Skip to comments.Why isn't Socialism Dead (Forbes version)
Posted on 05/23/2006 9:42:55 AM PDT by CharlieOK1
First of all, this is not the same article that has been posted from Tech Central Station. It just has the same title....
I owe this title to writer Lee Harris. Last month Harris posed this headliner question in a piece he wrote for Tech Central Station's Web site, TCSDaily. Harris is right to ask; socialism's track record is abysmal.
The milder forms of it have yielded economic stagnation where and whenever tried: England in the 1970s; France today. The more impatient strains--"socialism in a hurry," as Lenin reputedly called communism--did nothing but plunder economies and destroy lives. Their fine leaders ordered the deaths of more than 100 million people--Lenin and Stalin (40 million), Mao (60 million) and Pol Pot (2 million), not to mention that syphilitic dictator of the German National Socialist Party, Adolf Hitler (11 million directly, another 35 million through the war he started).
By all rights socialism should be dead, sealed in a steel vault and buried in Hell. Yet the disease lives. You might even say it's spreading when you look at the ascent of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Ken Livingstone in London and the "progressive" American Net-based left (which says Hillary Rodham Clinton is too far right). What accounts for socialism's reappearance? To discover the answer, we must ask another question. Why do so many people around the world hate its opposite--free-market capitalism?
Denial on the Left
Old news, but worth repeating (since the mainstream press is in denial): U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter clocked in at a whopping 4.8%. Remember that this figure is typically revised upward weeks later. Look for a final tally of 5.0+%. Gosh, what else is there to say about the roaring U.S. economy? Oh, yes. Unemployment is safely below 5%, and--wonder of wonders--even the New York Times admits that wages are rising faster than inflation.
And the bad news? Let's see. Could it be the crunch in U.S. manufacturing jobs, such as in the auto industry? Actually, no, says heartland economy expert Jack Schultz. In 1990 there were 955,100 Americans employed in the auto sector, compared with 956,200 in 2005. Thank you, Toyota (nyse: TM - news - people ), Nissan (nasdaq: NSANY - news - people ), Honda (nyse: HMC - news - people ) and BMW. The stock market likes what it sees. The Dow has been flirting with its high of 11,723, set in January 2000.
No matter how you look at it--from business starts to job growth to salaries to share prices--the American form of free-market capitalism delivers the goods. But you'll never convince socialists and their fellow travelers on the trendy Left that anything good has occurred. Or that freedom--in the form of reduced regulation and taxes--is responsible. Take this recent post from the leftist Daily Kos (the Web site that thinks Hillary Clinton is too far right):
"The Bush tax cuts were designed to stimulate the economy by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy. But Voodoo economics (trickle-down economics or, as we like to call it here, trickled-on economics) has been proven over and over again to NOT WORK. Demand will dry up if there's nobody out there who can afford to pay for your goods and services. This is a simple law of economics."
The only thing atypical about this brain-dead Daily Kos post is the lack of four-letter words beginning with "f."
The Revolutionary Myth
Back to writer Lee Harris, who also asks: "Why are the people in Bolivia and Venezuela responding so enthusiastically to the socialist siren-songs of Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez, instead of heeding the eminently rational counsel of [free-market proponent] Hernando de Soto? Why are they clamoring to give even more power and control to the state, instead of seeking to free themselves from the very obstacle that stands in the way of any genuine economic progress?
"It may well be that socialism isn't dead because socialism cannot die. As [the early 20th-century French revolutionary writer Georges] Sorel argued, the revolutionary myth may, like religion, continue to thrive in 'the profounder regions of our mental life,' in those realms unreachable by mere reason and argument, where even a hundred proofs of failure are insufficient to wean us from those primordial illusions that we so badly wish to be true. Who doesn't want to see the wicked and the arrogant put in their place? Who among the downtrodden and the dispossessed can fail to be stirred by the promise of a world in which all men are equal, and each has what he needs?
"The whole point of the myth of the socialist revolution is not that human societies will be transformed in the distant future, but that the individuals who dedicate their lives to this myth will be transformed into comrades and revolutionaries in the present. In short, revolution is not a means to achieve socialism; rather, the myth of socialism is a useful illusion that turns ordinary men into comrades and revolutionaries united in a common struggle--a band of brothers, so to speak."
Harris says free-market capitalism needs a "transformative myth of its own" to fight the myth of revolutionary socialism. But don't we have that? I thought that's what entrepreneurial heroes were all about. Bill Gates and the Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) boys are still heroes to millions of Chinese and Indians, if not to the French or Bolivians. That's why, though I share Harris' concern about socialism's odd new vitality, I think capitalism will win the battle for men's minds.
You can find Harris' terrific piece at www.tcsdaily.com/ article.aspx?id=050506I.
"Harris says free-market capitalism needs a "transformative myth of its own" to fight the myth of revolutionary socialism."
No, we have the truth---we don't need a myth.
What we need to do is recognize that the reason Socialism is alive around the world is because Russian agents have been promoting it since 1917.
Well America is a socialists country to some degree, although less so than other nations. The notion that socialism is dead is silly. What needs to be done is to reduce the Socialists tendancies in this country and not follow the Euro-wennies into the bottomless pit of being a mostly socialist country.
Because many people want something for nothing and the "snake oil politicians" that will promise it to them.
I'm starting to think that people need to be throttled in the hell that socialism / communism provides once in a while to remind them what real freedom is worth.
In a truly free market, anyone can purchase anything they want so long as it is legal.
One of the things one can purchase is more government control of one's competitors. One can also purchase the laws themselves, i.e. make something illegal that was legal or vice-versa.
It behooves some people and organizations to purchase socialist taxes, controls, and regulations in the free market and so they are purchased.
Unless our free market is limited such that certain purchases are prohibited (i.e. lobbying, secret contracts, constraints on trade, etc.) then we will continue to have all of the socialism that big business, big labor, and big political parties can afford.
1) they gots to have they benefits; and
2) they are so stupid that they are enthralled by candies and cigars handed out from a flatbed trailer -- so that's about all the benefit they get; and
3) they, like dumbasses from the past 100 years, like the sound of taking from the rich and giving to the poor (although they never see a dime of it; still, it sounds good, so they take to the streets and carry their dumbass placards in favor of _____...)
it means well. that counts more than results with those lacking Y chromasomes...
ask the Poles. They understand completely and won't let it happen again.
The failure isn't necessarily the "greedy businessmen" either, it's the even "greedier" politician who points the government gun and pens the laws that restrict the markets.
The only problem with this article is that Google is the perfect example of socialist hypocrisy, not capitalist success. Their employees give more money to MoveOn.org than those of any other company, they help the Chinese track down and jail/torture/kill dissidents, and they block conservative web sites with wild abandon. They are just like socialist political leaders around the world, proclaiming the glorious revolution while driving $300,000 Bentleys and living in giant mansions surrounded by armed guards.
Interesting.... I wonder why many corporate executives who first benefit from capitalism support socialism such as George Soros as a very good example ?
"There are many who find the burdens, the anxiety, and the isolation of an individual existence unbearable. His is particularly true when the opportunities for self-advancement are relatively meager, and one's individual interests and prospects do not seem worth living for. Such persons sooner or later turn their backs on an individual existence and strive to acquire a sense of worth and a purpose by an identification with a holy cause, a leader, or a movement. The faith and pride they derive from such an identification serve them as substitutes for the unattainable self-confidence and self-respect.
"However different the holy causes people die for, they perhaps die basically for the same thing.
because their assets are in tax-free offshore accounts, or they have the means to have accountants create tax shields for them. No matter how high tax rates go, it only hurts the people below them. So, in that way it actually makes them richer by comparison, because no one can catch up.
Either we have a theoretically free market where everything can be bought and sold, including barriers to trade, more government, etc. OR
we have a "in the long run" free market where certain things cannot be purchased for the sake of the freedom of the market.
You can't just hope that participants in the market won't purchase certain things. People being as they are, if they can make more money buying socialism than investing in capital, they will buy socialism all the time!
"The reason this country continues its drift toward socialism and big nanny government is because too many people vote in the expectation of getting something for nothing, not because they have a concern for what is good for the country... If children were forced to learn about the Constitution, about how government works, about how this nation came into being, about taxes and about how government forever threatens the cause of liberty perhaps we wouldn't see so many foolish ideas coming out of the mouths of silly old men." Lyn Nofziger
Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist Party presidential candidate and one of the founders of the ACLU.
This isn't rocket surgery.
Read my tag line, that is why socialism is not dead!
In philosophy, the discipline and profession, not the general catch-all, marxism is dead and gone, and much socialism with it. The problem is that philosophy is and has been at a crossroads for several years and it is not clear what direction it will go. In the meantime, the stepchildren of philosophy, politics and economics, continue to operate on what philosophy was 80-100 years ago. When philosophy finally gets moving again the stepchildren will eventually follow several decades behind. Thus, there will be several decades at least before anachronisms such as socialism finally get retired.