The experience of socialism.

Charles Cooke in National Review on Socialism is Not Democratic: “It has become something of a running joke that, whenever socialism’s history is highlighted, its diehard advocates insist that ‘that wasn’t real socialism.’ This defense is frustrating. But it is also instructive, in that it is an admission that, like perpetual motion, socialism has never been realized in the world. The U.S. Constitution has survived for so long because it was built upon the understanding that man is imperfect and always will be, because it accepts that selfishness is ineradicable and so must be harnessed, because it acknowledges that power corrupts as much in our era as it ever did, and because it makes provisions for the fact that disunity is inevitable in any free society. Capitalism, too, has survived because it is built on truth rather than myths. Socialism, by contrast, has failed each and every time it has been tried because it is predicated upon precisely the opposite — that is, precisely the wrong — assumptions. 

“One would have imagined that, at some point, ‘That wasn’t real socialism . . .’ would have been followed by ‘and real socialism can’t exist because man isn’t perfectible, selfishness is ineradicable, power has needed restraining since the dawn of time, and political unity is a dangerous and undesirable myth.’ Alas, no such recognition has yet been forthcoming. In the 20th century, Communism killed at least 100 million people — by democide, by famine, by central planning, by war — and yet it is still acceptable to say in public that it was a ‘nice idea. ‘ In the post-war period, ‘democratic’ socialism ravaged the economies of the West like a virus and required a counterrevolution to remove, and yet it remains sufficiently seductive to a slice of the public as to present a threat to the American order. Today, the states that have actively rejected socialism are growing fast (India, Poland, the former East Germany) while those that fell prey to the temptation are either moribund (Greece), tyrannies (China), or international pariahs (Cuba and North Korea) — and yet there is still a solipsistic cottage industry dedicated to blaming their successes and failures on decisions made by the United States. The damn thing is ineradicable.” That’s because the most unattractive features of human nature–envy, wishful thinking, self pity, desire for the power to push others around–are ineradicable, at least until our earthly minds and bodies are exchanged for the eternal.

“The Venezuelan president is now a ruthless dictator who has cracked down on free speech, prohibited mass political protests, and confiscated firearms from anyone who has been even remotely critical of him. Thirteen percent of the country’s population has now fled, and those who have remained have been left so degraded by the government’s price controls that they have gone years without toilet paper, meat, and other basic necessities and have in consequence taken to eating zoo animals for sustenance and to scouring garbage bags for supplies. According to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela, the country is suffering through an 85 percent medicine shortage and a 90 percent shortage of basic medical supplies. The child-mortality rate has increased 140 percent. Ninety percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty. This year, the IMF predicts, inflation will hit 10 million percent. All this in a country with the world’s largest oil reserves — reserves greater than those of the United States by a factor of ten.

Often the impulse to “try” Socialism springs from a misguided desire to “help the poor“, as if exchanging their dignity as contributing members of society for dole dependence helps them. When experience shows that removing incentives to produce and contribute simply spread the misery rather than improve lives, those who still insist socialism is worth trying are, need I repeat myself, driven by envy, wishful thinking, self pity, and desire for the power to push others around. No one is more dangerous than the one who says it’s not so.

 

Author: iamcurmudgeon

When I began this blog, I was a 70 year old man, with a young mind and a body trying to recover from a stroke, and my purpose for this whole blog thing is to provoke thinking, to ridicule reflex reaction, and provide a legacy to my children.

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