What is socialism? 2

What is socialism?

Never mind dictionary definitions. Rather ask, what does a socialist state do?

It controls the resources of a nation and allocates them as it chooses.

More fully: In a socialist state, resources are controlled by an all-powerful central agency, the government, and distributed according to the arbitrary decision of the most powerful person or persons in that government.

Widely, “socialism” is thought of as a creed of equality, as is “communism”.  It is to achieve their high ideal of equality that socialists and communists favor the forced collection and allocation of resources.  If they achieve a kind of equality, it is only and always an equality of misery. For this they have many explanations and excuses, but no remedy.

The difference between socialism and communism is often said to be a difference of degree, or manner of enforcement. In common parlance, at least in the West, “socialism” refers to a similar but milder, less oppressive, system of collectivization.  West European states were happy to call themselves “socialist’, and saw the self-described “communist” states, chiefly the Soviet Union, as their enemies.

In the Soviet Union, however, “socialism” and “communism” were commonly used interchangeably, as synonyms. In Marxist theory, “communism” is an ideal that will be realized when the state – ie government – has “withered away”.  But withering away is not on the agenda of any existing socialist government, nor is likely to be.

In fact, most forms of collectivism can  justifiably be called “socialist”.  (An exception is Islam.) The collectivist idea is that the society, not the individual, is important, so the citizenry must be organized. The organization must be enforced, whether harshly or temperately.  Most self-described “socialist” states consider their rule not only temperate but positively beneficent, while they see “communist” states as cruel and oppressive.

But the word “socialism” cannot bear a connotation of beneficence. Nor does it always imply equality.

Remember that the Nazis were self-described socialists: national socialists. Nazi is the short name for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.  And of course the Nazis saw themselves as beneficent – to those they counted as worthy of existence, the “Aryan” Germans. They had a tender care for their citizens. In the Third Reich official collections were taken up for the poor to keep them warm in winter (the annual “Winterhilfe” charity drive).  But nobody thinks of the Third Reich as a kindly state, or one that did humankind any good. And its rulers scorned the notion of equality, either between persons or between nations.

So one clear distinction that does exist among socialist states is that some are ideologically egalitarian – eg Soviet Russia, Maoist China, Castroite Cuba – and some are non-egalitarian – eg Nazi Germany.

The Soviet communists considered themselves international socialists – even when Stalin declared his policy to be for a time  “socialism in one country” (the one country being the USSR). The Marxist ideological vision was and remains a world government controlling the world’s resources – a vision now justified in the name of environmentalism.

The biggest political divide comes between collectivism and freedom. Or rather, since a totally free country does not exist, between those who hold collectivism as an ideal, and those who want every individual to be free.

While it is true that a totally free country is nowhere to be found, such a thing could exist. It would not be an anarchy, because freedom is a product of civil order, and  is only possible under the rule of law. Everyone’s freedom should be limited only by everyone else’s, but the protection of every individual, his person, property, and freedom, requires the rule of law.

The USA was as free as any country has ever been, more so than any other large nation. (Small areas have been freer, such as Hong Kong, which was legally under British rule and could rely on the protection of law, but was free of taxes and all the harm that ensues from taxation – such as regulation of trade, and welfare.)

Now Americans are losing their freedom rapidly, since they voted Democratic socialists into power in Congress, and a Marxist-trained “community organizer” to the presidency. He has packed fellow socialists into his administration. Some declare themselves to be “Maoists” or “communists”.  All of them are collectivists.

It will take a hard fight to recover the liberty that has been lost, but for those who want to be free, it’s a battle that must be won.

Jillian Becker    August 13, 2010

Obama’s abasement of America 1

China is one of the worst, possibly the worst regime on earth. Under Mao tens of millions were starved to death, more millions committed suicide, and hundreds of millions were deliberately murdered – many more than the 70 million calculated, because for decades most newborn baby girls were killed. China still allows no free speech, no free press, no freedom of assembly. Torture is routine in its prisons and gulags. Its citizens are imprisoned without trial. In any case trials are travesties of justice. The government’s entire business is to protect itself against the people. In sum, China is an evil Communist dictatorship. The dictators are wholly without moral compunction.

In very bad faith these monsters accuse America of “violations of human rights”.  Obviously this is chutzpah writ very large indeed. The Chinese cite crime levels in the US as if common crime were the result of government policy. They cite measures of defense, such as those taken under the Patriot Act, as if they were morally illegitimate.  (See the accusations below in our post, Seeing ourselves as others see us.) The contrast between the governmental system of the United States, designed to protect the people from tyranny, and the Communist system designed to tyrannize over the people, could not be greater.

It is true that the present administration of the United States has a dictatorial inclination, so much so that we often allude to Obama as “the dictator”. We don’t doubt that he is a collectivist by temperament and training. We would not be astonished to learn that he thinks the Chinese system of government is better than the one set up by the framers of the United States Constitution. While he is in power he can do a lot of damage – has done much already – but he will not destroy American freedom. The people will not let him.

He himself does not value individual liberty. He has absorbed a distorted version of American history from his Marxist parents, mentors, teachers, and associates.

And so he has his legates confess what he sees as America’s political sins to – the Communist dictators of China!  In what amounts to a form of apology, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner tarred his own country with guilt and shame – and then boasted that had done so.

It was not even enough that Obama’s envoy should  express repentance for the accusations China made; in addition he threw in one that the Chinese had not mentioned. He condemned a perfectly constitutional and morally defensible law recently made in Arizona to protect itself from massive illegal immigration. (Posner has probably not even read the law. Neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor  Homeland Security head, Janet Napolitano, has read it, by their own admission!)

Obama has done dreadful harm to his country: crippling its economy, putting it into unfathomable debt, appeasing the Islamic bloc while it is at war with Islam, and simultaneously  antagonizing its traditional allies. But of all that he has done, abasing the nation he leads before the blood-soaked  despots of Communist China is surely the most despicable.

Seeing ourselves as others see us 0

Here are extracts from  a Chinese newspaper article (March 12, 2010, in English), on an official Chinese government report on the United States:

This is the 11th consecutive year that the Information Office of China’s State Council has issued a human rights record of the United States to answer the US State Department’s annual report.

“At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the US subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the US government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity,” the report said.

While advocating “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press” and “Internet freedom,” the US government unscrupulously monitors and restricts the citizens’ rights to freedom when it comes to its own interests and needs, the report said.

The US citizens’ freedom to access and distribute information is under strict supervision, it said.

According to media reports, the US National Security Agency (NSA) started installing specialized eavesdropping equipment around the country to wiretap calls, faxes, and emails and collect domestic communications as early as 2001.

The wiretapping programs was originally targeted at Arab-Americans, but soon grew to include other Americans. …

The so-called “freedom of the press” of the United States was in fact completely subordinate to its national interests, and was manipulated by the US government, the report said. …

Widespread violent crimes in the United States posed threats to the lives, properties and personal security of its people, the report said.

In 2008, US residents experienced 4.9 million violent crimes, 16.3 million property crimes and 137,000 personal thefts, and the violent crime rate was 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons aged 12 or over.

About 30,000 people die from gun-related incidents each year. According to a FBI report, there had been 14,180 murder victims in 2008, the report said. …

The country’s police frequently impose violence on the people and abuse of power is common among US law enforcers, the report said. …

Prisons in the United State are packed with inmates. About 2.3 million were held in custody of prisons and jails, the equivalent of about one in every 198 persons in the country, according to the report. …

The basic rights of prisoners in the United States are not well-protected. Raping cases of inmates by prison staff members are widely reported, the report said. …

The report said the population in poverty was the largest in 11 years.

The Washington Post reported that altogether 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty by the end of 2008, an increase of 2.6 million from that in 2007. The poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, the highest since 1998.

Poverty led to a sharp rise in the number of suicides in the United States. It is reported that there are roughly 32,000 suicides in the US every year, double the cases of murder, said the report.

Workers’ rights were seriously violated in the United States, the report said.

The New York Times reported that about 68 percent of the 4,387 low-wage workers in a survey said they had experienced reduction of wages and 76 percent of those who had worked overtime were not paid accordingly.

The number of people without medical insurance has kept rising for eight consecutive years, the report said. …

Data released by the US Census Bureau showed 46.3 million people were without medical insurance in 2008, accounting for 15.4 percent of the total population, comparing 45.7 million people who were without medical insurance in 2007, which was a rise for the eighth year in a row.

Women are frequent victims of violence and sexual assault in the United States, while children are exposed to violence and living in fear, the report said.

It is reported that the United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan. …

It is reported that 1,494 children younger than 18 nationwide were murdered in 2008, the USA Today reported. …

The report said the United States with its strong military power has pursued hegemony in the world, trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries and trespassing their human rights. …

The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have placed heavy burden on American people and brought tremendous casualties and property losses to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report.

Prisoner [of war] abuse is one of the biggest human rights scandals of the United States, it said

An investigation by US Justice Department showed 2,000 Taliban surrendered combatants were suffocated to death by the US army-controlled Afghan armed forces, the report said.

The United States has been building its military bases around the world, and cases of violation of local people’s human rights are often seen, the report said. …

The Obama administration apparently gets its information about America from Chinese sources.

It is covered with shame, and expresses its regrets to the Chinese.

This is from PowerLine, by a rightly indignant John Hinderaker:

This is unfreakingbelievable, even for the Obama administration:

The United States and China reported no major breakthroughs Friday after only their second round of talks about human rights since 2002. …

[Assistant Secretary of State Michael] Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.

He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its [sic] own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

What an idiot! China murdered millions of its citizens who opposed the government’s Communist policies and allows most of its people little or no freedom. We, on the other hand, enforce our immigration laws. No, wait–actually we don’t. That’s why Arizona had to take a shot at it. Oh, by the way, Michael Posner, you clueless moron–China actually does enforce its immigration laws. …

Is it unfair to say that the Obama administration consists of a bunch of anti-American ignoramuses? If so, why?

It is not unfair. It is true.

Dictatorship 0

Are we exaggerating when we call Obama “the Dictator”?

Judging by this, we  guess that Thomas Sowell would not say we are:

So much of what is said and done by those who rely on the power of government to direct ever more sweeping areas of our life seem to have no sense of the limits of what can be accomplished that way.

Even the totalitarian governments of the 20th century eventually learned the hard way the limits of what could be accomplished by power alone. China still has a totalitarian government today but, after the death of Mao, the Chinese government began to loosen its controls on some parts of the economy, in order to reap the economic benefits of freer markets.

As those benefits became clear in higher rates of economic growth and rising standards of living, more government controls were loosened. But, just as market principles were applied to only certain kinds of slavery, so freedom in China has been allowed in economic activities to a far greater extent than in other realms of the country’s life, where tight control from the top down remains the norm.

Ironically, the United States is moving in the direction of the kind of economy that China has been forced to move away from. China once had complete government control of medical care, but eventually gave it up as the disaster that it was.

The current leadership in Washington operates as if they can just set arbitrary goals, whether “affordable housing” or “universal health care” or anything else — and not concern themselves with the repercussions — since they have the power to simply force individuals, businesses, doctors or anyone else to knuckle under and follow their dictates.

Friedrich Hayek called this mindset “the road to serfdom.” But, even under serfdom and slavery, experience forced those with power to recognize the limits of their power. What this administration — and especially the President — does not have is experience.

Barack Obama had no experience running even the most modest business, and personally paying the consequences of his mistakes, before becoming President of the United States. He can believe that his heady new power is the answer to all things.

Mao in the White House 2

Yesterday the Fox News star Glenn Beck, in the course of a gripping solo performance, showed a video clip of Anita Dunn, the White House Communications Director, telling school children that one of her favorite philosophers, one whom she ‘turns to most’, was Mao Tse Tung, and recommending that they take his advice.

She joins a long line of Western admirers of Mao and Maoism: the sort of people Lenin called ‘useful idiots’.

What sort of man was Mao Tse Tung? What did he think, say, and do? What was the ‘philosophy’ of the man Anita Dunn admires? What made Mao so heroic a figure to her, whose opinions are valued by the president of the United States, that she commends him as a mentor to American school children?

Here are passages – some quoted, some summarized – from the biography Mao, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, published in 2005:

During ‘the Great Leap Forward’, Mao enslaved the ‘entire rural population’, took away from them everything they possessed, and demanded ‘a feverpitch’ of work. He organized them into ‘People’s Communes’, to make slave-driving more efficient. He ‘even toyed with getting rid of people’s names and replacing them with numbers’. His aim was to ‘dehumanize China’s 550 million peasants and turn them into the human equivalent of draft animals.’ … ‘Total control over food gave the state a terrifying weapon. … Undernourishment and overwork quickly reduced tens of millions of peasants to a state where they were simply too enfeebled to work. When he found out that one county was doling out food to those too ill to work, Mao’s response was: “This won’t do. Give them this amount and they don’t work. Best halve the basic ration, so if they’re hungry they have to try harder.”’

Hungry peasants would ‘steal’ their own harvest, and for doing so –

Horrific punishments were widespread: some people [including children] were buried alive, others strangled with ropes, others had their noses cut off. … A child had four fingers chopped off … Two children had wires run through their ears and were then hung up by the wire….

People starved in the cities too … Most urban dwellers could barely survive on the rations they got … People were told to eat ‘food substitutes’. One was a green roe-like substance called chlorella, which grew in urine and contained some protein. After Chou En-lai tasted and approved this disgusting stuff, it soon provided a high proportion of the urban population’s protein.

Nationwide famine started in 1958, peaked in 1960, and lasted until 1961.

People were just driven crazy by hunger. … Some resorted to cannibalism. … One couple strangled and ate their eight-year-old son …

While all this was happening, there was plenty of food in state granaries, which were guarded by the army. Some food was simply allowed to rot. A Polish student saw fruit ‘rotting by the ton’ in southeast China in summer-autumn 1959. But the order from above was: ‘Absolutely no opening the granary door even if people are dying of starvation’.

Close to 38 million people died of starvation and overwork in the Great Leap Forward and the famine, which lasted four years. Mao knowingly starved and worked these tens of millions of people to death. … To the May 1958 congress that kicked off the Leap, he told his audience they should … actively welcome dying as a result of their Party’s policy. … ‘Death,’ said Mao, ’is indeed to be rejoiced over. … We believe in dialectics, and so we can’t not be in favor of death.’

When Mao was in Moscow in 1957, he had said: ‘We are prepared to sacrifice 300 million Chinese for the victory of the world revolution.’

In the single year of 1960, ‘22 million people died of hunger. This was the largest number in any one year in any country in the history of the world.’

In that year Mao told his inner circle:

The goal for now was ‘to propagate Mao Tse-tung Thought’ round the world. … The resulting propaganda campaign brought the world ‘Maoism’. The idea of promoting China’s experience as a model when the Chinese were dying of starvation in their millions might seem a tall order, but Mao was not perturbed: he had watertight filters on what foreigners could see and hear. … Mao could easily pull the wool over most visitors’ eyes. … [When he] told barefaced lies to France’s Socialist leader (and future president) François Mitterrand during the famine in 1961 (‘I repeat it, in order to be heard: there is no famine in China’), he was widely believed. The future Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau came in 1960 and co-wrote a starry-eyed book, Two Innocents in Red China, which did not say a word about famine. Even the former chief of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, Lord Boyd-Orr, was duped. In May 1959, after a trip to China, he opined that food production had risen 50-100 per cent over 1955-8 and that China ‘seems capable of feeding its population well’. Britain’s Field Marshal Montgomery, a much more gullible figure, asserted after visits in 1960 and 1961 that here had been ‘no large-scale famine, only shortages in certain areas’, and he certainly did not regard the ‘shortages’ as Mao’s fault, as he urged Mao to hang on to power: ‘China … needs the chairman. You mustn’t abandon this ship.’

Mao had no problem covering up the famine, and was confident he could promote himself as a credible international leader. For this job he brought in … dependable writer-journalists. …

*

One of these dependable types was Felix Greene (cousin of the novelist Graham Greene), who made documentary films about China for the BBC in the 1950s. Their message was that ‘nobody starves in Communist China’. These words were repeated like a mantra by Western intellectuals of the left to rebuke all criticism of Mao, and to excuse whatever he ‘had to do’ – the torture, the mass murder, the enslavement of the peasants, rumor of which reached the ears of the West even though hands were clasped over them – as if merely to be kept alive was a favor for which the Chinese should be grateful to their master. But even if it could be counted an achievement so great that it would justify everything, it wasn’t true.

Does Anita Dunn know the truth about Mao?

Which would be worse: that she does not know it and commends him, or that she does know it and commends him?

If the first, should she be speaking to American school children?

If the second, should she be speaking for the president?