Socialism Be Not Proud
Has the news got you down?
Watching JV-Team-Biden destroy our credibility abroad, flood our towns with illegal aliens and unscreened Afghani refugees, and print greenbacks faster than Prez Mitty can spin up tales about his innumerable alter-egos, you thought you had seen it all. Then our nation’s highest-ranking military officer casually fessed up to committing at least one act of what some have called treason. Who could blame you for cashing out and caving in? But I say take heart. The tonic I offer is an observation I found in a century-old work by an obscure Frenchman who dissects the perennial beast we’re up against and exposes its Achilles heel.
Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931) was a psychologist, sociologist, and anthropologist who studied the relationship between the person and the group. He was not fond of the latter, much less the mentality it spawns.
In 1899, M. Le Bon published The Psychology of Socialism, in which he equates the battle between democracy and socialism to the struggle between the individual and society. Though I presume he appreciated the distinction between the USA’s representative democracy and the direct democracies of Europe and Latin America, it was immaterial to his analysis. Because I am quite keen on our representative democracy, I will substitute the word republic for his references to democracy (except, of course, in direct quotes).
Now, back to that struggle. M. Le Bon (p. 12): "What in effect is Socialism …?” He first defines individualism, citing the qualities of self-reliance, maximal work effort, strength of will and self-control (p. 88): "that internal discipline which makes it needless for the individual to seek other guides than himself."
By contrast, socialism seeks "equality of condition" (p. 8), minimal work effort (p. 13), forced wealth redistribution (p. 28), a centralized government bent on righting every perceived injustice, however trivial (pp. 130-131), and the suppression of competition (p. 220). Who is most likely to clamor for such a system? He who (a) consistently finds himself on the losing end in competition or (b) has never acquired the practical tools to thrive in modern civilization -- the sort M. Le Bon refers to as The Unadapted (p. 262). The unadapted are, among other things (pp. 268-9), the chronically indolent who reproduce at an alarming rate (pp. 103, 251), youths who are utterly bereft of worldly wisdom, and career academicians who very likely couldn’t cut it beyond the ivied walls (p. 270). In M. Le Bon's words (p. 151):
"It is among individuals whose needs are very great, and who have neither the capacity nor the energy to acquire the means to satisfy them, that Socialism most easily develops."
The most insidious facet of socialism is that it is the predictable result of a republic gone astray. As special interest groups demand ever more of the impossible, politicians grow ever more desperate to promise them the moon and stars, fomenting the "redoubtable popular delusion -- that all ills can be remedied by laws. The Chambers are thus condemned to enact an immense number of laws and regulations of which nobody foresees the consequences, and which have scarcely any other result than to surround the liberty of the citizen with a thousand fetters, and to increase the ills they should remedy." (p. 212)
Inevitably, a lazy, self-absorbed, and uninformed electorate will quite enthusiastically misinterpret their republican form of government as a system intended to elevate "the disenfranchised" (the slothful, the dull and the shortsighted) over their "oppressors" (the energetic, the intelligent and the prudent) -- despite the fact that its purpose is just the opposite: to protect the enterprising and self-sufficient individual from the capricious parasitism of gang rule. "But if," the old argument goes, "the adapted individual possesses qualities superior to the inept, why does he need protection?" M. Le Bon answers (p. 103):
“Unhappily they are the most incapable, the weakest, and the most imprudent who maintain the numerical level of the population."
"The individual who is sufficiently strong to count only on his own intelligence and initiative… finds himself face to face with the masses… to whom their number gives might, the only upholder of right." (p. 13)
By sheer force of numbers, then, may the derelict horde neutralize the individual despite the fact that his aptitude surpasses that of any single constituent of the delinquent pack. What motivates this fickle flock?
“…the hatred of the Socialists for the democratic system, a hatred far more intense than was felt by the men of the Revolution for the ancien régime.” (p. 221)
And what of their leaders? As its name suggests, the purported goal of communism is to engineer an egalitarian paradise where there is no need for government or police or leaders of any ilk, and everyone lives in perfect commie-cola harmony. But the student of history finds two curious things about communism in practice. First, to achieve such a sublime state of being, citizens must first be forcibly stripped of their hard-earned private property -- and a great many their lives, it appears (see Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot). Second, the leaders of the successful revolution are never eager to abdicate the power they have seized to make way for this ever-elusive heaven-on-earth (see Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot). M. Le Bon offers this insight (p. 221):
“There is to-day no lack of flatterers ready to persuade the masses that the realisation of such an ideal is easy. These dangerous prophets know they will live long enough to reap the fruits of their popularity, but not long enough for events to expose them as impostors, so that they have nothing to lose.”
But the victory of the socialist will prove fleeting, for within us all resides the genetic imprint of time immemorial: we are hard-wired for aspiration and competition. M. Le Bon speaks of (p. 280):
"… all through nature an incessant struggle, resulting always in the extinction of the weakest; a cruel law, no doubt, but the origin of all progress, without which humanity would never have emerged from its primitive savagery, and would never have given birth to a civilisation."
Let that sink in: competition is the natural order of life.
Thus, the fundamental fallacy of socialism is exposed: because the bedrock nature of humankind is to compete, any artificial uniformity socialists impose will ultimately be undone (pp. 225-6).
Entertain, if you dare, the worst-case scenario: our judges and appellate justices and elected representatives, by intention or apathy, unanimously fail to uphold our constitutional rights as well as the natural rights from which they derive. Would the bold experiment of 1776 die?
I think not. Here is why: A right ignored is not a right erased.
Hope, creativity and ambition are in our DNA. So, I submit, is the resilience of our founders.
Forsaken though our founding documents are now, or may become, they can never be unwritten.
I, for one, remain optimistic.
Therefore, socialism, be not proud.
Image: Public Domain
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