Saturday, November 14, 2009

What's Wrong With Socialism?

A man at the American Thinker named Joe Herring recently wrote an article titled, What's Wrong With Socialism? While Socialism has so many flaws it would take volumes of books to explore all their various aspects, Mr. Herring does a good job of summing it up. Below is his article; you can also read it here.

What's Wrong With Socialism?
Joe Herring

I recall a conversation I had with a young coworker in the latter weeks of Obama's campaign for president. Joe the plumber had just exposed the redistributionist bent of the candidate, and I expressed my assessment of Mr. Obama as a not-so-closeted socialist. My coworker then quite earnestly asked, "What's so wrong with socialism?"

I initially assumed he must be joking, although his face gave no indication. I stared at him dumbfounded, only later realizing I must have looked like a palsied old man -- my mouth working wordlessly, the incomprehension as evident on my face as the sincerity on his. It eventually dawned on me that he really didn't know what was wrong with socialism. I began reciting the litany of horrors: the crimes of the Holocaust, the purges of the Soviets, the thuggery and inhuman brutality of the statist regimes of the last century. The Nazis, for crissake! How could he not know about the evil of the Nazis? He listened to all of this, nodding his understanding as he recognized some of the events I described, but I could still see a question behind his eyes. While he had been taught of the existence of these atrocities, he had not been clued into the one commonality they shared. They were all perpetrated by the adherents of various forms of socialism. Indeed, such crimes were the only outcome possible.

In the late 1930s, the noted economist Friedrich Von Hayek wrote his landmark pamphlet "Road to Serfdom," laying bare the diseased skeleton of socialist/utopian thought that had permeated academia and the salons of his day. With an economy of words that showcased the significance of his conclusion, he pointed out the Achilles heel of collectivist dogma: for a planned economy to succeed, there must be central planners, who by necessity will insist on universal commitment to their plan.

How do you attain total commitment to a goal from a free people? Well, you don't. Some percentage will always disagree, even if only for the sake of being contrary or out of a desire to be left alone. When considering a program as comprehensive as a government-planned economy, there are undoubtedly countless points of contention, such as how we will choose the planners, how we will order our priorities when assigning them importance within the plan, how we will allocate resources when competing interests have legitimate claims, who will make these decisions, and perhaps more pertinent to our discussion, how those decisions will be enforced. A rift forming on even one of these issues is enough to bring the gears of this progressive endeavor grinding to a halt. This fatal flaw in the collectivist design cannot be reengineered. It is an error so critical that the entire ideology must be scrapped.

Von Hayek accurately foretold the fate that would befall dissenters from the plan. They simply could not be allowed to get in the way. Opposition would soon be treated as subversion, with debate shriveling to non-existence under the glare of the state. Those who refused compliance would first be marginalized, then dehumanized, and finally (failing re-education) eliminated. Collectivism and individualism cannot long share the same bed. They are political oil and water, and neither can compromise its position without eventually succumbing to the other. The history of the twentieth century is littered with the remains of those who became "enemies of the state" for merely drawing attention to this flaw. As Von Hayek predicted, the socialist vision would not be achieved without bloodshed.

So this is the challenge we face. My young coworker had no frame of reference by which to judge the events unfolding around him. He had been presented with only the intentions of socialism, not the inevitable results. He had been given the whitewashed fantasy of the Left, who never saw a failure that couldn't be rationalized -- or better yet, blamed on others. Our job, then, is to teach the lessons of history to those who fail to see the danger. We have to provide that all-important perspective to a generation that has been denied it. We have to do this one at a time, conversation by conversation. Tell your friends the truth; don't assume they know it. Become the person your friends and family consult when the subject turns to politics.

I successfully informed my coworker of the irreparable crack in the foundation of socialist thinking, and he is now aware of the need to burrow beneath the surface of politics to find the roots from which the tree springs. We can't wait until the tree bears fruit to determine its worth. Fruit bears seeds, and seeds scatter. Better to tear it out as a single sapling now than to hew down an entire forest of diseased wood after it has poisoned the ground.

The Left will not willingly lay claim to the true legacy of socialism, so we will have to hang it around their necks. They have grown accustomed to shedding responsibility for the damage they have done, and are adept at shifting the blame. Traditional means of holding them to account are failing. Fellow travelers in the academy and media will not challenge even their most egregious lies, so howling about bias will gain us nothing.

If you doubt the effectiveness of the Left's methods, ask any ten people under the age of forty whether Hitler and the Nazis were a product of left-wing or right-wing ideology. The obstacle we face will become painfully clear. It is not enough that you know the truth. You alone are not likely to singlehandedly shape the outcome of an election. Everyone has to know the truth. We have to reclaim our younger generations from the wolf in sheep's clothing, or it won't be long before the wolf no longer needs the disguise.


Kyleigh said...

Thanks for posting this, James. It was very clear.

We had a friend over for lunch today. He just got back from the states yesterday, and we started talking about the current state of the US... friends in his Church in TX were telling him "I hope your house is big." His pastor (Pastor Baucham) wants to get out of the states. Our friend was also telling us how income taxes have gone way up in NY and CA, among other places.
I love to talk about politics and such, but over here I often have to hold my tongue because I get so worked up about it, especially when the person I'm talking to disagrees.
Very few other things have brought me to my knees in prayer as long and as often as reading/listening/watching the news. At my grandparents' this summer my grampa would have the news on and I'd get up and leave because I was about to cry.

In our discussion, our friend brought up a very good point. We know, at least in our heads, that God's glory is what really matters. Maybe the reason for all of this is to bring America to bow before our Lord. That the reason America is going bankrupt, the reason TX is making preparations for secession and a back-up government, the reason so many souls are being killed in the womb every day...
Is so that we will "humble [ourselves] and pray and seek [His] face and turn from [our] wicked ways," and then He will heal our land and get all of the glory.
Not Obama.
Not Pelosi.
Not Texas.
But my Redeemer.

James Dunn said...

I figured Voddie Baucham might want to leave the States, from all the scary news he analyzes on his blog (I read it several times a week). I think I want to get out too, if the slide down to the ant-heap of totalitarianism isn't checked. There aren't any free countries to go to though; if my goal was escape, I'd hide my family in the mountains of New Guinea or something. If all I have to deal with is poverty, rationed healthcare, and the slavery to the government that comes with it, I think I could endure that. When it becomes desperate is when the government forces your children to go to public school, and if you refuse (or if you train them the best you can for the few hours that they're at home) agents come to your house, confiscate your kids, and put them into some state-ward system, whether it's foster care or some re-education camp.
What's a man to do? Stay in a dangerous zone, being a bold witness and risking the survival of his family? Or escaping to some remote location for the sake of his family? God is sovereign in either case -- but is it proper to put God to the test by risking one's family if escape from the clutches of authorized government kidnappers is a feasible option?

Kyleigh said...

We were talking with Pastor Voddie about some friends of ours from Sweden. They just had their first child, and were trying to decide whether or not to spank. Here, it's easy, they would. But it's illegal in Sweden, and their hesitation for doing it here is that kids talk. It's not breaking the law that bugs them, it's knowing that if they break it the father would go to jail.
It becomes more complicated when the father or the kids are taken away, because the price of breaking the law is much higher - and in some ways, unbiblical, because it separates the family and leaves it without a leader.

Pastor Voddie's response? "People have left their countries for lesser things."
At the same time, some people need to stay. Leaving isn't much of a witness. But I think that if the biblical family is at risk, then they should leave. Singles, though, without a family to care for and protect, can stay. (my wording isn't quite right here, but do you get what I'm saying?)

We talked about it more, and decided that we've got a big enough house to hold some people, and my grandma's holding onto her land because if it comes to it, my mom's sisters and their families could live off of the land.

But I must agree with my 8-year-old sister, who said she wanted to write this in a letter:
"Mr. President Obama, I'm more scared of living in the United States than in the Middle East."

Anonymous said...

Good article, James. Thanks for posting it :)
Ronald Reagan said the nine most frightening words were these: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help. LOL!
God bless!

Kyleigh said...

James, I thought you'd be interested in this... I found it off of Mr. Phillips's blog:
Slightly late now, but a noble cause!