Saturday, October 16, 2004

Socialism has died - it has not gone to heaven v2.0

This article was widely published around the middle of May 2003. Sierra Times and Winds of Change on the www. The Rock River Times on dead trees. The discussion at Winds of Change is instructive. Remember this was written when there was no idea about who the candidates were and before the Rs went on their singed earth policy re: gays.

Prediction wise I'd say this was still on track.

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Socialism and its more ideological brother communism is dead everywhere in the world. It doesn't work and neither do the people yoked to this failed ideology. This has tremendous implications for the world, but most of all for America. I'll get to those in a minute but first I'd like to do a survey.

The Communist branch of the rob from the rich and make everyone rich form of government is the worst. It kills and destroys. The Soviet Union despite reports from the New York Times in the 30s killed 20 to 30 million people in the 20s and 30s effort to collectivize agriculture. Communist China did even better in it's efforts to collectivize agriculture. Upwards of 50 million. Pol Pot's Cambodia at least 2 million. So Communism is good at killing. Let us look at a Communism which doesn't kill. At least not much. Yet.

Cuba. Before Castro under the capitalist dictator Batista Cuban per capita income was on the order of one hundred dollars a month and rising. Under the communist dictator Castro per capita income is ten dollars a month and falling. So the Communists are good at killing people and destroying economies. So where are they now? Russia (formerly part of the USSR) is adopting various capitalist ways in order to recover from communism. Their problem today is that the only people with any kind of capitalist experience are Mafia criminals. China too is adopting a more market based economy. So it is pretty obvious that communism is dead.

How about a more moderate version of stealing from the rich to make every one secure. Socialism. France, Germany, and Sweden are exemplars of running an economy based on theft from the producers to help the less fortunate.

What is happening in those countries? All are on the verge of a continuous negative economic slide. They are headed from a middle class standard of living to a third world standard. What is Germany trying to do in response? Ease labor restrictions that make it hard to fire workers in downturns. Currently their economy is tuned for the weakest times and when good times come employers are reluctant to hire. What is France trying to do in response to a problem similar to Germany's? Ease labor restrictions. Neither country is having much luck so far because those on the gravy train are unwilling to give up any of their gravy for the good of their country. How is Sweden doing compared to America? Not so good and getting worse. The lowest class in the American economy is our black citizens. Compared to Sweden on a buying power basis blacks have a $2,000 a year per capita advantage over the Swedes. So the socialists are not doing too good.

Socialism/Marxism is DEAD. The post modernist (Pomo) version of communism will not save it. Pomo is just the florescence of the rot. It is not some new deadly version of communism that will take over the world. It is the result of decay. But that is a story for another day.

Every place that adopted capitalism as its economic model at the end of WW2 has done rather well. Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea to name just a few. They were all dictatorships of one kind or another in their early capitalist phase but once per capita income rose above about three hundred dollars a month representative democracy came into power. Not bad.

So communism is dead and socialism is dying. What does this mean for America? It means the left in America as we know it is dying. The first glimpse of that was in the 2002 national election. The first post 9/11 national election. The Democrats lost ground. Post Iraq you hear a lot of formerly centrist Democrats saying they no longer care for the party.

Baring some major catastrophe between now and 2004, I expect a Republican landslide.

What we are seeing in American politics is the calving of the iceberg of socialism from the body politic before it heads out to sea to melt away. What will be left is libertarian/liberal ideals on what will be the left/center and the cultural conservatives on the right. We are going back to the original definitions of liberal and conservative in vogue over one hundred years ago.

This is a HUGE shift in politics. It is plainly visible to any one who wishes to take notice but will not become obvious until after the next election. Even then what will be noticed is the demise of the Democrats. The rise of the libertarian center will take a bit longer to notice.

The only hope for the Democrats is that they give up their pacificism and become ardent evangelistic democrats on the world stage. That is not such a big shift. It just means going back to what they used to stand for. The other thing the Democrats must do is give up on socialism. Robbing from the rich no matter how morally desirable ruins economies. Ruined economies are at best stagnant. They can't help the poor much. At worst they throw the whole economic machinery in reverse.

So what does that leave for the Democrats? Civil liberties. Less intrusive government was always a very important principle for Democrats.

What do I expect in the real world? The Democrats will give up nothing. They will collapse and fade. What will be left? The Republicans.

The Republican party consists today of two wings. The cultural conservatives with their base in religion and the libertarians with their "leave me alone" attitude; "government out of my bedroom and out of my wallet" is their motto. Now the cultural conservatives like to use the power of government to force their cultural rules on the country. But unlike the socialists who cannot get what they want without government guns the cultural conservatives can go back to the founder of their main religion who said to a group of people who were trying to enforce cultural rules with the power of government: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". So they might not like giving up power but they can do it. They have an example to live up to. Even so, in a world with no socialists to combat I do not think the two wings of the Republican party are compatible.

What I expect in the long run is that the Democrats will die and the Republicans will split. And the "leave me alone" coalition will be at the center of American politics. Time will tell.

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Wretchard discusses Steven den Beste's charting of the current political waters. I made the following comment.

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The Sea Change in politics actually began around 1980 or so when it became obvious to a lot of leftys (myself included) that communism was not the wave of the future that all it provided was murder and oppression. As Hayek (who I had not read until well into the 90s) had predicted in 1944. By 2000 or so it became obvious that even comunism light (socialism) was unworkable. 9/11 has aproximately settled the war/peace issue. Separation of church and state has now become a national policy. Nothing wrong with Islam. It is political Islam that is the problem. A good topic for discussiion. I think I'll write something. :-)

The difficulties are not just cosmetic (a poor candidate, bad luck), they are fundamental. They go to the core of what politics is going to be like for the next thirty to fifty years.

I have a few things to say about this here [link to this article]. It was written in May of 2003. It still is a pretty good map for what has happened and what will happen. We do indeed live in interesting times.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you are correct. I fear that not enough people in America can conceive of the impact of bad decisions beyond the next 6 months. With this kind of thinking, we get 'feel' good policies that favor socialists. Simply enough of us have not had our nose rubbed in the impact of 70 years of socialism lite in the US. When the unsustainable debt we owe ourselves for entitlements really comes due, perhaps a major shift will occur.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment of the current political landscape. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the left to publicly discuss their problem.

I did want to ask you what, if anything, leads you to believe the the Republican party will split. We have had the same two political parties for 150 years.

In addition, I was curious about your thoughts about the impact of foreign policy. Neo-cons (who in my opinion are extremely mis-represented by the press, no liberal I talk to even knows what the hell it means), are currently aligned, convienently, w/ the social conservatives, but I am not convinced there agenda is necessarily a conservative one. Beign basically a libertarian on the scale you describe, I don't have a problem w/ them (better than the alternatives), however, I have read many disparaging comments about neo-cons made by libertarians. Further, the current foreign policy of the left is, in my opinion, incompatible w/ the center you describe, in fact, the foreign-policy and domestic policy is incompatible - did I just answer my question about the Republicans splitting? :)

Anonymous said...

this is tom from the comment section of Sgtstryker. I just don't feel like opening up another account somewhere this late at night.

What we agree on is that, yes, the current coalitions are up for some major realignment. I also agree that Socialism - which I define more narrowly than you - is dead. But there are still poor people and there will always be some major political party trying to get their votes and the people who feel for them. I argued at digital warfighter that the Democrats have been picking up the arguments of fiscal conservatism and might stick with it seeing as the Republicans just can't control themselves. But there is one other huge social issue that is not going away: health care. I think sometime soon there is going to be some major health care reform that more or less garantees health care to all Americans. Why? Because the current system is failing so miserably at insuring enough people. It probably won't be the single-payer stuff that the lefties want, but it will be something you probably won't like. I even heard Frist mention a "consumer driven" system that garantees health care to everyone. Whatever. People want their health care and while they're busy thinking about terrorism now, they'll turn again to domestic issues soon and both the Republcans and the Democrats will be looking to take care of them.

M. Simon said...

I think there needs to be a social safety net at this level of our economy. It causes some freeloading but it also allows the entreprenurial poor to take risks to move up the economic ladder.

In my Libertarian days I was more doctrinaire about it but I guess I'm mellowing in my old age.

As one of my more liberal but aware friends pointed out: a social safety net prevents revolutions. We just need to make it a small part of the economy. Not the whole thing. It must be purpose designed.

M. Simon said...

Health care. I think socializing it any further than it already is would be a disaster.

For practical purposes no one in America is denied health care. No one.

If you can't pay they put it on your tab. You may go broke but you will not die.

As I have stated more than once. Before government got involved in health care the cost of health care was rising an astounding 5% a year. Now that the government is involved it is rising a more moderate 10% a year.

Government hasn't helped. It has made things worse.By a factor of two. What is needed is medical savings accounts. You pay for the first $2K per year and then insurance kicks in.

This is probably the best way to drive down costs.

The co pay that is done now helps. However if the consumer got to keep or invest whatever wasn't spent it would help drive down costs by giving an incentive. It would also encourage people to live healthier. They get to keep more $$$$.

I believe Bush got a pilot plan through this year.

M. Simon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
blueenclave said...

Thank you for the important point that Democrats need to be the party of civil liberties.
Clinton-era policies did not suggest robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Taxes were earmarked to cut the deficit and to invest in policies that provided economic infrastructure for both rich and poor. The economy grew. Americans expect to pay taxes for the government to be on sound footing to support programs they like.

blueenclave said...

Democrats have consistently been for a moral foreign policy. Democrats have objected to our support of antidemocratic regimes. I believe that Democrats now see the error of their ways in not supporting democracy in Arab countries sooner.

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