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Laughing at the Contradictions of Socialism in America

Old Soviet-era jokes have become disturbingly applicable to the U.S.

by
Oleg Atbashian

Bio

March 5, 2009 - 12:35 am

There was a time in recent American history when certain Soviet jokes didn’t work in translation — not so much because of the language differences, but because of the lack of common sociopolitical context. But that is changing. As President Obama is preparing us for a great leap towards collectivism, I find myself recollecting forgotten political jokes I shared with comrades while living in the old country under Brezhnev, Andropov, and Gorbachev. (I was too young to remember the Khrushchev times, but I still remember the Khrushchev jokes.) I also noticed that the further America “advances” back to the Soviet model, the more translatable the old Soviet jokes become. Not all Soviet advancements have metastasized here yet, but we have four more glorious years to make it happen.

One of my favorite political jokes is this:

The six dialectical contradictions of socialism in the USSR:

  • There is full employment — yet no one is working.
  • No one is working — yet the factory quotas are fulfilled.
  • The factory quotas are fulfilled — yet the stores have nothing to sell.
  • The stores have nothing to sell — yet people got all the stuff at home.
  • People got all the stuff at home — yet everyone is complaining.
  • Everyone is complaining — yet the voting is always unanimous.

It reads like a poem — only instead of the rhythm of syllables and rhyming sounds, it’s the rhythm of logic and rhyming meanings. If I could replicate it, I might start a whole new genre of “contradictory six-liners.” It would be extremely difficult to keep it real and funny at the same time, but I’ll try anyway.

Dialectical contradictions are one of the pillars in Marxist philosophy, which states that contradictions eventually lead to a unity of opposites as the result of a struggle. This gave a convenient “scientific” excuse for the existence of contradictions in a socialist society, where opposites were nice and agreeable — unlike the wild and crazy opposites of capitalism that could never be reconciled. Hence the joke.

Then I moved to America, where wild and crazy opposites of capitalism were supposedly at their worst. Until recently, however, the only contradictions that struck me as irreconcilable were these:

Economic justice:

  • America is capitalist and greedy — yet half of the population is subsidized.
  • Half of the population is subsidized — yet they think they are victims.
  • They think they are victims — yet their representatives run the government.
  • Their representatives run the government — yet the poor keep getting poorer.
  • The poor keep getting poorer — yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
  • They have things that people in other countries only dream about — yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

Hollywood cliches:

  • Without capitalism there’d be no Hollywood — yet filmmakers hate capitalism.
  • Filmmakers hate capitalism — yet they sue for unauthorized copying of their movies.
  • They sue for unauthorized copying — yet on screen they teach us to share.
  • On screen they teach us to share — yet they keep their millions to themselves.
  • They keep their millions to themselves — yet they revel in stories of American misery and depravity.
  • They revel in stories of American misery and depravity — yet they blame the resulting anti-American sentiment on conservatism.
  • They blame the anti-American sentiment on conservatism — yet conservatism ensures the continuation of a system that makes Hollywood possible.

I never thought I would see socialist contradictions in America, let alone write about them. But somehow all attempts to organize life according to “progressive” principles always result in such contradictions. And in the areas where “progressives” have assumed positions of leadership — education, news media, or the entertainment industry — contradictions become “historically inevitable.”

If one were accidentally to open his eyes and compare the “progressive” narrative with facts on the ground, one might start asking questions. Why, for instance, if the war on terror breeds more terrorists, haven’t there been attacks on the U.S. soil since 2001? Why, if George W. Bush had removed our freedom of speech, was nobody ever arrested for saying anything? And if Obama has returned us our freedoms, why was a man harassed by police in Oklahoma for having an anti-Obama sign in his car? Why would anyone who supports free speech want to silence talk radio? And why is silencing the opposition called the “Fairness Doctrine”?

After the number of “caring,” bleeding-heart politicians in Washington reached a critical mass, it was only a matter of time before the government started ordering banks to help the poor by giving them risky home loans through community organizers. Which resulted in a bigger demand, which resulted in rising prices, which resulted in slimmer chances of repaying the loans, which resulted in more pressure on the banks, which resulted in repackaging of bad loans, which resulted in a collapse of the banks, which resulted in a recession, which resulted in many borrowers losing their jobs, which resulted in no further mortgage payments, which resulted in a financial disaster, which resulted in a worldwide crisis, with billions of poor people overseas — who had never seen a community organizer, nor applied for a bad loan — becoming even poorer than they had been before the “progressives” in the U.S. government decided to help the poor.

As if that were not enough, the same bleeding hearts are now trying to fix this by nationalizing the banks so that they can keep issuing risky loans through community organizers. In other words, to prevent the toast from landing buttered side down, they’re planning to butter the toast on both sides and hope that it will hover in mid-air. Which also seems like a sensible alternative energy initiative.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, there’s always the last resort of a liberal: blame capitalism. It’s always a win-win. Today government regulators may be blaming capitalism for the crisis caused by their dilettantish tampering with the economy, but who do you think they will credit after market forces resuscitate the economy?

Years ago, living in America made me feel as though I had traveled in a time machine from the past. But after the recent “revolutionary” changes have turned reality on its head — which is what “revolution” literally means — I’m getting an uneasy feeling I had come from your future.

As your comrade from the future, I also feel a social obligation to help my less advanced comrades in the American community, and prepare them for the transition to the glorious world of underground literature, half-whispered jokes, and the useful habit of looking over your shoulder. Don’t become a nation of cowards — but watch who might be listening.

Let’s start with these few.

People’s power:

  • Liberals believe they’re advancing people’s power — yet they don’t believe people can do anything right without their guidance.
  • People can’t do anything right — yet the government bureaucracy can do everything.
  • The government bureaucracy can do everything — yet liberals don’t like it when the government takes control of their lives.
  • Liberals don’t like it when the government takes control of their lives — yet they vote for programs that increase people’s dependency on the government.
  • They vote for programs that increase people’s dependency on the government — yet they believe they’re advancing people’s power.

Bush and the media:

  • The media said Bush was dumb — yet he won over two intelligent Democrats.
  • He won over two intelligent Democrats — yet the media said his ratings were hopeless.
  • The media said his ratings were hopeless — yet the 2004 electoral map was red.
  • The 2004 electoral map was red — yet the media said his policies failed.
  • The media said his policies failed — yet the economy grew and the war was won.
  • The economy grew and the war was won — yet the media said we needed “change.”

Public education:

  • Liberals have been in charge of education for 50 years — yet education is out of control.
  • Education is out of control — yet liberal teaching methods prevail.
  • Liberal teaching methods prevail — yet public schools are failing.
  • Public schools are failing — yet their funding keeps growing.
  • Their funding keeps growing — yet public schools are always underfunded.
  • Public schools are always underfunded — yet private schools yield better results for less.
  • Private schools yield better results for less — yet public education is the only way out of the crisis.

Foreign radicals*:

  • Foreign radicals hate America — yet they’re all wearing American blue jeans.
  • They’re all wearing American blue jeans — yet they disdain American culture.
  • They disdain American culture — yet they play American music, movies, and video games.
  • They play American music, movies, and video games — yet they call Americans uncivilized.
  • They call Americans uncivilized — yet they expect Americans to defend their civilization.
  • They expect Americans to defend their civilization — yet they think American capitalism is outdated.
  • They think American capitalism is outdated — yet most of their countries require American handouts.

(* Some Democrat politicians have similar opinions about their redneck constituents — yet they won’t shut up about how proud they are to have their mandate.)

Liberals and taxes:

  • Liberals want to help the poor — yet they won’t give money to charities.
  • They won’t give money to charities — yet they’d like the government to become a gigantic charity.
  • They’d like the government to become a gigantic charity — yet the money has to be taken from people by force.
  • The money has to be taken from people by force — yet they call it welfare.
  • They call it welfare — yet higher taxes make everyone poorer.
  • Higher taxes make everyone poorer — yet liberals find ways not to pay taxes.
  • Liberals find ways not to pay taxes — yet they get to be chosen to run the government.

Liberals and the CIA:

  • The CIA is a reactionary institution — yet its agents always leak information that helps liberals politically.
  • CIA agents always leak information that helps liberals politically — yet liberals say the CIA is clueless.
  • Liberals say the CIA is clueless — yet in their movies the CIA is running the world.
  • In their movies the CIA is running the world — yet they tell us that better intelligence could have prevented the war.
  • Better intelligence could have prevented the war — yet “enhanced interrogations” of captured terrorists must not be allowed.

Love and marriage:

  • Sex differences are the result of social conditioning — yet homosexuality is biological.
  • Homosexuality is biological — yet everybody is encouraged to experiment with it.
  • Everybody is encouraged to experiment with it — yet venereal diseases are treated at the taxpayers’ expense.
  • Venereal diseases are treated at the taxpayers’ expense — yet taxpayers have no right to impose standards since there are no moral absolutes.
  • There are no moral absolutes — yet gay marriage is an absolute must.
  • Gay marriage is an absolute must — yet family is an antiquated tool of bourgeois oppression.

Oleg Atbashian, a writer and graphic artist from the former USSR, is the author of Shakedown Socialism, of which David Horowitz said, "I hope everyone reads this book."  In 1994 he moved to the U.S. with the hope of living in a country ruled by reason and common sense, appreciative of its freedoms and prosperity. To his dismay, he discovered a nation deeply infected by the leftist disease of "progressivism" that was arresting true societal progress. Oleg is the creator of a satirical website ThePeoplesCube.com, which Rush Limbaugh described on his show as "a Stalinist version of The Onion."
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