Friday, April 08, 2005

Government Lesson No. 3: Socialism By Any Other Name

In France, the symbol for socialism is the red rose. Now, let me be clear. The wild rose of socialism blossoms in every human heart, even mine. The sharing precept at its center is a symbol of our innate compassion and empathy for our fellowmen and women. The problem is that the beguiling hothouse variety served up to us by politicians is a colorful but odorless ruse covered in vicious thorns that kill its competition, the wild rose within us.

This is the emblem of the French Socialist Party, conceived at the end of 1969 by Marc Borret, illustrator and militant socialist. (That ominous fist reminds me of something, if I could just place it ...)

Economics Lesson No. 6 and Government Lesson No. 2 argue that capitalism is not just one of several valid choices for an economic system, but that it is for all intents and purposes a political synonym for an economic phenomenon called the free market, which is THE naked, unadulterated, untethered basic exchange system that has evolved over the millennia, upon which all other redistributive systems must be grafted to survive. (See my earlier posts on economics to get an idea of how it developed.)

The most popular of these other redistributive systems have many names, some of which I mention in my articles The Return of the Third Way and Brooks's Not So New Idea. These include American Liberalism, Progressivism, Compassionate Conservatism, and others. The parties representing them are the American Democrats, Republicans (in deed if not in word), Greens, etc.; the French Parti Socialiste, the UDF and UMP (again, in deed if not in word), Les Verts, et al., plus both sides of the English political scene, and it goes on and on around the world.

All of these compromise systems have one thing in common, and that is they all are a composite of capitalism and some degree of socialism.

So what is socialism?

The Webster's dictionary definition is:

"1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products."

No matter how the present government administrations of the world might try to sidestep the label (the name itself has become passé, for some reason), socialist-leaning theory has taken hold in every country. What is the proof? Let's take the two essential elements, centralized control of production and distribution.

As concerns production, no one will deny that there is flagrant, heavy, direct and indirect government influence on - if not downright ownership of - many of the biggest industries in Europe, Canada, Russia, China and Asia, some of Eurasia, some of South America, and much of Africa. Even in America, the rest of Asia, Australia, most of South and Central America and elsewhere, big business and government go very much hand in hand. (Remember the lobbyists and special interests.)

As to redistribution, this hardly needs discussion. It is indulged in everywhere. This is not only confessed to, it is declaimed with Salvation Army pride.

So, putting aside for the moment whether or not the socialist goals are good or bad, we must all agree right here and now to rip aside the attention-diverting rhetoric so we can study the evidence, and the evidence reveals the true rose red colors behind the bland and purposely colorless political labels. All modern countries are simply in a childish stage of denial.

And I know why. It's because socialism just doesn't work, and they know it. Indeed, everybody knows it, and they're afraid to be identified with a loser. So why do they play around with it? Because it is a soothing balm for our tired wild rose, and seduces our votes.

In conclusion, from observation of the status quo on the ground, it is quite clear today that all countries, including Europe and America, have more than just a slight socialist bent. Their underlying premise is to profit from capitalism's wealth creation, and then to redistribute it according to a social plan. In my next posts, I'll discuss the nature of socialist idealism, one or two of its priests, and why it doesn't succeed.


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