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The Progressivism of the Future Is Really Just the Socialism of the Past | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2020

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

https://mises.org/wire/progressivism-future-really-just-socialism-past?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=6eca8feaf2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-6eca8feaf2-228343965

Antony P. Mueller

The world is currently in the midst of a newly aggressive drive to bring about a new socialist order through a powerful and “efficient” technocratic state. This new order has been labeled as “progressive,” but it is merely the latest version of the socialist impulse which we have seen before in the form of socialism and communism. 

A War on Private Property

Summed up in a single sentence, the plans of the communists aim at the abolition of private property. From there, the other major demands follow, such as abolishing the family, nation, and countries, and finally, as Marx noted, “communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality.” In as much as the program of liberalism “if condensed into a single word….is private ownership of the means of production” (as described by Ludwig von Mises), the program of the communists is the abolition of private property.

A Promise of Efficiency and Expertise

Yet Marxian socialism—i.e., communism—has not found many followers in the United States. The communist appeal to justice and equality found more resonance in the old world. To have an appeal to the Americans, socialism had to be packaged differently. In the United States, the gospel of socialism appeared under the name of “progressivism” and was preached as bringing society to the highest degree of efficiency.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, progressivism attained its first peak as the dominant philosophy of the state. Society was to these socialists a single organization. The bureaucrats as public administrators found a vivid expression in the political novel Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow by Edward Mandell House, who was a very close friend of Wilson and who served as the president’s most important political and diplomatic advisor.

This vision of progressivism requires:

  • Government and labor representation on the board of every corporation
  • Sharing the profits of public service companies
  • Government ownership of the means of communication
  • Government ownership of the means of transportation
  • A comprehensive system of old age pension
  • Government ownership of all healthcare
  • Full labor protection and governmental arbitration of industrial disputes

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

These echo of the planks of the Communist Manifesto, which included demands to

  • Centralize the means of communications and to put the means of transport in the hand of the state
  • Extend the control of the state across the factories and over all land
  • Implement a heavy progressive income tax and abolish the rights of inheritance
  • Centralize credit in the hands of the state and establish a central bank of an exclusive monetary monopoly

Unlike the Communist Manifesto, the progressives did not preach a proletarian revolution but spoke out in the name of efficiency and demanded the bureaucratic rule of expert public administrators. In a specific way, the progressive movement presents an even worse program than Marxism. As Murray Rothbard summarized it, the progressive movement brought about a profound transformation of the American society:

from a roughly free and laissez-faire society of the 19th century, when the economy was free, taxes were low, persons were free in their daily lives, and the government was noninterventionist at home and abroad, the new coalition managed in a short time to transform America into a welfare-warfare imperial State, where people’s daily lives were controlled and regulated to a massive degree.

Socialism in Disguise

Guiding mankind to heaven on earth by transforming society is the quintessential message of socialism, beginning with the “utopian socialism” of the nineteenth century and leading up to our time with the demand for a “concrete utopia.” Yet different from the Marxist mythology that socialism would be the unstoppable successor of capitalism, history shows that the “socialist phenomenon” has appeared time and again throughout history. Instead of being the model of the future, socialism is, de facto, a failed idea of the past.

Socialism is the attempt to create a new social order at will. Yet one cannot construct “order” to one’s wishes. The volitional realization of a socioeconomic system results in establishing society as a single state-dominated organization and as such, it is necessarily hierarchical and must be based on command and obedience instead of the free association of the people as it happens in a spontaneous order.

President Wilson failed in his plan to bring the United States into the League of Nations and establish an organization to promote a new world order in tune with the visions of the progressives. For some time, the Americans resumed the tradition of individualism and isolationism. Yet with the Great Depression and World War II the chance of transforming the society and putting bureaucratic experts at the top came back with a vengeance under the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the end of the world war returned the chance to establish a network of international organizations with the mission of organizing society and the economy under the auspices of bureaucratic experts. This happened with the founding of the United Nations and its several subgroups and sister organizations to become active in finance, education, development, and health.

The International Push

With the launch of the United Nations, progressivism as a program of what James Ostrowski calls “destroying America” has attained a global platform. The main seat of this philosophy has moved into the headquarters of the United Nations Organizations. From its start, the United Nations has been the light bearer of global progressivism.

The protection of the environment and “global health” proved to be the ideal pretexts to move forward the agenda of progressivism. In June 1994, the UN Agenda 2021 was initiated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and called for the imposition of “sustainable development” on a global scale. While Agenda 2021 was still relatively modest in its demands and nonbinding as to its full execution, the later Agenda 2030 let the cat out of the bag. The new agenda was adopted when the heads of state and government and high representatives met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015. At this meeting, they approved the adoption of “Global Sustainable Development Goals” about comprehensive and far-reaching universal and transformative goals and targets.

The new agenda describes a program of comprehensive government takeover of almost all aspects of personal life. With no nods to human freedom and market coordination, the document lists seventeen goals that should be met through a bureaucratic takeover of society on a worldwide scale. Behind popular promises such as the end of poverty and hunger, healthy lives, equitable education, and gender equality lurks the agenda to impose global socialism. Demands such as the reduction of income inequality within and among countries, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and building inclusive societies for sustainable development, are parts of an overriding plan to do away with the market economy and to impose comprehensive state planning.

Claiming the “perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being” (chapter 1, preamble), the conference calls of a “global partnership for sustainable development.”

Under the heading of “program areas” the agenda stresses “the links between demographic trends and factors and sustainable development.” The growth of the world population combined with “unsustainable consumption patterns” endangers the planet, as they “affect the use of land, water, air, energy and other resources.” Under point 5.17 of its objective, the conference demands: “Full integration of population concerns into national planning, policy and decision-making processes.” Protecting the environment requires the comprehensive regulation of the world population which in turn makes it necessary to control personal behavior.

In short, the adoption of this “new world order” would mean the abolition of private property, or what Mises regarded as the liberal program—a world based on private property. If enacted, this project will fail in the end, but it will bring immense suffering in the meantime. Author:

Antony P. Mueller

Dr. Antony P. Mueller is a German professor of economics who currently teaches in Brazil. Write an email. See his website and blog.

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Rand Paul Is Right about the Nazis and Socialism | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 18, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/rand-paul-right-about-nazis-and-socialism?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=ae1f73d0a3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_10_02_06_25_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-ae1f73d0a3-228343965

David Gordon

In “No, the Nazis Were Not Socialists,” which appeared online in Jacobin, the philosopher Scott Sehon makes a surprising claim. In the course of criticizing some remarks by Senator Rand Paul, Sehon says,

Paul seems to quote the mid-century economist Ludwig von Mises:

Under national socialism there was, as Mises put it, “a superficial system of private ownership…[sic] but the Nazis exerted unlimited, central control of all economic decisions.” With profit and production dictated by the state, industry worked the same as if the government had confiscated all the means of production, making economic prediction and calculation impossible.…

It turns out that Paul’s most clear assertion about Nazi control of the economy was, apparently, just something that the senator made up and falsely attributed to Ludwig von Mises.

Had Sehon looked into Mises’s views more carefully, he would have found that Mises did indeed believe that Nazism was a form of socialism, marked by state direction of the economy rather than collective ownership. In Omnipotent Government (p. 56), Mises says,

The German and the Russian systems of socialism have in common the fact that the government has full control of the means of production. It decides what shall be produced and how. It allots to each individual a share of consumer’s goods for his consumption….The German pattern differs from the Russian one in that it (seemingly and nominally) maintains private ownership of the means of production and keeps the appearance of ordinary prices, wages, and markets. There are, however, no longer entrepreneurs but only shop managers (Betriebsführer)….The government, not the consumers, directs production. This is socialism in the outward guise of capitalism. Some labels of capitalistic market economy are retained but they mean something entirely different from what they mean in a genuine market economy.

Sehon says that this view is false and cites an article I have not yet been able to gain access to that argues that business under the Nazis retained a large degree of autonomy. But in his well-received book The Wages of Destruction (2007), the historian Adam Tooze says this: “The German economy, like any modern economy, could not do without imports of food and raw materials. To pay for these it needed to export. And if this flow of goods was obstructed by protectionism and beggar-my-neighbour devaluations, this left Germany no option but to resort to ever greater state control of imports and exports, which in turn necessitated a range of other interventions” (p. 113). This is exactly Mises’s point. Interventionist measures in the free market such as price control fail to achieve their purpose. This leads the government to add more interventionist measures in an effort to remedy the situation, and continuing this process can quickly lead to socialism.

This is what happened under the Nazis. Businesses that were reluctant to follow the plans of the new order had to be forced into line. One law allowed the government to impose compulsory cartels. By 1936, the Four Year Plan, headed by Hermann Goering, had changed the nature of the German economy. “On 18 October [1936] Goering was given Hitler’s formal authorization as general plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan. On the following days he presented decrees empowering him to take responsibility for virtually every aspect of economic policy, including control of the business media” (Tooze 2007, pp. 223–24).

Sehon says that there were socialists in the Nazi party, principally Gregor Strasser and his brother Otto, but that their influence ended when Hitler purged this wing of the party in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. (By the way, Otto was more of a socialist than his brother Gregor, and the latter repudiated his brother’s views as too radical.) This is not entirely accurate. What it ignores is that Josef Goebbels, the influential minister of propaganda, held strongly socialist views despite his personal enmity for Strasser.

According to George Watson,

On 16 June 1941, five days before Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, Goebbels exulted, in the privacy of his diary, in the victory over Bolshevism that he believed would quickly follow. There would be no restoration of the tsars, he remarked to himself, after Russia had been conquered. But Jewish Bolshevism would be uprooted in Russia and “real socialism” planted in its place – “Der echte Sozialismus“. Goebbels was a liar, to be sure, but no one can explain why he would lie to his diaries. And to the end of his days he believed that socialism was what National Socialism was about.

In his article, Sehon criticizes Watson extensively for relying on a book by Otto Wagener, a Nazi who was removed from his position of authority in 1932, but he does not mention Watson’s quotation from Goebbels’s diary.

Goebbels was by no means alone among the Nazis holding power in his radical opinions. Ferdinand Zimmerman, who worked as an important economic planner for the Nazis, had been before their rise to power a contributor under the pen name Ferdinand Fried to the journal Die Tat, edited by Hans Zehrer, and a leading member of a group of nationalist intellectuals known as the Tatkreis. Fried strongly opposed capitalism, analyzing it in almost Marxist terms.

Wilhelm Roepke wrote a devastating contemporary criticism of Fried, now available in translation in his Against the Tide (Regnery, 1969). One of the best scholarly accounts of Fried’s views, which includes some discussion of his activities under the Nazi regime, is in Walter Struve’s Elites against Democracy: Leadership Ideals in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany, 1890–1933  (Princeton University Press, 1973).

Sehon makes another misleading point in his article. He says,

Paul’s argument here goes from the undeniable premise that the Nazis had “socialist” as part of their name to the conclusion that the Nazis were, in fact, socialists. For that inference to work, Paul needs an intermediate premise like the following: If an organization has an adjective in their name, then the organization is correctly described by that adjective.

But if Senator Paul really believed this, then he would be forced to conclude that communist East Germany and present-day North Korea count as democracies, for the German Democratic Republic and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea both have the adjective “Democratic” as part of their name.

Sehon is right that the word “socialist” does not by itself tell us much, but unfortunately it does not occur to him to investigate what the Nazis meant by this word and why they used it. Author:

Contact David Gordon

David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Mises Review.

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Your Marxist Revolutionary Sons and Daughters – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on October 16, 2020

While American parents slept, university Leftists have turned millions of their children into uneducated, empty-headed, slogan-chanting useful idiots for the most despicable political tyrants and would-be dictators on the planet. Way to go, American parents.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/10/thomas-dilorenzo/your-marxist-revolutionary-sons-and-daughters/

By Thomas DiLorenzo

The violent riots, looting, arson, and even public execution of Trump supporters over the past six months has been primarily the work of the self-described communist revolutionaries associated with “Antifa” and Black Lives Matter (BLM).  Mug shots of some of the Antifa/BLM criminals that have appeared in the news and online show that some of them are seriously mentally deranged; some are hardened criminals with long criminal records; there seems to be a preponderance of convicted sex offenders and pedophiles among them; and what seems to be hundreds of pyromaniacs.  They are always accompanied by mobs of rather ordinary, run-of-the-mill, urban underclass looters, the products of the state’s life-destroying and crime-infested inner-city government schools, its family- and work-incentive-destroying welfare state, and its war on drugs.

Then there is the large army of useful idiots – the thousands of mostly white college-age or slightly-older kids.  They don’t seem to dominate the criminal mug shots published by urban police departments, but they appear to have comprised at least half of many of the mob scenes broadcast on American television over the past several months.  I lost count how many times I watched the boob tube as a chubby white girl dressed like a masked homeless person screamed in the faces of black police officers about “white supremacy” and racism, as though these mostly middle-aged black men were unaware of racial discrimination.  Then there’s that Ivy League co-ed whose parents own several multi-million dollar homes who was arrested for setting fire to police cars during one of the riots in New York City.  One suspects that she was not the only one who fit that description.

The criminals and the underclass looters are in it (rioting) for fun and profit, but the white college kids are there because they think they are being good Marxist revolutionaries by associating themselves with BLM, whose founders have proudly proclaimed that “we are trained Marxists” (and who also advocate the abolition of the family, as did Karl Marx himself).   How on earth, one may ask, have so many college students and graduates been convinced that totalitarian communism, of all things, is what they want for their future?

I am not speaking of all college students and recent graduates, of course, but a very large and vocal segment of that population – the so-called social justice snowflakes.  The answer to this question is obvious:  They have been thoroughly indoctrinated by the socialist indoctrination academies known as “American colleges and universities,” and also by their middle-school and high school teachers who themselves were indoctrinated there first.  They have been indoctrinated in textbook Marxism, in techniques and ideologies that were pioneered by Marx, Engels, Lenin and others, and carried forward first by the “60s Marxist radicals” and then by the radicals’ students who now dominate nearly every university.

Socialism Means Destructionism

Ludwig von Mises wrote in his 1922 classic, Socialism, that “the socialist idea is nothing but a grandiose rationalization of petty resentments” and “destruction is the essence of it,” the “spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created.”  Private property, free enterprise, the rule of law, the civil society, constitutionalism, religion, the family, tradition, history, are all today routinely denounced and destroyed by the useful idiots rioting in American streets.  What else would one call the riots, looting, arson and mayhem in certain American cities but Marxist destructionism?

Everything Mises said about the “revolutionary Marxists” of the early twentieth century applies to the American Left today.  “Instead of refuting” his critics, Mises said of Marx and Marxists, “his disciples have faithfully imitated the master’s example, reviling their opponents but never attempting to refute them by argument.”  This is one Marxist creed that today’s college students are very well schooled in indeed.  It is now almost routine that if a student group invites a conservative or libertarian speaker to campus he will be met with a loud mob shouting insults at him, prohibiting him from speaking, and, in the case of the University of California at Berkeley, home of “the free speech movement,” setting campus buildings on fire.  Consequently, very few dissenting voices are ever invited to campus in the first place.  Only the “oppressed” classes deserve the right of free speech, today’s college students are taught from the writings of twentieth-century Marxist academic crank, Herbert Marcuse.  Everyone else is to be smeared, libeled, and slandered as a “racist, “sexist,” “fascist,” etc., etc.  The “oppressed” classes are defined by today’s academic Marxists as everyone except  white heterosexual males who are not outspoken Leftists.  All white people are assumed to be inherent racists according to today’s Left, but being an outspoken campus commie earns one a get-out-of-jail card.

The “socialist parties” of Mises’ time perfected “the technique of agitation, the cadging for votes and for souls, the stirring up of electoral excitement, the street demonstrations, and terrorism.”  There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to being a Marxist revolutionary, in other words.  The purpose of “revolutionary socialism,” wrote Mises, “is primarily concerned to clear the ground for building up a new civilization by liquidating the older one.”  Of course, the whole history of Marxist revolutions is that the older civilization, which may have evolved over centuries, is in fact destroyed and then replaced with nothing but totalitarian thuggery, corruption, violence, and mass killing.  Today’s college students learn little or nothing about this – the real history of socialism – but are well schooled in utopian pipe dreams such as The Communist Manifesto.  I once used the Manifesto in a class called “Capitalism and its Critics” where I treated it as an historical artifact.  One student complained that it was the fourth time he was assigned to read it during his college career, but the first time it was not portrayed as a roadmap for the future.

Many Americans were not surprised when the revolutionary Marxist rioters, looters and arsonists (RMRLA) began toppling statues of Confederate soldiers and said nothing.  Many mocked President Trump when he predicted that the mob will move on to Thomas Jefferson and other founders. They were (and are) befuddled, however, when the same gang began destroying statues of Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, New England abolitionists, and just about every other kind of statue commemorating America’s past.  They have chopped off the heads of Virgin Mary statues at Catholic churches and spray painted vulgar graffiti on countless churches.  Once again, this is all textbook Marxism as taught to your sons and daughters in the institutions of “higher education.”  Tradition is merely “a tool of the bourgeoisie,” said Marx.  “In bourgeois society the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past.”  Marxists will have none of that business about learning from the mistakes of history for they – and only they – know all the answers.

Marx and Engels called for the “Abolition of Religion” in The Communist Manifesto along with a plea to “abolish the present state of things.”  “The forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions” was their goal.  “Communists everywhere support the revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things,” they said, something that was probably said many times over in American university classrooms in the past year.

“Ruthless criticism of all that exists” was also called for by Marx, who bloviated that “the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”  Communism “abolishes eternal truths,” Marx boasted, and “acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.”  As F.A. Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom, in a totalitarian society truth is not determined by research, investigation, discussion, debate, and education but is handed down by the state in the form of statist platitudes. The Problem with Linco… DiLorenzo, Thomas J. Buy New $29.99 (as of 11:50 EST – Details)

Today this is called “critical theory” in the academic world and is quite prevalent.  When a business school professor (actually a lawyer hired to preach left-wing politics to business students) initiated a new course called “Critical Thinking” at my former university I asked her what academic discipline she would be drawing on – philosophy, logic, political philosophy, economics, etc.  Her answer was “Oh none of that; we will just criticize people like you.”

Talking with many of her students over the years I have learned that they were taught nothing about how to structure a criticism by using logic, facts, and theory.  Instead, they are taught to condemn, slander, libel, denounce, and smear anyone who voices disagreements with any of the standard leftist platitudes that all college students are bombarded with and have been since elementary school.  Ruthless criticism, in other words, just as Marx himself advocated.

“Communism begins where atheism begins,” wrote Marx and Engels, and “communism is incompatible with religious faith.”  Marx would be proud indeed of his contemporary American minions.  A June 1 Catholic News Agency article reported that “churches in 6 states were damaged by violent protests.”  Cathedrals were defaced and damaged and spray painted with “God is Dead” and “There is No God.”  In Europe, some 3,000 Christian churches and other buildings were vandalized, looted and defaced in 2019.

While American parents slept, university Leftists have turned millions of their children into uneducated, empty-headed, slogan-chanting useful idiots for the most despicable political tyrants and would-be dictators on the planet.  Way to go, American parents.

The Best of Thomas DiLorenzo Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo [send him mail] is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His latest book is The Problem with Lincoln.

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The Wheat-field Principle – Doug Casey’s International Man

Posted by M. C. on August 27, 2020

The answer is human nature. Once a people have decided to cease to act responsibly, once they’ve decided to pass the decision-making to the government, they slide into a childlike existence in which they cease to bother to look any further into the future than their next governmental handout.

Once a people have become this shortsighted, they’re easily manipulated into forgetting the pain of past errors and are suckers for renewed empty promises.

History shows that countries discard socialism only if it has brought the economy to the bottom and kept it there long enough for a fundamental change in thinking amongst an electorate. If not, the same wheat field that voted conservative in one election will blow the other way four years later – and that will be true in most any country.

https://internationalman.com/articles/the-wheat-field-principle/

by Jeff Thomas

In 1946, Juan Perón was elected president of a prosperous country: Argentina.

He promised great social benefits to the common man, under justicialismo (social justice). This “justice” was never actually defined; it was more implied: If you’re a common man, the Perón government will favour you over the “rich.”

This he demonstrated through forced wage increases and other benefits. Railroads and utilities were nationalised (stolen from their owners by the government). In addition, extensive, but often unnecessary, public works projects were undertaken.

Work ethic and personal achievement took a back seat to being well-connected. Increasingly, success was the result of bribes to government leaders and officials.

The overall result of these actions was that the economy sank and the very businesses that were bled to provide the largesse given to the common man were no longer able to pay the ever-increasing cost of entitlements.

This led, not to an obvious reversal of the socially and economically destructive policies, but to an increased reliance on the military and a growing police state. Constitutional liberties were removed and any opposition was punished.

Although the “man of the people” campaign promises from Mister Perón had been welcomed in 1946, by 1955, it became apparent that they had led to inflation, increased poverty, corruption and political oppression.

Amid broad public discontent, Mister Perón was ousted from office. The subsequent government advised the electorate that, for the economy to recover, they must accept a loss of entitlements. Such was the payback to recover from the mistakes of socialism.

Perón went into exile, but amazingly, he was returned to office by the electorate in 1973 (and died in office the following year).

Since that time, Argentina has gone through cycles that have each begun with a new “saviour” candidate promising greater largesse from the government, winning the election, then instituting a revised Peronist model. In every case, it would end in inflation, increased poverty, corruption and political oppression two or three terms later.

Following the inevitable economic decline, a more conservative administration would be voted in. There would be a brief period of correction – fiscally sound governmental polices. Under such administrations, entitlements would be diminished and Argentina would begin to return to a sound economic footing.

But these periods of responsible governance would rarely last more than one term. Before the transition to full prosperity could be completed, the next election would result in a return to the Peronist model.

If the above description sounds repetitive, it is. The cycles have repeated for 73 years, with the odd interruption of military rule.

The result has been that Argentina, a once-highly productive country, has become a banana republic and has remained that way. There are significant periods of socialism, interrupted with brief corrections – attempts to refloat the economy – only to dive once more, headlong, into socialism.

And yet the Argentine people are, for the most part, educated and industrious. Why on earth does this conundrum continue after so many blatant failures?

The answer is human nature. Once a people have decided to cease to act responsibly, once they’ve decided to pass the decision-making to the government, they slide into a childlike existence in which they cease to bother to look any further into the future than their next governmental handout. Read the rest of this entry »

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Today’s Anticapitalists Are Closer to Fascism Than They Think | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 6, 2020

The viscerally anti-individualistic philosophical approach of fascism is clearly laid out throughout the whole essay. For instance, in the paragraph appropriately titled “Rejection of Individualism and the Importance of the State,” the fascist ideology is explicitly labeled as “anti-individualistic,” insofar as fascism “stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State.”

https://mises.org/wire/todays-anticapitalists-are-closer-fascism-they-think?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=11bfb92865-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-11bfb92865-228343965

On the back of the economic crisis brought about by the covid-19 pandemics, we are witnessing—once more—so-called economists, historians, and pundits attempting to proclaim the failure of capitalism. Their criticisms of the capitalistic organization of human cooperation and coexistence are various, but there are three strains of ideological attack against capitalism which seem to me to occur more often than others.

There is an element about anticapitalism that is often neglected: even though anticapitalism is usually associated with socialism and leftist movements, we can find the very same anticapitalistic mentality in the fascist ideology. As Thomas DiLorenzo pointed out in his latest Mises U lecture on the topic, fascism is just a particular kind of socialism—just like communism itself is. Hence, the fact that fascists and communists share the same contempt for capitalism should not surprise anyone.

The best way to understand the anticapitalistic mentality of fascism—and how close the arguments of contemporary anticapitalists are to those of Benito Mussolini—is to read Mussolini’s 1932 essay titled “The Doctrine of Fascism,” written together with Giovanni Gentile (the acknowledged philosophical ideologue of fascism).

The attack Gentile and Mussolini carry out against capitalism is (at least) threefold, and its underlying rhetoric is no different from the one of contemporary anticapitalistic and allegedly antifascist movements. First, Gentile and Mussolini advocate a greater role for government in the economy. Second, they condemn both methodological and political individualism, asserting the importance of collectivism and collective identities. Third, they blame “economism” and the role economic constraints play in shaping human behavior, deploring materialism and advocating governments that transcend the praxeological and sociological laws of economics.

Arguing for Ever More Government Intervention

The first step anticapitalists take when it comes to arguing in favor of bigger government is to belittle freedom and classical liberalism. In the paragraph titled1 “Rejection of Economic Liberalism – Admiration of Bismarck,” Gentile and Mussolini write that “fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of [classical] liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere.” Doesn’t that have a familiar ring? Is it so different from the calls of many leftists for rethinking neoliberalism and capitalism?

A couple of paragraphs later (“The Absolute Primacy of the State”), the two fascists—commenting upon what they believed to be the epitomic failure of capitalism, namely the 1929 world recession—assert that economic crises “can only be settled by State action and within the orbit of the State.” Does that differ so much from the advocacy of contemporary “liberals” (better: social democrats) for interventionistic policies and their attempts to put capitalism under stricter governmental control?

If it wasn’t clear enough, just a few lines earlier (at the very beginning of the same paragraph), Mussolini and Gentile show what they mean, in practice, by their contempt for classical liberalism. In fact, they blame the classical liberal minimal state for “restricting its activities to recording results” stemming from economic dynamics, instead of “directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community.” Where, again, is the difference from leftists promoting greater interventionism? Or calling for a bigger government, able to steer markets so as to foster their own idea of social justice?

In the end, when it comes to economic affairs, both modern (leftist) anticapitalists and “classical” fascists are in favor of a highly nonneutral state.

Fascism Eulogizes Collectivism and Despises Individualism

The viscerally anti-individualistic philosophical approach of fascism is clearly laid out throughout the whole essay. For instance, in the paragraph appropriately titled “Rejection of Individualism and the Importance of the State,” the fascist ideology is explicitly labeled as “anti-individualistic,” insofar as fascism “stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State.”

Again, doesn’t this kind of rhetoric have a familiar ring? Is it so different from contemporary antiglobalization advocates and anticapitalists arguing against, say, economic globalization, because—in their illiberal perspectives—it benefits only capitalists and entrepreneurs, neglecting the needs of the collectivity and the ultimate well-being of the nation? Can’t they see how close their interpretation of modern sociological and economic phenomena is to the fascist viewpoint? Should an entrepreneur refrain from freely trading with global partners just because the alleged interest of his nation (or collectivity) would be to preserve domestic national employment? Classical liberals would definitely answer no, whereas anticapitalists, antiglobalization activists, and fascists would all together answer yes.

In the end, when it comes to balancing the interests of individuals against the interests of collectivities and the nation, many modern anticapitalists are no different from “classical” fascists.

Fascism: Antimaterialism and Omnipotent Government

Lastly, many contemporary (leftist) anticapitalists share with the fascist rhetoric both a sort of utopian antimaterialism and a kind of mystical idea of the mission that states and governments are vested with.

As a matter of fact, the idea that a state should not passively accept the outcomes of freely chosen economic interactions and voluntary exchanges is widely held by modern (leftist) anticapitalists. Analogously, in the last lines of the paragraph titled “Rejection of Economic Liberalism – Admiration of Bismarck,” Mussolini and Gentile blame classical liberalism for the “agnosticism it professed in the sphere of economics and…in the sphere of politics and morals.”

In other words: fascists, just like modern anticapitalists, cannot accept that welfare-maximizing human beings naturally seek to engage in exchanges that each person thinks will make him or her better off. Instead, anticapitalists would like to substitute “morally superior” choices forced on consumers by the state.

Conclusion

As Cicero stated, “Historia magistra vitae.” Knowledge of history is helpful to avoid past mistakes. When it comes to anticapitalism, all its branches share more than their promoters are willing to admit. More precisely, every anticapitalistic ideology promotes government interventionism, contempt for individual freedom, antimaterialism, and a mystical view of government’s role and nature. They all start with anticapitalism; they all end with dictatorships, slaughters, wars, and misery.

  • 1. Paragraphs are not titled in the original version: titles have been added to make the essay more readable.
Author:

Fabrizio Ferrari

Fabrizio Ferrari is a graduate student in economics.

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: On the Differences Between Democratic Socialism, Socialism and Capitalism

Posted by M. C. on August 1, 2020

Why do I then say that the greatest danger to our lifetime is the misunderstanding of the meaning of Capitalism and Socialism? It is because the public at large thinks we are operating in a free market capitalism and all the ills of the world are because of this system.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/07/on-democratic-socialism-socialism-and.html

Robert Bun emails:

I read EconomicPolicy Journal on a daily basis. I have never much had the desire to write to you mainly because the probability of you reading my correspondence is low. But here it goes.

From my perspective the biggest danger of our times is the basic misunderstanding of the meaning capitalism and socialism. In the classic sense it is very easy as Capitalism is the ownership of the means of production by the private individual and socialism is the ownership of the means of production by the collective (aka the government). But capitalism and socialism do not mean this anymore. Just ask any one of the talking heads on Bloomberg or CNBC or just the regular person on the street, the answer will be that we either live in a capitalistic system or once in a while they will say a mixed economy. If you asked these same people to define socialism and the answers are all over the place. I would also add if you asked people if capitalism equates to free market system the answers will also be very vague. In addition, I am not sure the general public at large realizes that the United States does not operate in a capitalistic system. If you asked me what kind of a system we live in I would say it is the economic system of Fascism. My argument has been that although Moussilni lost the physical war, he won the ideological war of economic systems.

As a student of Mises, Hayek, Rothbard and Hoppe, I can have a very clear definition of socialism is and what capitalism is but vast majority of the population cannot. In fact, socialism does not mean socialism in the classic sense anymore. Even the AOC and Sanders crowd has a very hard time defining what Democratic Socialism is and especially the economic system of Democratic Socialism. I would urge you to do a show with a Democratic Socialist and ask them to specifically define the economic policy of Democratic Socialism. I will venture to bet that the answers will be all over the place from a form of syndicalism to fascism (the economic system as described by Rockwell and Flynn) and almost always give you an answer of “The Nordic System”. I would even venture to bet that if you asked AOC if government should own all the means of production that she will say no, that is not what Democratic Socialism is about. She will then ramble on what capitalism and socialism mean without making much coherent sense (there are plenty of Youtube videos of this).

Why do I then say that the greatest danger to our lifetime is the misunderstanding of the meaning of Capitalism and Socialism? It is because the public at large thinks we are operating in a free market capitalism and all the ills of the world are because of this system. Once you have identified this, the next thing would be to change the system to some kind of a socialist system (whatever that means now). The danger comes in that as we move the spectrum more and more towards socialism the outcome at the least will be to lower the standard of living of the population. This becomes a vicious circle because the answer will always be to have more socialism until at some point in time the economic system becomes very close to socialism (I say very close because I think full socialism is unattainable). As a person that was born in the Soviet Union and migrated to the United States, I hope my time on earth has come to an end from old age before this transition occurs.

I would love for you maybe to expand on this and maybe to a podcast on the topic. As for me? I am very pessimistic about the direction that we are headed as a society.

RW response:

Thank you, Mr. Bun, for your thoughtful words.

First, I do read all the emails that come to me. That said, it would be impossible to reply to all of them at length though.

As for the body of your comment, you do make a number of important points.

I would add though that it is not important for the masses to get into the intricacies of the differences between, say, socialism and fascism. That is why I tend to frame the problem in terms of freedom versus central planning. This is a very easy concept to understand and makes it easy for individuals to understand what fits in the central planning category and what fits in the freedom category.

As for the term capitalism, I will use it occasionally but I will differentiate it from crony capitalism. I prefer using the term free-market economy or when discussing things in a broader context the Private Property Society.

The goal is not to turn the masses into scholars on the nuances between, for example, Fascism and the Soviet communist state but rather to get the simple concept across that every economic and societal structure boils down to either individual freedom or central planning within the context of private property or government-controlled property.

 

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Twilight Zone USA – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 19, 2020

Escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, I thought I was done with
twilight zones for good. But as I watched in amazement the events of the
last three weeks, I saw something happen that I would have never
dreamed possible: The United States has descended into a twilight zone
of its own.

As with every twilight zone, America’s also came into existence as
the result of a false narrative. This narrative runs thus: The United
States of America is a racist country in which black people are
oppressed and where systemic racism prevails. In America every non-black
person is racist. This applies even to those who have never done or
said anything that could be conceivably construed as racist. The racism
of such people is unconscious – they simply cannot see it due to their
white privilege.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/06/vasko-kohlmayer/twilight-zone-usa/

By

Growing up in a communist regime was like living in a twilight zone where everything had gone topsy-turvy. If you’ve never been to a twilight zone, it is a most curious phenomenon. It comes into existence when in a certain country or a geographic location a blatantly false narrative takes hold of the collective psyche.

The narrative of the twilight zone of my youth went roughly as follows: Socialism was the greatest socio-economic system ever devised while capitalism was very, very bad. The Soviet Union was a paradisiacal land of freedom, opportunity, prosperity and happiness. The United States, on the other hand, was a country of exploitation and oppression where most people were bound, destitute and miserable. This official narrative was constantly and relentlessly promulgated from every quarter of our twilight zone: television, radio, textbooks, arts, newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, the narrative ran in complete contravention of reality. The actual truth was that socialism was no good. On the other hand, most people in the United States were free, quite prosperous and reasonably happy while the Soviet Union was pretty much an all-around hellhole.

Those who attempted to point out the truth or question the authorized storyline were promptly silenced, suppressed and punished. As a result of the swift and efficient censorship the false narrative prevailed and took a deep hold on the societal mind. And because it served as the paradigm for reality, it distorted and turned upside down almost every aspect of life: the good was bad and bad was good; white was black and black was white. The values and ethics in the twilight zone became inverted.

Escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, I thought I was done with twilight zones for good. But as I watched in amazement the events of the last three weeks, I saw something happen that I would have never dreamed possible: The United States has descended into a twilight zone of its own.

As with every twilight zone, America’s also came into existence as the result of a false narrative. This narrative runs thus: The United States of America is a racist country in which black people are oppressed and where systemic racism prevails. In America every non-black person is racist. This applies even to those who have never done or said anything that could be conceivably construed as racist. The racism of such people is unconscious – they simply cannot see it due to their white privilege.

As with the communist narrative of old, the claim that the United States is systemically racist and oppressive toward black people is completely false. This is something that should be readily obvious to every reasonable person. (In case there is doubt, we have discussed this matter at some length here.) Rather than being oppressed, black people in this country are given protections, resources, privileges and preferential treatment that the majority do not have. No society in world history has, in fact, done more for the advancement and upliftment of black people than the United States of America. And this includes all of the black countries and systems that ever existed. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Libertarian Case for Bernie – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 16, 2020

Sanders may have 3 admirable qualities but only foreign policy is anything close to being Libertarian.

No libertarian can support Bernie’s economic policy. Socialism will cost our country hundreds of billions in terms of lost productivity. But his foreign policy prescriptions will likely save trillions. Not only in the cost of weapons, but also in terms of lives saved.

Considering the choices we are allowed, you gotta take what you can get.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/walter-e-block/1293-63-the-libertarian-case-for-bernie/

By

There are several reasons for my stance.

1. Courage

Bernie has the courage of his convictions, something not all that prevalent amongst our politicians. He has never “run away from” any of his heartfelt principles. He didn’t “run away from” the economic philosophy of Socialism, in 2016 and before, when it was far less acceptable than it is now, thanks in no small part to his own advocacy of this system. He never “ran away from” his backing, not for allowing ex-convicts to vote in elections, but also prisoners now incarcerated, despite the extreme unpopularity of this viewpoint. Nor has he shrunk from his positions on any number of other issues which are extremely out of favor in many quarters: abortion, taxing the wealthy, labor unions, $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all, free college tuition, etc. Senator Sanders knows full well that if he garners the Democratic nomination he will have to face an electorate a large part of which vociferously disagrees with him on these issues. Does he pull his punches? To ask this to answer it: of course not.

In fact, I can think of only one thing, well, person, from whom he does indeed “run away from”: me. We were both members of Brooklyn’s James Madison High School track team a few decades ago and ran in the same long distance events. Senator Sanders was one of the best track athletes in the entire city at the time, I was a mediocre runner. We both began every race at the same starting line, but when the gun sounded, he soon “ran away from” me.

2. Desert

I don’t say my old buddy Bernie deserves to become President of the United States.  But he certainly warrants the nomination of the Democratic Party. Why? In a word: Hillary. The leaders of this party in the 2015 run-off pressed their big fat thumbs on the balance wheel of justice in her favor until they blistered. If Bernie had enjoyed fair treatment in this nomination race, he might well have beaten Hillary. In the event, she won, but there will always be an asterisk placed next to her victory in this regard. Fair is fair. If there are any reparations for this unseemly practice, it would be to award Bernie the nomination.

3. Foreign policy

Of all the major candidates, Bernie has by far the best policies in terms of U.S. relations with other countries. Everyone else acts almost as if you don’t want to risk a nuclear exchange with Russia, you are practically an agent of that nation. Not Bernie. This Vermont Senator has also

. voted to end U.S. funding for the Saudi war in Yemen

. voted to decrease U.S. military aid to Israel

. inveighed against U.S. efforts to topple the Maduro regime in Venezuela

. come out against our “long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries

Speaking in 2017 at Westminster College, he opposed U.S. interventions in Iran, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam. He advocated adopting a policy predicated on “partnership rather than dominance.” He challenged the notion of “American exceptionalism.”

Here’s Bernie on Hillary: “I do question her judgement. I question a judgement which voted for the war in Iraq; the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the country.”

More from Bernie on this crucially important issue:

. “A sensible effective foreign policy recognizes that our safety and welfare is bound up with the safety and welfare of others around the world.”

. “Every person on this planet shares a common humanity. We all want our children to … live in peace.”

He descried

. “… almost 7,000 young Americans being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and tens of thousands coming home wounded in body and spirit from a war we should never have started.”

. “… hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying in the same war.”

. The fact that “… we already spend more on defense than the next 12 nations combined…”

He supported Eisenhower’s warning about the takeover of the “military industrial complex.”

Bernie is not a radical libertarian on this issue. He favors the United Nations. My old high school buddy never quite calls for bringing all the U.S. troops home, every last one of them, but of all the major Democratic contenders, he is clearly closest to the libertarian ideal of non-interventionism, anti-colonialism, opposition to imperialism. The U.S. has almost 700 military bases in almost 130 foreign nations. The Vermont senator would sharply move us in the direction of sanity.

4. Economics

No libertarian can support Bernie’s economic policy. Socialism will cost our country hundreds of billions in terms of lost productivity. But his foreign policy prescriptions will likely save trillions. Not only in the cost of weapons, but also in terms of lives saved.

Go, Bernie! Well, compared to Biden, in any case.

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Bernie’s Socialism vs. Trump’s Socialism | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 20, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/bernies-socialism-vs-trumps-socialism?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=b171366e07-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-b171366e07-228343965

Is reelecting Donald Trump the only way to stem the tide of socialism in America? With self-described “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders still a strong contender for the Democratic nomination, many on the right, including the president himself, argue that only by voting for Trump can socialism be abated. “America will never be a socialist country,” Trump confidently declared in his most recent State of the Union address.

Fighting Socialism?

The problem is that the United States is, in some respects, already a socialist country, at least if we define socialism broadly enough to encompass federal welfare programs. Though the president may lambast progressive policy proposals as intolerable socialist impositions, in reality these programs are mere expansions of policies that have existed for a long time.

Bernie Sanders’s assertion that public universities ought to be “tuition free,” for instance, is hardly a radical departure from traditional government education policy. Indeed, local and state governments already provide “free” education for students from kindergarten through high school and have done so for well over a century. For its part, the US Department of Education spends about $41 billion on elementary and secondary schooling. Almost $30 billion are awarded to college students in the form of Pell grants, while other students receive federally subsidized loans.

The most glaring example of an expansion of an already existent socialist policy is “Medicare for All.” The plan is clearly not novel; after all, the program it seeks to expand is right there in the name. President Trump may not want to extend Medicare coverage to every citizen, but he has shown no interest in rolling it back. In fact, the president’s 2021 budget proposes to increase Medicare spending every year for the next decade, nearly doubling its expenditures by 2030. So much for fighting against socialism.

Trump’s Flirtation with Socialism

To be fair, Trump’s budget proposal does contain certain reforms to Medicaid and other entitlement programs. These reforms would lower federal expenditures relative to current budget projections but would nonetheless increase spending on those programs overall. Despite a few small cuts, the federal government under Trump’s 2021 Budget would continue to run a deficit, albeit a shrinking one, through 2030.

Considering that the president has been incredibly harsh in his antisocialist rhetoric, his plans to downsize the federal government appear weak.

Indeed, aside from some modest deregulation, Trump has tended to increase the power and scope of government. While the president did implement somewhat substantial corporate tax cuts and personal income tax cuts, he then turned right around and raised taxes, imposing billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese imports. The trade war, now in its third consecutive year, has cost individual American consumers thousands.

After the Chinese began imposing their own tariffs in retaliation, American farmers found it increasingly difficult to export their products. So, the president simply bailed them out. Without congressional authorization (and perhaps even without the legal authority to do so), the Trump administration doled out $28 billion of taxpayer money to farmers and is now promising to send more.

In classic socialist fashion, the bailouts appear to be going to a fairly small set of farmers. According to a recent NPR analysis, “100,000 individuals collected just over 70% of the money.” One giddy farmer interviewed by NPR referred to the bailouts as “Trump money,” a term reminiscent of the now infamous “​Obama money” woman. Unsurprisingly, many of these farmers were wildly overpaid compared to the actual harm they’ve suffered due to the president’s trade policies.

A Tale of Two Socialisms

For all of his antisocialist bluster, Trump has hardly been a friend to the free market. On the contrary, the president has pursued an agenda of economic nationalism, recycling old mercantilist policies intended to “protect” American industry from insidious foreign competition, even going so far as to explicitly order American companies not to do business with the Chinese.

But rather than fight back against Trump’s socialist tendencies, his administration has emboldened nascent nationalists within the conservative movement and has even encouraged former friends of the free market to embrace government interventions. Once a nominal defender of liberty, Senator Marco Rubio, for example, is now firmly in the economic nationalist camp, arguing that the government needs to subsidize special companies and engage in massive wealth transfers in order to further the “common good.” Other Republican legislators, such as freshman Senator Josh Hawley, have pushed for more government regulation of social media. And just recently the president’s attorney general, Bill Barr, suggested that the federal government purchase major American tech companies, essentially turning them into state-run enterprises.

In point of fact, Trump has succeeded in shifting the Overton window in Republican politics toward socialism, not away from it. The choice facing voters in 2020, therefore, is not between capitalism and socialism, but merely between two different kinds of socialism.

 

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Socialism’s Past – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 19, 2020

Bernie Sanders’ statements are not that different from those of Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Chavez and other tyrants.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/03/walter-e-williams/socialisms-past/

By

Senator Bernie Sanders’ call for socialism has resonated among many Americans, particularly young Americans. They’ve fallen prey to the idea of a paradise here on Earth where things are free and there’s little want. But socialists never reveal what turns out to be their true agenda. Let’s look at the kind of statements they used to gain power. You’ll note that all of their slogans before gaining power bore little relation to the facts after they had power.

Vladimir Lenin promised, “Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing.” That’s Friedrich Engel’s prediction about “the withering away of the state.” Lenin also promised, “Communism is Soviet power plus electrification,” and “No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.” Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin, said, “Advance towards socialism cannot but cause the exploiting elements to resist the advance, and the resistance of the exploiters cannot but lead to the inevitable sharpening of the class struggle.” He also said, “Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union,” and that “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.”

Then there’s China’s Chairman Mao Zedong, who said: “Socialism must be developed in China, and the route toward such an end is a democratic revolution, which will enable socialist and communist consolidation over a length of time. It is also important to unite with the middle peasants, and educate them on the failings of capitalism.” Mao advised: “A communist must be selfless, with the interests of the masses at heart. He must also possess a largeness of mind, as well as a practical, far-sighted mindset.”

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro said: “Capitalism has neither the capacity, nor the morality, nor the ethics to solve the problems of poverty. We must establish a new world order based on justice, on equity, and on peace.” He added, “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating… because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition.”

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez promised: “I am going to do my best to try to create a country in which children are not living in poverty, in which kids can go to college, in which old people have health care. Will I succeed? I can’t guarantee you that, but I can tell you that from a human point of view it is better to show up than to give up.” Adding, “I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism.”

His successor Nicolas Maduro said: “Fidel Castro represents the dignity of the South American continent against empires. He’s a living legend: an icon of independence and freedom across the continent.”

Bernie Sanders’ statements are not that different from those of Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Chavez and other tyrants. Sanders says, “Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America,” and “We need to change the power structure in America, we need to end the political oligarchy.”

Stalin’s campaign didn’t mention that he would enact policies that would lead to the slaughter of 62 million people in the Soviet Union between 1917 to 1987. Mao Zedong didn’t mention that his People’s Republic of China would engage in brutal acts that would lead to the loss of 76 million lives at the hands of the government from 1949 to 1987. The late Professor Rudolph J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii documented this tragedy in his book “Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900.”

Because socialism is a fight against basic human nature, it requires brute force in the attempt to reach its goals. The best warning about socialism comes from Aesop, who said, “Those who voluntarily put power into the hands of a tyrant … must not wonder if it be at last turned against themselves.” We shouldn’t ignore Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

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Harsh Words For Liberals Who Say Socialism is Not ...

 

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