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A memorable anniversary, and those who would forget it

Twenty five years ago today, the crossings between East and West Germany, most notably at the Berlin Wall, were opened, and shortly thereafter, the last of the Marxist regimes in Europe ended.

The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the depravity and viciousness of the Marxist idea. Karl Marx was a pure hate monger masquerading as a social philosopher. His ideas may, in the end, be summarized thus: wealth can be gained only by stealing from others, and thus successful people are evil, and thus it is okay to threaten or kill rich people (or even people who are just a bit better off than you are), to steal their belongings, and to threaten anyone who might in the future have more stuff than you do. If you somehow get more things than other people, it is okay for other people to take your stuff, and if you resist, it is okay to beat you up or kill you.

Even more succinctly, Marxism is the idea that envy is laudable, and should be turned into social policy with the use of pervasive violence.

I am putting this more bluntly and baldly than the average Marxist would. They prefer concealing their central idea beneath a heavy blanket of words. They dress up their “philosophy” in avant garde costumes, adding layers of verbiage, complicated and counterfactual claims about language and logic, bizarre ideas about the nature of history, etc., all in the service of keeping people from seeing what they’re actually suggesting. What lies underneath is nothing much more than hate of people who have more stuff than you do, justified by little or nothing more than wanting to take what they have for yourself.

When you base your beliefs on this sort of foundation, the violence that proceeds is not an accident or the result of an improper understanding or implementation of an otherwise fine program. The violence is the direct and intentional result of the underlying program. The violence is the entire purpose of the underlying program.

In spite of the claims of apologists, the Marxism that fell twenty five years ago was the true Marxism. You cannot force people to work whether they get any benefit of it or not if they can flee from you, so you have to build walls. The Berlin Wall was not an aberration, it was the the only way to keep the quite literal slaves from fleeing their bondage. You cannot take stuff from people who have it without goons with guns, since they will not want to hand their material possessions over, so you bring in goons with guns to scour your population. In a free market, you get ahead by making things people want like bread or telephones, but in a Marxist society, the only way to get ahead is through gaining political power, and so people who are exceptionally talented at deploying violence and thuggery and are ambitious rise to the top of your society. Stalin or someone like him was not an accident, he was an inevitability.

What is shocking but sadly unsurprising to me is this: after a seventy year experiment that lead to a hundred million deaths, we still have people in our universities and even on our streets who profess to be Marxists.

There are, everywhere, professors who teach a Marxist interpretation of history, of literature, of economics and sociology, and not merely for some sort of historical perspective, but as an actual active ideology they would like their students to adopt. It is, indeed, an entirely ordinary sort of thing, so common it is not even worthy of note. There are people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts in the streets, never mind the people Guevara ruthlessly executed, including children, in the name of Marxism.

Would it be considered equally ordinary for a professor to be out teaching the Nazi interpretation of literature or social interactions, and encouraging their students towards adopting the Nazi point of view? Would people feel equally unmoved by people walking around wearing a Joseph Goebbels shirt?

Note that I do not suggest censorship. That is not the point. What I am instead suggesting is that, to this very day, our culture has not yet absorbed the lessons of Marxism, has not come to terms with the fact that it was not a noble experiment that failed, but rather a monstrous calamity that needs to be understood for what it was, lest it happen again.

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60 comments to A memorable anniversary, and those who would forget it

  • Indeed. I have long felt it is a mistake to be polite to Marxists, for anything that normalises any part of the monstrous intellectual edifice or implies tolerance for it, is dire on both a philosophical and utilitarian basis.

  • rfichoke

    The Marxist professors certainly aren’t tolerant of us.

    The Nazi comparison is especially significant since today is also the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which was also the natural consequence of a philosophy of envy straight from the pit of hell.

    “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war…”

  • Runcie Balspune

    A good summary of Marxists can be found in Mr Dalrymple’s memo to Ed Miliband

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    PdeH: In no way implying disagreement, just attempting to reach a sort of definitional clarification: There are (at least) two senses of “tolerance”. One implies “will not use violence to prevent”, the other is “be respectful towards”.

    Clearly Marxism deserves tolerance in the same way that Naziism or a belief that vaccines cause autism does — one should not use physical violence to impede people from expression of such beliefs. Clearly, also, as with those other beliefs, it deserves no respect, but rather the deepest public ridicule and contempt. Clearly, also, in a free society it is fine to tell people who express such beliefs that you do not intend to assist them in doing so by providing funding or a platform with which they can do it.

  • I take the view that Marxism can only be tolerated if it is highly unlikely it will in truth succeed achieving its ultimate goal of seizing power. But if that actually does seem a plausible possibility, then the only good Marxist is a dead Marxist. So yes, I do not have a high violence threshold for totalitarians of any kind, albeit that threshold is certainly contextual. No need to shoot them at the moment in Britain.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    The Berlin wall has provided me with an essentially irrefutable argument that I have used many times with much success when debating socialists.

    Whenever anyone posits an idea which they think is the simple, obvious, unanswerable and invraiably of course, ultra authoritarian solution to a particular societal ill, I simply say this:

    “The last time that was tried, really earnestly tried, the system you are describing turned out to be so good and kind and beneficent that a wall had to be built to keep the people being blessed by the system *IN*”

    I’ve yet to hear anyone who can respond to that. Course give it a few years and the people who want to bring back Communism will come up with a childish red version of Godwin’s law. Then they’ll make learning from the lessons of history completely off limits.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The only reason Marxism hasn’t worked is because it’s never been done right. They needed a much higher wall. ;^)

  • Mr Ed

    I have a chunk of the Berlin Wall on my fireplace, I took a hammer and chisel to Berlin in the Summer of 1990 and hacked away at it, I also lent my tools to some passing Brasilians so they could take some pieces back. But remember that it was, officially, the Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier.

    Of course, in a more mixed economy, exchange controls for a semi-permeable barrier for oppressive governments. If you have nothing to take or lose, a wall of some kind is necessary to maintain the status quo, like any prison, work, food and shelter were guaranteed, but the quality and quantity is another matter.

  • […] A memorable anniversary, and those who would forget it    Samizdata quote of the day […]

  • Thon Brocket

    Ice-breaker, to Che-wearing nitwit: “You need to see a doctor, mate. You’ve grown a c**t on your chest”.

  • ragingnick

    Sadly Marxism did not crumble with the Berlin wall or the fall of the USSR, in the realm of culture the Marxists are very much winning, and they have infiltrated almost every institution and facet of public life. They already have their man in the white house, if that doesn’t count as ‘seizing power’ then I do not know what does.

    Of course we should celebrate the end of the GDR, but it was merely one battle in a far larger war. Cultural Marxism’s strategy is a very long-term one. They have been waging war against civilisation for the best part of a century and they are prepared to go on fighting for another century.

  • Paul Marks

    A very good post – the leading Marxists (not the innocent dupes) are indeed morally evil (not just intellectually mistaken), they always were evil and the leading ones are evil now.

    As for envy generally one finds this “social justice” stuff all over the place – this class war hatred of “the rich”.

    After not turning up at the Kettering War Memorial where he was supposed to be conducting the service today (leaving some Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and Air Force Cadets, CHILDREN, to faint from standing still for over an hour, till the town gave up waiting and carried on without him – only to have him try to drown-out the most important parts of the ceremony by ringing the Church bells) the Rector of St Peter and St Paul in Kettering held a service at 1500 this afternoon.

    Nothing in the service about the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (none of the people speaking mentioned it at all) – but plenty of stuff about “Social Justice” and the crimes of “the rich”.

    I am tired of pretending that these disgusting “social justice” people (who leave children to faint in the public square and then make sermons about how compassionate they are) are just innocent makers of an intellectual mistake.

    They are morally bad. Wicked – evil.

    And they need to be denounced.

  • They already have their man in the white house, if that doesn’t count as ‘seizing power’ then I do not know what does.

    Very true. You do not know what does.

  • I am a high school teacher, and the explanation that I find seems to have some chance of being understood by teenagers (the point being that they are not completely confirmed in their political faith) is the observation that socialism is a system for distributing wealth- well or badly, be it a morally good end or not, that is what it is- but it includes no mechanism for creating the wealth it intends to distribute. SUch a system cannot end well.

  • […] has a couple of posts on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin […]

  • Apologies for going OT, but I’ve just noticed I’m on the blogroll thingy. Thank you very much, Perry deH. That’s fantastic. I really appreciate it.

  • no face

    And to blur even more lines lets not forget that the original Marxists and bolsheviks were funded by so called capitalist western financial powers

  • Mike Giles

    Of course they don’t teach Nazism. Because if examined too closely, the students might get to wondering if there’s any difference between Nazism and Marxism.

  • Envy, not jealousy (they feel similar, but the first is much worse). Jealousy is worrying that someone else is going to get your stuff; envy is wanting someone else not to have his stuff. Marxism is envy (Bolshevism also includes jealousy of Mensheviks, though).

    A little-remarked facet of envy is that it does not require that the envious have less stuff than the envied. Baby Huey can envy Baby Dewey’s one rattle though he already has two; a billionaire with a big yacht can still envy a mere millionaire’s little yacht and think it should be taken from him. This is also why billionaires are in favor of confiscatory taxation… for millionaires.

  • Very retired

    My daughter was born in 1990, and my youngest son in 1992. I have tried to describe to them what it was like when I grew up in the post-WW2 years—the rhetoric, the ever present fear of nuclear war with the soviets, the constant small conflicts with supposedly indigenous Marxist groups all over the world, the draft, and, hardest to explain of all, the ridicule that was heaped on anyone in an academic or social setting for any suggestion that the marxist regime and its allies were exactly what they appeared, and had demonstrated themselves, to be—crushingly repressive dictatorships for whom human life and dignity were meaningless.

    I was attempting to inoculate them against the progressive clap-trap the so permeates our society, i.e., the “social justice” nonsense that Paul mentioned above, and I hope I succeeded to some extent.

    There have been times in my life, as in anyone’s, when I have been grief-stricken by a public event, such as JFK’s assassination, or thrilled, as by the first moon landing, but I cannot recall anything that produced such an overwhelming feeling of joy and relief as the fall of the wall, and the subsequent collapse of the soviet state and its nightmarish empire of slaves.

    It is one of the great pleasures in my life that my youngest have never known even one moment of the world living under such a black cloud of misery, danger, and despotism as that monstrosity represented.

    Maybe that’s why I find all this zombie apocalypse stuff so boring and ridiculous —I grew up with the most monstrous form of inhumanity ever devised being praised by its disciples as the inevitable future of all mankind, and then it was gone.

    But, like any religion, some of the true believers labor on, certain their day of victory will come someday. Thankfully, compared to the dragons we once faced, these vermin merely require a thorough fumigation. Copious amounts of ridicule, and an occasional bitch-slap, should work just fine for most of them. As for the hard core, well, that’s what that pesky little 2nd amendment is for, isn’t it?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perry M., yes, good posting. Thanks.

    Paul, your Rector might find himself more comfortable occupying a room next door to the Sith’s than St. Peter and Paul’s (or any other Christian) Rectory.

    Disgraceful, disgusting behavior.

  • Lee Moore

    “Marxism is the idea that jealousy is laudable”

    I’d say that’s closer to capitalism. Jealousy is the desire to keep what you have, and exclude others from it. Which is not far from the idea of property rights. I don’t say that capitalism says jealousy is laudable, merely that you should have the right to keep your own stuff, and exclude others from it if you so choose.

    Marxism is more about the other thing – envy. Envy is the resentment of other people having stuff you don’t have, coupled with the desire to take it off them. Crucially, envy does not actually require that you finish up with the other guy’s stuff. It is sufficient that they are deprived of it. That is why, to a Marxist, inequality is wicked in a free market society, but far worse poverty, sickness and want in a Marxist society is OK.

    Certainly Marxism is the idea that envy is laudable. But it’s not just about taking (or destroying) other peoples stuff. The elements that lead directly to the large piles of corpses are the notions that Marxism describes scientifically derived laws of history, and that human nature can be reshaped. It follows from these that deviation from the laws of history is criminal and that the elect have a duty to reshape human nature, whatever the body count.

    If it were just a matter of taking your stuff, they’d just take your stuff.

  • Macbeth

    For some unfathomable reason (to me), it appears that we in Victoria Australia are about to receive four years of Maxist social justice.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    a lot of philosophers are just reactionaries, reacting against whatever is the current trend or social arrangement. For instance, ‘Utopia’ is more a reaction against the excesses of his day, than a realiseable society. When Europe first encountered the Mandarin system of ‘bureaucracy’, they contrasted their own feudalistic society of inheritance with one that seemed to be based on merit- not realising how entrenched corruption was in the system.
    When Marx looked at German society, he probably gave a good description of German ills (sham Parliament, rich people controlling others), and assumed that all capitalist societies were like that. Marx as German social critic- acceptable. Marx as world prophet- laughable.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    As another example of contrariness, I just realised that I named my invented philosophy ‘Immunitarianism’, because this directly opposes any COMmunitarian ideas, like Communism. Must work on a better name.

  • Mr Black

    I have often asked the question of myself, when I see blog posts railing against communism, where exactly is the line for this author, where they would turn from mere writing and persuading and start killing communists in their own neighborhood or city or country.

    Would anyone care to name such a line for themselves? At what point does shooting down the enforcement arm of the government (police and civil servants) become the morally right thing to do?

  • Mr Ed

    At what point does shooting down the enforcement arm of the government (police and civil servants) become the morally right thing to do?

    I would suppose that Mussolini or worse is the moral lline.

  • Richard Thomas

    Marxism is the wrong answer but to a very real and problematic question. What to do about those at the top who use power and corruption to enrich themselves. It also tends to be used also by groups who end up using power and corruption to enrich themselves.

    Sometimes I think there are no answers.

  • Roue le Jour

    The Hickory Wind

    As a fellow teacher, I would explain it thus: socialism is the means by which the children who sit at the back and muck about get to live at the expense of those who sit at the front and pay attention.

    Richard Thomas

    Once you disenfranchise those living at public expense, the remaining voters will be the kind of people who will keep a close eye on their elected representatives.

  • Tedd

    Jaded:

    You’re not moving in the right circles to fully appreciate how immune to your kind of argument Marxists are. Back when the Berlin wall was still in place and accepted as permanent by virtually everyone, I knew people who truly believed that it had been built to protect East Berliners from the “economic imperialism” of West Berlin. They would have laughed at your naivety for thinking that the wall was built to keep people in. Perhaps the popular revolution that brought down the wall has changed the thinking of some people. But the only Marxist who would be swayed by your argument is one who was never fully versed in Marxist logic to begin with.

  • Mr Ed

    Some questions about the German Chancellor Merkel and her closeness to the East German régime in this piece (in English) in Der Spiegel.

    It makes David Cameron seem positively sound.

  • Tedd

    At what point does shooting down the enforcement arm of the government (police and civil servants) become the morally right thing to do?

    The parameters are the same for any moral choice involving the use of force: It is morally acceptable to use force in defence against one who initiates the use of force. Making the state the initiator of force doesn’t change the essential moral situation.

    However, state use of force is often more complicated than individual use of force. The state may be acting in a way that is itself morally ambiguous, such as when the police intervene in a “war” between rival drug gangs. One can argue that drug prohibition by the state is the initial use of force in that situation, but it is equally true that the police are acting to stop violence in which innocent people are being, or are likely to be, harmed.

    State force is also carried out by individuals who are apt to believe that they have some kind of moral sanction for their actions. In extreme cases such as Adolph Eichmann it’s not hard to see through that ruse, but it’s probably a bit less cut and dried with your local bylaw enforcement officer. Acting on the state’s behalf doesn’t absolve the individual of moral responsibility, but we can have sympathy for those who believe the state’s “authority” does absolve them, up to a point.

    So, as is always the case with moral choices, the specifics of the situation can be complicated. But moral principles don’t change by having one or more of the actors involved being a state.

  • Excellent post. Marxism is a disease.

  • JohnK

    Acting on the state’s behalf doesn’t absolve the individual of moral responsibility

    The sad thing is that, in practice, it does. So long as the paperwork was in order, I cannot imagine many bureaucrats who would not have sent those trains to Auschwitz.

  • Derek Buxton

    Mr Ed
    I would find it hard to believe that Frau Merkel was not a card carrying member of the Communist Party, she studied at Universty.
    It sometimes seems as if the “green parties” are remnants of the communist party who lost their home at the time the USSR collapsed. They also use violence to gain their ends.

  • Jealousy is the desire to keep what you have, and exclude others from it.

    Not really. Jealousy is envy or resentment towards others because of their fortunes, possessions or circumstances.

  • joel

    The Berlin wall and its defenders amply demonstrate that many people have a serious mental incapacity in analyzing their surroundings. Many others are driven by envy and hatred above all. Many others are just indifferent. And, they are easily led by evil men.

    We tend to forget just how rare liberty and prosperity are.

    A quote I read somewhere and forget to whom to credit it:

    Communism is failed socialism, and fascism is failed communism.

  • Lee Moore

    Perry de H : “Not really. Jealousy is envy or resentment towards others because of their fortunes, possessions or circumstances.”

    No that’s envy. Jealousy is what I said it was.

    If you’re scared your wife is cheating on you with another man, you’re jealous. That means you want to keep her exclusively for yourself, not that you want to date her new guy yourself.

  • Lee is correct – it may seem like a semantic nit-picking, but I find those very useful in the long run.

  • […] Twenty five years ago today, the crossings between East and West Germany, most notably at the Berlin Wall, were opened, and shortly thereafter, the last of the Marxist regimes in Europe ended. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the depravity and viciousness of the Marxist idea. Karl Marx was a pure hate monger masquerading as a social philosopher. His ideas may, in the end, be summarized thus: wealth can be gained only by stealing from others, and thus successful people are evil, and thus it is okay to threaten or kill rich people (or even people who are just a bit better off than you are), to steal their belongings, and to threaten anyone who might in the future have more stuff than you do. If you somehow get more things than other people, it is okay for other people to take your stuff, and if you resist, it is okay to beat you up or kill you. At Samizdata […]

  • I do not agree, but not going to get into a semantic fight. However regardless, your notion that jealousy, even defined your way, is the basis of private ownership strikes me as bizarre. My wish to benefit from my possessions is not emotional, it is rational. If someone takes away my house, I cannot live there any more. Likewise with my food, if someone else steals it, I cannot eat it. Not wanting that to happen is not “jealousy”.

  • your notion that jealousy, even defined your way, is the basis of private ownership strikes me as bizarre. My wish to benefit from my possessions is not emotional, it is rational.

    That is correct: the basis is rational, while the desire to protect and defend private property (both its physical manifestations and the idea itself) may be very emotional and passionate, bordering or jealous, and beyond 🙂

  • The claim was capitalism was more based on jealousy than communism, which it is not, because capitalism is not a notion justified by an appeal to emotion of any kind.

  • I agree – not that it was the claim (it was not as I read it), but that such a claim would be incorrect.

    This is was Lee wrote:

    “Marxism is the idea that jealousy is laudable”

    I’d say that’s closer to capitalism. Jealousy is the desire to keep what you have, and exclude others from it. Which is not far from the idea of property rights. I don’t say that capitalism says jealousy is laudable, merely that you should have the right to keep your own stuff, and exclude others from it if you so choose.

    We can argue whether jealousy is the desire itself, or the feeling with which such desire is defended, but that would really be too semantic to be useful.

    I’ll shut up now, and let Lee clarify what exactly he meant in his comment, but I’ll just add that I found it very insightful.

  • Lee Moore

    I agree that the idea of private property – that you should be allowed to keep your own stuff – is a rational one. But so is the idea that I should get your stuff. I want your stuff and I would be better off with it.

    I don’t think I’m suggesting that jealousy is the basis of private property, merely that, as Alisa suggests, it is the emotion that aligns best with the notion of private property – exclusive possession. Jealousy is often used loosely to encompass envy (and covetousness) and often it doesn’t matter. But in this case I thought Perry M had used the wrong word where it did matter – because it was plain from his post that he understood that Marxism is a doctrine that glorifies envy (resentment at someone else’s possession of what they have, whether that is material goods, or status, or good looks) and not a doctrine that glorifies covetousness (eagerness to get that stuff for yourself.)

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Re: “jealousy” vs. “envy” — regardless of older usage, in common parlance, even among educated speakers, the terms have become interchangeable (and certainly so in the United States). One may argue this is a terrible thing, but in the real world, languages are examples of spontaneous rather than planned order, and are defined by usage. This means that languages evolve, and thus usage evolves. Were it not so, we would all still be speaking whatever the earliest Indo-European ancestor language was.

    None the less, in order to remove what should not be an issue about a word I don’t care much about, I am going to edit my posting to replace “jealousy” with “envy”.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    (As a pure aside, and not intended to spur much additional discussion:

    I care, in general, only that people understand what I mean, and the particular words I use matter little to me. This is perhaps also why I care so little about defending particular usages — whatever words convey my point accurately to the reader are fine by me. I would rather surrender in an argument over usage and get on to the meat of the matter.

    I’m even more irritated by definitional fights, when multiple people argue that you didn’t mean what you did because you used some word they define differently from you. Everyone then gets caught up discussing what the “true” meaning of a word used in discussion, spending endless time on whether (to pick an example I saw recently) “capitalism” means one thing or another. None of this ever enlightens you as to what point the writer was trying to convey, however.

    I would rather focus on what each party’s position actually is and whether those positions are correct, rather than insisting that they must mean something else because of some word they chose to use. If someone insists a word I use (say “freedom”) means something other than what I mean, I prefer to just say “fine, lets use the word gazorknoplant instead and move on”.

    And as a third related point, the people I see in discussions who are perpetually the most obsessed with using only the “correct” words are Marxists, for whom being enlightened can only be attained by demonstrating that you, at least, would never use that old-fashioned term in a discussion, the one that was okay five years ago when it became widespread to replace the previous term. Since being the most enlightened is a positional good, if too many others start using the “correct” word then your own position as their moral superior is endangered, so Marxists inevitably are forced to change which words are okay and which are taboo at nearly weekly intervals…)

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Oh, and lastly, the criticism might be leveled, “If you are against No True Scotsman type of arguments, how do you get off claiming that the Marxism we saw worldwide for seventy years was the “true” Marxism? Aren’t you just doing the same thing that people who insist that government subsidies of big companies are the “true” capitalism do, attributing a position to those who use a label that they would themselves disavow?”

    The answer is quite strongly: no, it is not the same thing. My whole point is that what happened in places like Russia was precisely the result of Marx’s central position, to wit, that anyone possessing more material goods must have them as the result of theft, and that violence against any such person is then entirely justified and indeed necessary and laudable.

    When I refer to what happened as having indeed been “True Marxism”, I was not attempting to attribute some secondary feature (say the harshness of the Russian winters) to Marx, I was merely pointing out that what happened was more or less what Marx suggested should happen, that is, that violence be done to those who had the temerity to be more productive than others, and that those who produce more be forced by violence to provide for those who produce less, without any hope of even partially reaping the rewards of their own productivity.

    It is perhaps the case that some soi-disant “Marxists” might not favor violence at all, or might otherwise believe things quite different from what Karl Marx believed. I am happy to concede that perhaps the “Marxism” of the Soviet Union might not be the inevitable consequence of what such (likely theoretical) “Marxists” might want — but violence against those with more possessions was certainly what Karl Marx himself wanted and indeed demanded. That said, I have not, in fact, heard of academic Marxists who claim that they oppose Marx’s original central position, and if they exist, they must be rare birds indeed — rare enough that I feel comfortable ignoring the possibility for purposes of discussion.

  • Mr Ed

    FWIW, the distinction between the two words is obvious from this song. We all know that socialism is an anti-human death cult based on hatred of freedom, and of humanity and carries an urge to destroy that which is not controlled by the socialist, or, once that is achieved, just to destroy.

  • Very retired

    A few observations, as I’m trying to avoid the argument over which word is better, about Marxism in general, and why it fails so catastrophically.

    Joel above is certainly correct that we have a tendency to forget how rare liberty and prosperity actually are in human history. The fact is that liberty is such a threat to those who are devoted to a rigidly ordered society, and who are comforted by it, that they respond with the kind of ferocious violence we have seen from the collectivist monstrosities of the last century, and are currently seeing from the theocratic monstrosity of the 21st.

    As Shannon Love has cogently argued in some of his essays at Chicagoboyz, the greed for which capitalism is routinely condemned is, in fact, ubiquitous in the human psyche, and is expressed in different forms in every human cultural construct, whether aristocratic, capitalist, socialist, or any other social formulation.

    The same observation holds true for the traits we call jealousy and envy, as well as the rest of the seven. The corrosive acids of these emotional obsessions can flow regardless of the cultural context…the key factor is what avenues are available for their expression?

    In a collectivist culture, in which individual rights are discarded for the supposed benefit of the common good, anyone who is able to gain control of the powers of the state apparatus may then use them to indulge any of their passions, no matter how base. Thus, the very nature of the allegedly more moral collectivist state actually rewards and encourages an indulgence in the seven sins, among a legion of others, because it’s power that is the crucial element.

    In contrast, a rationally constructed society which recognizes and protects liberty and rights by severely restricting the use of state power actually reduces the deprivations that might be caused by any of the deadly sins by the simple, but essential, step of removing the coercive power of the state from the tools available to the envious, the greedy, etc.

    Marxism fails because it is fundamentally wrong about human nature, and by derivation, human society. When applied as an organizing framework to humans and human society, it must inevitably attempt to twist those unfortunate enough to be caught up in its brambles into something other than mere humans.

    The result, as we have seen, is that grotesque miscarriage known as the “new socialist man”, and the mass graves of all those who could not, or would not, embrace the metamorphosis.

    The 20th century was a global laboratory for many of the collectivist ideologies that claimed to be able to bring humanity to the gates of utopia, but, instead, ushered uncounted millions into an abattoir unprecedented in all our bloody history.

    Why do I oppose the collectivist vision? Is it because I’m rich? No. Do I hold the poor and unfortunate in contempt? No, just the opposite. Is it because of some complex economic theory? Some convoluted theory of social organization? No, none of these.

    I support the severely restricted state, bound down by the chains of a constitutional structure which places the protection of individual rights and liberties in it’s proper place as the purpose of that state. I do this because I want to live my life in peace, as I see fit, and to see my children and their families able to do the same.

    We have been engaged in a global struggle to determine if that form of state can long endure, first with one antagonist, and then another, and now another yet again. Added to that is the endless internal political contest between those who disdain the constitution, and the bill of rights, and those of us who esteem them as a shining achievement in human affairs, to be protected, and nurtured, at all costs.

    If we fail, then all we hold dear falls into an abyss ruled by envy, and jealousy, and all the base emotions set free from any constraint, and empowered by a state unchecked and unrestricted by any concern for the dignity and liberty of the individual.

    But if we can persevere, and prevail, then we might walk in the sunlit uplands a great man once described, and see those we love enjoy possessing a pearl beyond price.

  • @Roue le Jour

    Well, it’s true enough, and snappy enough, but I wouldn’t insist too much, or I can see the front row migrating quickly backwards.

  • Laird

    “Marxism fails because it is fundamentally wrong about human nature, and by derivation, human society.”

    That is the crux of the matter. After nearly a century of Marxist-inspired democide, anyone who today calls himself a Marxist, or who subscribes to its tenets (including its watered-down cousin socialism) is, at best, grossly ignorant and unfit to participate in an adult conversation, or (more likely) is simply an evil person. There is no longer any excuse.

    And anyone who calls himself a Marxist economist clearly understands absolutely nothing about economics.

  • Robbo

    “I am going to edit my posting to replace “jealousy” with “envy”.”

    Thanks Perry. I am one of those who distinguishes between the two, but I see the dictionaries do not all support a distinction.

    I would say that, if the wish to retain and defend what one has, even very zealously, is universalised, society can be orderly, and order allows prosperity and growth. If the desire to take the other guys stuff is universalised, society will become disorderly, and poverty will be the norm.

    For me, those politicians who play on envy are the very worst.

  • George Orwell

    Very retired “…I have tried to describe to them what it was like when I grew up in the post-WW2 years—the rhetoric, the ever present fear of nuclear war with the soviets, the constant small conflicts…”

    Yes, I remember the Air National Guard exercises flying over our house ever day. The radar stations and anti-aircraft missile batteries. The professors who would lecture us on Soviet innocence and American perfidy.

  • Lee Moore

    1. I entirely agree with Perry M that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. For serious discussion what matters is that the discussers have a clear idea of what idea is being discussed, rather then that they use any particular word to describe it. In the case of Perry M’s post, I felt confident that he was referring to “the resentful desire to deprive others of what they have” as opposed to “the greedy desire to take from others what they have so as to possess it yourself” – the terms used for each are irrelevant to the argument

    2. it does make discussion easier, however, if discussers try to use terms in the same way as each other, and within the limits of linguisitic evolution, in the same way as the words have previously been used

    3. there are alas, people who have not the slightest interest in an actual discussion, but who simply wish to sell their ideas by misrepresenting them. So when Perry M says “but in the real world, languages are examples of spontaneous rather than planned order, and are defined by usage” we do need to bear in mind that some of the “spontaneity” is in fact carefully planned propaganda. Using peace to describe war, poverty to describe inequality, liberty to describe coercion – these are not lingusitic accidents. The purpose is to enable the deceiver to use an old word in a new sense, while fooling the public that he is using it in its old sense. It is necessary, on occasion, to resist this long march through the dictionary.

    4. hence the occasional sprouting of linguistic pedantry. It is not often necessary among friends, where the object of the exercise is honestly to exchange views about the underlying idea. But when the dark side is watching, and gathering ammunition, it is better to choose ones words carefully.

  • Indeed, Lee. And, I’m stealing the ‘It is necessary, on occasion, to resist this long march through the dictionary’ bit – brilliant.

  • Paul Marks

    I hope you have succeeded also Very Retired.

    And many thanks to Julie and others who have sent messages of support against those who make the free choice to support evil (they could do otherwise – they make a choice, we all make choices).

    As for Mr Obama – if he had the power of (say) Mr Putin, he would have done the following.

    Close down Fox News and the Wall Street Journal (“you still have a business newspaper – here it is, the F.T.”).

    End Talk Radio – no more Rush or Glenn Beck.

    End the free election of State Governors (no more people such as Governor Elect Abbott of Texas).

    And nationalise (or collectivise) natural resources – sending people such as the Koch brothers to camps in Alaska.

    Now Mr Obama may want to do all these things – I do not deny that.

    But he has not got the power to do all these things.

    That is what Perry (both Perrys) mean by Mr Obama (and his Comrades) not having “seized power”.

    At least – not yet.

  • Laird

    Lee Moore makes a very good point and it was excellently stated. Words matter, or rather definitions matter.

  • Oswald Spengler

    Apathy, misnamed “tolerance,” is the last virtue of a dying society. “Tolerance” is the plea of every disgusting pervert and would-be tyrant, who has no plans to “tolerate” those who lack sufficient enthusiasm for his diktats.