Friday, May 05, 2006

Socialism Just Won't Die. Why?

Lee Harris over at TCS Daily ponders why Socialism isn't dead yet, and even more, why it is starting to thrive in South America. I read this phenomenal article (it is long and intensive) via Instapundit.

I think that many Americans misconstrue the argument as being between Capitalism and Socialism. This to me frames the problem wrongly. Harris rightly notes that Socialism is more religion than reason and that is why I think Socialism should be compared and constrasted with Christianity, because that is the ideology that is being battled. The end result of forgoing Christian dogma is that Capitalism dies. The cause of death is the deification of the State over God who gives rights to the individual.

Capitalism without applied Judeo-Christianity ceases to exist. The Capitalistic system is built upon certain Christian beliefs:

  1. God is the ultimate Judge.
  2. Men are born equal. (Not equally gifted, not equally able, but equal--worthwhile--before God.)
  3. No man is above the law.
  4. Every person has freedom to use their gifts.
  5. Laziness is its own reward.
  6. You reep what you sow.
  7. You are rewarded in proportion to ingenuity of your gifts.
These beliefs allow (can you name all the parables?) people of much worse circumstances allow for people of much better circumstances to exist without malice. Few people begrudge Bill Gates save Bill Gates himself. And he needs to shut-up. It sounds ungrateful and empty to pontificate about how your wealth is a burden. Puhleeze. Try feeding your kids on minimum wage. That's a burden.

Most people realize that Bill came up with an awesome invention, figured out a way to make it work on a large scale and has been handsomely rewarded for it. He is the American Dream. Tiger Woods is the American Dream. Google founders are the American Dream. A friend of ours is building a better bow and arrow and will probably make gazillions. He can live the American Dream.

When the Christian ideals of fairness, equity, justice before the law give way to favoritism, cronyism and classism and corruption, and when people believe this lopsided society exclusively favors the few, privilaged elites, and when safety, security and the ability to provide for a family gives way to danger, crime, and futility, a New Religion starts to look good. Waiting for God to pass judgement in the Kingdom means little to those who suffer and wish to feed their children now.

Capitalism, Democracy and the foundation, Christianity, are not easy ideologies. The individual pays for sins individually. The individual reaps rewards individually and can choose or not choose to share the wealth. A Christian shares the wealth (a good one does, anyway). In capitalism, there is great risk. A person (like my dad) could spend his life's wealth on a stupid idea and lose it all. He emperils his family. His reward, should he succeed, can be huge.

Socialism, Statism and at the foundation, Humanism, are easy ideologies, theoretically. The group pays for sins as a group. The group reaps rewards together and must share the wealth. Risk is minimized. Rewards are spread. The gifted and the dullard alike are cared for by the collective.

Why do people turn toward Socialism? Because they decide to take the limitations of this world into their own hands. Revolution. It is exciting. It is proactive. It is better than sitting in squalor and waiting to be attacked or die from disuse or starvation.

The beginning of Socialism is insidious and doesn't begin with the individual. Big companies or families, fat from the successes of yesteryear, ply the government for favors. Rather than change, innovate, and compete, they stay, immobilized by fear of loss and look to powerful allies to ease their pain. Should the government buyout GM, for example, bad business practices will be rewarded. New competitors won't be allowed into the field. Lots of industries could have this fate: airlines, computers and oil, for example.

The power to change the economy then falls into a few hands--coddled by the government. In other countries, it isn't companies so much as families and individuals who through payoffs, bribes, and extortion twist the government to their needs. The government, corrupt from the top to the common police officer, complies. Two classes emerge: The Rulers and The Servants. The Rulers have no incentive to change--until the people get pissed off enough.

"Reform" happens at the point of a gun turned the other way. Socialism is very satisfying that way. The Oppressors suddenly live in fear. Vengence. Forget waiting for God, justice is NOW, in MY hands.

Socialism, as Harris notes, too, always fails--whether put forth by the "scientists" like Marx, or the Utopians. It fails. Why? Because human nature is NEVER accounted for with Socialism. While working hard might be inherently gratifying when I make the money, it becomes less so when my hard work pays for my deadbeat neighbor who reaps the same reward for doing nothing.

When universal laws like "you reap what you sow" are turned upside down--you reap a little for a lot, or a lot for a little, defeat is inevitable. The job becomes maintenance. We don't have much but we don't want to lose what little we have.

Exhibit "A": the U.S.S.R.

Exhibit "B": France.

People get comfortable with a minimum standard and their energy goes into protecting that minimum standard. No energy is expended on innovation because there is no individual upside. Why try? It doesn't matter anyway.

With Socialism, it isn't just the Underclass that's helpless and hopeless. It's everybody. Everybody, of course, except for the Beloved Leader, who has helped Himself to The Oppressors booty. Now there is One Oppressor. Oops!

By the time the Beloved Leader redistributes everything, and the common man's lust for vengence is sated, people wise up a bit, but then it is too late. The Beloved Leader controls all aspects of State and Personal Life, because personal life is State life. He also controls the military. He controls the Judiciary. He controls the Media. He controls Money. He controls Religion. He is the religion. He is the Law.

Socialism, like Christianity, provides answers to life's basic questions. They are just the wrong answers. Rather than deliver on the promise of freedom and success, socialism's answers enslave and reinforce mediocrity.

Capitalism, based on Christianity, must be ever vigilant. Corruption and graft and the easy road must be condemned and punished. Individual rights, and the responsibilities that go with them, must be protected and cherished.

When elites flourish under the protection of the government and when the least among us are encouraged to rely on the State and when there no longer is a working, moral middle, the society is ripe for easy and failed ideologies like Socialism.

America cannot rest on her laurels only 200 years into this grand experiment. The general populace must continue to be God-fearing, moral, law-abiding, working citizens. The government must treat the high and low the same--or at least attempt to. The day that a Martha Stewart or O.J. Simpson or Ken Lay or Zacarias Moussaoui is above the law is a grave day indeed.

Socialism speaks to our most base nature. In the face of difficulty, Socialism is very appealing. Americans shouldn't be so high and mighty to think that we are above this insidious religion. Revolutions can be slow, deceitful and cloaked in "progressivism". It is a world where humans are the Answer, the god. Terrifying.

1 comment:

MaxedOutMama said...

What struck me about this post was how you seem to believe that socialism must devolve into an oligarchy. Judging by the experiments, I think you're right.