Skip to comments."AND NOT A SHOT IS FIRED!" - Transition to Socialism
Posted on 09/20/2002 5:06:11 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
To the average American, those words would not make much sense or have much meaning. They are, however, a very accurate description of just how our governmental system has been and is being changed before our eyes.
The technique is not new, in fact it dates back millennia. The current name given to the technique is called "parliamentary revolution." Nikita Krushchev in his report to the Communist 20th Congress, February 14, 1956 noted: "In this connection the question arises of whether it is possible to go over to socialism by using parliamentary means...."
About a year later, a conference on theory was held at the Communist partys political University in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The results of that conference became a communist document which British intelligence heard about and tried hard to obtain. They tried through several channels but were always advised that it was "out of print." Three years later, a copy was finally obtained in 1961. It was translated into English and was published in the United States in October, 1961.
The English title assigned to the document is : "And Not A Shot Is Fired." The original Czech title, translated to English is: "How Parliament Can Play a Revolutionary Part In The Transition To Socialism, And The Role Of The Popular Masses." Certainly not something you would pick out at the local bookstore for an evenings casual reading.
The author of the document was Jan Kozak, a Czech. At the time he wrote the document he was a member of the Secretariat of the Czech Communist Party. It is not easy reading by the furthest stretch of the imagination. Its enormous value lies in its complete authenticity. The dull text presents a fascinating story of the peaceful revolution which transferred Czechoslovakia over to the Communists.
In an ideal world, once the information became known, it is a tale which would have been taught to every American citizen in high school or even earlier. The fact that it has been denied to the American people is an indictment of our mass media and our education system.
To quote from the Introduction to the U.S. version of the book:
"How does the technique work? It may, for instance, be applied to some easily discoverable public concern. To answer the need, a piece of "enabling legislation" is suggested, carrying no authority, expressed or implied. It sets up an "agency." The agency, once established, follows normal agency behavior. The need becomes more precisely defined. A modicum of authority is requested. Pressures are organized, artificial and real, from "above" and from "below." The requested authority is voted, and pressures wane. In due course, further authority is suggested, and new coalitions of pressure appear. All in good time an Authority is there, self-contained; a new instrument of power has arisen, sufficient unto itself. This instrument may be local, regional or nationwide. Its key word is Authority. In the beginning, this word is seldom employed.The Founding Fathers clearly understood the dangers of placing power in the hands of Congress. In The Federalist, No 47; Par. 5, Madison wrote: "...it is against the enterprising ambition of this department [the Congress} that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions."
"By such parliamentary means a democratic and representative government can be made authoritative, legally, and piece by piece. The form remains, an empty shell. Its philosophy and its content are gone. The person, the individual, who one year is free and independent, is next year just a little more restricted. Then a little more, and a little more. Suddenly, overnight, he no longer is a person. He is a cog, being moved inexorably by the monolithic machinery of the State.
"And not a shot is fired!"
Those who wrote the Constitution based their hopes for the future of this country on the people. They placed an inescapable responsibility on the citizens: the will of the people, who would elect legislative bodies, to watch over and restrict the activities of those they would elect. As long as the balance between legislative greed for power and the will of the people to restrict that thirst remained active, no legislative body whether national, state or local, could vote the peoples freedoms away.
The technique Jan Kozak wrote about takes those opposing forces and uses them for exactly opposite ends. Both the legislature AND the people are deliberately manipulated to destroy the balance.
To quote again from the Introduction:
"Parliament" (the legislature) is slowly maneuvered "into a direct instrument for the victory of the socialist revolution", and the technique is precisely illustrated. (P.15)
"First, the legislative power, at all governmental levels,-- local, state and national- is manipulated as pressure from above; then the peoples power is manipulated as pressure from below. Concurrently, a wide popularization of the demands and slogans of the policy of the Communists is promoted, serving as a means of revolutionary education of the popular masses. (P. 19) Gradually, and by cooperative legislative action, business, industry, agriculture, finance, the professions, and even living conditions come under the domination of The State. (P. 20) (Emphasis in the original.)
"Thus, by a democratic and constitutional course, the legislature is reconstituted into an instrument of the transformation of the whole state and its machinery...[and the] revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into a socialist one...[proceeds] absolutely legally." (P. 33)
The brilliant mechanisms of self-government our Founding Fathers established for us have been (and ARE) being used to destroy its very character. The revolution has been developed very quietly and stealthily with due respect for the legal forms. None of this is dramatic. Indeed, those who have been knowingly subverting our government and stealing our freedom avoid publicity and drama like the plague. Slowly, insidiously, one bit of our governmental structure has been removed and a different piece slipped unobtrusively in its place, ALWAYS maintaining the appearance and form of the original. Does anyone out there recognize just how far this process has been advanced in the United States? In our next column, we will examine just how this technique is applied.
AND NOT A SHOT IS FIRED!
I'm minded of Claire Wolfe's dictum: "America is at that awkward stage where it's too late to work within the system and too early to start shooting the bastards." If we do reach the latter stage before we arrive at the lovey-dovey utopia of world socialism, then things get lively, and very interesting. I'm guessing that's a little more likely than a gradual slide to socialism, based mostly on the known cussedness of my fellow Americans, typifed by the well-expressed cussedness of my fellow FReepers. It may not even be that far off.
My head hurts...
F. A. Hayek
Law, Legislation and Liberty, Vol I, Chapter 3, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1973
From the insight that the benefits of civilization rest on the use of more knowledge than can be used in any deliberately concerted effort, it follows that it is not in our power to build a desirable society by simply putting together the particular elements that themselves appear desirable. Although probably all beneficial improvement must be piecemeal, if the separate steps are not guided by a body of coherent principles, the outcome is likely to be a suppression of individual freedom.
The reason for this is very simple, although not generally understood. Since the value of freedom rests on the opportunities it provides for unforeseen and unpredictable actions, we will rarely know what we lose through a particular restriction of freedom. Any such restriction, any coercion other than the enforcement of general rules, will aim at the achievement of some foreseeable particular result, but what is prevented by it will usually not be known. The direct effects of any interference with the market order will be near and clearly visible in most cases, while the more indirect and remote effects will mostly be unknown and will therefore be disregarded. We shall never be aware of all the costs of achieving particular results by such interference.
And so, when we decide each issue solely on what appear to be its individual merits, we always over-estimate the advantages of central direction. Our choice will regularly appear to be one between a certain known and tangible gain and the mere probability of the prevention of some unknown beneficial action by unknown persons. If the choice between freedom and coercion is thus treated as a matter of expediency, freedom is bound to be sacrificed in almost every instance. As in the particular instance we shall hardly ever know what would be the consequence of allowing people to make their own choice, to make the decision in each instance only on the foreseeable particular results must lead to the progressive destruction of freedom. There are probably few restrictions on freedom which could not be justified on the grounds that we do not know the particular loss they will cause.
That freedom can be preserved only if it is treated as a supreme principle which must not be sacrificed for particular advantages was fully understood by the leading liberal thinkers of the nineteenth century, one of whom even described liberalism as 'the system of principles'. Such is the chief burden of their warnings concerning 'What is seen and what is not seen In political economy' and about the 'pragmatism that contrary to the intentions of its representatives inexorably leads to socialism.
All these warnings were, however, thrown to the wind, and the progressive discarding of principles and the increasing determination during the last hundred years to proceed pragmatically is one of the most important innovations in social and economic policy. That we should foreswear all principles or 'isms' in order to achieve greater mastery over our fate is even now proclaimed as the new wisdom of our age. Applying to each task the 'social techniques' most appropriate to its solution, unfettered by any dogmatic belief, seems to some the only manner of proceeding worthy of a rational and scientific age. 'Ideologies', that is sets of principles, have become generally as unpopular as they have always been with aspiring dictators such as Napoleon I or Karl Marx, the two men who gave the word its modern derogatory meaning.
If I am not mistaken, this fashionable contempt for 'ideology', or for all general principles or 'isms', is a characteristic attitude of disillusioned socialists who, because they have been forced by the inherent contradictions of their own ideology to discard it, have concluded that all ideologies must be erroneous and that in order to be rational one must do without one. But to be guided only, as them imagine it to be possible, by explicit particular purposes which one consciously accepts, and to reject all general values whose conduciveness to particular desirable results cannot be demonstrated (or to be guided only by what Max Weber calls 'purposive rationality') is an impossibility. Although, admittedly, an ideology is something which cannot be 'proved' (or demonstrated to be true), it may well be something whose widespread acceptance is the indispensable condition for most of the particular things we strive for.
These self-styled modern 'realists' have only contempt of the old-fashioned reminder that if one starts unsystematically to interfere with the spontaneous order there is no practicable halting point and that it is therefore necessary to choose between alternative systems. They are pleased to think that by proceeding experimentally and therefore 'scientifically' they will succeed in fitting together in piecemeal fashion a desirable order by choosing for each particular desired result what science shows them to be the most appropriate means of achieving it.
Since warnings against this sort of procedure have often been misunderstood, as one of my earlier books has, a few more words about their intentions may be appropriate. What I meant to argue in The Road to Serfdom was certainly not that whenever we depart, however slightly, from what I regard as the principles of a free society, we shall ineluctable be driven to go the whole way to a totalitarian system. It was rather what in more homely language is expressed when we say: 'If you do not mend your principles you will go to the devil.' That this has often been understood to describe a necessary process over which we have no power once we have embarked on it, is merely an indication of how little the importance of principles for the determination of policy is understood, and particularly how completely overlooked is the fundamental fact that by our political actions we unintentionally produce the acceptance of principles which will make further action necessary.
What is overlooked by those unrealistic modern 'realists' who pride themselves on the modernity of their view is that they are advocating something which most of the Western world has indeed been doing for the past two or three generations, and which is responsible for the conditions of present politics. The end of the liberal era of principles might well be dated at the time when, more than eighty years ago, W. S. Jevons pronounced that in economic and social policy 'we can lay down no hard and fast rules, but must treat every case in detail upon its merits.' Ten years later Herbert Spencer could already speak of 'the reigning school of politics' by whom 'nothing less than scorn is shown for every doctrine which implies restraints on the doings of immediate expediency' or which relies on 'abstract principles'.
This 'realistic' view which has now dominated politics for so long has hardly produced the results which its advocates desired. Instead of having achieved greater mastery over our fate we find ourselves in fact more frequently committed to a path which we have not deliberately chosen, and faced with 'inevitable necessities' of further action which, though never intended, are the result of what we have done.
The preservation of a free system is so difficult precisely because it requires a constant rejection of measures which appear to be required to secure particular results, on no stronger grounds than that they conflict with a general rule, and frequently without our knowing what will be the costs of not observing the rule in the particular instance. A successful defense of freedom must therefore be dogmatic and make no concessions to expediency, even where it is not possible to show that, besides the known beneficial effects, some particular harmful result would also follow from its infringement . Freedom will prevail only if it is accepted as a general principle whose application to particular instances requires no justification. It is thus a misunderstanding to blame classical liberalism for having been to o doctrinaire. Its defect was not that it adhered too stubbornly to principles, but rather that it lacked principles sufficiently definite to provide clear guidance, and that it often appeared simply to accept the traditional functions of government and to oppose all new ones. Consistency is possible only if definite principles are accepted. But the concept of liberty with which the liberals of the nineteenth century operated was in many respects so vague that it did not provide clear guidance.
It is necessary to realize that the sources of many of the most harmful agents in this world are often not evil men but high-minded idealists, and that in particular the foundations of totalitarian barbarism have been laid by honourable and well-meaning scholars who never recognized the offspring they produced. The fact is that, especially in the legal field, certain guiding philosophical preconceptions have brought about a situation where well-meaning theorists, highly admired to the present day even in free countries, have already worked out all the basic conceptions of a totalitarian order. Indeed, the communists, no less than the fascists or national socialists, had merely to use conceptions provided by generations of legal theorists in order to arrive at their doctrines.
What concerns us here is, however, not so much the past as the present. In spite of the collapse of the totalitarian regimes in the western world, their basic ideas have in the theoretical sphere continued to gain ground, so much so that to transform completely the legal system into a totalitarian one all that is needed now is to allow the ideas already reigning in the abstract sphere to be translated into practice.
--From Vol III (The Political Order of a Free People) pg.6:
...The step from the belief that only what is approved by the majority should be binding for all, to the belief that all that the majority approves shall have that force, may seem small. Yet it is the transition from one conception of government to an altogether different one: from the conception by which government has definite limited tasks required to bring about the formation of a spontaneous order, to the conception that its powers are unlimited; or a transition from a system in which through recognized procedures we decide how certain common affairs are to be arranged, to a system I which one group of people may declare anything they like as a matter of common concern and on this ground subject it to those procedures. While the first conception refers to necessary common decisions requisite for the maintenance of peace and order, the second allows some organized sections of the people to control everything, and easily becomes the pretext of oppression.
I particularly liked:
the benefits of civilization rest on the use of more knowledge than can be used in any deliberately concerted effort...
...which is the very foundation of the Austrian school of economics' argument against centrally-planned economies - and, by extension, political and social systems. I might point out, however, that it is the very expediency which, according to Hayek, is objectionable on the policy level due to the resulting systemic constraints on human action, is, at the much more microeconomic level of individual economic decisions incorporating knowledge on the level Hayek rightly claims to be unattainable to central planners, the very engine driving a free-market economy. If I understand him correctly, it isn't expediency per se, then, that is the problem, it is the level at which it is applied.
Exactly. And the effect, from one who went through it not so very long ago, is well documented in the book (link is to the essential excerpt) They Thought They Were Free. We're already so far down this road, it's hard to imagine us successfully turning all the way back.
I think that's so, since the government has the power to force its plans and schemes onto individual people.
OTOH, the principle of adhering to principles applies to the way an individual runs his life as well. For instance, it may be momentarily expedient to lie, but that would contradict the principle that one should never fake reality.
But in the case of an individual, he usually only damages himself by choosing expediency over principles.
That is the normal result of an intellectual 'wedgie'. :~)
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