Americans are easy prey when it comes to being distracted by the political theater in Washington. It is this attraction to non-issues (e.g., the so-called government shutdown) that prevents them from focusing on the issues that really matter.
Of course, people’s ideas about what constitutes freedom can vary widely, depending upon whether they view the world from the right or the left. Speaking for myself, I believe that the easiest way to define freedom is to call it the antithesis of communism.
Karl Marx and his lackey benefactor, Friedrich Engels, firmly believed that violent revolution was the only way to bring about pure communism, and that such a revolution was possible only where capitalism existed. The reason for this, they believed, was because capitalism was a necessary ingredient for creating a wide financial disparity between the workers and the privileged class.
It’s kind of weird that Marx and Engels sought to increase income disparity between the classes, then rectify the disparity through violent revolution. Perhaps their thinking was a result of their being familiar with the colossal failure of the French Revolution, which led not to freedom but mob violence, unthinkable human carnage, and ultimately a Napoleonic dictatorship.
Neither Marx nor Engels lived long enough to witness the most notable communist revolutions, those in Russia, China, Vietnam, and Cuba, and it’s interesting that none of these countries could have been considered capitalist countries at the time. There’s no question, however, that Marx and Engels would have considered the modern-day United States to be the perfect crucible for testing their convoluted class-warfare theory.
Today, only naïve utopian dreamers believe in the communist fairy tale that under communism, the state will eventually “wither away” because there will be so much of everything for everybody that government will no longer be necessary.
I do, however, believe that Marx and Engels were on to something when they referred to socialism as a “transitional stage of society” between capitalism and communism. This should be explained to the masses, so when a Bernie Sanders or an economics-major (chuckle) like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hails the virtues of socialism they understand what a socialist society actually looks like.
Here in the United States we have long suffered from the delusion that “European-style socialism” is a nice, peaceful, cradle-to-grave compromise between capitalism and communism. Elitists on both the right and the left have come to believe that Western society is static and that so long as Western countries keep their redistribution-of-wealth policies finely tuned, capitalists will go right on producing enough wealth to support the parasitic masses.
In this naïve view of the world, they do not take into account a crucial factor known as human nature. Homo sapiens — particularly its progressive subspecies — is, by nature, an avaricious creature. As a result, getting free stuff does not decrease his desire for other people’s property. On the contrary, his appetite for wealth without work is insatiable.
The result is that when producers can no longer create enough wealth to appease the voracious appetites of the masses, those on the receiving end become increasingly angry. If, for example, a man spends his whole life being told that it is his right to retire at age fifty-eight and that it is someone else’s obligation to support him in his retirement in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed, he is incapable of comprehending that he must work until … gasp! … age sixty.
With the ongoing debt-ceiling crisis, no cutbacks in store for Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, and a majority of politicians unwilling to make serious spending cuts in other redistribution-of-wealth programs, it does not take a fiscal genius to see where all this is headed: revolution.
The worst thing about the collapse of a nation’s economy is that it sets the stage for the uprising that Marx and Engels so passionately longed for — and that those on the Radical Left believe they can achieve in America. The reason the United States has been able to avoid violent revolution until now is because even through the eras of the most left-leaning presidents and Congresses of the past hundred years, there has always enough pushback to keep capitalism alive.
But things are now changing very fast. The pushback of yesteryear has been on the decline for decades, as evidenced by recent election results in formerly rugged individualism states like Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. These states are becoming more blue by the day, with serious pushback from the right now coming from less than 50 percent of the population.
There’s an irony in the fact that Marx and Engels believed capitalism was necessary in order to create more wealth disparity. That irony is that capitalism creates more wealth for those on the lowest rung of the income ladder than any other system, so income and wealth disparities, while interesting phenomena for academic eggheads to ponder, are pretty much irrelevant. The only thing that’s relevant is how well off each individual is in absolute terms — not in comparison to others.
Without capitalism, prosperity for the masses cannot exist. Likewise, without freedom, capitalism, by definition, cannot exist, because it is nothing more than a subcategory of freedom — the freedom to trade one’s goods, services, and labor with others without interference from government. Plain and simple, capitalism is the purest form of freedom.
All this by way of saying that as we enter the new year, we would all do well to resist becoming distracted by the ongoing political theater in Washington and focus on the most important issue of our time: our loss of freedom. It is, in fact, the most important issue of any time.