Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Oppressed and the Oppressors

During the Cold War I used to daydream about a world where the human potential and genius of the Russian people had not been locked away behind the Iron Curtain. Can you imagine the world with two or three Silicon Valleys and a handfull of MITs or several Hollywoods, multiple Mayo Clinics and NewYork Stock exchanges. Imagine where humankind would be if we wouldn't have had to spend 50 years and billions (if not trillions) of dollars trying to bottle up the failed ideology of communism.

Daydreaming is fun but its usually unproductive and so is dwelling on the past. But the past isn't really gone yet... Our Cold War foe may have been vanquished but the legacy of Marxism is as pervasive as ever. It lives in the socialist beliefs of most of Europe and half of America, (not to mention the ruling class in China).

Commentator Arnold Kling discusses the history and the consequences of two philosophers who have had a profound influence on this world. He examines with ultimate irony the roles and perceptions of the oppressor and the oppressed.

For example:

Seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke's theory of government influenced America's founders. It has become deeply embedded in our culture. Beliefs that Locke helped to encourage include:

-- individuals have inalienable rights
-- those who govern have obligations to the governed (and not just vice-versa)
-- government's rightful powers are limited, not absolute

At the level of folk beliefs, Locke's views have been distilled into a jaunty defiance of tyrants, whether they are actual, potential, or imagined....

...As Americans, we cannot conceive of ourselves submitting meekly to tyranny. We cannot picture a regime like that of North Korea or Saddam Hussein's Iraq taking root in our soil.

By maintaining our Lockean tradition, we have built a vibrant society and a prosperous economy. Limited government has allowed innovation to flourish in a peaceful, gradual, evolutionary way.

Despite her legions naysayers and self-haters America is the most successful and most powerful nation there has ever been. Far from being invaders and genocidal maniacs Americans have been liberators. A statement like this is sure to be greeted with a chorus of laughs but upon examination the truth is out there for those who care about such things.

What is it that Marxist socialism has left as enduring legacy? From the article: re: Karl Marx

Marxist countries have murdered millions, imposed a regime of fear and repression on their citizens, and impeded economic development. Where the "natural experiment" was performed of splitting one culture into Communist and non-Communist regions (North and South Korea, East and West Germany), well-being in the non-Communist country ended up several times higher than in the Communist country. People fled Communist countries by the millions, while barely a trickle of individuals chose to emigrate in the other direction...

...Class membership trumps individual character in determining moral standing. It should be no surprise that this belief could lead to tyranny and wanton murder by government. It should be no surprise that this belief has failed to improve the lot of those regarded as "oppressed." It inverts Martin Luther King's call to judge people by the content of their character.

Even when Marxism does not lead to tyranny, it retards economic growth, as the stagnation of continental Europe indicates.

Unfortuantely too many people in the West and particularly in America have no idea what their own country means to the world. They are fooled by a media/entertainment/academic conglomerate that delights in making America look bad. Actually, I think a lot of people do get it and are growing sick and tired of it. After all, since the advent of modern talk radio and Internet blogging we proud and loyal Americans finally have a way of "talking truth to power". (God how I hate that phrase, but you know what - It works for me!) .

All together now: POWER TO THE PEOPLE! See, didn't that feel good?