Free Markets, Free People

Why has the collapse of Communism had so little impact on political discourse in the West?

At Powerline, John Hinderaker  points to an article by Janet Daley in the Daily Telegraph and ponders the question she asks – “why has the collapse of Communism had so little impact on political discourse in the West?”

From Daley’s column:

[I]n spite of the official agreement that there is no other way to organise the economic life of a free society than the present one (with a few tweaks), there are an awful lot of people implicitly behaving as if there were. Several political armies seem to be running on the assumption that there is still a viable contest between capitalism and Something Else.

If this were just the hard Left within a few trade unions and a fringe collection of Socialist Workers’ Party headbangers, it would not much matter. But the truth is that a good proportion of the population harbours a vague notion that there exists a whole other way of doing things that is inherently more benign and “fair” – in which nobody is hurt or disadvantaged – available for the choosing, if only politicians had the will or the generosity to embrace it.

Why do they believe this? Because the lesson that should have been absorbed at the tumultuous end of the last century never found its way into popular thinking – or even into the canon of educated political debate. …

he fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism which followed it are hugely important to any proper understanding of the present world and of the contemporary political economy. Why is it that they have failed to be addressed with anything like their appropriate awesome significance, let alone found their place in the sixth-form curriculum?

The failure of communism should have been, after all, not just a turning point in geo-political power – the ending of the Cold War and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact – but in modern thinking about the state and its relationship to the economy, about collectivism vs individualism, and about public vs private power. Where was the discussion, the trenchant analysis, or the fundamental debate about how and why the collectivist solutions failed, which should have been so pervasive that it would have percolated down from the educated classes to the bright 18-year-olds? Fascism is so thoroughly (and, of course, rightly) repudiated that even the use of the word as a casual slur is considered slanderous, while communism, which enslaved more people for longer (and also committed mass murder), is regarded with almost sentimental condescension. …

[I]n our everyday politics, we still seem to be unable to make up our minds about the moral superiority of the free market. We are still ambivalent about the value of competition, which remains a dirty word when applied, for example, to health care. We continue to long for some utopian formula that will rule out the possibility of inequalities of wealth, or even of social advantages such as intelligence and personal confidence.

The idea that no system – not even a totalitarian one – could ensure such a total eradication of “unfairness” without eliminating the distinguishing traits of individual human beings was one of the lessons learnt by the Soviet experiment. The attempt to abolish unfairness based on class was replaced by corruption and a new hierarchy based on party status.

If the European intellectual elite had not been so compromised by its own broad acceptance of collectivist beliefs, maybe we would have had a genuine, far-reaching re-appraisal of the entire ideological framework. [Emphasis mine].

We could spend a week discussing any of those highlighted passages, but the question remains – why?  In fact, if you think about it, the collapse of communism was all but shrugged off by the left.   It wasn’t, as it seemed, of any consequence to their ideology.  In fact, for the most part, other than a few “good riddance” quotes, it was business as usual for the left, pushing many of the same ideological principles that underpinned communism as if they were not a reason for that horrific system’s collapse.

As Daley says, its failure should have been a turning point in geo-political power and thinking about the state and its relationship to the economy.  But instead there was silence while left leaning governments both here and in Europe doubled down on state intrusion into the economies of their respective states.

The key is to be found in the last emphasized sentence.  Unfortunately, there has been a sea-change in much of our thinking which has indeed seen a “broad acceptance” of “collectivist beliefs”.  If ObamaCare leaped to your mind immediately, what actually makes the point is Medicare Part D.  That’s  the “broad acceptance” necessary – compromise of principle on the right – to carry this sort of an agenda forward.

Sure ObamaCare was passed without a single GOP vote, but it was set up by many past GOP compromises.  The problem is the right has allowed the left to define both the playing field and the principles of play.  It has also framed what little discussion that goes on.  It has decided on envy as its vehicle and class warfare as its methodology.  And the right has meekly accepted those parameters.  Watch the current crop of GOP candidates spend much of their time apologizing for their success instead of celebrating it and tell me the propaganda war hasn’t gone to the left.

And on the left?  Why has the result of communism’s collapse been essentially ignored?  For two reasons.  John Hideraker’s take on the left for one:

I think a very partial answer to the question Ms. Daley poses is that leftism has never been based on idealism. It has always been based, for the most part, on hate and envy. So when Communism was conclusively proved to be a failure, leftists (including not only leftists in politics, but more important, leftists in the media and in academia) didn’t change their minds or admit their mistake. For in their eyes, while there may have been disappointment, there was no mistake. Their resentments and hatreds remained. They merely sought other vehicles, other terminologies, other tactics to bring down the West and the free enterprise system and democratic institutions that define it. Yesterday’s socialists are today’s progressives. They barely missed a beat.

I think there is a lot of truth to that analysis, although I’d quibble somewhat on the dismissal of idealism.  I’ve always said the left never viewed communism as a systemic failure but more of a failure based on the fact that the wrong people were executing the idea poorly.  There’s never really been an acknowledgement on the left that communism itself was “wrong”, “bad” or even totalitarian.  Just that some of those who got into power under that system were (if they’ll admit even that). 

And it is hard to look at the left of today, view their ideology and conclude they’ve learned a thing by its collapse.   While they’ve certainly learned that it is unwise to use certain words or phrases when pushing their agenda (you won’t see “proletariat” or “bourgeoisie” tossed around by today’s lefty, but “middle class” and “[pick your favorite class to denigrate] elite” work along with “Big this” and “Big that”.

The truth in Daley’s point is to be found in reviewing how we’ve gotten to where we are today since the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  We’re much less free economically and politically.  The left continues to define the debate and the right continues to accept the framing.  How can you have a real discussion about the failures of communism specifically and collectivism in general when you continue to allow the collectivists to frame the discussion?  Naturally they’re going to pretend that nothing untoward happened with the demise of the USSR and Warsaw pact.  Why would they?

I mean think of the irony –  over 20 years after its collapse, the principles of socialism and its offspring communism continue to touted as “the answer” while the system that sharply defined the West until then and made it more successful by orders of magnitude  – capitalism (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) – is under constant and sustained assault.

Talk about a world upside down.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

62 Responses to Why has the collapse of Communism had so little impact on political discourse in the West?

  • Perhaps at least part of the answer lies in the cheap moral superiority that comes with embracing Collectivist dogma.

    http://www.pjtv.com/v/6586

    Bill Whittle does a good job of illuminating that.

  • Whenever this subject is discussed, I think the book review Fools for Communism from Reason in 2004 is worth a view for anyone who has not seen it. Here are the first two paragraphs:

    “In 1983 the Indiana University historian Robert F. Byrnes collected essays from 35 experts on the Soviet Union — the cream of American academia — in a book titled After Brezhnev. Their conclusion: Any U.S. thought of winning the Cold War was a pipe dream. “The Soviet Union is going to remain a stable state, with a very stable, conservative, immobile government,” Byrnes said in an interview, summing up the book. “We don’t see any collapse or weakening of the Soviet system.”

    “Barely six years later, the Soviet empire began falling apart. By 1991 it had vanished from the face of the earth. Did Professor Byrnes call a press conference to offer an apology for the collective stupidity of his colleagues, or for his part in recording it? Did he edit a new work titled Gosh, We Didn’t Know Our Ass From Our Elbow? Hardly. Being part of the American chattering class means never having to say you’re sorry.”

    The book being reviewed is a great read. It documents, using a lot of stuff unearthed after the Soviet dissolution, how quite a number of accusations vociferously denied by the left about various leftists aiding the communists were very much on target.

    I think this entire area of the left’s relationship to communism is a fertile ground to help understand the left. It highlights ignorance (of the actual conditions in the Soviet Union), lying and mendacity (covering up what the communists actually did and the role of the left in helping them), and inability to face that one’s worldview is fatally flawed, as evidenced by complete failure of predictions made about what the Soviets could do and how long they would last. The left comes off looking like liars, dupes, and arrogant fools.

    It’s one of the reasons (there are many) why I can’t take the left seriously. After trying to understand and communicate with those on the left up until the early 1990s, the fall of communism and their reaction to it made it clear that presenting objective evidence to a doctrinnaire leftist is utterly pointless. If they can ignore that, they can ignore any lesser failures put in front of them.

    And make no mistake, Daley and Garvin are right about this. For the left overall, they have managed to purge any serious examination of the failures of collectivism exemplified by the Soviet Union completely out of their mind.

  • Nice posting, Bruce. I’m working on this same topic. It’ll be later today but I’ll get you linked up…

  • Let me share something with you that I was once told by an Obama supporter. It went something like this, “Obama hasn’t failed America, but rather, the American people have failed Obama.” It is not much different than the old excuse that communism will work with the right people.

    Who those people are, leaders and citizens alike, remain elusive.

  • Communism DOES work…for some people. It worked great for the commissars, for Stalin, for the party chiefs and party members. I mean, does Putin look like he suffers much?

    The club works just fine for the members and if you’re wondering why the leftists don’t perceive the failure, it’s because the leftists think they’ll be the party chiefs and party members. So it will work for them, And f* everyone else.

    We already know they have complete disdain for the right, and the other ‘masses’ are just backs for standing on to be stomped if they get out of line (note how they handled the Susan G. Komen foundation just the other day).

  • If you look at textbooks in Comparative Politics and any course (including my own) the following things are clear. Communism failed, it was a grand experiment that showed that government control of the economy is fair inferior to effective markets, and that bureaucracies create stagnation. Moreover, that system of government harmed not only the material output of those countries, but did immense psychological damage to people by undercutting initiative and creating oppressive dependencies. It was an evil system, proof that when ideology guides thinking people often become unable to see how bad things are getting.

    I find it unfathomable to think that the left in the industrialized world sees communism as anything but a systemic failure. In Europe the most anti-Communist groups of all were Social Democrats who called Communists things like “red painted fascists.” To equate Obama’s health care reform with communism is absurd and even bizarre. Conservatives all over Europe — all fiercely anti-communist and anti-leftist — support strong national health care systems. Germany’s economy is doing well even with a lot of government involvement — that’s because government involvement is not the same as communism. Trying to compare current government practices with communism is laughable.

    You’re caught up in doctrinaire ideological thinking and it’s causing you to miss basic aspects of what’s happening, interpreting them into a framework that fits your preconceived notions. That’s just what supporters of communism did into the 80s, you’re making the same kind of error.

    • @scotterb Okay, maybe he should have used the fall of SOCIALISM then. Experiment, yes, 80 years of experimentation in thuggery and genocide, Grand, isn’t it?

      • @looker Communism is quite different than, say, Scandinavian Social Democracy! One other thing that is important to learn is to distinguish between governmental types clearly and distinctly.

        • @scotterb @looker Much like distinguishing between American auto makers, Obama and Reagan, day and night, up and down…

        • @scotterb Oh, you mean, like failed, formerly successful headed for failure and successful?

        • @scotterb @looker — Both have collectivism as their foundation. One is milder than the other UNTIL things get ugly.

        • @Sharpshooter @looker Irrational thinking – that somehow “collectivism” is a single foundation. It’s like the illogical claim that government has to be on a continuum from “individualism” to “collectivism,” something utterly absurd. Those are meaningless abstractions, and following them will get you into an ideological fog, especially if you are a true believer. Politics is about solving problems and dealing with complexity. Simple dichotomies are for people who don’t want to think.

        • @scotterb @Sharpshooter @looker “Simple dichotomies are for people who don’t want to think.”

          Democrats?

        • @looker @scotterb @Sharpshooter Like Nappy Jan the DHS Boss, who equates 2nd Amendment support with extremism.

        • @scotterb @Sharpshooter @looker

          .” Politics is about solving problems and dealing with complexity. Simple dichotomies are for people who don’t want to think.”

          LMFAO.

    • @scotterb Your attempt to blinker the Collective as only bad ol’ “communism” is cute. The Collective includes socialism, fascism (Obama’s favorite economic model) and all other BIG GOVERNMENT forms.

      But you knew that, having been schooled on all that multiple times in the recent past.

      Personify what the post was about much…???

      • @Ragspierre You need to learn the unit on political ideologies, trying to meld together socialism and fascism is hilariously silly. Of course, you never actually try to make a point, you just make wild statements.

        • @scotterb This from the ignorant phuc who didn’t know the Frankfort School was a nest of dedicated Communists.

          And, I suppose, we have to RELEARN all the history of fascism, from its roots in socialism.

          But I realize that would be a (another) lesson (pun) in futility. I can’t cure stupid.

        • @Ragspierre Frankfurt school (not fort) and they were utterly opposed to Communism. Fascism is an anti-rational, anti-intellectual response to both liberalism and socialism, rejecting both in favor of an emotional appeal to nationalism, a rejection of egalitarianism, and a rejection of class distinctions. However, your style (wild lies, over the top personal attacks, demonization of those who think differently) are very much in line with the tactics used by the fascists.

          I can teach you about political ideologies Rags, and go through the history of fascism (I’ve even taught a course like that, looking closely at Hitler and Mussolini and the variations of their movements). Of course, I think you’re willfully ignorant so it would be a waste of my time.

        • @scotterb Yep. Unteachable Erp. You’re such an idiot, you’re back to the outright lie that the FRANKFURT School (you amazing prig) was “opposed to Communism”. Their literature tells us the opposite is true, but never mind.

          As to the rest, the National Socialists and Fascists were MORE egalitarian (to the right people) than Stalinists were, which you’d know if you read history at all.

          What a moron. Seriously. COULD you be more obdurate?

        • @Ragspierre @scotterb Scotty just means the Frankenfurters opposed communism because of its materialism. They saw the failure of revolution in Western Europe before WW2 and couldn’t explain the rise of National Socialism instead of pure Marxism, so went about trying to create more intricate explanations but really just ended up creating nothing but mental masturbatory Marxism. There is a quote on Wikipedia by Popper that sums up the whole Frankfurt circle-jerk:

          “Marx’s own condemnation of our society makes sense. For Marx’s theory contains the promise of a better future. But the theory becomes vacuous and irresponsible if this promise is withdrawn, as it is by Adorno and Horkheimer.”

        • @Ragspierre LOL! Silly boy, repeating your false claims doesn’t make them true. If you ever want to study political philosophy and learn the truth, I’ll give you some reading assignments and walk you through it. Until then, I just have to work to make sure others don’t fall for the ignorance you’ve chosen.

        • @Ragspierre The fascists by the way were anti-egalitarian. You clearly are utterly and completely ignorant of the reality of fascism. In fact, Mussolini and Hitler succeeded in getting workers to accept low wages in exchange for emotional fulfillment from being part of something greater. To say they were more egalitarian is utterly hilarious – and proves you either are ignorant or simply believe in spreading the ‘big lie,’ figuring that if you say it with enough bombast people will believe it.

        • @scotterb Hand-wave, ad hominem, BS stated as fact, delusional ranting…?

          Yep, typical Erp fare. He really gets nasty when cornered, too. And, with his love of BIG GOVERNMENT, he’d make a splendid little functionary (in a bureaucratic lower-mid level billet).

        • @scotterb “Mussolini and Hitler succeeded in getting workers to accept low wages in exchange for emotional fulfillment from being part of something greater.”

          FDR got Americans to buy bonds, after controlling their wages and prices.

          Stalin just murdered millions of his people by starvation. Well, and using them as cannon fodder, pushed into combat without arms in many cases. For the “emotional fulfillment” of serving the Mother Land. And the Party guys with the submachine-guns.

          What an idiot, Erp. Really.

        • @scotterb @Ragspierre If you actually read the history, the common German was better off under Hitler then the common Russian was under Lenin or Stalin (except near the end of WW2, due to the Red Army and the Anglo-American air war). This is in no doubt partially due to cultural differences.

        • @scotterb @Ragspierre
          “trying to meld together socialism and fascism is hilariously silly”

          Funny. Not as funny as the previous jape, but I realize your reservoir of wit is a bit shallower than most.

        • @scotterb @Ragspierre

          “The fascists by the way were anti-egalitarian. You clearly are utterly and completely ignorant of the reality of fascism.”

          Jeez, this is going from humorous to pitiful. How on earth did you ever get through highschool, let alone college, with reading comprehension that bad?

    • @scotterb “Communism failed, it was a grand experiment that showed that government control of the economy is fair inferior to effective markets, and that bureaucracies create stagnation.”

      “To equate Obama’s health care reform with communism is absurd and even bizarre.”

      So bureaucracies create stagnation, but somehow the massive Obamacare bureaucracies are going to be just fine? Government control is inferior to free markets, but somehow government control of healthcare is peachy?

      You can’t even ferret out the contradictions in adjacent paragraphs of your own writing. Yet another in the continuing series of reasons we don’t take you seriously.

      • @Billy Hollis @scotterb Uh, moon ponies for all! Uh, rainbows! Free stuff for the poor, punish the rich!

        • @looker @Billy I like how you guys take on “the left” – you fantasize them to be something very different than they are. I don’t know if you believe your claims, if you’re really so ignorant about people who think differently than you, or if it’s just propagandistic hyperbole. To be sure, I see many on the left who have very warped views of how conservatives think and what their values are. One bad thing about blogs that tend to draw just one audience is that a sense of groupthink emerges whereby people think its self-evident their view is right, and those who think different are not only wrong, but there is something wrong with them.

        • @scotterb @looker @Billy ” who think differently than you, or if it’s just propagandistic hyperbole.”

          Called anyone a neo-nazi lately, Professor Sunshine & Tolerance. What a hyperbolic f***ing hypocrite.

          Pardon my hyperbole there.

        • @scotterb @looker @Billy Well, Scott, you do manage to reinforce the idea that the left is wrong. And you do so in every post.

      • @Billy Hollis You don’t seriously contend that all bureaucracy is bad or that it isn’t necessary, d you? The key is to have some kind of check on bureaucratic power — such as media coverage, democratic investigations, etc. It would be simplistic and even absurd to say “less bureaucracy is always better.” Dichotomous thinking is full of irrationalities, and that’s what you engage in there. Moreover, in the Obama health care proposal a bureaucracy does not control it – you don’t even get your facts right.

        And don’t forget – health care in Europe is as effective in the US, a lot cheaper, and conservatives support it. That will ultimately come about here too.

        • @scotterb @Billy You don’t seriously contend that all European public health systems are the same, d you?

          Tell me Prof, as I don’t have the figures to hand but I am sure you can get them from one of ypur famed classes, what proportion of these conservative politicians do NOT have private health care insurance? Heck, what proportion of any politicians? Because even I have private health insurance and the company is continually offered better insurance rates if health insurance is added ofr employees to improve recovery ti e by avoiding the public system and reduce claims for lost productivity and the like.

        • @DocD @scotterb @Billy Tsk tsk, what do YOU know about running a business in Europe? You run a business in Europe! Clearly you know nothing!

          If you were an American College Professor living in Maine, you’d know more about these things, you damaged right wing nutball.

        • @DocD @Billy You don’t deny my point. Yes, wealthy Europeans often get private or supplemental insurance. I think that’s a good thing. But there is a minimum standard for everyone, anything else is in my opinion barbaric for an advanced industrialized society.

        • @scotterb @DocD @Billy No, genius, your point was that you lumoed all European countries into one communal public health policy. Which is false. Your point was the claim that European health care is as effective as the US, while any European who can does their best to avoid the public health system. Your point was European health care is much cheaper than the US, but fail to account for the extensive use of private insurance by even middle classes and company provided insurance by many others on top of the taxes paid by individuals and companies for the purpose of health. Your point was that conservatives support the system, but when was the last te any politician looked a gift horse in the mouth and refused money and power? As usual you have no point other than getting all wet over Obama making things more like you want them in this mythical “Europe” you inhabit in your fantasy.

        • @DocD @Billy My point was not that there was one communal public health policy. You’re making things up and pretending I said them. That’s a sure sign that you KNOW you have the losing side of this argument. Health care is cheaper — total health care costs (including private insurance) as a percentage of GDP is much lower everywhere in the industrialized world than in the US. The anti-health care reform propaganda is based on lies, and as the American people realize this in the coming years opposition to the new system will fade.

        • @scotterb @Billy “And don’t forget – health care in Europe is as effective in the US, a lot cheaper, and conservatives support it.”

          You lumped all of Europe, from Britain to Slovakia to Lichtenstein in one common group and asked us to believe they are all more “effective” and “cheaper” than the US and that conservatives in this European fantasy all back this thinking. You then pretend you accounted for private health insurance and then moved the goalposts to a percentage of GDP measure. You can pretend not to be a sophist or a thief, but you can’t pretend to be very bright.

        • @scotterb @Billy First, it isn’t as effective. When you factor out deaths due to auto accidents and homicide, Americans have the longest lifespan. The quality of our care is superior, see for instance care for different types of cancer. Now, take into account that Americans have many more auto accidents and homicides, and you will see that our healthcare is inherently going to be more expensive all else being equal. Both Europe and the US do have a serious flaw: there is no competition at point of service since the patient in most cases does not pay for their own care, this is the key factor driving runaway costs.

        • @scotterb @DocD @Billy The “new system” is a mess which will not work, and will only increase our debt at a higher rate.

    • @scotterb “Conservatives all over Europe…”

      First, that is a school of red herring. “Conservatives” in Europe are often fundamentally different than American Conservatives. You’d either know that and are lying, or your IMMENSE ignorance is showing again.

      Second, European Conservatives are hardly a monolith, and MANY of them are very against their national health care systems for the very same reasons American Conservatives oppose ObamaCare.

      • @Ragspierre European conservatives generally are less ideologically driven and more pragmatic than American conservatives. American conservatives are imploding. The ideas the “tea party” have represent nostalgia for an era long gone. The culture has changed. Watch and learn.

        • @scotterb Conservatives enjoy a two-to-one advantage to Collectivists, moron.

          Noted all the drift AWAY from your Collective over the recent few years, Erp? More states becoming Right to Work, the more Collectivist ones going more and more publicly bankrupt in every possible way? Naw, not you. Delusions are hard for you to leave, was the root post illustrates.

        • @scotterb @Ragspierre “American conservatives are imploding.”

          Apparently morons though, are on the rise.

      • @Ragspierre @scotterb Now now, Scott is correct… for certain values of “conservative” and certain definitions of “ideological”. If we take his favorite country, das Vaterland, then it is broadly true perhaps. If we go to Malta, you will find the most hard-bitten conservatives that will make you think you’ve travelled back a few hundred years. Go to Italy and the Northern League is the very model of ideology on many issues dear to Scotties heart. Go to the recently communist Eastern and Central European states and the conservatives there are pretty “ideological” too, under Dear Professor’s definitions.

        Conversely, the leftist politicians in Europe are openly much more ideological than in the USA, with many parties that are either old-school commies or have policies slightly reformed from that.

        Then there is Britain, where after suffering destruction at the hands of Thatcher the Labour part reinvented itself as New Labour under Tony Blair and basically adopted many “ideologically conservative” economic policies and began paring back the welfare state. That was so successful that the Conservatives have now also lurched socially to the left under Cameron to win elections. The same happened in Sweden where the New Moderates became Social Democratic Light on some issues to be electable and then started on welfare and tax reform.

        But most European countries do not have a government structure like the US with its heavy bias excluding any small parties from power. Most have some sort of proportional system which allows smaller parties with narrower ideologies to exist, so the dominant center left and right parties can tread the middle with very wishy-washy policies and make deals as needed to gain power. Therefore the bulk of politiciansin these parties appear less “ideological”, at least in their public pronouncements.

        So is the Prof correct? Well, no, not if you look at all of Europe and all its conservative flavors.

  • Why, right after WWII, did the US adopt so many policies of the folks they just defeated?

  • “Why has the collapse of Communism had so little impact on political discourse in the West?”

    Because that would mean thousands of people like Erb, whose lives and world-view are tied to support of socialism, admitting they were wrong. The evils of colletivism were apparent long before communism fell, so it already took a hearty suspension of reality and refusal to accept logical thinking to support socialsim to begin with, and they aren’t going to become honest and thoughtful overnight. In addition, there are many who have seen that their own little pet project can be provided by the government with little harm to everyone else, so they think it’s okay on a small scale without ever realizing what the combined effects of a thousand pet projects are. Once you fudge with the principles, it’s all just a matter of scale.

  • A July 23, 2010 Rasmussen survey found “75% of Likely Voters prefer free markets over a government managed economy. Just 14% think a government managed economy is better while 11% are not sure.” But, among those considered the political class, which transcends party lines, “a government managed economy [is preferred] over free markets by a 44% to 37% margin. . . . [A]mong Mainstream voters, 90% prefer the free market. Outside of the Political Class, free markets are preferred across all demographic and partisan lines.”

    Huh. So idiot “professors” are part of the “political class”. Well, that sort of figures. They arrogate lots of things to themselves, they might as well fantasize they are “movers and shakers”.

    • @Ragspierre “…they might as well fantasize they are ‘movers and shakers’.”

      As a bunch of country songs have said, whatever gets you through the night.

      Back in 1998, Robert Nozick had a very good analysis of their trevails and the sources of their general hostility to free markets and attraction to the idea of “elites” running things:

      http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-20n1-1.html

      He talks about the wider class of “intellectuals”, which certainly includes academia, but also includes novelists, journalists, and the like. Here are a few key paragraphs:

      “Schools became the major institution outside of the family to shape the attitudes of young people, and almost all those who later became intellectuals went through schools. There they were successful. They were judged against others and deemed superior. They were praised and rewarded, the teacher’s favorites. How could they fail to see themselves as superior? Daily, they experienced differences in facility with ideas, in quick-wittedness. The schools told them, and showed them, they were better.

      “The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher’s smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards.

      “The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued. Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority “entitled” them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus …?”

  • A July 23, 2010 Rasmussen survey found “75% of Likely Voters prefer free markets over a government managed economy. Just 14% think a government managed economy is better while 11% are not sure.” But, among those considered the political class, which transcends party lines, “a government managed economy [is preferred] over free markets by a 44% to 37% margin. . . . [A]mong Mainstream voters, 90% prefer the free market. Outside of the Political Class, free markets are preferred across all demographic and partisan lines.”

    Huh. So idiot “professors” are part of the “political class”. Well, that sort of figures. They arrogate lots of things to themselves, they might as well fantasize they are “movers and shakers”.

  • “Many Nazi officials came from the educated middle class of German society, and in his comments on the trial of Einsatzgruppen members in Nuremberg after the war, the British historian Gerald Reitlinger (author of The SS, Alibi of a Nation, a superb study of the SS) observed of the defendants that ‘the only common denominator was that nearly all had been to a university and the majority had achieved the doctorate so dear to the German middle class.’ The idea of Nazi intellectuals may be troubling to some, but as has long been known, intellectuals rose to power in the systems of both fascism (meaning both Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy) and the Leninist-Stalinist version of communism. Hitler and Stalin required the talents of writers, organizers, and, yes, artists to accomplish their ends.”

    Hmm… The Collective is always SUPPOSED to be rational…even scientific. It was…and still is…the central conceit of all its forms. That people could be best governed by application of science, requiring (of course) an elite who understood the principles, and have the power to impose them.

  • Authoritarian collectivism of all sorts is popular with the ruling class because it gives scope to their lust for power. Capitalism and individualism puts power in the hands of ordinary people.

    • @peter horne Capitalism and individualism puts power in the hands of ordinary PERSONS.

      A suggestion…

  • I give up. perhaps Mr. Frank can explain once again ;how effing wonderful this new system is and how much beter it is than the previous one. I particularly love the fact that I now have a new category of spam to delete from my email.