Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

Condemned to Repeat the Past

June 22, 2019

The philosopher and novelist George Santayana has famously said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” No where could that be more true than in Denver, Colorado where an avowed Communist has won election to the city council by promising to impose Communism by any means necessary. Here is the story from the American Mirror.

Candi CdeBaca won a runoff race last week against former Denver city council president Albus Brooks, and she did it by promising to implement communist policies “by any means necessary.”

CdeBaca was among three candidates that unseated incumbents in the Tuesday runoff, preliminary results show, and she’s already drawing comparisons to Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who unseated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district in 2018.

The upset victory, and two other incumbent defeats, marks the most significant shift in city leadership in over 30 years, and Valverde contends it “began a movement” toward more progressive policies once the new members are sworn in this week, The Denver Channel reports.

One might think that a candidate expressing support and promising to deliver Communism, a political and economic system responsible for the death of at least one hundred million people world wide, with the oppressive tyrannies in history would be absolutely toxic to voters, at least as toxic as a candidate espousing Nazism. Why is that not the case? Are people really that unaware of Communism’s horrifically bloody and repressive history or of the history of the twentieth century? What are they teaching in the schools that has large numbers of young people so ignorant?

Harris poll conducted for Axios on HBO published Sunday found 55 percent of American women between the ages of 18 and 54 would prefer to live in a socialist country like Venezuela than the U.S. More broadly, the four in 10 Americans said the same.

Candi CdeBaca explains the need for Communism.

“I don’t believe our current economic system actually works. Um, capitalism by design is extractive and in order to generate profit in a capitalist system, something has to be exploited, that’s land, labor or resources,” CdeBaca alleged.

“And I think that we’re in late phase capitalism and we know it doesn’t work and we have to move into something new, and I believe in community ownership of land, labor, resources and distribution of those resources,” she continued. “And whatever that morphs into is I think what will serve community the best and I’m excited to usher it in by any means necessary.”

When we are talking about Capitalism, we are talking about the system that has made the world wealthy on a scale undreamed of in previous ages, a system that has lifted millions out of poverty. Look at this chart from Human Progress.

Notice how the world’s wealth has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution and exponentially since the arrival of modern Capitalism. For millennia, economic growth all over the world was very slow or nonexistent. It was Capitalism that changed that. All the various forms of Socialism, including and especially Communism would return us to the bad, old days of slow or no growth.

But Capitalism might benefit the the wealthy one percent, ignoramuses like Candi CdeBaca might argue, but it only promises misery for the great masses of exploited people. Not so fast, here are some more charts from Human Progress.

Contrary to what is often said, the rich may be getting richer, but the poor are not getting poorer. For most of human history, the overwhelming majority of the population lived in poverty with barely enough to eat. Not only is the number, not just the proportion but the overall number in an expanding population, of people living in extreme poverty is declining. For the first time ever, the number of people living in extreme poverty is a rapidly declining minority.

All this is very well, but can we really give credit to Capitalism. Well, yes. Let’s do some comparisons. We’ll start with North and South Korea. They have the same ethnic background, speak the same language and have the same culture. After the Korean War, both countries were equally poor. If anything, one might expect the more industrialized North to prosper.

 

North and South Korea

 

They began to diverge right about the time that South Korea began embracing democracy and the free market. Since then, South Korea has become democracy with one of the world’s largest economies, while North Korea remains a basket case.

What about East Germany and West Germany? Same language and culture, different results. Capitalist West Germany experienced an economic miracle in the decades after World War II. Communist East Germany’s economy was stagnant. In fact, the legacy of Communism has caused the former East Germany to lag behind the West.

One more. Taiwan and China. Before the economic reforms beginning in the 1980’s, the People’s Republic of China was actually poorer than North Korea, while the little island of Taiwan was experiencing phenomenal economic growth. China has been doing very well lately, but Taiwan’s per capita GDP is still much higher. Taiwan is a democracy while China remains a Communist state, albeit one that has made its peace with the somewhat free market. I would rather live in Taiwan than mainland China.

The science is settled, the facts are clear, the verdict is in and Candi CdeBaca doesn’t know what she is talking about. Our current economic system works very well. It is not a perfect system, nothing in this world is perfect, but our free market system has liberated millions of people from poverty and tyranny. Despite its faults, Capitalism works and socialism does not. We learned this fact with many examples in the twentieth century. Will we have to relearn it in the twenty-first? Are we condemned to repeat the bloody past because we cannot learn from the tragedies of others? What are they teaching in our schools?

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Was Jesus a Liberal?

December 14, 2013

A theme that I have noticed lately over the Internet and Facebook, etc is the idea that Jesus was a liberal, that is to say that the compassion for the poor that Jesus taught is best fulfilled by some sort of big government system of wealth distribution. I is more than a little inappropriate to try to classify the teachings of a first century  Jew in terms of contemporary politics and still less so to claim the mantle of the Son of God for any political program.  It is also more than a little interesting that people who formerly had little use for any religion, particularly Christianity, are suddenly teaching us the precepts of our own religion.

This passage in Matthew explains what to do to help others.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matt 19:16-30)

Now please note what Jesus did not ask the young man to do. Jesus did not tell the young men to go to Pilate or Herod and demand that they take money from the rich to give to the poor. Jesus told the young man to sell his own possessions.

Here are some more passages.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

I wish many present day tax collectors felt as Zacchaeus did.

Here,Paul gives instruction to the Christians of Corinth.

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. (1Co 16:1-4)

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. (2 Co 9:1-5)

Again, Zacchaeus and the Corinthians are asked to give their own money to the poor,not money taken by force from someone else. The apostles and many in the early Church seem to have lived a communal life.

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (Acts 4:32-5:11)

The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not in holding back some of the money they received for their property but in lying to the apostles and trying to get more credit than they deserved. Peter acknowledged that they could do whatever they like with their own money. The communal life of the apostles was entirely voluntary. They did not demand that the Roman government force people to live in communes.

The problem seems to be that our progressives blur the distinction between private acts of charity and government policies. Helping the poor and unfortunate is a praiseworthy act. Charity with other peoples’ money at little cost to oneself is less praiseworthy. Robbing the rich to give to the poor is still stealing. A political platform based on arousing feelings of envy is covetousness. Remember,”Thou shalt not steal”, and “Thou shalt not covet”.

If you want to help the poor, then go out and help the poor. Don’t use the excuse of wanting to be compassionate to justify taking the property and freedoms of others.

Shakedown Socialism

August 25, 2012

I was a little wary of reading Oleg Atbashian’s Shakedown Socialism when I saw that there were only three one-starred reviews, one of which seemed to be written by a person who had actually read the book. I thought that surely a book that had attracted so little animosity from Liberals who post one-starred reviews of books they don’t read couldn’t be very good. I am pleased to admit that I was wrong. Shakedown Socialism is very, very good.

This slim volume, it is only about 130 pages, was written by Oleg Atbashian, a propagandist from the former Soviet Union. Despite his job, he became disillusioned by life under Communism and still more by the chaos that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the United States, expecting to find a land of freedom and prosperity. His expectations were largely met, but he also discovered, to his surprise, the same sorts of ideas in the heads of many Americans that had led to such disaster in his homeland. To a great extent, Shakedown Socialism is his response, along with his satirical website the People’s Cube.

 

As I said, this is a short book and very readable, yet Atbashian is able to demolish the pretensions of Socialism, Unions, and the quest for economic equality and justice far better than many weightier tomes.   He demonstrates that any equality, except equality before the law cannot be achieved by raising everyone up but  only by pushing everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Unions provide higher wages to their members only at the expense of non-unionized workers. Government control of the economy, even in the name of fairness empowers the crooks and parasites to seek unearned wealth and power while discouraging the hard work and initiative that creates wealth. This is not idle theorizing on the part of Mr. Atbashian. He has seen the dire effects of this kind of thinking on two continents.

 

I highly recommend giving this book out to any acquaintances who still follow the Pied Piper of class envy and economic “justice”, and particularly to any young person going off to college. Reading Shakedown Socialism might just immunize them from the Left-wing indoctrination they will face.

 

Never Allow a Crisis to go to Waste

March 22, 2012

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book since I felt a little down on politics when I began reading it.  I quickly became interested, almost in spite of myself and by the time I was halfway through it I couldn’t put it down, (or couldn’t turn off my kindle). Never Allow a Crisis to go to Waste is not just another Obama-bashing book, nor does Bart DePalma attempt to psychoanalyze Barak Obama, as others have tried to do. Rather, he shows the connections between Obama’s politics and policies are related to the history of Socialism in America. This last he describes in some detail but the book doesn’t become tedious or uninteresting.

 Put simply, classical socialism has never been very popular in the United States. For a variety of historical reasons, calls for government ownership of businesses or massive wealth redistribution have generally failed to resonate with the great majority of Americans. To get around this obstacle and to implement their policies of social justice, socialists have been obliged to use indirect methods, much as an army facing a superior opponent might resort to guerrilla warfare. The guerrilla warfare or “asymmetric socialism” most often consists of non-reform reforms. Policies ostensibly for the purpose of correcting defects in a capitalist system but really meant to overwhelm and ultimately to collapse the system, by which time people will be forced to turn to socialism.

DePalma shows that by his inclinations, education and past associations, Barak Obama works firmly in the tradition of asymmetric socialism. Where possible he has increase government ownership of business, in the automobile industry. Where not possible, he has used regulation to increase government control of the economy, which provides the benefits of ownership without the troubles, or unpopularity.

This would be a depressing book indeed, if DePalma ended it on that note, but in the final two chapters, he chronicles the rise of citizen resistance to Obama’s policies in the form of the TEA Party protests and the Republican victories in the 2010 elections. I somewhat  regret that this book was published before the Occupy protests as it might have been interesting to read an analysis of them in the context of asymmetric socialism, but perhaps DePalma can be persuaded to write another book.

 

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism

May 9, 2011

I just left a Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism on Amazon.com. I gave it five stars

The word “Socialism” or “Socialist” has been used quite a lot in recent years, perhaps without much knowledge of what the word actually means. Fortunately, we have Kevin Williamson to help us out. In his brilliant book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism”, Williamson provides the reader with a good knowledge of what Socialism is and what it is not, along with how Socialism has been developed in various parts of the world.

According to Williamson, Socialism is not, primarily, the redistribution of wealth. Welfare, Social Security, and other government programs, can be part of a Socialist system, but they are not themselves Socialism.  Socialism, rather, is the belief that central planning can produce better results than the chaotic, messy marketplace, or any venue in which people act spontaneously. The Socicialist believes that planning is more rational and fairer. Socialism, then, is all about THE PLAN.

The problem is that in order for THE PLAN to work, as Hayek demonstrated, the planners have to have real-time information about every economic transaction. THE PLAN cannot succeed without such information, and yet it is not possible for the planners, no matter how intelligent they are, or how sophisticated their computers are, to gain that information. In a market economy, each actor needs to know the information that pertains to his particular business.  The planners, whose business is the whole economy, must know everything, and again, that is not possible.  To make matters worse, the one way to obtain the information is through the prices generated by supply and demand. By determining prices based on political rather than economic considerations, the planners essentially blind themselves. This assumes that the planners are rational and impartial. In fact, there is an irresistible temptation to reward friends and cronies while punishing enemies.

Another problem with THE PLAN is that not everyone will agree on the particulars of any given plan. They will tend to want to do what benefits themselves rather then what the planners want them to do. Thus, coercion is needed to make THE PLAN work and so Socialism always results in tyranny.

Williamson takes the reader through the various forms of Socialism from the hard Socialism of North Korea and the former Soviet Union to the softer varieties found in the West European social democracies. He shows that the differences between them are only a matter of degree rather than of kind. He debunks the widely held notion that Sweden is a Socialist paradise and affirms that, yes; Obamacare is Socialism, in that it relies on THE PLAN.

Overall, Kevin Williamson has written a valuable and informant guide to Socialism.

Lenin’s Birthday

April 22, 2011

I guess it’s also Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. I suppose that it is just a coincidence that Earth Day, a day which celebrates eco-socialism, falls on this day, or is it?


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