Monday, May 6, 2013

Peeking ahead at the endgame

 Will the West's dalliance with socialism avoid the murderous phase and proceed directly to the abject collapse?

The Socialism Lite schemes of Western Europe are in trouble. The politicians go to great lengths to deny it. Europe's economy is feeble and sure to remain so, since what is weakening it is exactly the stuff the politicians are pushing--wealth transfers from the productive parts of the economy. When you believe that each one's needs must be met by someone else's abilities, things always get awkward.

To the extent that the Obama Left has succeeded in imposing the same nonsense on the USA, we will suffer the same kinds of problems. We will see an economy marked by businesses doing only minimal risk taking, sluggish growth in employment and rising dependency of the public on government checks. As dependency grows, money to back the government handouts will become more and more scarce. Note that printing dollar bills does not make money less scarce, just makes dollar bills more numerous.

The history of the last century tells us that socialism falls of itself. Consider the collapse of the USSR. Consider the rapid backtracking of China away from a centralized economy: they had no choice. You would think that socialists in the West would find some lessons in all that, but the will to believe in the impossible is a difficult disease to control until one realizes that one has it. In a world where unicorns prance beneath rainbows in fields of organically grown clover, to the gentle music of wind farms, the abilities of the able will never be swamped by the needs of the needy. That is the vision; the reality is far less attractive.

Socialism Lite is still socialism; while it removes some unpleasant aspects of the collectivist delusion, it retains the fatal flaw. That flaw is in the trend for ordinary people to act as if they are more needy than able. When socialism begins to reveal this about itself, government's initial response, in Russia, China and other places, has been to try to force people to be more able and less needy. Governments may use violence and murder when shaming people through propaganda does not work. Is that in the cards for the Western democracies?

That is a question I find deeply interesting. Will the West's dalliance with socialism avoid the murderous phase and proceed directly to the abject collapse?

Socialism's Plan B is, history shows us, to coerce when bribes have failed. The Emperor's lack of clothes becomes apparent, the people realize that they have been bribed with their own money and the whole charade falls apart. People start to realize that the glorious socialist future never will arrive. To hold onto their power, as their legitimacy fades, socialist regimes do violence to their own people, imprison them, torture and kill them, and encourage them to inform on one another.

What is to prevent that pattern from repeating in the Western democracies? The mass redistribution scheme will fail, as it always does, and where will that leave us? I hope that government oppression in response to socialism's failures turns out not to be a fixed feature of socialism, but instead, just the way things tended to work out in the last century. But I see no reason to think that is so, despite what I would wish to think. It is the instinct of politicians who are losing their power to try to hold onto it a while longer, whatever the cost or harm to their people. It is something I would be delighted to be wrong about.

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