I will be quoting freely from many of the essays about socialism, from those who know, in National Review’s latest issue. This is my first post in a series.
Theodore Dalrymple, a retired doctor who worked for Britain’s National Health Service. “True socialists do not want a better world, they want a perfect one. That is why they so often view piecemeal amelioration with disdain or even hostility, and why they are willing to sacrifice the happiness of a present generation for the imagined bliss of a generation to come in the distant future.” That’s why I have been using the term “Perfectionist Progressives.” He quotes Oscar Wilde, then Edmund Burke. Can you guess which quote is whose?
“Socialism annihilates family life, for instance. With the abolition of private property, marriage in its present form must disappear. This is part of the programme. Individualism accepts this and makes it fine. It converts the abolition of legal restraint into a form of freedom that will help the full development of personality, and make the love of man and woman more wonderful, more beautiful, and more ennobling.“
“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.“
The author comments: “The people who lived Wilde’s dream whom I saw close up as a doctor working in a poor part of a British city lived under a socialist regime as complete as, though less authoritarian than, that of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Their housing, education, health care, and income derived from the collectivity, not from anything that they did themselves. They lived in the utmost security — the public services would always be there for them — except, perhaps, when they left their homes, when they might be attacked by their peers. It is true that they clung to a certain amount of private property, but it consisted mainly of clothes, a few white goods, the electronic apparatus of mental distraction, and some valueless furniture. Even Wilde could hardly have meant that people should not possess their own clothes; and in fact they lived in an environment that was remarkably equal. Their material standard of living had been successfully dissociated from any effort that they might make.
“Their sexual relations were precisely as lacking in legal restraint as Wilde had envisaged. In this respect, he was a prophet; but unfortunately, the rest of his vision was sadly lacking in acuity or verisimilitude. The people being deprived of any economic or contractual reasons for the exercise of self-control and believing they would never be any better- or worse-off if they exerted themselves (except perhaps by crime), relations between the sexes, once subject to restraints of the kind that Wilde wanted removed so that the full beauty of the human personality could emerge, became fluid in the worst possible way. It was unknown for the father to remain present throughout the childhood of his offspring; serial step-fatherhood became a very common pattern. Jealousy, the most powerful instigator of violence between men and women, increased to an astonishing extent. Man was not so much a wolf as a sexual predator to man. Trust disappeared and violence took its place. A social environment was created in which a cycle of relative (if not absolute) poverty, which was a supposed justification for socialism in the first place, now existed as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. If socialists so loved the poor that they wanted to preserve them in their poverty, they could hardly have done better.“ This description is of the mostly white lower class; behavior is clearly more of a class (i.e. economic/educational) phenomenon than a racial phenomenon. For example, the neighborhood in Philadelphia in which I grew up started out entirely white, and gradually became almost entirely black. When I returned many years later, just to visit, the transformation was marvelous. The people who had moved in planted so many flowers and painted all the homes, it looked like a garden compared to the austere neighborhood I left. They also seemed more affluent than the people who had lived there in my youth, judging from the condition and makes of vehicles on the street.
More from Dalrymple: “Socialism is not only, or even principally, an economic doctrine: It is a revolt against human nature. It refuses to believe that man is a fallen creature and seeks to improve him by making all equal one to another. It is not surprising that the development of the New Man was the ultimate goal of Communist tyrannies, the older version of man being so imperfect and even despicable. But such futile and reprehensible dreams, notwithstanding the disastrous results when they were taken seriously by ruthless men in power, are far from alien to current generations of intellectuals. Man, knowing himself to be imperfect, will continue to dream of, and believe in, schemes not merely of improvement here and there but of perfection, of a life so perfectly organized that everyone will be happy, kind, decent, and selfless without any effort at all. Illusion springs eternal, especially among intellectuals.” So does willful blindness, since Stalin and Mao, history’s most accomplished mass murderers, are still figures of popularity, both within their own countries, and the liberal “intelligentsia”.