This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published August 21, 2016 by The Washington Times.
Socialism is still in vogue, regardless of its sorry record all over the world for the last century. The Free Stuff Army is on the march, especially in the United States.
There’s something about deploying the government as a mugger to obtain the fruits of someone else’s labor that appeals to the worst in us. But it invariably leads to poverty, dishonesty and even tyranny.
Years ago, I visited Jamaica when it was under a socialist government. Things had deteriorated. Trying to fool the people, the government ordered imported goods to be repackaged as locally produced.
I asked a guy in Kingston when I saw a bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder where the factory was, and he laughed and said, “There is no factory. They just rebottled the powder and slapped a ‘Made in Jamaica’ label on it.”
Instead of serving wine from California or Europe, the Jamaican restaurants featured reconstituted vintages labeled “Made in Jamaica” that could have doubled as industrial floor cleaners.
Eventually, the island’s government rejected much of the nonsense borrowed from Castro’s Cuba, and the Jamaican economy got going again.
A common myth perpetuated in academia and the media is that a straight-line axis would put the Nazis and Fascists on the far right and the Communists on the far left, with Socialists in the middle. But the Communists, Nazis and Fascists are all, in fact, on the far left under the umbrella term of Socialism. On the far right would-be anarchists who believe in no government. America, with its limited government and guarantees of individual liberty, is somewhere in between.
To sort this out, here’s a tale of two cows that I didn’t originate but did embroider a bit.
Anarchy: You have two cows. You sell milk at a price your neighbors want or they kill you and take the cows.
Fascism: The state takes both and sells you the milk.
Communism: The state takes both and gives you milk — but only if you have party connections or stand in the right line.
Nazism: The state takes both and shoots you if you’re Jewish, a gypsy or a troublesome Christian.
Socialism: The government takes one and gives it to someone else. Then they come for the other, accusing you of being selfish and hateful.
Finally, there’s Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one for a fair price to your neighbor and buy a bull.
Speaking of family matters, in the 1930s, J.D. Unwin, an Oxford anthropologist, released Sex and Culture, a study from every continent over 5,000 years. He found that all cultures throughout history honored marriage, and those that abandoned monogamy soon were depleted of energy and were destroyed. This helps explain the fall of Greece and Rome.
Now, why is this important? It’s because Socialism has been at war with marriage and the family since the late-18th century. The most prominent socialist thinkers, including Rousseau, Marx and Engels, promoted the sexual revolution in which marriage and family were devalued in order to eliminate loyalties other than to the state.
Like a stoned freak at Woodstock, Engels championed “free love,” the opposite of commitment and fidelity. Like most leftist thinkers, Marx, Engels and Rousseau were cads who betrayed their own wives and children.
Today’s socialists and progressives support not only more governmental redistribution but every aspect of the sexual revolution, from no-fault divorce to pornography, abortion, the ever-widening LGBTQ agenda and the legal assault on marriage. All of it leaves women and children at the mercy of the state. When families fail, the state grows to pick up the pieces.
As Hoover Institution scholar Thomas Sowell has observed, “The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state.”
C.S. Lewis said that the left’s agenda is to make religion private and pornography public. That summarizes the ACLU’s ongoing legal campaign to fundamentally transform America from Bedford Falls into Pottersville.
During the 20th century, Europe flirted with every possible variety of socialism, making it the bloodiest century in history. On the positive side, the 20th is also known as “the American Century,” when we became the wealthiest, freest, most powerful nation in history. This was no accident. It resulted from a conscious will to be as free as possible from arbitrary power, recognizing where ultimate power lies.
In his farewell address, George Washington said that: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness.”
As America drifts from our spiritual origins, there are signs of the socialist disease: rising obsession with redistribution and sensate entertainment, loss of virtue and respect for innocent life, mounting public and private debt, and an ever-growing government.
But as Yogi Berra would say, “it ain’t over till it’s over.”
If enough Americans reassert our spiritual heritage and legacy of liberty and free market economics, we won’t succumb to Socialism. There is no reason apart from just giving up that America cannot continue to be a beacon of freedom.