First, they tried it in Russia. Bread lines, sausage lines, blue jean lines, lines for toilet paper, lines to ask what line to get in so that you could get on a waiting list to stand in another line to get a place of your own and be able to leave the 1 room apartment you were sharing at age 30 with your wife, two kids, mommy and daddy, your no good brother in law, your gramma, and crazy uncle Ivan who liked to re-enact the Battle of Stalingrad at the most inopportune times.
The only things you didn’t have to stand in line for were lard and vodka. This is why they couldn’t make socialism work in Russia; fat, drunk people who were told “If you think you’ve got it bad, you should see how awful it is in the west.”
There were no more surprised people in the history of civilization than the Russian proletariat once satellites began beaming shows like Dallas and Falconcrest through the Iron Curtain. At the time, TASS was still showing film of race riots from the 1960’s and calling it “breaking news.” The big drawback, of course, is that the image that replaced greedy capitalists oppressing workers was that of greedy capitalists playing around on their wives with gorgeous women half their age while trying to cheat their family. A good question could be asked whether it was better to be thought of as Babbitt or J.R. Ewing?
They couldn’t make socialism work in Russia - something in the water probably. Neither could socialism find its legs in Poland, Hungary, and a half dozen other European countries that don’t even exist any more. Shared scarcity does not, it turns out, bring people together in a spirit of socialist brotherhood and comity. In fact, it sets people at each other’s throats, as the battle cry “I will get mine before you get yours and failing that, I will prevent you from enjoying what you get” was heard throughout Mittel Europa.
Making its way eastward, they then tried to impose socialism on a civilization that nearly invented, well, civilization. There are no more practical people on the planet than the Chinese, having gotten that way by outlasting every attempt to govern them effectively over a 3,000 year period. True libertarians, them. Unfortunately, the busybodies of the Chinese nanny state wouldn’t leave the peasants alone who after all, were perfectly happy using an ox to plow their fields and plant their rice by hand rather than do the modernization thing. Some village commissars were surprised to return to farms where they had delivered a shiny new tractor only to discover the peasants having turned the mechanical beast into a distillery.
(What is it about socialism that turns people into raging alcoholics?)
A few years ago, the Chicom thugs gave into the inevitable and decided to go with the flow, acknowledging that the underground capitalist economy was far outperforming the official socialist one which, as usual, was causing the government to rethink their “Five Year Plans” every 6 months or so. The only stipulation the government imposed on would be entrepreneurs was that they pay protection money to the government (both over and under the table).
Even the Chinese People’s Army dove in to the capitalist craze that hit China. They found it efficacious to contribute to certain Democratic presidential candidates in order to get access to technology that could, in a pinch, be used to destroy the very people who were selling the secrets. No doubt the generals who were growing fabulously rich selling stuff to their own government thought that this was a pretty good tradeoff. It’s not everyday you get to make money off your enemy’s foolhardiness.
Western capitalists swarmed the ancient cities with Euro-signs in their eyes. If we thought that a few thousand American and European businessmen bringing ideas like “Free Labor, Free Markets, Free Men” would change a civilization that was inventing block printing when Europeans were still living in dirt hovels, we had another thing coming. The magic of western capitalism and the obscenity of Mao’s socialism did not impress nor did it disturb the rhythms of life that had kept time for several milenia.
The people, having seen it all for 3,000 years shrugged and went back to using ox dung to fertilize their fields and wooden hoes to tend the crops. They’ve learned to use the tractor but last I heard, it still doubles as a still.
One would think that having failed in two of the most populous nations on earth that socialism would have died of natural causes - or been executed for crimes against common sense and humanity. Ah, but you underestimate its adherents. You see, it wasn’t socialism that failed. It was the people who tried to implement it! They are at fault, not the crazy quilt logic, the jaw dropping contradictions, the counterintuitive view of human nature, or the contrived diktats of bureaucrats who think a “market” is some place you go to stand in line for moldy beets.
That is why our friends across the pond in what we used to call western industrialized civilization - now not very western, less industrial, and an open question whether it is still “civilized” in any meaningful sense - decided to dip their toe into the socialist pool and see if they couldn’t make a go of it.
Listening to our own homegrown socialists here talking about how it is over there, you would think that the Europeans had discovered the secret to immortality or at least found the Fountain of Youth so gushy they are about how good the Euros have it. Cradle to grave care, a 36 hour workweek, nearly impossible to get fired, real nice trains, and a list of social services that would make an American’s head swim.
Of course, they also have high suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, and divorce rates. They don’t have children either because they hate them or think them an impediment to their lifestyle. The vast majority of them live drab, colorless lives with little opportunity to better themselves. And who would want to considering that governments frown on anyone getting too far ahead of their neighbors. They import the colored peoples of the world to do their scut work and then do everything they can to prevent their assimilation by sticking them in immigrant ghettos where hate and resentment against their lovable hosts will almost certainly explode into uncontrollable violence one day.
Other than that - paradise.
The question being asked openly for the first time in my lifetime is can socialism work in America?
Answer: Yes we can!
I say we should ignore what socialism (or the faux variety of the disease that afflicts Europe) has done elsewhere and approach the Bush/Obama socialist takeover of our industries as Americans should - with hope, optimism, a “can-do” attitude, and the desire to make a buck off of it.
I mean, if we can hack a civilization out of a wilderness, defeat the largest army and most powerful military in the world at the time to win our independence, fight a gigantic, continent sized civil war, tame the Spanish, spank the Kaiser, roll over Hitler and Tojo, and make the Soviet Union a memory, we can make socialism work! Yes we can perfect it!
First of all, we have to do something about the inevitable lines that we will be forced to queue up for in order to get any goods or services. Socialism is all about lines, about the orderly distribution of scarcity. Now I don’t know about you but if there is one thing liable to get my dander up it is standing in line - at the grocery store, at the bank, at Madame Crystal’s Pool Hall and Massage Parlor - anywhere.
Why not get the geniuses at Microsoft to work on this problem right away? Put the guys who came up with Vista on it, that would do the trick. Better yet, this sounds more like a marketing challenge to me. We should get in touch with the Coca-Cola Company immediately and find the guys who signed off on the campaign for Coke Zero. Their judgment is exactly what we need to solve this little problem.
You see, it is my contention that by getting utter failures to work on solving our line problem, we can’t go wrong. They are bound to come up with the worst solution imaginable. Hence, by making matters 10 times worse, we realize the full potential of socialism to really screw up our lives.
Next up, planning the economy. For this problem, we must look long and hard for the perfect combination of corruption and ignorance. Congress is too busy so we’ll have to go to the private sector.
We could commute the sentences of those Enron guys. And maybe a few others like the fellows who did such a great job driving Worldcom into the ground. These are the sorts we need to do a really 1st class job of taking the most vibrant, creative, productive economy in the history of the human race and flushing it down the toilet.
The one other area we could perfect that is not necessarily native to socialism but no good socialistic country should be without is the stifling of dissent and the imposition of group-think that would kill independent thought.
Face it, we wouldn’t be very good at this. Americans are just too cranky, too much in love with contrariness, too admiring of the guy who marches to a different drummer that anyone we put in charge of of making this an unquestioning, obedient, robotic thinking society would have their hands full.
As in other nations that have tried this - Soviet Union and China come instantly to mind - it just wouldn’t do to put those who believe in antiquated and outmoded ideas like free markets in jail. They must be shown the error of their ways. They must be given a new vision of the brotherhood of man. They must be led to the idea that forced altruism, insipid do-gooderism, and hectoring moralistic clap trap is the best way to approach life.
They must be beaten over the head early and often in order to show them the error of their ways.
This cannot be done, obviously, in the middle of the street or even in what used to be the privacy of their homes (as you know, it wouldn’t be “their” home anymore, but everybody’s). All that screaming would be bad for socialist morale not to mention dirtying our streets with blood and stuff. Street cleaners are our brothers too and we should only ask them to do what each according to their abilities etc.
I think either Michael Moore or blogger John Avarosis would be good candidates for the top job in our Department of Ideological Reform. Glenn Greenwald would make a good deputy for either man. They all hate conservatives sufficiently that either would be able to adequately carry out the purge of such thought from our national consciousness.
One thing is for sure, we Americans are going to give it our best shot. Once we are resolved to completing a task be it defeating Hitler or perfecting the idiocy that is socialism, I am convinced that we cannot be stopped.
George Bush has made an excellent start and I’m sure Barack Obama is eager to see what he can do to bring about this change that will remake America. What have we got to lose? Let’s get behind our new president and make socialism as synonymous with America as baseball, apple pie, and corrupt Congressmen.
Remember the children…