Dialogue With a Leftist
Chuck MorseLeftist: Many market system countries implement socialistic programs to compensate for the inability of the market to provide for its citizens. U.S. programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are examples.Response: As it is presently constituted, Social Security rips off working people. The earner pays a substantial portion of his income into a fund that earns zero interest, the money is taxed going in and coming out, and the money often disappears when the earner dies.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
If half the amount extracted from the workingman’s paycheck were instead placed into a simple savings account, for example, upon retirement the worker would have accumulated a substantial sum due to compound interest, which could then be passed down to the next generation. This would greatly reduce poverty.
You might call this “capitalist security.” The same principle could be applied to private health care accounts.
Leftist: National Socialism was not socialism, as Nazi Germany had a highly developed propertied ruling class that supported the government as did Japan and Italy. Democratic socialism, on the other hand, is the control of the major means of production by the producers.
Response: Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan were controlled by a small number of corporations, which worked as partners with the government. These corporations wielded monopoly power.
The key point is that these select corporations literally became the government. Private corporations, businesses and property in these societies were de facto controlled by these government corporations and their partner, the government.
Property was disposed of depending on what was viewed to be in the best interest of the government at any given time. The fact that my Jewish relatives were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust is proof that Nazi Germany did not respect private property.
Nazism was not as socialistic as communism, which made no pretense regarding who owned property or the "means of production." In a communist country, everything was owned by the state outright, which claims to be acting in the interest of "the people."
The first thing communists do when they take over – as was the case with the Bolsheviks, for example – is abolish workers unions (the state became the union), corporations (the state became the corporation) and virtually all forms of private property.
If you want to get a sense of what life was like in the Soviet Union at the time of the Bolshevik coup, I recommend the novel "We the Living" by Ayn Rand, who lived in Russia during those years. As an American living under the warm blanket of freedom, you have no idea what it would be like to live in a radical socialist state, communist or fascist.
Leftist: Of course, after the war, the U.S. government was only too glad to allow many ex-Nazis to escape or become employed here to counter the perceived threat of the USSR.
Response: Yes America gave safe haven to certain select ex-Nazis as well as to ex-Communists (even a few present communists).
Leftist: No serious academic or scholar would consider Nazi Germany "socialist."
Response: What about Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek, who brilliantly made this exact case in "Road to Serfdom"? Your idea of a "serious academic or scholar" is no doubt those who perpetuate the myth that there is a substantive difference.
Leftist: This is a convenient fantasy that you cannot document.
Response: I challenge you to demonstrate any substantive difference between the two socialisms.
Besides the fact that both advocate central economic control (communism more so than fascism), both are spiritually atheist, both believe in the theory of evolution as a cornerstone of their political faith, both oppose the family (the Nazis formed communes for racially pure men and women, the Communists viewed the family unit as a bourgeoisie affectation), both believed on a One World utopia, both slaughtered their own people to a degree unprecedented in history (the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and millions of others, the Communists killed over 100 million people in the 20th century who they viewed as not politically correct or because they stood in the way of progress).
Leftist: The fact that you refer to Nazism as "left" shows much about your viewpoint. I have read some incredibly irrational views over the years, but I have never heard anyone refer to Nazis as "left."
Response: I grant that my view on this is unconventional. My reasoning, in a nutshell, is as follows.
The dictionary definition of socialism is a system that calls for "public ownership of the means of production." Public ownership can only mean State ownership; there is simply no other practical way for this to occur. No one is going to give up his right to ownership except by force and the only way force can be brought to bear is by government, which is, by definition, legalized force.
Therefore, both Nazism and Communism, in order to carry out their respective agendas, require a forceful authoritarian government, since to give up property voluntarily is simply against human nature. You might say that both systems are on the left, you may say that both systems are authoritarian, take your pick.
Leftist: Most folks on the democratic socialist left severely criticized the Soviet Union once it was revealed what was happening with the gulags, etc.
Response: No, most people didn't. Some did, but rather late in the game. Either way, "democratic socialism" will lead to the same outcome whether the so-called progressives are conscious of it or not. I have you pegged as fairly unconscious, a classic camp follower, with all due respect.
Leftist: Ironically, the masses of Soviet citizens did in fact support the considerable achievements of the government in the economic realm.
Response: Please provide a shred, even a scintilla, of evidence to back up this fantastic claim. Have you ever met or spoken with anyone from the former Soviet Union? I've never seen even the most slavish, goose-stepping follower of communism claim this. Do you actually know anything at all about the Soviet economy? With all due respect, this is just incredible!
Leftist: Instead of developing a democratic political system, the Soviet Union reverted to its non-democratic traditions of czarist history.
Response: This comment actually brings out an interesting point, even though I realize you didn't mean it this way.
EXACTLY!!! Socialism is very much like the old czarist system and all other monarchal systems where the government, in the person of the king, controls everything and is supposed to act in the interest of "the people."
Don't you see? Socialism is a regression back to the days of absolute rule, except instead of having a monarch claiming divine right, you have a "dictatorship of the proletariat" claiming to act in the name of science.
For centuries, people have been duped into surrendering their property and their freedoms to the state and have become serfs. This is exactly how the monarchal system worked.
Leftist: The USSR clearly had ruling propertied classes, and many dissidents inside the USSR, including Roy Medvedev, have pointed this out.
Response: Of course! How could it be otherwise when the state wields "public ownership of the means of production"? The difference is that the communist ruling classes, the party members, were "propertied" with the "expropriated" property of others.
Leftist: The USSR was an example of state capitalism, as was Nazi Germany.
Response: Right again, except it was not the "capitalism" part of the equation that is of concern, to the degree that capitalism was allowed to exist.
Leftist: The market system is exploitative toward developing nations.
Response: I contend that most developing nations don't have any discernable market systems but are rather command economies that prohibit the development of a private sector, private property, private accumulation of capital, a middle class, and all the other hallmarks of a stable free-market society.
Leftist: The present U.S. economy is in decline.
Response: U.S. economic decline runs concomitant with the growth of government, taxes and government control over the private sector.
Leftist: Former Soviet dissident Valdas Anelauskas critiques the amoral nature of U.S. foreign policy.
Response: I would agree. America took its first step down a slippery slope in 1933 when FDR recognized the Soviet Union. Since then we’ve done business with many left-wing communist regimes, and by doing so we have contributed to their unprecedented record of human suffering and death.
Leftist: Declassified Defense Department files clearly show the U.S. role in contributing to the overthrow of the democratically elected president in Chile and others.
Response: I'm proud of our government's role in overthrowing "the democratically elected president in Chile" for the same reason that I'm proud of our government's role in overthrowing the democratically elected president of Nazi Germany. Hitler was democratically elected in 1933 and we helped overthrow him in 1945.
From time to time America helps people free themselves from tyranny. I don't recall your complaining about the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua by the Sandinistas. I don’t recall your calling for elections in Cuba, since you're all of a sudden such a champion of elections.
Leftist: The U.S. supports right-wing regimes with death squads in Latin America. This is not a part of the Cuban security system.
Response: It most certainly is. Cuba conducts quick trials and firing squads, as we saw recently. Cuba doesn't have death squads because the government itself is a death squad.
Leftist: What is your opinion on American policy in Vietnam?
Response: I believe that our Vietnam policy was wrong. We should've either wholeheartedly defended that small nation in its desperate attempt to stop the brutal communist aggression from the North or we should have stayed out.
Instead, we took half measures resulting in 60,000 American deaths, untold Vietnamese deaths, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing and drowning in rickety boats and Pol Pot, one of the purest examples of a Marxist ideologue the world has ever known, taking power in Cambodia.
Pol Pot, who used to carry a copy of the "Communist Manifesto" in his hip pocket, fulfilled the tenets of communism to the letter when he depopulated Cambodian cities and collectivized property. Millions of people died.
Have you seen the award-winning film "The Killing Fields?" Have you ever actually read the "Communist Manifesto"? Are you familiar with its famous planks?
Leftist: Israeli scholars are now exposing the crimes of various Israeli governments.
Response: Yes, unlike Cuba and every communist state in history, Israel, like the U.S., is a relatively free society, where scholars can expose crimes and criticize the government. I, for one, celebrate this type of freedom.
Chuck Morse is a radio talk show host at WROL in Boston