[Forewarning: I am planning my own entrepreneurial endeavors and aim to be a small business owner myself. If you privately email me in response to this post to call me an 'extremists', or to parrot smart sounding opposing statements without being prepared to defend them in serious debate, or subsequently become unable or unwilling to acknowledge my points or counter points on your statements, be grateful I am not the type to make a posting of our conversation 'Maddox Hate Mail style'! The whole point of this article is to show that you, or at least the general population, have accepted blatant lies with unquestioning faith! Advance further evidence for my thesis at your own risk! That said, *CONSTRUCTIVE* criticism and *CIVIL* debate are always welcome!]
Before diving into more specific future discussions about education, I would like to use the topic of Socialism as an example to illustrate how people in our society generally have been programed with what to think, but not with how.
To start with, YOU, and I don't care who you are, YOU are a socialist! You heard me! That's right you!
But what is that you say?
"Not ME!" you exclaim? "I am the Treasurer of the 'Socialism is Evil Club' and Vice President and Fellow of the 'League of Private is Always Better!"
Well then Please! Accept my apology! That is, just as soon as you make me eat my words by kindly proving your dedication to principle by example! Just immediately forgo use and protection from all existing public and social services, included but not limited too: Schools, Libraries, the Police and Fire Departments, Roads, in some cases mass transit, and the Mail!
If you think such a demand preposterous, that society depends on such services, or that you are entitled to these in exchange for your contributions to society, then congratulations! YOU are a Socialist! The only difference between You, and those 'usually' labeled Socialists, is the degree of quality, and to lesser extent quantity, of specific services you expect should belong to this set of commonly accessible resources.
[Note for my Christian Readers: Jesus taught that there was a special place in hell for those who did not look out for 'the least of these' by giving food and drinking water, (yes, 'teaching to fish for a lifetime' is proper implementation) and health care to poor kids, and also visiting the incarcerated (maybe in Guantanamo). But he didn't mean that Crap Democrats call health care! Democrats are financed by the same Multi Billion dollar Medical, Insurance, and Pharmaceutical companies as the Republicans so it is no wonder their so called 'health care' is making people buy private insurance. That doesn't relieve us of the duty! If you happen to be a Christians who DOES feed the homeless, is involved in prison outreach, etc. Good job! You still lack though, so please kindly help peer pressure our fellows to stop harassing economically challenged teens and women in need of the pill or an aids tests outside of planned parenthood!]
[Cultural Reference Note: In spite of the military structure of Starfleet Command, the United Federation of Planets depicted in 'Star Trek' is a model Socialist society. They have also completely abolished money, excepting as the occasionally needed plot device demands it for interaction with the Ferengi race, the shows satirically (yet forgivingly) viewed token extreme Capitalists.]
Anyway, without further ado, here are some common memes about Socialism, that with even a tiny bit of thought, are obviously non sequitur bullshit. To this day people I would ordinarily consider intelligent continue to parrot these things back to me without thinking. Don't be one of those people!
Fallacy #1: Communism failed.
The entire thesis of Karl Marx's 'Communist Manifesto' was that the powerful will always exploit the poor and working classes, and therefore working people must unite (unionize) to collectively balance the powers wielded against them. The Manifesto ends after a long list of grievances with the famous call to action:
"Working Men of the world, Unite!"
~Karl Marx (Communist Manifesto)
Now I was in Berlin this summer and one of the sites I visited was the uprising of June 16th 1953. East German workers tried to go on strike after having their hours extended and wages cut, but they were put down with military force. This is only one example that illustrates: Communism didn't fail! It never existed! Governments claiming to be Communist have in fact been totalitarian military dictatorships. They have not even pretended to tolerate collective citizen organization and action, the most basic principle of Communist theory.
So how can you claim that a system they never implemented has failed?
Fallacy #2: Communism would never work because anyone that managed to overthrow the existing system would never give up their power.
This one was very crafty in design! If you take off the part that says: "Communism would never work because" and keep only the part that says: "anyone that managed to overthrow the existing system would never give up their power", then the statement is so obvious as to be a truism, leaving little to no reason to even think of questioning it. Thus most people don't.
But the logical fault here is that the situation being described has absolutely nothing to do with Communism at all.
Again remember that the thesis of the Manifesto was that normal working people must work together to secure our basic rights from the most wealthy and powerful. That has nothing to do with a small group of people taking over the government, or any expectation of their subsequent and unlikely altruism.
Fallacy #3: Communism is a recent invention that was created as a reaction to Capitalism.
I grant you that Karl Marx desire for, and plan to implement, Socialism came about that way. But Socialism in general is far older and more widely advocated that most realize.
Again, because of my American Christian upbringing, and the extreme illogical fear of 'Socialism' by the American Right, I will chose an example uncomfortably close to home to demonstrate this:
According to the Old Testament (OT), the Jewish people were chosen by God due to a promise made to Abraham, the historically recognized father of Monotheism. But what were they 'chosen' for?
According to the OT, the Jews were chosen to demonstrate the superiority of 'Gods laws' to the surrounding nations.
But what laws were those?
i) One of particular consequence was the 'Year of Jubilee' which was to occur every 49 or 50 years. In this year all land was to be redistributed along ancestral lines, all debts canceled, and all slaves freed. Wealth distribution! Or Socialism if you like!
ii) A second notable aspect of this society that was supposedly given and designed by God was this: There was no king! To quote: "Every Man did as was right in his own eyes!"
It is recorded that the first king of ancient Israel (Saul) was eventually appointed because the people grew jealous of the palaces and harems that they saw in foreign countries. The prophets of the day warned people saying:
[paraphrased]: "Look, You *really* don't want a king! He will make your sons fight and die in the front lines of his army for wars just to increase his personal wealth and glory! He will take your daughters, that should have married your sons, and make them his sex slaves in his harems. Understand that YOU will not have those palaces and harems you covet! They will come at your expense!"
It reminds me a lot of Bill Mayer doing stand up and saying: "The GOP is fat cats convincing people who could never be fat cats that someday they might."
But here is a million dollar question: What kind of government was ancient Israel prior to King Saul? It wasn't a kingdom, or an empire, or any kind of military dictatorship! It was not a democracy, or a republic. Their government was... well no government actually. By modern definition, ancient Israel was an Anarchy. A Socialist Anarchy to be precise.
Now I am not Biblical literalist, but I think one of the greatest ironies of our time is that the Conservative Right in America claims to be Bible believing Christian literalists, in spite of the fact that according to the Old Testament, 'Gods' preferred style of society for mankind is a Socialist Anarchy.
I guess to 'fair', they do *claim* to be for less government. The trouble is in practice 'less government' means: no laws that restrict large corporations! Property laws, Copyright laws, Patents, Estate Exemptions, bills for massive big business subsidies, and anything that keep new people from competing with our established powers, those laws we want in droves! But Citizen or Consumer protection? Regulation? Forget it!
I think it is useful at this point, to point out that in a way, the message of the Manifesto is very much the same as that of the United States Declaration of Independence:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The claims of of both documents are basically the same:
i) That power must come from the people
ii) That the current system is abusive and exploiting them
iii) It is in their collective interests to collectively abolished the existing rule, and set up in its place a system which is beneficial to the masses instead of benefiting just, for example: a king, bankers, land owners, large Corporate CEO's, or stock holders short term gains.
The most immediately obvious difference between these two is that in the Declaration of Independence was a successful case of specific colonists throwing off rule of the English Crown in the 1700's, whereas the Manifesto is the yet to be realized act of all working people throwing off upper class rule everywhere for all time.
If you think about it, the only type of government which could probably have a chance to be truly Socialistic is a direct (or true) Democracy. True Communism is basically democratic control of economic resources, of production, and general infrastructure. A true Democracy is citizens acting collectively to enable and enforce the majority will; and to throw off and hold off any particular person, class, or faction from acquiring to much power. Arguably you also cannot have true democracy without some form of Socialism because money is ultimately power. If you can limitlessly acquire money you can limitlessly acquire power until eventually you control everything via the financial side.
[Note: I do NOT believe that in practice this should necessitate the destruction of small businesses. In fact I am lead to believe that even Capitalism as laid out by Adam Smith in 'The Wealth of Nations" assumes ALL businesses are small and locally owned, and that Capitalism is unstable and breaks down otherwise. Modern Capitalism claims it can make all men kings of their own private empires. In reality there is a convergence of all industries towards monopoly (or duopoly) preventing all men from being kings and establishing only a few the rest must serve. Otherwise democracy, as well as a form of self organizing socialism, would likely coexist surrounding a Capital society consisting solely of small local businesses. (Imagine a Socialist infrastructure jelly with small private business berries in it that all contribute to their local community.)]
Anyway, if you can limitlessly acquire money you can limitlessly acquire power until eventually you control everything via the financial side. This is easily demonstrated in practice by pointing at the Corporately controlled United States Government, especially the recent examples of our Occupation of Iraq, and the Bank Bailouts. These are only the most superficially obvious examples. But it boggles the mind that in full view of everyone they can publicly subsidize Haliburtons oil field acquisition and protection, and private Banks control our money supply, using such volumes of public cash as to make most social programs look like pocket change, yet the public doesn't even consider THOSE things as the cause of, or rightful target for, 'tightening our belts'.) "Spectacular Achievements of Media Propoganda", no joke!
But the 'money is ultimate power' philosophy was probably best spelled out by one of its best exploiters:
Permit me to issue and control the money of the nation and I care not who makes its laws.
~Mayer Amsched Rothchild
I think this is good time to mention that our current education system was designed during the industrial revolution. Historically, schools were deliberately designed to be factories that created factory workers. They wanted a uniform product that did not think, but only obeyed. The ideal product of schools did not question authority, did not strike, only memorized the 'facts' handed down to them, along with number tables, and assemble things to spec without question. They should behave as a cog in the machine, as Citizens of 'Metropolis', and as a harvest-able work crop that never question the reality of 'The Matrix'.
In the information age, being able to regurgitate answers from the book and memorize times tables are nearly worthless skills. We need people who can think critically! Producing and processing information, solving advanced problem, these are the required skills for the next level of the ideal civilizations development. Such systems are known to require self organization, freedom, critical thinking, and freedom from financial concerns (RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us), which is theoretically possible with wise use of available resources.
In a previous post I mentioned that Einstein had lamented the lack of Great minds and Great Artists in proper proportion to our population. If you compare the educations given through out history to most of the government leaders, and to many of the greatest minds of the sciences, the religions, the political systems, and military's, you will see that it embarrass the crap out of our public school systems even in the 21'st century.
With the vast majority of people being programmed for prole-hood, designed to be Delta's and Epsilon's or at best Gamma's, is it any wonder we suffer the lack of great minds that Einsteins lamented? It is any wonder we face global warming, the end of oil (and thus the majority of the worlds food supply), that their is no cure for cancer, or aids, or faster than light travel?
A mind is a terrible thing to waste!
Yet we are wasting the vast majority of 6.5 billion of them by design.
What can you do to help change that? If you don't know, isn't that a conversation we should be having with everyone in our various circles that we come in contact with? We have been given so much by those who came before us, should we not give back something so little as this, for those yet to come?
Think about it.
**Appended Dec 1 2010**
I recently saw the film version of 'The Shock Doctrine ' which pointed out that there *have* been successfully working 'Socialist' governments in the 20'th Century. One was in Chile, which was focusing heavily on getting a good health care and education system that people were increasingly happy with. Unfortunately for the Chileans, there were some American companies who had private financial interests within the country, and for keeping things the way they were. As a result their government was forcibly put out, and their economy destroyed.
While watching this film, specifically during the footage of a Chilean being removed by security for his protests to Milton Friedman receiving the Nobel Prize for Economics (for work that led to, and his involvement with, the destruction of Chile), I recalled the words from the Poem by Alan Ginsberg, and sung by the band 'Rage Against the Machine':
It had to be rich and it had to be powerful
They had to murder in Indonesia 500000
They had to murder in Indochina 2000000
They had to murder in Czechoslovakia
They had to murder in Chile
They had to murder in Russia
And they had to murder in America
~Rage Against the Machine; Hadda Been Playing On The Jukebox (Alan Ginsberg)
I would also like to point out two additional things:
1) That we ALREADY HAVE systematic wealth redistribution. (Mostly in the forms of bailouts and subsidies) It just goes up instead of down.
2) In many parts of the world (outside the US), Socialism and Democracy are seen as the same thing. Ironically the United States has neither Socialism nor Democracy, but rather a mere pretense to representation as a so called 'Republic'.