What is socialism? 125

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

Strengthen the government and bring it down 108

At Townhall today, George Will expresses this opinion:

There are legislative miles to go before the government will be emancipated from its health care myopia, but it is not too soon for a summing up. Whether all or nothing of the legislation becomes law, Barack Obama has refuted critics who call him a radical. He has shown himself to be a timid progressive.

His timidity was displayed when he flinched from fighting for the boldness the nation needs — a transition from the irrationality of employer-provided health insurance. His progressivism is an attitude of genteel regret about the persistence of politics.

On this judgment we cannot agree with George Will (unless he is intending to be ironic, which we suspect and hope he is).

Obama is insisting almost hysterically on health legislation being passed, no matter what horrors it foists on the people of the United States provided only that it delivers control of a sizable portion of the economy into the hands of his government.

Now one has only to read what has been published about Obama’s parents, upbringing, and career to see that he is a born, bred, and thoroughly committed Marxist radical. Why otherwise would he appoint radical leftists, including self-confessed Communists of various stripes, some of them Maoists, to advisory posts and “Czardoms” in the White House?

And while this sort of thing, reported and discussed by Scott Wheeler, is happening under his administration, it’s hard to believe he has faded into nothing more dangerous than a “timid progressive”:

A Marxist group that has demanded the “destruction” of the U.S. and issued a call “to bring this government down” is the recipient of stimulus funds from the Obama American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This same group, the Brecht Forum, has also called for the complete takeover of insurance companies and farms [!] in America.

The controversial stimulus bill, as ARRA is better known, provided funds for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), which promptly granted the New York City-based Brecht Forum $5,000 in 2009 and $9,000 in 2010. The NYSCA had previously announced in 2008 that due to state budget cuts it would no longer be able to fund 573 organizations that it had previously funded. One of the groups on the list to be slashed was the Brecht Forum. After NYSCA secured $399,000 in stimulus money, the Brecht Forum once again had funding.

The Brecht Forum is host to the New York Marxist School and displays this statement on their website:

“Can society be changed significantly for the better? What kind of changes would be needed? and, Who could bring about such changes?” …

In 1975, a group of civil rights, community, labor, and student activists came together to found The Brecht Forum’s New York Marxist School. They saw the study of Marxism as central, not as a dogma but as a living current of thought and as a vital tool for understanding capitalist society.

In a September 2009 lecture at the Brecht Forum, Jed Brandt, a longtime communist, political activist and outspoken atheist [at least he has this much common sense – JB] offered the following instructions:

“We have to bring this Government down! We have to help destroy this system and that requires increasing the alienation that working people and oppressed people feel. The way this change is going to happen is the destruction of The United States of America!” [“Increasing the alienation”, ie deliberately piling misery on the underclass until they rise in revolutionary rebellion, continues to be an orthodox formula of Marxist theory though it has never, fortunately, worked that way in practice – JB]

Fox News Channel picked up on Brandt’s call to action and played clips several times the week of March 1st. My own investigation uncovered the link to federal stimulus dollars providing financial support for the Brecht Forum. The grants from NYSCA were ostensibly provided for artistic projects, for example, the NYSCA website shows the following as the description for the Brecht Forum grant:

“The Brecht Forum’s 09-10 program features workshops in the participatory theater techniques developed by the noted Brazilian director Augusto Boal. The program includes monthly workshops led by members of the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and two master workshops led by Augusto Boal.” …

“Augusto Boal has defined Theater of the Oppressed as a rehearsal for revolution.”

The website further describes its mission as using “interactive theater as an organizing tool” and works with “educators, human service and healthcare workers, union organizers and community activists” to solve perceived problems.

Almost choking on Communist jargon, the Brecht Forum is shouting its revolutionary intentions. The NYSCA obviously knows exactly what it’s subsidizing. The Obama administration knows what the NYSCA’s political agenda is. It gets its grants because it has that agenda. It is radically leftist. There’s nothing timid about it.

Grow and strengthen government, or bring it down? Is President Obama conscious of being caught on the horns of a remarkable dilemma – how to square his office with his ideology? How does he reconcile his present job with his old objectives? Does it trouble him that he is the power Jed Brandt wants to overthrow?

A mind even more suspicious than ours might wonder whether the New Left program of “the long march through the institutions” set Obama climbing to the pinnacle of power with the intention of bringing about “the destruction of the United States of America”. But surely Obama is not as extreme as all that – is he?