I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had had a conversation with a Leftist who claimed, against all evidence, that socialism would work if ever it was actually tried. I countered with the fact that many Socialist experiments had failed utterly, starting with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, more commonly known as Soviet Russia. At that point the conversation was ended by the other party's request. I initially thought that he didn't want to be confused by the facts. It turns out that may not be the case.
It later occurred to me that this was a case of two people talking past each other. We both saw the same facts on the ground, but we each came to different conclusions based on different assumptions about the nature of people, and different understandings about world view. It is these differences I wish to explore today.
My side you probably know well, and from the general lack of comments, you probably agree with me. Of course that means I am "singing to the choir" and convincing no one. Which of course also indicates I should quit blogging. But that is a consideration for another day. I believe, as our founders did, that men are born in sin, are prone to seek their own interests at the expense of the interests of the polity. Even when we consciously set out to do good, our efforts are corrupted by our sinful nature. Our Constitutional Republic is the best system that could be devised, but clearly it is not perfect. And in very real ways, the protections that the founders put in place to protect our liberties have been cut away. This, I am convinced, was due to a lack of understanding of the true nature of the Constitution, along with deliberate distortion of that documents' meaning. The Senate was originally appointed by the various States, and each State had an equal voice in the Federal government. The Justices of the Supreme Court were intended to read the law as written and understood at the time and not to apply novel theories to the law that were never intended. The idea was to spread government power as far and wide as possible to prevent too much power from getting into the hands of too few people.
Of course, in my view of mankind, it is easy to become cynical, to think that all politicians are rotten and the only solution is to throw all the bums out and elect an new set of bums. But such a view must be resisted, for each individual is just that, an individual. Everyone comes along with his own set of experiences, prejudices, beliefs, indeed the whole of that person's life adds up to a unique individual. Identity politics, therefore is anathema to my way of thinking, because it does not allow each individual to express his own individuality. On the other hand, ordered liberty means that each individual must give up a certain amount of liberty to achieve maximum liberty for everyone. That balancing act, determining how much liberty people should have, and how much should be constrained, is the purpose of the Constitution, and of our Constitutional Republic. It is the very essence of rights and responsibilities.
Now, look at it from the other side. About half the people in this country believe that people are fundamentally good. From this springs the idea that if material goods could be spread out so that everyone had an equal share, then there would be no wars. If every war is about power and money, then take away the need to more, and there is suddenly no need for war. One is tempted to join hands and sing Kumbaya
. But seriously, at the core, this is their belief. Out of this belief grows the belief that there is no God, no heaven or hell. After all, if we are all basically good, then morality is part of our nature, and the only thing that determines morality is ourselves. Some people, of course, (and by some people we mean those mean people, conservatives) chose to be evil. Virtue signalling is how they signal to each other that THEY are not like THOSE PEOPLE. If all people are basically good, then there can be no better or worse cultures, each culture grew out of its own history, and must be respected, indeed celebrated, on its own terms.
With that understanding then, socialism, as expressed in the Communist Manifesto
can indeed work. It just requires having the right people governing and they must persuade the masses to give up their private interests to achieve Utopia: a Paradise on Earth. So far, they people who believe this stuff haven't found the right people. But they're not giving up, no sir.
If you believe the basis for the Communist Manifesto, and you are steeped in Marxist theory, then the fact that "socialism has never actually been tried" is a statement that makes a certain amount of sense. The Soviet Union, almost from the start, employed brutality, murder and intimidation not persuasion. It was like living under the mafia. Of course, we know the bloody history of Nazi Germany, but the official name of the Nazi party was the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Oddly, it was voted into office, and was less brutal than the Soviet Union, but then the Soviet Union set a very low bar to clear. Nazi Germany was as evil as the Soviet Union, but had less people to kill in order to achieve its goals. Communist China, Cuba, Cambodia under Pol Pot, North Korea, Vietnam, and the many "People's Republic of" all testify that human nature can not be overcome.
Most of the people you meet of the type are what Lenin termed "useful idiots." These people are true believers, and they are dangerous precisely because they believe themselves to be right, and because of their belief in the goodness of mankind, have no higher authority than the State. They can not believe that the "authorities" are perhaps wrong, so they will do whatever these "authorities" tell them to do. They believe in the idea of collectivism, that people with a common history necessarily see things the exact same way, and they attempt to make each group out to be victims, that only the benevolent (socialist) party can defend against the oppressor class. Currently in the United States, the "oppressor class" are whites. In Nazi Germany, the "oppressor class" were Jews. Pol Pot's oppressor class were the educated. In practice, socialism always requires an "oppressor class" to unite the "masses" against.
So there you have it. A perfect example of people seeing the same facts, but coming to different conclusions based on their different world views. If you want to see what socialism begets, look to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, or Venezuela. These countries are not poor because of a lack of resources. Japan is a country with nearly no resources, yet it is prosperous. These countries instead have people who, if they have the right laws, do not respect them. Until they respect the laws, and put in place protections for property rights, they will never be prosperous. But that is a story for another day.