How Today’s Kids Got Brainwashed

You can brainwash a person in two ways. One, through what you DO NOT tell them. Two, through exploiting their fear or resentment.

Take the example of today’s young people, brainwashed into socialism and other stupid ideas by their government-run schools, as well as their cultural heroes in music, sports and the arts. Do these schools openly state the case both for socialism and capitalism, and then argue why socialism is better? No way. If they did, most kids would probably end up leaning toward capitalism. They’d look at their well-stocked kitchens, their smart phones and their nice clothing and they’d quickly realize that “socialism sucks”.

The way these schools brainwash kids is by PRETENDING that socialism is the only system there is, and pairing socialism with things they idealize — virtue, kindness, sensitivity. They also exploit the fear and other insecurities of young people. “Most other people are mean. It’s better to be nice. The world would be a better place if everyone were nice. If we had the Green New Deal, and higher taxes, and progressive policies, then all would be nice”.

Socialism is what a lot of these young people come to through default, more than the result of any explicit ideological teaching or persuasion.

That’s how you indoctrinate a person. Exploit his fear, as well as his honest ignorance, and pretend that your point-of-view is the only serious one worth considering.

It’s interesting, though. I know a lot of people who were brainwashed in this way in other contexts, in earlier generations. But the brainwashing never stuck. For example, pre-1960s Catholic school students. Nearly all of them grew up to challenge some or all of what the old-style nuns taught them. Not everything the nuns taught was wrong (honesty and character, for example), but a lot of it was, especially when it came to personal relationships and sex. These old-style Catholic school students (now in their 60s and 70s) were brainwashed, but they overcame it. A lot of them questioned what they were taught well before their 30s, and even before their 20s in some cases.

Why the difference? I notice a lot of these Catholic school survivors ALSO say, “Judge the nuns as you wish. Some of them were crazy and irrational. A few were even evil. But they taught me how to read, write, learn and use my brain.” Learning those skills is not the same as learning how to think. But they are necessary tools of thinking. You will get nowhere without them, and many nuns were dedicated souls sincerely committed to the intellectual development of young minds.

Today’s schools, by and large and only with exceptions (like some of the better charter schools) are not teaching kids skills, and are not teaching them how to think. Certainly the mediocre majority and the terrible ones (e.g., the inner-city public schools) aren’t doing it. These institutions exist to serve the teacher’s unions, not the well-being of young minds. So what you get with these children is a combination of propaganda AND failing to learn the tools of thought. In the worst cases, they join gangs and become thugs. Why? Because they started out as evil sociopaths? No, not in most cases. Because they are afraid. And they are afraid because they don’t have the tools for using their minds. And to top it off, they have been trained to become good little citizens, which in our government-school culture means good little Democrats; good little environmentalists; good little angry social justice warriors. It’s pasted on to their intellects and psyches without any challenging viewpoints. Private schools can be just as guilty, by the way, as many are run by leftists, progressives and socialists. But the difference is that private schools have to produce SOME kind of results, as they can go out of business. Public schools will never, ever go out of business, not unless we have some kind of revolution in education toward free markets and school choice, something we desperately need.

In proper education, you’re taught this way: “Some people say socialism is a good idea. This is why they think it, and this is what socialism does. Others say capitalism is a good idea. This is why they think it, and this is what capitalism does.” It has to be HONEST and unbiased. The problem is that school curricula are not written by business persons, or by theoretical experts knowledgeable about capitalism. It simply does not occur to them that anything other than “progressive” and environmentalist, SJW ideas, or anti-business attitudes make any sense or hold any virtue. They transmit this false belief to their students.

By itself, attempted brainwashing in a free country would not be a tragedy. Remember that generations of kids in America have withstood other forms of brainwashing, like the 1950s Catholic school example. But when you pair the brainwashing with inadequate or perhaps ZERO critical thinking skills — even obvious ones such as reading and writing comprehension, the basics — then you have sunk that generation. And remember, it’s all done with the pull and moral-economic force of unlimited government money.

The students who withstand all this brainwashing, and manage to become independent thinkers, are my personal heroes. But there are fewer of these heroes than ever before, and critical, independent thinking seems to dwindle with each generation. Can a free country survive all this?

The next generation will surely write that story.—Michael J. Hurd


Speaking of Debates

I’ve always been a “big picture” kinda guy. I would rather read a general overview of history than a detailed analysis of the Battle of the Bulge. I would prefer reading a concise, insightful summary of human nature rather than the most in-depth study of child development. I would prefer watching a Discovery Channel program on The Big Bang than one on the solar system. For me, the Big Picture is just more fun to think about than the little stuff.

My approach to the presidential debates is no different. Our presidentiaI debates focus on specific issues like immigration reform, assault rifles, easy versus tight money, climate change, a woman’s right to choose, and transgender rights. And so presidential debates almost always bore me to tears. I’m not suggesting that these issues are neither important nor timely. Indeed, to some, they are. They are especially important to special interest groups. The responses are well-rehearsed and, of course, tailored to maximize votes and campaign donations.
So I would really relish a presidential debate on what I call “First Principles”, things like liberty, natural rights, what is mine and what is thine. I would include questions on founding principles and the role of the federal government. Why? Well, as I said, I’m a big picture kinda guy, and I believe answers to questions of one’s core philosophical beliefs tend to reveal as much about a person’s soul as his intellect. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a philosophy, a set of guiding principles upon which we act, including a little self-delusion and hypocrisy. One’s philosophy may be good or evil, rational or irrational. Both the criminal and the choir-boy have a philosophy, the village parson and the Mafia don. Nearly all of us fall somewhere in the great middle, neither sinners nor saints. We’re flawed, but not fatally so.
All of our actions, every decision we make or avoid, presupposes a personal philosophy. It is as singular and unique as our DNA or our fingerprints. It is that basket of virtues and values that defines who we are and what we are made of. Philosophy is identity; it is our lodestar. And so it goes for presidential candidates. As such, we should be focused like a laser on the candidates’ fundamental philosophy rather than canned sound bites.  For it is their philosophy, their virtues and values, their moral compass, that will ultimately guide their every decision.

So, if given the opportunity to be a presidential debate moderator, or at least prepare a list of questions for a presidential debate, what would they be?

First, a series of questions on the fundamental nature of liberty.
• Is liberty an axiomatic, transcendental pre-condition of universal happiness and justice, or just another political ideology?
• Is liberty a moral imperative?
• Is it a means or an end?
• Is liberty the province of the privileged few which allows them to exploit the less fortunate, or a universal human aspiration which allows all of us to realize our highest potential?
• Would you define liberty as freedom from want, freedom from responsibility, or freedom from compulsion?
Second, a series of questions on our nation’s founding.
• Was the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and subsequent ratification the realization of the ideals so sublimely articulated in the Declaration, or a well-orchestrated counterrevolutionary coup designed to benefit powerful special interests? Did the constitution do justice to those who paid the ultimate price during the War, or did it betray them?
• Did it advance the promises of the Enlightenment or throw them under a bus?
Finally, a series of questions to determine where the candidates stand on the fundamental role of government?
• Is the government supposed to be a “night watchman” or a “nanny?”
• Do you believe that a government which consistently exceeds its constitutional limitations forfeits any claims to legitimacy?
• Would you support a constitutional amendment giving states the right of secession by popular means?
• Would you support scrapping the constitution and reverting to the Articles of Confederation?

Sadly, there was a time when nearly every candidate for higher public office would have had little problem answering these questions to an informed and eagerly receptive citizenry.  Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams and their founding brethren would have handled these questions without having to stop to catch their breath, or breaking a sweat. Our philosopher-statesmen have been replaced by shallow political hacks and spin doctors; a lifelong contemplative study of history, natural law, and the Greek and Roman Classics has been replaced by sound bites read from a teleprompter.    Today’s candidates would scarcely understand the questions let alone be able to formulate a coherent response.  I would say to them, “If you can’t answer these questions, what are you doing here?”

Marxist Dreams and Soviet Reality

The sharp contrast that Alexis de Tocqueville drew in 1835 between the United States and Tsarist Russia—”the principle of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude”1—became much sharper after 1917, when the Russian Empire was transformed into the Soviet Union.

Like the United States, the Soviet Union is a nation founded on a distinct ideology. In the case of America, the ideology was fundamentally Lockean liberalism; its best expressions are the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. The Ninth Amendment, in particular, breathes the spirit of the worldview of late eighteenth-century America.2 The Founders believed that there exist natural, individual rights that, taken together, constitute a moral framework for political life. Translated into law, this framework defines the social space within which men voluntarily interact; it allows for the spontaneous coordination and ongoing mutual adjustment of the various plans that the members of society form to guide and fill their lives.

The Soviet Union was founded on a very different ideology, Marxism, as understood and interpreted by V. I. Lenin. Marxism, with its roots in Hegelian philosophy, was a quite conscious revolt against the individual rights doctrine of the previous century. The leaders of the Bolshevik party (which changed its name to Communist in 1918) were virtually all revolutionary intellectuals, in accordance with the strategy set forth by Lenin in his 1902 work What Is to Be Done?3 They were avid students of the works of Marx and Engels published in their lifetimes or shortly thereafter and known to the theoreticians of the Second International. The Bolshevik leaders viewed themselves as the executors of the Marxist program, as those whom History had called upon to realize the apocalyptic transition to Communist society foretold by the founders of their faith.

The aim they inherited from Marx and Engels was nothing less than the final realization of human freedom and the end of the “prehistory” of the human race. Theirs was the Promethean dream of the rehabilitation of Man and his conquest of his rightful place as master of the world and lord of creation.Great Wars and Great L…Ralph RaicoBest Price: $7.50Buy New $12.95(as of 05:45 EST – Details)

Building on the work of Michael Polanyi and Ludwig von Mises, Paul Craig Roberts has demonstrated—in books that deserve to be much better known than they are, since they provide an important key to the history of the twentieth century4— the meaning of freedom in Marxism. It lies in the abolition of alienation, i.e., of commodity production, production for the market. For Marx and Engels, the market represents not merely the arena of capitalist exploitation but, more fundamentally, a systematic insult to the dignity of Man. Through it, the consequences of Man’s action escape from his control and turn on him in malign ways. Thus, the insight that market processes generate results that were no part of anyone’s intention becomes, for Marxism, the very reason to condemn them. As Marx wrote of the stage of Communist society before the total disappearance of scarcity,

freedom in this field can consist only in socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature.5

The point is made most clearly by Engels:

With the seizure of the means of production by society, production of commodities is done away with, and with it the dominion of the product over the producers. Anarchy of social production is replaced by conscious organization according to plan. The whole sphere of the conditions of life which surround men, which ruled men up until now comes under the dominion and conscious control of men, who become for the first time the real, conscious lords of nature, because and in that they become master of their own social organization. The laws of their own social activity, which confronted them until this point as alien laws of nature, controlling them, then are applied by men with full understanding, and so mastered by them. Only from then on will men make their history themselves in full consciousness; only from then on will the social causes they set in motion have in the main and in constantly increasing proportion, also the results intended by them. It is the leap of mankind from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.6

Thus, Man’s freedom would be expressed in the total control exercised by the associated producers in planning the economy and, with it, all of social life. No longer would the unintended consequences of Man’s actions bring disaster and despair—there would be no such consequences. Man would determine his own fate. Left unexplained was how millions upon millions of separate individuals could be expected to act with one mind and one will—could suddenly become “Man”—especially since it was alleged that the state, the indispensable engine of coercion, would wither away.

Already in Marx and Engels’s day—decades before the establishment of the Soviet state—there were some with a shrewd idea of just who it was that would assume the title role when the time came to perform the heroic melodrama Man Creates His Own Destiny. The most celebrated of Marx’s early critics was the Russian anarchist Michael Bakunin, for whom Marx was “the Bismarck of socialism” and who warned that Marxism was a doctrine ideally fitted to function as the ideology—in the Marxist sense: the systematic rationalization and obfuscation—of the power urges of revolutionary intellectuals. It would lead, Bakunin warned, to the creation of “a new class,” which would establish “the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and contemptuous of all regimes”7 and entrench its control over the producing classes of society. Bakunin’s analysis was extended and elaborated by the Pole Waclaw Machajski.8

Despite this analysis—or perhaps as a confirmation of it—the Marxist vision came to inspire generations of intellectuals in Europe and even in America. In the course of the vast, senseless carnage that was the First World War, the Tsarist Empire collapsed and the immense Imperial Russian Army was fragmented into atoms. A small group of Marxist intellectuals seized power. What could be more natural than that, once in power, they should try to bring into being the vision that was their whole purpose and aim? The problem was that the audacity of their dream was matched only by the depth of their economic ignorance.

In August 1917—three months before he took power—this is how Lenin, in State and Revolution, characterized the skills needed to run a national economy in the “first phase” of Communism, the one he and his associates were about to embark upon:

The accounting and control necessary for this 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.9

Nikolai Bukharin, a leading “Old Bolshevik,” in 1919 wrote, together with Evgeny Preobrazhensky, one of the most widely read Bolshevik texts. It was The ABC of Communism, a work that went through eighteen Soviet editions and was translated into twenty languages. Bukharin and Preobrazhensky “were regarded as the Party’s two ablest economists.”10 According to them, Communist society is, in the first place, “an organized society,” based on a detailed, precisely calculated plan, which includes the “assignment” of labor to the various branches of production. As for distribution, according to these eminent Bolshevik economists, all products will be delivered to communal warehouses, and the members of society will draw them out in accordance with their self-defined needs.11

Favorable mentions of Bukharin in the Soviet press are now taken to be exciting signs of the glories of glasnost, and in his speech of November 2, 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev partially rehabilitated him.12 It should be remembered that Bukharin is the man who wrote, “We shall proceed to a standardization of the intellectuals; we shall manufacture them as in a factory”13 and who stated, in justification of Leninist tyranny:

Proletarian coercion, in all its forms, from executions to forced labor, is, paradoxical as it may sound, the method of molding communist humanity out of the human material of the capitalist period.14

The shaping of the “human material” at their disposal into something higher—the manufacture of the New Soviet Man, Homo sovieticus—was essential to their vision of all the millions of individuals in society acting together, with one mind and one will,15 and it was shared by all the Communist leaders. It was to this end, for instance, that Lilina, Zinoviev’s wife, spoke out for the “nationalization” of children, in order to mold them into good Communists.16

The most articulate and brilliant of the Bolsheviks put it most plainly and best. At the end of his Literature and Revolution, written in 1924, Leon Trotsky placed the famous, and justly ridiculed, last lines: Under Communism, he wrote, “The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” This dazzling prophecy was justified in his mind, however, by what he had written in the few pages preceding. Under Communism, Man will “reconstruct society and himself in accord with his own plan.” “Traditional family life” will be transformed, the “laws of heredity and blind sexual selection” will be obviated, and Man’s purpose will be “to create a higher social biological type, or, if your please, a superman.”17 (The full quotation can be found in the article on Trotsky in this volume.)

I suggest that what we have here, in the sheer willfulness of Trotsky and the other Bolsheviks, in their urge to replace God, nature, and spontaneous social order with total, conscious planning by themselves, is something that transcends politics in any ordinary sense of the term. It may well be that to understand what is at issue we must ascend to another level, and that more useful in understanding it than the works of the classical liberal economists and political theorists is the superb novel of the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength.

Now, the fundamental changes in human nature that the Communist leaders undertook to make require, in the nature of the case, absolute political power in a few directing hands. During the French Revolution, Robespierre and the other Jacobin leaders set out to transform human nature in accordance with the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This was not the only cause but it was surely one of the causes of the Reign of Terror. The Communists soon discovered what the Jacobins had learned: that such an enterprise requires that Terror be erected into a system of government.18

The Red Terror began early on. In his celebrated November 1987 speech, Gorbachev confined the Communist Reign of Terror to the Stalin years and stated:

Many thousands of people inside and outside the party were subjected to wholesale repressive measures. Such, comrades, is the bitter truth.19

But by no means is this the whole of the bitter truth. By the end of 1917, the repressive organs of the new Soviet state had been organized into the Cheka, later known by other names, including OGPU, NKVD, and KGB. The various mandates under which the Cheka operated may be illustrated by an order signed by Lenin on February 21, 1918: that men and women of the bourgeoisie be drafted into labor battalions to dig trenches under the supervision of Red Guards, with “those resisting to be shot.” Others, including “speculators” and counter-revolutionary agitators, were “to be shot on the scene of their crime.” To a Bolshevik who objected to the phrasing, Lenin replied, “Surely you do not imagine that we shall be victorious without applying the most cruel revolutionary terror?”20

The number of Cheka executions that amounted to legalized murder in the period from late 1917 to early 1922—including neither the victims of the Revolutionary Tribunals and the Red Army itself nor the insurgents killed by the Cheka—has been estimated by one authority at 140,000.21 As a reference point, consider that the number of political executions under the repressive tsarist regime from 1866 to 1917 was about forty-four thousand, including during and after the Revolution of 190522 (except that the persons executed were accorded trials), and the comparable figure for the French Revolutionary Reign of Terror was eighteen to twenty thousand.23 Clearly, with the first Marxist state something new had come into the world.

In the Leninist period—that is, up to 1924—fall also the war against the peasantry that was part of “war communism” and the famine conditions, culminating in the famine of 1921, that resulted from the attempt to realize the Marxist dream. The best estimate of the human cost of those episodes is around 6 million persons.24

But the guilt of Lenin and the Old Bolsheviks—and of Marx himself—does not end here. Gorbachev asserted that “the Stalin personality cult was certainly not inevitable.”

“Inevitable” is a large word, but if something like Stalinism had not occurred, it would have been close to a miracle. Scorning what Marx and Engels had derided as mere “bourgeois” freedom and “bourgeois” jurisprudence,25 Lenin destroyed freedom of the press, abolished all protections against the police power, and rejected any hint of division of powers and checks and balances in government. It would have saved the peoples of Russia an immense amount of suffering if Lenin—and Marx and Engels before him—had not quite so brusquely dismissed the work of men like Montesquieu and Jefferson, Benjamin Constant and Alexis de Tocqueville. These writers had been preoccupied with the problem of how to thwart the state’s ever present drive toward absolute power. They laid out, often in painstaking detail, the political arrangements that are required, the social forces that must be nurtured, in order to avert tyranny. But to Marx and his Bolshevik followers, this was nothing more than “bourgeois ideology,” obsolete and of no relevance to the future socialist society. Any trace of decentralization or division of power, the slightest suggestion of a countervailing force to the central authority of the “associated producers,” ran directly contrary to the vision of the unitary planning of the whole of social life.26

The toll among the peasantry was even greater under Stalin’s collectivization27 and the famine of 1933—a deliberate one this time, aimed at terrorizing and crushing the peasants, especially of the Ukraine. We shall never know the full truth of this demonic crime, but it seems likely that perhaps 10 or 12 million persons lost their lives as a result of these Communist policies—as many or more than the total of all the dead in all the armies in the First World War.28

One is stunned. Who could have conceived that within a few years what the Communists were to do in the Ukraine would rival the appalling butcheries of World War I—Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele?

They died in hell,
They called it Passchendaele.

But what word to use, then, for what the Communists made of the Ukraine?

Vladimir Grossman, a Russian novelist who experienced the famine of 1933, wrote about it in his novel Forever Flowing, published in the West. An eyewitness to the famine in the Ukraine stated,

Then I came to understand the main thing for the Soviet power is the Plan. Fulfill the Plan….Fathers and mothers tried to save their children, to save a little bread, and they were told: You hate our socialist country, you want to ruin the Plan, you are parasites, kulaks, fiends, reptiles. When they took the grain, they told the kolkhoz [collective farm] members they would be fed out of the reserve fund. They lied. They would not give grain to the hungry.29

The labor camps for “class-enemies” had already been established under Lenin, as early as August 1918.30 They were vastly enlarged under his successor. Alexander Solzhenitsyn compared them to an archipelago spread across the great sea of the Soviet Union. The camps grew and grew. Who were sent there? Any with lingering tsarist sentiments and recalcitrant members of the middle classes, liberals, Mensheviks, anarchists, priests and laity of the Orthodox Church, Baptists and other religious dissidents, “wreckers,” suspects of every description, then, “kulaks” and peasants by the hundreds of thousands.

During the Great Purge of the middle 1930s, the Communist bureaucrats and intellectuals themselves were victims, and at that point there was a certain sort of thinker in the West who now began to notice the camps, and the executions, for the first time. More masses of human beings were shipped in after the annexations of eastern Poland and the Baltic states; then enemy prisoners of war, the internal “enemy nationalities,” and the returning Soviet prisoners of war (viewed as traitors for having surrendered), who flooded into the camps after 1945—in Solzhenitsyn’s words, “vast dense gray shoals like ocean herring.”31

The most notorious of the camps was Kolyma, in eastern Siberia—in actuality a system of camps four times the size of France. There the death rate may have been as high as 50 percent per year32 and the number of deaths was probably on the order of 3 million. It goes on and on. In 1940 there was Katyn and the murder of the Polish officers; in 1952, the leaders of Yiddish culture in the Soviet Union were liquidated en masse33—both drops in the bucket for Stalin. During the Purges there were probably about 7 million arrests, and one out of every ten arrested was executed.34

How many died altogether? No one will ever know. What is certain is that the Soviet Union has been the worst reeking charnel house of the whole awful twentieth century, worse even than the one the Nazis created (but then they had less time).35 The sum total of deaths due to Soviet policy—in the Stalin period alone—deaths from the collectivization and the terror famine, the executions and the Gulag, is probably on the order of 20 million.36

As glasnost proceeds and these landmarks of Soviet history are uncovered and explored to a greater or lesser degree, it is to be hoped that Gorbachev and his followers will not fail to point an accusing finger at the West for the part it played in masking these crimes. I am referring to the shameful chapter in twentieth-century intellectual history involving the fellow travelers of Soviet Communism and their apologias for Stalinism. Americans, especially American college students, have been made familiar with the wrongs of McCarthyism in our own history. This is as it should be. The harassment and public humiliation of innocent private persons is iniquitous, and the US government must always be held to the standards established by the Bill of Rights. But surely we should also remember and inform young Americans of the accomplices in a far different order of wrongs—those progressive intellectuals who “worshiped at the temple of [Soviet] planning”37 and lied and evaded the truth to protect the homeland of socialism, while millions were martyred. Not only George Bernard Shaw,38 Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Harold Laski, and Jean-Paul Sartre, but, for instance, the Moscow correspondent of the New York Times, Walter Duranty, who told his readers, in August 1933, at the height of the famine:

Any report of famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. The food shortage which has affected almost the whole population in the last year and particularly in the grain-producing provinces—the Ukraine, North Caucasus, the lower Volga region—has, however, caused heavy loss of life.39

For his “objective” reporting from the Soviet Union, Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize.40

Or—to take another fellow traveler virtually at random—we should keep in mind the valuable work of Owen Lattimore of Johns Hopkins University. Professor Lattimore visited Kolyma in the summer of 1944, as an aide to the Vice President of the United States Henry Wallace. He wrote a glowing report on the camp and on its chief warden, Commandant Nikishov, for the National Geographic.41 Lattimore compared Kolyma to a combination of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the TVA.42 The number of the influential American fellow travelers was, in fact, legion, and I can think of no moral principle that would justify our forgetting what they did and what they did it in aid of.

In his speech of November 2, Gorbachev declared that Stalin was guilty of “enormous and unforgivable crimes” and announced that a special commission of the Central Committee is to prepare a history of the Communist party of the Soviet Union that will reflect the realities of Stalin’s rule. Andrei Sakharov has called for the full disclosure of “the entire, terrible truth of Stalin and his era.”43 But can the Communist leaders really afford to tell the entire truth? At the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956, Nikita Khrushchev revealed the tip of the iceberg of Stalinist crimes, and Poland rose up and there took place the immortal Hungarian Revolution, when they did

high deeds in Hungary
To pass all men’s believing.

What would it mean to reveal the entire truth? Could the Communist leaders admit, for instance, that during World War II, “the losses inflicted by the Soviet state upon its own people rivaled any the Germans could inflict on the battlefield”? That “the Nazi concentration camps were modified versions of Soviet originals,” whose evolution the German leadership had followed with some care? That, in short, “the Soviet Union is not only the original killer state, but the model one”?44 If they did that, what might the consequences not be this time?

But the fact that the victims of Soviet Communism can never be fully acknowledged in their homelands is all the more reason that, as a matter of historical justice, we in the West must endeavor to keep their memory alive.

This essay was originally published in 1988, by the Cato Institute, Washington, DC. It is collected in Great Wars and Great Leaders (2010), chap. 4: “Marxist Dreams and Soviet Realities.”

Sanders’ Ideas: Worse than Savagery

It just keeps getting better and better: “Bernie Sanders unexpectedly released a fact-sheet Monday night explaining that he’d pay for his sweeping new government programs through new taxes and massive lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, as well as by slashing spending on the military, among other methods.” [Fox News]

In other words: He’s going to make the economy stronger by taxing away prosperity and impairing your ability to drive a car, fly in a plane, heat/ac your house, or store your food.

Savages and primitives make more sense. They’re behind the times, but at least they aim for progress. Sanders and socialism aim for destruction. And they do so in the name of humanity and kindness. They claim that poor is cool, so long as we’re all equally poor; but they have no intention of living in poverty themselves.

The kind of people prepared to accept such morally and economically inverted terms have got really, really big issues.

It just keeps getting better and better: “Bernie Sanders unexpectedly released a fact-sheet Monday night explaining that he’d pay for his sweeping new government programs through new taxes and massive lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, as well as by slashing spending on the military, among other methods.” [Fox News]

In other words: He’s going to make the economy stronger by taxing away prosperity and impairing your ability to drive a car, fly in a plane, heat/ac your house, or store your food.

Savages and primitives make more sense. They’re behind the times, but at least they aim for progress. Sanders and socialism aim for destruction. And they do so in the name of humanity and kindness. They claim that poor is cool, so long as we’re all equally poor; but they have no intention of living in poverty themselves.

The kind of people prepared to accept such morally and economically inverted terms have got really, really big issues.

Credit to Michael J. Hurd



For those who enjoy a good puzzle, K-12 education is more intellectually entertaining than most people imagine. Classrooms are full of convoluted theories and mystifying methods. Probably the teachers themselves can’t explain the reasoning behind approaches that are used almost universally in American public schools.

Chat with friends who are smart and successful. Try to find even one who can explain Sight-Words, Prior Knowledge, Multiculturalism, Constructivism, Reform Math, or Common Core Math. Why are Geography, History, and Science so often slighted? What justifies the hostility toward memorization and academic content? Can anyone understand the paradox of most students getting A or B but almost no one possesses any general knowledge?

Jimmy Kimmel brilliantly illustrated the mystery we live in by sending a staffer out to the streets with a map of the world. “Point to any country,” people were told, “and name it.” Lots of people could not do this! (This video has been viewed 20 million times.)

Prof. Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame found that many students on his prestigious campus did not know who won the Civil War. His students were “know nothings.” Deneen wrote a polemic against the school system, arguing that “cultural amnesia” is its proudest achievement.

Probably the alpha mystery in K-12 is the one called Whole Word, which dictates that children must memorize thousands of sight-words in order to read. This policy is surely a mystery given that nearly all research favors phonics.

But Constructivism may be the most pervasive enigma. It’s commonplace in every subject at every grade but almost no one can say what it is. All we know for sure is that Constructivism has devastated classroom success by outlawing traditional teaching. Teachers must be passive facilitators. Students have to construct their own new knowledge.

Our vast educational structure is now based on a wisp of theory by a French biologist who studied how young children learn. To truly know something, children must formulate it for themselves. If somebody else gives you knowledge, it doesn’t count.

In the real world, there are many ways to gain knowledge. You might ask somebody where a bank is. “Go three blocks that way and turn left at the light.” A few minutes later you are at the bank. Constructivism seems to require that you explore the city until you find the bank for yourself. This kind of absurdity makes our schools silly, and children ignorant

A third-grade teacher sent me this sad letter:

“…The principal has refused to recommend me for employment as a teacher because I flagrantly ignored the school’s emphasis on education reform (read constructivism) according to him. He was appalled that I had the students memorize facts. Where was the higher order thinking involved in the task, he queried me – not waiting for an answer and clearly not wanting one. It mattered not to him that the kids loved the geography unit. Nor that 90% of them scored above 88% percent on their post-test (all fill in the blank – no multiple choice). That they had learned about the equator, they had seen images of maps and had talked with me about how the world seemed to grow over time in ancient maps. We talked about technology and how our planet looked on Google Earth. We talked about the invention of the wheel, of navigation, and all sorts of other fascinating things. The boys were wondering if we would soon have Google Moon and Google Jupiter. They knew what a compass rose was and what it did. They learned about scale and computed some simple scale problems. No, none of that mattered because I had violated two major rules – I had had the children memorize facts and I had taught them information.”

This woman is the teacher that most parents want for their children. Instead of celebrating her, the system discards her.

I confess that before this letter, I didn’t know what a compass rose is. Many times, if nobody tells us something, we never know.

Why the Founders Hated Democracy

Plato wrote in The Republic, “And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.”[1]

The Founding Fathers despised democracies.  They desired democratic principles, but not a democracy.  As Plato decrees above, a democracy can easily be commandeered to establish a totalitarian state.  The Founders inherently understand this, and wholly rejected forming a democracy.

…democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.[2]

And Madison goes on to splendidly explain how this very same “erroneous” belief held by collectivists destroys property rights, which is foundational to any free society:

Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.[3]

Madison reiterates the view of Plato over 2000 years prior when, in The Republic, Plato writes that the loss of principles sends a democracy spiraling into tyranny.  “[T]he neglect of other things,” writes Plato, “introduce the change in democracy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.”  Just as Samuel warned the Israelites nearly 3000 years ago as their principles and Faith in God waned, Plato issued a warning which has now befallen the United States. With each Presidential cycle, many Americans demand a powerful strongman to ease their suffering, and falsely and foolishly believe we are a democracy.  “[T]he same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy – the truth being that the excessive increase in anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction,” forewarns Plato, “The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess slavery…And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.”[4]

Cincinnatus,[5] in Anti Federalist No. 64, gives a description of a democracy.  “A democracy,” declares Cincinnatus, “which, thus bereft of its powers, and shorn of its strength, will stand a melancholy monument of popular impotence.”[6]  Not a raving support of such governmental structures flowing from the pen of Cincinnatus, disclosing the distain our Founders had for such a political structure.

In fact, the word “democracy” appears nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, and Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”[7]  James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, states we are to exist under “republican constitutions,”[8] referencing both the Federal Constitution and the State Constitutions, not constitutions under a democracy.

The functional deficiency of a democracy is unprotected majority rule – or tyranny of the majority.   The majority simply cannot rule otherwise, it could, and would, simply vote in advantages and even the theft and destruction of the minority.  This is the very reason for a moral compact recognizing Fundamental Right; our Natural Right, rights which are bestowed upon us by our Creator.  Therefore, regardless of majority opinion, or vote, these Natural Rights remain always, utterly undisturbed by others; whether government or the majority.  The only purpose of a civil government is to protect our Natural Rights.  Adam Smith elucidated in 1759 that “All government is but an imperfect remedy for the deficiency of [wisdom and virtue];”[9] thus acknowledging the fallen nature of man, as did our Forefathers and Founding Fathers.

California State University professor of political science, Edward Erler, expounds this point, writing, “The majority cannot invade the rights of the minority…Nor can unanimous consent ‘rightfully’ do what is intrinsically unjust…Majority rule itself can operate only within certain bounds.”[10]  Yes, quite often the voice of the majority is completely irrelevant as even the voice of the majority is bound to the sovereign rights of the individual and those rights which God bequeathed upon each of us at Creation.

Attorney and Professor Jenna Ellis explains, “It does not matter to Divine Law whether an individual “agrees” with biblical principles – we are not free under Divine Law to negotiate the fixed, objective scientific and construct of law.”[11]  Natural Law, God’s Law, is immutable and immovable.  And this is why America is a conscious republic, not a democracy.