January 06, 2007

Decadence Pt.II

Decadence Part Two: Socialism

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Contemporary progressives claim that socialism is the preferred model for a humane society. The underlying premise is that government should be empowered to redistribute wealth from haves to have-nots. The justification is always explained in terms of "compassion" and "fairness" for the less fortunate of society. Redistribution of wealth is used to promote egalitarianism, and taxation is the mechanism by which most western governments pursue their socialist policies. Radical or revolutionary governments frequently resort to outright collectivism to achieve the goal, creating a system more properly known as communism. But the difference between socialism and communism is only one of degree. At their core both systems require overt intrusion into market economies by the heavy hand of government for the purpose of establishing social equality. Property rights are abolished as the program degenerates into a spoils system whereby Peter is robbed to pay for Paul's indolence. The dependent population quickly becomes a political constituency willing to support any politician promising more benefits. It's a short hop to the welfare state where work is discouraged through ever more onerous taxes, and dependency is encouraged through ever more generous subsidies. The entire program eventually becomes a system based on institutionalized theft.

The more intrusive the hand of government in the market, the more distortion is caused within the economy. Distortions cause inefficiencies, and inefficiency leads to an overall fall in economic production. Unemployment begins to rise. More people find themselves dependent on government relief vis-à-vis contributing to the overall society through gainful employment. Unemployment rates of 10% to 15% in Europe mask the true face of the problem. Add those who take advantage of other generous benefits, such as disability, early retirement, and ordinary welfare, to the oversized bureaucracy necessary to regulate and redistribute wealth, and you quickly create a system where nearly half the population is by one means or another dependent on government for their daily bread. The dignity of hard work and the rewards of increased material prosperity are replaced by dependency and idleness at a base level far below the former mean. The only equality that ensues is the equality of poverty. And yet, it's a human tendency to take advantage of something for nothing when the opportunity presents itself. A great many people are content to live a marginal existence provided it requires no effort, than to pursue material abundance and earned leisure through hard work. Socialism saps the spirit of a nation turning its citizens into a coddled and complacent population.

The error in socialist theory is to assume that one part of a population is willing to labor for decreasing rewards while simultaneously accepting the burden of supporting those who contribute naught. Eventually such a society reaches a tipping point. Workers stop producing because they realize the futility of laboring for less. The statement of a worker in the Gdansk Shipping Yards during the era of Solidarity sums it up: "We'll continue to pretend to work as long as the government pretends to pay us." Atlas shrugs. The system goes belly up. Despite repeated failures, Europeans embrace socialism. Today Europe is facing economic stagnation combined with a demographic crisis. New workers are not filling the ranks because birth rates have fallen below replacement levels. Few Europeans want to be burdened with raising children as they pursue lives of ease and leisure. One might conclude that socialist decadence is a one way ticket to demographic and cultural suicide.

The final step in the socialist agenda is to eviscerate a nation's military and divert the money to social programs. When economic output lags, it becomes impossible to support both a welfare state and a strong military. Europe has chosen welfare. The combined militaries of Europe, excepting the Brits, amount now to nil. This might explain Europe's current policy of appeasing Islamic fascism. The Europeans no longer have the means, much less the will, to fight a threat that is existential. The leadership of Europe hopes to hold power until they become willing collaborators with a new power. Islam if necessary. This is not an exaggeration. A British Labor M.P. offered the other day that Europe needs to come to terms with Islam so that Muslims might fill the ranks of the working class allowing for the continuation of the welfare state. What this amounts to is an admission that Europe wishes only to die in peace.

The populace that buys into the belief that one has a right to consume without producing deserves the fate of those who embrace decadence: extinction. Rome knew a similar fate. In A.D. 456, as the Vandals approached the city, despite a fair quanity of available weapons, the able youth of Rome refused to man the walls. The rest, as they say, is history. This is the ultimate price of decadence. Europe will die. America stands on the cusp. How will we answer?



Aethelred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aethelred said...

Contemporary progressives claim that socialism is the preferred model for a humane society."
- Basil "Strawmanslayer" Weehawk

Baz, your propensity for assassinating scarecrows is truly remarkable, but the United Strawmen of Arizona are starting to take notice.
When's the last time you heard anyone offering communism, collectivism or classical socialism as the "preferred model for a humane society"?
Your initial premise (which you then do an admirable job of blasting to atoms), is yet another example of the core failure of the modern conservative mentality: the requirement that all issues be reduced to easily labeled generalities.
This kind of bipolar, them/us on/off capitalism/communism mentality may be effective in herding sheep and cattle, but as a social model it is overly simplistic; A net with only two strands catches few fish.
Again, the difference between the consie "me first, last and only" position you espouse and the modern liberal view is NOT the either/or choice you present. The goal of progressives is not the lifelong coddling for the indolent and undeserving masses who slaver at the doors of decent hard-working fascists just itching to get that $42.50 a month in food stamps so they can live the "high life", but rather it is the establishment of effective social safety nets and programs that can help the unfortunate improve their lot in life.
That's kinda what the Founding Fathers were talking about in those old documents they penned back in the day. You remember? All those guys in wigs and knickers jawboning about "general welfare" and "pursuit of happiness" and all that "progressive" natterblather? That was not just propoganda to justify self-serving tax evasion on the part of some wealthy planter, by the way.
Linking neocon buzzwords like "redistribution" and "taxation" and "collectivism" is muzzy-minded jingoism and fear-mongering and I am certain that is eaten with relish by grannies and bermuda-shorters who only have one-channel TVs. Here's a challenge for you ... try writing a paragraph or two without using a single phrase gleaned from Fox News.
You might be surprised at the result.

Basil said...


I haven't had a television for eight months, so don't blame my ideas on Fox. Would you consider for just a moment that maybe conservatives share a certain outlook based on analysis, debate, and philosophy? To start with, redistribution of wealth pretty much defines socialism. This is not a strawman. How else would you describe a system that attempts to engineer social equality by meddling in the market? And taxation is just one method that government uses to tinker routinely with the engine of commerce, again, for the single purpose of redirecting wealth from the top toward the bottom. This is what Democrats do every time they propose a tax increase. If you want to call this "providing for the poor", fine. If you want to claim that this is the preferred method for creating a social safety net, I'll grant the point. I'll even grant you the point that society is morally obligated to provide for the less fortunate. It's when you rely on government to carry out such programs that the policy becomes explicitly socialist. The last time I heard anyone offering "communism, collectivism, or classical socialism as the preferred model for a humane society" was probably the last time a Democrat opened his mouth in public.

If you wish to know why I believe the above is true, I'll give you the anecdotal evidence. This from an Australian who lived his life in a Sydney youth hostel: "This is a great country. You don't have to work. The government takes care of everything." I remember the comment to this day. I later found him passed out with a neeble in his arm. He had chosen to become a heroine addict on the government's nickel. In the local dialect such people are known as "yabbos". In New Zealand the pubs fill every time the government issues checks. These people do not work. The unemployment benefit is not limited in duration. When the money runs out, the pubs empty until the next time. These permanent "dole-bludgers" spend the rest of the time wandering around aimlessly. In Amsterdam I joined a group of multi-nationals for a little party in canal barge. Ten of them were living in a space 8 x 20. Why? Because regardless of nationality, once in you're in the Dutch system, you can stay there permanently if you like. The government has never cracked down on these floating drug salons, because the Dutch believe that the poor need a place to live. All three examples illustrate permanent government dependency based on social welfare policy. It may not be the plan, but it certainly is the result. Unless, you believe it is the plan. Which it is.

Conservatives see no compassion in life-long, government sponsored dependency. Does that make us mean-spirited, greedy and spiteful? The cynical among us believe that, yes, some politicians encourage dependency as the means to gather a constituency. Such people harvest votes like the old plantation aristocracy harvested cotton. Today the shoe is on the other foot. Democrats are always screaming about victimization of this group or that, but who are the real tyrants? Who engineers social policy to keep the masses sedated and keep them down? Who benefits under such a system with the rewards of power? This is not moral superiority, it's naked hypocrisy. So, Red, come over and join us on the dark side sometime. You'll get a nice brown shirt with a spiffy armband, a set of jackboots, and a chance to join us for some book burning after midnight. Hell, we might even let you lynch a pre-vert. We'll sit on the porch nursing handovers in the morning and spit 'backy juice through are teeth. There's no end of fun being a conservative.