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Why isn't Socialism Dead (Forbes version)
Forbes ^ | 5/6/6 | Rich Karlgaard

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.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: forbes; karlgaard; leeharris; richkarlgaard; socialism
I was reading this in my Forbes the other day, and thought it would provide for an interesting discussion.
1 posted on 05/23/2006 9:42:56 AM PDT by CharlieOK1
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To: CharlieOK1

"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.


2 posted on 05/23/2006 9:45:34 AM PDT by strategofr (H-mentor:"pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it"Hillary's Secret War,Poe,p.198)
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To: CharlieOK1

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.


3 posted on 05/23/2006 9:48:23 AM PDT by Always Right
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To: CharlieOK1
Why isn't Socialism Dead?

Because many people want something for nothing and the "snake oil politicians" that will promise it to them.

4 posted on 05/23/2006 9:51:26 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Proud soldier in the American Army of Occupation..)
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To: CharlieOK1

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.


5 posted on 05/23/2006 9:53:14 AM PDT by Personal Responsibility (Amnesia is a train of thought.)
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To: CharlieOK1
The reason why socialism is still alive is that it is beneficial to some capitalists.

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.

6 posted on 05/23/2006 9:57:13 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: CharlieOK1
"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...?

It's because:
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 _____...)

7 posted on 05/23/2006 10:00:06 AM PDT by Migraine (...diversity is great (until it happens to you)...)
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To: CharlieOK1

it means well. that counts more than results with those lacking Y chromasomes...


8 posted on 05/23/2006 10:03:46 AM PDT by epluribus_2
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To: Personal Responsibility

ask the Poles. They understand completely and won't let it happen again.


9 posted on 05/23/2006 10:05:39 AM PDT by epluribus_2
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
If a capitalist buys government intervention or influence in the free market, then they are no longer capitalists, but oligarchs/fascists.

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.

10 posted on 05/23/2006 10:07:06 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: CharlieOK1

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.


11 posted on 05/23/2006 10:13:02 AM PDT by Dont Mention the War (This tagline is false.)
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To: CharlieOK1

Interesting.... I wonder why many corporate executives who first benefit from capitalism support socialism such as George Soros as a very good example ?


12 posted on 05/23/2006 10:21:07 AM PDT by CORedneck
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To: CharlieOK1
A better take by Eric Hoffer:

"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.

13 posted on 05/23/2006 10:29:54 AM PDT by shrinkermd
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To: CORedneck
I wonder why many corporate executives who first benefit from capitalism support socialism such as George Soros as a very good example

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.

14 posted on 05/23/2006 10:39:23 AM PDT by CharlieOK1 (Did you get that thing I sent ya?)
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To: Dead Corpse
You can't have it both ways.

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!

15 posted on 05/23/2006 10:49:37 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: CharlieOK1

"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


16 posted on 05/23/2006 10:52:42 AM PDT by PsyOp (The commonwealth is theirs who hold the arms.... - Aristotle.)
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To: CharlieOK1
"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."

Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist Party presidential candidate and one of the founders of the ACLU.

17 posted on 05/23/2006 10:54:28 AM PDT by NewLand (Posting against liberalism since the 20th century!)
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
Sure you can. Purchasing the freedom of someone else denies them their equal right of action. Make it illegal for government to restrict the free market and who are you going to buy influence from?

This isn't rocket surgery.

18 posted on 05/23/2006 10:57:22 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: CharlieOK1

Read my tag line, that is why socialism is not dead!


19 posted on 05/23/2006 10:57:55 AM PDT by cpdiii (Socialism is popular with the ruling class. It gives legitimacy to tyranny and despotism.)
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To: CharlieOK1

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.


20 posted on 05/23/2006 11:03:33 AM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: Dead Corpse
Any time I suggest to freemarketeers on Freerepublic that we enact laws which prevent private companies from purchasing barriers to trade they accuse me of being a socialist.

How dare I suggest that people or companies can't buy anything they want!

Politicians are businessmen just like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They just get their money through investing in handshaking and baby-kissing rather than investing in capital.

If they can get lobbyists to give them money in exchange for favorable legislation then who are you or I to interfere in this free market exchange?

21 posted on 05/23/2006 11:08:40 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: CharlieOK1
To the average person:

An oppressive government is one which rewards its supporters with free stuff in exchange for their support.

A good government is one that rewards you with free stuff in exchange for your support.

Most people don't object to socialism or corruption in principle - they are just unhappy when they aren't in on it. ;)

22 posted on 05/23/2006 11:13:10 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("When the government is invasive, the people are wanting." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
Curiously enough, I didn't accuse you of anything? Got a guilty conscince or something?

Why make a law? Just take said power away from government. Can't buy what a politician doesn't have the power to do.

23 posted on 05/23/2006 11:13:33 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: Dead Corpse
I'm not accusing you of being a freemarketeer so I'm not suggesting that you are accusing me of being a socialist.

I'm just trying to present a conundrum that some fail to confront.

The reason we have big government is not just because a bunch of lazy citizens are too scared to live their lives according to free market principles and demand a socialist safety net from a big government.

We have big government because big business, big labor, big political parties, and big organizations in general have purchased it on the free market.

It would be nice to have a government based on something like the Constitution, but the interpretation of the Constitution has been purchased such that everything we both agree is an abomination and a direct contradiction to the Constitution is now regarded as law.

And this didn't happen by accident or just because the citizenry voted it into being.

24 posted on 05/23/2006 11:29:49 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: PsyOp
"because too many people vote in the expectation of getting something for nothing,"

I used to believe this pap. But if these people are so helpless then how are they capable of putting some socialism on the ballot to vote for it, or put someone in office that will vote for socialism?

The answer is that they are not.

Someone or something (i.e. big business, big labor, etc.) puts socialism on the ballot or puts socialist in office that appease the demands of the people.

But these big interests do not do so merely because they love and care for the people. They do it because they love and care for themselves.

25 posted on 05/23/2006 11:34:48 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
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.

That's a mercantilism not socialism. The Spanish practiced it for hundreds of years while they had their empire. Most economies in Latin America have practiced mercantilism for their entire existence.

26 posted on 05/23/2006 11:35:56 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
I AM a Free Marketeer though. Just not in the way it is sometimes used in the Globalist sense.

Also, you are continuing to ignore the point that if government HAD no power to interfere in the free market, there would be nothing for "big business" to buy. Period. End of story.

And yes, in part, the voting public IS to blame. For not throwing out those who clearly have a conflict of interest or a voting record that clearly shows a trend of voting AGAINST market freedom.

27 posted on 05/23/2006 11:38:02 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: Dead Corpse
I agree that IF governement had fewer powers there would be fewer things to purchase from it.

My point is that government is big and will continue to be big because it behooves some companies and organizations to make it so.

At one time there may have been a few companies that would have fought against the concept of a big government. However the paradox is that in order to be a good CEO you have to recognize that big government is here to stay and act accordingly, i.e. feed it more money to do your bidding and end up getting ever more regulation and taxation in return.

28 posted on 05/23/2006 12:01:48 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
Someone or something (i.e. big business, big labor, etc.) puts socialism on the ballot or puts socialist in office that appease the demands of the people.

And those demands usually involve getting something for nothing. Usually something the politician promised to give them in the first place. Like free helath care. Free public transportation. Free this. Free that. All for the masses.

People are always more inclined to vote for the person that promises them the most stuff in the way of programs annd services. (we'll tax the rich to pay for it). The more uneducated the people are, the more likely they are to believe they will actually get it, and the less likely they are to understand that all they actually do is give that politician more power over them.

As Eisenhower said, the government that has the power to give you everything you want, has the power to take everything you have.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Colonel Yancey. 1816.

The leftists and socialists have dumbed down the American education system to the point that too many people believe that when a politician promises them something, they can deliver it without cost--whether in terms of gold or liberty.

Demogogues, like those that populate the Democrat Party their constituents whatever they ask for in return for votes. That is what Nofziger was talking about. And it's not pap.

29 posted on 05/23/2006 12:24:47 PM PDT by PsyOp (The commonwealth is theirs who hold the arms.... - Aristotle.)
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To: strategofr
No, we have the truth---we don't need a myth.

Absolutely.

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities, but of their advantages." - Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776.

Adam Smith - The Invisible Hand Speaks.

30 posted on 05/23/2006 12:28:11 PM PDT by PsyOp (The commonwealth is theirs who hold the arms.... - Aristotle.)
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To: CharlieOK1
Why isn't Socialism Dead

Because it is the default setting for the human economic system.

It is basically a Family economics on growth hormone.

Think of it for a second. You are expected to help, contribute and care for the family unit as they helped, cared for and contributed to you.

In small it works quite well.

In large it is hell on earth because you can not love, care for and share with everybody the way you do with your family. It just is not possible.

I may tuck a hundred buck away every month in my nieces college fund because I love them. If some kid knocked on my door asking for money for his college fund I might give him a dollar. I don't love him. Emotionally he means nothing to me except in a broad general fellow human sense.

Asking people to feel the way they would need to about perfect strangers to make socialism work is absurd. So in large it fails. Especially forced in large it fails.

I don't wanna and you can't make me doesn't work when you have an emotional investment in the person you are going up against. Family disapproval is a very strong force and keeps those who would abuse the family largess in line for the most part.

But as for people out side the family? Why should I give a flip?

So there you have it. Socialism is simply a desire to return to the safe cuddly bosom of the family who loves and cares for you.

It fails because we are NOT your family and have no emotional investment in caring for you.

31 posted on 05/23/2006 12:33:05 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Every lady in this land hath 20 nails on each hand five and twenty on hand and feet)
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
"We the People" are the government. It has always been in our power to change things. That we haven't done so yet is a sign of how lazy and comfortable we have become.

Big Government is most certainly NOT here to stay. In time, it will collapse under the weight of its abuses. Just like Rome. And probably for most of the same reasons.

32 posted on 05/23/2006 12:50:55 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: Dead Corpse
So I guess the only question that needs to be answered is:

Goths or Visigoths?

My money is on the Visigoths! ;-)

33 posted on 05/23/2006 1:53:43 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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