GOING POSTAL – 24 JUNE 2019
[ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES – 56]
A friend of many years’ standing has sent me an essay written by his 21-year-old grandson, now entering his final post-graduate year. It purports to establish that Capitalism and human survival on Planet Earth are utterly and totally incompatible.
It is replete with bibliographical references and citations from learned texts and papers, all of which support the essay’s assertions, together constituting cast-iron proof of their seemingly irrefutable truth.
To my shame, I sent my friend an angry refutation of the essay’s thesis as a whole, and of every contentious idea it incorporated. When my ire settled, however, I reflected on what had passed, and recognised that this young man (i) had written clearly and expressed his points coherently; (ii) had uncritically reproduced the malignant assertions planted in his mind by course lecturers (for which he had been awarded A-pluses); and (iii) needed guidance – not castigation – on how to exercise reason.
Exercising reason – not easy!
However, the transition from swallowing fashionable beliefs to a reasoned position is not smooth, and in many cases never achieved. As a youngster in South Africa I had no idea that both my parents were dyed-in-the-wool communists. Indeed I didn’t know the meaning of that word. My parents, to their eternal credit, were also committed anti-apartheid activists, but on both counts their beliefs held much danger under the prevailing Nationalist regime. Understandably, therefore, they shielded my sisters and me from politically-charged disclosures.
Only much later, when living in England, was I able to debate such matters openly with my parents. But by then I had taken the trouble to read Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” – and confessed to a genuine puzzlement. How could two such intelligent people (and the coterie of fellow travellers that formed their inner circle of friends) swallow the palpably mad features that purported to describe an ideal state?
According to the Manifesto (and if you find this incredible, please read it for yourself) the “dangerous classes” who, for example, have become tainted by running even small family businesses, are to be swept asunder by the only class that counts, the proletariat; the notion of “family” is to be abolished in favour of a “community of women” cocooned for the purpose of reproduction; private property is to be confiscated and the very concept abolished; the notion of inheritance is to be expunged; steeply progressive income taxes must be levied on anything that might be left; the distinction between town and country must be abolished and replaced by a “more equable distribution” of the population; and the means of production to be taken over by the state in its entirety, without compensation.
And that’s just for starters. I concluded that all this represented the rabid rants of an unhinged brain, over-ripe for the asylum. Rational criticism is quite impossible when the very premises are riddled with contradiction.
Father never explained
My father never explained, still less sought to justify, his personal migration from being a “proletarian” employee in Pretoria; then founder of a successful commercial business; and finally a property owner with a large house in Hampstead – all the while never demurring from his core communist beliefs.
Blindness of disbelief
On one occasion, a close Israeli friend, a professor of Soviet military studies at Jerusalem University, was visiting shortly after Nikita Kruschev’s 1956 address to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, when – shock, horror! – he denounced Joseph Stalin and laid bare the most gruesome features of his rule, including the deaths of innocent millions under his ruthless collectivisation programme of enforced labour. When our professor friend pointed out, with some authority, that Stalin had been responsible for the murder of far greater numbers than Hitler, my parents stormed out of the room in disgust. Stalin had always been their idol, and their disbelief was total.
This, of course, was all part of my own education. It showed me that when an idea takes root, and exercises a sufficiently powerful hold on the human psyche, it will not easily be shifted, even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. [For another example, just look at David Irving’s lifelong denial that the holocaust ever took place!]
Even when ideas are revealed, in the light of reason, to be utterly ill-conceived, later generations are not spared the necessity of seeing this for themselves. In the UK’s present tussle for political coherence, the Labour Party, the nation’s official opposition in Parliament, is afflicted with a malaise so debilitating that the party has been rendered dysfunctional for any useful purpose.
The Corbyn syndrome
Leader Jeremy Corbyn repeats inane platitudes such as “This demonstration shows just how determined all of us are to achieve a better world.” That was shouted at last weeks’ anti-Trump London demonstration, but he might just as easily have blurted it out when attending a Hamas or Hezbollah memorial for terminated terrorists, or when speaking in honour of Madura or Chavez of Venezuela, or the late lamented Fidel Castro, or in honouring Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”.
Corbyn has surrounded himself with like-minded satraps such as Andrew Murray (an avowed communist who worked for the Soviet news agency) and his “director of communications and strategy”, Seumas Milne, who succeeds only in communicating confused messages, and whose strategy is to instruct every office-holder to mouth: “We are a democratic party and our policies will be decided in Conference in September”.
The German WWII outcome
No doubt these stooges were delighted by the comment of the Russian foreign affairs ministry a few days ago: “The Normandy landings were not a game-changer for the outcome of WWII. The outcome was determined by the Red Army’s victories.”
Well, maybe – but why don’t they reflect on what actually followed? In West Germany, democracy, industry and civil freedom helped it to become an economic powerhouse; while East Germany, under Soviet military control, endured nearly 50 years of dictatorship and depression.
No doubt many of the superannuated cranks now ruling Her Majesty’s Opposition even today yearn for the East German hell-hole that, in their addled brains, was a workers’ paradise – despite the certainty that any of those workers attempting to cross to the West were shot by the Stasi on the Berlin Wall.
Persistent Soviet allegiance
As I say, even these most obvious lessons have to be learnt afresh by every generation. I had to overcome a fair amount of parental baggage by applying some individual reasoning. As highlighted by Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times, Corbyn had a communist father too, a donor to the Stalinist “Daily Worker”, the Communist Party’s official organ – now called the “Morning Star”, and Jeremy’s favourite daily paper.
Back in 1939, in the wake of the Nazi-Soviet pact, the Daily Worker parroted Stalin’s line in the carve-up of Poland, effectively siding with Berlin. In 1941 Herbert Morrison closed down the paper when it held that WWII was a British imperialist conspiracy against a blameless Berlin.
I don’t know whether Jeremy Corbyn ever read the Communist Manifesto – it is rumoured that he has never been known to read a book in his life – but neither he nor any of his purblind acolytes has ever explained why China succeeded in escaping from mass poverty only when it embraced so many key elements of a capitalist society and abandoned the economics of socialism.
When confronted on this very point by Andrew Marr, Corbyn again demonstrated his real colours by responding, predictably, that the more impressive achievement was Mao Tse-tung’s “Great Leap Forward” – the verbal travesty that actually connoted the forced collectivisation of agriculture that led to starvation and death of over 40 million Chinese.
If this is the moron who rises from the Westminster swamp to lead this country you will not be able to say you didn’t know. Treat it, as I did, as an important part of your education.
[GOING POSTAL 24-6-19, Economic Perspectives 56]