Socialism Persists, But It Ain’t What It Used To Be
I used to say, to anyone foolish enough to listen to my rants, that socialism was and is a product which was rushed to market without adequate field testing.
And what testing was done has been resolutely ignored. Upon reflection, it has become clear to me that, while true, this metaphor oversimplifies matters. Because it implies that socialists haven’t learned any lessons during the long, bloody history of their bad idea. This is not the case. From a product development perspective, the goal should be to continually improve the product, so more people will desire it. The socialists believe as an article of faith that their product is already perfect. As a result, they’ve taken all of the wrong lessons to heart.
Not being a Marxian, and certainly not a Marxist, scholar I cannot argue eloquently as to the finer points of dialectical theory. I can only observe the performance of Marxist philosophy as it has been applied to real world situations. Trust me, it is not a pretty sight.
For simplicity, we’ll use the term socialism to encompass communism, socialism, progressivism, liberalism, Marxism, Maoism, and any other flavor of collectivist nonsense. They are all just different parts of the same scary water slide which inevitably empties into a totalitarian nightmare, not the worker’s paradise. Switching names is an old grifter’s trick, pulled when word gets around and the scam needs a fresh start. It's similar to how “used” cars became “previously owned,” and “trailers” became “mobile homes,” then “manufactured housing.” This dodge buys time to swindle more marks before they get wise again.
Socialism, in its modern sense, was born with the French Revolution, which was inspired in part by the American Revolution. The French radicals on what was known at the time as the far left misread our founding, thinking that simply getting rid of their king would usher in an ideal regime. While our Founding Fathers realized that King George was more trouble than he was worth, they were wise enough to recognize the trap of trading one tyrant for another. They understood that any government is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless. Our Constitution views government as a dangerous, insatiable beast, to be chained, starved, and vigilantly watched. In contrast, the French revolutionaries were entranced by the power of the beast, blind to its perils.
The radical and rapid transformation of society the French Revolution brought about filled socialists with a reverence for the potential of governmental coercion. The lesson they learned was that power must be seized and wielded before it can be used against them. Napoleon Bonaparte eventually beat them at their own game during a decadent lull after the Great Terror by being even more ruthless.
Decades later, the socialism which infests North America today was in an early form busy setting up small Utopian communities across the U.S., with names like New Harmony. The expectation was that these seeds would grow to engulf America in a popular socialist wave. The vast majority failed within a few years. If the communities incorporated a religious component, they tended to last a bit longer. These Utopias tended to draw the lazy and alienate the industrious, along with corroding stable family life. People drifted away from these isolated, dysfunctional communes until they became weed-choked ghost towns. The lesson socialists drew from this debacle is that people are too stupid to know what’s best for them. A condition that the socialists reasoned could be fixed, given time and the proper tools. This cadre-knows-best attitude has been a constant feature of the Left since.
With the lessons cherry-picked from the French Revolution and the stillborn America Utopian movement firmly in mind, the Marxists smuggled Vladimir Ilych Lenin into Russia with the aid of the desperate German high command near the end of World War I. They realized that people needed to be stampeded into socialism by fear. Thus, the Soviet Union was birthed in fire, blood, and terror. Knowing without a doubt that their cause was just, the socialists eventually slaughtered all who resisted them until the survivors got the message and kneeled to the new god. Then these saviors of humanity were confronted by the same problems which had plagued the smaller Utopias of the nineteenth century, multiplied by a million. Socialism is simply not a practical way to run a society, large or small. If people aren’t rewarded proportionally to their efforts, they won’t exert themselves any more than they absolutely have to. What’s more, the more ambitious among the populace will flee the workers’ paradise given half a chance, regardless of the risk.
The answer, concluded the socialists, is to tightly control all aspects of their new society. Counterrevolutionary thought and behavior (a particularly elastic and useful term) must be punished harshly. Do what you’re told, or you will serve as an example to others. The actual result was waste, inefficiency, corruption, despair, and famine. But the truth would undermine the infallibility of the state and encourage more jailbreaks from the nation-sized prison that the Soviet Union had become. So, lies were harnessed in service to the socialist “truth.” There is plenty to eat. Your government is just. The new five-year plan will bring vast improvements. Conditions are much worse in the capitalist West. The lesson learned is that facts are dangerous, and should be buried. Living in deceit is a small price to pay for continued power.
The business model of the Soviet Union was replicated and exported to troubled spots around the world, by war, subversion, and revolutionary fervor. Cynical revolutionaries didn’t think twice about the carnage as long as they ended up in charge. Willfully blind leftists in the West much preferred sweet propaganda to the bitter truth. Still, the Soviet Union and its slave states in Eastern Europe eventually collapsed under the weight of their own flaws, brought about in no small degree by poor comparison with the capitalist West. The lesson the remaining socialists learned from the fall of the Iron Curtain is that the West must be destroyed. By its simple existence, capitalism proves that there is an alternative to socialist tyranny. You don’t have to compete if the competition has been eliminated.
The Left has bet the farm on a bad idea. But it’s the only idea they have to sell. They are in unenviable possession of the ideological equivalent of the Ford Pinto or the Chevrolet Corvair. So, they’ll lie, cheat, steal, and worse. Anything they have to do, to keep from facing the truth. It’s tragic, really. Socialists started out with what they thought to be the true salvation of mankind. With each failure of their system, more and more excuses were cobbled together to salvage their faith from the wreckage.
They have learned their lessons well. Seize and wield power ruthlessly. Never depend upon people to do what you want them to do. Force them to. Facts are your enemies. Useful lies are your friends. Don’t bother competing on the merits. Remove the competition. Hmm. The above seems to be lifted directly from the play books of the Democrat party, the mainstream media, and the big tech industry. I wonder why.
A. Welderson wishes to remain anonymous, preferring morning coffee not fortified with the saliva of some triggered SJW barista. Fame is fleeting; hepatitis is forever.
Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License
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