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Greetings, Slaves

Thomas Lifson argues that Bernie Sanders presents "a mortal danger to not only the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, but the continued viability of the party’s strategy of mouthing populist rhetoric while practicing crony capitalism. Too late, they now realize he actually means what he says."

In an age where truth is the worst policy, socialism -- like Santa Claus -- is something no adult should believe in. That Sanders might actually have illusions lies at the heart of his appeal. To a cynical public a politician who doesn't calculate in explicit monetary terms is the nearest thing to secular sainthood. Hans Gruber, the villain in Die Hard, disappointed the industrialist he kidnapped by confessing: "Mr Takagi, ... I am far more interested in the 100 million dollars in negotiable bearer bonds hidden in your vault."

Takagi: You want money? What kind of terrorist are you?

We expect revolutionaries to be indifferent to money. Yet in reality the Left thinks about nothing but money as the Venezuelan socialists who have stolen $350 billion from the treasury, according to the Basel Institute on Governance, should have proved to the world. If it's any consolation to the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is not as indifferent to lucre as he seems. Sanders' filings show he's received money from Super PACs and donors with links to Wall Street -- so he may be normal after all.

Perhaps the first major 20th century writer to realize that the ambition of all true Communists should be to become billionaire revolutionaries was Hilaire Belloc. In his 1912 book, The Servile State, Belloc argued the then-burgeoning Communist movement would find more success ditching Leninism in favor of an alliance with Crony Capitalists to reinstate Slavery. "Slavery, or a Servile State in which those who do not own the means of production shall be legally compelled to work for those who do, and shall receive in exchange a security of livelihood."

This modern form of slavery would address not only the concerns of the revolutionaries by fixing job insecurity and guaranteeing retirement on a plantation basis, but also assuage the monopolists, who stay up nights worrying about preserving market share in the face of competition. An alliance between socialists and crony capitalists would solve both problems at once. The only price to pay for this convenience is the loss of public freedom and that is readily paid.

As for the rest, it would be sustainable. The crony capitalists would underwrite the projects of the collectivists. The ant-heaps of each would be so similar to the other that only a few changes in signage would be needed to turn regulated capitalism into the workers' paradise. It was a tremendous insight. Belloc realized Bolshevism was was too obviously destructive to last and anticipated the rise of what we would now call the Blue Model. F.A. Hayek paid tribute: "Hilaire Belloc ... explained that the effects of Socialist doctrine on Capitalist society is to produce a third thing different from either of its two begetters - to wit, the Servile State." Regarding the Servile State, George Orwell realized whatever name it gave itself, such an unholy alliance would be much the same quantity.

Many earlier writers have foreseen the emergence of a new kind of society, neither capitalist nor Socialist, and probably based upon slavery ... A good example is Hilaire Belloc's book, The Servile State ...  Jack London, in The Iron Heel ... Wells's The Sleeper Awakes (1900) ... Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1930), all described imaginary worlds in which the special problems of capitalism had been solved without bringing liberty, equality, or true happiness any nearer. More recently, writers like Peter Drucker and F.A. Voigt have argued that Fascism and Communism are substantially the same thing. And indeed, it has always been obvious that a planned and centralized society is liable to develop into an oligarchy or a dictatorship.

The crucial point would be that this proposed Third Way would be more secure than the traditional Leninsim which rested upon the unholy Troika of Party, Army and Cheka. Paychecks would actually be met, courtesy of the crony capitalists. It's not surprising that after the collapse of the Soviets, the next collectivist social project was the much more "responsible" EU. But Larry Elliott, arguing in the Guardian for a British exit from Brussels, realized that distinction was more a matter of degree than substance. He characterized the EU not as "the US without the electric chair; it is the USSR without the gulag."  The correspondence with Belloc's 1912 prediction is eerie.