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Socialism In Three Acts

Onward to our hypnotically bright socialist future! (durantelallera/Shutterstock)

David Brooks’s column today on the political and economic insanity of the Green New Deal is well worth reading. He says that the government really does need to do something about global warming and inequality, but the Green New Deal is a crackpot fantasy. Excerpt:

But the underlying faith of the Green New Deal is a faith in the guiding wisdom of the political elite. The authors of the Green New Deal assume that technocratic planners can master the movements of 328 million Americans and design a transportation system so that “air travel stops becoming necessary.” (This is from people who couldn’t even organize the successful release of their own background document.)

They assume that congressional leaders have the ability to direct what in effect would be gigantic energy firms and gigantic investment houses without giving sweetheart deals to vested interests, without getting corrupted by this newfound power, without letting the whole thing get swallowed up by incompetence. (This is a Congress that can’t pass a budget.)

If this were ever put into practice, there would have to be several new Pentagons built to house the hundreds of thousands of new social planners. The elite universities would have to be transformed into technocratic academies in which the children of the rich were trained so they could be dirigistes for the state.

Brooks goes on:

The great paradox of progressive populism is that it leads to elitism in its purist form.

Of course. Who else is going to tell the People what’s good for them? Who is going to re-educate their children with genderbread persons? This is the meaning of Hillary Clinton’s condemnation of the Deplorables. Read the whole Brooks column. 

Brooks’s column about elitism and central planning brought to mind an email exchange I had this morning with a friend I’ll call “Petr,” who grew up under communism. He lives in the US now. He told me a story about his cousin back in the old country, when it was ruled by a regime that had socialized medicine. I publish this with his permission:

When he was 18, he had a motorcycle accident and badly damaged his knee. He was told that because of his age they would not replace his knee because it would have to be done twice during his lifetime. He would have to wait until 40 years old. When he reached 40 in excruciating, chronic pain, his leg was decalcified, and basically destroyed. He was told that replacing a knee of such a bum would be a bad investment. Workers with better productivity prospects were a much better bet.

This was the norm.

During the 2016 campaign, Petr explained to a Bernie Sanders-supporting neighbor why socialism is a devil that appears as an angel of light. He told the neighbor that this is how it goes:

Act 1

  • Out of whatever traumatic experience, people select socialism (or it is selected for them)
  • The people making this choice and leading this change are not evil. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts, genuine desire to help, and, perhaps, a little revenge. They are people like you, my friend. Decent and compassionate.
  • Everybody is smiling.
  • Heaven on Earth is promised … nothing is free, though
  • First, they get the fat cats — the exploiters. This means that any liquid capital is gone overnight
  • Second, that means, something less liquid will have to be tapped into. Large and prosperous enterprises are nationalized. As their leadership emigrates, gets demoralized or killed, productivity goes to zero. The whole sector goes bust.
  • There is still no money. The only thing left, my friend, is your store and your neighbors farm. You become a state employee on a fixed salary, expected to work hard for the common good. Your store remains yours in theory. However, whatever you do makes absolutely no difference in your quality of life. That happens to everybody, in every walk of life.
  • Healthcare is free, but there is nothing and nobody to provide care with. You are going to die but it will not cost you a dime.
  • The whole middle class collapses, becomes destitute and begins to grumble.

Act 2

  • The ruling class has two options:
    1. admit failure, repent, and roll everything back (that never happens for some reason)
    2. create an enemy and crush them
  • With the same happy smile they start finding enemies everywhere, murdering millions for their own good

Act 3

I am always surprised that there is an Act 3.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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