Diary

How Life Will Change Under Socialism, An Open Letter to Greens

For all you green power types who peep in on RedState, disabuse yourself of the notion that socialism can co-exist with green technology or environmental consciousness. This is an illusion. It can’t. Just like the nobility of Man, and the economic freedom they’ve been promising the underclass for sixty plus years, once power is assumed, things change.

When I first went to Moscow in 1991, it really was like an iron curtain we were flying into as we crossed the Polish border. A wall of dark grey air met us there and got darker all the way to Party Central. My first thought when I saw that was of the great Woody Allen stage set of West Berlin and East Berlin in “Casino Royale.” Being at the front of the environmental movement in 1970, I’ve since asked myself many times why any claiming the moniker “environmentalist” would want to adopt a “system” that produces that? A system that can’t but produce that?

For proof, as witnessed only last week with the shut down of air services in Europe, (an open question to Art and Vladimir, as I’d like to know more of the mechanics here) when one EU bureaucratic organization (the climate and atmospheric chaps) using computer modeling determined more volcanic ash was in the air that it turned out actually was, they shut down air traffic over the entire continent. Forget US media, 90% of those flights were inside the EU, country-to-country, and the shut down needlessly had severe consequences on the regional economies, not to mention the Union itself, which is still ahead of us in the bankruptcy chase. This mistake stirred yet another EU bureaucratic organ run out of Brussels into action….and when socialist bureaucracies collide, just as in capitalism, the bottom line wins. That’s a law. And there will be consequences, albeit hidden away from public view. You’ll never know about it. Heads may roll, but for sure bureaucratic standing and power will shift. Ministers will no longer return your calls. Department heads will suddenly find themselves dealing with a lower-ranked interface. Bureau chiefs will no longer get select seating at conferences, or even invites to some conferences at all; you know, all that corner-officer-with-a-window stuff that gives bureaucrats wet dreams. The Greens will lose a place in the pecking order.

After a fashion, over 30 years or so, this is how your vaunted Green state-of-mind will sink into socialist, bureaucratic oblivion and those of you who can remember these days under free, greedy markets will recall, “Damn, we never had it so good.”

That is a point I’d like to come back to some time, but it is only a lead in to another peg of the starry-side of socialist nirvana that never really makes it past the first generation….for those of you who dream of such egalitarian utopias.

You see, Karl Marx stated that for there to be real communism, there must first be a fully developed capitalist society to replace it. This was both a facade and a rhetorical claim, for he needed to shift the font of revolution from an intellectual elite (which he hoped to lead) to the proletariat, by saying they would know when it had become fully developed and so corrupt and oppressive that they, the workers/people, would rise up and say “Enough is enough”. (From that time forward, through Lenin and Mao, there would be a constant back and forth, as to when and how the masses would know this, much like Christians looking for signs of the end times, and on what the new society would be based, industrial or agricultural might.)

But Marx missed even the rhetorical side of this argument for he had never even contemplated America, (which I think he could find on a map, I’m not sure…he neglected his children, so he could I suppose also neglect his geography). But in America all his notions of “value-added” by workers went out the window with the rise of a management middle class that also added value to goods being produced, but who also created with their own dollars a whole new class of small business who gave workers a thing Marx never in his whole life believed ever could be, and that the choice not to be a worker at all! As much as 80% of American small business was built by workers, wage and hour and salaried, who simply wanted to go it alone. (This is the “risk-taking” Obama, in his speech to Wall Street last week, wants to put an end to.)

But on a deeper and more intellectual level, what Marx really had trouble with was the economic-building side of his theory, for he never could come even close to figuring how his “socialism” could build a thing…anything…industrial might or food production, from scratch. So the real reason he needed capitalism to be fully developed before taking over was that “socialism” needed the plants already built (or at least the blueprints, in Russia’s case) and the food factories up and running. That way, it would take the people three generations or so to figure out things were actually going downhill, not uphill  (my words, not Marx’s sentiments), which of course is what happened. And what always happens in a socialist society. (I’d love to see Jonah Goldberg and Al Gore debate that one.) If any socialist theoretician would like to come here on RedState and tell us how socialism can build anything I’ll be happy to see it posted here, under my name, with proper attribution, so as to circumvent the gate keepers.

But my comments here are directed more at the starry-eyed egalitarian socialist, who s probably under 25. Once you get close to 30, socialism assumes you will have found a niche in one of the millions of useless cubicled desk jobs and have totally re-oriented that utopian vision toward that corner office with a view. Once a GS-4 there is only one dream left. GS-5. Etc. Etc.

I originally planned to entitle this about food production. And I can leave it there, as a way to carry you Greens on an excursion in logic as to where you egalitarian dream of social brotherhood takes you.

Hawaii. Well, that’s as good a starting point as any. I once drove across the middle of Oahu, and couldn’t help but notice the verdant farm lands, all belonging or licensed to Dole, I think.  Pineapples. Therein lies a tale. You see, when Captain Cook visited the Sandwich Islands, they already had pineapples. So, it’s obvious Dole didn’t invent them. What Dole did was make them available to everyone. You know, in an egalitarian, but also profitable way…that Marx had a problem understanding.  Before, very few people could enjoy that luscious fruit because even after they became a territory very few boats sailed there, and brought only a few cases home. The scarcity then, made them only available to the very rich, or the very locally situated, such as those places nearest the docks where those delicious fruits were unloaded. Restaurants in San Francisco that could get them could boast the most exotic cuisine and charge a dollar a slice (a hefty sum in 1890) while the richest man in Minneapolis couldn’t get one on a bet…but the poorest kaffir in Fiji could pluck one off a tree for free. Does this make sense?

Well today, I can go down to Food Beast and buy a small tin of diced pineapples for $1.69 (at 2010 prices) or the full monty, uncut, for about $5.00. Now, I’m not baiting you here. I’m not asking you to ask yourself why this is so. It’s an easy sequence of logic, if you stop and put your whole mind to it. Rather, I want to take you to another place, the end game, where you are being led, but where, alas, you are probably not involved…unless you get that window office.

You see, the same thing can be said for cheese, whether Wisconsin or Swiss. By being scarce cheese became delicacies affordable only to the rich, the aristocrats, and in those days, those titles were determined by bloodlines. That’s changed, but really, little else. Just as Dole did pineapples, small companies throughout Europe searched the hills and valleys of Switzerland to find their own special variety of cheese, only their math wasn’t turned toward making it available to the masses, but rather, they wanted a label that said they were the Cheese, or Wine, or even Chocolate purveyors to Kings or royalty. Being able to fetch the highest prices, not the biggest market, was their ambition, and the ability to schmooze with royalty. They would never understand Dole’s purposes. What duke or lord would invite to their house anyone who sold a product the common man (er, worker, proletariat) could afford? Still, in Holland ordinary farmers could chow down on ‘is highness’  and ‘er ladyship’s gouda and wash it down with a good local mash…that was selling for a bob at the finest clubs in London?

This can get out of hand. When I was a kid, my grandfather retired and moved to Florida. This was the 1950s. Every Christmas he sent us a bushel of oranges, grapefruit (when pink was still a delicacy) and tangerines, which we treated ourselves to through January. So much for Vitamin C. Even orange juice was expensive, real fruit expensive and you never knew who’d handled it, unlike granddad’s, so we waited until next Christmas, or, as we did once every three years, we drove down to visit during summer vacation, where we could pick those suckers right off the tree. Umm, umm, umm.

This all came back to me first visit to Ukraine, 1991-92, when a colleague there told me the most prized treasure in Russia was a banana, potassium, so healthy for you, and that as many of 80% of all Soviet citizens had never even seen one. But they knew of them. Oh, to be able to eat one. Maybe now that imperial communism is falling, maybe they can bring them into Odessa, and we can find them at the kiosks. (I hadn’t the heart to tell him about grocery stores or supermarkets, or, godferbid, what a banana cost in America, where we bought them by the bunch, even hundreds of miles away from the ports. Oh, the mystery of all that!.) Then I thought of Velveeta Cheese and Spam, which Moses reminded me about…that until processed cheese and canned meat came around, as de classe and awful as we all know them to taste now…imagine that our soldiers went into war tasting tastes on the battlefield most of the people they were dying to save had never even imagined.

I address all this to Greens, for it seems to be you want those pineapple fields on Oahu to be returned to nature. Well, the pineapples will continue to grow, only back to 1880 scales…when only the richest and most powerful can have them. Scarcity does not create eilitism, (diamonds) but rather elitism, by its very nature, creates scarcity.

This brings you, all of you, to a crossroads. I’m not speaking as to whether you are willing to deny yourself these little treasures…a banana, a pineapple, a simple slice of cheese, a wine with a certain label, “appellation de controlle”… but whether you propose to deny all those men and women you say you are fighting for, the masses. If you are angling for that corner office with the window, of course you do. If not, you’ve been duped.