Rule Five Friday

2015_11_06_Rule Five Friday (1)Have a good careful read through this piece by Samuel Hux, from the New English Review;  Once More (and Patience Please), Why No American Socialism? Excerpt:

Irving Kristol wrote in his Reflections of a Neoconservative the most elegant tribute a conservative ever paid socialism, even as he announced its demise, “Socialism: An Obituary for an Idea.”  “The most important political event of the twentieth century is not the crisis of capitalism but the death of socialism.  .  .  .  It is nothing short of a tragedy that anticapitalist dissent should now be liberated from a socialist tradition which—one sees it cle2015_11_06_Rule Five Friday (2)arly in perspective—had the function of civilizing dissent, a function it was able to perform because it implicitly shared so many crucial values with the liberal capitalism it opposed.” It should be clear immediately that Kristol was not referring to intellectual and moral savageries like Stalinism, but to what we might call respectable socialisms. While one might argue that reports of the idea’s death are vastly exaggerated, I would like to wonder out loud why there has not been much of a socialist movement in the United States “alive enough,” as Thomas Hardy said of a lady’s smile, “to have strength to die.”

I am fully aware that as I write a self-proclaimed “socialist” is running a serious campaign to be the Democratic Party’s 2016 candidate for president. I am also aware that Bernie Sanders’ relative success, at this point, has nothing to do with a socialist movement, and does not even mean a serious hunger in the electorate for a socialist polity. He may draw fantastic crowds on college campuses, turning on both students and faculty 2015_11_06_Rule Five Friday (3)“Marxists” who couldn’t to save their lives define surplus value, having forgotten their Cliff Notes Das Kapital—but try to imagine him exciting a group of Teamsters. I can’t imagine it either. Sanders—or “Bernie!”—endears himself to Democrats because there is nothing endearing or even respect-worthy about the ethically debased Hilary Clinton whose possible success is probably depressing even to her supporters.

I am also aware that the twice-elected Barack Obama is thought by conservatives to be a socialist (and we are right), but his kind treatment by the American electorate has to do principally with his being “historic” (I refer of course to his race, not to his being the first anti-Israeli in the White House), and further has to do with the fact that few people really believedthat he wanted to change the fundamental nature of the United States, most assuming that was mere campaign sloganizing as meaningful as “Change you can believe in.” In any case Obama ran, as Sanders runs, on the Democratic Party line. If one wishes to argue that the Democratic Party’s loyalty to Obama’s agenda proves it is a socialist party, I would counsel one to consider the following.

It’s a lengthy article.  I recommend reading through it at least once.  This line in particular caught my eye:

It is an historical oddity that it has become conservatism’s task to defend and recommend the most “revolutionary” of economic faiths, capitalism. History is the most ironic of disciplines. Of course the conservative has little choice, given the alternatives; and given the fact that capitalism does after all deliver the economic goods, as a fully socialized economy never has.

2015_11_06_Rule Five Friday (5)Capitalism is, of course, the default condition of a truly free people, with free minds and free markets; it is nothing more than the sum of millions of individual choices by free people as to how they prefer to allocate their own resources, talents, skills and abilities.  No other system is compatible with free minds and free markets; no other system is compatible with liberty.

And neither of the major political parties are, today, advocating for truly free minds and free markets.  The Imperial Federal government continually meddles with prices, with markets, with new products, services and materials.  The levy taxes and subsidies, taking with one hand while giving with the other, and in so doing second-guess Adam Smith’s invisible moving hand.

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