they did so much without picking up a single rifle.) They stressed moral relativism and the “question everything” atmosphere that became the 1960s counterculture zeitgeist. A few of their books, such as Eros and Civilization by Herbert Marcuse and The Authoritarian Personality by Theodor Adorno, have become classics in academia.
Many of their students graduated and became professors elsewhere, just in time for the 1960s. Young people are at the most impressionable time of their lives, so indoctrinating college students was a very effective strategy. It’s little wonder that campuses became hotbeds of student activism! College draft deferments surely helped them reach more students sympathetic to their message.
Further, the ideological seeds of the Frankfurt School—along with the Communist Party USA—fell onto fertile ground. There were several groups that they—cultural Marxists and garden variety Communists—infiltrated and subverted, for instance:
- There was already a feminist movement, mostly moderate and mostly simply about equal rights (a goal which was nearly complete by then). Under leftist influence, second wave feminism began, which was anything but moderate and effectively about deconstructing society.
- There was already a beatnik counterculture. With a little encouragement, this became a much larger youth counterculture, the hippies. Having a significant toehold in academia put the Critical Theory folks in a very good position to influence the young Baby Boomers.
- There was already a civil rights movement, which the Communists had put a lot of effort into influencing. This included figures such as W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Stanley Levison (MLK’s top advisor), and Frank Marshall Davis (called “Pops” in Obama’s autobiography).
- The gay movement was heavily influenced in the beginning by the Mattachine Society, founded by Harry Hay, of which most members were Communists.
Connecting the dots
Earlier I had assumed that the Frankfurt School was an independent movement, with no particular encouragement or guidance from the USSR. Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Super-Serious Cuckoo Bananas Berkeley Riots Backer Proud of Labeling Opponents ‘Fascists’ to Justify Totalitarian Rhetoric & Anti-Free Speech ViolencePosted: February 13, 2017 | |
Intellectuals and socialism have a long, sordid history
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is a smart cookie, no doubt about it. In fact, she used to vote Republican, so it appears at once she might have had a tiny soft spot for the free market… not that Republicans really believe in a free market either but… forget them, this is about Warren.
Intellectuals and socialism have a long, sordid history. Academics are generally thought to be highly intelligent, so since so many university professors tend to lean left, wouldn’t that mean that socialism is good because smart people back it?
Not so fast.
In “The Intellectuals and Socialism” by F.A. Hayek, the Austrian economist argued that we may be suffering from what’s known as “sample selection bias,” meaning that there are lots of intelligent people who don’t favor socialism, but these people are more likely to find a productive job in the marketplace, rather than join the academy and teach. In other words… in the famous words of polemicist H.L. Mencken: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” And don’t forget that “intellect is not wisdom,” from Thomas Sowell.
Let’s see if Liz Warren has any wisdom to offer in accordance with her intellect.
1. “No one in this country should work full time and still live in poverty.”
Poverty is about more than just how many hours you work. It’s about the decisions you make with the money you earn. Poverty isn’t always a choice, but it isn’t always mandatory either. The US federal government uses poverty thresholds to determine which and how many households have pre-tax income which they claim is insufficient to meet minimal food and basic needs. Really it’s about determining who should receive government assistance, but if you only look at these dollar amounts in American figures, you’re not getting a very good picture of what true poverty is on a global scale. You don’t want to be poor in Europe, trust us.
And it’s a complete fallacy that the poor are getting poorer in America. The bottom fifth of U.S. households in 1975 earned $28,000 more in 1991. Not only that, but the poor’s purchasing power has increased. Here in the good old US of A, even poor people have microwaves, smart phones, and a vehicle or two parked in the old dirt road. Some people are poor and happy. Some people aren’t, but here in America, at least poor can be a choice rather than a mandate.
2. “The federal government will make $ 51 billion in profits off student loans. That’s more than wrong. It’s obscene.”
There’s that old bugaboo word there “profit” again. As if making a profit was a bad thing. Libertarians don’t think the government should be in the student loan business at all. Read the rest of this entry »