Wednesday, April 13, 2005
High Hopes For Tyrants
I’m amazed at the number of times I’ve heard educated people express their trust in absolute political authority. For such people, the only criterion for good government is that it eliminates free market transactions and that it promises to magically produce, “equality.”
Mao, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, even Stalin are often afforded the benefit of a doubt by idealists on the left -- the local businessman is not.
When references are made regarding the famines (resulting from collectivization schemes), the summary trials, purges, executions, and “reeducation” programs in communist states, the left’s response is always…”well, what about…[the flaws in open free societies]?” They just will not concede that communist governments or their ideologies are bad.
Statistics can be sited back and forth between the right and left regarding, “wars of aggression,” poverty, and oppression etc., but why are statistics even required to prove that absolute power corrupts absolutely? Shouldn’t common sense insight be enough to tell anyone that a group or individual with absolute power can be expected to do terrible things?
On more than one occasion I’ve been asked to “prove” that Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party were really all that bad. Widely accepted statistics estimate deaths in China from the “Great Leap Forward” of the late fifties to have been somewhere in the 30 million range. Okay, let’s say the “capitalist – imperialist – revisionists” are lying to “discredit the achievements of socialism.” Lets say only 10 million died from famine (a regular feature of communist “planning”). Lets say only 100,000 were killed or imprisoned for not obeying “the Party” -- maybe Mao wasn’t so bad after all.
There are some people who actually believe a communist dictator – like Mao or Castro - wouldn’t hurt anyone that didn’t actually deserve to be punished or killed.
Think! A person or party holds total power over a society, has eliminated and outlawed all opposition, and makes it a crime to question any aspect of imposed dogma, and… the resulting society will be no different – perhaps better -- than our lives under liberal democracy?
I hold a simpler take on this issue. Dictatorships are…dictatorships [!]. Saying they’re taking complete control over society “for the good of the people” just doesn’t convince me. Somehow the left’s love for political planners and their high ideals overrides any common sense appraisal as to what happens when absolute power is focused in one viewpoint.
Any political authority that refers to an outlawed opposition as, “enemies of the people,” or “counter-revolutionaries,” is probably not going to be very open and tolerant towards different viewpoints in general. It’s not so far fetched to assume such political authority could be deadly for many. By coincidence, “debatable” statistics seem to bear this to be true. What a surprise! – lets debate the numbers some more.
Of course, the usual response from the intellectual egotists in left-land will be, “you only think you are free [in capitalist society].” These “geniuses” know we’d all be much freer if we obeyed the party loved “the leader,” or confessed our crimes in self-criticism sessions. These are the same people who will repeat the cliché (and untrue) mantra that Bush “stole” his eight year term of office, yet really believe that Fidel Castro actually -- fairly -- gets 99% of the vote, several decades strait. When I pointed out this last bit of obvious nonsense to one leftist, their response was, “His people love him.” Of course, what’s not to love about a decaying socialist enterprise that no one is allowed to change or disagree with? As an aside, beware when citizens of any country are referred to with a possessive pronoun (“his” people).
The average leftist can often be rather “smart,” but such intelligence rarely appears to include the common insight required to call a dictatorship a dictatorship, proving that a person can be a genius with facts, data, and polemic…yet, not have a lick of common sense.