Is It “Progressive” To Go Backwards?

By | October 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto in 1848 and Das Kapital in 1867. Yet his disciples consider themselves “modern,” “forward-looking,” and “progressive.” But from long, sad experience, we know that how people see themselves, and what they really are, often are two different things entirely.
As Margaret Thatcher taught us:

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.

And as Milton Friedman added:

It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.

Socialism seemed to work for a while. In the half-century following World War II, Western Europe received American financial aid. And American military power provided a protective shield that enabled Western Europeans to spend little for defense − less than half of what Americans spend, in relative terms.
Western Europeans were in the position of teenagers. They spent their earnings on themselves, while they depended on Big Daddy (America) to protect them, and they depended on Big Mommy (their governments) to take care of them when they got sick, or got sick of working. Like teenagers, they insisted that they were independent, while they depended on others for essential needs.
But teenagers eventually are forced to grow up, while pseudo-teenagers are not. Europeans are having too few children for their societies to survive. And more immediately, they are having too few children to support their top-heavy social-welfare schemes. With too few young workers to contribute to their pension and health-care funds, they are forced to import immigrants.
Their governments promise to take care of them when they become sick or grow old. And America promises to protect them from external threats. So Europeans no longer have practical reasons to have children. But there is a deeper problem. Most Europeans lost their religion. We can argue about the reasons – watered-down religion, leftism, radically secular education, the horrors of World War II, whatever. In any case, the fact is that Europe’s magnificent cathedrals are largely empty. But its mosques are filled. The Muslim immigrants are having children, while native Europeans are not.
With a social-welfare system to take care of people, and without religion to give people hope for the future, why should they have children? Why not enjoy themselves while they can? There could be no stronger way of expressing lack of confidence in themselves and in their future than a refusal to have children. What stronger vote of “no confidence” could there be?
Karl Marx sat in the British Library and wrote about capital and labor − neither of which he had any personal knowledge of. He came from an upper-middle-class family, but he was unable to support his own wife and children. He thought about money constantly because he always needed it, so he narcissistically assumed that economics was everyone’s primary motivation. He was irreligious, so he narcissistically assumed that religion was unimportant to everyone. He sat and theorized, and his followers still believe that his theories are valid, though most of what Marx predicted did not happen.
American “liberals” hold up Western Europe as their model. The European socialist system seemed to work for about 50 years, but many Europeans realize that it is no longer working. Without children, they must import young workers to pay into the system, but the immigrants are not assimilating. Indeed, many are actively hostile to democratic values.
A century ago, progressives dreamed of a socialist paradise. Then the saw the hells that Stalin, Mao, Kim, and Pol Pot constructed, and still they dreamed. The Soviet Union collapsed in a heap, and China evolved into a system that is best described as fascist, and still the dreamers dream on. But even dreamers awake when trouble bangs on the door. Only the comatose remain oblivious.
Some Europeans are finally realizing their error − perhaps in time, perhaps not – but we Americans are moving rapidly in the opposite direction. Why? The Europeans of the past were truly progressive − they were trying something new.
But what of Americans today? We are trying something that has already proved to be a failure. It failed in Russia. It failed in Eastern Europe. It failed in China. It failed miserably in North Korea. It failed horribly in Cambodia. It failed sadly in Cuba. It is failing in Western Europe. In what possible sense is it “progressive” to adopt a system that is outmoded and a proven failure? No, the economic policies of the Democratic Party are backward-looking, even reactionary.
Why do the self-anointed American “elite” believe they can do right what everyone else did wrong? Narcissism. They believe they are so intelligent, so gifted, so educated, so insightful that they can make socialism work. But socialism hasn’t worked not because it was done incorrectly, but because it is inherently unworkable.
Europeans look back nostalgically on the days when their kings ruled powerful empires. But our heritage is freedom, not subservience. What’s our excuse for allowing the central government to control everything from what light bulbs we buy and what toilets we use to what health care we can receive – or not receive?
True, the excesses of capitalism invited this decline into socialism. The incompetent or corrupt bankers, corporate executives, and labor leaders can blame themselves. But in response to incompetent doctors, we do not tear down the hospitals – we fire the incompetent doctors.
Let us restructure the failing industries. Let us examine the curricula of business schools. Let us discover how men who never attended business school built great industries, while business-school graduates brought those industries to ruin.
Surely there are lessons to be learned:
● We can investigate how people who knew how to adjust a carburetor built General Motors and Chrysler, while graduates of prestigious business schools tore them down.
● We can study how people who walked the factory floor knew what was going on, while people who sat in committee meetings looking at Power Point presentations lived in a dream world.
● We can consider that the same type of impractical dilettantes and theoreticians who ruined our industries are now taking charge of socializing our economy – and even our health care.
● We can inquire why seemingly intelligent people believe that business people will hire more employees if the government takes even more of their profits and buries them under even more burdensome regulations.
● We can wonder why seemingly educated people believe that politicians who run up huge deficits and pass bills they don’t read can manage the economy of 314 million Americans.
● We can analyze how produce dealer A. P. Giannini built the Bank of America by loaning money to men with calloused hands, while graduates of prestigious business schools wrecked great banks by loaning money to people who couldn’t pay it back.
● We can examine how people who knew how to add and subtract built great financial institutions, while people who claimed to know computer modeling and “algorithmic investing” brought them to the brink of collapse.
● We can ponder why seemingly intelligent, educated people are, like Esau, willing to trade their birthright for a bowl of soup. At least Esau got a bowl of hot lentil soup, but we are trading our inheritance of hard-won freedom for a bowl of socialist soup that was made 150 years ago and is really sour and cold.
Whatever we do, at least let us be honest about it. Let us not call moving backward to failed policies “progressive.” It’s a crime to deceive others. It’s suicidal to deceive ourselves.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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