Tag Archives: Socialism

The Bolsheviks aren’t coming. They’re already here. By Simon Black

The US has been drifting towards socialism for over a century. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

The average Westerner who hasn’t traveled very much believes Moscow to be a cold, bleak, desolate capital city that’s filled with Stalinist-era architecture and a population that lives in utter misery.

But the reality of this place is nearly the complete opposite.

Moscow is a bright, beautiful, cosmopolitan city. I’ve always found Moscow to feel more European than most European capitals, with gorgeous architecture that never seems to end.

Moscow is easily as nice as Paris, London, or Vienna… with a population larger than all three. I like it here more and more every time I visit.

It has some of the nicest restaurants in the world, beautiful parks and monuments, and a highly sophisticated, educated, cultured population.

The city is quite prosperous too. But it wasn’t always that way.

Moscow was once the capital of the Soviet Empire… the most infamous and failed experiment with Socialism in the history of the world.

Russia’s humiliating tale of Socialism grew out imperial discontent– a period starting in the 1500s when wealth was concentrated in the hands of the Tsar and his key lieutenants. Everyone else lived as peasants in abject poverty.

My friends and I toured a museum at the Kremlin over the weekend and saw endless artifacts from the days of the Empire– golden chalices, diamond-encrusted silverware, magnificent carriages.

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Free Things and Unfree People, by Richard M. Salsman

We cannot all have the right to make somebody else provide us with free things. A right that is not universal is not a right. From Richard M. Salsman at aier.org:

As politicians today assert, so loudly and sanctimoniously, that things like food, housing, health care, jobs, childcare, a cleaner-safer environment, transportation, schooling, utilities, and even college should be “free,” or publicly subsidized, almost no one asks why such claims are valid.  Are they to be accepted blindly on faith or affirmed by mere intuition (feeling)? It doesn’t sound scientific.  Shouldn’t all crucial claims pass tests of logic and evidence?

Typically, a freebie claim receives conditional praise: “it sure sounds good, but it’s probably too costly.” My guess is that freebie proposers like hearing that compliment, which also makes them inclined to offer still further freebies. As for cost warnings, my guess also is that freebie proposers like hearing how others will work on the accounting and locate the necessary funding, especially as it’s already been shown that democratic governments can, almost without limit, tax, borrow, print money, mandate private spending, or nationalize industries. Do these measures harm prosperity?  Yes, but that’s of no concern to the freebie promisers.

Why do freebie claims “sound good” to so many people?  They don’t sound very good to me.  Why not? Because they sound mean, even heartless. Why? Because they’re illiberal, hence fundamentally inhumane.  I hope I’m not alone in recognizing that promised freebies are not gifts of nature or manna from heaven, but things produced by actual living human beings who choose to employ their minds and bodies. Who owns the products and services of these minds and bodies? Who should determine whether and how goods or services should be created, exchanged, invested, consumed or bequeathed?  Indeed, who owns these minds and bodies?

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Going Where, Exactly? by James Howard Kunstler

Politicians can promise away, but the country is $22 trillion in the hole and that number grows by at least a $1 trillion a year, and the pie is shrinking. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

In response to what has become a nation of shameless racketeering, vivid wealth disparity, and shocking destitution on display in city streets, the party of the common man seeks remedies in the redistribution of capital. Seems more than fair to many. It’s not for nothing that they style it “social justice,” the cutting edge of an economic system called socialism — with overtones, of course, of settling racial and gender scores for good measure.

Socialism might seem to be the answer to all this unfairness and indignity. And naturally it focuses on the two activities that have turned into the worst rackets in America: higher education and health care, a.k.a. “Eds and Meds.” Both are now cruel bloated parodies of what they used to be, turning their customers into debt serfs and bankrupts, apart from their dismal failures of basic mission: to prepare developing minds for reality and to “first do no harm.”

The proposed remedy is for the national government to take responsibility for running them and to make their services free to all. That would do nothing, of course, to reform the patent idiocies of the gender studies departments; or rescue the sorry victims of obesity and diabetes from their toxic consumption of whoppers, pizza, and slurpees. Those dynamics operate on feedback wheels of futility for which there is no happy ending outside of drastic changes in thought and behavior.

The Left now promises redemption from these great quandaries with the tag-team of Robin Hood and Santa Claus ushering in a new golden era of free stuff. It’s understandable perhaps, considering how desperate so many citizens of this land are, and how desperation feeds rescue fantasies. And the Left may even get a chance to try this wizardry after the next election. But it’s really not where history is taking us. America is not going to go socialist, it’s going medieval. Why is that?

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Why Social Democracy is Failing Europe, by Alasdair Macleod

Socialism and freedom cannot coexist. From Alasdair Macleod at mises.org:

There is a certain tension in the phrase, “social democracy,” and the description of someone as a social democrat. Social in this context is socialism by the state. A democrat supports the freedom for individual electors to express and defend personal interests in regular plebiscites. The two positions are incompatible.

At this point we should note that in economic terms there is little philosophical difference between European socialism and communism. Both seek to relieve capitalists of the means of production in favor of the state, either by ownership or control. Marx himself saw socialism as a temporary phase on the way to full communism. However, we all know from experience that communism fails by impoverishing everyone except a coterie of leaders. The same problem of the state’s inability to calculate prices, other than with reference to labor costs, and to foresee what consumers require on the morrow bedevils both socialism and communism. The principal difference between the two is the speed at which economic disintegration takes place, tied to the rate at which the socializing state removes personal freedoms and destroys wealth.

Social democrats assume that moderate socialism does not lead to those outcomes, which is a mistake1. They are deceived.

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What if America Tried Capitalism, by Bill Bonner

Every form of socialism that fails is not “true” socialism, and in fact it’s often mistakenly called “capitalism.” Meanwhile, true capitalism has worked everywhere it’s been tried. From Bill Bonner at internationalman.com:

It’s no secret that socialism – in all its forms – doesn’t work very well.

You soon run out of other people’s money. And people don’t always want to give up their money readily. Or let you boss them around.

Inevitably, the more ambitious your plans, the more people you need to kill.

Reform Capitalism

But today, we turn our attention to those who say we need to “reform” capitalism to save it.

In this category, we lump all those who claim to support free markets – such as most of today’s Republicans and Democrats – but still think they can make them work better, with trade barriers, phony tax cuts, fake money, fake interest rates, regulations, controls, etc., etc.

Journalist Edward Luce, for example, writing in the Financial Times, explained that we need to “save American capitalism from itself.”

Whenever you read somebody in a newspaper suggest that “we need to,” you can be almost sure that the next words are nonsense. This is no exception.

“The question America’s financial and tech elites must ask,” Luce continues, “is ‘what price social peace?’”

Circuses are not enough; the mob wants more bread. And after having cheated them out of trillions, Luce thinks we should at least toss them a few crumbs.

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Nearly Everyone Is a Socialist Now, by Alasdair Macleod

Socialism is ubiquitous, and even much of what is termed “capitalism” is actually socialism. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

The expansionary phase of the global economy is almost certainly ending. A combination of excessive debt and trade protectionism is likely to become economically and politically destabilising. If, as seems increasingly likely, the world is destined for another credit and economic crisis, the colour of the political establishment will shape outcomes. This article examines the political scene and concludes that socialist puppet-masters will use the opportunity in an attempt to crush capitalism.

Introduction

In 1975, I watched from the Strangers’ Gallery the debate in the House of Commons when the Referendum Act for membership of the Common Market was in its second reading. It was to be the first referendum ever held in the UK, and as one would imagine was contentious for that reason. The Labour government of the day had laid an act before Parliament for a referendum to ratify the European Communities Act of 1972, in other words, the UK’s membership of the Common Market.

The debate was not about membership, but the precedent of holding a referendum and its potential to undermine parliament’s sole right to take decisions on behalf of the people. In those days, MPs made proper speeches, not the time-limited five or so minutes permitted by Mr Speaker. A debate of this sort was worth listening to.

I was struck by the similarities of argument put forward by the two greatest parliamentary orators of the day. Michael Foot was the doyen of the extreme left in the Labour Party, and Enoch Powell was said to be on the extreme right (he wasn’t – he was a staunch free marketeer: more on this to follow). From their different perspectives their arguments were almost identical, and both spoke eloquently without notes.

Foot had a distinctive style we see less of nowadays. He was an old-fashioned socialist rabble-rouser, with his arguments and timing honed to perfection on the hustings. His was the traditional Labour campaigning style; a throw-back to pre-war socialist tub-thumping. He was, at that time, the best exponent of this type of oratory in Parliament, made all the more credible by his unwavering belief in the Marxist cause.

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In Defence of Free Markets, by Alasdair Macleod

Despite it’s unrivaled record as the freest and most productive and prosperous economic system, people whisper the word capitalism, if they say it all. Even the author of this article uses the term free markets, not capitalism. Socialism, despite its terrible record, is hailed as humanity’s salvation. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

Why is it that no one defends free markets, and socialism, despite all the evidence of its failures, comes back again and again? Unsurprisingly, the answer lies in politics, which have always led to a boom-bust cycle of collective behaviour. Furthering our understanding of this phenomenon is timely because the old advanced economies, burdened by a combination of existing and future debt, appear to be on the verge of an unhappily coordinated bust. But that does not automatically return us to the free markets some of us long for.

Cycles of collective behaviour

Throughout history there have been few long-lasting periods of truly free markets. Contemporary exceptions are confined to some small island states, forced to be entrepreneurial by their size and position vis-à-vis the larger nations with which they trade. The governments of these islands know that the state itself is not suited to entrepreneurship. Only by the state guarding the freedom of island markets and the sanctity of property rights can entrepreneurs serve the people in these communities and create wealth for all.

This is not the normal condition for larger nations. Before the Scottish enlightenment which nurtured David Hume and Adam Smith, the benefits of free trade were barely understood. Since then, the wealth created by free trade and sound money has nearly always been the springboard for detrimental change. Sometimes a political strongman, like Mao or Lenin dictates to the people what they can and cannot do. Alternatively, a leader courts popularity by taxing heavily the few for the alleged benefit of the masses. This is the model of welfare states today. Debasement of the means of exchange is an extension of these socialising policies, furthering the transfer of personal wealth to the state.

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