The One Wrong Premise at the Center of American Politics Today
With President Trump declaring that America is not now and will never be a socialist country, the masks have come off.
All the establishment left that a mere ten years ago would have denied strenuously that they were in any way, shape, or form socialists, are now defending their precious dream of socialism (really, communism, but the difference is academic and like the difference between male and female penguins, it matters only to themselves. Let’s remember the USSR only ever called itself socialist).
Occasional Cortex had to come out and talk about how socialism is getting more popular all the time (someone told her it was to die for) and the Washington Post (democracy dies in darkness while we hold a pillow over her head) said Trump will lose his “war” on socialism (just like we were always going to lose till communism, till the wall came down. Unexpectedly! As far as the left was concerned).
This means communism and socialism (100 million dead. Why not try again?) has been much in the minds of most of my contacts both on the right and left, and I’ve been reading testimonials on our side and people pointing out it’s not Trump’s war on socialism. It’s our war on socialism. It’s merely a relief to have a president who, unlike Mr. Obama, doesn’t think the ridiculous and abominable system is inevitable.
Thing is, because of it being in the news, I’ve heard an awful lot about why communism and socialism (its pink, pale cousin who causes death by stagnation and piecemeal instead of the honking big mass graves of communism) don’t work.
To be fair there is so much wrong with both systems it’s almost like they were dreamed up by a reclusive and bookish man who had never worked a day in his life and in fact had no concept of what this “working for a living” was, much less of how the economy worked.
I mean, let’s count the ways in which his concept fails:
He forgot distribution. No, I’m not even kidding. That’s the first thing that occurred to me at fourteen when they shoved his stupid theory down my throat in three classes (well, Portugal was very progressive at the time).
The man had no concept what merchants were for. I suspect he was contemptuous of them since the well-off ones did well from their understanding of people, people’s wants, people’s needs, and people’s psychology. While Marx… well, Marx just didn’t get people.
So, you know, he didn’t understand what the point was, say, of a merchant buying produce and having it transported into the city to be sold at a premium.
He understood neither the risks nor the expenses undertaken by people who did that. To him the fact they charged more than the original supplier meant they were evil “profiteers” and should be eliminated.
That was probably the central flaw of his theory which would eventually lead to the USSR’s bread lines, the squalor of empty store shelves with only turnips or cabbage on them, and the fact that without the black market and our benighted shipments of wheat, the USSR couldn’t steal enough to keep its people fed.
But wait, there’s more. Marx had absolutely no clue why or how people did things. No, seriously. People were a mystery to him.
He completely missed incentives and deterrents and that it was possible to modify human behavior.
Therefore he assumed that if you paid everyone the same thing (comrade) and told people what to labor at and when and how, everyone would work “from each according to his ability.”
This is mind-bogglingly strange. Apparently, this person that the left tries to convince us was a genius bestriding all of the earth and history had never in point of fact been around small children or realized how the threat of punishment or the promise of a treat changes their behavior. Also, he apparently missed the fact that he too was subject to these pressures. (Maybe he wasn’t. Who knows?) Like Alexandria Occasional Cortex, he seemed to believe that if you gave money to people who were “unwilling to work,” the number of the unwilling to work wouldn’t swell.
And if we removed the incentive for, say, investing in new machinery and making a bet that a new product would catch on, somehow new factories would still get built and technological progress would still happen.
For the record, we have tried to pay people not to work. Various forms of welfare amount to just that. And though I haven’t followed European politics as much as I did when I lived in Europe, I remember in the seventies there was much consternation over the fact that, as some countries gave people unlimited unemployment benefits at about the same level as their former salary, people stopped looking for work. (This is my shocked face.)
I’ve told this to liberals and been accused of having a “cynical” view of people. I don’t even know what that means.
This is the party that claims to believe in “science” and loudly proclaims that evolution is true (even though no one said it wasn’t). If evolution is true, then you have to accept that those of us who keep working after we have the minimum necessary to survive are rather broken. Because it’s impossible that bands of apes evolved to hunt ceaselessly even after their table (or cave floor) was full. An ape band that worked that like that would have ended up dead.
Humans are lazy. I know. I am a human. Everything I attempt, everything I achieve is done against my laziness. It’s done because I work around my inherently lazy nature. It’s done because there are things I want more than sitting on my behind and reading all day. Those things mostly are a better future for my children and a better life for us.
I’d wager my motivations aren’t that rare. But to think you can remove that motivation and that humans will still work is akin to removing the walls and expecting the roof to stand.
However, it goes further than that. Since someone must take risks, produce innovation, and generally make sure that turnips get from the field to the Russian housewife’s table (yes, I know Marx wasn’t taking for the Russians. The USSR is still the most prominent of their experiments).
Marx had the perfect answer for that: government.
Because, you know, government set in some central city knows precisely what Mrs. Kostin in the wilds of wherever wants and needs for dinner.
And Marx was sure this would work because the people doing the planning wouldn’t be just some random peasants. No. Even though this was supposed to be a dictatorship of the proletariat, the only people qualified to lead were… intellectuals. Because they were people like Marx who had spent their lives in libraries thinking up fact-free theories and therefore the most brilliant people evah.
Apparently, he’d neglected to observe that intellectuals and in fact bureaucrats are not just as corrupt as the next man, but are only as corrupt as the next man if the next man is Bill Clinton. For a man who grew up with servants, it’s amazing it never occurred to him that people who are in charge of goods no one knows the exact count of will pilfer. Or change things to their advantage.
More importantly, this government to whom all the power of directing the economic life of the entire country was to be given, was then supposed to shrink, automagically, leaving in its place some kind of utopia, where people voluntarily shared everything and there was no private property.
What he actually believed (as did the Soviet Union) was that free trade was not the natural state of man, but some kind of fall from grace or imposition on an otherwise angelic nature (Jean-Jacques Rousseau has a lot to answer for) and that once it was removed, humans would become angels again.
In pursuit of such a goal, of course, a vast number of people had to be killed. Only somehow paradise never arrived; the killing went on, and long-lived socialist/communist countries become basically feudal.
Unexpectedly! At least unexpectedly to those who have no concept of how humans work or what they do.
However, the worst of all flaws in Marx’s concept of the world is the flaw that both makes “socialism” untenable and as attractive to a certain type of slow mind as antifreeze is to dogs.
Before we go any further, yes, I do know the difference between communism and socialism. Why, I grew up in a country that proclaimed itself on the way to socialism and my 11th-grade history book ended with a chapter called "Communism, the Perfect Society."
Socialism, as various pinkos have told me – rolls eyes – is when the government allows you to own the means of production, but it tells you how to use them and how much to pay your workers. Communism is when the government outright owns the means of production. This is, of course, a very important distinction, because the appearance that “capitalists” still own the means of production gives the state show-criminals that they can then expropriate to achieve full communism. It is kind of like how the Kabuki theater of Obamacare was supposed to make us all long for single-payer.
For the purposes of this essay, though, socialism and communism are the same; they're just at different stages of the same cancer.
As such, the flaw at their center is the same.
Apparently, for those not willing to follow the link, someone was asked why the acrimony between right and left, if both love their country.
In the comments, the author of the post above got into a discussion with someone who claimed to have been on the right and turned left.
This gentleman claimed to have turned left because right-wingers don’t care that the world is unfair. They know that some humans have more than others and that success is largely a matter of luck (this is truer in academic and artistic fields) and (according to the commenter) “people on the right don’t care.” When he started caring and decided people were “entitled” to food and medical care, etc., he became a leftist. (I would say rather that he became a complete lunatic, but that’s probably a matter of semantics.)
The author of the piece linked above countered that, in fact, people on the right know that and care. But we know life is not and can never be made “fair.”
This is a good point, as the only way to make things absolutely fair is to know each person and their circumstances better than they know themselves.
I was, for instance, very shocked a few years ago to find out our friends think my husband and I live golden lives, where we’re always saved from ruin at the last minute by a lucky chance. They don’t see the mad scramble behind the scenes, and how hard we work to get that “surprise miracle,” while never being absolutely sure it will come through.
I’m sure some of the people we think are without challenges have them too. The disease-and-worry riddled rich man is not simply propaganda, you know?
So while circumstances of birth and life are inherently unfair, to equalize them would require that we know precisely what every person is battling and what they need. This impossible task mostly leads to mass graves, because humanity is not equal and there’s more to life than material circumstances.
None of which addresses the most central flaw of Marxism, and the reason total idiots like Occasional Cortex think it’s not only needed but inevitable.
Though the guy on the left in the post above implies that flaw, the guy on the right is incapable of grasping it. Not that I blame him, since the flaw is so bizarrely stupid.
It is this: the left thinks that wealth can’t be created or destroyed.
Like mass or energy, wealth just keeps passing around. If someone has more of it than someone else, then the person who has more stole it or acquired it by immoral means.
This is the basis of all of the leftist crazy from “you didn’t build that.” to the insanity of Occupy Wall Street.
These mental midgets think that the wealth in the world today was the same in the world at the time the humans emerged.
If you push them on it, they will default to wealth being, always, the result of raw materials + labor (but these days they’re not too certain on labor. With all the ecological nonsense, they’re not even sure we should be growing plants).
In their narrow and dark world, there is no room for creativity, creation, risk-taking, invention (all of which certainly explains the current era of Hollywood).
They believe money is some kind of fairy tale, completely disconnected from effort and from coming up with something that makes people’s lives better.
I can see this idea selling to a high school senior, because teens live in a sort of perpetual now, and our schools make sure they aren’t taught any history save for being told that the U.S. is responsible for all the trouble in the world.
The fact that it's selling to adults means that these adults are so bereft of the ability to reason, let alone create, that they miss the fact that in their lifetimes computers have become ubiquitous and made it possible for people to not only work faster and better, but to teach at a distance, analyze market trends, and coordinate their labor more easily.
It, in fact, necessitates a willful blindness, a refusal to admit that “while I might not be particularly creative” (I assume) “other people obviously are.”
My grandmother used to say that the only thing worse than a blind man was those who willfully blind themselves.
I, for one, like President Trump, will do everything possible to prevent these willfully blind men from leading us into the darkness of death and misery that socialism and communism always bring in their wake.