Heaven help us if the “Trained Marxists” achieve their goals of more power, and I include the Democratic Socialists, who think the same but are not as violent, at least not yet. From what I have seen and learned about them, they must have missed a goodly number of training sessions or, conversely, they had terrible teachers. I am a first-generation offspring of victims of Marxism. Both my parents grew up as Lenin and Stalin were transforming their homeland into the Marxist economies that today’s wizz kids Marxists intend for us to copy. In their youth, my parents were young university students who embraced it all, just like the college students of today. It made sense to them. It was sold to them as science, just as it is sold to today’s college kids. Slowly they discovered what applied Marxism really was, a cruel joke that did not fit with the structure and functioning of the human brain. I was “trained” with an alternative view on a daily basis by my father and mother in those philosophies, and I think I had better teachers! My teachers learned Dialectical Materialism, not just from books and college professors, but on the ground with boots on.
It is naïve to think that evolution evolved our external appearance, bigger calvariums, bipedal gate, a larynx that could make intelligible sounds, etc., but not evolve our thinking, the most complex part of us. That also evolved. But it was tilted to the individual. It was not made for groupthink. Most great human strides came from individuals. Collectivism plays almost no role in the bigger scheme of things.
Most science is individual thought, Galileo, Einstein, Hawking, Edison, Tesla, Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Jonas Salk, and so on. Music is not usually composed by committee. Philosophy, from Socrates to Descartes, was individual thinking. Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, although they had assistants, created alone. Dante and Shakespeare didn’t have the Central Committee to back them up when they got writer’s block. Great leaders were solo kinds of guys, Churchill, Eisenhower, Gandi, and do I dare mention Columbus? The point is that man’s great achievements came from individuals and occasionally from small groups. Large collectives run into logistic problems of “too many chefs spoil the soup.” The best way to kill a good idea is to run it through a committee.
The words “Socialism and Communism” were used interchangeably in the past by Friedrich Engels editor of “Das Kapital,” and now it often is challenging to tell apart. In China, Mao ran a Marxist country, with complete control of everything by the state. It took a large military and a lot of prisons to keep the ideals of communal ownership and government control over all of life. But that didn’t work either. Mao created the Cultural Revolution to fix things. That only threw the country into more poverty, starvation, confusion, and killings. One of China’s ten ruling governors claimed that 20 million people died as a result of the Cultural Revolution in China! The question remains as to who killed more, Hitler, Mao, or Stalin? Just remember Hitler, too, practiced a hybrid of Socialism called National Socialism (National Sozialismus know as Nazi in its abbreviated form).
Capitalism is the private control of the economy. The banks are owned by individuals or groups of individuals, the butcher shop is owned by one butcher, the autobody shop is often a partnership. In contrast, Socialism/Communism is the state controlling the entire economy. The Central Committee runs agriculture, steel manufacturing, airlines, and even the corner grocery store.
The third variation is National Socialism. It is the state controlling those parts of the economy that are of national importance. Volkswagen made the “people’s car” under the personal direction of the Fürer with the help of Ferdinand Porsche; Krup and Thyssen teamed up under government leadership manufacturing artillery and ammunition. Messerschmitt, being a civilian aircraft builder, easily converted to fighter planes. Smaller businesses were left in private hands. My father and mother ran a small “private” medical practice in an Alpine village of 1000 inhabitants.
The unemployment and food shortages created by the Great Depression were easily solved. The little known secret is that Hitler defined himself as a Socialist (“Zweites Buch” p.50 –”I am a Socialist.”). China now calls itself Communist, but its economy has primarily become Capitalist, i.e., under private control, through Deng Xiaoping, with a 180 ̊ change from Mao, which is essentially saving the country from inevitable implosion if it had continued under Communism.
My parents had to escape the Utopian Society that was using Marx’s book, “Das Kapital,” as a blueprint to create the new order of things. Their only choice open to them at the time was Germany, as all other options, including the USA, would have turned them over to Stalin for liquidation as enemies of the state. You would have been deprived of reading this essay as well. My grandmother was too late to get out. She spent ten years in Siberia under forced labor and slavery conditions in one of those Gulags, so well described in “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
Humans did not take well to the Marxian ideas of “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” Socialism and Communism have in common the confiscation of all property, as well as taking over the creation of goods along with their distribution. The Central Committee controls all decisions of how much and where to produce , as well as how much to charge for the product. Even your daily needs are preplanned and dictated by the Central Committee. From factories to bakeries and butcher shops, it all comes under communal (state) ownership.
Something that Marx had apparently never read or if he did, ignored it, was the “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith. Smith observed, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their OWN INTEREST.” Humans have a degree of altruism, but when it comes to you vs. me, the me almost always comes first. As frail or poorly educated as the individual may be, he/she is still the better judge of what is best for himself/herself (Capitalism) vs. the collective wisdom (Socialism/Communism) that is so nicely demonstrated in Seattle and Portland.
Even altruism has roots in the self. If I help you, you will eventually help me. However, Socialism gives too much credence to altruism and not enough to self-preservation and survival of the fittest. People do not want to give up what is theirs, their store, their farm, their bank account, etc. It took those Gulags to convince many to do so. Those that Stalin could not convince he murdered, estimates of 12,000,000 are quoted. It takes a lot of convincing for people to accept Karl Marx.
The modern Socialists, of course, say that was not true Socialism. We will do it correctly! Yet so far, every attempt to correct the failings of Socialism/Communism has nevertheless still failed miserably. People had to be forcibly detained to accept the Utopia in East Germany. A massive wall, vicious dogs, and killer gun turrets were necessary to dish out their version of Socialism. And this was no “Banana Republic;” it was post-war Germany, well organized, and typically German. Despite the organization, no one climbed the Berlin Wall to get INTO East Germany. The “Banana Republics” likewise have failed. Just look at Venezuela, one of the most naturally wealthy South American countries with oil and mineral wealth, great climate, soil, and human resources. At this point, they don’t even have clean water to drink!
Fidel Castro took over the thriving island of Cuba, admittedly from a corrupt dictator, but despite that, people had a decent life with jobs, money, food, and the little pleasures like automobiles, luxury hotels, entertainment, and so forth. It was a tourist destination. No one was risking their lives to escape Cuba then. Castro made it into a stockade that people would do anything to leave anyway they could, often with loss of life and limb to cross the shark-infested waters of the Atlantic Ocean in makeshift overloaded boats to get to Florida. Nobody swam toward the Communist paradise. There is a message there!
When the United Socialist Soviet Republic ceased to exist on December 31, 1991, I thought that finally, Marxism, was dead, dying of natural causes. I have always believed that Marxism was ultimately a stupid idea made up by two eggheads who were spinning the “Emperors gold clothing,” something that was way above their paygrade. But alas, it was not to be.
It is the intellectuals who revived it. There is something about higher education that attracts the smart professors to teach that humans (especially to the moldable young brains) that we ought to be nobler; Capitalism is not fair; wealth needs to be redistributed more equally; to share and share alike, to care more for our fellow human beings, in other words, to be socialist!
And indeed, there are socialistic institutions that have, to a degree, a place in our capitalistic society. Countries, including the USA, have employed socialistic ideas and incorporated it successfully with Capitalism, such as universal education, social security, safety net healthcare, and gender equality. We cannot credit Marx for all those ideas. At about the same time, Otto von Bismark, a very conservative, with impeccable right-leaning credentials, German chancellor, mandated “sickness insurance” (Workman’s Compensation) through the employer, as well as “old-age insurance” (Social Security) both very socialistic thoughts. The secret, however, was to cherry-pick those ideas that helped those that really needed help, not everybody. If everybody gets the same, there is no incentive to be better, to do more, to work harder, or to excel.
Not one single country that is fully socialized has succeeded. And by the way, Sweden is not socialized. It is very much capitalistic. Production of goods is under private control. It does, however, redistribute wealth through taxation. That is why the very wealthy leave Sweden, like ABBA. Additionally, I would be loathed to call North Korea a successful example of Socialism. After the fall of the USSR, several of their former client states remained Communist. None of them have survived; they are all some hybrid with mostly Capitalist trends. Full-on Socialism will, I guarantee, destroy us just like it ruined the USSR, almost did in China, and has done so in Venezuela. Cuba may yet come back with the help of a timely injection of Capitalism.
At a certain point, that is, I think, when people realize they can gain access to the public treasuries, at least at first. Once they have drunk the Kool-Aid and have been bought off by the” free money,” “free services,” “free medical care,” etc. Socialists eventually run out of your money, and reality sets in. All those free things turn out to be much more expensive than previously promised, not to mention the mandatory long lines that come with all the free stuff, as does the degradation of quality. Quality is governed in the free market by the people who stop buying when a service or product becomes inferior or more expensive than it is worth. With Capitalism, if there is a demand, an entrepreneur will make a better and less costly mousetrap to sell you. The Central Committee gives you one choice, take it or leave it. The people that pay the bills object, the people whose stores get looted, the people who lose police protection from the mob, the people that lose their culture, they need convincing. The mess we see in Seattle, Portland, and Chicago can only be cleaned up at the point of guns (better yet tanks).
Lenin needed the mob to overthrow the Tsar. He called them “the useful idiots.” But as soon as they had achieved their purpose, they ceased to be useful and were packed off to Siberia by Lenin. The first to board the trains to the camps on the tundra were the intellectuals and the rioting students. Then the real indoctrination could start. Socialism/Communism needs the Gulags to first put an end to anarchy (which they incited, as they are doing now) and then convince the population to be more social (ist), and that takes force. Therein lies the problem.