Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Selling Slavery

What is the difference between a person volunteering for community service and the government asking you to engage in community service?

You have to wonder if a multi-million dollar public relations campaign promoting government-managed community service is nothing short of the government demanding community service?

What is the appeal of community service? And more importantly why is the government of Barack Obama trying to sell the idea? What is his motive? Certainly, some of my friends will say that he’s just trying to make a better America. I would respond that we should not be so gullible as to automatically believe the most powerful agency of force in the land. The government is backed up by guns and anything it does, no matter how benign it seems, must be questioned and, indeed, must be opposed as a matter of principle. The government is supposed to protect us against criminals and itself; it is not supposed to collect us into groups working toward a so-called benign goal.

To illustrate the dangers of government supported community service, we must look at history. Images of an army of smiling volunteers working for the sake of the collective hearken back to another day. These romanticized images were used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Communist Chinese to glorify “the people” who were creating a "proud" collective utopia. Not only did they build things and clean up the countryside but they also burned down shops and beat up Jews.

I know, I must be crazy…but I beg to differ. As Ayn Rand has said, (to paraphrase) whenever you see someone demanding sacrifice you can be sure someone is collecting the sacrifices. In my view, when they try to sell community service, the Obama administration seeks to establish the intellectual foundation for slavery. They want men to think like slaves; they want men to obey. They even want men to give up their pursuits for a better life, pleasure, leisure and relaxation and, instead, spend their time thinking about some innocuous idea called "community". This turns men away from their need to work for their own well being and it destroys their sense of self-esteem and pride, diverting pride, not toward their individual accomplishments, but toward how much they can sacrifice for the sake of somebody else's children, someone else's home, someone else's meals or the planet's little fish or polar bears. Couched under the Madison Avenue sales pitches that tout the value of neighbor helping neighbor is a different kind of pitch; it is the pitch of selling servitude. They are leading people into a maze full of hidden doors and deceptive dead ends; a maze where everything is an illusion and every word means its opposite.

I know I'll be accused of being cruel, but, frankly, it is not your job to ensure that the entire world is a better place. Nor should you be forced to give up your standard of living at the point of a gun held by a policeman. Take care of your own little corner, make your own life better through hard work and education, and let everyone else take care of their little corner. If you can work together to accomplish something, great, but you should never be made to feel guilty for taking care of your own needs and desires. History has shown this approach works much better. On the other hand, here’s how community service works.

The basic premise of government funded community service is collectivism. The administration believes in the idea of collective action toward collective goals. This means that the people should work without pay, a demand that would be considered an insult to any rational being. The administration uses collectivism to sell men into working, not for pay, but as a duty.

Is it possible that the administration does not realize that collectivism is the opposite principle established by our Constitution? I think not. I think they understand fully that collectivism is not “the American way”. They want to sell us on the idea of transforming our society into one big collective where all citizens routinely contribute their energy to others…without pay.

Historically, collectivism has had a bloody past. All major dictatorships used collectivism to silence dissent and enlist support. They spread massive amounts of propaganda in order to sell the idea of collective sacrifice as the panacea to all of the nation’s problems. What were these societies? Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Italy, World War II Japan and other smaller examples.

Many Americans think it is possible to have a benign collectivism where only good is done and everything is voluntary. They hope that finally, in America, we can have a “good” collectivism where people are dedicated to the common good and where everyone cooperates. What they miss is that collectivism is like a coin, two-sided, where one side holds good intentions and promised positive results while the other side holds the force that must be mustered in order to ensure that collectivism is accepted by all people. Who is that force intended for? You might be surprised to learn that every collective has the same enemies and it always seeks to enslave or destroy those enemies. The enemy is any individual or nation that functions according to the profit motive.

The Profit Motive
There are three basic reasons why the collectivist government doesn’t want you to make a profit. First, they want to skim the profits for themselves and give you poorly managed social services in return, two, they want to re-distribute those profits in order to buy votes until they can outlaw elections, and three, they want to destroy your ability to be self-sufficient. If you can earn only bare subsistence, you must depend on government, but more importantly, you have lost your pride.

A free person who is responsible for his own success does not need government. In order to survive well, he need only think and innovate. Outlaw the profit motive, tell a person that profit is evil, that it is theft, and you have destroyed the person’s ability to maintain his own sense of self-responsibility, self-importance and pride.

The basic justification for the idea that profits are evil is the Marxist proposition that the only value created in society is that created by the laborer who runs the machines. According to the labor theory of value, the capitalist is unnecessary and parasitical, even evil. Profits are therefore wasteful unless they are spent on the laborer. So if we take the profits away from the rich, we can create a “just” society.

The truth is that profit, and its corollary individual rights, represent one of the crucial intellectual advances in human history. When it was recognized during the Enlightenment that all men should be allowed to keep the results of their work, regardless of how large their profits, the floodgates to riches, scientific research, better products and higher standards of living were opened for all citizens to enjoy (including the laborer). While the laborer was earning a profit of his own, the Marxists would claim that profit in the hands of the capitalist was stolen from the laborer. When the laborer began to enjoy leisure and the products he was producing, as a purchaser of those products, the progressives were telling him that the lavish lifestyles of a few rich people were a cruel travesty that must be met with progressive taxation.

The Marxists failed to recognize that profits and property rights were the reason for the success of capitalism, preferring instead to give the credit for that success to machines. The result was that socialism, in its drive to destroy profits, also destroyed the opportunity for people to use their minds to create better machines, products and lives. Machines did not invent themselves; the human mind invented them; and their higher productivity was not the outcome of an inexorable law of nature; they were the result of human choices. Once profits were outlawed under socialism, the only men who made profits were government cronies. The laborers were not enriched at all but were instead thrown into poverty, exploitation and unemployment.

Only a person with no possibility of improving his condition can be exploited. Socialism exploits people by forcing them to live collectively and to see themselves, not as individuals, but as cogs in a wheel. The propaganda of socialism tells them that their sacrifice today will make the lives of their children and grandchildren easier…but not their own lives. The socialist worker learns to resent the fact that he has not elevated his own living conditions. In fact, the more willing he is to work hard, the more is demanded of him. He learns to reduce his effort and works with less diligence and energy. The message from the government (that he recognizes as a cynical lie) is that things are getting better. This lie is an attack on his sense of reality; yet it is a message that he must repeat or else he will lose his job; it is a message he must believe or else.

Any honest commentator about history will tell you that collectivism and socialism do not work. They are an affront to practical action and they produce the opposite of what they promise. This is because the ideology that supports them is false, based on lies and/or unrealistic expectations. Socialism cannot create affluence because it punishes human incentive and operates by means of the gun. The failures of socialism are recorded history.

You can take it as a rule of thumb that when a progressive or socialist makes a statement, the opposite is true almost every time. They are forced to support the fallacies of socialism because they never question the veracity of Marxist tenets. And since they have gotten power only through agitation and lies (about capitalism), once they gain power, they must keep lying. They cannot suddenly discover the truth that capitalism is actually good. Every statement made by the socialist must therefore be true in reverse.

When a socialist promises to create more jobs by spending the money earned by productive citizens, he must invent words to make it appear that jobs are being created. He is talking in reverse.

A good example of this can be found in the Stimulus Bill fostered by President Obama. The President brags about 30,000 new or saved jobs while ignoring the fact that he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars per job. He also ignores the millions of jobs he’s destroyed. He is thinking in reverse.

The Stimulus Bill stimulates job losses not job creation. Thinking in reverse again. This destroys the value of money (through inflation), the value of hard work (through dependency) and the value of sound financial judgment (through unnecessary shovel ready projects). As producers begin to complain about the unfairness of government checks for the “poor”, the President can only accuse them of being selfish. Yet, all they are trying to do is survive. Again, thinking in reverse. At that point, his next enemies are those who understand and speak the truth.

Before the socialist clamps down on free speech, he will try to get as much willing support as possible. He will continue the lie that collective sacrifice is the solution to our problems and that those who refuse to sacrifice are the problem. Only when everyone joins the collective call to duty can we succeed in having a successful society, he says. Again, he’s thinking in reverse. If someone is critical of the movement, then that person must somehow be removed as an obstacle. Free speech is the enemy of collective action.

Censorship and fear have been used in virtually every socialist society in history, in some cases, with bloody consequences. Those who refuse to accept the government’s lies must be ridiculed. They must be made to feel guilty for not going along with the master plan. They must be isolated and silenced because they are questioning the motives and policies of the leadership.

From where does free speech originate? It comes from the thinking mind, from the person who is not afraid to look at reality and tell the truth about what it observes. When the right of people to speak freely is allowed, it is more difficult for fraudulent ideas to proliferate. Whenever a government feels that it must silence dissent then the truth cannot win and only destruction will follow.

Those who criticize the government are attacked for trying to harm the people. We see this today in the government’s attacks against medical insurance companies, energy companies, Fox News and the Chamber of Commerce. These organizations are being blamed for not assisting the government's collectivist schemes. You can be sure that when the government criticizes private citizens and private organizations, it has become (or intends to become) a dictatorship. The sooner we understand this, the sooner will we be able to join forces to stop it.

The Mind
At every turn, whenever the progressives try to implement their collectivist political agendas, their main enemy is the mind. This is because the mind is necessary for moral action. It is necessary in order to create profits, run businesses, make political decisions, judge government and speak out against injustice.

But there is a more sinister element to the coercive actions of government that indicate how much of a prison our nation is becoming. And this gets back to their attacks against profits. Every dictatorship in modern times has been at war with capitalism. We can find this when we read about how the Soviets disenfranchised, stole from and even murdered people who were considered to have been part of the bourgeoisie. The Communist Chinese had their Red Guards who murdered businesspeople and destroyed shops and businesses. And few today even discuss the fact that the hatred of the Jews by the Nazis included the charge of profiteering.

Today, the Obama administration accuses Fox News of criticizing it in order to make profits. It says the same about Talk Radio, the insurance companies, the oil companies and the Chamber of Commerce. Indeed, you’d think that profits are the only reason anyone would oppose the policies of President Obama. Let's hope so.

Closing the Door on the Prison Cell
You may think “it can’t happen here.” You may think we are too civilized to descend into savagery; but weren't the Germans once considered to be among the most civilized people on the planet? Go to Dachau, as I have done, to see what they did in the name of the collective.

The basic tactic of the Alinsky radicals in the administration is to close the door on the prison cell of any person who disagrees with them. Today, it may not be an actual cell, perhaps just a prison cell in the mind. How will they do it? By means of two Orwellian concepts which, once accepted, will result in the destruction of capitalism and your rights: social justice and democracy.

You may think that these two concepts are good. Of course, society should foster social justice, if you mean by social justice that all men are created equal before the law. That is why we have courts, laws, lawyers and even a Constitution that lays down the basic principles upon which our society is based. We have established rules for court proceedings that allow all parties in legal disputes to present evidence that can be dispassionately considered by an impartial judge. The whole purpose of this form of social justice is to ensure fairness. Indeed, our legal system has been considered to be one of the most just in history.

The radicals, however, play a word game with the concept of “social justice”, a sort of bait and switch. When they tell you they believe in social justice, they have something entirely different in mind. For them, social justice must ensure that all profits go to “the people”; no one should be allowed to be rich; all incomes should be shared equally regardless of effort. In other words, no person should be allowed to make more money than his neighbors. This is called "social justice" but is it? Could it really be rationalized injustice?

Every dictatorship has had a citizen army whose purpose was to impose “social justice.” Whenever the government thinks it can do whatever it wants “for” the people, you can bet someone will be forced to give something up, his property or his life. Whenever a nation decides that the “common good” requires re-distribution of income, you will know it has reached the end of civilized behavior.

The other bait and switch used by progressives, the other method of imprisoning the people, is the concept of democracy. Our government is a republic, not a democracy. It is a system of checks and balances designed to prevent dictatorial powers from taking over the country. There is a democratic vote in republican government; but such voting extends only to those who will represent us in the limited functions of government; such votes do not confer unlimited rule on anyone.

A republic limits the government to protecting people from criminals and government power. A full democracy, on the other hand, would use the “power” of the people to impose coercive demands. Whenever you hear people like Hugo Chavez or his defenders in the administration claim they are advancing “democracy”, you can be sure they are advancing, not limited democratic processes, but unlimited tyrannical rule. They claim it is what the people want, and, once again, they claim to be establishing “social justice.”

Whenever you hear the Obama administration make these and similar reverse arguments, you can be sure they are not seeking to make things better. Their effort to sell you on collective action through so-called voluntary citizen armies is a form of “selective service” recruitment, a form of military draft. All they have to do is claim there aren't enough volunteers and you have the foundation for a uniformed citizen police force empowered by government to make you sacrifice. Don't you wonder what your service number will be? I still remember mine. How could I forget?

If they succeed in selling you on slavery, you will have earned it.

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