Some of my Democratic friends have asked me how I can possibly consider voting for Donald Trump in light of his vulgar comments about women and his alleged disrespect for fallen American soldiers. The answer is that the election is not about Donald Trump or Joe Biden; it is about the future of the United States. The renowned historian Victor Davis Hanson’s “Plague, Panic, and Protests — the Weird Election Year of 2020” requires about 30 minutes, but it is worth hearing if you have the time.
The “woke” Democrat left has published proven lies about President Trump to the effect that he advised people to swallow or inject themselves with disinfectants and bleach to cure coronavirus, and that he forced illegal alien detainees to drink out of toilets. Trump asked, and the context was that the question was for medical doctors to answer, whether disinfectants and ultraviolet light can be used inside the human body. Experiments are being tried with ultraviolet light, and inhalable antiviral drugs have been around for a long time. Detention centers have fixtures that consist of a toilet and sink as a single unit, and detainees drink from the latter and not the former. These proven lies about President Trump reflect on the credibility of the left’s other accusations.
Let Shakespeare Explain
Assume, however, for the sake of argument that everything the Democrats say about Trump is true. It is nonetheless far more important that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the Democratic Party not have the presidency than it is for Donald Trump or any Republican to have it.
Duke Prospero said similarly of his minion Caliban, “He does make our fire, fetch in our wood, and serves in offices that profit us.” President Trump serves similarly in offices that profit us by holding at bay the forces that intend openly to have a “revolution” and “transform” the United States.
The Extreme Left of 2020 Is as Dangerous as the Nazis of 1930
The Democrats keep trying to associate President Trump with white supremacists even though he has repudiated and condemned them. White supremacists are meanwhile powerless to do much more than parade around in their sheets and hoods. They sometimes commit violence for which legal remedies, including the immediate use of reasonable physical force in self-defense, are available. They have no influence or support in Congress, and they do not have any ability to get people fired from their jobs.
The “woke” left does have the power to “cancel” people the same way the Nazis, Soviets, and Chinese communists forced their political opponents out of educational and employment opportunities. Black Lives Matter, unlike white supremacists, has the support of corporations like Starbucks, sports organizations like the NFL and NBA, and major universities. The best way to imagine the menace from BLM is to think of the Ku Klux Klan when it enjoyed the support of a good part of the country more than 100 years ago. The behavior in both cases involves (1) propaganda to incite racial tensions between Americans and (2) civil disorder under color of same. The leaders of BLM and white supremacist hate groups are symbiotes that need one another to survive because, if either disappeared, the other would have no enemy against which to rally its deluded followers. The image of a black hand gripping a white hand in friendship (once handshakes become safe again) is the one thing that Black Lives Matter, “Unite the Right,” and the Democratic National Committee fear the most.
Hanson describes clearly how Democratic mayors and police chiefs have taken the side of rioters, looters, and vandals. These criminals have been, like the Nazi Brownshirts of 1938, given free rein to re-enact the Night of the Broken Glass in cities around our nation. Leftist district attorneys not only fail to prosecute the aggressors, but file criminal charges against anybody who defends himself against them. It’s OK for somebody to reach into your car to punch you while somebody else throws a hasty roadblock in front of your car, but it’s not OK for you to shoot either of them to prevent what you reasonably believe is an attempt to drag you from your vehicle and beat you Reginald Denny–style. (This is not an accusation that the individuals involved planned to do this; it is solely what the driver believed reasonably at the time.)
Kenosha has meanwhile made it clear that it is also OK for convicted child sexual predator Joseph D. Rosenbaum, who also had an extensive record of assaulting corrections officers while in prison, to rob you of a firearm he is prohibited to handle as a convicted felon, but it’s not OK for you to shoot him in self-defense. It’s OK for Anthony Huber the Domestic Abuser to bash your head in with a skateboard to take your firearm that he also is prohibited to possess, and possibly murder you with it, but it’s not OK for you to shoot him, either. My perception is therefore that people who are supposed to protect us have sided instead with felons like Rosenbaum and Huber against the productive elements of our society. This is why potential jurors (all citizens) need to be pre-educated to shut down prosecutions of this nature assuming a judge lets them get into the courtroom in the first place.
Hanson goes on to add that the Democratic Party no longer represents the working and middle classes. “The wealthy are always immune from the consequences of their own ideology.” The Democrats are also trying to turn the United States into a one-party banana republic by eliminating the Electoral College and packing the Supreme Court. The Democratic and not the Republican Party therefore wants to establish an actual dictatorship at the expense of the ordinary working American.
Hanson adds that it is no longer about progressivism versus conservatism; it is about Civilization versus Anarchy, and Trump is all we have between us and the statue-topplers. We must therefore vote straight Republican for House, Senate, and president on November 3. If you want to vote ahead of time, deposit your ballot in a drop box (example here) to ensure that it is counted.
Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way. The author is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to “cancel culture” for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.
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In order to discuss the “future of capitalism,” we must first decide what the meaning of the term “capitalism” really is. Unfortunately, the term “capitalism” was coined by its greatest and most famous enemy, Karl Marx. We really can’t rely upon him for correct and subtle usage. And, in fact, what Marx and later writers have done is to lump together two extremely different and even contradictory concepts and actions under the same portmanteau term. These two contradictory concepts are what I would call “free-market capitalism” on the one hand, and “state capitalism” on the other.
The difference between free-market capitalism and state capitalism is precisely the difference between, on the one hand, peaceful, voluntary exchange, and on the other, violent expropriation. An example of a free-market exchange is my purchase of a newspaper on the corner for a dime; here is a peaceful, voluntary exchange beneficial to both parties. I buy the newspaper because I value the newspaper more highly than the dime that I give up in exchange; and the newsdealer sells me the paper because, he, in turn, values the dime more highly than the newspaper. Both parties to the exchange benefit. And what we are both doing in the exchange is the swapping of titles of ownership: I relinquish the ownership of my dime in exchange for the paper, and the newsdealer performs the exact opposite change of title. This simple exchange of a dime for a newspaper is an example of a unit free-market act; it is the market at work.
In contrast to this peaceful act, there is the method of violent expropriation. Violent expropriation occurs when I go to the newsdealer and seize his newspapers or his money at the point of a gun. In this case, of course, there is no mutual benefit; I gain at the expense of the victimized newsdealer. Yet the difference between these two transactions—between voluntary mutual exchange, and the holdup at gunpoint—is precisely the difference between free-market capitalism and state capitalism. In both cases we obtain something—whether it be money or newspapers—but we obtain them in completely different ways, ways with completely different moral attributes and social consequences.
Here I can’t resist the temptation of pointing out that I have an entirely different interpretation of Jefferson and Hamilton from that of Professor Averitt. I don’t regard Jefferson as some sort of early Franz Boas–type, an early Left-Wing anthropologist. He wasn’t. My reading of Jefferson is completely different; on my reading, Jefferson was very precisely in favor of laissez-faire, or free-market, capitalism. And that was the real argument between them. It wasn’t really that Jefferson was against factories or industries per se; what he was against was coerced development, that is, taxing the farmers through tariffs and subsidies to build up industry artificially, which was essentially the Hamilton program.
Jefferson, incidentally, along with other statesmen of his time, was a very learned person. He read Adam Smith, he read Ricardo, he was very familiar with laissez-faire classical economics. And so his economic program, far from being the expression of bucolic agrarian nostalgia, was a very sophisticated application of classical economics to the American scene. We must not forget that laissez-faire classicists were also against tariffs, subsidies, and coerced economic development.
Furthermore, the term “equality,” as used by Jefferson and Jeffersonians, was employed in the same sense as Jefferson’s friend and colleague George Mason used when he framed the Virginia Declaration of Rights shortly before Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence:
“that all men are by nature equally free and independent.” In other words, “equality” did not then mean what we often mean by equality now: equality of condition or uniformity. “Equality” meant that each person has the right to be equally free and independent, to enjoy the right to “equal liberty,” as Herbert Spencer would phrase it a century later. In other words, again what I am saying is that the Jeffersonian wing of the Founding Fathers was essentially free-market, laissez-faire capitalists.
To return to the market: the free market is really a vast network, a latticework, of these little, unit exchanges which I mentioned before: such as exchanging a dime for a newspaper. At each step of the way, there are two people, or two groups of people, and these two people or groups exchange two commodities, usually money and another commodity; at each step, each benefits by the exchange, otherwise they wouldn’t be making it in the first place. If it turns out that they were mistaken in thinking that the exchange would benefit them then they quickly stop, and they don’t make the exchange again.
Another common example of a free market is the universal practice of children swapping baseball cards—the sort of thing where you swap “two Hank Aaron[s]” for “one Willie Mays.” The “prices” of the various cards, and the exchanges that took place, were based on the relative importance that the kids attached to each baseball player. As one way of annoying liberals we might put the case this way: liberals are supposed to be in favor of any voluntary actions performed, as the famous cliché goes, by “two consenting adults.” Yet it is peculiar that while liberals are in favor of any sexual activity engaged in by two consenting adults, when these consenting adults engage in trade or exchange, the liberals step in to harass, cripple, restrict, or prohibit that trade. And yet both the consenting sexual activity and the trade are similar expressions of liberty in action. Both should be favored by any consistent libertarian. But the government, especially a liberal government, habitually steps in to regulate and restrict such trade.
It is very much as [though] I were about to exchange two Hank Aarons for one Willie Mays, and the government, or some other third party, should step in and say: “No, you can’t do that; that’s evil; it’s against the common good. We hereby outlaw this proposed exchange; any exchange of such baseball cards must be one for one, or three for two”—or whatever other terms the government, in its wisdom and greatness, arbitrarily wishes to impose. By what right do they do this? The libertarian claims by no right whatsoever.
In general, government intervention can be classified in two ways: either as prohibiting or partially prohibiting an exchange between two people—between two consenting adults, an exchange beneficial to both parties; or forcing someone to make an “exchange” with the government unilaterally, in which the person yields something up to the government under the threat of coercion. The first may include outright prohibition of an exchange, regulating the terms—the price—of the exchange, or preventing certain people from making the exchange. As an example of the last intervention, in order to be a photographer in most states, one must be a duly licensed photographer—proving that one is of “good moral character” and paying a certain amount of moolah to the state apparatus. This in order to have the right to take somebody’s picture! The second kind of intervention is a forced “exchange” between us and the government, an “exchange” that benefits only the government and not ourselves. Of course, taxation is the obvious and evident example of that. In contrast to voluntary exchange, taxation is a matter of leaping in and coercively seizing people’s property without their consent.
It is true that many people seem to believe that taxation is not imposed without our consent. They believe, as the great economist Joseph Schumpeter once said, that taxes are something like club dues, where each person voluntarily pays his share of the expenses of the club. But if you really think that, try not paying your taxes sometime and see what happens. No “club” that I know of has the power to come and seize your assets or jail you if you don’t pay its dues. In my view, then, taxes are exploitation—taxes are a “zero-sum” game. If there’s anything in the world that’s a zero-sum game, it’s taxation. The government seizes money from one set of people, gives it to another set of people, and in the meanwhile of course lops off a large chunk for its own “handling expenses.” Taxation, then, is purely and pristinely robbery. Period.
As a matter of fact, I challenge any of you to sit down and work out a definition of taxation that would not also be applicable to robbery. As the great libertarian writer H. L. Mencken once pointed out, among the public, even if they are not dedicated libertarians, robbing the government is never considered on the same moral plane as robbing another person. Robbing another person is generally deplored; but if the government is robbed all that happens, as Mencken put it, “is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before.”
The great German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer, who wrote a magnificent little book called The State, put the case brilliantly. In essence, he said, there are only two ways for men to acquire wealth. The first method is by producing a good or a service and voluntarily exchanging that good for the product of somebody else. This is the method of exchange, the method of the free market; it’s creative and expands production; it is not a zero-sum game because production expands and both parties to the exchange benefit. Oppenheimer called this method the “economic means” for the acquisition of wealth. The second method is seizing another person’s property without his consent, i.e., by robbery, exploitation, looting. When you seize someone’s property without his consent, then you are benefiting at his expense, at the expense of the producer; here is truly a zero-sum “game”—not much of a “game,” by the way, from the point of view of the victim. Instead of expanding production, this method of robbery clearly hobbles and restricts production. So in addition to being immoral while peaceful exchange is moral, the method of robbery hobbles production because it is parasitic upon the effort of the producers. With brilliant astuteness, Oppenheimer called this method of obtaining wealth “the political means.” And then he went on to define the state, or government, as “the organization of the political means,” i.e., the regularization, legitimation, and permanent establishment of the political means for the acquisition of wealth.
In other words, the state is organized theft, organized robbery, organized exploitation. And this essential nature of the state is highlighted by the fact that the state ever rests upon the crucial instrument of taxation.
I must here again comment on Professor Averitt’s statement about “greed.” It’s true: greed has had a very bad press. I frankly don’t see anything wrong with greed. I think that the people who are always attacking greed would be more consistent with their position if they refused their next salary increase. I don’t see even the most Left-Wing scholar in this country scornfully burning his salary check. In other words, “greed” simply means that you are trying to relieve the nature-given scarcity that man was born with. Greed will continue until the Garden of Eden arrives, when everything is superabundant, and we don’t have to worry about economics at all. We haven’t of course reached that point yet; we haven’t reached the point where everybody is burning his salary increases, or salary checks in general. So the question then becomes: what kind of greed are we going to have, “productive greed,” where people produce and voluntarily exchange their products with others? Or exploitative greed, organized robbery and predation, where you achieve your wealth at the expense of others? These are the two real alternatives.
Returning to the state and taxation, I would point out incidentally that Saint Augustine, who is not famous for being a libertarian, did however set forth an excellent libertarian parable. He wrote that Alexander the Great had seized some pirate, and asked the pirate what he meant by seizing possession of the sea. And the pirate boldly replied: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a little ship, I am called a robber, while you, because you do it with a great fleet are called an emperor Here Augustine highlights the fact that the state is simply robbery writ large, on an enormous scale, but robbery legitimated by intellectual opinion.
Take, for another example, the Mafia, which also suffers from a bad press. What the Mafia does on a local scale, the state does on an enormous scale, but the state of course has a much better press.
In contrast to the age-old institution of statism, of the political means, free-market capitalism arrived as a great revolutionary movement in the history of man. For it came into a world previously marked by despotism, by tyranny, by totalitarian control. Emerging first in the Italian city-states, free market capitalism arrived full scale with the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe, a revolution that brought about a remarkable release of creative energy and productive ability, an enormous increase of production. You can call that “greed” if you wish; you can attack as “greed” the desire of someone on a poverty level who wishes to better his lot.
This reminds me of an interesting point on “greed” that cuts across the usual “Left-Right” continuum. I remember when Russell Kirk first launched the contemporary conservative movement in this country, in the mid-1950s. One of the leading young conservatives of that era addressed a rally, and opined that the whole trouble with the world, and the reason for the growth of the Left, is that everyone is “greedy,” the masses of Asia are “greedy,” and so on. Here was a person who owned half of Montana, attacking the mass of the world population, who were trying to rise above the subsistence level, to better their lot a bit. And yet they were “greedy.”
At any rate, free-market capitalism, the Industrial Revolution, saw an enormous outpouring of productive energies, an outpouring that constituted a revolution against the mercantilist system of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In fact the mercantilist system is essentially what we’ve got right now. There is very little difference between state monopoly capitalism, or corporate state capitalism, whatever you want to call it, in the United States and Western Europe today, and the mercantilist system of the pre–Industrial Revolution era. There are only two differences; one is that their major activity was commerce and ours is industry. But the essential modus operandi of the two systems is exactly the same: monopoly privilege, a complete meshing in what is now called the “partnership of government and industry,” a pervasive system of militarism and war contracts, a drive toward war and imperialism; the whole shebang characterized the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The really key difference is that they didn’t have a gigantic P.R. apparatus; they didn’t have a fleet of intellectuals trumpeting to all and sundry the wonders of the system: how it promotes the common good and the general welfare, how this is Liberalism In Action. They said, “We’re out to shaft the public and we’re doing it!” They were very honest in those days. It’s really refreshing, by the way, to go back and read the material before 1914 and bask in the honesty of the period.
One of the concepts important in this connection is that of Albert Jay Nock, a great libertarian thinker and follower of Franz Oppenheimer. Nock coined two concepts: what he called “social power” on the one hand, and “state power” on the other. Social power is essentially what I have been talking about: the productive energies released by the free market, by voluntary exchanges, people interacting voluntarily and peacefully. “State power” is parasitism, exploitation, and the state apparatus in general—organized taxes, regulation, etc. And Nock saw history as essentially a race between social power and state power. In the Industrial Revolution period, for example, from various circumstances state power was minimal, and this allowed social power to take a tremendous burst upward. And what has happened in the twentieth century is essentially that state power has caught up; they’ve moved in on society and started crippling it once again.
What, then, is my view of the “future of capitalism”—our topic for today? My view of the future is highly optimistic. I really think that free-market capitalism, even though it is supposed to be a reactionary, Neanderthal institution, is the wave of the future. For one thing, it was the wave of the future a hundred and two hundred years ago, and what we have now is only a reactionary reversion to the previous system. The present system is not really “progressive” at all.
Second, it was discovered by Ludwig von Mises back in 1920 that socialism—the other polar alternative to our present neomercantilism—cannot run an industrial system. An agricultural system can be run indefinitely by almost anyone, as long as you leave the peasants alive. You can have almost any kind of tyrannical system over the peasants. But in an industrial system you need much more than that: you need a market, you need profit-and-loss tests, you can’t run the system haphazardly. And Mises proved that a socialist system cannot calculate economically, because it doesn’t have a price system for capital goods, and therefore socialism will not be able to run an industrial system. All the textbooks say that Mises was quickly refuted by Oskar Lange and others, but he really wasn’t refuted. I haven’t got time to go into the theoretical argument. But in practice what has happened is that, in response to industrialization, there has been a tremendous shift in the last fifteen years in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe away from socialism and towards a free market.
For a believer in freedom and the free market, this shift is one of the most exciting developments of the past two decades. Now there are only two interpretations of this development: either you have to say, as the Chinese do, that the Yugoslavs, the Poles, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Hungarians have all sold out to capitalism—they’ve gone in secret to the American Embassy and received their pay. Or you have to say that something deeper is happening, that what is essentially happening is that they tried socialism and it didn’t work, especially as the economies began to industrialize. They found in practice, pragmatically, without reading Mises (though there’s evidence that they’ve read Mises by this time) and Hayek and others, that socialism can’t calculate, they came to that conclusion themselves.
Lenin, indeed, came to that conclusion very early, when “War Communism” was scrapped in 1921. “War Communism” was an attempt, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, to leap into full communism, into an economy without money and without prices, in which everyone was supposed to—and in practice was forced to—present his goods to the common heap, and withdraw from that heap to satisfy his needs. The system of War Communism proved to be a total disaster–not because of the Civil War (that rationalization only came much later), but because of the communist system itself.1
Lenin soon realized what was happening, and quickly instituted the New Economic Policy, which was essentially a return to a quasi-free-market system. And now the Eastern European countries, especially Yugoslavia, have been moving very rapidly since the 1950s away from socialism and central planning and toward a free-market system.
In Yugoslavia, for example, agriculture, still the main industry, is almost completely private; a flourishing private sector exists in trade and small manufacturing; and the “public sector” has been turned over in fact as well as in law by the state to the ownership of the workers in the various plants—essentially functioning as producers’ cooperatives. Furthermore, there is substantially a free market between these producers’ co-ops, with a flourishing price system, stern profit-and-loss tests (when a firm loses enough money, it goes bankrupt). Moreover, the most recent Yugoslav economic reform, which began in 1967 and is still underway, saw a tremendous drop in the rate of taxation of their co-ops—a drop from the previous approximately 70 percent income tax rate to about 20 percent. This means that the central Yugoslav government no longer exercises complete control over investment: investment, too, has been decentralized and destatized. As a matter of fact, if one reads the Communist economists in Yugoslavia—especially in the relatively industrialized areas of Croatia and Slovenia—they sound very much like Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan. “Why should we productive Croats or Slovenes,” they ask, “be taxed in order to subsidize those lazy slobs down in Montenegro?” And: “why should we build uneconomic (‘political’) factories? Everyone should stand on their own feet,” etc. The next step in Yugoslavia is that the banks—which, incidentally, are largely competitive private co-ops owned by their business clients—are agitating for a stock market in a Communist country, which would have been considered incredible ten or twenty years ago. And what they are proposing to call this system—literally—is “socialist people’s capitalism.”
On this point, a few years ago I was teaching a course in Comparative Economic Systems. Naturally, I spent the term praising the free market, and attacking socialism and central planning. Finally, I invited an exchange professor from Hungary—an eminent Communist economist—to give a guest lecture, and the kids felt: “Ah, at least we’re going to get the other side of the picture.” And what did the Hungarian economist do? He spent the entire lecture praising the free market and attacking central planning. He said almost exactly what I had been saying up till then.
In Eastern Europe, then, I think that the prospects for the free market are excellent—I think we’re getting free-market capitalism and that its triumph there is almost inevitable. In the United States, the prospects are a little more cloudy, but here too we see the “New Left” picking up a lot of the positions that we “extreme Right-Wingers” used to have. Much of the position that used to be called “extreme Right-Wing” twenty years ago is now considered quite leftish.
As a result, I, with the same position I had then, have been shifted bodily from extreme right to left without any effort on my part at all. Decentralization; community control; attack on Leviathan government, on bureaucracy, on government interference with each person’s life; attack on the state-ridden educational system; criticism of unionism, which is tied up with the state; opposition to militarism, war, imperialism, and conscription; all these things that the Left is now beginning to see, [are] precisely what we “extreme Right-Wingers” have been saying all along. And, as far as “decentralization” goes, there is nothing that is so decentralized as the free market, and perhaps this too will come to the attention of the public.
And so, I’m very optimistic about the future of free-market capitalism. I’m not optimistic about the future of state capitalism—or rather, I am optimistic, because I think it will eventually come to an end. State capitalism inevitably creates all sorts of problems which become insoluble; as Mises again has pointed out, one intervention into the system to try to solve problems only creates other problems, which then demand further interventions, etc., and so the whole process keeps snowballing until you have a completely collectivist, totalitarian system. It’s very much like the escalation in Vietnam, by the way; the principle, as we all know by this time, is that government intervention in Vietnam creates problems which demand further escalation, etc. The same thing happens in domestic intervention, the farm program being a splendid example of this process.
Both in Vietnam and in domestic government intervention, each escalating step only creates more problems which confront the public with the choice: either press on further with more interventions, or repeal them—in Vietnam, withdraw from the country. Now in Yugoslavia and the rest of Eastern Europe, they have taken the opposite path: of progressive deëscalation, of continuing repeal of one intervention after another, and on toward the free market. In the United States we have so far taken the path of accelerating interventions, of ever greater hobbling of the free market. But it is beginning to become evident that the mixed system is breaking down, that it doesn’t work. It’s beginning to be seen, for example, that the Welfare State does not tax the rich and give to the poor; it taxes the poorer to give to the richer, and the poor in essence pay for the Welfare State. It is beginning to be seen that foreign intervention is essentially a method of subsidizing favored American corporations instead of helping out the poor in the undeveloped countries. And it is now becoming evident that the Keynesian policies only succeeded in bringing us to the present impasse of inflation-cum-recession, and that our Olympian economists have no way of getting out of the present mess at all, except to cross their fingers and their econometric models and pray. And, of course, we can look forward to another balance-of-payments crisis in a couple of years, another episode of inflationary crisis in a couple of years, another episode of gold-outflow hysteria.
Thus, we have a lot of crises looming in America, some on their way, others imminent or already here. All of these crises are the products of intervention, and none of them can really be solved by more intervention. Again, I believe that we will eventually reverse our present course—perhaps taking Yugoslavia as our paradigm. Incidentally, Professor Averitt mentioned the Great Depression. The Great Depression has always been considered as the product of free-market capitalism of the 1920s. It was the result of very heavy government intervention in the 1920s, an intervention, by the way, that is very similar to the current intervention. In the 1920s, we had the newly imposed Federal Reserve System, which all the Establishment economists of the day assured us would eliminate all future depressions; the Federal Reserve System would henceforth manipulate prices and the money supply and iron out business cycles forever. Nineteen twenty-nine and the Great Depression were the results of that manipulation guided by the wise hands of Establishment economics—they were not the results of anything like free-market capitalism.
In short, the advent of industrialism and the Industrial Revolution has irreversibly changed the prognosis for freedom and statism. In the pre-industrial era, statism and despotism could peg along indefinitely, content to keep the peasantry at subsistence levels and to live off their surplus. But industrialism has broken the old tables; for it has become evident that socialism cannot run an industrial system, and it is gradually becoming evident that neomercantilism, interventionism, in the long run cannot run an industrial system either. Free-market capitalism, the victory of social power and the economic means, is not only the only moral and by far the most productive system; it has become the only viable system for mankind in the industrial era. Its eventual triumph is therefore virtually inevitable.
The latest contrived issue to bedevil the left is President Trump’s statement to Bob Woodward in March that he was downplaying the virus to avert panic. Leftists have interpreted this attempt to avert panic as a “lie,” even though they have never shown any ability to discern truth from lies in the past. So this week, the leftists are betting their chips on the Woodward book.
Missing from this discussion is any description of the events of March 2020. We all had good reason to want to stop the panic at that time. As news of the virus began to dominate public discussion, the left did its best to create panic and oppose solutions each step of the way.
Beginning in March, consumers hoarded many grocery items that had nothing to do with the virus. Toilet paper, soup, pasta, bread, and even meat products often disappeared from the shelves. One could visit supermarkets for weeks without finding toilet paper, while the other items disappeared more sporadically. There was no good reason for these items to disappear, as the virus had nothing to do with them and hoarding them would not prevent infection. Yet they disappeared anyway. Social media was filled with images of empty supermarket shelves all over the country.
We were told that the virus somehow threatened the food supply. But despite the dire warnings, staple items gradually began to remain on the shelves long enough for most of us actually to see and buy them.
We were told that ventilators were in short supply and were desperately needed to prevent catastrophe. We then discovered that the state of New York was storing many ventilators in a warehouse — much the same way that Puerto Rico had hoarded relief supplies after a hurricane while decrying the lack of supplies.
We were told that a mask shortage was cause for alarm until Trump supporter Mike Lindell agreed to donate many, many masks. The left then made Lindell the villain of the week.
President Trump mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a possible solution. The media immediately informed us that a drug that had been safely used for over six decades was deadly. The media also twisted Trump’s hopeful speculations about treatment into an instruction for people to drink Clorox. Doctors that use and endorse hydroxychloroquine have been censored and removed from social media. We are not supposed to “believe the science” if it interferes with the panic.
Shutdowns in many states forced millions out of work in mid-March. When the shutdowns began to lift a couple of months later, leftist mobs flew into action. They began rioting across the country, killing policemen, burning businesses, dragging drivers out of their cars and declaring autonomy in portions of Democrat cities. The left was not going to let the country enjoy even a partial return to normalcy without a new crisis to fear. At the DNC convention, the Democrats became more specific in telling us that the chaos will continue until we elect Joe Biden.
Most recently, we have learned that the bureaucracy – namely the CDC – has included among the COVID death count all cases where the victim suffered from multiple additional – even primary — causes. The true death count may be lower than 10,000. Leftist (mainstream) media sources ignore this revelation and continue to assert that almost 200,000 have died from COVID – especially as they double down on Woodward’s book, searching for a pretext to blame Trump. The left thus equates rejecting their candidate with actual death.
Worse than death, the Democrat commercials repeat the usual election-year accusation that Trump has proposed to end Social Security by 2023.
There is a pattern here. Panic is a weapon. It is the weapon of choice for the left. They have used it for many decades. Ronald Reagan was going to launch a nuclear war that would destroy the planet. Reagan and all other GOP presidents were going to end Social Security. Bob Dole was going to end Medicare. Mitt Romney was going to bring back slavery. Only a few elections ago, the Democrats were content to induce one panic at a time. But this election, we know that Trump must be something special because the Democrats want us to panic from every possible situation all at the same time.
Democrats seek control and power. They seek power beyond the usual perks of office typical for our times. They seek control over individual lives in ways that his has condemned at other times and in other places.
But a country with a tradition of liberty does not surrender that liberty easily. Free people must be made to panic before they grant unlimited power to the government. One must convince them that a plague is about to kill them or that the government income that they depend on will soon go away.
They must be told that “climate change” will soon destroy the earth unless the Democrats are elected to stop the rise of the oceans. If the people remain skeptical, arsonists must set fires in multiple locations while leftist networks fill our screens with the flaming images, and leftist politicians declare that the “debate is over.” It is much easier to convince your victims to stop debating when their homes are about to burn down.
Big government makes its largest advances during a crisis. The New Deal, Obamacare, and the Great Society were all enacted immediately following elections that resulted from market panics or a president’s assassination. The panics stop, but the power remains. There are wartime controls that have never been rescinded more than 75 years after World War II. It is no coincidence that California chose 2020 to weaken severely the laws against pedophilia. If the Green New Deal, illegal alien amnesty, and “defund the police” become law nationwide after this election, those changes will be the result of panic and chaos that the left now creates and exacerbates.
The American people are under siege. We are placed under siege every election cycle, but this year the blockade is more concrete. Our health, our food, our hygiene, our basic comfort, our homes, our jobs and more are under attack. The left has tried to starve us into surrender. But only if we panic will it work. The ultimate power rests with the victims. If we refuse to panic while ignoring leftist lies, we can retain and recover a semblance of freedom. Donald Trump deserves praise for having fought that panic and remaining steadfast as the left began to capitalize on the virus.
The capitalist revolution began in Great Britain in the late-18th century. Since that time, the capitalist nations have been the freest countries of history. In Western (and now parts of Eastern) Europe, in the United States, in Japan, Hong Kong and the other Asian Tigers hundreds of millions of human beings are guaranteed freedom of speech, of religion, of intellectual expression, of assembly, and of voting. Men are free there to earn and to own property – their own homes, farms and land. They are free to start their own businesses and to retain the profits that they earn. A hallmark of capitalism is a rule of law that protects private property, safeguards investments and enforces contracts. The fundamental moral principle upon which capitalism is based is that individuals have inalienable rights and that governments exist solely to protect those rights.
Capitalism requires the limiting of governmental power to maximize the freedom of the individual.
Capitalism, the system of individual rights, has brought increased freedom to men all over the world. In Europe, capitalism ended feudalism, the dictatorship of the aristocracy. In America, the principle of individual rights impelled the British colonists to throw off the rule of the monarchy and establish history’s freest nation – and the logic of the country’s founding principles led, in less than a century, to the abolition of slavery, a practice that existed everywhere in the world through all of history, and one still practiced widely today throughout the non-capitalist world. In post-World War II Japan, under America’s influence, a semicapitalist, vastly freer society replaced the military dictatorship that preceded it. In Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, the freedom of their capitalist or semi-capitalist systems enabled those countries (or colonies) to become havens for millions of refugees fleeing Communist oppression.
More broadly, it is to the capitalist nations across the globe that immigrants come, millions of them, both historically and currently, often fleeing political and/or religious persecution in their homelands. They come on rafts to the United States from Cuba. By the millions and for 15 years, the Vietnamese “boat people” fled for their lives from Communism – and today, more than 1.6 million of them have found freedom, mostly in the West. Muslims seeking religious and political freedom flee to the Western capitalist nations from all over the Islamic world. And, of course, for more than 150 years, America has been the hope and the chosen destination of persecuted peoples from around the globe, including from Ireland, Jews from Eastern Europe, Sicilians suppressed by the 19th century remnants of aristocratic rule, and Chinese and Koreans oppressed by the Communists.
Finally, the Western capitalist nations, by inflicting military defeat on the Fascists, and political-economic defeat on the Communists, eliminated the scourge of totalitarianism from large parts of the earth, bringing greater freedom to hundreds of millions of human beings in Japan, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe and Russia.
Capitalism is the system of freedom.
Freedom leads to dramatic economic results. The “great laboratory” of capitalist West Berlin side-by-side with communist East Berlin provided the most vivid example — West Berlin, a modern, prosperous commercial center, East Berlin so destitute and squalid that, by 1989, the rubble remained from World War II battles four decades earlier. The striking truth is that the capitalist nations are the wealthiest countries of history. For example, famine, the scourge of all non-capitalist societies, past and present, has been wiped out in the West. There has never been a famine in the history of the United States. Has there ever been one in any capitalist country? The author does not know of any.3
Regarding the empirical correlation between economic freedom, i.e., capitalism and prosperity: the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal jointly publish an annual survey examining the degree of economic freedom in the world. Its title is the Index of Economic Freedom. “The story that the Index continues to tell is that economically freer countries tend to have higher per capita incomes than less free countries… The more economic freedom a country has, the higher its per capita income is.” The editors organize 155 countries into four categories, which are, in ascending order – repressed, mostly unfree, mostly free and free. “Once an economy moves from the mostly unfree category to the mostly free category, per capita income increases nearly four times.” The mostly free countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Poland and Sweden, have an average per capita income of greater than $11,000. Additionally, the per capita income among free countries is, on average, almost double that of the mostly free countries. The free countries, including the United States, Great Britain, Hong Kong and Singapore show an average per capita income of greater than $21,000.4 Capitalism is the system of wealth.
But under statism, conditions are diametrically opposite. Many political systems have ruthlessly suppressed the rights and lives of individuals. Feudalism, military dictatorships, theocracies, National Socialism (Nazism) and Communism are merely several examples. What these and other such systems share in common is the denial of individual rights. These are the anti-capitalist systems in which the individual is forced to live and die for the state. The horrors of such lack of freedom are historically and currently manifest.
Under feudalism, for example, the common man – the overwhelming preponderance of mankind – was suppressed by the ancien regime. Heretics were often burned at the stake; countless women were condemned to death for practicing “witchcraft;” the serfs were tied to the land and possessed few rights; and the most advanced thinkers were persecuted – Galileo’s forced recantation under threat of torture was merely the most notorious such case.
In the 20th century, statism reached its most virulent form. The National Socialists plunged the world into the most catastrophic war of history and butchered 25 million innocent victims in a 12-year reign of terror. The Communists were just as prolific in their commitment to brutality, establishing in Russia, China, Cambodia, North Korea and elsewhere totalitarian regimes that murdered a numbing 100 million victims in 80 years.
In Africa, oppressive dictatorships and ghastly tribal slaughters are the norm. In Sudan, the Islamic regime currently holds tens of thousands of blacks in slavery. In Rwanda, Hutu “militia” in 1994 hacked to pieces 800,000 victims, mostly members of the Tutsi tribe. In Somalia, endless, bloody warfare rages between rival warlords. In Zaire, the dictator, Mobutu, bankrupted the economy, pushing countless individuals into starvation by embezzling billions of dollars. In Zimbabwe, the Marxist dictator, Mugabe, stole the land from commercial farmers with the inevitable result: famine for millions of people. The shocking truth is that more than 225 years after the American Revolution, freedom is virtually unknown around the globe.
Statism – the subordination of the individual to the state – leads inevitably to the most hideous oppression.
Further, just as the freest nations, i.e., the most capitalist ones, are the wealthiest – so the most repressed countries are the most destitute. For example, according to one economist, Angus Maddison, feudal Europe and its aftermath was as miserably poor as is commonly believed.
Economic growth was non-existent during the centuries 500-1500 — and per capita GDP rose by merely 0.1 percent per year in the centuries 1500-1700. In 1500, the estimated European per capita income was roughly $215; in 1700, roughly $265.
In the 20th century, China under Mao suffered massive famine that killed anywhere from 20 to 43 million individuals – and hundreds of millions subsisted on less than a dollar a day. Also under the Communists, conditions were similar in North Korea and worse in Cambodia. The Soviet Union and its slave states of Eastern Europe were miserably poor by Western standards. The repressive dictatorships of Africa are countries where per capita living standards are measured in hundreds – not thousands – of dollars. Across the globe, the oppressed nations of Asia, South America and the Middle East are unspeakably poor.
For example, the Index of Economic Freedom shows that the repressed nations – including Cuba, Iran, Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) and North Korea – have an average per capita income around $2800. The mostly unfree countries – including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Brazil – possess an average per capita income of approximately the same. This means that the freer countries – the semi-capitalist and capitalist nations – enjoy per capita incomes from four to ten times as great as those in the non-capitalist world.
Additionally, it must be pointed out that the unfree nations of the world have per capita incomes as high as $2800 for primarily one reason: the enormous aid they receive in various forms from the West, especially the diffusion of American technology. Without investment, loans, aid, technical training and supplies, etc., from the capitalist nations, the unfree countries would subsist in vastly worse misery than they already do. As merely one example, without massive food shipments from the West, an incalculable number of human beings would starve to death in the endless famines that recur in the unfree countries, from Ethiopia to North Korea to Zimbabwe.
Statism – in all its forms – is the system of appalling destitution. The facts show that capitalism is the system of freedom – and that it creates wealth. The facts similarly show that statism is the system of repression – and that it causes poverty. Capitalism is the system of freedom and prosperity. Its antithesis – statism in any form – is the system of oppression and destitution. Despite these facts, however, widespread antagonism toward capitalism exists; and generally from among society’s most educated members – Humanities professors, writers, artists, journalists, teachers, clergymen and politicians.
Anti-capitalist intellectuals and writers present a constellation of related criticisms. They hold that capitalism creates inequalities of income, that it exploits the workers and the impoverished, that it supplants spiritual values with materialism, and that it leads to imperialism and war. Successful businessmen, according to their view, accumulated fortunes largely by means of fraud and peculation. Such accusations come alike from socialists and conservative defenders of the current mixed economies, from secularists and religionists, from Marxists and from Catholic clergymen, from Jews and from Muslims.
Marx and Engels, for example, wrote:
“The bourgeoisie [the practitioners and supporters of capitalism]…has left remaining no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest and callous ‘cash payment’… In one word, for exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions, [the bourgeoisie] has substituted naked, shameful, direct, brutal exploitation.”
Pope Paul VI in the encyclical, Populorum Progressio, claimed:
“But it is unfortunate that on these new conditions of society a system has been constructed which considers profit as the key motive for economic progress, competition as the supreme law of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right that has no limits and carries no corresponding social obligation.” The Pope went on to state that “a certain type of capitalism has been the source of excessive suffering, injustices and fratricidal conflicts whose effects still persist.”11
Such “liberal” modern American historians and writers as Charles Beard, Richard Hofstadter and Matthew Josephson routinely denigrated leading industrialists and capitalists, arguing that Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, et al., built their careers by “exploiting workers and milking farmers, bribing Congressmen, buying legislatures, spying upon competitors, hiring armed guards, dynamiting property, [and] using threats and intrigue and force.”
The system of freedom and wealth is repeatedly and savagely attacked by many intellectuals and other highly educated individuals — worse, by men and women claiming to be “liberals,” humanists, lovers of man, i.e., the very individuals who should function as the protectors and preservers of human life. There is an enormous disconnect between the facts of capitalism’s nature and history – and the evaluation of these by many “progressive” writers and the millions whose thinking they influence. The facts of capitalism’s nature and history are not unknown. Certainly the educated critics are well aware of them. Capitalism’s enemies are simply unimpressed. Why? What is responsible for the great disconnect? The reason is that the objections to capitalism are not based on factual grounds – and all the evidence in the world establishing the freedom and prosperity of those living under capitalism will not influence the system’s critics to the slightest degree. The criticisms are motivated solely by moral and philosophical theories.
Since long before capitalism’s 18th century inception, moral theories antagonistic to egoism and profit-making have been dominant. From its birth, therefore, capitalism was an intellectual anomaly: a great boon to human prosperity that was unsupported, even opposed, by men’s dominant moral and philosophical codes. Hence the tragic historical spectacle of capitalism providing abundance for the first time for untold millions while sustaining repeated intellectual blows from its moral and philosophical enemies — from thinkers who claimed to care about mankind. For example, socialists – whether of a Marxist or non-Marxist variety – insist that it is an individual’s moral obligation to sacrifice himself for the state. Capitalism, they accurately point out, is not founded on principles of self-sacrifice. Rather, capitalism rests on an egoistic moral code – on the inalienable right of each and every man to his own life. The freedom that capitalism offers an individual to pursue his own personal, selfish happiness is, to socialists, anathema. To them, individual rights and political-economic freedom are appalling because they follow logically from an egoistic moral code that they regard as evil.
As a further example, modern egalitarians seek equality of income. But, contrary to their wishes, the freedom of the capitalist system will always lead to enormous disparities of income, because, in fact, individuals are not equal. They are not equal in talent, they are not equal in initiative, they are not equal in capacity to satisfy customer demand. Left free, some individuals will cure cancer, some will make the baseball Hall of Fame, some will drop out of school, some will work in the local grocery store, some will refuse to work and sponge off of families, friends and private charities.
The enormous general prosperity of the capitalist countries – the ability of capitalism to inherit widespread poverty and then proceed to create a vast middle class – does not and will not begin to impress egalitarians. The principle of economic equality – not universal prosperity – is their moral god. Consequently, they admire the “equal” destitution of Cuba’s citizens and repudiate the unequally-shared wealth of America. To them, it is morally superior if everybody subsists roughly equally on $1,000 annually and morally inferior if some possess millions while others live on “merely” $15,000 or $20,000 or $30,000. Rational men prefer to earn $15,000 in a country where others are millionaires to $1,000 in a country where others are equally poor. But egalitarians loathe the economic inequalities necessitated by the freedom of the capitalist system.
Finally, to a devout religionist, such as contemporary Islamists, what matters the earthly riches and comforts enjoyed by those in the capitalist countries? To them, all that matters is salvation in a higher world. If Allah repudiates the secularism, selfishness and materialism of capitalism, if such a life leads to eternal damnation, then the religionist must abjure it, even seek to annihilate it. Islamic terrorists, after all, did not destroy the towers of the World Trade Center simply because they were tall buildings. For years, they targeted those buildings because they were the nerve center of the world financial markets, located in the Wall Street area of New York City, the world’s commercial center. Those towers were, in terms both practical and symbolic, at the heart of global capitalism – and this is exactly why they were destroyed.
Too often, freedom’s supporters have limited themselves to responses that demonstrate capitalism’s unparalleled ability to increase men’s prosperity. While true and important, such defenses miss the essence of the criticism. It is as if a great dialogue regarding the most momentous issues held across a span of centuries has been conducted at cross purposes. The critics argue on moral grounds; the supporters on economic grounds. The critics, wedded to a moral code of self-sacrifice, are oblivious to capitalism’s practical success. The supporters, equally wedded to such a code, are morally disarmed against the onslaught of their antagonists — and are reduced to the citation of empirical facts and figures. The supporters, unable to break free of the conventional creed urging selflessness, have too often regarded capitalism’s inherent pursuit of self-interest as a guilty secret, akin to an unsavory skeleton in a family closet.
It is time to come out of the closet.
For two centuries, capitalism has cried out for its supporters to finally embrace the code of rational egoism as an undiluted virtue of which to be proud. That will be an important part of this book. The torrent of facts showing capitalism’s practical superiority will be presented within a philosophical framework showing that capitalism is the only moral system for human beings.
Two intellectual tasks must be accomplished in order to establish capitalism as the ideal social system. The first is to factually document the enormous practical benefits to man’s life wrought by capitalism. These are the tasks of history and economics. The second is the job of philosophy: to show that morality arises only because of the factual requirements of man’s life on earth, i.e., the concepts “good” and “evil,” “right” and “wrong,” are based in the facts of human nature, specifically in the objective requirements of human survival and prosperity. Only when the good is shown to be that which promotes man’s life will it be possible to understand and appreciate the enormous moral virtue embodied in capitalism’s unparalleled ability to do precisely that. All codes upholding human sacrifice must be exposed as anti-life, therefore, antigood, i.e., immoral. When the philosophical job is accomplished, then and only then will men have the moral code by means of which to properly evaluate capitalism’s stunning, life-giving success.
The tragic spectacle of capitalism’s life-promoting achievements evaluated by means of moral philosophies woefully unequipped to understand or appreciate them will finally, after 200 years, end. Part One of this book performs the practical task. In examining capitalism’s essence, its predecessors, and its earliest days, it provides sufficient factual evidence to establish the system’s historic achievements and to refute the common misconceptions that have been fostered about its nature and its past. The data presented are illustrative of the moral-philosophical theories of egoism, individualism and man’s mind as his means of survival — theories that are later identified and articulated as the intellectual foundation upon which capitalism rests.
Part Two — the book’s most important section — is dedicated to the philosophical task: the explanation of the rational moral theories necessary to understand capitalism’s nature and achievements — and to finally assess them properly. After two centuries, the great disconnect between facts and evaluation will mercifully be brought to an end. The book’s thesis will be clear: capitalism is the only moral political-economic system because it alone embodies the rational principles upon which human survival and prosperity depend.
Part Three refutes the chronic moral accusations levelled against capitalism — that it is responsible for war, imperialism and slavery. It shows that, on the contrary, capitalism and the moral principles on which it is based represent the antidote to these horrors that have long afflicted mankind — and, conversely, that statism and the moral principles on which it is based bear causal responsibility for them.
Part Four is devoted to explaining the essential reason that capitalism is economically superior to any form of socialism or statism more broadly. The writings of the great economists both explain the workings of a free market and validate it as the only means by which to create widespread prosperity. That economics is relegated to the end of this book, therefore, represents no slap at the economists. Quite the contrary, for to a significant degree they have done their job superbly. It is time for the moralists and philosophers to do theirs.
Finally, the Appendix applies the moral principles elucidated in the book to the important and long misunderstood topic of the “Robber Barons.” When evaluated from the standpoint of a rational code of ethics that upholds the requirements of man’s life as the standard of morality, the enormous productivity of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Hill, Harriman, et al., stamps them as productive geniuses who were enormous benefactors of the human race. Originally, this chapter was included in Part One but needed to be cut because of space limitations. But the topic was too important to be removed from the book, so was included in its present form.
The overall goal of rational cognition in any field is to reduce a vast complexity of phenomena to a principle(s) that explain it. For example, consider the quest of the Pre-Socratic philosophers to explain the teeming multiplicity of nature in terms of a single material principle — whether water, air or Anaximander’s “boundless.” The Greeks called it “finding the one in the many.” Regarding the enormity of capitalism’s success, both morally and practically, in different centuries, on far-flung continents, involving a hundred issues, the explanatory principle that will emerge is: capitalism is par excellence the system of liberated human brain power. This principle will recur throughout the book.
The moral and philosophical theories presented in this book are grounded fully in the revolutionary intellectual work of Ayn Rand — and the reader is strongly encouraged to read her seminal novel, Atlas Shrugged, as well as her non-fiction works, The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
This book is written for the rational mind anywhere and anytime, whether the reader is a professional intellectual or an intelligent layman. It seeks to make the case for individual rights and freedom in terms intelligible to all rational men.
This book is in full, one-hundred percent support of capitalism, and repudiates all forms of the initiation of governmental force, whether in the economic or personal affairs of innocent men. As such, the presentation is neither balanced nor open-minded, if “open-minded” means the belief that all opinions hold equal cognitive weight — for they do not. Rather, the book is objective. It is open exclusively to facts and to rational argumentation. It is because of its objective method that its content is relentlessly pro-capitalist, for no facts exist and no rational arguments can be adduced to show the superiority of statism.
The author has a proudly selfish stake in promoting capitalism. As an American — though a teacher — he is rich, as are all Americans by both historic and current non-capitalist standards of wealth and poverty. Since capitalism is the only system capable of creating universal prosperity, he recognizes that his ongoing wealth depends on its continued existence.
Question: Why are so many of America’s young people apparently beguiled into despising America’s founding and heritage?
I have had scores of Americans ask me that question in the last few months. My inquisitors have been baffled and perplexed as to why so many of our twenty and thirty- something citizens seem to so readily jettison what my questioners cherish as rich, meaningful, and critically important — an American heritage that has fostered and promoted individual human dignity (“All men are created equal”) with divinely imparted inherent rights (“and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”).
This priceless heritage, coupled with the Puritan ideal of being “a city on a hill,” lighting the way for the Old World to have a fresh, new birth of freedom, has been cherished and passed on from generation to generation for two and a half centuries, even as that ideal has been secularized down through the years, from Lincoln’s “last, best hope of mankind,” Wilson’s “war to end all wars” and League of Nations’ ideals, and FDR’s “arsenal of democracy” and “Four Freedoms.” And, of course, this American “exceptionalism” suffused JFK’s inaugural address:
. . . the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. . . . We are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge — and more.
Many Americans, including myself, consider those words perhaps the most eloquent summary of America’s “exceptionalism” ever uttered. It is a doctrine not of rights and privileges, but rather sacrifice and service. “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).
It was this “exceptionalism” that caused a famous immigrant citizen — a “voluntary” American, Henry Kissenger — to explain that America was a country like any other, with “interests” and “spheres of influence,” but that it was also a “cause,” and the cause was “freedom.” When people yearn and strive for freedom, America is obligated to help them the same way the French helped us win our War of Independence.
A majority of Americans have believed this in the past, and at least a plurality of Americans still does. This is why older Americans, and many young ones as well, have been aghast at scores of rioters tearing down statues, not just of Confederate leaders, but of Washington and Jefferson and others.
As I was writing this column, I was reminded of a deeply moving experience I had while I was speaking at a conference on Freedom in Romania, just after they had overthrown the horrifically brutal Communist dictator Ceausescu in 1989. The conference was on how Romania could now install a free and democratically self-governing society with deep respect for human rights — “a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
I was in a private, one-to-one meeting with the Romanian equivalent of the U.S. Attorney General. He pulled a book off the shelf in his office, opened it up, and started reading in English, “When in the course of human events . . .” — the American Declaration of Independence. After he had read the part, “All men are created equal,” he looked up with tears in his eyes and said, “We want what you have.”
I realized at that moment that I had been guilty of the “sin of familiarity.” We have all heard the shibboleth “familiarity breeds contempt.” I believe far more often it just breeds “familiarity.” We become familiar, blasé if you will, about truly monumental things and fail to sufficiently appreciate just how extraordinary some things really are.
Shame on us as Americans for far too often treating the timeless truths embodied in the Declaration of Independence familiarly when they are indeed priceless and the Revolution those truths ignited in 1776 has deeply impacted people and ignited the fire of liberty in their hearts both here and around the globe. Those founding principles are what inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to call for his fellow citizens to live up to the ideals spelled out in our founding documents — a call we continue to seek to fulfill for ever greater numbers of our people yet still today.
So why are so many of our young adults rejecting this widely held view which is a truly glorious heritage? Of all men and women, we are most blessed to be heirs of this inspiring legacy. Well, there are two reasons, one nefarious and the other merely scandalous.
The first reason is that for a generation now, too many radicals who reject America’s heritage on ideological and dogmatic grounds, have worked their way into public education, and they have undermined and distorted our heritage. Perhaps the most odious and infamous current example is the New York Times’ “1619 Project” — a destructive attempt to completely re-write American history by declaring that America was “founded” in 1619.
The 1619 project has been eviscerated by serious historian from coast to coast and across generations. My extremely distinguished old Princeton history professor, David McPherson, was devastating in his critique.
Why would people try to foist this historical fiction and such an obviously inaccurate and unhinged from reality interpretation of America’s history on American students?
These people know that in order to dismantle the American constitutional order and replace it with a socialist and/or Marxist society, you must first discredit America’s origins as illegitimate and fatally tainted by racism from the beginning.
In actual fact, the first slaves may have landed on the North American continent in 1619, but the first Puritans didn’t arrive until a year later. The Puritan ideal had far more to do with shaping the American character than slavery. G. K. Chesterton observed in the early 20th century that “America was a nation with the soul of a church.”
People who lose or are denied their history are ripe for revolution. This is more true for America than any other country because America is the only country in the world not based on blood and soil, but upon a set of ideas and ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence (1776) and codified and implemented in the U.S. Constitution (1787). If we as a people lose our allegiance to these ideals, then centrifugal forces will rend us asunder and America will be Balkanized into several competing conglomerations of states seeking to impersonate nation-states.
The second reason our young adults have increased numbers of their cohort who reject our heritage is that they don’t know a lot. They have been significantly undereducated in our public schools, and they are quite simply mind-numbingly ignorant.
E. D. Hirsch, in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal (“Bad Teaching Is Tearing America Apart”) explains the serious unraveling of American public education at the elementary school level. Hirsch is author of the best-selling book Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (1987). This book makes an impassioned plea for American children being taught tens of thousands of specific facts— mainly about Western Civilization — thus opening Mr. Hirsch to charges of “elitism”?
In this interview he reveals that there has been a grievous decline in American education — particularly at the elementary level. After the 1950s American children’s verbal scores began to drop drastically. In the 1950s American children were number 1 in the world. We had dropped to 5th on the International Adult Literacy Survey in the 1970s and 14th in the 1990s. In the 21st century America’s children have dropped from 15th to 24th in reading on International Student assessments.
Mr. Hirsch describes himself as “practically a socialist,” but in his new book How to Educate a Citizen, he updates his earlier volume and indicts American public education for abject failure. Mr. Hirsch argues vigorously for elementary schools as “culture makers” and that America desperately need to create an “American ethnicity” and that elementary schools should exist “to make children into good citizens.”
American educators have either brainwashed or seriously under-served a whole generation of American young adults.
I can think of no better way to honor and celebrate Constitution Day (September 17) than for Americans to rededicate themselves to restoring our unique and invaluable heritage of liberty and freedom to the common experience and cognition of every American citizen.
Let’s say this straight out, so there is no chance of any misinterpretation whatsoever: It is impossible for any sane, rational, level-headed person to consciously support the Democratic ticket in 2020. On every single issue, right down the line, the Republicans offer a better solution and their path of governance delivers a superior quality of life to every American. It is provable, unarguable and unequivocal.
Opposition to President Trump breaks down into three areas, none of which are valid reasons for voting for the Democrats.
Reason No. 1 — Emotional Blindness
This is a big one. Many voters — on both sides, in all candor — are emotionally wedded to their vote. Whether Democrat or Republican, they regard their party of choice as their “team,” a lifelong rooting interest. Family voting history, upbringing, and the thought of, “I’ve always voted that way” plays a big part in peoples’ voting decisions. Many times, a party’s actual policy stance runs directly counter to that voter’s personal interests (such as devout Catholics supporting Democrats who favor abortion or Jewish voters supporting Democrats who back anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian legislation), but they vote for them anyway, because of a lifelong emotional attachment.
So it is with President Trump. He engenders such a strong emotional response that a segment of the voting populace will never support him, both because of his mercurial personality and his identification as a Republican. Even if his actual policies benefit them directly, they will not vote for him, ever.
Reason No. 2 — The Choice of Personal Style Over Governing Policy
President Trump’s tangible, concrete policies have been hugely successful for America.
He’s lowered personal income taxes, benefitting all taxpaying workers (no, not just the “1%-ers”)
He’s lowered corporate taxes and reduced punitive regulations, leading to a strong, confident business climate and record employment across all demographic and gender categories
Championed the production of domestic energy, leading to energy independence and freedom from Mideast oil sheiks
Rebuilt our military, strengthening national security
Reduced illegal immigration and strengthened border security
Renegotiated bad international trade deals, for the good of American companies and workers
Stopped flights from China and formed the Coronavirus Task Force, both before the end of January, while the Democrats were still pushing their bogus impeachment hearings
In every area, President Trump has been right on top of every issue, despite the liberal media and high-profile Democrats criticizing him and grandstanding at every opportunity.
In stark contrast to President Trump, Obama had a smooth-talking style and calm demeanor, but his actual policies were anti-business (globalist trade agreements, damaging, punitive taxes and regulations designed to punish political enemies), anti-military, and he increased racial division in the country by sympathizing and supporting divisive movements like Black Lives Matter.
Obama’s personal style can be summed up this way: If a loved one were sick and needed a specialized operation that only the best surgeon could perform, would you want the gruff, world-renowned expert with the caustic bedside manner or the warm, agreeable novice with limited experience? The economy, our military readiness and our international relations are not popularity contests. President Trump’s factual, tangible results in those areas are light-years past anything Obama accomplished. President Trump successfully performed delicate quadruple bypass surgery and the patient feels Great again. Obama comforted the family with soothing, well-chosen words, but the patient is dead. Style vs. Policy? No contest, for the thinking among us.
Democrats, having no actual basis for policy disagreements, object to President Trump’s personal style. He’s harsh. He’s often abrupt and personally insulting. He defeated Hillary Clinton — the First Woman President — and had the gall to call her “Crooked Hillary.” Erudite, cultivated American Presidents simply don’t use disparaging nicknames. According to the Democrats, President Trump is beneath the office.
This is how it is with emotionally hamstrung, close-minded Democratic voters. Even academically smart, professionally accomplished Democratic voters are blinded by their anger and resentment, born of Trump’s rough, in-your-face personal style. They spout things like, “He just doesn’t come across like a president,” “He acts like a dictator,” and “I want him taken out of office and prosecuted for crimes against the Constitution.” When pressed for legal specifics, these Democratic cheerleaders respond with hysterical, vein-popping, sophisticated explanations such as, “Well… you know…. because…. everyone sees it.” They have no legal specifics because there are none.
Their reactions are totally style-based. These voters are completely illogical and embarrassingly unintellectual, wholly detached from the reality of the superb economy (rebounding much faster from COVID-19 than the Democrats would have wanted), reborn military, environmentally conscious energy independence, vastly improved border security, and beneficial trade agreements. All of which has been directly brought about by President Trump’s policies.
Reason No. 3 — Ignorance of the Issues and History.
This is self-explanatory. When an embarrassingly large swath of your voters refuses to believe that Lincoln was a Republican, that it was the Democrats who opposed the 1964 Civil Rights legislation or that Hitler unleashed the Holocaust on the world, then it’s obvious that far too many unqualified, result-distorting votes are being cast.
The differences between Republican and Democratic governing philosophy are dramatic and every single Republican approach results in an enhanced quality of daily life for every American citizen.
Whether it be support for law and order, a strong military, aggressive domestic fossil fuel production in an environmentally-conscious manner, a strong anti-terror-based foreign policy rather than weak appeasement, ending Chinese theft of our intellectual property and ending our overreliance on them for cheap manufacturing, negotiating international trade agreements that prioritize American companies and American workers, promoting a growing stock market that will fully fund union pensions and private retirement 401ks, keeping taxes low, bringing order to an out-of-control illegal immigration process, promoting a sane balance of private health care and publicly-available safety-net options and preserving ready access to religious worship for those who chose it, every one of these Republican positions improves life for everyone who lives here.
Deep in their private thoughts, even reasonably aware Democrats know this, but they vote the “wrong” way anyway for the three reasons given above, acting as prisoners of their own crippling weak egos and emotional cowardice.
When logic and reason guide the voting decision, the country makes good choices and it moves in a positive direction. Unfortunately, in 2020, logic and reason are in dangerously short supply.
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The rise of the welfare state in the 1960s contributed greatly to the demise of the black family as a stable institution. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among African Americans today is 73%, three times higher than it was prior to the War on Poverty. Children raised in fatherless homes are far more likely to grow up poor and to eventually engage in criminal behavior, than their peers who are raised in two-parent homes. In 2010, blacks (approximately 13% of the U.S. population) accounted for 48.7% of all arrests for homicide, 31.8% of arrests for forcible rape, 33.5% of arrests for aggravated assault, and 55% of arrests for robbery. Also as of 2010, the black poverty rate was 27.4% (about 3 times higher than the white rate), meaning that 11.5 million blacks in the U.S. were living in poverty.
When President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 launched the so-called War on Poverty, which enacted an unprecedented amount of antipoverty legislation and added many new layers to the American welfare state, he explained that his objective was to reduce dependency, “break the cycle of poverty,” and make “taxpayers out of tax eaters.” Johnson further claimed that his programs would bring to an end the “conditions that breed despair and violence,” those being “ignorance, discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not enough jobs.” Of particular concern to Johnson was the disproportionately high rate of black poverty. In a famous June 1965 speech, the president suggested that the problems plaguing black Americans could not be solved by self-help: “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line in a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’” said Johnson.
Thus began an unprecedented commitment of federal funds to a wide range of measures aimed at redistributing wealth in the United States. From 1965 to 2008, nearly $16 trillion of taxpayer money (in constant 2008 dollars) was spent on means-tested welfare programs for the poor.
The economic milieu in which the War on Poverty arose is noteworthy. As of 1965, the number of Americans living below the official poverty line had been declining continuously since the beginning of the decade and was only about half of what it had been fifteen years earlier. Between 1950 and 1965, the proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level, had decreased by more than 30%. The black poverty rate had been cut nearly in half between 1940 and 1960. In various skilled trades during the period of 1936-59, the incomes of blacks relative to whites had more than doubled. Further, the representation of blacks in professional and other high-level occupations grew more quickly during the five years preceding the launch of the War on Poverty than during the five years thereafter.
Despite these trends, the welfare state expanded dramatically after LBJ’s statement. Between the mid-Sixties and the mid-Seventies, the dollar value of public housing quintupled and the amount spent on food stamps rose more than tenfold. From 1965 to 1969, government-provided benefits increased by a factor of 8; by 1974 such benefits were an astounding 20 times higher than they had been in 1965. Also as of 1974, federal spending on social-welfare programs amounted to 16% of America’s Gross National Product, a far cry from the 8% figure of 1960. By 1977 the number of people receiving public assistance had more than doubled since 1960.
The most devastating by-product of the mushrooming welfare state was the corrosive effect it had (along with powerful cultural phenomena such as the feminist and Black Power movements) on American family life, particularly in the black community. As provisions in welfare laws offered ever-increasing economic incentives for shunning marriage and avoiding the formation of two-parent families, illegitimacy rates rose dramatically.
For the next few decades, means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, day care, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families penalized marriage. A mother generally received far more money from welfare if she was single rather than married. Once she took a husband, her benefits were instantly reduced by roughly 10 to 20 percent. As a Cato Institute study noted, welfare programs for the poor incentivize the very behaviors that are most likely to perpetuate poverty. Another Cato report observes:
“Of course women do not get pregnant just to get welfare benefits…. But, by removing the economic consequences of out-of-wedlock birth, welfare has removed a major incentive to avoid such pregnancies. A teenager looking around at her friends and neighbors is liable to see several who have given birth out-of- wedlock. When she sees that they have suffered few visible consequences … she is less inclined to modify her own behavior to prevent pregnancy…. Current welfare policies seem to be designed with an appalling lack of concern for their impact on out-of-wedlock births. Indeed, Medicaid programs in 11 states actually provide infertility treatments to single women on welfare.”
The marriage penalties that are embedded in welfare programs can be particularly severe if a woman on public assistance weds a man who is employed in a low-paying job. As a FamilyScholars.org report puts it: “When a couple’s income nears the limits prescribed by Medicaid, a few extra dollars in income cause thousands of dollars in benefits to be lost. What all of this means is that the two most important routes out of poverty—marriage and work—are heavily taxed under the current U.S. system.”
The aforementioned FamilyScholars.org report adds that “such a system encourages surreptitious cohabitation,” where “many low-income parents will cohabit without reporting it to the government so that their benefits won’t be cut.” These couples “avoid marriage because marriage would result in a substantial loss of income for the family.”
A 2011 study conducted jointly by the Institute for American Values’ Center for Marriage and Families and the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project suggests that “the rise of cohabiting households with children is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives.” The researchers conclude that cohabiting relationships are highly prone to instability, and that children in such homes are consequently less likely to thrive, more likely to be abused, and more prone to suffering “serious emotional problems.”
William Galston, President Bill Clinton‘s Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, estimated that the welfare system, with its economic disincentives to marriage, was responsible for at least 15% to 20% of the family disintegration in the United States. Libertarian scholar Charles Murray has placed the figure at somewhere around 50%. By Murray’s reckoning, the growth and increased liberalization of the “welfare complex” have eroded the traditional ethos of working-class communities that once held people who worked at low-wage jobs, and men who married the mothers of their children, in much higher esteem than unwed parents who became wards of the state.
The phenomenon that Murray describes has been in clear evidence for decades. Consider, for instance, a Harlem-based initiative in the 1980s known as Project Redirection, whose aim was to persuade young women who had already borne one child out of wedlock to avoid repeating that mistake. According to the Manpower Development Research Corporation’s evaluation report on this project: “[M]any [beneficiaries] were beginning to view getting their own welfare grants as the next stage in their careers…. [I]t became apparent that some participants’ requests for separate grants and independent households were too often a sign of manipulation by boyfriends, in whose interest it was to have a girlfriend on welfare with an apartment of her own.”
The results of welfare policies discouraging marriage and family were dramatic, as out-of-wedlock birthrates skyrocketed among all demographic groups in the U.S., but most notably African Americans. In the mid-1960s, the out-of-wedlock birth rate was scarcely 3% for whites, 7.7% for Americans overall, and 24.5% among blacks. By 1976, those figures had risen to nearly 10% for whites, 24.7% for Americans as a whole, and 50.3% for blacks in particular. In 1987, for the first time in the history of any American racial or ethnic group, the birth rate for unmarried black women surpassed that for married black women. Today the illegitimacy rates stand at 41% for the nation overall, and 73% for African Americans specifically.
Welfare not only increases illegitimacy and poverty in the short term, but it inflicts long-lasting, even permanent, handicaps on children who are raised in welfare-dependent homes. Dr. June O’Neill and Anne Hill, comparing children who were identical in terms of such social and economic factors as race, family structure, neighborhood, family income, and mothers’ IQ and education, found that the more years a child spent on welfare, the lower the child’s IQ. A similar study by Mary Corcoran and Roger Gordon of the University of Michigan concluded that the more welfare income a family received while a boy was growing up, the lower the boy’s earnings as an adult.
The devastating societal consequences of family breakdown cannot be overstated. Father-absent families—black and white alike—generally occupy the bottom rung of America’s economic ladder. According to the U.S Census, in 2008 the poverty rate for single parents with children was 35.6%; the rate for married couples with children was 6.4%. For white families in particular, the corresponding two-parent and single-parent poverty rates were 21.7% and 3.1%; for Hispanics, the figures were 37.5% and 12.8%; and for blacks, 35.3% and 6.9%. According to Robert Rector, senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, “the absence of marriage increases the frequency of child poverty 700 percent” and thus constitutes the single most reliable predictor of a self-perpetuating underclass. Articulating a similar theme many years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing is so much needed as a secure family life for a people to pull themselves out of poverty.”
Children in single-parent households are burdened not only with economic, but also profound social and psychological, disadvantages. As a Heritage Foundation analysis notes, youngsters raised by single parents, as compared to those who grow up in intact married homes, are more likely to be physically abused; to be treated for emotional and behavioral disorders; to smoke, drink, and use drugs; to perform poorly in school; to be suspended or expelled from school; to drop out of high school; to behave aggressively and violently; to be arrested for a juvenile crime; to serve jail time before age 30; and to go on to experience poverty as adults. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 60% of rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of long-term prison inmates are men who grew up in fatherless homes. With regard to girls in particular, those raised by single mothers are more than twice as likely to give birth out-of-wedlock, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty for yet another generation.
The calamitous breakdown of the black family is a comparatively recent phenomenon, coinciding precisely with the rise of the welfare state. Throughout the epoch of slavery and into the early decades of the twentieth century, most black children grew up in two-parent households. Post-Civil War studies revealed that most black couples in their forties had been together for at least twenty years. In southern urban areas around 1880, nearly three-fourths of black households were husband-or father-present; in southern rural settings, the figure approached 86%. As of 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks nationwide was approximately 15%—scarcely one-fifth of the current figure. As late as 1950, black women were more likely to be married than white women, and only 9% of black families with children were headed by a single parent.
During the nine decades between the Emancipation Proclamation and the 1950s, the black family remained a strong, stable institution. Its cataclysmic destruction was subsequently set in motion by such policies as the anti-marriage incentives that are built into the welfare system have served only to exacerbate the problem. As George Mason University professor Walter E. Williams puts it: “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.” Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell concurs: “The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”
Just as welfare policies discourage marriage and the formation of stable families, they also discourage the development of a healthy work ethic. As Heritage Foundation scholar Michael Franc noted in 2012: “[T]he necessity of phasing out [welfare] benefits as incomes rise brings a serious moral hazard. In many cases, economists have calculated, welfare recipients who enter the work force or receive pay raises lose a dollar or more of benefits for each additional dollar they earn. The system makes fools of those who work hard.” In testimony on Capitol Hill, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Kentucky) concurred that although federal welfare programs “are designed to alleviate poverty while promoting work,” collectively they have “an unintended side effect of discouraging harder work and higher earnings.” “The more benefits the government provides,” he said, “the stronger the disincentive to work.” Yet another Capitol Hill witness, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin)—herself a former welfare recipient—acknowledged in her oral testimony: “I once had a job and begged my supervisor not to give me a 50-cents-an-hour raise lest I lose Title 20 day care.” The same work disincentive came into play when Moore contemplated the health coverage she was receiving through Medicaid. “I would want to work if in fact I didn’t risk losing Medicaid,” she said.
Socialism is derived from the Latin word ‘Socialis,’ which means ‘Public.’ Socialism is an economic and social system characterized by state and public control over the economy, means of production, distribution of resources, as well as political theories and movements associated with them.
Now the question is; has Socialism Ever Worked?
Although not in every country, socialism has worked in China for several years, and it’s still working. The same too was recorded in Denmark. Socialism makes tax to be at a high rate, but the good part of it is that you have excellent and quality health care and other services. According to debate.org, socialism is already working in some part of the country and it’s still working. It’s a firm decision coupled with the fact that the tax will be very. But what’s the big deal in having to pay enormous tax when you have the probability of living almost well taken care of?
So that is about socialism and where it has actually worked. Continue reading for more information on the topic.
What You Need To Know About The Various Forms Of Socialism
There are many varieties of socialism, and there is no single definition that includes all of them. Socialist systems are grouped into non-market and market forms. Non-market socialism involves the replacement of market factors of production and money by engineering and technical criteria based on calculations made in kind, thereby creating an economic mechanism that works by economic principles that are different from the laws of capitalism.
Non-market socialism seeks to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and profit systems. In turn, market socialism retains the use of money prices, market factors, and, in some cases, a profit motive to the activities of publicly owned enterprises and the distribution of means of production between them.
Profits earned by these firms will be directly controlled by the labor force of each firm or accumulated for society as a whole in the form of a social dividend.
Socialist politics has both international and national orientation and is planned through political parties as well as opposing party politics. It sometimes intersects with trade unions, and at other times is independent and critical of trade unions. It is present in both industrialized and developing countries.
It is created within the framework of social democracy implies a mixed economy, which includes significant government intervention in the form of redistribution of income, various kinds of regulation, and a welfare state
How Socialism Relates To Other Economic Systems?
The followers of Marxism call socialism the first phase of communism, which begins after the transitional stage from capitalism to communism: the transitional stage starts with the seizure of political power and ends with the destruction of private ownership of the primary means of production with the transition to a state-planned economy.
The first phase of communism ends with overcoming the contradictions between people of mental and material labor, as well as between the city and the village. The guarantee of this development since the seizure of political power is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is carried out by the soviets.
So, here is the view on the socialism of classical Marxism. Studying history, Marx concluded a change in socio-economic formations – the slave system was replaced by feudalism, the one by capitalism. The structure was determined by the mode of production peculiar only to it. Each subsequent formation had greater labor efficiency.
From this point of view, it is easy to imagine that with time, capitalism will leave history, and it will be replaced by a certain following socio-economic formation with even greater efficiency. Classical Marxism calls communism the next structure, and the transitional system between communism and capitalism is called socialism.
In the first half of the 20th century, during the fierce political struggle of various factions of the left, socialism and communism were divided – they began to regard socialism as a formation,
The idea of socialism and communism is straightforward. In the framework of capitalism at the end of the 19th century, society has already produced an incredible amount of material wealth compared with the beginning of the century. If we imagine a further increase in labor efficiency, it will become clear that there will be more and more benefits and less and less labor to receive them.
Let us recall, say, how many people worked in the USSR, and how many works in modern China; remember that the New Year in the USSR was a working day, while now we all enjoy quite a long weekend.
This is the practical manifestation of increasing labor efficiency. At a certain moment, it will be possible without special efforts to provide all citizens with a minimum average standard of living, requiring absolutely nothing in return from them – labor efficiency will allow this. But this is not all.
Further development of technology will allow a person to abandon labor completely – machines can make machines in the same way as people. Human labor passes only into the creative field. At this moment, the issue of redistribution of goods will move from the practical field to the moral and ethical one.
There are so many benefits, and the price is so low that it is not difficult to distribute them among all comers. You may notice that in such a situation, it is even necessary because an increase in labor efficiency implies a reduction in jobs — a society of welfare and unconditional income in this situation is inevitable. I outlined the question (in addition to the welfare) of the left of the first half of the 20th century.
There is nothing perfect in communism or socialism. Everything is realistic – we are witnessing an increase in labor efficiency even now, in times relatively difficult for the global economy. The same 3d printers, although they are now only a toy and an indicator of the level of household technologies, can someday be used in production. Robotics is also being improved.
Socialism And Capitalism For The Common Man
Our generation imagines socialism and capitalism as different systems of economic management. It is not explained at school, but only frightens today’s students with repression. However, socialism is different from capitalism.
Types Of Socialism
The various types of socialism are conservative or right socialism, social engineering, or scientist socialism, democratic socialism, or social democracy, real socialism, or soviet-type economies. Although there are various types of socialism, I will be focusing on one type that is of special interest.
Conservative or right socialism is a type of socialism whereby institutional aggression is used to save the status quo and privileges of certain cohorts and individuals. The main goal of right-wing socialism is to preserve everything as it is, without letting free enterprise and creative human activity destroy the pre-established framework of social organization.
To achieve this goal, the ‘right-wing’ socialist systems rely on systematic institutional aggression, which applies everywhere they need it. In this regard, conservative and democratic socialism differ only in motives and those specific social groups to which they seek to provide privileges.
Conservative or “right” socialism is also characterized by pronounced paternalism, understood as an attempt to “freeze” the behavior of people by assigning them those roles in consumption or production that are considered appropriate by the conservative regulatory body. Also, under a socialist system of this type, authorities usually seek to impose on society, in an orderly manner, certain behavior that they consider moral or orthodox.
With conservative or right socialism, military socialism is closely linked. It is defined as the kind of socialism where all institutions are subordinate to the goals of warfare, and the scale of values, which determine the social status and income of citizens. It depends primarily or exclusively on the position of a person with the armed forces.
Guild and agrarian socialism can also be attributed to the type of conservative, or “right”, socialism. In the first of these systems, authorities seek to create a society based on a hierarchy of specialists, managers, artisans, officers, and workers, and in the second, forcibly divide the land between certain social groups.
It must be emphasized that the philosophy of conservatism is incompatible with innovation and creativity. It is concerned with the past and does not trust what market processes could create. It is mostly opportunistic and devoid of principles. Therefore, it usually recommends that institutional coercion be entrusted to “wise and kind leaders” who have different criteria in each case. So, conservatism is an obscurantist doctrine that completely neglects the fact that the functioning of social processes occurs due to the energy of entrepreneurship, and especially the problem of fatal ignorance inherent in all leaders.
Socialism requires a lot of processes and efforts to make it work in any sphere, both at the national and international levels. However, in response to the question, has socialism ever worked, we can see it has not worked as it ought to because its principles have been corrupted, and its application has been significantly influenced.
Leon Trotsky has always had a certain appeal for intellectuals that the other Bolshevik leaders lacked. The reasons for this are clear enough. He was a writer, an occasional literary critic — according to Irving Howe, a very good one — and an historian (of the revolutions of 1905 and 1917). He had an interest in psychoanalysis and modern developments in physics, and, even when in power, suggested that the new Communist thought-controllers shouldn’t be too harsh on writers with such ideas — not exactly a Nat Hentoff position on freedom of expression, but about as good as one can expect among Communists.
Above all, Trotsky was himself an intellectual, and one who played a great part in what many of that breed have considered to be the real world — the world of revolutionary bloodshed and terror. He was second only to Lenin in 1917; in the Civil War he was the leader of the Red Army and the Organizer of Victory. As Howe says, “For intellectuals throughout the world there was something fascinating about the spectacle of a man of words transforming himself through sheer will into a man of deeds.”
Trotsky lost out to Stalin in the power struggle of the 1920s, and in exile became a severe and knowledgeable critic of his great antagonist; thus, for intellectuals with no access to other critics of Stalinism — classical liberal, anarchist, or conservative — Trotsky’s writings in the 1930s opened their eyes to some aspects at least of the charnel-house that was Stalin’s Russia. During the period of the Great Purge and the Moscow show trials, Trotsky was placed at the center of the myth of treason and collaboration with Germany and Japan that Stalin spun as a pretext for eliminating his old comrades. In 1940, an agent of the Soviet secret police, Ramon Mercador, sought Trotsky out at his home in Mexico City and killed him with an ice ax to the head.
Irving Howe, the distinguished literary critic and editor of Dissent, tells the story of this interesting life with great lucidity, economy, and grace. The emphasis is on Trotsky’s thought, with which Howe has concerned himself for almost the past 40 years. As a young man, he states, “I came for a brief time under Trotsky’s influence, and since then, even though or perhaps because I have remained a socialist, I have found myself moving farther and farther away from his ideas.”
Howe is in fact considerably more critical of Trotsky than I had expected. He identifies many of Trotsky’s crucial errors, and uses them to cast light on the flaws in Marxism, Leninism, and the Soviet regime that Trotsky contributed so much to creating. And yet there is a curious ambivalence in the book. Somehow the ignorance and evil in Trotsky’s life are never allowed their full weight in the balance, and, in the end, he turns out to be, in Howe’s view, a hero and “titan” of the 20th century. It’s as if Howe had chosen not to think out fully the moral implications of what it means to have said and done the things that Trotsky said and did.
We can take as our first example Howe’s discussion of the final outcome of Trotsky’s political labors: the Bolshevik revolution and the Soviet regime. Throughout this book Howe makes cogent points regarding the real class character of this regime and other Communist governments — which, he notes, manifested itself very early on:
A new social stratum — it had sprung up the very morning of the revolution — began to consolidate itself: the party-state bureaucracy which found its support in the technical intelligentsia, the factory managers, the military officials, and, above all, the party functionaries…. To speak of a party-state bureaucracy in a country where industry has been nationalized means to speak of a new ruling elite, perhaps a new ruling class, which parasitically fastened itself upon every institution of Russian life. [emphasis in original]
Howe goes on to say that it was not to be expected that the Bolsheviks themselves would realize what they had done and what class they had actually raised to power: “It was a historical novelty for which little provision had been made in the Marxist scheme of things, except perhaps in some occasional passages to be found in Marx’s writings about the distinctive social character of Oriental despotism.”
This is not entirely correct. Howe himself shows how Trotsky, in his book 1905 (a history of the Russian revolution of that year), had had a glimpse of this form of society, one in which the state bureaucracy was itself the ruling class. In analyzing the Tsarist regime, Trotsky had picked up on the strand of Marxist thought that saw the state as an independent parasitic body, feeding on all the social classes engaged in the process of production. This was a view that Marx expressed, for instance, in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
More importantly, the class character of Marxism itself — as well as the probable consequences of the coming to power of a Marxist Party — had been identified well before Trotsky’s time. The great 19th-century anarchist Michael Bakunin — whose name does not even appear in Howe’s book, just as not a single other anarchist is even mentioned anywhere in it — had already subjected Marxism to critical scrutiny in the 1870s. In the course of this, Bakunin had uncovered the dirty little secret of the future Marxist state:
The State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class or other; a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class, and finally a bureaucratic class…. But in the People’s State of Marx, there will be, we are told, no privileged class at all … but there will be a government, which will not content itself with governing and administering the masses politically, as all governments do today, but which will also administer them economically, concentrating in its own hands the production and the just division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, finally the application of capital to production by the only banker, the State. All that will demand an immense knowledge and many “heads overflowing with brains” in this government. It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and contemptuous of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars. [Emphasis added.]
This perspective was taken up somewhat later by the Polish-Russian revolutionist, Waclaw Machajski, who held, in the words of Max Nomad, that — “nineteenth century socialism was not the expression of the interests of the manual workers but the ideology of the impecunious, malcontent, lower middle-class intellectual workers … behind the socialist ‘ideal’ was a new form of exploitation for the benefit of the officeholders and managers of the socialized state.”
Thus, that Marxism in power would mean the rule of state functionaries was not merely intrinsically probable — given the massive increment of state power envisaged by Marxists, what else could it be? — but it had also been predicted by writers well known to a revolutionary like Trotsky. Trotsky, however, had not permitted himself to take this analysis seriously before committing himself to the Marxist revolutionary enterprise. More than that: “To the end of his days,” as Howe writes, he “held that Stalinist Russia should still be designated as a ‘degenerated workers’ state’ because it preserved the nationalized property forms that were a ‘conquest’ of the Russian Revolution” — as if nationalized property and the planned economy were not the very instruments of rule of the new class in Soviet Russia!”It may well be, that is, that the Bolsheviks had never had the slightest idea of what their aims would mean concretely for the economic life of Russia, how those aims would of necessity have to be implemented, or what the consequences would be.”
It remained for some of Trotsky’s more critical disciples, especially Max Shachtman in the United States, to point out to their master what had actually happened in Russia: that the Revolution had not produced a “workers’ State,” nor was there any danger that “capitalism” would be restored, as Trotsky continued to fret it would. Instead, there had come into an existence in Russia a “bureaucratic collectivism” even more reactionary and oppressive than what had gone before.
Trotsky rejected this interpretation. In fact he had no choice. For, as Howe states, the dissidents “called into question the entire revolutionary perspective upon which [Trotsky] continued to base his politics…. There was the further possibility, if Trotsky’s critics were right, that the whole perspective of socialism might have to be revised.” Indeed.
To his credit, Howe recognizes that a key period for understanding Bolshevism, including the thought of Trotsky, is the period of war communism, from 1918 to 1921. As he describes it, “Industry was almost completely nationalized. Private trade was banned. Party squads were sent into the countryside to requisition food from the peasants.” The results were tragic on a vast scale. The economic system simply broke down, with all the immense suffering and all the countless deaths from starvation that such a small statement implies. As Trotsky himself later put it, “The collapse of the productive forces surpassed anything of the kind that history had ever seen. The country, and the government with it, were at the very edge of the abyss.”
How had this come about? Here Howe follows the orthodox interpretation: War communism was merely the product of emergency conditions, created by the Revolution and the Civil War. It was a system of “extreme measures [which the Bolsheviks] had never dreamt of in their earlier programs.”
Now, this last may be, strictly speaking, correct. It may well be, that is, that the Bolsheviks had never had the slightest idea of what their aims would mean concretely for the economic life of Russia, how those aims would of necessity have to be implemented, or what the consequences would be.
But war communism was no mere “improvisation,” whose horrors are to be chalked up to the chaos in Russia at the time. The system was willed and itself helped produce that chaos. As Paul Craig Roberts has argued in his brilliant book Alienation and the Soviet Economy, war communism was an attempt to translate into “Reality” the Marxist ideal: the abolition of “commodity production,” of the price system and the market.
This, as Roberts demonstrates, was what Marxism was all about. This is what the end of “alienation” and the final liberation of mankind consisted in. Why should it be surprising that when self-confident and determined Marxists like Lenin and Trotsky seized power in a great nation, they tried to put into effect the very policy that was their whole reason for being?
As evidence for this interpretation, Roberts quotes Trotsky himself (ironically, from a book of Trotsky’s writings edited by Irving Howe):
[T]he period of so-called “war communism” [was a period when] economic life was wholly subjected to the needs of the front … it is necessary to acknowledge, however, that in its original conception it pursued broader aims. The Soviet government hoped and strove to develop these methods of regimentation directly into a system of planned economy in distribution as well as production. In other words, from “war communism” it hoped gradually, but without destroying the system, to arrive at genuine communism … reality, however, came into increasing conflict with the program of “war communism.” Production continually declined, and not only because of the destructive action of the war.
Roberts goes on to quote Victor Serge: “The social system of those years was later called ‘War Communism.’ At the time it was called simply ‘Communism’ … Trotsky had just written that this system would last over decades if the transition to a genuine, unfettered Socialism was to be assured. Bukharin … considered the present mode of production to be final.”
One slight obstacle was encountered, however, on the road to the abolition of the price system and the market: “Reality,” as Trotsky noted, “came into increasing conflict” with the economic “system” that the Bolshevik rulers had fastened on Russia. After a few years of misery and famine for the Russian masses — there is no record of any Bolshevik leader having died of starvation in this period — the rulers thought again, and a New Economic Policy (NEP) — including elements of private ownership and allowing for market transactions — was decreed.
The significance of all this cannot be exaggerated. What we have with Trotsky and his comrades in the Great October Revolution is the spectacle of a few literary-philosophical intellectuals seizing power in a great country with the aim of overturning the whole economic system — but without the slightest idea of how an economic system works. In State and Revolution, written just before he took power, Lenin wrote,
The accounting and control necessary [for the operation of a national economy] have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts, within the reach of anybody who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic.
With this piece of cretinism Trotsky doubtless agreed. And why wouldn’t he? Lenin, Trotsky, and the rest had all their lives been professional revolutionaries, with no connection at all to the process of production and, except for Bukharin, little interest in the real workings of an economic system. Their concerns had been the strategy and tactics of revolution and the perpetual, monkish exegesis of the holy books of Marxism.
The nitty-gritty of how an economic system functions — how, in our world, men and women work, produce, exchange, and survive — was something from which they prudishly averted their eyes, as pertaining to the nether-regions. These “materialists” and “scientific socialists” lived in a mental world where understanding Hegel, Feuerbach, and the hideousness of Eugen Duehring’s philosophical errors was infinitely more important than understanding what might be the meaning of a price.
Of the actual operations of social production and exchange they had about the same appreciation as John Henry Newman or, indeed, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. This is a common enough circumstance among intellectuals; the tragedy here is that the Bolsheviks came to rule over millions of real workers, real peasants, and real businessmen.
Howe puts the matter rather too sweetly: once in power, he says, “Trotsky was trying to think his way through difficulties no Russian Marxist had quite foreseen.” And what did the brilliant intellectual propose as a solution to the problems Russia now faced? “In December 1919 Trotsky put forward a series of ‘theses’ [sic] before the party’s Central Committee in which he argued for compulsory work and labor armies ruled through military discipline….”
So, forced labor, and not just for political opponents, but for the Russian working class. Let Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, the left-anarchists from the May days of 1968 in Paris, take up the argument:
“Was it so true,” Trotsky asked, “that compulsory labor was always unproductive?” He denounced this view as “wretched and miserable liberal prejudice,” learnedly pointing out that “chattel slavery, too, was productive” and that compulsory serf labor was in its times “a progressive phenomenon.” He told the unions [at the Third Congress of Trade Unions] that “coercion, regimentation, and militarization of labor were no mere emergency measures and that the workers’ State normally had the right to coerce any citizen to perform any work at any place of its choosing.”
And why not? Hadn’t Marx and Engels, in their ten-point program for revolutionary government in The Communist Manifesto, demanded as point eight, “Equal liability for all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture”? Neither Marx nor Engels ever disavowed their claim that those in charge of “the workers’ state” had the right to enslave the workers and peasants whenever the need might arise. Now, having annihilated the hated market, the Bolsheviks found that the need for enslavement had, indeed, arisen. And of all the Bolshevik leaders, the most ardent and aggressive advocate of forced labor was Leon Trotsky.
There are other areas in which Howe’s critique of Trotsky is not penetrating enough, in which it turns out to be altogether too soft-focused and oblique. For instance, he taxes Trotsky with certain philosophical contradictions stemming from his belief in “historical materialism.” All through his life, Howe asserts, Trotsky employed “moral criteria by no means simply derived from or reducible to class interest. He would speak of honor, courage, and truth as if these were known constants, for somewhere in the orthodox Marxist there survived a streak of nineteenth century Russian ethicism, earnest and romantic.”
Let us leave aside the silly implication that there is something “romantic” about belief in ethical values, as against the “scientific” character of orthodox Marxism. In this passage, Howe seems to be saying that adherence to certain commonly accepted values is, among Marxists, a rare kind of atavism on Trotsky’s part. Not at all.
Ofcourse historical materialism dismisses ethical rules as nothing more than the “expression,” or “reflection,” or whatever, of “underlying class relationships” and, ultimately, of “the material productive forces.” But no Marxist has ever taken this seriously, except as pretext for breaking ethical rules (as when Lenin and Trotsky argued in justification of their terror). Even Marx and Engels, in their “Inaugural Address of the First International,” wrote that the International’s foreign policy would be to “vindicate the simple laws of morals and justice [sic] which ought to govern the relations of private individuals, as the laws paramount of the intercourse of nations.””War communism was no mere ‘improvisation,’ whose horrors are to be chalked up to the chaos in Russia at the time. The system was willed and itself helped produce that chaos.”
That Trotsky admired honor, courage, and truth is not something that cries out for explanation by reference to Russian tradition of “ethicism” (whatever that might be). The admiration of those values is a part of the common heritage of us all. To think that there is a problem here that needs explaining is to take “historical materialism” much too seriously to begin with.
Similarly with other contradictions Howe thinks he has discovered between Trotsky’s Marxist philosophy and certain statements Trotsky made in commenting on real political events. Of the Bolshevik Revolution itself, Trotsky says that it would have taken place even if he had not been in Petrograd, “on condition that Lenin was present and in command.” Howe asks, “What happens to historical materialism?” The point Howe is making, of course, is that in the Marxist view individuals are not allowed to play any critical role in shaping really important historical events, let alone in determining whether or not they occur.
But the answer to Howe’s question is that, when Trotsky commits a blunder like this, nothing happens. Nothing happens, because “historical materialism” was pretentious nonsense from the beginning, a political strategy rather than a philosophical position. Occasionally, in daubing in some of the light patches of sky that are intended to make up for the dark ones in Trotsky’s life, Howe comes perilously close to slipping into a fantasy world.
He says that in the struggle with Stalin, Trotsky was at a disadvantage, because he “fought on the terrain of the enemy, accepting the damaging assumption of a Bolshevik monopoly of power.” But why is this assumption located on the enemy’s terrain? Trotsky shared that view with Stalin. He no more believed that a supporter of capitalism had a right to propagate his ideas than a medieval inquisitor believed in a witch’s right to her own personal style. And as for the rights even of other socialists — Trotsky in 1921 had led the attack on the Kronstadt rebels, who merely demanded freedom for socialists other than the Bolsheviks. At the time, Trotsky boasted that the rebels would be shot “like partridges” — as, pursuant to his orders, they were.
Howe even stoops to trying a touch of pathos. In sketching the tactics Stalin used in the struggle with Trotsky, he speaks of “the organized harassment to which Trotskyist leaders, distinguished Old Bolsheviks, were subjected by hooligans in the employ of the party apparatus, the severe threats made against all within the party….” Really now — is it political violence used against Leon Trotsky and his “distinguished” followers that is supposed to make our blood run cold? No: if there was ever a satisfying case of poetic justice, the “harassment” and “persecution” of Trotsky — down to and including the ice ax incident — is surely it.
The best example of Howe’s strange gentleness toward Trotsky I have for the last. What, when all is said and done, was Trotsky’s picture of the Communist society of the future? Howe does quote from Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution the famous, and ridiculous, last lines: “The average human type [Trotsky wrote] will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” He doesn’t, however, tell us what precedes these lines — Trotsky’s sketch of the future society, his passionate dream. Under Communism, Trotsky states, Man will
reconstruct society and himself in accordance with his own plan…. The imperceptible, ant-like piling up of quarters and streets, brick by brick, from generation to generation, will give way to the titanic construction of city-villages, with map and compass in hand…. Communist life will not be formed blindly, like coral islands, but will be built up consciously, will be erected and corrected…. Even purely physiologic life will become subject to collective experiments. The human species, the coagulated Homo sapiens, will once more enter into a state of radical transformation, and, in his own hands, will become an object of the most complicated methods of artificial selection and psycho-physical training…. [It will be] possible to reconstruct fundamentally the traditional family life…. The human race will not have ceased to crawl on all fours before God, kings and capital, in order later to submit humbly before the laws of heredity and sexual selection! … Man will make it his purpose … to create a higher social biological type, or, if you please, a superman.
“Man … his own plan … his purpose… his own hands.” When Trotsky promoted the formation of worker-slave armies in industry, he believed that his own will was the will of the Proletarian Man. It is easy to guess whose will would stand in for that of Communist Man when the time came to direct the collective experiments on the physiological life, the complicated methods of artificial selection and psycho-physiological training, the reconstruction of the traditional family, the substitution of “something else” for blind sexual selection in the reproduction of human beings, and the creation of the superhuman.
This, then, is Trotsky’s final goal: a world where mankind is “free” in the sense that Marxism understands the term — where all of human life, starting from the economics, but going on to embrace everything, even the most private and intimate parts of human existence — is consciously planned by “society,” which is assumed to have a single will. And it is this — this disgusting positivist nightmare — that, for him, made all the enslavement and killings acceptable!
Surely, this was another dirty little secret that Howe had an obligation to let us in on.
Howe ends by saying of Trotsky that “the example of his energy and heroism is likely to grip the imagination of generations to come,” adding that, “even those of us who cannot heed his word may recognize that Leon Trotsky, in his power and his fall, is one of the titans of our century.”
This is the kind of writing that covers the great issues of right and wrong in human affairs with a blanket of historicist snow. The fact is that Trotsky used his talents to take power in order to impose his willful dream — the abolition of the market, private property, and the bourgeoisie. His actions brought untold misery and death to his country.
Yet, to the end of his life, he tried in every way he could to bring the Marxist revolution to other peoples — to the French, the Germans, the Italians — with what probable consequences, he, better than anyone else, had reason to know. He was a champion of thought-control, prison camps, and the firing squad for his opponents, and of forced labor for ordinary, nonbrilliant working people. He openly defended chattel slavery — which, even in our century, must surely put him into a quite select company.
He was an intellectual who never asked himself such a simple question as: “What reason do I have to believe that the economic condition of workers under socialism will be better than under capitalism?” To the last, he never permitted himself to glimpse the possibility that the bloody, bureaucratic tyranny over which Stalin presided might never have come into existence but for his own efforts.
A hero? Well, no thank you — I’ll find my own heroes somewhere else. A titan of the 20th century? In a sense, yes. At least Leon Trotsky shares with the other “titans” of our century this characteristic: it would have been better if he had never been born.
This review originally appeared in Libertarian Review, Vol. 8, No. 2 (March 1979), pp. 38–42.Author:
A bibliography of Ralph Raico’s work, compiled by Tyler Kubik, is found here.
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As a libertarian, let me make my position clear with respect to the FBI: It should be abolished, not reformed or reined in. That’s because in a free society there is no national police force. Criminal justice, along with all the power a criminal-justice system entails, is best left at the state and local level. National police forces are inherent to totalitarian regimes, such as those in Iran, North Korea, and China.
Thus, it’s not a coincidence that the Framers did not provide for a FBI in the Constitution, just as it isn’t a coincidence that our American ancestors did not have a FBI for more than a century after the Constitution called the federal government into existence. In fact, if the American people had been told after the Constitutional Convention that the Constitution was bringing into existence a federal government that included a national police force, it is a virtual certainty that they never would have approved the deal, in which case the country would have continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, a type of governmental system in which the federal government’s powers were so weak that it didn’t even have the power to tax.
During his term in office, President Truman alluded to the nature and practices of the FBI when he said, “We want no Gestapo or secret police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail…. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.”
It is now undisputed that Hoover, who was the director of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972, was a serial blackmailer. He and his agents would secretly compile information on American citizens, including presidents and members of Congress, in order to blackmail them into doing what Hoover wanted them to do.
One of Hoover’s principal areas of secret surveillance for the purpose of blackmail involved sexual activity. He has his agents would conduct secret surveillance on people’s sexual activities, compile extensive secret files containing the information, and then blackmail the person with it.
One famous target of Hoover’s blackmail was Martin Luther King, a man who Hoover and his fellow cohorts at the FBI were convinced was a spearhead in what they, along with the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, were convinced was a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow to take over the United States and the rest of the world. The FBI’s secret surveillance of King had discovered that he was engaged in an extramarital affair. Hoover used the information to blackmail King with the aim of causing him to commit suicide. The blackmail was: Kill yourself or we will disclose your perfidy to your wife and to the world.
And of course there was COINTELPRO, the massive illegal FBI scheme to infiltrate and destroy domestic organizations that were suspected to be part of the supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow. In acts that would have made the communists proud, Hoover’s FBI targeted for surveillance African-Americans, gays, war protestors, and leftists.
Okay, that’s water under the bridge and Hoover has been dead for almost 50 years. But guess whose name appears on the building in Washington, D.C., that houses the FBI. It’s called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
Now, I ask you: What kind of people would honor and glorify a serial blackmailer by naming their building after him? What kind of people would go to work for an organization that has named its building after a serial blackmailer?
I sometimes wonder whether a person who has been nominated to be FBI director has demanded the removal of Hoover’s name from the building as a condition of accepting the job. From what I know, not one single FBI director in the last 25 years, including Christopher Wray, Andrew McCabe, James Comey, and Robert Mueller, has made such a demand. Why not? What’s up with that, especially in an era when statues of Civil War heroes are being removed from the public square? Is fighting for the Confederacy worse than being a serial blackmailer?
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.