What is the longest-running socialist experiment? What has its success been?
If someone asked you to defend the idea that socialism has failed, what would you offer as your example?
Where did modern socialism begin?
That's right: in the land of the free and the home of the braves. On Indian reservations.
They were invented to control adult warriors. They had as a goal to keep the native population in poverty and impotent.
Did the system work? You bet it did.
Has the experiment been a failure? On the contrary, it has been a success.
When was the last time you heard of a successful Indian uprising?
Are the people poor? The poorest in America.
Are they on the dole? Of course.
Last year, the U. S. Department of Agriculture allocated $21 million to provide subsidized electricity to residents on the reservations whose homes are the most distant from jobs and opportunities. You can read about this here. This will keep them poor. Tribal power means tribal impotence.
The tribes are dependent. They will stay dependent. That was what the program was designed to achieve.
For some reason, textbooks do not offer a page or two on the corruption, the bureaucratization, and the multi-generation poverty created by tribal-run socialism. Here we have a series of government-run social laboratories. How successful have they been? Where are reservations that have systematically brought people out of poverty?
The next one will be the first.
The Soviet Union lasted as a socialist worker's paradise from 1917 until 1991. As a direct result of that experiment, at least 30 million Russians died. It may have been twice that. China's experiment was shorter: 1949 to 1978. Perhaps 60 million Chinese died.
The system failed to deliver the promised goods. I can think of no topic more suitable for a class in economics than a discussion of the failure of socialism. The same is true of a course in modern world history. A course in political science should cover this failure in detail.
They don't, of course. They do not begin with the fundamental challenge to socialist economic theory, Ludwig von Mises' 1920 essay, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth. Why not? Because most social scientists, economists, and historians have never heard of it. Among people over age 50, the few who did hear of it heard about it from some pro-socialist or Keynesian advocate, who wrote what he had been told in graduate school in the 1960s, namely, that the article was totally refuted by Oskar Lange in 1936.
They are never told that when Lange, a Communist, returned to Poland in 1947 to serve in several high-level posts, the Communist government did not invite him to implement his grand theory of "market socialism." No other socialist nation ever did.
For 50 years, the textbooks, if they mentioned Mises at all, said only that Mises had been totally refuted by Lange. The Establishment academics dropped Mises down Orwell's memory hole.
On September 10, 1990, multimillionaire socialist author-economist Robert Heilbroner published an article in the New Yorker. It was titled "After Communism." The USSR was visibly collapsing. In it, he recounted the story of the refutation of Mises. In graduate school, he and his peers were taught that Lange had refuted Mises. Then he announced: "Mises was right." Yet in his best-selling textbook on the history of economic thought, The Worldly Philosophers, he never referred to Mises.
THE VISIBLE FAILURES
The universal failure of twentieth-century socialism began from the opening months of Lenin's takeover of Russia. Output declined sharply. He inaugurated a marginally capitalist reform in 1920; the New Economic Policy. That saved the regime from collapse. The NEP was abolished by Stalin.
Decade after decade, Stalin murdered people. The minimal estimate is 20 million. This was denied by virtually the entire intelligentsia of the West. Only in 1968 did Robert Conquest publish his monumental book, The Great Terror. His estimate today: closer to 30 million. The book was pilloried. Wikipedia's entry on the book is accurate.
Published during the Vietnam War and during an upsurge of revolutionary Marxist sentiment in Western universities and intellectual circles (see The Sixties), The Great Terror received a hostile reception.
Hostility to Conquest's account of the purges was heightened by various factors. The first was that he refused to accept the assertion made by Nikita Khrushchev, and supported by many Western leftists, that Stalin and his purges were an aberration from the ideals of the Revolution and were contrary to the principles of Leninism. Conquest argued that Stalinism was a natural consequence of the system established by Lenin, although he conceded that the personal character traits of Stalin had brought about the particular horrors of the late 1930s. Neal Ascherson noted: "Everyone by then could agree that Stalin was a very wicked man and a very evil one, but we still wanted to believe in Lenin; and Conquest said that Lenin was just as bad and that Stalin was simply carrying out Lenin's programme."
The second factor (1918) was Conquest's sharp criticism of Western intellectuals for what he saw as their blindness towards the realities of the Soviet Union, both in the 1930s and, in some cases, even in the 1960s. Figures such as Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw, Jean-Paul Sartre, Walter Duranty, Sir Bernard Pares, Harold Laski, D. N. Pritt, Theodore Dreiser and Romain Rolland were accused of being dupes of Stalin and apologists for his regime for various comments they had made denying, excusing, or justifying various aspects of the purges.
The Left still hates the book, still attempts to say that he exaggerated the figures.
Then came The Black Book of Communism (1999) which puts the minimum estimate of citizens executed by Communists at 85 million, with 100 million or more likely. The book was published by Harvard University Press, so it could not be dismissed as a Right-wing fat tract.
The Left tries to ignore it.
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