You know what my favorite thing about socialists is? The amount of cognitive dissonance required in order to continue supporting the socialist ideal. Proponents claim socialism will bring in a new wave of freedom, plenty, and prosperity but history has demonstrated that it brings war, famine, and totalitarian rule. I should stop here and bring up the fact that I’m referring specifically to socialism and not communism, which has never really appeared.
Communism, although I don’t believe it will work either, is different than socialism in that there is no state. Socialism, in the eyes of many communist proponents like Marx, was a means to an end, which was communism. According to Marxists socialism, that is the dictatorship of the proletariat where the state completely controls all means of production, would eventually lead to the withering away of the state and birth true communism. The problem with this theory is that is relies on the all powerful state to eventually ceded its power, something that is almost entirely unprecedented in human history. Needless to say I respect anarcho-communists far more than socialists because the anarcho-communists are least acknowledge the fact that an all powerful state is unlikely to cede power and thus the socialist stepping stone will ensure communism never appears.
Why do I bring this up? Because it’s relatively important information for the opinion letter I’m going to rip apart:
I agree with Milos Forman that the word “socialism” is almost invariably misused (“Americans shouldn’t fling the ‘socialist’ label so casually,” July 13). President Obama is far from being a genuine socialist, and Obamacare is the furthest thing from socialism.
I agree with the author here, Obama isn’t a socialist nor is Obamacare socialistic healthcare. Obama and his healthcare strategy are fascist, that is to say it’s a marriage between the state and its favored corporations. A socialistic healthcare system would be one akin go that implemented in the Soviet Union and various European countries where the state has total control. Obama’s system mandates that everybody purchase health insurance from various insurance companies. Under the Obamacare system everybody is forced to do business with health insurance companies whereas a socialistic system forced everybody to do business with the state (instead of paying premiums to a private business you have to pay taxes to the state).
Unfortunately the author’s letter goes downhill from there as he needs to do some hand waving in order to make excuses for the previous failures of socialism:
However, Forman’s portrayal is also off-base. He was a victim of Stalinism in his native Czechoslovakia, so one can understand his rancor. However, to equate the regimes that existed in the USSR and Eastern Europe with genuine socialism is a travesty.
Socialism has quite the body count as pointed out by R. J. Rummel in his book Death by Government. His book demonstrates that there is a positive correlation between state power and people killed by the state. One cannot claim the history of socialism in this world was merely a victim of Stalinism since Stalin only ruled in one country and nothing really changed in that country after his rule. For example, North Korea was never ruled by Stalin but their regime is certainly as lethal as Stalin’s was. Cambodia is another example as the Khumer Rouge regime ruled by Pol Pot ended up wiping out anywhere between 1/5 and 1/3 of the entire population of Cambodia.
The author continues in his quest to dispel criticisms of socialism but defining “real” socialism:
Genuine socialism — as espoused by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky — is about genuine political and economic freedom and democracy.
Interesting, I wonder what definition of freedom the author uses. Socialism, by definition, lacks political and economic freedom because the entire economy is lead by a dictatorship of the proletariat. It should be noted that dictatorship, in this case, isn’t used in the traditional sense. When proponents of socialism, such as Marx, say the dictatorship of the proletariat they mean that the entire political system is controlled by the proletariat and that all members have say democratically. Unfortunately, democracies are not bastions of freedom but tyrannies of the majority. With democracies everything, including your supposed rights, becomes conditional. If a majority of the people vote one way then that’s the way things will be, even if their vote is to sieze your property. Freedom cannot exist if everything in society becomes conditionally based on majority rule because the minority will always be oppressed.
Economic freedom is another thing that doesn’t exist under socialism as all means of production are controlled by the state. One cannot build a factory, hire locals as employees, and begin selling products in a socialist system because the state will come and sieze the factory. In the Soviet Union members acting under market principle were labeled speculators and, well…
All these data show that the workers of Petrograd are monstrously inactive. The Petrograd workers and soldiers must understand that they have no one to look to but themselves. The facts of abuse are glaring, the speculation, monstrous; but what have the mass of soldiers and workers done about it? You cannot do anything without rousing the masses to action. A plenary meeting of the Soviet must be called to decide on mass searches in Petrograd and the goods stations. To carry out these searches, each factory and company must form contingents, not on a voluntary basis: it must be the duty of everyone to take part in these searches under the threat of being deprived of his bread card. We can’t expect to get anywhere unless we resort to terrorism: speculators must be shot on the spot. Moreover, bandits must be dealt with just as resolutely: they must be shot on the spot.
Emphasis mine. Those were words penned by Lenin, who the author claims is a “real” socialist by the way. Not only was Lenin advocating that speculators be shot on sight, but he also demanded anybody unwilling to help with searches be deprived of their food. When the state controls the means of production, and thus food distribution, they can coerce you into actions you don’t wish to take by threatening you starvation. The author’s claim that political and economic freedom exists under “real” socialism is laughable.
What is socialism, according to the author, truly about? Mostly free shit:
It is about full employment; universal health care and education; a shorter workweek; safe, affordable housing, and infrastructure. The only thing standing between a world of plenty and the world of misery and inequality we live in today are the enormous profits of the billionaires — the 1 percent.
In this paragraph the author shows his true economic ignorance. According to the author the only thing standing between us and all that free shit he mentioned are those wealthy bastards. Using the author’s logic removing the “1 percent” would mean every natural resource would become infinitely abundant. At least that’s the only way one can reconcile what the author said as one cannot have plenty unless we live in the Garden of Eden, for almost all wants of humanity derive from one form of natural resource or another. Computers require silicon, copper, steel, plastic, etc. to build. In order to produce food one needs arable land, seeds, fertilizer, water, etc. Although I accept the fact that I could be wrong, I don’t believe there are actually an infinite amount of resources available. Is there really a conspiracy amongst the “1 percent” to hold the infinite amount of resources from the people? If so, where are they putting those infinite resources? Perhaps they’re hiding them one their infinite land located in their strange pocket of time/space where time (which is a scares resource in itself) is also infinite.
That’s the issue most socialists and communists have, they claim there will be a new wave of plenty if we can merely get rid of the bourgeois but seem to miss the fact that all resources are limited. There is also the issue of the economic calculation problem brought up by Ludwig von Mises. How could a socialist paradise ensure plenty? To ensure plenty one must know what people will want in the future and direct scarce resources towards fulfilling those wants. What happens when a majority of agriculture is put into wheat production but a majority of people want soy?
We also have the issue of labor, something socialist rarely address. How could one have universal healthcare if there aren’t enough people willing to work in the healthcare industry? Under socialism all are supposedly equal, which means paying somebody more for one job than another person for a differing job leads to problems. Why be a doctor if being an auto-mechanism pays the same but requires far less time investment? Who is going to maintain sewage processing systems? Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to do that job but they do it because the economic reward is high:
I’ll bet you never thought that a job existed for landfill divers. It does. The salary is around $3,500-4,000 a month. Not bad.
Socialists have never really addressed the issue of getting undesirable jobs done when there is no benefit. Usually they claim that people will do such jobs out of realizing the social necessity but in practice they usually do such jobs because the state has a gun to their head. Let’s move on:
People are increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo and long for a more rational way of organizing society. This explains the growing interest in the ideas of socialism and Marxism. As a supporter of the Workers International League, based right here in Minneapolis, I invite my friends and neighbors to learn more about what these ideas truly represent, and to make up their own minds at www.socialistappeal.org. After all, if socialism is “dead and buried,” why expend so much energy “disproving” and misrepresenting it?
JOHN PETERSON, MINNEAPOLIS
A society where everything is conditional based upon the desire of the majority and economic freedom isn’t allowed to exist is more rational? I’m not entirely sure what the author’s definition of rational is but it certainly doesn’t match mine. I also wonder if the author’s claim that interest in socialism and Marxism is actually growing. The few socialist gatherings I’ve seen here in the Twin Cities have been more sparsely populated than local Libertarian Party meetings (which is saying a lot). In all honesty, most people in the United States don’t fall into the socialist or individualist category, they fall into the Republican or Democrat category. Most people realize they’re being screwed but don’t understand the why and how so they look for answers with one of the two major political parties. The only proponents of communistic ideals with any number of members in the Twin Cities that I’m aware of are the anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists, neither of which support socialism.
Proponents of socialism seem to believe the solution to a corrupt all-powerful state is to replace it with another corrupt all-powerful state. This belief likely stems from the fact that the new all-powerful government would have their socialistic views in mind (for a very short while, until the next Stalin gains power). As a general rule any philosophy built upon the idea of granting complete power over individuals by other individuals is doomed to fail (unless the intended goal is achieving power and nothing more). Socialists suffer from an inability to learn from history.