Friday, April 23, 2010

American nightmare: Collectivism, slavery, and Orwell

by Tim Roche

The dream of the collectivist is very apparently alive; it has spread like cancer across many parts of the planet, even as today the dream assays purchase here in the land of the free.

Collectivism in all its manifestations, with its splendid and empty promises, is the great lie told by those with absolutist mentality. Its subscribers seek a governance possessing near complete control over citizenry; because, according to the mindset, “the people” are incapable of making appropriate decisions regarding the fundamental questions of how to manage their lives.

The collectivist aligns himself with the poorest members of society. This tactic too is part and parcel of the great lie.

In the bribery of minority groups, with federal funds for welfare babies, for instance, and misdirection of federal tax receipts toward community reinvestment programs serving primarily to pay off local constituency and re-elect incumbent politicians, socially-minded politicos are complicit in perpetuating a kind of slavery. The extortionist headmen of recipient community groups are as complicit as their counterparts in government.

Slavery existed in this country since before its founding. Slavery has existed on the planet from the beginnings of recorded history, undoubtedly from the species’ nascence. It is practiced in various forms all over the planet today.

Those who like to believe American slavery ended with the Civil War are very much mistaken. As an acknowledged institution, yes. Yet slavery continues.

You do not have to look to the high-rise tenement buildings of the former Soviet Union to see the effect of collective ownership (oxymoron alert!); you can see it in Lathrop, Cabrini, and the erstwhile Robert Taylor. And while the politicians do not precisely say these “projects” are collectively owned, given the fact they are paid for by the citizens what else are they if not that?

Some folks will say the problems in communities such as these stem from a long history of outrageous mistreatment. To be sure there is a good deal of truth in this sentiment. But to suggest institutionalized slavery as the raison d’etre ignores a long (though comparatively shorter) history of institutional hand-outs, a system that has so thoroughly perpetuated a feeling of disenfranchisement that an apt new term was coined: The Welfare Trap.

If you cannot believe that giving poor people stuff for free and rewarding them for having more out-of-wedlock children could possibly be a bad thing, take a hard look at what has happened to the institution of family over the past fifty or sixty years.

Then again, who needs family when the State is there to provide all?

And what does this have to do with Orwell?

George Orwell was not a conservative. He was, in contemporary parlance, a liberal. So, when Orwell exhibited the temerity to write against centralized government, “the Party,” and communism generally, the radical Left in his native England had a field day. His book, 1984, was hard to publish given that Stalin at the time was an ally of Britain. One impediment to publication, a government official, later was found a Russian spy.

Some in the press called Orwell “Trotskyite,” a term today roughly equivalent to branding someone with whom you disagree “racist.”

Then as now those who condemn men for shedding light on the true nature of their ideologies deceive themselves (Orwell calls it doublethink); – good intentions are an end, never mind that the means corrupt and destroy. This is how they think:

Abasement of the individual to the collective is the first tenet of statism; rights must be rooted out. The individual becomes a dependent of the State, i.e. a slave. The Constitution, our primary document guaranteeing rights, is anathema.

You can recognize a person as collectivist because when speaking of the Constitution he or she will refer to it as “a living, breathing document.” This is doublespeak for saying that the Constitution is a very imperfect document that must be changed according to society’s (re the Government's) current interpretation and requirements.

On August 17th the brilliant Christopher Hitchens – an Orwell scholar among other things – joined Professor Russ Roberts on his fabulous EconTalk podcast. Hitchens, who also wrote the book Why Orwell Matters, explicates Orwell’s experiences as a child and young man and relates how Orwell himself had made the decision to preserve his soul by leaving his post in imperial Burma. There, Hitchens explains, Orwell fully came to understand the nature of power and how a human being can easily become corrupted by its influence, believing himself superior, effectively putting himself on par with God. --Orwell matters, and indeed so does Christopher Hitchens.

Today a state of human bondage might come in a form other than brute force. It might, as it were, come on little cat’s feet. It might, for instance, drab in wearing the guise of a penitent. That which is the Anti- knows better than to show up in the uniform of a Nazi. And so a free people must be constantly jealous of their freedom, guarding against marauders, vigilant in defending the bastion. Political freedom has proven exceedingly rare in this world. To lose it would be unforgivable.

Still they come smiling. They bear gifts and act in the name of something amorphous; but it is something, they assure us, that is beautiful and right. Everything will be taken care of, the collectivists chime, just don’t you worry.

Upon scrutiny: the mantle of righteousness is false, threadbare, and discolored. Their smile is that of the wolf. Their attitude that of mercenaries. The price they exact is All.

This is the nature of the hive mind. This is the nature of the statist.

Looking around at our elected representatives today, one has to wonder: Is everyone asleep?

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