Victor Davis Hanson – 'Socialists' do not like socialism

Really?  Of course not, just as conservatives have been trying to explain for decades:

But why then does multimillionaire John Kerry go to great lengths to
avoid taxes on his yacht (why a luxury yacht when so many have so
little?); why are redistributive overseers like Timothy Geithner, Eric
Holder, Tom Daschle, Charles Rangel, and Hilda Solis either late or
delinquent in paying the federal, state, or local governments what they
owe? Were not high taxes on the upper incomes like themselves the point
of it all? Should not they pay all they can to ensure that their
brethren receive needed entitlements? I thought Bono would lead an
international effort of multimillionaire rock stars to relocate to
socialist states like Ireland or Greece, so that they might gladly pay
75% of their incomes (which at “some point” they had enough of) to help
others closer to home. Why instead is he fleeing to low-tax nations? Did not such socialists have enough money by now without undermining the socialist state?

The reason of course is that these ‘socialists’ have never really been interested in using their own resources (schooling, talent, experience, accumulated wealth) to help the poor; instead, they have been very interested — obsessed actually — with using their talents to advance big government statism, as a means to make themselves part of an extremely powerful and very rich group of governing elites.  Because the post-WWII intellectual culture (and by extension, our contemporary media/entertainment complex) was so enamored with socialism, socialism was simply the mechanism by which big government statism could most easily be made palatable.  And if a few less fortunate people were helped along the way, that would be nice too.

Hanson continues:

Indeed, statism is not a desired outcome, but rather more a strategy
for obtaining power or winning acclaim as one of the caring, by offering
the narcotic of promising millions something free at the expense of
others who must be seen as culpable and obligated to fund it —
entitlements fueled by someone else’s money that enfeebled the state,
but in the process extended power, influence, and money to a
technocratic class of overseers who are exempt from the very system that
they have advocated.

So what is socialism? It is a sort of modern version of Louis XV’s
“Après moi, le déluge”  – an unsustainable Ponzi scheme in which elite
overseers, for the duration of their own lives, enjoy power, influence,
and gratuities by implementing a system that destroys the sort of
wealth for others that they depend upon for themselves.

Once the individual develops a dependency on food stamps, free
medical care, subsidized housing, all sorts of disability or
unemployment compensation, education credits, grants, and zero-interest
loans — the entire American version of the European socialist
breadbasket — then expectations for far more always keep rising, with a
commensurate plethora of new justifications, usually in the realm of
someone else having more than the recipient, always unjustly so. The
endangered aid recipient is always seen as being pushed off a cliff in a
wheel chair — therefore, “they” can afford to give “me” more; things
are not “fair”; there is no “equality.” (emphasis added)

Unfortunately for the rest of us, reality always has a habit of bringing down the fragile redistributionist utopias created and proudly endorsed by big government statists.  It usually strikes in the form of unsustainable debt and (if uncorrected) eventual economic collapse.  In recent months, the reality of Europe’s debt load has deeply tarnished the pipe dreams of the statists in charge of the European Union, in the form of governments near bankruptcy in Ireland and Greece or in the midst of a severe debt crisis in Portugal and Spain.  It threatens to bring down Hugo Chavez’s socialist utopia in Venezuela, just as it brought down the redistributionist state built by the Perons in Argentina.  And it will bring down the United States, unless someone has the guts to stop the madness.

Hanson concludes:

What stops socialism?

I fear bankruptcy alone.

Who are socialists?

There are none. Only technocratic overseers who wish to give someone
else’s money to others as a means of winning capitalist-style lifestyles
and power for themselves — in a penultimate cycle of unsustainable
spending
. When this latest attempt at statism is over, Barack Obama will
enjoy a sort of Clintonism, a globe-trotting post officium lifestyle of
multimillion dollar honoraria to fund a lifestyle analogous to “two
Americas” John Edwards, “earth in the balance” Al Gore, a tax-exempt
yachting John Kerry, a revolving-door Citibank grandee like Peter
Orszag, or a socialist Strauss-Kahn in $20,000 suits doling out billions
to the “poor.”

That is just the way it has been and will always be. (emphasis added)

Of course I think Hanson nails the truth squarely in his conclusion, but I would beg to disagree with him on one point — there are indeed very many socialists out there.  And where you find them today may surprise you.

]]>< ![CDATA[n fact, you need look no further than the so-called "Religious Left," and their contemporary vision of social justice. (I feel like I’m walking a fine line here, so before I go any further I should clarify a few things.  First and foremost, followers of the Judeo-Christian God and his Son Jesus Christ are obligated by Scripture to “seek justice,” which primarily involves doing whatever can be done peacefully to end suffering where one group of people is oppressed because of the deliberate actions of another group of people.  We are also called to be advocates for those who cannot otherwise fend for themselves.  Whenever we see injustice — and there is plenty of it in our contemporary world — we are obligated through our faith to call out the oppressors,  and to become advocates for the oppressed.  And yes, sometimes that puts us directly at odds with the “powers and principalities” [including the United States government] that govern our world and shape its culture.)  The Religious Left includes a familiar cast of characters, including Ron Sider, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, and Brian McLaren, as well as patron saints such as Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, and Gustavo Gutierrez.  To their credit, virtually all of the people associated with the Religious Left who have spent their lives within the structure of the Christian Church have done so out of a commitment to the poor and an honest effort to combat societal injustice.  While a handful have become semi-celebrities and have earned a fair amount of money through books and personal appearances, there isn’t really anyone to speak of within the Religious Left movement that has attained anything even remotely like the kind of hypocrisy exemplified by the personal lives of political figures like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Al Gore, or John Edwards. How does the Religious Left believe that today’s injustices can be corrected?  The famous Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises attempted to ascertain the answer some years ago:


“Christian Socialism, as it has taken
root in the last few decades among countless followers of all Christian
churches, is merely a variety of State Socialism. … Agriculture and
handicraft, with perhaps small shopkeeping, are the only admissible
occupations. Trade and speculation are superfluous, injurious, and evil.
… It is the duty of legislation to suppress these excesses of the
business spirit. … In the economic system which they have in mind
there is no entrepreneur, no speculation, and no ‘inordinate’ profit.
The prices and wages demanded and given are ‘just.’ …

“[Christian socialists] have anxiously
avoided drawing the logical conclusions of their premises. They give one
to understand that they are combating only the excrescences and abuses
of the capitalist order; they protest that they have not the slightest
desire to abolish private property; and they constantly emphasize their
opposition to Marxian Socialism. … It can be seen at once how the
Christian Socialism of today corresponds to the economic ideal of the
medieval Scholastics. The starting point, the demand for ‘just’ wages
and prices, that is, for a definite historically attained distribution
of income, is common to both.”

Incredibly, Von Mises wrote these statements ninety years ago, as part of his 1922 masterwork Socialism.  Very little has changed since then.  The Religious Left ardently supports labor unions, ‘living wage’ laws, progressive taxation, gun control, urban farming, farmers markets and other co-op type exchanges for locally-produced goods and services, ‘green energy’ and individual environmental conservation/sustainability projects, and a variety of other micro-economic efforts.  It generally opposes the military, non-unionized labor, loosely regulated wages and prices, any reduction of tax rates for large businesses and wealthy citizens, corporatism, and any pursuit of profit or income above what is necessary to live comfortably from day to day, with a little extra left over to aid those who are in need.

I’ll say this one more time: it is admirable that most Religious Left leaders have pursued these goals without attempting to attain political power or enormous monetary wealth for themselves.  However, they have allowed themselves to become dupes — ‘useful idiots’ if you will — for the John Edwards’ and Al Gores and Barney Franks and Dale Rathkes of the world.  Their support, however innocent or well-meaning, for the socialist/redistributionist agenda of greedy statist powermongers has directly led to the fiscal and social mess that America is currently mired in.

Today we live in a nation whose government regulatory power is dangerously overextended, perhaps surpassed only by the vulnerability of our credit, which in turn is related to the almost incomprehensible size of our national debt.  Our attempts to financially supplement the meager incomes of our poorest citizens have in turn created a surreal kind of poverty where the poor compete with the middle class in terms of “stuff” (nice clothing, electronics, cars, and other items once considered luxuries) but remain solely dependent on the government for an ever-increasing variety of food, housing, healthcare, disability, education, and retirement benefits.  Even unionized professionals, some of whom earn wages and benefits that most any working American would envy, are continually drummed into discontent by their power-hungry leaders.  As more Americans are being squeezed by our current economic crisis, they are being told by the Left to demand more and more from our government without considering how it will be provided or who will pay for it.

Is any of this Biblical?  Of course not.  The Religious Left should be ashamed of what it has done.  The sincerity with regard to its motives does not excuse the mess that so many of the government policies it supported has helped to create.

Big Government statism should be relegated to the trash heap of history.  It has no real place in a free society, and should never be used by Christians to correct societal injustices.
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(Sorry this got a little long winded.  There are a lot of links in this piece to things I have been wanting to write about for some time, and they all sort of came together in this piece.)

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