Friday, May 17, 2013

Lesson of the Scandal: Tyranny is an Essential Feature of Socialism

I recently heard a television pundit lament the likely outcome of his own prediction that the liberally biased media, after a temporary fit of outrage over the egregious scandals engulfing the Obama administration, will return to its sycophantic posture just in time for the next election cycle. While I agree with this prediction, the more important question is why? Why is it unlikely that these scandals will transform the American political landscape in some meaningful way? Is there a more fundamental lesson to be drawn from these scandals that could change the political system?

The reason that the American left will continue supporting Obama and his ilk is that the liberal media, along with the vast majority of modern intellectuals, make no connection between the scandals erupting in Washington and the political ideology that they support. In other words, they might object to the Obama administration's seeming corruption or ineptness in managing the executive branch, but they do not object to the policies that he supports. As always, the left will observe corruption and tyranny associated with socialism but will simply hope that the next regime do better. They will conclude that while not always good in practice, socialism is good in theory, and urge the crusade to continue. If this is the lesson broadly accepted, then nothing in America will fundamentally change.

The lesson that should be drawn from these scandals is that socialism is bad in theory and therefore bad in practice. Tyranny and corruption are an essential feature of socialism, and whether it is Obama, Chavez, Castro, Kim Jong-il, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, or Hitler - statism requires force to be initiated against innocent people and only misery, oppression, and stagnation can result. The power to seize control of industry, tax and redistribute the income of producers, control prices, inflate the money supply and stifle dissent by controlling the media, thwarting the ability to assemble or preventing the ability to flee the borders necessitates the threat of violence.

Is it surprising to anyone that an administration that upholds an ideology that calls for coercion and violence against innocent individuals would commit acts of coercion and violence against innocent people?

America was founded upon the principle that the proper role of government in a free society is the protection of individual rights, that is, the protection of individual life and property from the initiation of physical force by criminals or foreign enemies. A government confined to this function leads to a society based on voluntary trade and cooperation where individuals selfishly pursue their own happiness while respecting the rights of other to do the same. When a government goes beyond this function and seeks to redistribute wealth or regulate the actions of individuals in the name of altruism and sacrifice, it must, by definition, use the threat of physical violence (fines and/or imprisonment) to coerce individuals to act against their own independent judgement. Once the principle of individual rights is abandoned and the government is enabled to initiate force against its own citizens, the only question becomes the degree of violence the state is willing to perpetrate.

Historically, the American government has been relatively constrained whereas other countries have taken socialism much more seriously - the degree of horror being directly proportional to the level of statist controls. While America does not yet have only one state media-propaganda outlet and a system of gulags to imprison and torture dissenters, the level of government control sought by the Obama administration has been a giant leap in that direction.

In a free society, the president would have very little to do, except in times of war, and elections at the local level would be far more significant to the every day lives of individuals. Under socialism, the executive and legislative central planners have the power of life and death over everyone in the country. This is one reason why national elections have taken on a preposterously distorted significance in our lives. In fact, tax and regulatory policies do affect critical areas of our lives from our income to our health care. For this reason, re-election of the regime (if they even bother holding an election) is vital, and central planners make careers in government serving their masters under the infamous credo: "the ends justifies the means." The recent scandals serve as excellent examples.

The Obama administration used the IRS as a means to attack and stymie its political opposition. The very person in charge of the exemption policies, Sarah Hall Ingram, was given bonuses and then promoted to an even more powerful position as the new head of the IRS enforcement wing of Obamacare - yet another program with life and death power.  But the IRS itself is an agency designated with the task of enforcing the legalized theft of income from every American citizen.  It is assigned the task of pouring through the minutia of every person's life, to "wait upon ladies at their toilett," to exact tolls for the very act of earning a living.  Is anyone shocked that such an agency would be used for "political" purposes?  

The Benghazi cover-up was necessary to protect the president before the election in two ways. First, it was necessary to cover-up the incompetence of the administration in protecting our consulate or for even having one that area in the first place. Second, the presence of Al Qaeda contradicted Obama's entire fantasy-land narrative surrounding Islamic terrorism. According to Obama, we are not at war with an ideology we are at war with a handful of "terrorists" who have hijacked an otherwise peaceful religion. The supposed killing of Bid Laden was equivalent to catching a bank robber - problem solved. The presence of a pre-meditated attack by a group motivated by Islam contradicts this premise, and so the idea of a spontaneous eruption of violence was crafted to fool the American public.

The broad usage of phone taps on the AP, all supposedly to find a national security "leak," is part of a pattern of press intimidation under this administration from day one designed to chill any opposition to its political programs.

While these scandals are egregious examples of a federal government run amok, Americans must understand that the abuse of government power will continue as long as we give the government the power to abuse. More fundamentally, we must reject the tragically flawed idea that socialism and the morality of self-sacrifice upon which it is based is somehow "good in theory." 

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