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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Visions of the Anointed 

The failure of Soviet communism confirms that humans motivated by lofty ideals are capable of inflicting great suffering with a clear conscience.


..writes Paul Hollander
in the Washington Post. I would replace "capable" with "likely" if government is not effectively constrained. It is humanity's great tragedy that well-intentioned individuals try to accrete power to enforce their aesthetic ideals and outcomes. The more grand the vision of re-organizing society, the more coercion required. The more coercion required, the greater the cost in freedom and lives. This is human nature, and I doubt we will ever learn this lesson for good.

While I think comparisons of Obama's administration to communists are strained, to say the least, I think many of our attempts to eliminate sub-optimal outcomes (distribution of wealth, carbon emissions reduction, health habits etc.) will have only marginal positive impact and create a real risk of more tragedies like communism.

via Instapundit and Volokh.


8 Comments:

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Sat Nov 07, 11:23:00 AM:

Applause (standing).

M.E.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 07, 12:06:00 PM:

> The failure of Soviet communism
> confirms that humans motivated by
> lofty ideals are capable of
> inflicting great suffering with a
> clear conscience.

I just found a highly informational, educational, and thus ... depressing webpage regarding these questions.

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills

And a "choice quote" from one of the pages found here: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

----- excerpt starts ------

How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutist ideology with the absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely. They believed that they knew through Marxism what would bring about the greatest human welfare and happiness. And they believed that power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be used to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize this utopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government--the Communist Party--was thus above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable. And the people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the new world.

----- excerpt ends ------

And here is a figure from the aformentioned article which tells us how many people Communism (and other totalitarian governments) killed per country:

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DBG.TAB1.2.GIF

BTW if anybody told me that Communism is not inherently wrong just was wrongly "implemented", I would ask back stating that Communism killed in the neighbourhood of 100 million people, So how many more dead would be needed to finally to say that it is indeed a bad ideology? Or Cambodia's Khmer Rouge killed something 25-33% the population (8% per year), so what overall (or yearly) percentage would be necessary to say Communism doesn't work?

Back to the quote:

> It is the marriage of an absolutist
> ideology with the absolute power.

You Americans can be extremely proud for having Madison to write your Constitution who was aware of the problem with power and concluded that the only way to stop tyranny is to divide power.

Vilmos  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 07, 01:31:00 PM:

I find the following two sentences from the "choice quote" offered by Anonymous, at Sat Nov 07, 12:06:00 PM to be quite prescient (and frightening) in light of our present administration's behavior.

------
Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government--the Communist Party--was thus above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable.
------

Consideration of this observation must not be constrained to apply only to the "Communist" Party. It must be extended to apply to ALL ruling parties.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 07, 01:33:00 PM:

Correction: My last comment should have said: "... the following THREE sentences ... ".  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 07, 01:36:00 PM:

Our problem is that the Constitution only lasts as long as the majority respects it. The majority no longer does, and is about to command us to buy specific goods and services they will name from certain companies they will name against our will; it will command us to hand over our most personal information and decision making to a bureaucracy it will create; it intends to enslave the workers and customers of an entire industry by force; and the majority will do all of this in flagrant spite of the Constitution.

How far are we from having small business owners who cut payrolls and reduce pay, to compensate for this tyranny of the majority, ("Healthcare reform) treated like kulaks under Stalin? Not far, I'll wager. These are sad days for America and humanity.  

By Anonymous Gandalf, at Sat Nov 07, 02:02:00 PM:

Elections have consequences. In the next election there will be a majority change and in the ensueing days there will be legislative change and perhaps impeachment.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 07, 02:43:00 PM:

The fundamental premise, as stated above, is wrong. The Bolsheviks of old Russia were not motivated by lofty ideals. They were motivated by the lust for power and revenge.

Peruse, if you will, the personal histories of V.I. Lenin, Feliks Dherzinsky, Joseph Stalin, and all the rest.
There was no lofty ideal at the center of it. Just the angry faces of many angry men. What a suprise it turned out the way it did.

The difference between those "founding" Bolsheviks and the Founders of the American Republic was just this: the American Founders just wanted the right to govern themselves, to give the public the chance at self-government, and revolt against the tyranny of the British Parliament and Crown. The British, and their government, were not a particularly ruthless and tyrannical people (as opposed to the Czar of Russia), but they governed their colony in the New World in an arbitrary and sometimes hostile manner.

And the difference between desiring the freedom to self-government and the desire for power and revenge has made all the difference.

-David  

By Blogger "Mindles H. Dreck", at Sat Nov 07, 06:28:00 PM:

Mao? Che? Nobody gets up in the morning and says they are going to be evil. Whether the power or the craven indifference to suffering came first is just another form of chicken and egg They go together.  

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