Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The mystery of socialism’s enduring appeal

One of the mysteries of our age is why socialism continues to appeal to so many people. Whether in the Soviet Union, China, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia or Venezuela, it has resulted in the suppression of free speech, the imprisonment of political dissidents and, more often than not, state-sanctioned mass murder. Socialist economics nearly always produce widespread starvation, something we were reminded of last week when the President of Venezuela urged people not to be squeamish about eating their rabbits. That perfectly captures the trajectory of nearly every socialist experiment: it begins with the dream of a more equal society and ends with people eating their pets. Has there ever been an ideology with a more miserable track record?

Why, then, did 40 per cent of the British electorate vote for a party led by Jeremy Corbyn last June? It wasn’t as if he acknowledged that all previous attempts to create a socialist utopia had failed and explained why it would be different under him. There was no fancy talk of ‘post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory’ or ‘pre-distribution’, as there had been by his two predecessors. No, he was selling exactly the same snake oil that every left-wing huckster has been peddling for the past 100 years, and in exactly the same bottle. He reminded me of a pharmacist trying to flog thalidomide to an expectant mother while making no attempt to hide the fact that it has caused the deaths of at least 2,000 children and serious birth defects in more than 10,000 others. And yet, nearly 13 million Britons voted for Corbyn. Could it be that they just don’t know about all the misery and suffering that socialism has unleashed?

That’s a popular theory on my side of the political divide and has prompted a good deal of head-scratching about how best to teach elementary history — such as that more people were killed by Stalin than by Hitler. One suggestion is to create a museum of communist terror that documents all the people murdered in the great socialist republics — and full credit to the journalist James Bartholomew for getting some traction behind this idea. But is it really historical ignorance that prompts people to invest their hopes in Corbyn? An inconvenient fact for holders of this theory is that those who voted Labour at the last election tended to be better educated than those who voted Tory.

To try and solve the puzzle of socialism’s enduring appeal, we have to turn to evolutionary psychologists and in particular Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, two of the leading thinkers in the field. They contend that we don’t come into the world as tabulae rasae, ready to take on the imprint of whatever society we happen to be born into. Rather, we are more like smartphones that come pre-loaded with various apps, including a set of moral intuitions. The problem is, these apps haven’t been updated for 40,000 years. They were designed for small bands of hunter-gatherers rather than citizens of the modern world and prompt us to look more favourably on socialism than free-market capitalism. Why? Because in hunter-gatherer societies, where the pooling of resources is essential for survival, the principle of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ makes perfect sense. By the same token, we have a great deal of difficulty grasping that people acting in an individual, self-interested way can create huge communal benefits, as it does under capitalism. Back in the primeval forest, our survival depended upon distrusting people who weren’t willing to engage in reciprocal altruism.

In hunter-gatherer societies, goods are finite. If someone has more than his fair share of meat, there is less for everyone else. That’s not true of capitalist societies, where successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs create wealth without taking anything away from others; but because we’re programmed to think of resources in a zero-sum way we cannot easily understand this. Instead, we’re inclined to believe people like Corbyn when they tell us the rich only got that way by stealing from the poor.

This zero-sum thinking doesn’t just explain why people cannot readily understand the concept of wealth being created under capitalism; it also explains why seeing people with more than us can lead to envy and resentment. We look at their lavish property and, on some primitive, hunter-gatherer level, believe they’ve only come by what they have by depriving us of what we’re entitled to. All property is theft.

This thinking can often lead to a desire to tear down the person in question, to reduce their status so it’s level with ours. The anthropologist Christopher Boehm believes that this violent impulse underpins all egalitarian ideologies, which might explain why intellectuals, Jews and middle-class property owners are often interned in prison camps and/or put to death in socialist societies. (See Russia, China, Cambodia, etc.) Interestingly, Boehm points out that chimpanzees, with whom we share a common ancestor, are also prone to the same tall-poppy syndrome. I recommend his book "Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior" if you want to learn more about the pathological roots of socialism.

So what’s the solution? Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? Hopefully not, but we need to tell a story about capitalism that is just as appealing to people’s 40,000-year-old moral intuitions as the sales patter of socialist snake oil salesmen.



How crazy can California get as a sanctuary state?

By Printus LeBlanc

California is one step closer to full lunacy, and the final step is expected to be taken this week. Late last week the California State Assembly passed the California Values Act. Over the weekend the Senate followed suit and passed the legislation, and Democrat Governor Jerry Brown hinted he intends to sign the bill. What kind of nation can we have if states can choose which federal laws to follow and not follow, especially when immigration is clearly a federal issue?

What California is attempting to do is nothing more than nullification. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. To put it simply, a state cannot make a law that supersedes federal law.

California has a history of prioritizing the needs of illegal and non-U.S. citizens over their own citizens. District Attorneys are intentionally reducing violent felonies to misdemeanors in order to prevent immigration enforcement from being notified. The Santa Clara DA ignored a woman being beating and tortured for years for fear if a felony was charged the immigrant would be kicked out of the country, obviously not caring about the woman was being subjected to on a daily basis.

Just one month ago Erick Garcia-Pineda was linked to the killing of a popular community volunteer in San Francisco. Garcia-Pineda was awaiting deportation when he was picked up by local sheriffs for battery charges. Upon his arrest, ICE sent a detainer to the sheriff’s department. The department ignored the detainer and released the violent criminal on the population. The result was the murder of 23-year-old Abel Esquivel.

Many like to argue that enforcing immigration law makes communities less safe, and the job of law enforcement harder. If only someone asked law enforcement. Bill Brown, the sheriff for Santa Barbara County who serves as president of the California State Sheriffs Association stated, “It’s a hazardous law for Californians and people sworn to protect and serve Californians and we would like to see it changed.”

Michael Durant, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, a union representing 70,000 law enforcement officers in California and Nevada, echoed his statements asserting, “I do believe those who voted for this law are making California less safe, and at some point, there is going to be an incident that is going to backfire on the legislature when one of these criminal aliens is released.”

President Donald Trump and Congress can help to fix this. H.Amdt 301 was introduced to the year-end omnibus to be voted on December. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and passed with bipartisan support. The legislation would block federal funds from flowing into jurisdictions that interfere with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including jurisdictions that do not honor ICE detainers.

Another option is the removal of immunity from local government officials. If a local official refuses to cooperate with federal officials and releases an illegal immigrant, the official can be held financially liable for crimes committed by the illegal immigrant after release. There is a bill in the Colorado General Assembly that does just that. It is time to bring SB17-281 to Washington D.C. Local officials will never change unless they feel the pain financially.

In the meantime, the Trump administration must be prepared to fight sanctuary jurisdictions like California in federal court to uphold the law of the land.

Illegal immigration was one of the top campaign issues across the nation that put President Trump over the top in 2016. He won on the issue of getting illegal immigration under control. Republicans were given control of the House and Senate for the purpose of backing up the President. They, particularly the GOP Congress, cannot afford ignore this threat to the Constitution and homeland security, or they will risk losing any credibility they have left.



NASCAR draws line on protesting during national anthem

It appeared no drivers, crew or other team members participated in a protest during the national anthem to start the NASCAR Cup series race Sunday in Loudon, New Hampshire.

Several team owners and executives had said they wouldn’t want anyone in their organizations to protest. Richard Childress, who was Dale Earnhardt’s longtime team owner, said of protesting, “It’ll get you a ride on a Greyhound bus.” Childress says he told his team that “anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”

Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty’s sentiments took it a step further, saying: “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ‘em where they’re at? The United States.” When asked if a protester at Richard Petty Motorsports would be fired, he said, “You’re right.”

Another team owner Chip Ganassi says he supports Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s comments. Tomlin said before the Steelers played on Sunday that players would remain in the locker room and that “we’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”



Liberal Revolt Threatens Democrats’ Entire Strategy

Democratic leaders fighting to enact the DREAM Act this year are taking fire from a surprising group: liberal immigrant-rights activists.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sounded off last week after top Democrats cut a tentative agreement with President Trump to pair a version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act with tougher immigration enforcement measures.

More recently, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was heckled in her own district over the deal, with a group of young advocates urging Democrats to pass a “clean” Dream Act while protecting the other 10 million undocumented immigrants living in the country.

The episodes suggest the coming debate over immigration reform — a perennial headache for Republican leaders — will also be no small challenge for the Democrats.
Complicating matters further, the immigration activists are a multi-faceted force with their own internal disagreements.



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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"The mystery of socialism’s enduring appeal"?

Simple; it is a scheme of ordering society that holds out the prospect that the kind of uninspired self-styled "intellectual" nobodies that profess it will be in charge. Absent the kind of official buttinskiism that Socialism embodies, these pathetic losers are accorded the kind of respectful attention they naturally deserve; none. Bluntly put, they are the embodiment of the old saw "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"