The Killing Fields of Utopia: Are We Socialists Yet?
It is long overdue for us to put our minds at rest on a fundamental question — namely, what socialism is, and how it has infected and is rapidly sickening the United States.
Socialism is not a vague concept that affects other cultures. On the contrary, Western culture is thoroughly afflicted with socialism and is struggling internally for survival. We need to believe this and accept it, and stop fooling ourselves that there will always be an escape hatch. The more that people can be awakened to an understanding of the extraordinary phenomenon that is socialism, the more likely we are to see a counter-flourishing of the human spirit to re-map the future.
Most of the commentary on our dying culture expresses exasperation at the symptoms of socialism and disgust at the people who are thrusting it into our society. However, to understand socialism requires more than lamenting its various consequences. Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned us in the 1970s, lecturing to the deaf ears of the academy that the West was experiencing a spiritual crisis that threatened its existence.
Solzhenitsyn was more qualified than most to draw such a conclusion, being almost alone in studying the causal history of Russia's cultural demise. But for a full explanation of socialism, we turn to a contemporary of Solzhenitsyn. Renowned mathematician Igor Shafarevich undertook a masterful study of the disease that had destroyed his culture, as outlined in his book, The Socialist Phenomenon.
From his methodical review of socialist theory and critiques, and an examination of past and present socialist-like cultures, Shafarevich formed an iterative definition of socialism that in turn led to profound conclusions about its nature.
One of the difficulties he faced in defining socialism is that socialist cultures do not necessarily share all of the same characteristics in equal proportion. A universal concept of socialism is difficult to corner because it refuses to be subjected to rational examination. As soon as one form of socialism fails, its adherents merely move on to another form, claiming that the failed system was wrong and the new system is true.
Shafarevich separated socialism into two subsets: chiliastic and historical socialism. Chiliastic socialism is the theoretical component, as gleaned from the writings of its key historical proponents. It represents the ideal of socialism as theorized by the likes of the Cathars and Marx.
Historical socialism is the living or political account of life inside the socialist ideal. Socialism manifests itself politically in many guises, such as communism in Russia or Maoism in China.
By comparing socialist states with chiliastic theories, Shafarevich answers the apparent contradiction as to why socialist states look so different from one another yet remain essentially the same. He discovered that the core doctrines of socialism remain intact within the praxis of life in all of the cultures affected. It became evident that socialism is a powerful and universal historical force, and it is utterly conservative in its unchanging nature.
Common to both chiliastic and historical socialism are core principles that are embodied in varying proportions but are always present. These are the following:
- The abolition of private property, which is inherent in all socialist doctrines and is a core feature of socialist states. Modern countries achieve this primarily through sophisticated taxation and intrusive bureaucracy.
- The abolition of the family, or the communality of husbands and wives, and the destruction of ties between parents and children.
- Hostility toward religion, which may become an official function of the state to legitimize its power.
- A need for communality or "sameness," which is frequently expressed as hostility towards contemporary culture.
Socialists absorb contemporary ideas and language, and while the Western variant of socialism seems quite different from Russia's or China's, they are essentially the same thing. The narrative always consists of the following distinct structure.
A chosen people are called to destroy the old world and liberate society from its cultural captivity, ushering in a new Golden Age.
That, in a sentence, is the essence of all forms of socialism.
Both Solzhenitsyn and Shafarevich dug deeper into understanding the motivation behind the socialist phenomenon, and they concluded that socialism is a spiritual condition.
Shafarevich is more detailed in his analysis and demonstrates that, at its core, socialism is a longing for the death of humankind. By inference its goal is the crushing of the individual human spirit, rendering humanity equal in nothingness. This is what constitutes the utopian Golden Age toward which socialism trends.
Given the universality of socialism, Shafarevich surmises that this desire must exist within all of us to some extent. It is not that socialists consciously seek death, but that socialism becomes the practical means by which a subconscious nihilism, or the reduction to nothingness, comes into effect. Socialists are captured by the emotionalism or religious fervor of the chosen people's cause, perhaps unaware of its self-destructive path. It is this dogmatic emotionalism and self-conviction that renders logic impotent against them.
Socialism's ultimate goal is your destruction. With our protective, communal institutions beginning to fail, the Western individual is being increasingly challenged to defend the liberty of the human spirit. It's important then to comprehend in its totality the historical anti-life malaise that socialism embodies. For the individual, the stoutest defense is to nurture a confident faith in life and liberty, and eschew the chosen ones' virtue-signaling and seductive nothingness. Shafaravich closes his study by claiming that from such remnants of spirit, humanity will always flourish beyond the graveyard of the socialist utopia.
Philip Crossing is a pen name.
Image via Pxhere.
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