Socialism as Religion

 

Years ago, I got into a discussion about the “tragedy of the commons” (that is, the overexploitation of unowned resources) with a socialist. I cited the fact that elephant herds were growing in African nations in which tribes could own the herds, while they were shrinking in nations that did not allow ownership. Elephants often destroy crops, so tribes have little incentive to protect them and every incentive to kill them. If they own the elephants, however, and can use them as a resource, the incentives change.

The socialist’s response was that he would rather elephants go extinct than such majestic creatures be owned by anyone. He didn’t respond when I suggested that elephants might have a different take on the issue.

How do you reason with people who would rather a species – perhaps even the human species – go extinct than that their aesthetic sensibilities be offended?

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 37 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Songwriter Member

    I don’t suspect that “reason” ever enters the picture with your socialist friend.

    • #1
    • May 22, 2019, at 11:16 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Mark Camp Member

    That’s a scary example of the psychology we are dealing with, Richard. Those who have absorbed the socialist religion, and then come out of it, usually describe the process as starting with long period of deepening disillusionment with the continued failures of the religion to keep its promises. Then they see the theology slowly transforming, as the religious leaders find the need to paper over the discrepancies with more and more lies, and enforcement with more and more callous treatment of the faithful.

    Then there is a moment when something snaps. A good person is denounced, disappears, and then is shot, in the case of the police state-phase of socialism. Or in a peaceful society, an argument over ideology develops, and the absurdity suddenly becomes too much to take.

    Some are intelligent people who got involved early, for social-sexual motivations, like P.J. O’Rourke, and as maturity increases, the critical thinking process kicks in for the first time, and they say ‘this is stupid’. They often turn completely around and become intellectual advocates of rational ideas, as he did. Others lack the intelligence to ever go through that, and they stay in till they die.

    When we fail to break through, time after time, we are sometimes unknowingly contributing to the pressure of reason building slowly inside a dormant critical mind that has simply been paralyzed by psychological conditioning. We shouldn’t get discouraged.

    • #2
    • May 22, 2019, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. SkipSul Moderator

    Richard Fulmer: How do you reason with people who would rather a species – perhaps even the human species – go extinct than that their aesthetic sensibilities be offended?

    It’s another “let them eat cake” moment, or something similar I encountered years ago.

    I was arguing with someone, and they were asserting that poor people remained poor because they bought cheap junk at Wal Mart, all made in China. If they were smarter, she asserted, and bought their goods at Macy’s or through some other quality outlet, they wouldn’t have to replace them so often.

    I pointed out that they couldn’t afford to shop at Macy’s in the first place.

    Her response was effectively that this was their fault.

    Better to remain true to one’s principles, it seems and starve to death, than to admit one’s principles are misguided.

    • #3
    • May 22, 2019, at 11:41 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  4. Henry Castaigne Member

    Richard Fulmer:

    Years ago, I got into a discussion about the “tragedy of the commons” (that is, the overexploitation of unowned resources) with a socialist. I cited the fact that elephant herds were growing in African nations in which tribes could own the herds, while they were shrinking in nations that did not allow ownership. Elephants often destroy crops, so tribes have little incentive to protect them, and every incentive to kill them. If they own the elephants, however, and can use them as a resource, then the incentives change.

    The socialist’s response was that he would rather elephants go extinct than that such majestic creatures be owned by anyone. He didn’t respond when I suggested that elephants might have a different take on the issue.

    How do you reason with people who would rather a species – perhaps even the human species – go extinct than that their aesthetic sensibilities be offended?

    Fiat iustitia, et pereat mundus. Let justice be done, though the world perish. Humans have such a yearning for justice that they are often willing to destroy decent advances and improvements because they aren’t just enough.

    I mentioned to some lefties a few years ago that Mexico’s economy is going great partly because they put more capitalism into their oil industry. Now it’s a thriving growth industry. Apparently, oil companies should be socialized and the profits shared with the nation. The benefits to Mexicans getting jobs and cheaper oil was really beside the point.

    It isn’t just your friend Richard. It’s deeply baked into the cake of human nature to have that impulse.

    Fiat iustitia, et pereat mundus is a Latin phrase, meaning “Let justice be done, though the world perish.” This impulse has been going on for a long time.

    Furthermore, we don’t do enough to be grateful for what we have.

    • #4
    • May 22, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. I Walton Member

    Socialism is unambiguously a religion. It even started out that way, but unlike Judaism or Christianity it’s relatively modern so lacks the depth and wisdom that developed slowly over the centuries. Socialism has influence on young folks as it seems to make more sense to them than a god centered religion they’re taught as kids. It takes many years to sort it all out and many never come back to Judaism or Christianity because these require more study, insight and wisdom not to mention openness to the whole idea than not. But not, even if they cease to believe in the socialist nonsense, leaves them vulnerable to ideological or political social fads. That is where we are.

    • #5
    • May 22, 2019, at 12:01 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Keith Rice Member

    One of the most remarkable elements of the socialist mind is the inability to recognize, or even believe in human nature. It’s almost as if people whose minds are like soft clay projecting their own reality on the world while being shaped by their political masters while never recognizing own real nature because they want to be members in a club that elevates them for simply holding [these sacred] beliefs.

    Self interest is one of the most powerful motivators, it can’t be effectively replaced with government dictat. 

    • #6
    • May 22, 2019, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Humans have such a yearning for justice that they are often willing to destroy decent advances and improvements because they aren’t just enough.

    I don’t have a problem with justice, but I do have a problem with the left’s definition of it. Justice, to me means to give to each what is their due – what they have earned. To the left, justice means giving to some what is due to others – the opposite of justice.

    That said, like you, I’m not willing to destroy the world to see my definition of justice prevail.

    • #7
    • May 22, 2019, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer Post author

    Keith Rice (View Comment):
    One of the most remarkable elements of the socialist mind is the inability to recognize, or even believe in human nature.

    Progressives style themselves the “party of science.” One supposes, then, that they believe in evolution. Do they really believe that a process of iterative “survival-of-the-fittest” would result in a “human nature” that leaves people so dysfunctional that they need Progressives to make every decision for them? And if so, why do Progressives believe that they transcend this dysfunction and are capable of dictating others’ lives?

    • #8
    • May 22, 2019, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. I Walton Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):
    One of the most remarkable elements of the socialist mind is the inability to recognize, or even believe in human nature.

    Progressives style themselves the “party of science.” One supposes, then, that they believe in evolution. Do they really believe that a process of iterative “survival-of-the-fittest” would result in a “human nature” that leaves people so dysfunctional that they need Progressives to make every decision for them? And if so, why do Progressives believe that they transcend this dysfunction and are capable of dictating others’ lives?

    Well they’re the fittest and have to have a clean up of we the unfit.

    • #9
    • May 22, 2019, at 2:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Black Prince Member

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    • #10
    • May 22, 2019, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Keith Rice Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    • #11
    • May 22, 2019, at 2:25 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Henry Castaigne Member

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):
    One of the most remarkable elements of the socialist mind is the inability to recognize, or even believe in human nature.

    Progressives style themselves the “party of science.” One supposes, then, that they believe in evolution. Do they really believe that a process of iterative “survival-of-the-fittest” would result in a “human nature” that leaves people so dysfunctional that they need Progressives to make every decision for them? And if so, why do Progressives believe that they transcend this dysfunction and are capable of dictating others’ lives?

    Well they’re the fittest and have to have a clean up of we the unfit.

    If human beings don’t have a human nature. They can be perfected. As Mao Tse-Tung put it, “The blankest page is necessary for the most beautiful writing.” I don’t know why Progressives seem to always assume that they are the best people. 

    • #12
    • May 22, 2019, at 2:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Henry Castaigne Member

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Capitalism helps the poor people and the not politically connected people more than it does the wealthy and powerful. Capitalism (with a little sprinkling of charity and self-discipline) is the best thing for the poor that has ever existed. There is a problem that once you can make alot of money some people become captivated by it but that isn’t the fault of capitalism. The fault ultimately lies with man’s corrupted and corruptible nature. 

    • #13
    • May 22, 2019, at 2:28 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  14. Keith Rice Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):
    One of the most remarkable elements of the socialist mind is the inability to recognize, or even believe in human nature.

    Progressives style themselves the “party of science.” One supposes, then, that they believe in evolution. Do they really believe that a process of iterative “survival-of-the-fittest” would result in a “human nature” that leaves people so dysfunctional that they need Progressives to make every decision for them? And if so, why do Progressives believe that they transcend this dysfunction and are capable of dictating others’ lives?

    Well they’re the fittest and have to have a clean up of we the unfit.

    If human beings don’t have a human nature. They can be perfected. As Mao Tse-Tung put it, “The blankest page is necessary for the most beautiful writing.” I don’t know why Progressives seem to always assume that they are the best people.

    I’m not sure I understand how the lack of human nature makes perfection possible. My belief is that we’re always improving, albeit very slowly and those seeking perfection now are just petty tyrants.

    • #14
    • May 22, 2019, at 2:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Henry Castaigne Member

    Just a nice refresher course.

    • #15
    • May 22, 2019, at 3:17 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Mark Camp Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):
    Do they really believe that a process of iterative “survival-of-the-fittest” would result in a “human nature” that leaves people so dysfunctional that they need Progressives to make every decision for them?

    No. They view capitalism as an early stage of Progress (aka History, Evolution). In the last stage, humans will not need others to make decisions for them. They will no longer act as components of separate collections, but as components of a single, perfect collection.

    • #16
    • May 22, 2019, at 3:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Black Prince Member

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    • #17
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Keith Rice Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Just a nice refresher course.

    That “debate” was more like tea & biscuits.

    • #18
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Keith Rice Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    It’s more likely you don’t know what conservatives are really like.

    • #19
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Black Prince Member

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    It’s more likely you don’t know what conservatives are really like.

    Actually, I do. I was one for 20 years.

    • #20
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:29 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Black Prince Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Capitalism helps the poor people and the not politically connected people more than it does the wealthy and powerful. Capitalism (with a little sprinkling of charity and self-discipline) is the best thing for the poor that has ever existed. There is a problem that once you can make alot of money some people become captivated by it but that isn’t the fault of capitalism. The fault ultimately lies with man’s corrupted and corruptible nature.

    Correct. This is also one of the main reasons why socialism doesn’t work. In case I’m not making myself clear, I’m certainly not advocating for socialism (nor for capitalism for that matter), rather, I’m advocating for a third way. I don’t have time to get into it here, but I’ve touched on the subject in a post a while back.

    • #21
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:36 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Keith Rice Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    It’s more likely you don’t know what conservatives are really like.

    Actually, I do. I was one for 20 years.

    Clearly not, while economic interest is an important part of conservatism it’s not the central part. You may recall the “Moral Majority” a loose collection of Christians who don’t partake in elections unless values are at stake, many others like myself and my friends are less motivated by Christianity than by sound principle.

    Sure, mainstream Republican leadership have become tools of money and perhaps to a lesser degree others as well, but I think you’d be hard pressed to make a case that the Freedom Caucus serves the dollar.

    So if you’re not conservative, what are you now?

    • #22
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Black Prince Member

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    It’s more likely you don’t know what conservatives are really like.

    Actually, I do. I was one for 20 years.

    Clearly not, while economic interest is an important part of conservatism it’s not the central part. You may recall the “Moral Majority” a loose collection of Christians who don’t partake in elections unless values are at stake, many others like myself and my friends are less motivated by Christianity than by sound principle.

    Sure, mainstream Republican leadership have become tools of money and perhaps to a lesser degree others as well, but I think you’d be hard pressed to make a case that the Freedom Caucus serves the dollar.

    So if you’re not conservative, what are you now?

    Good question. Hard to say. How would you classify Trump?

    • #23
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. Keith Rice Member

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    It’s more likely you don’t know what conservatives are really like.

    Actually, I do. I was one for 20 years.

    Clearly not, while economic interest is an important part of conservatism it’s not the central part. You may recall the “Moral Majority” a loose collection of Christians who don’t partake in elections unless values are at stake, many others like myself and my friends are less motivated by Christianity than by sound principle.

    Sure, mainstream Republican leadership have become tools of money and perhaps to a lesser degree others as well, but I think you’d be hard pressed to make a case that the Freedom Caucus serves the dollar.

    So if you’re not conservative, what are you now?

    Good question. Hard to say. How would you classify Trump?

    Generally conservative but certainly not given to any dogma or doctrine.

    • #24
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Black Prince Member

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Black Prince (View Comment):

    So-called “conservatism” (aka. neo-liberalism) is also a religion (the god is Mammon) and will result in equally disastrous results as socialism.

    Yet none of my conservative friends have any lust of money, most of us live modest but industrious lives.

    Perhaps they’re not as “conservative” (neo-liberal) as you think they are.

    It’s more likely you don’t know what conservatives are really like.

    Actually, I do. I was one for 20 years.

    Clearly not, while economic interest is an important part of conservatism it’s not the central part. You may recall the “Moral Majority” a loose collection of Christians who don’t partake in elections unless values are at stake, many others like myself and my friends are less motivated by Christianity than by sound principle.

    Sure, mainstream Republican leadership have become tools of money and perhaps to a lesser degree others as well, but I think you’d be hard pressed to make a case that the Freedom Caucus serves the dollar.

    So if you’re not conservative, what are you now?

    Good question. Hard to say. How would you classify Trump?

    Generally conservative but certainly not given to any dogma or doctrine.

    Good description—that’s what I like about Trump and that’s basically where I’m at.

    • #25
    • May 22, 2019, at 4:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Taras Coolidge

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    One of the most remarkable elements of the socialist mind is the inability to recognize, or even believe in human nature. It’s almost as if people whose minds are like soft clay projecting their own reality on the world while being shaped by their political masters while never recognizing own real nature because they want to be members in a club that elevates them for simply holding [these sacred] beliefs.

    Self interest is one of the most powerful motivators, it can’t be effectively replaced with government dictat.

     And self-interest is the motivation behind advocating socialism: it makes the socialist feel good, feeds his self esteem.

    The obvious example is the progressive billionaire who is in favor of helping the poor, which lets him feel morally superior while holding on to his money. Survey after survey shows that conservatives give more to charity than liberals do.

    • #26
    • May 22, 2019, at 5:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. drlorentz Member

    Richard Fulmer: How do you reason with people who would rather a species – perhaps even the human species – go extinct than that their aesthetic sensibilities be offended?

    Maybe don’t use the elephant example next time. I have to wonder how many people have read and understood Hardin’s essay. The elephants are not a commons in that they are not over-exploited when they belong to no one. The “bad guys” in the elephant narrative are not killing them by overusing them.

    Most animal species are “not owned by anyone” and yet manage to thrive. The problem with a commons arises when there is a resource to be exploited and the incentives are for everyone to exploit it without constraint. Ownership provides that constraint. There are other ways to achieve that end. This is a game theory problem.

    If your socialist interlocutor had been clever, he would have replied that polar bears will be made extinct by climate change (a false but a useful argument) and hence the UN should own the polar bears. Fortunately for you, socialists are generally quite dim. Also, be advised that Hardin’s commons argument is generally adopted by leftists in service of neo-Malthusianism.

    Be careful out there.

    • #27
    • May 22, 2019, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. James Gawron Thatcher

    Richard Fulmer: Elephants often destroy crops, so tribes have little incentive to protect them and every incentive to kill them. If they own the elephants, however, and can use them as a resource, the incentives change.

    How simple it is if you have a salty old Dutch Uncle to explain it to you. If on the other hand, you’ve already demonized the Dutch Uncle as the enemy of the people it isn’t likely that you’d listen to anything he had to say.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #28
    • May 22, 2019, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Joker Member

    Yeah, socialism is a religion for a lot of them. And they never shut up.

    The closest I ever got was to ask who the most famous socialists are.

    Hitler, Stalin & Mao. Long pause.

    • #29
    • May 23, 2019, at 4:21 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. quikwit Member

    The socialist’s response was that he would rather elephants go extinct than such majestic creatures be owned by anyone. He didn’t respond when I suggested that elephants might have a different take on the issue.

    I’d love to hear his take on slavery.

    • #30
    • May 23, 2019, at 5:49 AM PDT
    • Like
  1. 1
  2. 2