I am always trying to figure out liberals. They confound and confuse me at almost every turn. I mean, do they not see the political pandering behind the leftists in the Democrat Party when they denounce someone like Lieberman as "Bush's lapdog" (yeah, a Senator who votes with his party 90% of the time and has been a liberal stalwart for thirty years, a Republican lapdog!)or stand behind partisan hack like Murtha when he denounces our efforts in the Middle East and palpably prays for our failure in that struggle, just to win a few seats for his party in November? I see similar failures in the Republican Party and am ashamed by them. I also readily condemn those responsible and point it out. Delay's pompous denial that there is anything left to cut in last year's porkfest of a budget was reprehensible. The wedding of so many Republicans to cash-fisted lobbyists and their addiction to pork makes me sick. I condemn their poor behavior and their hypocritical insistence that they're for less government when they're indistinguishable from Democrats most of the time.
Now if I see and recognize these weaknesses and foibles in my preferred political party, why does it seem that Democrats can't do the same when faced with hypocrisy and political slight-of-hand? It doesn't take a genius to see that a constant barrage of "Bush killed my cat" is just so much bullshit, when there are serious problems and solutions to work on. If the Republicans are going to conduct business like Democrats, then what do I care if they maintain their majority? I don't!
I've been reading some historical essays on and by the American Left. Yeah, it's a tough job but somebody has to do it. I pulled out some of my college textbooks recently and thought it would be fun to re-read some of them. It was. It gave me some better insight into what drives liberalism and the relationships between liberalism and communism and the continuing struggle between the forces of government versus the forces of freedom.
One thing I was astonished to read was a part of a speech delivered in 1919 by Victor Berger (1860-1929), Socialist congressman from Milwaukee. In it Mr. Berger states that socialists "never claim that the concentration of capital is the cause of evil...The trusts are the legitimate outcome of competition. The trust is the 'survival of the fittest' under capitalism. The trust appears after competition has virtually destroyed competition." So here is Berger a socialist, claiming that he sees the trust or monopoly as the finest resolution of the business process, the evolutionary pinnacle of capitalism. He thinks it is efficient and modern and economical beacuse of its centralization of control and its "efficient" concentration of work and services. This is the fatal flaw of socialism showing its ultimate product. Socialism bases its philosophy on the abolition of private property which will bring about wealth for all:from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. This philosophy centers around science and the ability of man using scientific methods to both create this utopia and make the citizenry enjoy their new paradise enough to not miss the fruits of their own labor.
In this way, socialists are no different from many other groups whose hubris fools them into thinking their ideas for what the future should be can be anywhere close to the unpredictable, dynamic reality of what is possible. Life and progress are largely self-organizing systems that produce many unpredictable and wonderful outcomes, when freedom, self-interest, private property and the rule of law provide the assist. For more information on this concept, see the wonderful book by Virgina PostrelThe Future and its Enemies.
Back to this speech. Berger goes on to say that socialists "appreciate so fully the advantage of industrial production on a large scale that we wish its most perfect development-and wish to give its benefits to everybody-which is impossible under the capitalist system. For that reason we want to nationalize the trusts". Doesn't that remind you of the old Who lyrics? "Meet the new Boss. Same as the old Boss".
Of course the truth in all this is that this centralization of control and ever growing monopoly of business interests was not the highest form of economic behavior. Smaller, more supple and more decentralized control structures have proven to be far more nimble and flexible in today's economy. These are the corporations that are really making changes in our society, while the Fords, IBMs and ATTs are langusihing and whithering on the capitalist vine. Much of the problem with the old thinking was the fallacy that bigger is better but some of it was in the fallacy that the path to more productivity and more efficiency lies in the direction of ever more centralization of command and control powers. This was also the downfall of the Soviet Union.
Of course the left always has the romantic, Robin Hood theme to unite its utopian followers. Take from the lazy, undeserving rich and give to the overworked and overburdened poor. Who can argue with this? It's always easy to agree with someone who says it's a good idea to take property from someone else who doesn't deserve it. It only becomes a problem when the ruling powers decide that you are the one that doesn't deserve your property. Then we want to abandon those high-minded principles and say, "But that's my property. I worked for that and it's mine". "Imagine no possessions" never sounded much good to me but I guess it floats alot of people's boats, judging from the membership in liberal and socialist groups.
No matter what the leftists and liberals say they believe in, you'll find that many of these core socialist principles are in their political repertoire. That's why they're always for the underdog in political conflicts: Palestinians, Iraqi insurgents, Hezbollah, etc. That's also why they think the Soviet Union, despite all evidence to the contrary, was such a magnanimous and positive force in the world. Likewise the leftists belief in the ability of governments to do all that needs doing in the world, despite all manner of evidence to the contrary, from the failures of Katrina to the laughable losers who pushed for the Big Dig project. They still believe in science and the ability of men, united in political power, to effect real change in our lives for the better, while never understanding that these groups of men also carry with them their own prejudices, greeds and a multitude of ulterior motives.
I believe in private property and the ability of men and women, motivated by their own self-interest, to effect lasting change for the better, in a system that rewards individual effort and protects the lives and property of the participants. It will create more progress and do more good for those less fortunate than any centralized government effort in the world. History and science backs that belief up over and over again. We just have to make the politicians back off and leave us all alone to do what we know how to do. That is a tall order indeed, but I believe in progress and the ability of people to learn what's good for them in the long run. So, I'm optimistic...