Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Why I am not a Communist
The excerpt below is taken from a 1956 book by Bertrand Russell. Russell was an English aristocrat, a brilliant analytical philosopher and a failed educationist but is best known as a peacenik: He went to prison for his pacifism during World War I and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament after WWII. It is his philosophical acuity that we see below
In relation to any political doctrine there are two questions to be asked: (1) Are its theoretical tenets true? (2) Is its practical policy likely to increase human happiness? For my part, I think the theoretical tenets of Communism are false, and I think its practical maxims are such as to produce an immeasurable increase of human misery.
The theoretical doctrines of Communism are for the most part derived from Marx. My objections to Marx are of two sorts: one, that he was muddle-headed; and the other, that his thinking was almost entirely inspired by hatred. The doctrine of surplus value, which is supposed to demonstrate the exploitation of wage-earners under capitalism, is arrived at: (a) by surreptitiously accepting Malthus’s doctrine of population, which Marx and all his disciples explicitly repudiate; (b) by applying Ricardo’s theory of value to wages, but not to the prices of manufactured articles. He is entirely satisfied with the result, not because it is in accordance with the facts or because it is logically coherent, but because it is calculated to rouse fury in wage-earners. Marx’s doctrine that all historical events have been motivated by class conflicts is a rash and untrue extension to world history of certain features prominent in England and France a hundred years ago. His belief that there is a cosmic force called Dialectical Materialism which governs human history independently of human volitions, is mere mythology. His theoretical errors, however, would not have mattered so much but for the fact that, like Tertullian and Carlyle, his chief desire was to see his enemies punished, and he cared little what happened to his friends in the process.
Marx’s doctrine was bad enough, but the developments which it underwent under Lenin and Stalin made it much worse. Marx had taught that there would be a revolutionary transitional period following the victory of the proletariat in a civil war and that during this period the proletariat, in accordance with the usual practice after a civil war, would deprive its vanquished enemies of political power. This period was to be that of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It should not be forgotten that in Marx’s prophetic vision the victory of the proletariat was to come after it had grown to be the vast majority of the population. The dictatorship of the proletariat therefore as conceived by Marx was not essentially anti-democratic. In the Russia of 1917, however, the proletariat was a small percentage of the population, the great majority being peasants. it was decreed that the Bolshevik party was the class-conscious part of the proletariat, and that a small committee of its leaders was the class-conscious part of the Bolshevik party. The dictatorship of the proletariat thus came to be the dictatorship of a small committee, and ultimately of one man – Stalin. As the sole class-conscious proletarian, Stalin condemned millions of peasants to death by starvation and millions of others to forced labour in concentration camps. He even went so far as to decree that the laws of heredity are henceforth to be different from what they used to be, and that the germ-plasm is to obey Soviet decrees but that that reactionary priest Mendel. I am completely at a loss to understand how it came about that some people who are both humane and intelligent could find something to admire in the vast slave camp produced by Stalin.
I have always disagreed with Marx. My first hostile criticism of him was published in 1896. But my objections to modern Communism go deeper than my objections to Marx. It is the abandonment of democracy that I find particularly disastrous. A minority resting its powers upon the activities of secret police is bound to be cruel, oppressive and obscuarantist. The dangers of the irresponsible power cane to be generally recognized during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but those who have forgotten all that was painfully learnt during the days of absolute monarchy, and have gone back to what was worst in the middle ages under the curious delusion that they were in the vanguard of progress.
EARTH TO HILLARY: MURDER RATES ARE UP, NOT DOWN
Hillary Clinton says she believes in community policing. At the first Presidential debate she defended the practice in major cities by claiming “crime has continued to drop, including murders.”
First, violent crime in major cities is not on the decline and second, she immediately discusses limiting community control over policing. Here is the real Clinton fact check:
The FBI 2015 violent crime analysis actually says that “In 2015, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 15,696. This was a 10.8 percent increase from the 2014 estimate, a 7.1 percent increase from the 2011 figure.” While Clinton lead the audience to believe violent crime was decreasing, in reality the worst kinds are still on the rise.
Clintons misguidance on violent crime is much worse than just that though, in 2016 the problem will only grow with major cities still being neglected.
The Brennan Center for Justice analyzed current violent crime trends predict a 13.1 percent rise this year in murders, leading to a projected 31.5 percent increase from 2014 to 2016. The center writes that half of the additional murders taking place can be attributed to Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston.
Half of the total violent crime increases is driven by just two cities, Los Angeles and Chicago, writing “Based on this data, the authors conclude there is no evidence of a national murder wave, yet increases in these select cities are indeed a serious problem.”
Clinton is correct, community policing is a necessity. Yet her and the Obama administration have removed all power from local police to the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department and transformed a problem for individual cities into a national epidemic which a national solution cannot cure.
After describing the misleading statistics on crime reduction Clinton attacks police for perpetuating racially based policing and makes claims of systematic racism in the criminal justice system. Her answer? Remove power from the communities she claimed would be so effective at reducing crime.
President Obama has already begun this process through sue and settle lawsuits and consent decrees President Obama has allowed federal authority to take over major police departments across the country is places like Miami, Fla., Los Angeles, Calif., Ferguson, Mo., and Chicago, Ill. These are all cities with alarmingly high and increasing murder rates. Is more federal regulation helping?
Los Angeles has been under federal review for over a year, equal to the amount of time their murder rate has been climbing steadily.
Violent crime is not only getting worse, but its worst form, murder, is becoming a normalcy in major cities throughout the country. While Clinton hails the success of local police, she also seems to be choking them of their ability to serve their own people. Once again Clinton thinks Washington bureaucrats can lead the American people better than the individuals in their own community, this time better than the individuals who took an oath to protect their own neighbors.
The 'New Elite' vs. Donald Trump's Nationalism
Nick Cohen warns in the Guardian that the "new elite" for so long unchallenged is now facing its self-generated Nemesis: "the often demagogic and always deceitful nationalism ... of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin." He explains that while part of the blame must lie with orthodox leftists "who respond to the challenge of argument by screaming for the police to arrest the politically incorrect or for universities to ban speakers," things have gone altogether too far in the other direction to ignore. "Only true liberalism can thwart the demagogues" now he writes. Otherwise the upstarts might gain power and treat the globalist elites exactly the way they treated others.
The strategy of "by any means necessary" appeals to the militants confident they possess the truth and are on the "right side of history." For them the rules are made to be broken. They could cheat because history gave them license to. "By any means necessary is a translation of a phrase used by the French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre in his play Dirty Hands. It entered the popular civil rights culture through a speech given by Malcolm X at the Organization of Afro-American Unity Founding Rally on June 28, 1964. It is generally considered to leave open all available tactics for the desired ends, including violence."
The problem is that the strategy works when only one side employs it. When both sides employ it equally, they become locked in a race to the bottom. Thomas More in Robert Bolt's play "A Man for All Seasons" observed that the advantages of cheating were transitory if they ruined the whole mutually beneficial system. In one scene, More's associates advise him to move illegally against his enemies and he refuses, arguing that by shredding the law he would in fact be depriving himself of its protection.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
The game theory equivalent of Thomas More's dictum is the familiar incentive to cheat in a duopoly. Two firms -- or political parties -- that find themselves in a situation where their combined total take is at the maximum can still be tempted to cheat even though that results in the total shrinkage of the pie because they are temporarily better off cheating. One cheats and then the other responds. They give up a good thing for chimerical "gains." They kill the goose for the sake of one more golden egg.
A short-sighted leadership will continue to cheat until both sides reach the bottom, which ironically is a stable condition because neither side has the incentive to cheat any further. Like a rock that falls to the bottom of the hill, it quits rolling and finally stops. This is arguably what is happening to American politics right now. The Obama administration's attempts to gain a permanent majority and enlarge their constituencies at the expense of their political rivals have brought forth a symmetrical response. You lie, they lie. You insult, they insult. You take donations from foreigners, they take compliments of foreigners. Suddenly they are faced with rivals just as contemptuous of the rules as themselves.
Anne Applebaum asks which deplorable historical figure Donald Trump most resembles: suppose the answer is Hillary Clinton? This is really the problem with the email scandal, the Iran cash payments, the use of the IRS for political purposes, the declaration of sanctuary cities, and the legitimization of a private email server/foundation open to foreign donors. That was all cute until, as Nick Cohen pointed out, liberalism's opponents threatened to do similarly outrageous things.
That worries him and he wants it to stop. What Cohen fails to grasp is that the dynamic cannot automatically be reversed by "true liberalism" simply calling for a time out on authoritarianism and everyone going back to square one. Square one's been trampled underfoot. The whole chessboard has been altered with a new and irregular pattern. A deadly race to the bottom has been initiated and driven by an unleashed incentive to cheat which will require a real effort to undo.
This explains the curious absence of real policy debate in the 2016 elections. Neither side seems to care if America's global standing falls or if they elect a crook or a clown because the game has changed. It's no longer about enlarging the pie. It's about maximizing the crumbs.
The damage done by weakening the Constitution, which Ezra Klein once described as "not a clear document ... written 100 years ago," is immense. The real tragedy is they didn't even realize how potentially damaging it was. Like Thomas More's tree, it kept the fierce winds from blowing unhindered. "And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mainly about Muslims, blacks and immigration
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Posted by JR at 1:30 AM