Democratic Socialism Revisited

The recent primary victory of a “democratic socialist” candidate for Congress in New York City has added a new chapter to the flirtation of the Democrat Party with “socialism,” coming on the heels of the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President in 2016. This may seem a step forward to “progressives,” but to me it demonstrates how many people in America fail to appreciate the history of socialist societies.

One hundred fifty years ago, socialism sounded appealing because it promised the solution to multiple social problems. Further, according to Karl Marx’ “scientific” analysis, it’s arrival was inevitable. Well, it turned out Marx’s theory was not so scientific since socialism did not arrive. What eventually came instead were forms government called socialism and communism as justification for pseudo-socialist policies at best and dictatorships at worst.

Not True Socialism?

Some present-day socialists claim these were not true examples of socialism, and thus argue the real thing hasn’t been tried. In science, when all attempts to prove a theory fail, the theory is rightly rejected. So, let’s examine why socialism has failed in the past and why it will continue to fail every time it is tried.

Marx theorized that capitalism created the seeds of its own destruction––that the imbalance between the haves and the have-nots would become so extreme that the haves would be pulled down and the have-nots would inevitably take over. That theory justified the Russian, Chinese, Cuban and other revolutions––except what replaced the previous system was a form of government where a small group––ultimately one man––made all the key decisions and controlled everything. That’s what still prevails in China and Cuba today.

Contrast that outcome with what the theorists of representative democracy envisioned. John Locke, Adam Smith, James Madison, et al, understood the evil of one-man rule and postulated an alternative: democratically elected representative government. Concerned about the rights of the individual, the founders of our country divided power into three branches—legislative, executive and judicial.

Can Socialism Arrive Democratically?

Of course, parties advocating socialist policies have achieved power via elections, but then what happens each time? In order to implement their policies, however, socialists have to fulfill their promises to their supporters and that they cannot do . . . for many reasons.

Socialism promises equal outcomes. Taken to its logical conclusion that means students cannot be rewarded based on achievement and jobs cannot be allocated by merit. No society will accept such policies except by force. In Europe, that has meant hybrid solutions—where merit is not totally outlawed and the existence of large corporations is seen as necessary in the short run.

Socialism also promises an equal distribution of goods. The problem with that is scarcity is inherent in the human condition. The only way to achieve equal distribution of food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, housing, etc. is to lower the standard of living for everyone. To accomplish that requires the use of force because people naturally rebel against policies that punish effort while rewarding sloth (i.e., a disinclination to exert effort).

Why Do Some Favor Socialism?

By ignoring the history of attempts to overthrow capitalism and institute socialism in Russia, China, Israel (see my article on what happened in Israel), Argentina, Cuba and Europe, people focus on what socialism promises and ignore the problem of how to get there. It also sounds good (to some, but not all ears) because it allows its advocates to blame others for keeping them from having whatever goods they believe they deserve.

Here in the U.S.A., socialist candidates and policies may win short-term gains, but must fail in the long run. The American people have shown themselves too savvy to be swayed by pie-in-the-sky promises because we know first hand the benefits of free enterprise and we are culturally resistant to compulsion.

That said, it is actually not bad for avowed socialists to run for office whether as Democrats or under some other party because it provides the public an opportunity to learn about socialism’s failures. While the horrors of the Soviet Union are in the past, lessons are easily seen by studying present-day China, Cuba and Argentina. Information is readily available on all three for anyone who cares to examine it.

Socialism became popular150 years ago because it promised an end to an industrial system that exploited laborers, despoiled the environment, and corrupted the political system. That’s not the world we live in today. Instead, the free enterprise system has prolonged life and raised the standard of living of millions across the globe. One must conclude no matter how many theories arise that promise a socialist nirvana, it’s existence will remain a pipe dream.

NPR’s Ideological Echo Chamber

Monday August 7 saw the firing by Google of a senior engineer for positions articulated in a memo entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” By Wednesday, NPR echoed in full throat. Ben Johnson called James Damore’s memo a ‘misogynist manifesto’ while guest Nicole Sanchez attacked Google for only having only 30 percent women in their workforce.

Sanchez, CEO and founder of a diversity consulting company, attacked Google for failing to put as much effort into solving its employee mix as solving technical problems. Ironically, policies advocated by people like Sanchez can be responsible for businesses violating Federal Discrimination Laws by creating hiring and promotion practices based on race and gender rather than job appropriate criteria.

Sanchez also claimed Damore’s memo presented factually incorrect statements about gender differences, but Damore admitted bias was a factor in the numerical disparity along with biological differences. Was Sanchez claiming there’s scientific evidence that biology plays no role in gender disparity in human social institutions?

Unreported by NPR was the fact that Damore was objecting to unrecorded meetings during which Google executives encouraged employees to discriminate in favor of women and minorities in hiring and promotion practices. Meetings at Google are usually recorded, except for “diversity” sessions, which suggests the higher-ups know they are asking employees to violate the law.

NPR’s coverage of Damore’s firing is an example of the kind of unrealized bias Damore was protesting at Google. Did anyone at NPR bother to read Damore’s memo? If so, why didn’t they tell listeners what it contained instead of summarizing it like Ben Johnson did inaccurately reporting that Damore claimed “women weren’t cut out to be engineers.”

Damore’s memo was aimed primarily at practices that repress discussion of biases that he believes could harm Google in the long run. Here’s how he began his memo:

“I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber.”

What Damore criticized at Google was the lack of discussion of moral biases. “Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.” After laying out his primary concern, he examined the possible “non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech” and offered “non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap.”

Damore criticized Google’s discriminatory approach to achieving greater gender and racial diversity, which he argued is based on “false assumptions” that can “actually increase race and gender tension.”

In an essay published Friday August 11 in the Wall Street Journal, Damore re-enforced his position that his primary objective in writing the memo was to advance discussion, not to argue that women don’t belong in tech. Ironically, his memo met no opposition until it went viral outside the company. That resulted in attacks on Damore from the diversity community which resulted in Google’s CEO firing Damore for advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

In the end, James Damore hoped his memo would help create a culture at Google that treats people as individuals rather than members of their group. Sadly, that seems further from happening today than it did a week ago with the help of biased coverage from NPR and other media outlets.

How do we explain Brussels?

A very nice person, who by profession is a psychiatrist, wrote in a directory listing that she understands human nature. Really? Then how do you explain Brussels and Paris and San Bernidino and Charleston and I could go on and on?

To me human nature is not comprehensible. It might be to an alien species, but for someone to claim he understands himself, much less the entire species . . . well, you might as well ask that person how many fish there are in the ocean. The exact number please.

That said, we can offer theories about behavior and I have a one about Brussels. You’ve read this far so you might as well stick around for the punch line.

Why would people kill innocent people in such a blood thirsty, or dare I say inhuman, manner? To me the problem is tolerance.

Tolerance is not natural. It’s a behavior that has to be taught. The natural tendency of children is to grab what they think is theres, not to share. Some people think tolerance is respect. That’s not true. Respect may require an aspect of tolerance, but it encompasses a lot more.

Europe after World War II thought they could prevent future wars and holocausts by being tolerant. As a result, when African and Arab Muslims started coming into Europe in large numbers instead of asking them to assimilate––to learn the language and to accept Europe’s rules and values, Europeans felt the need to be tolerant. It’s okay for you to treat your women like slaves they said; it’s okay for you to cheat and steal; it’s okay for you to form gangs and harass people on the street. It’s not your fault psychiatrists and others told the newcomers. It’s our fault.

So crimes were not prosecuted, mistreatment of children and women was ignored, and the response of all too many of these invaders was ANGER. Why? Because tolerance is very close to disrespect, to avoidance and to please don’t bother me. When a person or group are ignored, they become angry; when they are treated like children, they become even angrier and when they are appeased, their anger turns outward.

The appeasers of the Islamic ideology that preaches death to infidels are to blame for today’s situation. Western societies have put their collective heads in a guillitine of guilt for our accomplishes and successes. We’ve said please chop off our heads, and angry young men have complied.

I’m not saying we should respond to violence with violence. I’m saying lets enforce our existing laws; and if there are not enough laws to prosecute people for marrying off children at age 12 or stoning women because they went outside without a hajib, then pass new laws.

And Europe needs to do something about mosques and Islamic schools that teach hate. I’d require all children to attend public schools at least through age 14. Religious schooling can be done after regular school hours, and that includes Jewish schools. By being tolerant, we allow hate mongers to indoctrinate children to commit acts of violence against us. It has to stop.

Europe also needs to go back to requiring people to produce identification in order to travel from country to country. It needs to fund greater resources for anti-terrorism operations. It needs to violate what some people think is their privacy. They’re wrong. Privacy does not permit you to build bombs in your kitchen or even download diagrams to do so off the Web.

And the U.S. needs to do these things as well because the next Brussels could take place on the D.C. Metro or a NYC airport or a farmers’ market in downtown Chicago. And please people take those tolerance stickers off your cars. Treating people with respect is not being tolerant. In many cases, it’s just the opposite.