From the VG Bookshelf: The State and Revolution (Introduction)
From the VG Bookshelf: The State and Revolution (Introduction)
One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again. – Thomas Sowell
In a little over a month, Congress will convene for a new session. When it does, Republicans will no longer hold the House of Representatives. Unless something changes soon, Nancy “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” Pelosi will once again become Speaker of the House. In all likelihood, we will see a return of Congressional logjams and finger-pointing. And that’s if we’re lucky. If we’re not, if the conservatives in Congress fail to hold the line, our nation very well might lose its way.
It’s no secret the Democrats have, for most of the last century, tried to steer us toward socialism. For awhile, they did so slowly, subtly. Now they don’t even try to hide their agenda. Unfortunately, too many either won’t or can’t see the writing on the wall.
That’s troubling, especially when you consider the 2016 presidential race. None of us took Barry Sanders seriously when he announced he was throwing his hat into the ring. Instead of being easily defeated as predicted, it took manipulation of the system by the Democratic National Committee to secure the nomination for Hillary Clinton. Had the DNC paid attention to what Democratic voters wanted, we very well might have another person sitting in the Oval Office today.
Even so, it is still easy to dismiss Sanders. But one thing we must admit he did and did well was connect with the younger voters. Not only did they turn out to support him in 2016, they returned to the polls this year. They also ran for office, many of them as Democratic-Socialists. This new crop of politicians aren’t hiding who or what they are–or what their vision for the country is.
Because of that, it is more important than ever to understand not only where they stand but where their rhetoric and ideas come from.
I first read The State and Revolution by Vladimir Lenin in its original Russian. My Russian’s no longer as good as it once was. So I spent time finding an older translation that hasn’t been updated to reflect modern “sensibilities”. I chose it so that the words of one of the founders of modern socialism and communism can be considered and discussed.
But those words need to be put into context. Russia in 1917 was rife for revolution. Tsar Nicholas II was anything but a strong, much less wise, leader. His wife, Alexandra, would do anything to save their son who suffered from hemophilia. The family fell under the sway of the “Mad Monk” Rasputin. At the same time, the country was going to hell in the proverbial handbasket and had been for some time.
Where our understanding of Russia and Soviet communism and socialism fail is in how it manifested over the years and the kind of force that was required to keep it alive. No one disputes the fact that Josef Stalin was a tyrant. Yet, to listen to many, you would think the Soviet Union was a social and economic paradise. There are claims of no unemployment. The state provided medical coverage to one and all. You got your education. It was wonderful.
This is the portrait of Soviet society so many of our young people believe. It is the basic portrait of a society that we could have here according to Bernie and his followers.
What these people need is a dose of reality, preferably before their cherished Socialist Paradise takes hold in the US.
Carmen Alexe wrote about growing up in Romania during the 1970’s and 1980’s. At that time, Romania was a country rich in resources and poor in so many other ways. Yes, there were lines for what we look at as basics – bread, milk, eggs, etc. Romanians couldn’t go to the neighborhood store and find everything they wanted when they wanted it. Resources were allocated by the government . That meant the allocation wasn’t always to the benefit of the citizenry.
The state controlled almost every aspect of our lives: our education, our job placement, the time of day we could have hot water, and what we were allowed to say. . . Despite the fact that Romania was a country rich in resources, there were shortages everywhere. Food, electricity, water, and just about every one of life’s necessities were in short supply.”
How would any of us react if our landlords decreed there would be hot water available only two hours a day? Think about yourself as a teen, knowing that pack of gum you want is a luxury and might not be available for months – or longer. Consider having to turn to the black market to get blue jeans or other “fashionable” clothing. Consider living in a country where this is how you feel:
God bless our black-market entrepreneurs! They made our lives better. They gave us the opportunity to buy things we very much desired, things we couldn’t get from the government-owned retail stores which were either half-empty or full of products that were ugly and of poor quality.”
According to Alexe, and just about anyone else with an ounce of common sense who lived under the Soviet/Russian regime, economics is at the heart of many of the problems with communism.
Due to its profit incentives, capitalism encourages innovation. Innovation leads to progress and an increase in the standard of living. But progress and the climate which offers humans a high standard of living cannot be created without the capital to transform and turn resources into the final products that give us the—relatively—cheap energy and food, smartphones, fitness gyms, and overall the life we currently afford. Capital moves in the direction of less regulation, less government intervention, and less taxation. In short, capital moves to where there’s more economic freedom.
In contrast, communism, socialism, fascism, or just about any government-controlled system lacks the profit incentive. The people, who are the human resources, have no desire to engage in a business where the reward is not attainable (unless it’s done in the black markets). They accept the state and its bureaucratic cronies to dictate their faith.”
This is exactly what we face in the United States if we aren’t careful. We have politicians who want to tear down our way of life, strip us of our capitalist tendencies and turn us into Socialist “paradises”. They don’t even try to hide it any longer.
In one interview, Hillary Clinton basically said she lost the election because so many Democrats are socialists and she admitted to being a capitalist.
“It’s hard to know, but if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists, or self-described socialists, and I’m asked, ‘Are you a capitalist?’ And I say, ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability,’ you know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist.’”
There’s a lot of ifs, ands and buts in there. But when you get down to it, she said several things of import. First, at least in Iowa – which has for decades been touted as the indicator of how the Democratic Party leans – almost half the Democrats identify as socialists. Considering Iowa is more conservative than bastions of the Democratic Party like California and New York, that number is probably higher nationwide.
Now let’s look at what Clinton herself said. She identifies as a capitalist – coff, coff, Clinton Foundation – but with modifiers. She’s a capitalist but there should be regulation and accountability. In other words, the government gets to limit capitalism and, in turn, limit innovation and the improvement of our standard of living. Of course, with folks like Clinton, that limitation only applies to others, not to them. After all, they are the more equal among equal. Double standards are us.
But Clinton’s not the only one. We have Pelosi with her own fortune, turning her nose up at the $2,000 tax break most of the rest of us received under President Trump even as she has promised to take that tax break away from us. You know what removing a tax break really is? It is a tax increase. And this is one of the platforms the Democrats are running on.
We have new members of Congress who go even further. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib both identify as Democratic-Socialists. Bernie Sanders campaigned, along with Ocasio-Cortez, to help elect more “progressive” candidates. Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib ran on platforms that included, among other things, Medicaid for all, a $15/hour minimum wage, etc. Of course, they didn’t say where the money for all that would come from. If did–and it would come from our pockets–no one would have voted for them. No one wants to give more of their hard-earned money to the government.
I could go on, but it comes down to this: who will pay for all these so-called wonderful programs politicians like Clinton, Pelosi, Bernie Sanders and the new crop of Democratic-Socialists propose? We are.
What will the result be? Less money in our pockets and more governmental control over our lives. We are already moving down the road to a country out forefathers couldn’t recognize, one where the Bill of Rights is nothing but a distant memory.
If the government is paying for your education, how long before it tells you what you are going to study and, by expansion, what job you will have upon graduation?
The Dems try to scare us with horror stories about the Trump Administration and its motives. Yet, the only real danger I see comes from Democratic side of the aisle.
As Alexe writes:
Aside from better economic and legislative policies, what America needs is a more intense appreciation of individual freedom and capitalism. Such a crazy idea is not acquired through public schools or becoming a public servant. Young people don’t need more years of schooling with more worthless college degrees and student loans in default. America needs more entrepreneurs and businessmen. It needs more people with drive and ambition, more self-starters, more innovators, more people who are willing to take chances.
It starts in our own backyard, in our home, in our small group, in our community. It starts with loving, involved, and dedicated parents who’d instill the values of personal responsibility and delayed gratification in their children. It continues with an education that entails both theory and hands-on practice in environments conducive to learning how to think independently and how to acquire life- and work-skills. It evolves into a purpose-driven life rich in learning and experiences. And this may be just the beginning of attaining the intellectual maturity to perceive the value that free markets and individual freedom afford most of us.”
It also, as Sowell states, requires that we remember history.
The Left tries to make this New World Order of theirs enticing by talking about all the “equality” and “freedom” we’d have. After all, who wouldn’t like to be worry-free when it comes to medical care, etc.? But reality is often very different from theory. That is especially true when it comes to Socialism and Communism. Why? Because people are people. Some of us have ambitions and want to do our best. Others want power and will do anything to gain it. Others are spiritual and want to be able to believe what they want and worship when and where they want without government interference. All of which means true Socialism can never exist.
Starting next week, I’ll be diving deep into Lenin’s The State and Revolution. Don’t worry, I’ll be comparing what Lenin wrote with what Bernie and his followers preach.
We cannot sit still while history tries to repeat itself here, in our own house.
Featured image: Lenin and Stalin in Gorki, September 1922. Photograph by Maria Ilyinichna Ulyanova.
(This post was inspired by and contains information included in posts originally published on According to Hoyt on Jan. 11, 2018 and May 11, 2018)