What a Socialist Really Wants
What exactly is a socialist? You could spend all day studying encyclopedias and not settle anything. Using various definitions, you could probably prove that anybody is or isn't a socialist.
So let's talk to a socialist. Ignore the verbiage and look inside his head. When someone announces to the world, "I'm a socialist," what is that person thinking?
With this focus, everything becomes simpler. Socialists may not be able to claim experience, learning, smarts, or success. But they make up for all that by a boundless certitude about philosophical and political matters. It's as if they, albeit atheists, are guided by a divine vision.
What is the central assertion contained in that vision? Here, I believe, is what the self-proclaimed socialist is saying to the rest of us:
"You pathetic losers are clearly not qualified to run your own lives. Or if you think you are, you're probably in the grip of dangerous beliefs that need to be discarded. All in all, it would be better if you stayed out of the way and let experts manage your life. That would be I and my cronies."
That's it. "I'm a socialist" means "From now on, I'll be in charge, fortunately. You can take a hike."
What was the essence of Hillary Clinton's campaign? She seemed to think she had a right to take charge and order everyone else around. Saul Alinsky, her mentor, felt the same way. I suspect that Obama agreed with both of them.
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Socialism and communism are often presented as scientifically derived theories about economics and politics. That's the pretentious academic surface. In day-to-day practical terms, however, our left-wing visionaries try to answer this question: who should run the world? Inevitable answer: They should.
Socialists are passionately concerned with making sure the right people have the power – that is, themselves.
Democracy, on the other hand, is all about distributing power and making sure the worst people don't get it. How do we know they are the worst people? Because they are obsessed with grabbing power and using it to stifle other people, an arrangement they call socialism or communism.
It's possible that many socialists don't themselves know what they are really saying. Probably typical socialists always had a sense that they should have more power. Other people often have too much power, which is a bad thing. Beyond fixing these disparities, our socialists don't need to discuss the details. Just get out of their way.
General William Sherman said in 1866 that if nominated, he wouldn't run, and if elected, he wouldn't serve. This guy did not want to be president. He did not want more power. In a democracy, he's more or less the perfect person for the job.
In socialism, on the other hand, the most awful people on the planet strive to be your lord and master. Think Lenin. Think Marx, who often threatened his rivals with these words: "I will annihilate you." You have to ask, Who talks like that? Psychopaths are probably the main category, along with socialists and communists.
Paul Johnson, the great British historian, wrote an entertaining book called Intellectuals. His subjects are chiefly from the left, names like Rousseau, Sartre, Brecht, etc. Certainly, they are brilliant, but they tend to be self-absorbed and tough on others – in other words, just what we should expect socialists to be. They're in charge, and you're not – that's precisely how the universe should be arranged.
In 1920, as the Russian Revolution was consolidated, super-famous Bertrand Russell went to Russia to meet the super-famous Vladimir Lenin. Bertrand Russell was a confirmed communist; nonetheless, he detected something dangerous in Lenin. The Russian government was pitting ordinary peasants against kulaks, the more successful peasants. Russell, in his book about the meeting, noted a cruel streak "[Lenin] described the division between rich and poor peasants, and the Government propaganda among the latter against the former, leading to acts of violence which he seemed to find amusing." Making sure the kulaks got kicked around – that was "amusing" for Lenin. Keep in mind that kulaks were the best farmers. Once these were more scarce, Russia had to import food. That shows you how smart Lenin was. That, and he trusted Stalin, an even bigger, more ruthless egomaniac than Lenin himself.
Now we have the remarkable spectacle of Venezuela, one of the richest countries in the world, being reduced to poverty and hunger by a dimwitted socialist junta. The whole thing is a public spectacle, like botched plastic surgery on a movie star. The socialists in charge have all the answers. They know what you need better than you do. Unfortunately, that turns out to be every tragic, stupid outcome imaginable. How does any other country dare to discuss socialism? (The foolishness in Venezuela offers many parallels to the foolishness in our K-12 educational system.)
The Tao Te Ching (a compendium of ancient Chinese wisdom) has a lot of shrewd advice for wannabe kings. A big empire should be handled as delicately as a chef handles a small fish.
The Tao Te Ching also says, "The less a leader does and says; the happier his people; the more a ruler struts and brags, the sadder his people will be." Well, strutting and bragging are what socialist dictators know how to do. Look at Mussolini; look at Hitler; look at Mao. These are vast, swaggering egos.
Here is another Taoist insight. The great emperor is modest. When a large project is finished successfully, his people think, We did it ourselves. Hillary would be sure to correct that mistake. No, you deplorables, I did it all by myself.
CODA: If you wonder why some leaders prefer an inefficient public school system that seems intent on dumbing down the country, ask yourself what sort of citizens are more likely to put up with arrogant dictators. Probably that would be ignorant, semi-literate citizens.
Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is Saving K-12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them? His education site is Improve-Education.org.