The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Persona Non Grata

In watching some members of Joe Biden's own political party try to figuratively assassinate him, you can't help but wonder whether the Democratic party doesn't want anyone or anything to get in the way of a true Democratic Socialist (read: socialist) candidate. After all, Joe Biden is viewed as an old-school moderate Dem — tax and spend for sure, but a realist nonetheless. Biden, if allowed to run, just might muck up the chances of an old socialist like Bernie Sanders or his newer incarnations in politicians like Kamala Harris or Beto O'Rouke.

At the moment, socialism in "in." The trained hamsters in the media love it. Young people, who have been propagandized on a steady diet of "social justice" for much of their lives, love it even more. Why let Joe create problems—and questions?

But it isn't Joe Biden who will create the problems for any candidate who espouses the socialist philosophy—it's the philosophy itself. Kristian Niemietz discusses the fall of Venezuela and then writes:
This has happened many times before, and is part of a predictable cycle. As I show in my new book Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies, socialist projects always go through honeymoon periods, during which they are enthusiastically endorsed by Western intellectuals. But since socialist policies generally lead to economic failure, and sometimes even political repression, those honeymoon periods typically don’t last for more than a decade. Then these foreign example fall out of fashion, and get retroactively reclassified as counterfeit socialism. The USSR, North Vietnam, Cuba and Maoist China all functioned as utopias du jour. In the 1970s, some Western intellectuals even pinned their hopes on more obscure areas of the world, such as Cambodia, Albania, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola and Nicaragua.

One common, backward-looking delusion in all of these cases: When explaining away the failures of the past, it was assumed that the hierarchical, stratified character of failed socialist projects had been a result of some deliberate political choice. Which is to say: It was believed that previous socialist experiments had failed because the leaders of these movements caused them to be centralized and autocratic as a matter of design—as opposed to a democratic socialist system based on mass participation and a radical decentralisation of power.

But the truth is that mass participation and radical democratization always had been idealized by socialists, including by socialist leaders who led successful national movements. But these dreams never survived, because it simply isn’t feasible to run a large society and a complex economy in this kind of participatory way. Democratic socialism works perfectly fine in small, self-selecting and homogenous high-trust communities with relatively simple economies, the prime example being the Israeli Kibbutz. But that model is not scalable ...

Regardless of what socialists say they want to build, socialism can only mean a society run by large, hierarchical government bureaucracies. It can only mean a command-and-control economy directed by a distant, technocratic elite. The reason it always turns out that way isn’t because revolutions are “betrayed” by selfish or undisciplined actors, but because no other path is possible. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that every generation needs to learn for itself—which is why each cohort is sneered at by its younger counterparts.

... When it comes to socialism, hope springs eternal, even as socialism’s victims inevitably fall into poverty.
I know I've used this quote before, and I'll probably use it again: "In capitalism, the rich become powerful. In socialism, the powerful become rich, and everyone else becomes poor."

And here's a quote I haven't used before. This one from libertarian economist, Ludwig von Mises:
“The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement… They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office, every man but one a subordinate clerk.”
I think Joe Biden understands both quotes. And that's why he's persona non grata for some members of his own party.