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

Monday, November 13, 2017

100 Years

In a number of surveys, millennials indicate that they have no concern about socialism and that a significant percentage of them would have no problem if the United States evolved into a socialist country. In one way, this isn't surprising. Millennials have been propagandized with left-leaning thinking since kindergarten, and once entering college, have been fed a non-stop diet of identity and gender politics, the evils of "white privilege," the unequivocal benefits of diversity and multiculturalism, and the ideology of victimization. For them, "social justice" is paramount, and who but the left is the champion of social justice.

What millennials' predisposition toward socialism and its natural extension, communism, indicates a profound lack of historical understanding and a pathetic inability to think critically.

Robert Tracinski provides a reasonably concise summary of communism's past 100 years:
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution that set off the long global reign of terror of Communism ... A century of Communism achieved four main results for the people who suffered under it: poverty, oppression, war, and mass death.

Countries taken over by Communists, from China and Russia to Cuba and Venezuela, were either plunged from relative prosperity into starvation or walled off for decades from the growing prosperity of capitalist countries—often right next door, enjoying all the same benefits of geography and culture. Think of the contrast between East and West Berlin, between Cuba and Chile, between mainland China and Hong Kong, between North and South Korea.

Communist countries have imposed oppressive regimes telling everyone what to read, think, and say. Scientists could be sent to the gulag for teaching unapproved ideas about genetics. Dissidents have been sent to prison camps, tortured, harassed, locked in psychiatric wards, and simply murdered outright. Artists and intellectuals have fled by the hundreds, when they could, seeking asylum in non-Communist countries in search of the freedom to do their work.

Communism fueled dozens of brutal civil wars and insurgencies across the world. A list of countries synonymous with endless warfare during the late twentieth century—Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola, El Salvador, Afghanistan, and so on—all have one big thing in common: Communism. As a consequence, the end of the Cold War saw the biggest drop in the number of wars and deaths from war since the end of World War II, along with the creation of dozens of new democracies.

Above all else, the history of Communism is a history of mass-scale horrors: the terror-famine in Ukraine, Stalin’s show trials and gulags, the mass starvation of China’s Great Leap Forward, followed by the anarchic terror of the Cultural Revolution, the Killing Fields of Cambodia—those are just the low points in a list that can go on and on. It is estimated that in the past 100 years, Communist regimes killed as many as 100 million people.
Make no mistake, socialism is communism-lite. It's the beginning of totalitarianism in which the Left centralizes power with the state, "telling everyone what to read, think, and say." It encourages dependency, suggesting that almost everyone is a victim of some kind. It advocates the redistribution of earned income and argues that Big Intrusive Government (BIG) can solve all problems. It should come as no surprise that governments that have applied the blue (left-wing) model of governance for many years have bankrupted their states and cities, even though other red states and cities next door do not have similar problems.

And yet, progressives in general and millennials in particular long for the socialist utopia that the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens of our political culture promise. The Democratic party has now skewed so far left that a Sanders-like presidential candidate in 2020 is quite likely. It's reasonable to ask why?

Tracinski tries to provide an answer:
The allure of Communism is that it promises to put into practice, as a comprehensive social system, two moral ideas that most people regard as good and noble. You, dear reader, probably regard them as good and noble, too—but maybe you had better re-examine that assumption.

The first moral idea is that self-interest is bad and that it is not only good but the very definition of morality itself to sacrifice your own interests to others. That’s why profit and money-making are supposed to be bad. That’s why anything you have that somebody else doesn’t think they have is supposed to be some kind of unconscionable “privilege.” That’s why capitalism has to be expunged, because it’s a whole system built on self-interest.

The second idea, which is the political consequence of the first, is that private interests are bad and need to be subordinated to the collective “public good.” That’s why everything private is bad, from private companies to private schools, and everything “public” is automatically good. That’s why celebrated authors hatch schemes to abolish private education, something only totalitarian regimes have ever done, in order to make sure everybody is “eating out of the same pot.”

The problem with Communism is not that it twisted these ideals or implemented them badly. The crime of Communism is that it took them seriously and implemented them fully, all the way to their logical conclusion. That is what people don’t want to face up to in the history of Communism.
But the Democrats seem undaunted in their quest for socialism. Sure, they keep the word under wraps, but by advocating everything from "universal healthcare" to "free college education" to redistributive taxation, to ever-increasing BIG spending to their non-stop class warfare rants against "the rich," they desperately want socialism to triumph.

The problem is that 100 years of history indicate that a socialist utopia is actually a nightmare.