Are you beginning to see the agenda? Are you beginning to feel that your grip on reality is getting more
progressive err, more precarious? Please click the short link, to read the complete article.
Into the Lifeboats
April 19, 2010
Intellectuals, Paul Johnson’s highly readable collection of biographical sketches of some of the modern world’s most influential personages, includes the life story of Karl Marx, a down-at-the-heels malcontent whose life was singularly unblemished by success.
In fact, he would have made no dent in the historical record if he had not one day reduced into words the very crux of the ugly sentiment of envy, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
Just the sort of sentiment one might expect from an individual barely able to provide for his basic needs; had it not been for inheritances from rather more successful relatives, the man might have actually starved to death. The fame that eventually came to him, came only well after his death in 1883.
If you needed an example of the power of words, then the death toll resulting from Marx’s unworkable utopianism should more than suffice. While it would be wrong to lay all of the 100 million or so of state-sponsored murders of the bloody 20th century at Marx’s feet, it would not be inappropriate to mark half of those in his column.
Of course, Marx’s idea could only gain the traction it did because it was such a direct hit on the envy that resides just under the surface in most of humanity. And understandably so: the emotion of envy dates back to the earliest days of the human apes and is directly connected to the survival of the species. Simply, if you and your family didn’t have food or shelter, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that you might try to correct the situation by conking the other fellow over the head.
In the modern context, a person who is materially and psychologically content will only rarely experience envy.
That is not the case with people who are serially unsuccessful or otherwise discontented with their lot in life, a description that would statistically encompass the majority of the world’s population.
With conking people over the head largely frowned upon, these discontented masses are easy marks for politicians who promise that they will do the conking for them – starting by confiscating and redistributing the wealth of the “haves.”
While few people still introduce themselves as Marxists, an increasing number of people now proudly include the label “progressive” in describing themselves.
The progressive agenda, we are told, is humanist in its outlook – which is to say that being happy, healthy, and well off are not just things to be encouraged but should be delivered gift wrapped at the door.
That I take issue with this outlook has little to do with morality or ethics, though it could. Instead, it has to do with operational realities. The mechanics that lead to the creation of wealth are well known, and Marx’s platitude runs directly contrary to those mechanics. That’s not to say that his platitude is not a good model for charity, in fact, it is the essence of charity. In other words, a voluntary act of kindness.
But as an organizing theory for a successful economy, especially one that is enforced coercively, it’s a non-starter.
The creation of wealth takes desire, dedication, resources, creativity, and a lot of hard work. Why anyone would get out of bed, or cross the street, let alone work days, nights, and weekends solely so that the fruits of their efforts could be redirected to someone else is beyond me.
But my skepticism is irrelevant to the discussion when even a cursory glance at history shows that every socio-economic experiment predicated on Marx’s idea has been a spectacular and even murderous failure.
Even so, the “big idea” is so damn appealing to the masses that it refuses to go quietly into the dark grave where it belongs.
In fact, with the global economy stuck in the mud, the resurgence of the progressive political movement we have seen of late, the poster child of which was the quick rise to power of President Obama, was inevitable. And it’s just getting rolling.
Case in point, there was a three-party debate in Britain last week, ahead of that country’s upcoming elections. In the debate, the head of the progressive Liberal-Democrat party, Nick Clegg, took his opponents – Gordon Brown and David Cameron – to school, primarily by playing the “change” theme.
Unhappy with your circumstances? Then vote progressive, for “change”! Starting with making businesses (boo, hiss) and successful individuals (greedy bastards, all of them) pay a lot more taxes. And since we’re all about change, let’s burden them with all sorts of new regulations that suit the progressive promises to remake the world as a well-maintained park.
So simple, and yet, according to Clegg’s meteoric post-debate rise in the polls, highly effective.