Wednesday, April 28, 2010




Serf: Origin late 15th century: Slave. From

Old French, from Latin servus or ‘slave’.

Socialism, in its 21st century debut, has carefully purged itself of such inconvenient memories as Hitler’s National Socialism, the socialist gulag that is the legacy of North Korea’s Kim Jong Ill, Stalin’s malignant Soviet Socialist Republic laid to rest at last on the trash heap of history and the ascendance of a still implacable Communist China. Because so few remember, socialists are no longer embarrassed by the image of Khrushchev beating his shoe on a United Nations podium as he shouted the death of capitalism. In fact, the new socialism has put on a smiley face.

Some American socialists now grudgingly admit that China’s Mao ZeDong may have gone a bit too far in his effort to cleanse Marxist/Leninist dogma of counter-revolutionary heresy. Mao declared a Cultural Revolution, raised from the “People” a Red Guard that destroyed magnificent Chinese art, music, irreplaceable Confucian classics and 6000 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. In ten years of Marxist purification, Mao created famine, built gulags to contain his people and murdered millions of Chinese.

In the name of Lenin and Marx, he terrified, humiliated and imprisoned innocent men and women. He banished intellectuals to the countryside—there to realize in its bucolic splendor, and in the seeding of earth with onions, garlic and rice-- the joys of socialist serfdom. “American leftists of the sixties and seventies—Noam Chomsky, Norman Mailer, Simone de Beauvoir, Shirley MacLaine, and countless others--fawned over these despots as their role models, George Bernard Shaw, Anna Louise Strong, Bertolt Brecht, and Walter Duranty, had fawned over Joseph Stalin.” [1]

Now that such shocking socialist memories have been purged, conservatives who invoke socialist history to prove that socialists, by whatever name, intend to impose again their vision, this time on the United States, are damned politely with faint laughter. The idea, after all, is so silly. In any event, it simply could not happen in America.

That Socialism, born again the welfare state, has put on a smiley face does not make it less pernicious. In 1944, Fredrich Hayek predicted the fate of post-war England. He wrote that socialism, in its new incarnation, the welfare state would smother the creative powers of a free civilization.[2] The English, however, would not hear of it. In fact, several publishing houses refused to publish Hayek’s Road to Serfdom for reasons sinister and ideological.

When a people surrender their freedom to the state, in return for its benefice they make a Faustian bargain. Hayek wrote that,“… The most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people.” Against this, “… even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.” [3]

The struggle between freedom and socialism is an old one. In 1848, not so long after the birthing of America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that the insidious power of socialism, “…does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrial animals, of which government is the shepherd….[4] Socialism, in its new incarnation, has not been pacified.

What is the source of freedom? In ancient Athens freedom began with the idea of a democracy grounded in cultural traditions that celebrate individual sovereignty. The Athenian Pisistratus, in the name of freedom and bearing faint promises of peace, sold the Athenians generations of tyranny.[5] More then two millennium later, despots use the same bait. “…Freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice…. The demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth. [6] Or as our President joyfully explained his job to Joe the Plummer, “To spread the wealth around.”

What is this new freedom pitched in a quick sell to Americans? What is meant by the word Change? By what right does the government claim the unbridled power to “spread the wealth?” And where is the blueprint of a prosperous future to be found in the rabble-rousing shout of, Yes We Can?

Hayek wrote that although his generation had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century that socialism means slavery, they still steadily moved in that direction. Tragically, they saw in the advent of Hitler’s National Socialism a new form of slavery arise before their eyes. [7] Hayek warned that there is no way to get along with the welfare state. In fact, ultimately, complete submission is mandatory. The citizen finally, must give up self-respect. He must give up honor.

“…It is not enough that a man should be prepared to accept specious justification of vile deeds; he must himself be prepared actively to break every moral rule he has ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the end set for him. Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, [the citizens] must have no moral conviction of their own. They must, above all, be unreservedly committed to the person of the leader, but next to this the most important thing is that they should be completely unprincipled and literally capable of everything. [8]

How will Americans face the challenge of this new socialism reborn the welfare state and purged of its brutal history? What injury will it work on the American character? Will Americans continue to accept the corrosion of their constitutional freedoms? Will they learn to get along with economic impoverishment? Will they freely choose the road to serfdom?

What is to be done? Shakespeare tells us there is a way as easy to explain, as it is difficult to practice. Still, however great the challenge, it is a way to begin what must be done.

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man[9]

[1] Jamie Glazov, United in Hate, The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror, (WND Books 2009). P.45.

[2] Fredrick Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Viii.

[3] Hayek. Xi.

[4] Alex de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Part II, Book IV, Xiii.

[5] See The Last Democrat, my column in the Jeff Crank archives.

[6] Hayek. P.26.

[7] Hayek. P.13.

[8] Hayek. P 151.

[9] Shakespeare— Hamlet, Act I, sc. Iii.

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