December 4th, 2013

Totten on Havana

This article on his visit to Havana is one of the best—and one of the saddest—essays Michael Totten has ever written. Communism destroys nearly everything it touches, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.

Totten’s essay put me in mind of this famous quote by Winston Churchill:

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

On the same page as the Churchill quote are a bunch of other people sounding off on the topic of socialism. Some of their quotes seemed worth highlighting, as well. Here’s one from Albert Einstein which reminds me (not that I needed much reminding; it’s one of the recurrent themes of Thomas Sowell’s work) that geniuses in one field are not necessarily geniuses in other fields:

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labour…I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.

To counter Einstein, we have Roger Scruton’s: “It is not the truth of Marxism that explains the willingness of intellectuals to believe it, but the power that it confers on intellectuals, in their attempts to control the world.”

From L. Neil Smith:

Socialists get bees in their bonnets. And because they chronically lack any critical faculty to examine and evaluate their ideas, and because they are pathologically unwilling to consider the opinions of others, and most of all, because socialism is a mindset that regards the individual — and his rights — as insignificant, compared to whatever the socialist believes the group needs, terrible, terrible things happen when socialists acquire power.

And for those who label Hitler as having been on the right, we have this from the horse’s mouth:

We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.

“But what about Western Europe, for example Scandinavia?” my leftist friends might say. Well, what about it? Not only is the US different culturally and demographically, and therefore cannot be easily compared, but I have been singularly unimpressed by the state of both liberty and initiative in much of western Europe (which in any event is starting to run out of other people’s money, and which has been protected economically by the fact that the US has been providing its military security). As for Sweden, that paradise of welfare, see this, this, and this.

25 Responses to “Totten on Havana”

  1. Matt_SE Says:

    Yep. Hitler was a leftist, just like Obama.

  2. Don Says:

    Sweden has moved back from socialism. It has enacted free market reforms. It is complex to analyze, but today the US and Sweden have similar levels of socialism. At least this is my understanding, based upon online discussions of the issue involving some actual Swedes.

  3. Bill West Says:

    And even as a paradise of welfare, Sweden is smart enough to know not to choke your source of cash to death. Their corporate tax rate is 28%, where ours is 40%.

    Check out the corporate tax rates of the various countries here:

    http://www.kpmg.com/global/en/services/tax/tax-tools-and-resources/pages/corporate-tax-rates-table.aspx

  4. Don Says:

    The Scandanavian countries benifit from a very well behaved and homogeneous culture. Contrary to what leftists wish to believe, diversity is a problem to overcome, not a cause of greatness.

    Actual greatness depends on the culture. Rule of law is critical, and rule of law depends upon the actions of men, which result from their decisions, which result from their belief systems. Constitutions and laws don’t enforce themselves, the greatest constitution is of no value in a primitive culture.

  5. stan Says:

    The US subsidizes their healthcare systems in a variety of ways.

  6. Matthew M Says:

    Another description of Swedish utopia:

    mises.org/daily/6476/The-Truth-About-SwedenCare

  7. Don Says:

    I also think one factor is that the American left produces particularly nasty regulations.

    Countries like Sweden moved towards socialism with near full agreement of their population. In the US it was a fight between right and left that was particularly polarized. Hence the left creates disfunctional half measures like Obamacare, which was rammed through with the goal of winning at all costs, and little focus on the practical ramifications.

    It seems to me that the process of moving towards socialism in places like Sweden was accomplished in a less damaging way since it was done above board.

    For example, FDR’s social security tax was added to prevent future reform, which it has done, but at the cost of making an unsustainable system unreformable.

    A major consequence is that Sweden has managed to clime down from somewhat from their prior socialism, something that has been harder for the US.

  8. Barb the Evil Genius Says:

    Your first link is broken. :(

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Barb the Evil Genius:

    Thanks, fixed now.

  10. kaba Says:

    All of Western Europe has had the benefit of being protected by the US military for the last 70 years. How successful would their flirting with socialism have been without that protection?

  11. Ray Says:

    There are a lot of people that don’t understand what Nazi stands for or that Fascisim was the Italian version of Marxism. Benito Mussolini, a socialist, founded Fascism after he split with the Italian Socialist Party.

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “In most countries,” I said, “no one has to live in a slum. It’s difficult to get out, but it’s possible to get out. Here [Cuba] people get twenty dollars a month and a ration card and that’s it. They’re forced by law to be poor. Exile [or death] is the only way out.” Michael J. Totten

    Brings to mind Churchill’s “equal sharing of miseries” but it’s a given that Cuba’s nomenklatura do not live on $20 a month and a ration card.

    I’ve long thought that communism is a perversion of communion but whatever the case, it is a malevolent evil.

    As for Sweden, Per Bylund has an insightful article that is a real eye opener; How the Welfare State Corrupted Sweden

    “Decent morality is long gone. It was completely destroyed in little more than two generations — through public welfare benefits and the concept of welfare rights.

    …[a] large-scale, society-wide failure to raise independent and moral children able to be their own masters in life.

    … they claimed no personal responsibility for their lives, nor ever thought of having to pitch in themselves. “I’m in need,” they argued, and from that claim they directly inferred a right to satisfy that need — be it food, shelter, or a new car.

    …With this generation, the formerly held truth that production precedes consumption is replaced by a belief in having an inviolate and natural “human right” to welfare services supplied by the state.

    …a childhood “free from rules” and “free of responsibility.” For this generation there is no causality whatsoever in social life; whatever you do is not your responsibility — even having children. These are the current younger adults in Swedish society.

    A significant difference between my generation and the preceding one is that most of us were not raised by our parents at all. We were raised by the authorities in state daycare centers from the time of infancy; then pushed on to public schools, public high schools, and public universities; and later to employment in the public sector and more education via the powerful labor unions and their educational associations. The state is ever-present and is to many the only means of survival — and its welfare benefits the only possible way to gain independence.

    What we are now seeing in Sweden is the perfectly logical consequence of the welfare state: when handing out benefits and thereby taking away the individual’s responsibility for his or her own life, a new kind of individual is created — the immature, irresponsible, and dependent. In effect, what the welfare state has created is a population of psychological and moral children — just as parents who never let their children face problems, take responsibility, and come up with solutions themselves, make their offspring needy, spoiled, and utterly demanding.”

    It would be bad enough if this were the full extent of Sweden’s problems but it is not.

    “During the past few decades, massive [Muslim] immigration has changed the face of Sweden’s major cities, as well as challenged the viability of the welfare state.”

    The number of rape charges in Sweden has tripled in just above twenty years. Rape cases involving children under the age of 15 are six – 6 – times as common today as they were a generation ago. Most other kinds of violent crime have rapidly increased, too. Instability is spreading to most urban and suburban areas.

    According to a new study from the Crime Prevention Council, Brå, it is four times more likely that a known rapist is born abroad, compared to persons born in Sweden. Resident aliens from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects. According to these statistics, almost half of all perpetrators are immigrants. In Norway and Denmark, we know that non-Western immigrants, which frequently means Muslims, are grossly overrepresented on rape statistics. In Oslo, Norway, immigrants were involved in two out of three rape charges in 2001. The numbers in Denmark were the same, and even higher in the city of Copenhagen with three out of four rape charges. The number of rape charges per capita in Malmö, Sweden are 5 to 6 times that of Copenhagen.

    Sweden has a larger immigrant, including Muslim, population than any other country in northern Europe.”

    “Six teenage boys aged 15 to 17 were convicted on Friday after [gang] raping a 15-year-old girl in a north-western suburb of Stockholm in March.

    Five of the teens were found guilty of aggravated rape by the Solna District Court on Friday, with the sixth guilty of attempted aggravated rape.

    Five of the boys have been sentenced to over 100 hours of community service and have been ordered to pay 55,000 kronor ($8,500) each in damages to the victim.”

    A popular T-shirt worn by Muslim youth in Stockholm reads:
    “2030 – That’s When We Take Over.”

  13. T Says:

    “. . . [Socialism's] its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” and this similarity to the outrageously high premiums and high deductibles of Obamacare are not coincidental.

    Kaba,

    “How successful would [European] flirting with socialism have been without [U.S. military]protection?”

    With three more years of a beta Obama against an alpha Putin, we may yet see an answer to this question.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Putin, per se is not a threat, he’s not going to attack the US.

    China’s regional aggression, that might precipitate accidental nuclear conflict and, the nuclear proliferation into unstable, third world nations and jihadist states resulting from Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons technology, that shall sooner or later result in terrorist groups getting their hands on nukes are the 21st century foreign dangers we face.

    Domestically, the coming second great depression precipitated by the mathematically unavoidable collapse of a bankrupt western financial system is the third great danger we face.

    All three threats are being facilitated by the hard core, committed left.

    Obama has convinced both the Iranians and the Chicoms that he’s a toothless paper tiger.

    Obama, in just five years, has driven America into greater debt that ALL the prior Presidents combined.

    None of this is accidental.

  15. blert Says:

    Sweden and Denmark are driven by Jante Law.

    In that sense, they are anti-American cultures in the extreme.

    I’ve got Danish relatives — and trust me — they can’t reconcile Jante norms with American culture — not a bit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jante_Law

    However, Jante norms DO dovetail into Socialism.

    This mapping is generally unknown among larger American political circles — as indeed — the ethos of Jante Law is unknown.

    Jante ethos is ENTIRELY behind the clan unity of the Viking age — a word, BTW, that means pirate in the native Norse tongue!

    And by the runes they labelled themselves such — such graffiti still evident in England today. Failed Viking raids turned into mass graves — also located and exhumed.

    For cultural reasons, the Danes and Swedes have nothing to teach America: Jante Law is why.

  16. blert Says:

    BTW, Jante norms are what DRIVES Swedish socialism.

    They really are in a world apart.

  17. Gringo Says:

    Blert
    Sweden and Denmark are driven by Jante Law.In that sense, they are anti-American cultures in the extreme.I’ve got Danish relatives — and trust me — they can’t reconcile Jante norms with American culture — not a bit.

    I do not quite agree. I can see a certain amount of Jante law in the small town where I grew up, where I learned it was better to not to toot one’s own horn and try to get along with people who had different backgrounds and perspectives than I did. Try to achieve, but shrug it off- don’t make a big deal out of it. From your Wiki link on Jante:

    1. You’re not to think you are anything special.
    2. You’re not to think you are as good as us.
    3. You’re not to think you are smarter than us.
    4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
    5. You’re not to think you know more than us.
    6. You’re not to think you are better than us.
    7.You’re not to think you are good at anything.
    8.You’re not to laugh at us.
    9.You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
    10.You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

    1. Check
    2. No. We are as good as you. You are as good as us.
    3. You may be smarter than us, but don’t make a point of making us aware of it all the time. Tone it down.
    4. You may be better than us at some things, but we are better at others.
    5. You may know more about some things, but don’t be a showoff.
    6. Check.
    7. You may be good at something, but don’t brag about it.
    8. Check. Big time. Many bright young smartasses learn, as I did, that not everyone appreciates their cutting wit. Cool it. Good lesson to learn.
    9. Not at all. Small town people help out in a crisis.
    10. We can all learn things from each other.

    In summation, a lot of Jante carries over into small towns in the US- and probably all over the world- because they are ways to minimize differences among people which can be exacerbated by close and constant contact.

  18. The Marginal Horrors of Communism: The Once Great City of Havana | angryid Says:

    [...] Totten on Havana (neoneocon.com) [...]

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left corrupts everything, nobody is immune.

    Those who think they are immune, have no idea what they are facing.

    Yet, the one power that the Left cannot corrupt because it is not a person or a human, is death.

  20. Henry David Says:

    NeoNeo
    I was in Cuba with the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in 2005. I was aghast at the conditions of the buildings and the poverty that was everywhere, except for the tourist hotels. My biggest shock was the way my fellow travelers the “humanists” saw perfection on earth. They just didn’t get that we were touring a prison.

  21. sergey Says:

    You can add to the list of countries driven by Jante Law another important member: Russia. Every Russian village and most of small towns are governed by the same set of rules mentioned above. It is geography and climate, probably. Near polar circle with long and cruel winters interdependence of individuals is by necessity quite strong. This is different in big cities and capitals, though, so there is a hope that urbanization can put this to rest.

  22. sergey Says:

    All Westerners I met have the same cultural deficiency: they do not understand evil. Even witnessing it face to face, they do not believe their lying eyes and invent all kind of excuses to deny reality of evil. And even the most realistically minded and intellectually honest still lack a capacity to understand evil psychologically, not only intellectually. The cannot empathy evil and feel it within, so to speak, it is too alien for them to grasp. Those conservative who were born in some Third World hellhole, like Richard Fernandez, Michelle Malkin, or Russian emigrants, are much more sober and realistic in their worldview.

  23. NeoConScum Says:

    Yikes…Thanks for the reminder about Einstein, N-Neocon. His sympathy for that insanity had fallen outta my memory. I don’t ‘Get’, will never ‘Get’ and haven’t the capacity to truly grasp the Left’s perpetual FEEEEEEELINGS for(cough) Fairness, Equality, Social(gag)Justice, blah-blah-blah. Lefties: Can you say 40-Million dead in the Soviet Union and 60-Million dead in Communist China to that “Dream”??? I’ve studied that vast human Evil most of my life and am still stunned to numbness by the mythological LIES that plant its seeds.

  24. J.J. Says:

    Gringo: “In summation, a lot of Jante carries over into small towns in the US- and probably all over the world- because they are ways to minimize differences among people which can be exacerbated by close and constant contact.”

    I grew up in a small village that was pretty well ruled by Jante law. I guess I was an ambitious young punk or something because I felt repressed by the culture. I loved the freedom of the surrounding mountains, but not the pressure to conform and to keep one’s light under a basket. I left, and except for a couple of momentary thoughts, never looked back.

    When you look at the ten examples of Jante law in action, it seems to me they describe pretty well the cultural norms of Paleolithic tribes. In fact, I believe that there is a genetic instinct among most people that senses these rules as the way things ought to be. This could well be why so many people just seem to gravitate toward those rules without looking real hard at the alternatives. It may be why it is so hard, given all the evidence against it, that Communism cannot be disappear from the field of human culture.

  25. sergey Says:

    Social conformism is the main driving force maintaining social utopism, and it is, indeed, genetically programmed into human psyche. This was the reason why Socrates was sentenced to death. Individualism is a rather recent development, mainly introduced by Christianity, and quite often it is viewed as something inherently immoral in small, tightly knitted rural communities.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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