A sorta-provocative headline at the Washington Post, “It’s Time to Give Socialism A Try,” made me a bit cranky this morning. Having seen this sort of sentiment more times than I can count, I’ve developed a standard first response, along the lines of “aren’t 200 million corpses enough evidence that socialism doesn’t work?” And, indeed, that was the comment I offered.

Of course, the author, Elizabeth Bruenig, who appears to be twenty-something, wants her own form of socialism, rather than the grisly, murderous totalitarianism that’s emerged every time it’s been tried. She offers “I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.” This after she roasted capitalism and individualism as the source of “disregard” and “resentment.” I won’t get into why she’s so blatantly wrong, and how the stuff she decries is amplified rather than ameliorated by big government, and instead address the implied desires, what they entail, and what they tell us of the progressive mind set.

First, the economic angle. We, as individuals, are not to be permitted to engage with each other as we wish, unless we follow an ever-growing list of rules imposed by government, and an ever-growing list of demands imposed by our betters (i.e. those who are “woke,” who advocate social justice, and who know what the correct way to behave is). We cannot refuse to engage economically with some people, but must refuse to engage economically with other people. In short, we must subordinate our desires and preferences for the collective good, even if we genuinely and rationally believe that following the latter path harms us. And, that it harms society – history has made it amply clear that capitalism has elevated the human condition far, FAR more than any other system, but no, it’s evil and we cannot think otherwise.

This structure of subordinating our lives to “society” repeats.

We are to be denied the right to defend our lives and the lives of our families. Guns are bad, so we shouldn’t have them. Ditto, in many places, with clubs, batons, blackjacks, and other tools of self-defense. Even a credible threat or a real past experience doesn’t justify the desire to own a gun for self defense. We are to trust that law enforcement will protect us, and if it fails, well, ours is a sacrifice to the betterment of society.

We are not permitted to hold or voice incorrect opinions. Organized economic ruin is to be foisted upon those who do so loudly enough to be noticed, no matter the rationality or factuality of the opinion voiced.

We are not permitted to hear incorrect opinions. Those who speak wrongly, even by invitation, are to be pre-empted or shouted down, no matter how measured and temperate those incorrect opinions are presented.

We are not permitted to choose the manner of our health care and health insurance, not if it means that someone else may not get as good as we do. Better that we are each mistreated or under-treated equally. Better that a lousy, government-run system that supposedly covers everyone (but not really) exist than allowing market forces to drive improvements.

We are not even allowed to feel good about ourselves, if we are of the wrong gender or skin color, and no matter that we’ve, individually, wronged no one. That’s the core message of “privilege” and white guilt. If born into the wrong set of identity markers, we must pay penance for the wrongs committed by others.

Our lives are already not our own to manage as we wish. Our liberties are already infringed to a degree that would make the authors of the Bill of Rights recoil in horror. And, if we choose the “wrong” path in our pursuit of happiness… Strike that. Many of us are told we must not feel happiness at all, simply because we were born into certain circumstances.

Does this seem hyperbolic to you? Does this read as over-the-top, or angry-hysteric? Before you judge, ponder the biggest sources of misery in society. Here’s a hint: They are those who perpetually tell you you’re living your life wrong, you’re thinking wrong, and you’re not debasing yourself sufficiently. Does that come from people who believe in individual liberty? Does that come from those around you who embrace live-and-let-live, who believe in capitalism, who don’t care one way or the other what lifestyle choices you make?

Thomas Jefferson encapsulated our desired state of existence as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Progressivism, socialism, and the other versions of that ideal are wholly antithetical to Jefferson’s. For the “greater good,” we are to deny ourselves our right to life. We are to deny ourselves the freedom to act as we wish without infringing on others’ equal freedom. We are even to deny ourselves the right to feel happy.

Fortunately, those who make these demands of us have a tough hill to climb. Sure, they’ve coopted and corrupted the thinking of millions, but misery doesn’t sell well, and human nature recoils at empty self-sacrifice.

Socialism/progressivism, properly defined, is about “death, slavery, and the embrace of misery.” None of its advocates would dare label it thus, but no matter. We feel the truth of this in our guts, it’s why we resist, and it’s why so many progressive dreams have failed to take deep root in our society.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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