Socialism

The Pilgrims and Socialism

 

 

 

From  Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

End of Summer, Feed Is Working Again, and The French Revolution

It’s the unofficial end of Summer and it’s my annual gratuitous post of myself day.  The pic below was taken in mid-July, but I waited to fix the feed to The American Catholic in order celebrate the Summer.  Needless to say, it’s fixed and the Summer is almost over.

During the Summer I asked my fellow blogger Don for some book recommendations for the French Revolution.  Of the few he did mentioned, I picked up Simon Schama’s ‘Citizen’.  The reading is in-depth, interesting, and balanced.  I’m a bit over halfway finished of the 948 pages and am so far impressed.  Considering that we are in the post-Cold War era, I wanted to know a bit more on the French Revolution since their errors have already engulfed Europe and has almost metastasizing here in the United States.  The book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens.

My opinion on the subject is that the French Revolution is the confluence of anti-Christian ideas emanating from the so-called era of enlightenment.  These very same ideas unleashed the short-term devastation of the rape of nuns, the execution of priests, and the degradation of houses of worship.  The long-term affects have furthered the cause of eliminating God from all aspects of life blossoming further in the Communist Revolution in Russia and continued to bear the fruit of death in World Wars I & II.  From this compost grew what we now call modern liberalism & democratic socialism.

End of Summer Tito Edwards Simon Schama Citizens 500x625Happy Labor Day!

 

Give Them That Old Time Religion: Socialism

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“In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of state, the so-called ‘Welfare State.’ This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoke very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the ‘Social Assistance State.’ Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending, In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them who act as neighbors to those in need. It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need.”

Saint John Paul II, Centissimus Annus

 

 

 

 

Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote a mainstream defense of the free market which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 22.  Go here to read it.  His word set off some “Catholic theologians” who believe that the current Pope will allow the Church to go full frontal socialist.  Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report gives us the details:

A number of theologians took aim at Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s defense of free markets and his warning about the dangers of collectivism’s inherent violation of human rights.

Cdl. Dolan wrote, “the answer to problems with the free market is not to reject economic liberty in favor of government control. The church has consistently rejected coercive systems of socialism and collectivism, because they violate inherent human rights to economic freedom and private property. When properly regulated, a free market can certainly foster greater productivity and prosperity.”

Charles J. Reid, Jr., Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas responded in the Huffington Post that Cardinal Timothy Dolan “misunderstands Church teaching on both economics and the role of the state.”

Reid labeled the free market a “sociopathic economy” and said that only “a reinvigorated state would bring to bear in the regulation of the marketplace a set of humane values” and “rebalance the marketplace so as to fairly serve the interests not of capital alone, but of all employees and all interested human beings. “

Joseph A. McCartin, director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University reportedly criticized Cdl. Dolan, saying “It is a shame that the Cardinal seems more interested in making Pope Francis’ statements seem less threatening to free-market-celebrating Americans than he is in applying the Pope’s critique to the American scene as it really exists.”

In the same piece in the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Drew Christiansen S.J., professor of ethics and global human development at Georgetown University, also had some pointed remarks aimed at Cdl. Dolan. “Cardinal Dolan misses what Pope Francis sees so clearly,” he reportedly said. “The growth of inequality everywhere including the U.S. is a result of American-style capitalism and the financialization of the economy.”

He added pointedly that he believed, “too many well-to-do Catholics prefer getting their economic ethics from the Acton Institute rather than the Vatican.”

John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, reportedly said Dolan’s arguments “provide moral cover to free-market fundamentalists and anti-government zealots who preach a gospel of radical individualism that Catholic teaching rejects. Furthermore, he said “the cardinal veers close to echoing GOP talking points.”

Professor Mark Allman, chair of Religious & Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College, reportedly said Dolan’s piece “reflects a heavily individualistic understanding of morality.” He bemoaned that “there’s no mention of the need for structural change.”

And you wonder why so many kids come out of Catholic colleges as progressives. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Venezuela Rations Drinking Water

Socialism summed up

During the Cold War there was  a joke that made the rounds:  What would happen if the Soviet Union took over the Sahara Desert?  Nothing for fifty years and then there would be a shortage of sand.  The Venezuelan government is  underlining the punch line in that joke:

 

 

Venezuela has already run short of milk, sugar, and even toilet paper, and now supplies of drinking water have fallen dangerously low. Drought and poor infrastructure are the usual culprits, but the socialist paradise also owed tens of billions to international bondholders, and the Chávistas couldn’t afford to finance their debts and also import bottled water. So which did they choose? Venezuela, fearful that foreign creditors would seize its oil shipments, elected to pay $2.8 billion dollars in interest on foreign debt.

Blaming a drought caused by El Niño, the state-owned water company, Hidrocapital, began rationing tap water in Caracas in May. The Table of Democratic Unity (MUD) opposition party was having none of it, noting “the lack of responsibility and improvisation with which the government acts, postponing investments, maintenance, and opportune decisions.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

In Memoriam: Tiananmen Square

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

Thucydides

 

Yesterday, June 4, was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the brutal suppression of the pro-Democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.  Over 3000 of the protestors were murdered by the Communist government of China.  Tyranny won that round, but I have absolutely no doubt that Democracy will ultimately prevail in the Middle Kingdom.  When it does, the heroes and heroines of Tiananmen Square will be remembered and their murderers forgotten.

 

Socialism Never Works: Venezuela Edition

 

 

It is painful to see a venerable superstition dying a hard death.  I am of course referring to the superstition of socialism.  Since the 19th century socialism has had an iron hold of  the mentalities of many elites, and would be elites, in most nations around the globe.  Wherever it has been tried it has proved damaging to economies and where its attempts have been extreme enough the socialist economies prove to be productive only in producing mass poverty.  The latest example of this is in Venezuela, currently undergoing riots, as Maduro, Chavez’s successor, oversees an economy in free fall and desperate protestors take to the streets at the risk of murderous repression at the hands of Maduro’s thugs.  Richard Fernandez at PJ Media tells us how bad the economy has become in Venezuela:

 

The suddenness of Venezuela’s collapse should have come as no surprise because downfalls are inherently abrupt. Collapse is a phase change. One moment something is sailing along fat, dumb and happy and the next moment it is sinking beneath the waves. The change from two to one is a loss of 50%; but the change from one to zero is binary.

So it was in Venezuela. Imagine waiting two years to buy a car and finding just when you thought you finally buy one that there are no cars for sale at all.

Leonardo Hernandez had hoped to buy a new car this year, ending nearly two years of waiting on various lists at different dealerships throughout the country.

Those hopes were dashed last week when Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

Think of not being able to buy soap, rice or toilet paper or order a cup of coffee, where even the rich are feeling poor. “In the serene private clubs of Caracas, there is no milk, and the hiss of the cappuccino machine has fallen silent. In the slums, the lights go out every few days, or the water stops running. In the grocery stores, both state-run shops and expensive delicatessens, customers barter information: I saw soap here, that store has rice today. The oil engineers have emigrated to Calgary, the soap opera stars fled to Mexico and Colombia. And in the beauty parlours of this nation obsessed with elaborate grooming, women both rich and poor have cut back to just one blow-dry or manicure each week.”

Imagine there’s no money to keep up the sovereign bond payments, the only source of money to keep power plants going. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day Lesson: Socialism Never Works

 

 

 

From  Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

How the Left Still Hates Maggie Thatcher

His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.  He recalls with appreciation the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of nations.  Entrusting her soul to the mercy of God, and assuring her family and the British people of a remembrance in his prayers, the Holy Father invokes upon all whose lives she touched God’s abundant blessings.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

The gracelessness and blind hatred that governs much of the Left was put on full display with the death of Margaret Thatcher, the greatest prime minister Britain has had since World War 2, with organized street demonstrations “celebrating” her passing.

Thatcher, who personified the phrase “true grit”, I think would have welcomed their hate as the finest tribute to her work.  She opposed the Left and its goal of an ever expanding state with all the wit, courage and eloquence she could muster, and she had a considerable store of all three qualities.  This accolade from Milton Friedman in 1979 explains just what an extraordinary politician Thatcher was:

We have become so accustomed to politicians making extravagant campaign promises and then  forgetting about them once elected that the first major act of Margaret Thatcher’s government— the budget unveiled on June 12—was a surprise. It did precisely what she had promised to do.

Margaret Thatcher campaigned on a platform of reversing the trend toward an ever more  intrusive government—a trend that had carried government spending in Great Britain to  somewhere between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of the nation’s income. Ever since the end of  World War II, both Labor and Tory governments have added to government-provided social  services as well as to government-owned and -operated industry. Foreign-exchange transactions  have been rigidly controlled. Taxes have been punitive, yet have not yielded enough to meet  costs. Excessive money created to finance deficits sparked an inflation that hit a rate of over 30  per cent a year in mid-1975. Only recently was inflation brought down to the neighborhood of 10  per cent, and it is once again on the rise.

Most important of all, the persistent move to a centralized and collectivist economy produced  economic stagnation. Before World War II, the British citizen enjoyed a real income that  averaged close to twice that of the Frenchman or German. Today, the ratio is nearly reversed.  The Frenchman or German enjoys a real income close to twice that of the ordinary Briton.

Margaret Thatcher declared in no uncertain terms that the long British experiment was a failure.  She urged greater reliance on private enterprise and on market incentives. She promised to  reduce the fraction of the people’s income that government spends on their behalf, and to cut  sharply government control over the lives of British citizens. Her government’s budget is a major first step. It reduces the top marginal tax rate on so-called  “earned” income from 83 per cent to 60 per cent, on “unearned” income from a confiscatory 98  per cent to 75 per cent. At the same time, it raises the level of income exempt from income tax  and cuts the bottom rate from 33 per cent to 30 per cent. It proposes to cut government spending  significantly, to sell some of the government’s industrial holdings and to promote the sale of  government-owned housing units to their occupants. It loosens foreign-exchange controls  substantially as a first step toward their elimination.

One retrograde step, in my opinion, is an increase in indirect taxes—the British general sales  taxes, or VAT. This increase, which partly offsets the decrease in direct taxes, combined with  lower spending will reduce government borrowing, facilitating a restrained monetary policy and  releasing funds for private investment. The purpose is admirable. However, once taxes are  imposed, it is hard to cut them. From the long-run point of view, it seems to me preferable to  resort to a temporarily higher level of borrowing rather than to a possibly permanently higher level of indirect taxes.

I would also have preferred to see exchange controls eliminated completely rather than by  degrees. The controls serve no constructive purpose. Eliminating them gradually only prolongs  the harm and preserves a mischievous bureaucracy.

But these are quibbles. I salute Margaret Thatcher and her government for their courage and  wisdom in moving firmly and promptly to cut Britain’s bureaucratic straitjacket. Britain has  enormous latent strength—in human capacities, industrial traditions, financial institutions, social  stability. If these can be released from bondage, if incentive can be restored, Britain could once  again become a vibrant, dynamic, increasingly productive economy. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Least Surprising Stats of the Day

After their abysmal recent performance in the Presidential election I don’t know how much credence to give a Gallup poll, but these findings have the ring of truth.  53% of the Dems have a positive view of the term “Socialism” and 75% of Dems have a positive view of the Federal government.  Under Obama is there much difference in practice?  The Democrats are on a rapid path to morphing into a European style socialist party. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day Lesson: Socialism Never Works

 

 

 

From  Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Quelle Surprise!

France elected hard line socialists to power on May 15 of this year.  What has happened since?  Something that will come as no surprise to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of history:

Moody’s credit rating agency has stripped France of its coveted AAA rating and declared that the country’s economic outlook remains “negative”.

In what will be a severe blow to Socialist president François Hollande, the agency said it was reducing the country’s rating from AAA to AA1, claiming France’s ability for economic growth was being hampered by “structural challenges” including its lack of competitiveness, high unemployment, public debt and market rigidity.

It said it was not confident Hollande’s government could – or would – introduce the necessary structural reforms and spending cuts to improved its rating in the medium term and expressed concern over France’s exposure to risks from other ailing eurozone countries.

Moody’s decision follows Standard & Poor’s downgrading of France’s rating a notch in January.

It came as France was reeling from a damning Economist article entitled “The time-bomb at the heart of Europe”. The special report warned that the parlous state of the French economy, its rising unemployment, lack of competitiveness, dwindling industry and high public spending, could overshadow the problems of Greece or Spain, and sparked angry reactions from French ministers. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Perfect Description of Modern Socialism

Hattip to Neo-neo Con who suggested the connection to me with this post.  Dostoevsky in his The Brothers Karamazov has a striking tale of the Grand Inquisitor.  In that tale Christ comes back to earth in Sixteenth Century Seville and is arrested by the Inquisition.  The Grand Inquisitor explains to Christ why He is going to be burned the next day.  At first glance this all appears to be a fairly psychotic anti-Catholic diatribe, but I think it aptly describes not the Church, but modern socialism.  We see it most clearly in this passage:

“‘Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take the bread made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without any miracle. They will see that we do not change the stones to bread, but in truth they will be more thankful for taking it from our hands than for the bread itself! For they will remember only too well that in old days, without our help, even the bread they made turned to stones in their hands, while since they have come back to us, the very stones have turned to bread in their hands. Too, too well will they know the value of complete submission! And until men know that, they will be unhappy. Who is most to blame for their not knowing it?-speak! Who scattered the flock and sent it astray on unknown paths? But the flock will come together again and will submit once more, and then it will be once for all. Then we shall give them the quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by nature. Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for Thou didst lift them up and thereby taught them to be proud. We shall show them that they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that childlike happiness is the sweetest of all. They will become timid and will look to us and huddle close to us in fear, as chicks to the hen. They will marvel at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and will be proud at our being so powerful and clever that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions. They will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life-like a child’s game, with children’s songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviours who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient- and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such as they.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Socialism in Art and Life

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Winston Churchill

Those of us of a certain vintage may recall Rocky IV where Rocky fought a Soviet Superman, Captain Ivan Drago, portrayed with robotic efficiency and inhumanity by Dolph Lundgren.  I therefore found it interesting to come across the interview below in which Dolph Lundgren relates why his father advised him to come to America: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Spanish Civil War: Sadly, Still Relevant

On Sunday I received a request from a Catholic blogger for my suggestions for readings in regard to the Spanish Civil War, a subject which I have always found fascinating.  Here is my response:

The go to man on the Spanish Civil War is Stanley Payne.  He has been writing on the conflict since the Fifties.  He interviewed many of the leaders of the various factions in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies.  Originally a man of the Left, I think it would be fair now to call him a conservative, but what he is above all is a first class historian.

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Redistributing Grades

You see some pretty interesting reactions and responses from our intellectual superiors when asked to redistribute their 4.0’s to less deserving students.

Hat Tip: Matthew Archbold

On Distributism and the Futility of Third Ways

The search for an economic and political “third way” has haunted intellectuals for over a hundred years in the Western nations. Many forget that fascism was at one time considered a viable “third way” between liberal capitalism and communism, preserving for the most part private ownership of the means of production for profit but subjecting it to near total control and regulation by the state. Many other models would follow, from the local and anarchistic to the national and statist, appearing under many different names.

I too was caught up in the desperate search for a “third way”, as are many Catholics who eventually find their way to Distributism. But it became quite obvious to me that what people who actually defined themselves as libertarians and capitalists were promoting and defending really wasn’t what I had always thought it was, nor was it anything I could possibly find objectionable.

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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