By Joel Bowman, Editorial Director, International Man
February 14, 2019
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA — Collectivism is back in vogue, Dear Reader.
Polls show support for socialism among Americans is on the rise… tracking closely the ascendency of Democratic Party stars like AOC and Bernie Sanders.
On the bright side, at least we have an answer to the question posed in this space last week: Is there any idea so absurd that man will not go to his grave defending it?
The response, resoundingly: No!
Having observed the results of the various collectivist misadventures over the past century or so, a reasonable individual might conclude it probably wasn’t worth a do-over.
Ah, but collectivism has no place for the individual… and no place for reason, either. As for the reasonable individual, the poor sod didn’t get a look in.
The ideology underpinning the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, to take a rather conspicuous example, was supposed to conquer the world.
Hundreds of millions of people – living, breathing specimens of the human race, seen walking upright and on two legs – believed it all but a foregone conclusion.
Thanks to Lysenko's “miraculous” farming techniques and the know-it-all central planners in Moscow, communism was going to sweep the continent… then the planet.
Its supporters claimed it would usher in a new age of equality, solidarity and community. “The clue,” they chorused in drone-like unison, “is in the name.”
As for the economic machinery behind the ideology… that, too, would be a cinch.
No need for pesky informational interferences like “supply” and “demand” signals, much less the resulting “market price.”
Such quaint anachronisms were considered relics of the past… petty vanities of bourgeoisie, capitalist economics.
Instead, the omniscient collectivist brain trust would simply “command” the economy from the top down. Easy.
And if prices didn’t behave? Why, men in trench coats would lead them down dark alleys… rough them up some… show them who was boss. They’d soon fall in line!
Likewise, if consumers didn’t want size-eight shoes, or sardines for such-and-such rubles per tin, or bread that hadn’t traveled half way across the largest country on earth… well, they would simply have to go without.
And go without they did… until the whole charade came collapsing down on a sorry nation of equally poor heads.
Of course, once the veil was lifted, when the woebegone masses came forth with tales of famine and hardship, when Lysenko's crops failed to come in, it seemed all too obvious.
The mistake was so enormous, so conspicuous, so mind-blowingly stupid, surely it would never be repeated.
Yet, here we are again…
Reliably quick to act and slow to learn, politicians around the world – notably here in South America, but north of the Rio Grande, too – remain certain that the economic failures of a dark past will somehow be the successes of their bright and shiny future.
And so, once more it’s time to “eat the rich.” This time, with feeling...
Joel Bowman for International Man