The resilience of socialism

Britain’s Labor party tacks hard left, electing as leader a self-described “socialist” who has professed admiration for Hugo Chavez and considers Hezbollah and Hamas to be “friends:”

Jeremy Corbyn, a leftist former union organizer, was elected the leader of the U.K.’s Labour Party on Saturday, a result that signals a more socialist direction for the country’s main opposition and could herald a realignment of British politics…

Mr. Corbyn’s unexpected ascent within the Labour Party has happened at the same time as the rise of American antiestablishment figures such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman and reality TV star who is leading the field of candidates for the Republican nomination.

Based on the experience of the U.S. over the last several years, Britons would do well to be wary of former “organizers.”  As the article points out, though, the rise of Bernie Sanders in the U.S. shows that we have learned nothing, either.  And while some would like to label all this flirting with leftism to be simple “antiestablishment” politics, it’s really just the resurgence of a pernicious lie.

In 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, it seemed Marxist collectivism in all its shades had been discredited.  As previously secret archives were opened for inspection, the true cost of the horrors of trying the sustain the ‘Worker’s Paradise’ were laid bare for all to see.  But just as 14 years is enough time to forget the real danger posed by Islamic fundamentalism, whether of the al Qaeda or Iranian variety, it would seem a quarter century is ample time to completely rehabilitate the image of socialism in the eyes of a new generation.  The persistent idea of using government force to play Robin Hood — to take from the “haves” (who must be guilty of something, since they “have”) and give to the “have nots” (who are assumed always to be virtuous and innocent of any responsibility for their station in life) shows that human beings are emotionally rationalizing creatures, not rational ones.

Socialism and its more militant Big Brother, communism, represents the politics of envy, a policy of entitlement rather than achievement, and a gross misunderstanding of the fallen nature of man.  It promises freedom, yet results in more concentrated power.  It promises utopia, but produces disharmony at best, and purges and gulags at worst.  The young flock to its banner out of inexperienced naivete, only to see their energy and idealism harnessed to produce power for the well-connected.

We are but a couple years from the centennial of the Bolshevik revolution, which itself was part of the larger story of the 20th Century — the bloodiest in the history of mankind, not only because of two world wars, but because of an ideology willing to kill an additional 100 million of its own countrymen in order to maintain power and conceal the contradictions inherent in the system.   Have we learned nothing?

“Before some audiences not even the possession of the exactest knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction. For argument based on knowledge implies instruction, and there are people whom one cannot instruct.”
– Aristotle, Rhetoric 

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