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False Premises and The Root Failing of Collectivism

leninWe all know that communism is evil, socialism is bad, big government reduces personal liberty and central planners can't plan their way out of a wet paper bag. But we don't often examine why. If governmental interventions into private lives and free markets are supposedly rooted in altruism and compassion for the less fortunate, why do they so often fail?

I recently wrote that the war on poverty has been an abject failure, leaving in its wake families and communities in utter chaos. Well, the reason that the programs fail is that the descriptions of being rooted in altruism and compassion are based on false premises, that too often go completely unexamined by their adherents. As Lenin (not Lennon) told us, "The goal of socialism is capitalism", and he conveniently mapped out the method for us: "The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation." Redistribution of wealth is not altruistic, and helping the poor is not the goal. The goal is to crush those at the top, to punish them for doing too well.

My friend Tom is fond of saying, "All taxes hurt the poor." Even the ones that are designed to help them. We see the effects of government dependency all around us as the entrepreneurial spirit and rugged sense of individualism is slowly extinguished. That dependency cannot be built except by redistribution via the tax code.

This system predicated on the false premise of helping the poor is a sick, twisted form of bondage. The true, inviolable, fatal flaw to the idea of government helping folks is that government solutions require a steady supply of two commodities: tax revenue, and poor people. So the question we must ask ourselves when considering whether a program is beneficial or not is: does it solve the problem, or perpetuate it? When you honestly examine almost every governmental program in existence, and really, truly want to know the answer, it becomes pretty clear. Then, when you stop to consider the words of Lenin and his roadmap to a communist state, you are forced to decide why similar policies exist today that drive up taxation and inflation.

Government isn't in the saving people business, or the environment business, or the health care insurance business, or the education business. It's in the government business.

Anna Engel

What did we expect from a petulant boy man who was never raised to love this country, to take pride in a moment in our history that celebrates a Promise of Freedom for all people? He is not my president, he is not worthy of respect or even a thought, except for me to say "We The People of The United States of America" Know You, We See What you Have Done, We Hear What you Say, and We Tell you This Right Now Mr. Obama, We Defeated you Once in Germany (Hitler) and we will do it again Here inside our Beloved Country. We will fight you if we have to until we are free again. You are a coward, a Traitor, Murderer, Genocide and Infanticide are your Calling Card and a Liar to the American People Who Love This Great Country. You have betrayed our Constitution and the Oath of Office, so as far as I'm concerned nothing you pass as a bill is constitutional as a law. You may replace our Military Generals and Officials with your Secrete Army, but those same Generals Will lead an even greater army, "We The People Of The United States Of America" And our Flag Will Fly High Again"

Free_American's picture
Joe Marshall

Wow Edwin...regardless of any given specific, progressivism, socialism, be it national or international, as well as most all forms of anarchism are all collectivism; all planned societies! - All just spokes of the same wheel, that happens to be running us over. They're all of THE PHILOSOPHY that has targeted our Individual Liberty and what has been referred to as the "3 Headed Hydra" (Owens) of God, Marriage/Family, and Property/Capitalism. Are these not THE cornerstones of our only True (earthly) Freedom of Individual Liberty? Just sayin...

As far as the article by Jeff Reynolds, I like it. It is thought provoking. If I may add to the conversation, we need to remember (or learn for ourselves) from where "altruism" emanates. Then these progressive things may begin to make even more sense and become even more clear. It comes from Auguste' Comte's "directed (positive) science" of sociology, where all sciences are to be utilized to initiate the social dynamics, or what is needed for the government control necessary to move this progressive/collectivist "progress", "Forward", towards the Godless eugenic "order" that is its end. An "Order" of course where a belief in God and any "individualistic soul", is seen as just a phase of societal evolution to be evolved out of, and where PLANNING by elite planners is "indeed required". A planned society is NOT a Free Society!!! In such an altruistic PLANNED ORDER only 'the single global "organism" of humankind' is recognized, and the needs of the Family are met only where it benefits the collective of the "individual" global organism. The Individual Person is NOT even recognized as a viable aspect of it. Any right is collective, offered positively by civil government as a civil or human right. They do NOT include the pursuit of any independent prosperity or Happiness, only "security of person", in prison.
Where in a Free Society all Individual Rights and Individual Liberty is God-Given and belongs to each Individual, in such a planned society the only rights recognized are of the civil / human / collective persuasion, not for the benefit of the person, but for the benefit of the collective only. Where our God-Given Individual Liberty is Free, and for which we owe no man for any of it, --- such collective, civil and human rights can only be spoken of in the "context, which emphasizes duties, that the concept of 'rights' can have any application. Humanity, the "Great Being", takes the place of God, and is the basis of all morality.” (Harrison-Barbet) Both Rousseau's "Social Contract", and Hobbes's "Great Leviathan" (coincidently?) end the same.
You may not have heard any of this as a science, but I'll bet you have heard of the "Queen of all sciences", sociology...and I'll bet your kids are learning it every day in school....

Ross Howell

Thanks for your thoughts on this subject - George Orwell called it From Part 3, Chapter 3 of 1984
‘The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?’--

There is a book out which speaks to our foreign aid doing more harm than good. The interviews on the Hugh Hewitt show sound like there are some very good principles which we could use at home as well.
“We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.” - Ronald Reagan
“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
― Daniel Patrick Moynihan

hotfrog's picture
Jay Hendon

The lead in a recent piece in The Daily Beast titled "Libertarians: The Great White Hope":

"These days, anti-government zeal should appeal to just about everybody, right? But a new poll shows that libertarians' narrow base is nowhere near mainstream electoral success."

I believe one reason for this is ignorance on the part of most Americans about the size and bloat to which we have allowed the federal Leviathan to grow. To help convey this size in terms other than spending, deficit and debt I've created a web page (thefrogpot [dot] com) that shows the bureaucratic structure of each of the cabinet-level agencies and the EPA.

If American taxpayers see the boated beast they are supporting it may help open their minds to the libertarian message of a smaller government that lives within its means and obeys the Constitution. Maybe.

Mark Patterson

Enough! Socialist, Communist, Progressive, even Fascist, there are all names for varieties of the same species, Power Junkie! When we the people spot them we should do the right thing for everyone and make them go cold turkey! The species has these very common characteristics; support for Gun Control, support for the Global Warming political agenda, and anything else that puts government in the middle of any commercial relationship other than the role of referee.
There is a large herd of these foul vermin running loose in Washington right now. They are all calling themselves Democrats. In reality they are kleptocrats. Toss them out on the street, or in jail as needed.

LT1800's picture
Jeff Reynolds

Hey Edwin, get your own blog.

Edwin Loftus

I don't disagree with the essence of this post, but it perpetuates errors in terminology that give cover to the real enemy - socialism ... not communism.

[I] Communism is not "evil". To be "evil" it would have to exist and it has never and will never exist.
(1) Communism was a theory that capitalism would evolve into an increasingly hegemonic and very limited set of business corporations that would control the political corporations known as governments. (2) As private enterprise was subsumed under Business/government corporate control, two important things would happen;
(a) As the corporations became more complex and cumbersome they would need to develop their employees/customers to make them capable of producing and consuming more expensive and sophisticated products. Marx, like most socialists, viewed humanity and concluded that they were unable to manage their own lives and societies due to ignorance and stupidity. Education and training of the masses would be necessary for corporate power to continue and increase. (Marx spoke of those who could not be trained/educated to be more productive as "mendicants" an archaic term for "beggars". Like Stalin, 70 years later, he would deny those who could not produce the products of the "proletariat's" labors, making him a Progressive as well.)
(b) Inevitably these corporate structures would become unmanageably cumbersome. As that happened the response would be increasing local control (departmentalization).
(3) These departments would become progressively autonomous and eventually the corporations (governments) would become superfluous and "wither away". Departmental managers would find themselves managing departments composed of educationally enhanced proletarians (producers) without the hierarchical support of the irrelevant corporations.
(4) The proletarians would see that management no longer had its governmental reinforcement of authority and they, in order to maintain the quality of their lives, would "seize the means of production" and the organizational structure of their departmentalized societies, creating the "communes" of communism.
(5) The driving dynamic in this set of transitions would be the principal of Dialectic Materialism (materialist dialectics). Dialectic theories posit that every "identity" (identifiable material factor) identifies that which is not it as something else. these become the "Thesis" and its "Antithesis" in this case the organizations of capital and government (the corporations)are the thesis and other corporations that which they organize (the proletariat) are the antithesis. Corporate competition drives improvements in corporations, including education of the proletarians. Meanwhile the conflicting interests of the organized (the proletariat) are dormant pending their achievement of the capacity for self-rule (provided to support their corporation in competition with other corporations).
(6) The communes would be democratic-republican organizations based on geography and occupation. Each occupation would have its occupational commune and also be a part of geographic commune. (This formed the basis for the Soviet system of democratic-republicanism.

[II] Marx wrote in the mid through late middle 19th Century, studying in Hamburg, focusing on France, living in England and inspired by the American Revolution and Constitutional system, The Rousseauian trend in Liberalism, Hegelian dialectics, the Revolution of 1848 and the Paris Commune. Engels contributed with historical precedence in the Peasant Uprisings in the HRE (Germany). The rise of Bismarck's Germany was certainly also a factor. The importance of this is that he was exposed to the social-corporation systems of Europe, late-monarchical and proto-socialist and reports on the decentralized systems of the United States. The hard thing for most to understand is that Marx was predicting the rise and fall of the social-corporations (which provided the model for European-style (or modern) socialism). Marx hypothesized how democratic-socialism would decline into capitalist dominated, authoritarian social corporations. That would create the means for their own destruction, resulting in the rise of democratic-republican social-corporations with society run by the workers for the workers. [III] European or modern socialism is a very different system with no end-stage leading to real democracy.
(1) It is modeled on the social-corporation model of the late monarchical period. A CEO (king) oversees the nation he owns/manages. Regional authority is to some extent ceded to "peers" or aristocrats. Operational authority is ceded to departments or bureaus. Socialism replaced the management of kings and aristocrats with the management of elected executives (mostly from the Bureaucracies and Bourgeoisie (owner/employer class) divided into factions represented by party organizations. Generally the faction in leadership changes but the bureaus go on, changing only gradually over time. Instead of the king and aristocracies as owners/managers of the resources of the nation, the government is in effect owner/manager. There is usually some charter like the French 'Declaration of the Rights of Man' which prescribes some separation of powers divide (on the American model) into legislative, executive and judicial branches. In the place of aristocratic holdings, regional departments subject to national control are instituted with varying degrees of autonomy.
(2) Socialist systems are based on the proposition that most human beings are unfit or unable to self-govern and require the governance of better suited authorities. Differences in the factions usually vary from more management to less management of the resources of the nation and of its people. All claim to manage to the benefit of the corporation, including its people.
(3) Under the monarchical systems, both ancient and modern, there was usually some religious justification for the ruler's power (like the "Divine Right of Kings" or kings as "secular stewards" of God's people). Expectations included; the defense of the kingdom (later of the nation), good management of resources and dispensing of justice. In the 19th Century social-corporations tended to diminish or dispense with the religious justification, taking this from "the will of the people" as expressed through elections.
(4) Also during the 19th and through the 20th Centuries, social-corporations became involved in Marx-like concepts (or Darwinian concepts) that considered some people to be drags on the progress of the social-corporation in its efforts to serve the majority. Thomas Malthus lent urgency to the issue by postulating that overpopulation would out-pace society's abilities to provide for the population. This combined with existing nationalistic (as in racial-cultural) ideas of "we are inherently better than those other people". This was given "scientific" credibility by the early "comparative" physiologists (precursors to Darwin's evolutionary theory). These racialist (nationalist) ideas provided guidance to how to encourage progress in a society (though they led to much inter-factional conflict over how to identify those that were holding back social progress).
(5) With the rise of nation-states the nation as a social-corporation (society as a business) became dominant and with it the idea that progress was the business of that corporation and encouraging it the business of its leadership became more dominant. With democratization of the social-corporations identifying those who impaired progress shifted from having just to convince the leadership that 'group X' was "holding us back", it became necessary to convince a majority of the people that 'group X' was "holding us back". Out of this mix grew the modern "Progressive Movement" the movement to establish government as the dynamic manager of the corporation of society and encourage its progress through promoting advancements and removing impediments. That trend or movement has dominated most societies for the last 100 to 150 years (though it did not 'crystalize' as a movement until the latter 19th Century). It's goal is effective management to produce the best possible society. It uses democracy (and other justifications) to sell its measures to achieve progress. But democracy is itself an impediment to dynamic management so it is also constantly experimenting with ways to remove that impediment while preserving its sweet appeal. This is also why it advocates are constantly looking for the CEO that can be sold as Christ-like in his/her perfection. Wanting to give the CEO king-like powers, they want to reassure the people that their CEO will be a benevolent one. Progressivism is a specifically anti-intellectual movement. They believe they have already answered the important questions and continuing to consider them is just another impediment to action. Study that agrees with this premise is encouraged because it is contributing to progress in the only valid direction. Study or even just questioning that contradicts the Progressive premise is counter-productive and another impediment to progress and there fore invalid or even the equivalent of "evil". As an anti-intellectual movement, Progressives found their arguments inadequate. In response they adopted two tactics that have served them well. One was the proletarian-appealing language and social analysis of Marx (why they are so often mistaken as Marxists) And the idea that (as Mill put it) "The meaning of a thing is in its effects." As such, it is not whether a statement is true or not that matters. It's what effect making it has and whether that achieves a desired effect. Incorporating this understanding is the sort of thing that enabled them to claim to become "Liberals" when "Progressive" accumulated too many negative associations. As this enters their follower's thinking at a subliminal level it produces seemingly paradoxical phenomena like those we witnessed in the Clinton impeachment. The only morality is that which supports progressive action. The only immorality is that which impedes or opposes progressive action.

[IV] This is as opposed to the original American System, which was based on the premise that most people are able to manage their own lives and select representatives to handle that which is beyond their understanding. It is based on the Liberal idea that God or Nature has endowed almost all human beings with the ability to decide what they want in life and how best to get there and that usurpation of that in the name of social-management is best when it least interferes with their pursuit of this. And that the natural tendency of humans is to think they know better than the next person how they should proceed, so in giving greater than individual power to any government, means must be devised to prevent those that govern from trying to govern more than they minimally need to. In tis idea, the best promotion of progress in a society comes from allowing individuals to pursue (successfully or not) what they think is best to achieve their own progress and the role of government is only to provide them a secure environment to do that in.

[V] Lenin did not imagine that he had founded a communist society. He founded a dictatorship of a party dedicated to establishing a Progressive social-corporation that could be used to hasten the evolutionary process through which a communist society would one day become achievable. The Soviet Union was a socialist society, as is the PRC and all other nations that call themselves "communist". They differ slightly in what they call "progress" from each other and from other Progressive social-corporations. In the 20th Century we saw several incidents where hegemonic giants among these Progressive social-corporations clashed more violently, but otherwise, just as Marx predicted they would.