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No doubt many of you, like me, have been puzzled by how Progressives support society-destroying criminal “reform” that releases predators from prison and makes homeowners and small businesses totally vulnerable to thieves. In California, it has been many years since shoplifters were being interdicted by store personnel, not just since it’s been publicized that no prosecution will be considered for property crimes valued under $1,000. Progressives have told us that their reasons for supporting petty thievery is either “self-help” reparations for past racial injustice or just because the justice system is currently racist against people of color.
Progressives have dangled these false arguments in front of us in order to engage us in a debate that doesn’t even touch on the real agenda. If we can be distracted from the real agenda the Progressives can complete the “transformation” of America while we continue debating the false agenda.
Scott Adams, as part of his lecturing on persuasiveness, always points out that words that sound good but are vague are the most persuasive because they create space for us to “fill in the blanks” in whatever way we desire. So a word like “transformation” which doesn’t specify how, is threatening or inviting depending on how you envision a need for or a manner of transformation.
Progressives will never tell you what they actually mean by transformation, but allow me to describe it in a single word: communism. Plain and simple. Yes, they will refer to it as “socialism” but as I discussed in an earlier post, the overlap between some forms of socialism and communism make them indistinguishable. (The conflict between Hitler and German communists was not over socialism but about whether it should have a nationalist or internationalist flavor.)
So where does thievery come in? It is in the desire under communism to deny any private ownership of property. Thus there can be no theft of private property and there should be no punishment for something that not only is lawful (in Progressive’s eyes) but is useful in breaking down a system based on private ownership. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn addressed this in his Gulag Archipelago:
In Old Russia there was just one single formula to be applied to the criminal recidivists: “Make them bow their heads beneath the iron yoke of the law!” And so it was that up to 1914 the thieves did not play the boss either in Russia as a whole or in Russian prisons.
But the shackles fell and freedom dawned. In the desertion of millions in 1917, and then in the Civil War, all human passions were largely unleashed, and those of the thieves most of all, and they no longer wished to bow their heads beneath the yoke; moreover, they were informed that they didn’t have to. It was found both useful and amusing that they were enemies of private property and therefore a revolutionary force which had to be guided into the mainstream of the proletariat, yes, and this would constitute no special difficulty.
Here is what our laws were like for thirty years—to 1947: For robbery of the state, embezzlement of state funds, a packing case from a warehouse, for three potatoes from a collective farm—ten years! (After 1947 it was as much as twenty!) But robbery of a free person? Suppose they cleaned out an apartment, carting off on a truck everything the family had acquired in a lifetime. If it was not accompanied by murder, then the sentence was up to one year, sometimes six months. The thieves flourished because they were encouraged.
Through its laws the Stalinist power said to the thieves clearly: Do not steal from me! Steal from private persons! You see, private property is a belch from the past. (But “personally assigned” VIP property is the hope of the future. . . .)
And the thieves . . . understood. In their intrepid stories and songs, did they go to steal where it was difficult, dangerous, where they could lose their heads? No. Greedy cowards, they pushed their way in where they were encouraged to push their way in—they stripped the clothes from solitary passers-by and stole from unguarded apartments.
How many citizens who were robbed knew that the police didn’t even bother to look for the criminals, didn’t even set a case in motion, so as not to spoil their record of completed cases—why should they sweat to catch a thief if he would be given only six months, and then be given three months off for good behavior? And anyway, it wasn’t certain that the bandits would even be tried when caught.
Finally, sentences were bound to be reduced, and of course for habitual criminals especially. Watch out there now, witness in the courtroom! They will all be back soon, and it’ll be a knife in the back of anyone who gave testimony!
Therefore, if you see someone crawling through a window, or slitting a pocket, or your neighbor’s suitcase being ripped open—shut your eyes! Walk by! You didn’t see anything! That’s how the thieves have trained us—the thieves and our laws!
* * *
And there is always that sanctifying lofty theory for everything. It was by no means the least significant of our literary figures who determined that the thieves were our allies in the building of Communism. This was set forth in textbooks on Soviet corrective-labor policy (there were such textbooks, they were published!), in dissertations and scientific essays on camp management, and in the most practical way of all—in the regulations on which the high-ranking camp officials were trained. All this flowed from the One-and-Only True Teaching, which explained all the iridescent life of humanity . . . in terms of the class struggle and it alone.
And here is how it was worked out. Professional criminals can in no sense be equated with capitalist elements (i.e., engineers, students, agronomists, and “nuns”), for the latter are steadfastly hostile to the dictatorship of the proletariat, while the former are only (!) politically unstable! (A professional murderer is only politically unstable!) The lumpenproletarian is not a property owner, and therefore cannot ally himself with the hostile-class elements, but will much more willingly ally himself with the proletariat (you just wait!). That is why in the official terminology of Gulag they are called socially friendly elements. (Tell me who your friends are . . .) That is why the regulations repeated over and over again: Trust the recidivist criminals! That is why through the Cultural and Educational Section a consistent effort was supposed to be made to explain to the thieves the unity of their class interests with those of all the workers, to indoctrinate them in a “suspicious and hostile attitude toward the ‘kulaks’ and counterrevolutionaries,” and the authorities were to “place their hopes in these attitudes”!
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I., Chapter 16, “The Socially Friendly”, The Gulag Archipelago (p. 330-335). Harper Perennial. Kindle Edition.
To summarize, thieves are the shock troops (along with Antifa) of the Progressive radicals. You and I may wonder how these radicals (and the less radical opportunists who seek to use them) think they can survive the transformation. History is littered with those who tried to ride the tiger but ended up being consumed. But they have the hubris to believe they are immune. And that hubris will spread misery far and wide.
We must call them what they are: Communists. We must explain to the young that these are not compassionate people. They have no compassion for anyone, only passion for power. Power is their drug. And they burn with a white-hot hatred of anyone who would deny them power.
This is an existential fight. You may not be interested in communism, but it is most assuredly interested in you.Published in