It can neither be stated too often nor too emphatically that socialism in any form is by definition an ideology of force and violence. It can operate in no other way. By virtue of what it is, socialism can function by no other means. To achieve even a tiny fraction of its stated aims — no matter how well-intentioned those aims may (or may not) be — socialism must at minimum resort to massive acts of expropriation. One foolproof method for demonstrating the truth of this is by asking that all charity, all welfare, all social-security, all single-payer, all forms of coercive taxation and universal basic-income money — all of it be contributed voluntarily, much like the Kibbutzim, which have been an unmitigated failure.
In America the Indian Reservations, which are the polar opposite of voluntary human action and voluntary human cooperation, also testify to the impossibility and the calamitous results and injustice of socialism.
The Indian Reservations were explicitly modeled off of Fabian-socialist utopian ideals — specifically, a Fabain named John Collier, a Columbia-educated social worker, community organizer, and utopian dreamer who was in charge of the Native American Reservations during Franklin Deleno Roosevelt’s entire administration and patterned as well from Mussolini’s socialist ideals in Italy. Franklin Roosevelt himself was a stridently stated admirer of socialist-fascist Benito Mussolini, who as you know coined the term “fascism” to describe his brand of socialism which he also called “Corporatism” — the identical ideology that, as you also know, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joseph Biden, as well as Hillary and Bill Clinton (among countless others of the same ilk), explicitly embrace.
The American Indian Reservations are right up to the present day places in America — right now, I repeat — where food, housing, “universal basic income,” healthcare, education and much much much more are provided by a big benevolent government with money that pours “freely” in. Here the leading cause of death among young men is suicide. Their educational system — if it can even be called that — is utterly broken, though not as broken as their healthcare system, which is absolutely appalling. These present-day American utopias — built, I remind you, in the 1930s by Franklin Roosevelt’s Fabian-socialist cabinet which explicitly modeled and patterned much of itself off Benito Mussolini’s self-described fascist-socialism — also have the highest rate of poverty among any racial group in the USA (more than twice the national average) and are environmentally filthy, all of which is quite strange, considering their utopian nature and the sheer amounts of free money they receive “by right.”
The American Indian Reservations also have the highest unemployment rates in all of America, and perhaps there is a clue there.
But socialism is not only an ideology of force — though it is most certainly that. It is also a mathematical impossibility. It is mathematically doomed to failure, and all the central planners and pundits and majorities and media and social-media mobs in the world will not be able to overcome this fundamental fact. That is one reason I wrote and then rewrote this book.
All-around government regimentation is not the answer.
It is never the answer.
I assure you that I do understand the reasons people think it’s the answer, but I assure you also, in the very same breath, that it is not the answer.
Bureaucracy once entrenched cannot be undone.
Freedom once gone is gone forever.
Don’t let it die.
The race was called the Human Race, and Kristy Reed stood on the sidelines.
He was dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt. The Human Race was a 5K, the entrance fee for which was fifty dollars a person, and twenty percent of the proceeds here went directly to a charity called the Center for Intersectionality & Diversity Studies.
Over the past several decades, the Human Race 5K had grown significantly from its humble beginnings, so that now, every February, thousands and thousands of runners participated, many racial groups and genders represented annually among them. The Human Race started and finished at the same spot: a wide concrete commons at the center of the UNLV quad, near the Flora Dungan humanities building. The mood that morning was lighthearted and pleasant.
When the race was at last underway, Kristy Reed waited until every runner had disappeared around the first turn. Then Kristy came off the sidelines and entered alone the scientific shadows of the humanities building behind him.
Less than three minutes later, Kristy was up on that building’s top floor. From here he mounted a fire escape that went up higher still, and now he came back outside and onto the rooftop of the building, approximately one-hundred feet above the campus which was now spread out below him. Across from where he stood, along the lipped edge of the rooftop, sat two big black trashbags full of small slips of white paper, each one containing sentences in Kristy’s handwriting.
He walked over to these trashbags now.
Some thirty minutes later, when the Human Race was over and there were thousands and thousands of individual people gathered around the finish-line below him, Kristy without hesitation or apparent emotion emptied the contents of each trashbags onto the crowd. First he emptied one and then the other. He emptied them in rapid succession, turning the bags over completely and shaking them out, so that every last slip of paper came raining from out of the hard desert sky like a shower of confetti, like a ticker-tape parade falling onto the upturned faces of the multitude below.
Kristy did the same thing the following week, except this time it was from a different location and at night, and this time also the throng below witnessed a horrifying accident.
Stretched out before Kristy Reed that evening were acres of concrete and all around him a cityscape of needle-shaped, spear-shaped, splinter-shaped structures glinting with glass whose margins were filled with wobbly reflections of neon light and candy-colored water. To run alone across the tons of concrete, high up, in view of the distant hotel windows, terraces, and rooftop gardens and in view of the helicopters, metal beasts of the nighttime air, wingless birds threading the moonbeams and laserlights, wanderers in black spaces flashing through the night, was to proclaim culpability before the sleepless city. Seen from below, Kristy must have appeared minuscule as he ran on and on after emptying into the streets his trashbags full of petal-shaped leaflets. Seen from above, it might have been discerned how insular the wide world actually was, with its arena of crystal buildings in a bowl of creamy light — how bizarre and yet ingenious, and how unrelated it was to the cavern-pocked barren desert and lavender mountains shimmering unseen in the darkness beyond, the thirsty lands and the empty lands stitched together by the receding tracks of the lobo, the bandit, the outlaw, the outlier.
Kristy was just coming down from the rooftop when a security guard, a young woman whose duty it was to patrol the upper floors and rooftops, caught sight of him. She called out:
“Hey! Who’s there?” she said.
Kristy neither stopped nor replied.
The security guard gave chase but almost immediately lost sight of Kristy when Kristy crossed through a blinding field of neon light.
The security guard stood for a long moment near the edge of the building rooftop. She scanned the surrounding area, turning a slow three-hundred-sixty degrees. She reached to her shoulder for her walkie-talkie — to radio down for backup — when a sudden gust of wind came up and blew off her hat. She tried to catch it before it lofted from her head, but she was too late: her hat blew away and toppled off the side of the building. Yet it didn’t blow far. The fabric of her hat got caught inside a deep-grooved slot, immediately off the side of the building, between the serried tubes of pink-neon light. It was safely within arm’s reach and at no real risk to retrieve. In the next instant, the security guard again caught sight of Kristy. He was on her left, across the way, scaling down the fire escape, which ran almost parallel the neon lights, and, believing that she and her co-workers now had him easily, the security guard made a fateful decision: she knelt upon one knee to retrieve her hat, which would only take her a second.
The young security guard was not prepared for what happened next:
As she reached for her hat, she inadvertently touched her metal watchband against the inside slot of the neon tube. She was zapped with an enormous surge of electricity, which did not kill her but which did send her with a spasmodic jolt off the side of the building. Simultaneously that whole sector of the building’s lights went out.
Kristy looked up when he heard the monstrous charge of electricity, followed by her subsequent scream, and the throng in the street also looked up as an ominous diagonal of darkness moved at once across the sidewalk.
The guard’s foot had got caught under a taut metal cable, which ran along the perimeter of the rooftop, but almost immediately her foot came loose, though not before, in a blind panic, she grabbed onto one of the extinguished neon light-tubes, and in spite of having just been electrocuted, she held fast to the tube and did not let go. The tip of her shoe was still up against the lip of the rooftop edge and it partially held her as well. Then her foot too broke free.
The young guard was seen from below clutching one-handed, desperately, to the light-tube. There were wraiths of smoke, violet-blue in the darkness, drifting off the electrical wreckage. Below her the dense throng gasped. The people gathered more closely together and peered upward. The security guard tried to reach up with her other hand to grasp onto a better purchase, but because of the severity of the shock and her dizziness, she could not grab hold. The charge had badly injured her, and the poor woman dangled by one desperate arm, like a moth from a spider’s thread. Her arm was bent awkwardly.
Anyone going to her aid would run a terrible risk, and it was immediately clear to the onlookers below that the young woman was tiring. There was agony upon her face. Even worse, her arm and the hand which held onto the dead tubular light lost strength by the second. Every attempt she made to reach up with her other hand ended in failure, and this in turn increased her weakness. She all at once fell dreadfully still — still and silent — for fear of wasting her remaining strength. In those breathless moments, the young guard sincerely believed that she was moments from death. The spectators had by now called for help, yet every one of them felt that at any moment she might lose her strength and plummet, and now many among the throng looked away so as not to see her drop down and land thudding on the pavement like an over-ripened fruit.
All at once a thin dark shape, distinctly masculine and distinctly energetic, was seen swiftly moving across the rooftop toward the dangling security guard. This dark shape was bipedal yet had the agility of a wildcat. At the time nobody noticed the rapid ease and the graceful coordination of his movements. It was only later that anybody recalled what it was all like — how fluid, how fast, how silent.
In a twinkling, the figure was directly above the woman and now paused for one second to measure and assess the danger of the broken electricity. That one second seemed interminable. Then the figure above got down on all fours and leaned over the building’s edge and at great risk to himself clutched with both hands the forearm and wrist of the hand by which the young woman barely held.
“I’ve got you,” the figure whispered. In fact he’d caught hold of her not a second too soon.
The throng below as a single unit drew in a long breath.
They saw the young woman’s grip slip, and they saw that the only thing saving her from death now was the strength and determined will of the figure above her, who clutched her with vice-grip fingers. Then the figure lowered down his left forearm, for her to drape her arm across. The crowd below could not hear the figure say to her softly:
“You must take hold of my arm with your other hand.”
Then the figure leaned over more precariously yet — closer to her so that she might more easily reach his arm. You would have thought it was a black widow lowering itself to seize a moth, except in this case the black widow was bringing life, not death. Five thousand eyes were trained on the looming pair above, five thousand eyes agog. Not a word was spoken. Hardly anyone breathed — as though the least exhale into the night wind might sway both of them above and bring them each sailing down to their death.
The security guard flailed slightly but managed to catch hold of the figure’s arm, and now, still on all fours and leaning over, off-balance and horribly top-heavy, the figure carefully and with great strength drew her upward, until at last he was seen pulling her to safety over the edge of the rooftop.
The crowd below broke out in wild applause, and some among them even hugged each other.
Five minutes later, when the paramedics arrived upon the scene, they found only the electrocuted young security guard and no one else. The guard was lying safely upon her back, alive but alone, along the rooftop.
The next day, the Las Vegas Tribune published the following article:
“Late last night, a security guard, patrolling the rooftop of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, survived a bizarre accident. She was electrocuted while reaching down among the neon lights for her hat, which the wind had blown off. The young woman is in stable condition. She was pulled to safety by an anonymous person, who subsequently disappeared from the scene. It’s not known if her rescuer is in any way connected with the fall of confetti which had been dumped from the rooftop only minutes before. Police are asking anyone with information to please come forward.”
The article then went on to mention that the confetti contained a kind of cryptic writing, quoting as an example the following three passages:
What is the fundamental thing that distinguishes the free worker from the slave’s labor? It is consensual, voluntary human action over state coercion and governmental compulsion. The free worker can leave any time. The slave cannot.
And then this:
The choice is not capitalism versus socialism — two terms which have become so corrupted by misuse and overuse that they’re now meaningless. The choice, rather, is individuality versus groupthink. It is conformity versus independent thought and action, individualism versus collectivism.
And lastly this one:
If you want strangers to cooperate — all races, all sexes, all genders, all people — allow full freedom of exchange and the legally protected right to keep in full the fruits of that exchange.
The day after this article appeared in the Las Vegas Tribune, the University of Nevada Las Vegas and their award-winning newspaper, Scarlet & Gray, also ran a brief article, which mentioned as well the mysterious petal-shaped confetti. This article even showed four clear photographs of several leaflets and what was written upon them:
Individualism is the act of each person taking on the responsibility of thinking for herself. Individualism does not mean rebelliousness or non-cooperation. Individualism is not “rugged.” Individualism means voluntary, consensual human action, with which it is synonymous, as distinguished from coercion, compulsion, force. Individualism is not atomistic. It is not a hatred of societies or families, nor is it isolationistic. It’s not in opposition to societal cooperation, but the antonym of that. Individualism is nothing more or less than this: the full espousal of consensual, voluntary human action, as against state coercion. Individualism rests upon the principle of choice — specifically, the voluntary choices and actions of each individual person, versus action that is government coerced.
Laissez faire means: let individuals choose and do not force them to yield to an authority. Laissez faire does not provide but merely protects. Laissez faire does not guarantee anything except the freedom to try.
The third leaflet shown in the photograph had writing on the front and back, and both passages were quotations — the first of which from a book called Forever Flowing, by a Russian writer named Vasily Grossman who’d lived through the Russian Revolution, who’d supported it at first, and then became an extreme critic and dissident:
I used to think freedom was freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of conscience. But freedom is the whole life of everyone. Here is what it amounts to: you have to have the right to sow what you wish to, to make shoes or coats, to bake into bread the flour ground from the grain you have sown, and to sell it or not sell it as you wish, and to keep the proceeds from that which you sell; for the lathe operator, the steelworker, and the artist it’s a matter of being able to live as you wish and work as you wish and not as they order you to. And in our country there is no freedom – not for those who write books nor for those who sow grain nor for those who make shoes.
The other side of this leaflet said the following:
It was toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention. In their eyes, the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer whose divagations had no effect on reality. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. Therefore the great intellectual work of the Marxists could easily pass as just one more variation on a sterile pastime. Only a few individuals understood the causes and probable consequences of this general indifference (The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize).
The UNLV campus radio station picked up this story, and in quoting some of these same leaflets, the radio station received hundreds of phone calls from irate listeners. Virtually all callers were agreed that the confetti-dropper, whoever it was, clearly did not want to “relinquish the power structures built by his whiteness,” as one caller phrased it, “nor seek to understand the true nature of fascism,” as another said.
This was the extent of the reaction to Kristy’s leaflets — at first.
Yet it was almost as though the leaflets had touched off a buried fuse — something which appeared to burn itself out, though in actuality it had not burned out at all. It was smoldering.
Thus the subject of the leaflets did not quite die. A few people in the media even began quoting them, always derisively and always without explicit attribution. This in turn led to more people quoting them, so that within two-month’s time, the leaflets had received enough attention to precipitate three separate feminist groups passing formal resolutions of protest. A number of environmental groups amassed petitions as well. After this a few student protests sprung up: protests demanding that such things containing such reckless speech not be allowed — anywhere — because they were a form of force and violence. It was repeatedly said also that “freedom of speech is overrated, especially in comparison with the health of the planet.” High-schools and community colleges around the city erected more and more protected-zones and safe-spaces.
A famous singer, born and raised in America and made wealthy in America, a young woman of mixed ethnicity, who referred to herself as “a non-white,” and who now owned five different homes across the globe, including a palatial Las Vegas mansion, wrote an impassioned article about the nature of inequality. She described in detail how America had given her nothing but racism and hatred and patriarchy, saying also that “it is in the very nature of privilege to find even deeper places to hide.” This article was reprinted thousands of times and it created louder cries of indignation, which drowned out the one lone eloquent rebuttal — an articulate letter also written by a female singer, who happened to be black, and who wrote, among other things: “It is in the nature of racism to employ Kafkatraps and other popular fallacies, which uncritical readers fall into unsuspectingly…. As singers, neither of us would have gotten anywhere were it not for the diversity of all people — all types, all sexes, races, genders, and nationalities — who have purchased our music voluntarily, and who became our fans because our songs, which are our work, brought to them enjoyment and pleasure.”
It was during this unrest, some three months after Kristy Reed had emptied his trashbags full of petal-shaped leaflets, that the same young and well-dressed graduate student who months before had approached Kristy’s coworker, Michael, now early one afternoon approached Pancho — in whom this young man named Michael seemed to have taken a particular, even secretive interest, watching Pancho surreptitiously from a distance. Pancho, a happy soul, well-mannered, witty, uncommonly handsome and muscular, was, like Kristy, a high-school dropout, and the waste management company for which they both worked had contracts with several businesses on and around the college campus, one very near this young man’s office. On this particular day, the young man strode up to Pancho, almost as though he’d been waiting for him. The young man was tall and thin, with longish brown hair. He spoke in a calm yet serious voice:
“You and your work are being exploited,” he said.
Pancho stared at him in silence. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that the man in charge of you is stealing from you.”
“This company is owned by a woman,” Pancho said.
“Then she’s stealing from you. That’s what I mean by exploited. And please don’t tell me she ‘earns’ the money that she makes off of your labor.”
“Why not?” Pancho said. “I think she does earn it. There’s a great deal of overhead and responsibility, and she bootstrapped this business herself.”
“The best way for me to describe it to you,” the young man said, “is to take it back to Karl Marx and his analysis of capitalism. This way, we can more fully define what the term ‘earning’ means. Imagine that you’re a person seeking a job, and I’m the employer by whom you’re seeking to get hired — and so, let’s say, after we discuss things for a while, we both agree on my paying you a wage of fifteen dollars per hour.”
Pancho didn’t reply.
“At this point,” the young man continued, “Karl Marx enters the scene with a smile on his face and says, ‘I’m going to show you’ — meaning the readers of his books — ‘that when this deal is done, the fifteen dollars an hour reveals something sneaky that’s going on, which you probably already suspect yet don’t want to admit. When I hire you for fifteen dollars an hour, I know for every hour that you give me your work, I’m going to have more goods or services or items to sell at the end of the day because you were added to my workforce, and you helped me produce those goods or services. You’re going to help me produce more goods or more services or better quality goods or services or whatever the case may be, and the output has got to be more than fifteen dollars an hour.’ This is what Marx says to us. In other words, the only way I’m going to hire you for fifteen dollars an hour is if you produce more in the hour than I give you. So, my friend, when you feel, in a vague way, at the end of the day, as you come home from work, that you’re being ripped off, you’re absolutely right — you are being ripped off. Or, in Marx’s language, ‘exploited.’ And yet even though you and I and everybody suspects this, the capitalists still say ‘I earned it!’ No, they didn’t. The capitalists just rip people off.”
“Tell him that he’s telling you only half of what happens in the process of exchange he just described,” Kristy Reed said. He appeared suddenly from around the passenger side of the garbage-hauler. Kristy was speaking to Pancho but looking directly at the young man.
“Beg pardon?” the young man said.
“Tell him that he’s viewing the whole process only from his own biased perspective of the business-owner or entrepreneur,” Kristy said. “Or, as he says, the capitalist. Tell him that he’s neglecting to look at it from the perspective of you or me, the worker, who voluntarily, consensually agreed to the proffered wage. Who is he to presume our happiness or our personal system-of-values? Who is he to presume whether we’d prefer to work each for our own bare subsistence or for a wage — whether we’d prefer to try and raise money and set up our own business, or simply work for someone else who’s already started a business and who agrees to pay us an amount that we in turn agree to as well?”
“What precisely do you mean?” the young man said.
Only now did Kristy turn to Pancho. Kristy answered the young man’s question:
“I mean that we get fifteen dollars in exchange for one hour’s worth of our work. This fifteen dollars has to be worth more to us than our effort, or we wouldn’t have agreed, as we would not have agreed to, for example, working for one penny a day or one penny an hour. The only way I’m going to work for you for fifteen an hour is if you pay me more than the value of the hour I give you. And so from this perspective, we can equally conclude that the worker is ripping off the employer — or, in Marx’s language, we the workers are exploiting the capitalists.”
Pancho was watching Kristy with an open-mouth smile of astonishment.
“Tell him furthermore,” Kristy said, “that the employee and the employer value things differently, which means that value is subjective, and that Marx, following in the footsteps of Adam Smith, made a grave error in accepting the so-called Labor Theory of Value, which the marginal revolution exploded. This very error is the bedrock of all Marxist and Neo-Marxist thought, even into the present day. It is an error of such depth and devastating proportions that it alone, forget all the other things, defeats the entirety of Marx, who saw human life as an irreconcilable conflict of economic classes — a caste system, inherently antagonistic — with class struggle an inevitability that would only disappear in a future classless society of forced socialism.”
Kristy looked back to the young man.
“Tell him, Pancho,” Kristy said, “that the most incredible thing about his entire ideology and worldview is that neither Marx nor anyone else has ever fully explained what a ‘class’ is or what they have in mind when speaking of classes and class antagonisms and in their coordinating classes into castes. All the sophisticated definitions and the lexical hairsplitting center around never-defined terms and ambiguous language, all of which is built upon smoke and mirrors. The truth is that human action and interaction is not inherently antagonistic. Trade is mutually beneficial and voluntary.”
Pancho now grinned even wider at Kristy, from whom he’d never heard such language and who was saying things quite new.
“Pancho understands an obvious fact,” Kristy said, turning back to the young man.
“What fact would that be?” the young man said.
“An employer values the work more than fifteen dollars. The employee values the fifteen more than the work. Both, then, each exchange what they value less for what they each value more. Both parties from their own perspective — not yours and not Karl Marx’s but from their own individual perspective — benefit from the exchange, and each is made better off according to her or his own different values. You may not agree to that wage and you are free to decline the job offer. But in neither case is anyone ripping off or exploiting another. They exchange by mutual consent and to mutual advantage. This is called the harmony principle, and it’s defined by the fact that it’s voluntary. It benefits both, and it is in direct contrast to the conflict doctrine that you and Karl Marx uphold.”
“Hardly,” the young man muttered.
“Hardly what?” Kristy said.
“Hardly voluntary and hardly mutual — unless you call slave labor ‘voluntary and mutual.’”
“A slave can neither negotiate a wage nor reject a wage nor disagree nor quit nor leave a job,” Kristy said. “Pancho and I can. So can you.”
The young man didn’t reply.
“If the employer didn’t exist,” Kristy said, “what do you think humans would do?”
The young man remained silent.
“We’d each have to work for our own subsistence,” Kristy said, “which would obliterate the division of labor and all the specialization that goes along with it — the division of labor, I repeat, which is the fundamental social phenomena and upon which all civilization is built. Or we’d each and all have to start our own businesses, whether we wanted to or not, and which in a free society we are always free to do. Yet the opposite of that is not the case.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean that under any system of all-around government regimentation or socialization, the powers-that-be disallow individuals starting up businesses freely — especially those businesses that pay people wages which other people willingly agree to be paid, or not. So I ask again: who are you to presume what Pancho and I and everyone else values more? I ask again: who are you to tell us what we should value more: subsistence farming or working for a wage that we’ve voluntarily agreed to?”
The young man didn’t reply.
“What produces the goods and services ultimately is not toil and trouble in themselves,” Kristy said, “but the fact that the toiling is guided by human reason. Equal labor does not produce equal products. It produces unequal products when unequal means are employed. The guiding and directing intelligence is what’s forgotten here or ignored. Yet it cannot be emphasized enough: guiding and directing intelligence, not brute force or muscular exertion, is the essential characteristic of human labor. Human brainpower directs the tool, and it’s the brainpower — not the tool — that ultimately produces goods and services. The tool, whether pick-and-shovel, garbage-hauler, or dynamite, is only the means. The reasoning mind is the creative force and directing source.”
Kristy turned to Pancho.
“His statement that the output has got to be more than fifteen dollars,” Kristy said, “is true only in the limited sense that the employer expects and hopes that her potential customers will value that output at more than fifteen dollars. Customers, I emphasize, because the business-person must always serve customers and provide customers with what they want — or that business-person will go out of business. Customers may very well not value enough the fifteen dollars per hour — meaning that the potential customers may not be willing to pay the sort of money that will allow her to pay this high of wage. The employer can’t be certain. The employer, not the worker, assumes this uncertainty and takes on this risk. Her customers may turn out to value the product or service at less than fifteen dollars an hour, and if so, the employer takes a loss. If a better and less expensive alternative comes to market before the employer can get her product finished and sold, customers may not value this good at all, and the loss will be total. The entrepreneur who hires workers in a free and open system does earn profit if and only if she judges correctly how to combine resources — labor, equipment, materials, buildings, electricity, shipping, design, advertising, and other inputs — to create new value for her customers. Her profit or loss is her reward or punishment for getting that judgment right or wrong. Tell him, Pancho, that exploiting workers has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
“Are you a student?” the young man said.
Read the rest.