We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Far leftists do not laugh to mock communism. They laugh to forget communism. They dismiss the mass murders, and the suppression of every right that makes life worth living with a giggle and a snort, and imply that you are a bit of a prude if you cannot do the same.

Then they throw a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book across the chamber of the House of Commons and look round with utter bemusement when no one gets the gag.

Nick Cohen

With thanks to Mick Hartley.

22 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Stonyground

    I was somewhat surprised that the actual quote was a pretty sensible one. Mao, however, was evidently not too inclined to follow his own sensible advice. Mao had this brilliant idea for making the production of metals into a cottage industry, forcing people to melt down their pots and pans into worthless blobs of metal. This was the exact opposite of the way that successful economies produced metals and made them into useful products.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Socialism is a great idea, who can argue with “working together we can achieve much more”, but as the wise have long since realised, it turns quickly into a nightmare when the wrong people get hold of the power of the collective, and Mao and his cronies are no better examples of that, from crackpot schemes as the Four Pests to the practically genocidal One Child policy, they have wrecked millions of lives for decades to come. If you really want to push socialism as a viable alternative political movement, you need to demonstrate you are not the moron who’ll be entrusted with the reigns and you definitely don’t want to drag out history’s great calamities as your personal heroes.

  • Earlier this week I was talking with some Chinese friends about the antics of lefties on US campuses. I mentioned that they were behaving like the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution. Then I realized that if our new era Red Guards sent their enemies into the US countryside to “learn from the peasants” their victims would come back with a whole new level of appreciation for the Second Amendment.

  • Stuck-Record

    It’s not that it fails in practice (the excuse of socialist apologists), it’s that it fails in principle.

    It fails at the very first hurdle; when personal choice (however minor) conflicts with the wishes of the State apparatus. The State always chooses it’s own vision. It can do no other.

    This ALWAYS leads to tyranny. It is inevitable.

    Combine that with the ‘Knowledge problem’ and you are doomed.

  • John Galt III

    “The Black Book of Communism” – multiple authors
    Should be required reading in all “unionized child abuse centers” – government schools.

    It is 858 pages of murder, killing, imprisonment, removal of all civil rights, treachery, state appropriation of all property, spying on citizens by your neighbors. That is the known part. Then there is the murder of all the fellow travelers that is interesting. Stalin ordered the murder of virtually every leftist he could find in every country he could get his hands on. Woe to the person who went to the USSR to witness the great era of Communism. You were dead or imprisoned almost immediately.

  • JohnK

    Woe to the person who went to the USSR to witness the great era of Communism. You were dead or imprisoned almost immediately.

    That was one of the few good things that Stalin ever did. Made me laugh anyway.

  • Cristina

    “unionized child abuse centers” 🙂

  • Cristina

    “who can argue with “working together we can achieve much more””
    Only people in love with this dystopia cannot argue with the kumbaya sung above.

  • Regional

    The chaps from Cambridge were kept isolated in a dacha outside Moscow.

  • Julie near Chicago

    JohnK, recommended reading: Political Pilgrims, by Paul Hollander. What in the world ailed Lincoln Steffens, Paul Robeson, the wonderful folk who worshipped at Castro’s sugar-cane fields as the “Venceremos Brigade”? Is a puzzlement.

    Amazon price (also eBay): Yow! I paid nothing like that for my (used) copy about 7 years ago. Well…maybe your local library will have it, or Amazon UK.

  • Martha

    These fools behave like precisely they do because we’ve won. Otherwise, we would be enslaved or dead. They themselves would not be better off.

    This observation is not meant as a quip.

  • Mr Ed

    One might have hoped that someone taunting the current UK Chancellor over links with the Chinese might do so to remind him of the horrors of Mao, still effectively not repented, and to mock the government that lets the PRC into the construction of nuclear reactors in the UK. I almost thought that he was going in that direction.

    It’s just that the punchline was one that let the inconsequential little runt off the hook, as it was based on jealousy that he had got chummy with the murderous but calculating régime in Peking, and a wistful longing for Red Guards to rampage against the Party’s enemies.

    You cannot credibly say that you did not know what you were supporting for if you support Labour now.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Runcie Balspune,

    You omitted a word: “working together voluntarily we can achieve much more”.

    A libertarian, I get this. I know that, if I want a house, about all I can build relying on no-one but myself, is a mud hut.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “Woe to the person who went to the USSR to witness the great era of Communism. You were dead or imprisoned almost immediately.”

    Unless you were Walter Duranty or some other useful idiot.

    Update:I’ve only just discovered that Duranty was English. Oh, the shame.

  • Mr Ed

    Stalin didn’t always purge people immediately, they linked to play cat and mouse, even with foreigners, from what I have read. I recall a quote about the purges in The Great Terror by Robert Conquest, from a Vasily Grosman:

    This fear that millions of people find insurmountable, this fear written up in crimson letters over the leaden sky of Moscow – this terrible fear of the state’.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr McDonnell may have started with a joke – but by the time he was reading from Mao’s “Litter Red Book” he was deadly serious.

    Mr McDonnell really believes that Mao was an authority on “productive work”.

    Mao – the man who never did an honest day’s work in his life, who even refused to help on his father’s farm.

    What Mao did do was murder tens of millions of people.

    See both “Mao: The Untold Story” and also the works of Frank Dikotter.

    And Mr John McDonnell is not alone – there are many admirers of Comrade Mao in the Corbyn Labour Party.

    To these people China is a problem not because it is a vicious dictatorship (which it is), but because it has moved away from socialism step-by-step since 1978.

    It a demented way they are actually correct – as the China of Mao was only really a threat to the Chinese (the tens of millions of Chinese murdered by Mao and his henchpersons).

    Modern China has enough privately owned productive industry to have the economic strength to fund a modern military.

    This is a problem for the whole world.

  • Paul Marks

    In short – if China had maintained a socialist economic system (as Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell would have wished) mass starvation would still be the norm in China – as it was under the monster Mao.

    But China would not be advancing into the Pacific and would not be a threat in cyber warfare and so on.

    Private productive industry is not enough – especially when its strength is made to serve the desires of the state.

    It is the political power of the Communist Party that must be broken – not just its economic doctrines discredited.

    Han Chinese nationalism (and the desire for endless conquest) has replaced Marxism as the real doctrine of the People’s Republic of China.

    Although the face of Mao still appears all over the place…..

    As the Party can not openly turn its back on its founder.

    Not without admitting that Chang and the KMT were correct in the Civil War.

    Which they were.

  • veryretired

    Collectivists are constantly and endlessly befuddled as to why their theoretical utopias fail to arrive when their ideology is attempted in the real world. Their default answer is, of course, that everyone who ever tried it got it wrong, and that the conditions under which it was attempted were not appropriate.

    These rationalizations are needed, no matter how convoluted and nonsensical they become, because the alternative is for true believers to actually step back and reconsider that which they have known as true. That is a step into terror very few collectivist ideologues can confront emotionally, morally, or intellectually.

    Marxism, and all its various derivative variations, is a gnostic christian heresy. It’s inventor was a mediocre intellect, at best, and while claiming to overthrow religion, and turn Hegel on his head, it was actually a a poor copy of Hegelian theories, and a faith-based appeal to the same longing for heaven that Christianity, and many other religious theories, based its appeal upon.

    It fails, not because of some incorrect implementation, but because its very fundamental assertion as to the nature of human consciousness is wrong—humans are not the endlessly malleable products of the economic conditions into which they are born.

    From this fundamental error, all the catastrophic results of the collectivist nightmares that have scarred cultures and peoples on every continent flow, in every manner in which they have been applied, indifferent to time, type of society, technology, or any other factor.

    Imagine a theory of agriculture which denied the need of plants for sunlight, and claimed it could grow crops in caves lit by candles, and you have some small glimpse of how far removed from reality the collectivist mind has traveled, and the nightmare world it inhabits.

    There may be some young people stopping here for the first time, or older people exploring the web who are dissatisfied with their world view and its all too apparent consequences, frustratingly counterproductive when applied in practice.

    If so, I can only hope that some small chink has opened in your previous mindset, and a little clarifying light has snuck in. It is from that inexhaustible hope that these little essays are put forward, and if, from that little seed, a new appreciation of your own humanity can grow, then it is an effort well rewarded.

    There are now several generations who have passed through our lamentable educational grinder who have never encountered any idea that challenged the collectivist indoctrination that a modern education consists of in this era.

    Here is a basic idea that you might consider—if every manifestation of an idea put into practice is another in an endless series of failures, then it is the idea, not the practice, that is in error.

  • Mao is a fascinating character – possibly the greatest narcissist the world has ever known. He related an anecdote from his youth when, in a conflict with his father, he threatened to drown himself. His father obviously believed his son wasn’t bluffing (even though he almost certainly was), because he backed down and Mao had his way. Mao smugly noted that a father could not countenance the death of his son if he could prevent it.

    In modern China, you can visit any number of uber-hip nightclubs that festoon the salubrious entertainment districts of the capital. Lamborghinis, Hummers and Rolls-Royces are parked out the front where we’d usually (and rather annoyingly) find (empty) disabled car parks in our countries. These are cars owned by the billionaire children of China’s rulers.

    Many ordinary Chinese admire this about Mao. He didn’t ensure any special favours were bestowed upon his children. He was a man of the people, right?

    No. Mao was all about Mao. He didn’t care enough about his children to grant them special favours, which would be the perfectly human thing to do. We humans take care of our own; that’s standard human nature. That’s why the post-Mao Chinese leaders have used their substantial powers to take exceptionally good care of their own.

    Is this wrong? Of course it’s wrong. Should Mao have deprived his offspring of his patronage? Yes. But don’t think Mao acted as he did out of a sense of principle. Did he do it out of a sense of love of his children? No, Mao was only about Mao. This is the man who was happy to sacrifice several million lives to consolidate his grip on power during the Cultural Revolution. This was the man who described the nuclear bomb as a “paper tiger”, as China could afford to lose 30 million people or so. Why would he love his children?

  • Chester Draws

    When you see how Stalin treated his family, Mao starts to look a little better.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Let’s not forget that Chang was also deeply corrupt, Paul, as was the party under his rule. What we call corruption and bribery were normal parts of the state. Still, rather that than a tyrannical state. The Chinese are not yet claiming that any Chinese sailor claimed Australia centuries ago, but I wonder how long until they try to?

  • Mr Ed

    Well, Noël Gallagher, having called Ed Miliband ‘A fucking Communist‘ has continued, to point out what is wrong with Mr Corbyn.

    asked in an interview what he thinks of Mr Corbyn, the 48-year-old said: ‘I don’t like communism.