Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obama and Clinton's False Social Revolution

After the left-wing radical president Barack Obama, is the choice before America really between the radical left-wing Hillary Clinton or the radical left-wing Elizabeth Warren?

That's the helpless feeling you get from reading Stanley Kurz's latest piece in National Review. Author of a book on Obama's radical past, he's commenting on an article by Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon on "The Hillary Letters," the correspondence between Hillary Clinton and left-wing radical Saul Alinsky.

Yes, it turns out that Hillary Clinton has been allowed to cover up her radical past, including a correspondence with Chicago radical Saul Alinsky. She didn't just write her undergraduate thesis on Alinsky. She corresponded with him.  And after graduation from law school she went to work with a radical left-wing Chicago law firm, Treuhaft, Walker, and Bernstein.

Barack Obama also spent his formative adult years in left-wing Chicago and seems to have been mentored by left-wing terrorist Bill Ayers.

In her thesis, Clinton concluded:
If the ideals Alinsky espoused were actualized, the result would be a social revolution.
So, Kurtz suggests, eight years of Obama followed by four years of Clinton or Warren would indeed amount to a social revolution. It would change the United States forever.

But I disagree. The left-wing "march through the institutions" is not a social revolution, it is a palace coup, a cunning political manipulation from above. It is not a popular revolution from below, seeking to overthrow an existing corrupt regime and create a new order; it is a flagrant machination orchestrated within the ruling class that seeks to change everything through a new concentration of power and a withering of the public square and the power of ordinary people. The result of eight years of Obama and four years of Clinton or of Warren would be Bolshevism lite, the seizing of power by an American nomenclatura and the reduction of ordinary American citizens to a virtual serfdom.

To show how this is so, let us analyze the words of Alinsky from his Reveille for Radicals, quoted by Stanley Kurtz.
Radicals want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of the few.
The jungle metaphor is a favorite of the left, advanced particularly by the Fabians, who liked to say that their rational plans would replace the law of the jungle. But this is nonsense. Capitalism is not the law of the jungle; capitalism cannot even start until there is a state pacifies non-state actors and protects economic transactions with the rule of law enforced by the courts.

Let us take apart two radically incorrect assumptions that Alinsky makes.

First, the jungle metaphor suggests that under capitalism only the strong survive and the weak get eaten up by predators. But this is rubbish. Under capitalism only the companies that produce the products that people want at the prices they are willing to pay get to rule the roost. Companies that take their eye off the ball go broke. Only government power can interfere with this process. We have seen how this has worked out in the decades since Alinsky wrote. Great companies have come and gone. The big beasts of the mid 20th century, the steel and auto companies, are reduced to being wards of the state.

Second, there is no society where "the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people" and there never will be. The commanding heights of the economy can only be owned by the few. It is the same with democracy. Joseph Schumpeter clarified this for all time when he wrote in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy that democracy is impossible because the people cannot rule. Ruling is done by the few. The only thing that democracy can provide is for the people to select who will rule over them with elections and stuff. The same applies to the economic sector. We have seen what happens when the "means of production" gets "owned" by the people. The means of production, instead of being directed by the "few," the economic elite in the private sector and their assignees, are now directed by another "few," the political elite and their tame underlings in the public sector. It cannot be any other way. Moreover, the political elite is peculiarly unqualified to direct the economic sector. Their expertise is in politics, not in business and markets. They are expert in coming up with new ideas for winning elections, not in new ideas for winning market share. The fallacy of Alinsky's idea is cruelly confirmed in the dismal economic record of all socialist political regimes of the 20th century, from the brutality and the failure of the Soviet Union's economy to the famines and miseries of China's Mao regime to the impoverishment of Cuba under the Castro brothers. And now we see the economic implosion of Venezuela under the Bolivarian socialism of Hugo Chávez and his dim-witted successor Nicolás Maduro.

The truth is that the "jungle" metaphor applies to socialism, not to capitalism, for it is in socialism that the powerful rule and create out of the peaceable free-market economy a political jungle where only the politically connected survive. And the closest we can get to "all of the people" owning the means of production is for the workers to invest their savings in financial instruments: bank accounts, bonds, and stocks. All of these instruments offer "all of the people" legally enforceable rights to the fruits of the nation's economic production, each with different risks and rewards.

It's a pity that Saul Alinsky never had an epiphany on the road to Damascus and never stumbled upon the utter folly of the socialist dream. If he had he might have steered dull minds like Hillary Clinton away from the ignis fatuus of political power. Or maybe he would have been forgotten, and Hillary Clinton would have found another radical to write about in her undergraduate thesis, someone like Antonio Gramsci.

But never mind Hillary Clinton and her infatuation with the mirage of political power as human salvation. What is the problem?  Why has the glorious vision of Marx and the socialists failed every time it has been tried? I will tell you. It issues from the very nature of government.

Government starts as an armed band occupying some territory and forcibly taxing the people in that territory. It could be the glorious government of the United States, or it could be a criminal gang in South Chicago. It could be Mao ZeDong in his Red Base in southern China. The way a government, any government, survives is by rewarding its supporters with loot and plunder. In the case of a criminal gang the loot and plunder might be the proceeds of the drug business. In the case of a modern 21st century government the loot and plunder would be government entitlement programs: pensions, health care, education, welfare, all of which offer "free stuff" to voters. This free stuff is always taken from producers before it is given to voters. Often, in a cunning trick, the free stuff is extracted from the voters and then generously given back to them 30 years later.

No government ever, anywhere, has operated in a fashion different from the above model. It must be so, because government everywhere is about force. Government may be necessary force, where it protects its citizens from foreign predators and domestic robbers and fraudsters. Or it may be unnecessary force, where it takes taxes and fees from the productive to give to crony capitalists and influential special interests like teachers at government schools and health-care workers at government-subsidized health care facilities. This is not rocket science. Action backed by force is government. Action without the backing of force is not government, it is voluntary cooperation.

Let us recast Saul Alinsky's false vision of the good society. Let us replace his false idea that capitalism is a jungle and his fallacious idea that "the means of economic production [could ever] be owned by all of the people."
Conservatives want to advance from the jungle of big government oppression to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be directed by all of the people in their individual voluntary actions instead of by the selfish dictates of a cruel and corrupt ruling class.
That is a social revolution we can all believe in. That is a future we can work for.

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