A reader writes:
Dear JournalPulp: What is the difference between socialism, communism, and welfare-statism?
Communism is a species of the genus socialism.
It is one of the many variations on the theme.
Socialism in turn is a variety of collectivism, which is the politico-ethical ideology that holds the individual subordinate to a so-named group or collective.
Communism explicitly calls for the violent overthrow of government. In theory, it is an anarchist ideology which believes that the state will one day “wither away,” as Karl Marx famously phrased it, though only after an unspecified period of gigantic bureaucratic control.
Of course in the long and blood-soaked history of communism, the state has never “withered away” but just the opposite: it’s only ever mushroomed, as it only ever can.
The reason for this is that once bureaucracy is entrenched it’s impossible to retrogress away from.
Democratic socialism, upon the other hand, doesn’t advocate the violent overthrow of government but aims to use force peacefully.
One must always remember: socialism is by definition an ideology of force. By its very nature, it must resort to force because socialism explicitly and statedly has at its cornerstone the “requirement and necessity of expropriation” in order to redistribute to all. Expropriation is an act of force.
This is why the distinguishing characteristic of any and all species of socialism is government control of property and the means of production.
This is also the reason “corporatism” — i.e. cronyism (i.e. crony capitalism) — is another variation of socialism.
Expropriation is an act of force.
No government, real or hypothetical, can spend or redistribute a single penny unless it first either taxes, borrows, prints, or any cross-combination of these three.
It is a fact easy to perceive that before any socialist vision can be realized, there must be the application of force.
One way to illustrate this is by simply asking all proposed socialist policies to be voluntary. Would that be permitted?
It would not.
Full voluntary, consensual human action is not permitted under any and all forms of socialism, which is a type of collectivism, which holds the individual human being subordinate to the so-named collective.
Welfare statism is not precisely the same thing as socialism, democratic or otherwise.
Welfare statism wants all the wealth and advantages that laissez-faire and private property creates, but at the same time, it wants to undermine the very things that make all that wealth possible, which is freedom of exchange and private ownership of the means of production.
Welfare statism takes for granted the advantages of laissez-faire — it wants to hold power over the producers of wealth — yet it wants those same wealth-producers to keep producing it for them. It is a short-sighted ideology the prevalence of which dominates academia from sea to shining sea.
The welfare state, which is what we live in today and have for some time, is the result of what some economists have called the “hampered or mixed market economy.” It is not identical to socialism proper, primarily because it is not explicit enough, but it too is a variation on the same theme.
Do you remember clear back in 2013, when many mainstream outlets and many in Hollywood were citing Venezuela as a model to emulate — “an economic miracle,” as David Sirota called it, created by “Hugo Chavez’s full-throated advocacy of socialism.”
Here are some of the things we didn’t hear very much about:
The artificial famine in Ukraine, the Soviet Gulags, the forced deportation of Lithuanians, the persecution of Christians, China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the killing fields of Cambodia, North Korea’s horrific prison camps and famines, the systematic impoverishment of Cuba, and now Venezuela’s collapse into starvation and mass-murder.
In my opinion, all this and more should be required background knowledge.
And this, from a previous article I wrote:
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party was founded in 1919 and abolished in 1945. It came into full power under Adolph Hitler in 1933, and proceeded at that time to slaughter a spectacular number of people in a relatively short span of years.
Most today are universally agreed that Nazism was many things, but socialistic was not one of them.
In fact the opposite of this is the case: Nazism was indeed true to its title — The National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
The fundamental feature — the distinguishing characteristic — that underpins all forms of socialism is, as Karl Marx expressed it, the abolition of private property and state control over the means of production.
Private property, or private ownership, is, in the language of American (and European) jurisprudence:
Not only money and other tangible things of value, but also includes any intangible right considered as a source or element of income or wealth. The right and interest which a man has in lands and chattels to the exclusion of others. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolute manner as he pleases, provided he makes no use of them prohibited by law. [Property] is a claim by a person or persons to exclusive utilization, consumption, or transfer of some category of goods. The right of property is the right to use and discard (The Harvard Law Library).
It was by means of the Food Estate guild, the Estate of Trade and Industry guild, and the Labor Front guild that the Nazis were able to take control of every group of producer and consumer in Germany.
German socialism, so-called, assumed complete control of the means of production, while maintaining the facade of a market economy. The crucial point here, however, which one must never overlook, is the fact that prices and wages were all “fixed by the central authority.” Thus, they were only ostensibly prices and wages — meaning: in actual fact, prices and wages were determined by order of the socialist German government, not the free-market. In this way, Nazism masqueraded as a system of free-enterprise, but in reality it was socialist up to its gills.
The difference between National Socialism (Nazism) and Bolshevik socialism is purely a question of form: the Nazis, unlike the Bolsheviks, did not advocate public or governmental ownership of the means of production. Nazism, rather, openly demanded that government oversee and regulate the nation’s economy. The issue of “legal” ownership, explained Adolph Hitler, “is secondary.” What counts here is the issue of control.
“Under Nazism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under Marxist socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it — at least until the next purge” (Nobel Prize winner Frederic Hayek, The Road to Serfdom).
Both are variations on the same theme, and that theme is collectivism.
Collectivism, I reiterate for emphasis, is the political theory which believes that “the collective” has primacy over the individual.
“The collective” can refer to “the society” “the group” “the gang” “the tribe” “the proletariat” “the superior race” “the underprivileged races” “the common good” “workers” “labor” and many other things as well. The specifics do not matter because the principles are the same.
What matters here — the only thing that matters here — is that the individual is subordinated to the named collective.
This system of de facto socialism, carried out under the outward guise and appearance of [so-called] capitalism, in which the legal forms of private ownership are maintained, has been aptly characterized by Ludwig von Mises as socialism on the German pattern. The Germans under Ludendorf and Hindenburg in World War I, and later under Hitler, were the foremost practitioners of this type of socialism. (The more familiar variant of socialism, in which government openly nationalizes the means of production and establishes socialism de jure as well as de facto, von Mises calls socialism on the Russian or Bolshevik pattern.)
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Nazi Germany was a socialist country and that the Nazis were right to call themselves National Socialists. This is something everyone should know; yet it appears to have been overlooked or ignored by practically all writers but von Mises and Hayek.
In Nazi Germany, the government controlled all prices and wages and determined what each firm was to produce, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to turn over its products. There was no fundamental difference between the Nazis and other socialists (Dr. George Reisman, Capitalism).
“Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same,” said Adolph Hitler.
“Profit is the source of all evils,” said Goebbles, whose hatred of laissez faire was stupendous.
A reader writes:
Dear JournalPulp: What’s the difference between a cynic and a skeptic?
Cynic and skeptic are often confused and often conflated, though in actuality the only thing they really have in common is that their provenance is philosophical.
The difference between the cynic and the skeptic is the difference between epistemology and ethics. It is the difference between brain and body.
Skepticism is an epistemological word.
Cynicism is ethical.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with morality.
The Greek word skopein — from which the English word “scope” derives — means “to observe, aim at, examine.” It’s related to the Greek skeptesthai, which means “to look out.”
Skepsis and skeptikos are also both Greek and mean “to look; to enquire; to aim.”
Those are the etymological roots of the word skeptic.
Skeptic — or, if you’re in the United Kingdom, sceptic, the difference being purely one of form and not substance — has its origins in the Ancient Greek thinkers who developed arguments which purport to show that knowledge is either impossible (Academic Scepticism) or that there is never sufficient data to tell if knowledge is possible (Pyrrhonian Scepticism).
Academic Scepticism rejects certainty but accepts degrees of probability. In this sense, Academic Scepticism anticipates elements of present-day quantum theory. The Academic Sceptics rejected certainty on the grounds that our senses (from which all knowledge ultimately derives) are unreliable, and reason therefore is unreliable since, say the Academic Sceptics, we can find no guaranteed standard by which to gauge whether our convictions are true. This claim rests upon the notion that humans can never know anything that is absolutely false.
The roots of Academic Scepticism are found in Socrates famous apothegm: “All I know is that I know nothing.” The word “Academic” in “Academic Scepticism” refers to Plato’s Academy, third century B.C.
At around this same time, a fellow by the name of Pyrrho of Elis (c.360-275 B.C.), who was connected with the Methodic School of Medicine in Alexandria, founded a school, which soon came to be known as Pyrrhonian Scepticism. Pyrrho’s followers — most notably a loyal student named Timon (c.315-225 B.C.) — were called Pyrrhonists. None of Pyrrho’s actual writings have survived, and the theoretical formulation of his philosophy comes mainly from a man named Aenesidemus (c.100-40 B.C.).
The essential difference between these two schools of Ancient Greek scepticism is this:
The Pyrrhonists regarded even the claim “I know only that I know nothing” as claiming too much knowledge. There’s even a legend that Pyrrho himself refused to make a definitive judgment of knowledge even if “chariots were about to strike him dead,” and his students allegedly rescued him a number of different times because he refused to make commitments.
To this day the term Pyrrhonist is synonymous with the term sceptic, which is also synonymous with the term agnostic (a meaning “without”; gnosis meaning “knowledge”).
It’s perhaps worth pointing out as well that the word agnostic in this context was, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, coined by Thomas Henry Huxley, in the spring of 1869, at a party, in which there was reportedly “much licking and sucking.” According to R. H. Hutton, who was there: “Huxley took it from St. Paul’s mention of the altar to ‘the Unknown God.’”
In truth, however, the word agnostic was most likely first used by a woman named Isabel Arundell, in a letter to Huxley, who stole it from her without credit.
The Oxford English Dictionary (Unabridged, 2004) lists four meanings of the term skeptic, which are as follows:
1. one who, like Pyrrho and his followers in Greek antiquity, doubts the possibility of real knowledge of any kind; one who holds that there are no adequate grounds for certainty. Example: “I am apt to think there never yet has really been such a monster in the world as a sceptic” (Tucker, 1768).
2. one who doubts the validity of what claims to be knowledge … popularly, one who maintains a doubting attitude with reference to some particular question or statement; one who is habitually inclined to doubt rather than to believe any assertion or apparent fact that comes before him. Example: “If every sceptic in Theology may teach his follies, there can be no religion” (Samuel Johnson, 1779).
3. one who doubts without absolutely denying the truth of the Christian religion or important party of it; loosely, an unbeliever in Christianity. Example: “In listening to the arguments of a sceptic, you are breathing a poisonous air” (R.B. Girdlestone, 1863).
4. occasionally, from its etymological sense: a truth seeker; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions. Example: “A sceptic, then, is one who shades his eyes in order to look steadfastly at a thing.” (M.D. Conway, 1870).
The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) debate has catapulted this latter definition to the forefront, yet many purists, like me, who know the philosophical roots of the word skepticism, are not always comfortable using it in this way — mainly because it’s so at odds with the philosophical meaning of the term. Skepticism has over 2,000 years of heavy philosophical baggage, and to call yourself a skeptic in the philosophical sense entails much more than one “who shades his eyes in order to look steadfastly at a thing.”
Language, however, is a living, breathing organism which will and properly should evolve, and it would be very bad indeed to say that skeptic in this latter sense is incorrect. And yet there is another word for this type of skepticism, a word which is much more precise and much less laden: Evidentialism.
True skepticism — which is to say, agnosticism, which is to say, Pyrrhonism — rejects the possibility of all knowledge, and yet it is precisely this that the scientist seeks, and finds: knowledge.
The philosophical skeptic is defined by three words: “I don’t know.”
The scientific skeptic, on the other hand, is (theoretically) defined by rational inquiry — someone who investigates with a disposition to be persuaded and yet does not (in the words of perhaps the most famous skeptical inquirer of them all) “insensibly twist facts to fit theories, instead of twisting theories to fit facts.”
A cynic, on the other hand, is someone who doesn’t believe goodness is possible.
Cynicism is a moral concept, not epistemologic. Which is to say, it’s only indirectly related to the science of knowledge and thought.
The word cynicism originated with a Greek fellow by the name of Antisthenes (not to be confused with Antihistamines, which are something else entirely), who was once a student of Socrates.
Antisthenes had a notorious contempt for human merit and human pleasure, and that is why to this day the word cynic denotes a sneer.
The cynic rejects goodness.
The skeptic rejects knowledge.
That is the difference between the cynic and the skeptic.
Both words, it should also be noted, do, however, have one very important thing in common: from a philosophical standpoint, they’re each stupendously incorrect.
A reader writers:
Dear JournalPulp: What’s your beef with democracy?
Democracy killed Socrates.
Democracy killed Joan of Arc.
Democracy killed Yeshua ben Joseph who is also known as Jesus.
Democracy killed Hypatia, the great Hypatia.
A democratic government is that system of government under which those ruled determine by vote the exercise of the legislative and executive power, as well as the selection of supreme executives and other government personnel.
This is also called vox populi (“voice of the people”).
Under a system of vox populi, majority rule determines everything.
Majority rule over everything is spectacularly dangerous.
Democracy killed Socrates.
Democracy killed Joan of Arc.
Democracy killed Jesus.
Democracy killed Hypatia.
If a majority votes that the exercise of power remove the rights of a minority — for, let us say by way of illustration, the rights of women or the rights of gay men or the rights of jewish people or the rights of Asians or black people or hispanic — there’s now nothing at all to protect that minority’s rights, which in reality are inalienable: they’re either recognized or not. If they’re not, it is an act of injustice.
Democracy has basically become a junk work — a throwaway term — a word everybody uses and uses, moreover, invariably as something good and virtuous.
As such it’s become a word nobody can understand.
“First, confuse the vocabulary,” said V.I. Lenin.
The United States is “a Constitutional Republic,” as Ben Franklin put it.
Why did he describe it so?
Because your life and your property are yours inalienably and absolutely. Neither are any way, at any time, subject to majority-rule vote, nor should they ever be.
Democracy was described as “the tyranny of the majority” by James Madison.
As he wrote in the Federalist Papers:
“[Under democracy] there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”
John Adams was “a passionately outspoken enemy of slavery” and accurately recognized that democracies “merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect preexisting rights.”
Ben Franklin was President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and petitioned the first United States Congress for the “full abolition of slavery, and every species of traffic in slavery” because “no human is by nature the property of another.” Neither by force of vote or force of muscle.
Thomas Jefferson, who himself owned slaves, wrote into the Declaration of Independence a serious and scrupulously reasoned denunciation of the slave trade, which was, however, edited out by congress. In 1784, Jefferson brought a bill before Congress which sought to prohibit slavery in all western territories, but this bill was voted down by a single vote.
That, reader, is actual democracy at work.
I ask you to reread what I just wrote, research it, think deeply about it.
There is a certain sense in which the United States is both a democracy and a republic, and the component that makes America a partial democracy is the “procedural selection of personnel,” which refers to electing the officials whose job it is to implement Constitutional principles. But the principles themselves — most fundamentally, the principle of rights — is not ever, in theory, subject to vote.
Neither was the selection of personnel ever meant to be the colossal issue that it’s become today.
The fact that it has become so — when, for example, it is decided by vote if you may open your car lot or liquor store on Sunday, or when it is decided by vote if you can allow people to drink and smoke in your privately owned establishment — tells you how little our current politicians understand the nature of rights, and how far we’ve come from the original concept.
More frighteningly, perhaps, it tells you how little the voting public understands it.
Inalienable means “that which cannot be taken away, transferred, or made alien” — not by vote, not by force, not by anyone.
If a person or institution does so, it is wrong — which word is not coincidentally the opposite of right.
Right are inalienable in the following sense:
Persons unaccustomed to attach exact meanings to words will say that the fact that a man may be unjustly executed or imprisoned negates this proposition [of inalienable rights]. It does not. The right is with the victim nonetheless; and very literally it cannot be alienated, for alienated means passing into the possession of another. One man cannot enjoy either the life or liberty of another. If he kills ten men he will not thereby live ten lives or ten times as long; nor is he more free if he puts another man in prison. Rights are by definition inalienable: only privileges can be transferred. Even the right to own property cannot be alienated or transferred, though a given item of property can be. If one man’s rights are infringed, no other man obtains them; on the contrary, all men are thereby threatened with a similar injury (Isabel Paterson, God of the Machine, 1943).
The erosion of the critical-thinking faculty is what makes possible the widespread mischaracterization of democracy and rights, and this erosion is, in my opinion, the gravest threat facing human civilization. That the vote has become a weapon of mass destruction testifies to this.
Though a tyrant may temporarily rule through a minority if this minority holds superior arms and methods of force over the majority, in the long run a minority cannot keep the majority in subservience. The oppressed will rise up in rebellion and cast off the yoke of tyranny. Any system of government that would endure must therefore construct itself upon a system of ideas accepted by the majority (Bureaucracy, Ludwig von Mises).
Never forget the following, I beseech you: Hitler and Mussolini were very well-liked by the majority of their countrymen — i.e. the vox-populi — and won by majority rule.
“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 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1980)
The power of ideas can be seen no more starkly than in the fact that people subscribe to them without any hesitation, wavering, or scruples.
As captured so perfectly in the Czeslaw Milosz passage quoted at the top of this post, societies and any concrete order of social affairs are the direct outcome and consequence of ideas.
Most people in society accept these “intricate and abstruse” ideologies — these “disputes on principle,” as Czeslaw Milosz’s perfectly puts it — more by default than by anything else: default by indifference and intellectual passivity.
Ideas come from thinking, which by its very nature is an individualized act.
No one can perform for another the continual and lifelong act of attention, which is the sine-qua-non of thinking — the foundational requirement of all thought. No one can perform it for another human being.
Ideas have consequences, both for good and for ill, and the determining factor is the truth or falsehood of the ideas being propounded.
The following is a real-life illustration — writ sickeningly large — of what can happen when false ideas grip a society.
In this case, it is the false idea that individuals do not actually exist but are merely parts of a collective whole.
What you’re about to read is what resulted when the idea that individuality, individualism, and independent thinking were rejected, thrown away, and replaced with an ideology of egalitarianism-by-force.
This exact same idea is even now (July 28, 2022), in spite of the real-life atrocity exhibition about which you’re shortly to read, the stated cornerstone and defining characteristic of all so-called leftist thought, which is embraced also by the so-called right.
“When the Khmer Rouge seized power in April 1975, they did so with the intention of obliterating its hierarchical political culture in order to reconstruct Cambodian society from ground zero as the world’s most egalitarian, and therefore revolutionary social order.”
That passage comes from historian Karl Jackson, in a heartbreaking book, published by Princeton Press, called Cambodia 1975 – 1978. In this book, Jackson describes the Khmer Rouge, which was the name of the socialist-communist-Marxist party that took over Cambodia in the mid-1970’s, as “sectarians and radical egalitarians [who] saw the diversity and differences between people as the root of all evil.”
This ideology was extrapolated directly from the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
The Khmer Rouge was led by a cult-of-personality named Pol Pot, Western educated, who was also the architect of the Killing Fields — a seemingly incomprehensible genocide where Cambodian cities were systematically depopulated, and the entire Cambodian citizenry was enslaved on collective farms, a horrifyingly draconian ideology-of-equality imposed upon all.
“Typically, the slightest dissent would be punished by the offender getting clubbed or starved to death, and so many Cambodians were dispatched by such methods (approximately 1.7 million between 1975 and 1979 according to one estimate) that fields filled with corpses became the macabre hallmark of the regime” (Ibid).
From the Journal of Asian Studies (1998):
“First, they tried to eliminate the use of linguistic registers that connoted kinship, age and other social differences. The word comrade, mitt, was suppose to replace titles, honorifics and even kin terms. Second, many non-verbal cues that connoted status, such as polite greeting forms and bending down before superiors, were also discouraged.”
A historian by the name of Jay Jordens writes that “the Khmer Rouge realized Buddhism was at the core of Khmer ideas of social hierarchy. Thus by abolishing religion and destroying all vestiges of Buddhism; monks, texts, images, rituals, and so on, they might destroy the moral underpinnings of the beliefs in ‘unequal souls’” (Jay Jordens, Propaganda, Politics and Violence in Cambodia, 1996).
And from the website Asia Pacific Curriculum:
By 1977, the distrust on the part of the leadership had reached paranoiac heights and the purges of suspected traitors increased. Even the ranks of the Khmer Rouge cadres themselves were purged, sending increasingly larger numbers of them and their families to prisons where they were tortured and then murdered. The most notorious of these prisons was S-21, a high school in Phnom Penh that was converted into a prison and torture centre run by Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch. Out of an estimated 15,000 prisoners who were sent to S-21, only seven survived.
Prisoners housed there were photographed and tortured to produce confessions. When the interrogators were finished, the prisoners’ corpses were carried by truck to the “killing fields” outside of Phnom Penh. There are approximately 20,000 of these mass graves in various locations in the country.
The relatively short time that Pol Pot ruled — approximately four years — was a living nightmare. An estimated one-quarter of the Cambodian population was killed. I ask you to please pause for a moment and process that.
These were each individual human beings, like you and like me, with individual human lives and loves and passions and dreams and desires and problems and sorrows and joys, and their distinct and individual human lives were real and meaningful and important. Yet they were snuffed-out as though they were nothing — nothing but cogs in a collectivist machine which in reality existed only inside the warped and psychopathic mind of a dictator.
The Cambodian people who survived survived only on “a ladle of watery rice gruel a day.” They were forced for most of their waking hours into back-breaking labor — separated from their families, and do you know the specific reason for this?
Families don’t matter in Communist ideology, since all humans are equal comrades: your parents and siblings and children the same to you as parents, siblings, and children of all other people, even if you’ve never in your life seen or spoken with any of these people, nor they you and yours.
Pol Pot’s regime forced the Cambodian people to eat in spectacularly unsanitary cooperatives, treating them worse than the poorly treated farm animals. They lived under incessant terror of being reported, even for minor acts “such as taking a coconut from a tree or allowing cattle to graze in the wrong field.”
An incalculable number of people died as a direct result of these filthy, terror-stricken conditions.
Vietnamese minority groups were in particular singled out for persecution and annihilation, as were Cham Muslim minorities.
Survivors report that urbanites suffered harder work and even greater suspicion than the peasantry.
Virtually the entire population labored on farms, and can you guess why? Because the ideology of egalitarianism decrees that all humans do everything the same.
Thus, since the government could neither force people into instant expertise and specialization, which takes time and study and countless hours of diligence and practice, nor the comparatively luxurious standards of urban living, which must come from a level of wealth and production they could not come close to affording, the government went for the diametric opposite: slaughtering intellectuals, literally hacking off with machetes the right arms and hands of humans whom the state suddenly deemed “too advantaged” (i.e. unequal); evacuating the cities overnight and forcing everyone, no matter their knowledge and training, into impoverished subsistence agriculture — abolishing, with astonishing celerity and extreme force, all specialization and the division of labor, which is, of course, hierarchical and therefore regarded by all egalitarian standards as “undesirable.”
In terms of the sheer numbers of individual lives taken, Hitler, Mao, and Stalin killed far more people than Pol Pot, and yet Pol Pot and his genocidal regime stands out among them all — for being, in my opinion, the most horrific and evil-perfect practitioner of this ideology: an ideology that regards individuality as non-existent, people only worth anything to the extent that they help produce food “collectively.” Thus the Khmer Rouge slogans, written and posted where the Cambodian people could read them, contained a sick and shocking disregard for individual human life:
“To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss. Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake.”
The Khmer Rouge is among the most ghastly of proofs about which you will ever read regarding the paramount role of ideas in human life.
For the people who harangue, harass, and ridicule those among us defending individualism, individuality, and individual rights, who think that the idea of egalitarian-socialism is nothing to remotely consider or entertain, I respectfully ask you to please read deeply about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge — the obliteration of individual rights, the destruction of the entire concept of individuality and independent thinking: read what it led to in Cambodia, and then come back and harangue. There’s plenty more I have to say — beginning (and perhaps ending) with the fact that egalitarianism is still, right up to this present moment, in one form or another, the defining characteristic and cornerstone of virtually all leftist ideology going back the last two-hundred years. It’s most recent iteration is Critical Race Theory and the “privilege-inequality” narrative, which has infected the world like a plague.
As philosopher and economist Vincent Cook admirably expressed it:
Mass death is certainly no stranger to Communism. Even today a terrible famine stalks North Korea to remind us of the lethal nature of Marxism. However, Pol Pot has earned a special place in the history of Marxian Communism as his Khmer Rouge earned the special distinction of being the one Communist movement in history to actually attempt the full and consistent implementation of the ideals of Karl Marx.
Most Marxists would recoil at the suggestion that Pol Pot is the logical conclusion of their social philosophy, yet any honest assessment of Marx’s theory cannot conceal the fact that the radical egalitarianism of the Khmer Rouge is precisely what Marx predicted would be the ultimate culmination of all human history. It must be clearly kept in mind that industrial socialism, as it was known in the former Soviet Union and other mainstream Marxist states, is not the endpoint of Marx’s philosophy of history. In his view, the abolition of capitalist production relations is only the first stage of the worldwide proletarian revolution.
Marx anticipated that there would be a radical redistribution of wealth and a withering of the global socialist state (the “crude” stage of communism) followed by a fundamental transformation of human nature as all individual culture, personality, and economic uniqueness disappeared (the “higher” stage of communism). Marx looked forward to a time when individuals would be freed from an alleged alienation from their own humanity supposedly caused by the division of labor and money-based economic transactions. Individuality would be replaced by a new generic “species-being” [Marx’s term] personality, a personality that would specialize in nothing and be an expert at everything (Vincent Cook, “Pol Pot and the Marxist Ideal,” 2011).
It is now a fact fairly well-known, even among socialists, that economic calculation under pure socialism is a logical impossibility. And yet compared with the idea that any country or economy could survive, let alone prosper, after government abolishes the division of labor — simultaneously crushing all liberty, all pretense of liberty, and all individuality in the process — the calculation problem seems downright minor, even though in actuality it is not minor at all. It merely seems so because this latter idea is such sheer stark-raving madness.
“Most Communist movements, faced with the utter infeasibility of industrial production under socialist central planning (let alone an abolition of the division of labor), chose to reconcile themselves with capitalism in various ways and to defer the Marxist ideal of higher Communism to a remote future that would conveniently never come. Some Communists, notably the Soviets and especially the Yugoslavs, practically admitted that the species-being ideal would never be realized and were willing to settle for varying degrees of centralized socialistic control mixed with elements of capitalism” (ibid).
Maoists, however, remained pure — at least for a time.
Thus the “Cultural Revolution” of China which vainly tried to transform human nature itself — individuals do not exist, these Maoists also preached — until, that is, its stupendous failure forced even the most radical of Maoists to step back and reevaluate. This failure-followed-by-reevaluation changed Maoism across Asia and the world — with one appalling exception:
Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
Pol Pot understood that industrialization and the cities which emerge through the division of labor would have to be eliminated if the Khmer Rouge were to come anywhere close to an egalitarian society. This is why almost immediately after the Khmer Rouge took power (in April of 1975), the regime began evacuating Phnom Penh, the capital and most populous city in Cambodia. They were, in a very real and literal sense, merely acting with the courage of their Communist convictions.
“The worst that can be said of Pol Pot was that he was sincere,” Vincent Cook correctly wrote, and continued:
The Cambodian people were in fact freed of the “alienation” of a division of labor and individual personality, and were reduced to a perfectly uniform egalitarian existence on the collective farms. If the cruel reality of the Khmer Rouge slave state didn’t quite come up to the extravagant eschatological expectations of Marxist true-believers, the fault lies exclusively with those who think of the Marxist pattern of historical development and its egalitarian outcome as a desirable state of affairs. It is not enough to say of Pol Pot, as Prince Sihanouk did: ‘Let him be dead. Now our nation will be very peaceful.’ We must also acknowledge that a Pol Pot-type passion for equality remains as a threat to the peace and well-being of every nation even if the former dictator himself is dead.
There should be no forgetting the crimes of the Khmer Rouge — no matter how much time has passed or will pass — no whitewashing them, no cultural amnesia concerning them, nor any diminishment whatsoever nor rationalization of their utter evil, especially not by academic elites, like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and all the others who once overtly, repeatedly, publicly praised Pol Pot for his Communist convictions and the “just society” he despotically built.
These people must be ideologically confronted and exposed — routed on the battleground of ideas.
Because the truth is that when the facts are made clear and their ideological philosophies presented in full, without their interminable equivocations, circumlocutions, obfuscations, there is no argument.
The totality of their argument — if it can even be called that — relies purely on propaganda and psychological manipulation.
And do you know why they don’t have an argument?
Here’s the answer: because nobody has a right to the life or labor of any other human being.
If anyone ever tells you differently, I ask you to ask them this:
How do you begin proving such a proposition? Show me your proof.
Ask them from where their edicts and premises derive.
Ask them by what natural order of affairs — what fact within nature, either human nature or nature apart from humans — do they derive their murderous ideological doctrine: the doctrine which says that others do, in fact, according to them, have a right to the life and labor of other individual human beings — and be sure to tell them also that the answer “Karl Marx and his say-so” will no longer do — not that it ever did.
I beseech you to ask them this.
I implore you.
Because in the history of the entire world, no good answer has ever been given to this question and for one simple reason: No good answer for it exists. Because individuals do possess the full right to their own life and labor — inalienably, immutably, objectively.
The Cambodian Killing Fields should stand eternally as the total testament to this entire deadly doctrine: a grotesque, monolithic, twisted monument to the philosophy of forced egalitarianism.
The human race must never forget that any minister of force preaching the egalitarian doctrine-of-envy — which is to say, anti-individualism — that person, that minister of force, is an ideological offspring and disciple of Pol Pot, whether she or he knows it or not.
I am well aware that most people today espousing socialism and egalitarianism — especially those who’ve grown up in the first-world and take its comparative freedom for granted — are not despots-in-waiting, tyrants-to-be, or full-blown dictators of the blackest breed. But I know also that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot et alia are exactly where and to what these politico-ethical-economic ideologies lead.
I know also that once a principle has been breached, even to a small degree, it becomes increasingly easy — easy and then easier and easier — for that principle to be breached again and again. So that you soon hear people saying:
“What do you mean, our government can’t legitimately restrict an individual’s freedom of action, or expropriate her property? Certainly it can. Governments, rightwing and left, at both the state and federal level, do it all the time, as they’ve been doing it for decades. Look at military conscription — the draft — or look at 1913, when the Federal Reserve was created and then, that same year, laws came into being which passed the National Income Tax, which is certainly a type of expropriation, and then Herbert Hoover and his passage of Smoot–Hawley, which paved the way for the New Deal, with all its price and wage controls, and then Social Security, which was meant to be temporary, and then Medicare and Medicaid and then George Bush’s TARP, followed by Barack Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus the thousands of pages of which nobody read in full before it was pushed through bureaucratic legislation at breakneck speed and made into the law of the land, and then his taxpayer-funded bailouts and his taxpayer subsidizations of ‘renewables,’ both of which political policies are identical to Mussolini’s so-called Corporatism, and then of course Obamacare. Why should Donald Trump’s new laws be any different?”
Thus are new laws endlessly enacted, and endlessly justified. And then one day, all freedom is gone, and nobody quite knows how it happened. Or cares.