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America’s new socialists, those Bernie Sanders acolytes, are now all the rage among the Democrats. They share a certain naiveté along with an absolute assurance that they alone can see humankind clearly; that they can find a better way. Seduced as they are by this sense of confidence, they ignore the wisdom of others and (at best) reject the lessons of history. This is all irrelevant, they believe, and they make no effort to learn otherwise. They will guide us with their superior intellect and their overarching empathy. They will make things better. They are the ones they are looking for.
The problem isn’t just them. The problem is that most Americans are equally ignorant of history, hence susceptible to a kind of generational serial socialist seduction. And it’s not as if the lessons of history are ancient or obscure. These lessons are both modern and ongoing. Take China. Americans know nothing of, nor can they even imagine in their wildest nightmares, the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1950s and 60s. It was a policy of grassroots chaos encouraged by the party. There was no organized restraint; enemies of the “revolution” were fair game for harassment, incarceration, torture, and assassination. Mao’s populist and self-ascribed army of “Red Guard” revolutionaries were relentless. Books were burned. Religious and cultural buildings and artifacts were torn down and destroyed. Even cemeteries were pillaged, graves and bodies desecrated. There was no such thing as collateral damage when ridding China all non-communist impurity.
China’s schools and universities were closed for decades; an entire generation of Chinese, the equivalent to our Boomers, were left to wallow in ignorance. And when Mao Tse-tung’s dreams of an industrial China failed, the result was massive famine, which led to the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of teenage children from families; they were sent to work on the farms and agricultural communes. To avoid another famine, China adopted the “one child” policy. As years passed and as these policies extracted their horrific toll, there was a new revolutionary penance to be paid. Red is the color of revolution and blood. After an inevitable change in Party Leadership, the old Party leaders, the so-called “Gang of Four” which included Mao’s widow, were tried publicly and sentenced to death. The grassroots revolution was over. The communist party consolidated its power and organized its official and exclusive crackdown on all opposition. “Modern” China was born.
How many Americans know anything about this?
Americans know little of the brutal socialist revolutions that took place in the USSR, Cuba, Mexico, Bolivia or in any number of additional eastern European or South and Central American countries. American naïfs have turned the violent revolutionaries, Lenin, Stalin, Che Guevara, and the Castros, into icons, ignorant of the fact that these were all brutal and bloody dictators. These men killed or jailed all political opposition and quite literally stopped time and modern progress, each leaving his citizenry poor and hopeless and their countries and infrastructure, crumbling into a pre-industrial ruin.
American neo-Socialists will never recognize their kinship with the People’s Republic of North Korea, a self-described democratic socialist nation. They are completely ignorant of Mussolini’s fascists, his national socialist offshoot of the Marxist state (once the model of modern governance among the early 20th century American Left with admirers like Wilson and FDR.) They are clueless as to Hitler’s own embrace and adoption of national socialism. Even as it crumbles before our very eyes, American neo-Socialists are completely blind to the disaster that is the dissolution of the resource-rich state of Venezuela, nor do they recognize the continued chaos among the failed socialist experiments in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico.
They point to Sweden, a county that spends only 1% of its GDP on defense (the US spends 3.1%), just one half of the commitment under NATO. (Sweden may not be a NATO member, however is is an obvious beneficiary.) In fact, Sweden, roughly the size of Michigan, is a highly homogeneous state and it has been for some years moving away from socialism, adopting market-friendly reforms and scaling back its welfare state. The country the neo-Socialists tout as the model of modern Socialism is in fact shifting right toward pro-market capitalism, economic growth, and opportunity.
The new Democrat neo-Socialists are naïfs, the most recent iteration of Trotsky’s fellow traveler. More concerning are the hard leftists, the cynics within the organized left who cling to power. Like Mao in China, they are willing to use the neo-Socialists along with the global warming alarmists, the pro-abortion radical feminists, the “Black Lives Matter” organizers and even the Antifa rebels as their own version of the Red Guard, to harass, protest and even incite violence against their political opposition. The cynics want to make it so costly and disruptive to oppose them that no one will do it.
As much as the Left in America claims to be progressive, open, rational and pro-science, they are, in fact hostile, irrational and anti-intellectual when it comes to the actual lessons of history. Socialism has proved to be the harbinger of only decline. It is antithetical to progress as an organizing philosophy. It simply fails over and over.
Our constitutional republic may not be perfect, but you cannot ignore our progress over this blink of the eye of time. The neo-Socialists may not see this, but that does not negate the reality of it. And as for the leftist cynics, the stalwart Democrats who are desperate to cling to power, never underestimate the wisdom of the American experiment nor the underlying courage, conviction, and virtue of its people.Published in