The Socialist Dream Will Never Die

w704 (2)Steven Hayward over at Powerline recently wrote something very interesting.

Not long ago I was listening to one of Russ Roberts’s archived “EconTalk” podcasts with the great Thomas Sowell (and if you don’t listen to EconTalk you’re missing one of the top podcast artists of our time—subscribe for free here), and was completely stunned by something Sowell said. When he was assigned Friedrich Hayek’s seminal essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society” as a graduate student, he didn’t get it. Sowell found it too abstract and dense. Russ Roberts, another fine Chicago-school economist, said he had the same reaction to it the first time he read it, and, moreover, that Vernon Smith (a Nobel Prize winner) also found the essay opaque at first reading.

Source: The Socialist Dream Will Never Die | Power Line

Like Steven, I’ver never found this anything but clear as a plate glass window, so I’m a bit dumbfounded. Still the examples he gives worked through it, extraordinarily well, and as sometimes happens, maybe they understand it better for not seeing immediately the point.

He then proceeds to comment on an article in The New Republic, entitled “What If Stalin Had Computers?” What his point is that it is simply the old socialist saw that communism merely needed more time, as if a few more generations of misery would have made it work, violates another thing. Name one thing that Stalin’s Soviet union invented or developed from scratch. Can’t think of one myself, everything they had, somebody in the west, mostly Britain or America developed. So, Stalin having computers is simply a fantasy, that would have never happened in a millennium without the west. But, in truth, communism, or socialism, can never work, because people will always act in their own rational self-interest. And if you attempt to force it, they will simply pretend to work, and lie.

And the real reason it makes no difference is this. Sometime, long ago, I read a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, which I can no longer find, that said roughly, “We gather all the statistics in the world, and analyze and plan things on them, and reorder national priorities and all that. But it all come down to that grubby little man, with a clipboard and a pencil, who wrote down whatever he felt like.” And that is what always kills command economies–they lie to themselves, whether they are the Soviet Union, Venezuela, or increasingly, the United States. The real reason that we didn’t forsee the downfall of the USSR was that we believed the BS given to the Politburo.

Let’s finish with Steve and how he finished his article:

I recall reading one of the last interviews Hayek ever gave shortly before his death in 1992 in Forbes (sadly I can’t seem to find it now), where he was asked whether the information revolution and supercomputing didn’t change things, and make possible more effective centralized economic planning. Hayek said no—no matter how big and fast computers get, and how complete the data gathering, no centralized process can ever hope to match the uncoordinated actions of the constantly changing marketplace. Go re-read “The Use of Knowledge in Society” slowly and repeatedly until you get it.

At the end of the day, of course, the socialist impulse is not really rooted in reason or epistemology, but in envy and the desire for authoritarian control. That’s why we’ll never be rid of these people, no matter how many Venezeulas and Cubas you pile up.

 

They Hate Your Guts | The Weekly Standard

GARY LOCKE

GARY LOCKE

If you’ve been here  long, you’ll know that I love P.J. O’Rourke likely more than any humorist writer since mark twain, although Will Rogers is pretty good as well. In this, a letter to the Democratic voters, P.J. again nails many, many it’s.

There is simply no point to me wasting time, commenting on this, it is simply wonderful, and so close to true that it is eerie. So enjoy:

 

I would like to address myself to the poor, the huddled masses, the wretched refugees teeming to America’s shore, the homeless, the economically, socially, and mentally tempest-tossed. Also, I’d like to address the young, the hip, the progressive, the compassionate, and the caring. I’d like a word with everyone who votes for Democrats.

Democrats hate your guts.

Democrats need your vote and they’ll do anything—no matter how low and degrading—to get it. They hate you the way a whore hates a john.

All politicians hate people. Politics is a way to gain power over people without justification for having that power. Nothing in the 11,000-year history of politics—going back to the governing elites of Mesopotamia—indicates that politicians are wiser, smarter, kinder, more moral, or better skilled at any craft (aside from politics) than we are.

But political rulers need the acquiescence of the ruled to slake the craving for power. Politicians hate you the way a junkie hates junk.

Politicians gain power by means of empty promises or threats, or both when they’re on their game. Should you vote for people who are good at politics? No. You should vote for Republicans. We’re lousy.

Believe me, I know why you don’t vote for Republicans. You see the Republican candidates and they look so .  .  . Bush-League, Dog Walker, Rubio Rube, Get-Outta-the-Carson, Hucka-Upchuck, Ap-Paul-ling, Cruz Control, Fat-Fried Christie Crispy, Son-of-a-Kasich, Dingleberry Perry, Flee the Fiorina, Sancta-Santorum, Graham Cracker, and Nervous 7/11 Night Shift Manager Jindal.

And never mind the busted flush Trump Card who should be spray-painted with Rust-Oleum primer, have a squirt gun super-glued to his hand, and kicked through the front door of the Ferguson, Mo., police station.

You think, “I don’t want to vote for these people.”

Just between you and me, we Republicans think the same thing.

Source: They Hate Your Guts | The Weekly Standard

Why I became a Catholic: Tim Stanley

tumblr_m2qaxvmgvF1rpyyq4o1_500This is interesting, not least to me as it casts some light on my journey as well.

But I think it applies well beyond how we find ourselves in one or another church. I think it speaks much to how we have all searched to find structure in our lives, both in Christianity and in our lives in general.

[…]

Ten years ago this month, I became a Catholic. It happened in the attic of the guest house at Ealing Abbey. There was just me, a friend and a monk, and the operation took about an hour. Afterwards we went for cocktails. I started things as I meant to go on.

I guess the two big questions to ask a convert are: why did you do it and are you happy? Answering the first point is hard. It’s like asking a man why he married a woman. There’s a temptation to invent a narrative – to say, “this happened, that happened and before we knew it we were where we are today”. But the simpler, yet more complex, answer is this: I fell in love.

I was lucky to grow up in a household open to religious belief. My grandparents were Christian spiritualists; Grandma advertised as a clairvoyant. Mum and Dad became Baptists in the 1990s. I remember the pastor one Sunday telling us that evolution was gobbledygook. The teenager in me came to regard the faithful as fools, but I was wrong. I couldn’t see that they were literate, inquisitive, musically gifted and the kindest people you’d ever meet. But I went my own way and embraced Marxism.

By the time I arrived at Cambridge University I was a hard-left Labour activist and a militant atheist. I saw life as a struggle. Salvation could only come through class revolution. The life of the individual was unimportant. Mine was unhappy. Very unhappy. I disliked myself and, as is so common, projected that on to a dislike of others. I’m ashamed now to think of how rude and mean I was. Perhaps I was ashamed then, too, because I had fantasies of obliterating myself from history.

History was my redemption. In my second year I studied the Civil War. I discovered a world more colourful and distinct than today’s. A world of faith; of saints and martyrs. My Marxist sympathy was for the Protestant Diggers but I was intrigued by Archbishop William Laud and his fight to restore the sacramental dignity to the Anglican Church. For some reason I started to visit far-flung churches in Kent. I’d get up at 6am and cycle to a Sunday early morning service at Seal village. It calmed my soul.

I suddenly felt a great need to reconcile myself to something. Because Anglicanism was the only thing on offer at Cambridge (the Catholic chaplaincy felt like an Irish embassy), I asked to be baptised into the Church of England. Anglo-Catholicism was the closest I could get to Laud’s vision of majesty incarnate. But it wasn’t enough. Although I had made tremendous progress, something inside me said that I hadn’t yet reached my destination. Something was missing. Prayer revealed it to be the Catholic Church – the alpha, the rock, the bride of Christianity. I converted quietly in 2005 without letting many others know, including my family. It was like running away to Gretna Green to get married in secret.

Of course, the narrative I’ve given could be something I’ve constructed in hindsight. The journey was never straightforward; there were false starts and I often got lost. I remain uncertain of exactly why I converted at all. But I know I was absolutely right to.

Read it all at CatholicHerald.co.uk » Why I became a Catholic.

Is my story different? Sure! My dad was pretty darn conservative, but a New-Dealer and proud of it. and so I became a Goldwater conservative, not so much a rebellion (at least in my mind) as a way to rationalize my belief structure, and in truth the part of the New Deal he believed in most was a pretty conservative program by later standards.

And I wonder, and always will, if we had lived through those years, if we wouldn’t have been New Dealers as well, there was a lot wrong, I don’t think FDR had the right answers but he may well have asked some of the right questions.

 

Decadence: or Modern Life

Aston Martin 2-Litre 2/4-Seater Sports 1937

Aston Martin 2-Litre 2/4-Seater Sports 1937 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was young, all around me I could hear adults saying, “You can’t buy happiness.” often with a humorous dependent clause, to elicit a rueful chuckle. But in the main, we knew and believed it.

But it seems to me, many do believe it now. I knew when I was 5 and drooling over the Sears Christmas catalog, that nothing in there, on its own, was going to keep me happy long. The same is true now, as I drool over the Snap-on catalog or the Aston-Martin brochure. Some things would, did, and do fire my imagination, for me it was electric trains, and Tonka trucks, they let me imitate the world of men (sorry ladies, you didn’t have much role in my 5-year-old imagination). But, perhaps strangely, I never liked equipment with figures on it: the operators seat was where my imagination sat. That may be unique to me, but I doubt it.

But I grew up in a pretty traditional family, and in a rural area to boot. It was entirely conceivable to tell me, after breakfast, to go play, I’ll call you for lunch, and it was done, often. That left me open to learning things, by experiment, by reasoning through things, to use my imagination, unfettered. I have no clue how many times I single-handedly won World War II in Indiana, but it was certainly in triple digits. The same with roads and power lines built, and crops brought in.

So we are going to have a series, I don’t know how long, or whether it will be continuous, or not. We’ll see how it goes. We’re going to investigate how we came to believe that so very novel idea, that we can buy happiness. In many ways, the last two posts here have been a sort of prologue, documenting how our (mostly) young people have gotten themselves into trouble, today we’ll start looking at the causes. I don’t agree with all the specifics here, but he touches on many truths that we need to heed. So listen up, and we’ll start on our mission because we can’t fix it till we define the problem.

Kipling reminds us:

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

David Cameron’s ‘British values’ agenda is anti-Christian

CMMxrnmWEAA8qGKIs it? Yes, and its also anti-Islamic, anti- Jewish, anti-Hindu, anti-Sikh, and anti-secular humanist. It’s also anti-British, anti-American, and anti-western civilization. Unless you worship David Cameron as the one true god, it’s against whatever you believe. Here’s Cameron’s money quote:

For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.

In other words do as I say, not as the law of the land says. Even Obama isn’t crass enough to say this out loud.

Here’s Professor Charmley:

Legislation to counter ‘extremism’ will threaten free speech for all faiths and give the state the final say on what we can, and cannot, teach our children

With ISIS in the news, and with young people leaving this country to join them, ‘‘extremist disruption orders’’ (EDOs), designed to prevent the spread of extremism, appear both sensible and popular. This is, we are reassured, about defending “British values”. Again, this seems unproblematic, until you start thinking about it. During the Coalition, the Liberal Democrats asked some searching questions about what this actually meant, and the legislation was dropped; now it is back on the agenda – and in the absence of the Lib Dems, the rest of us need to step up to the plate. Why so?

We can get our first glimpse of why we should be concerned from the response of the Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, to a query from a constituent as to whether EDOs would erode free speech. After the usual airy generalised reassurances about free speech being protected, Mr Spencer volunteered the suggestion that they might, though, be used against someone teaching that gay marriage was wrong. So, espousing the traditional Christian, Muslim and Jewish teaching on marriage, one which until a couple of years ago was the law of the land, can now be considered espousing ‘‘extremism’’? What other aspects of the teaching of our faith might fall under suspicion? It is not, after all, as though our ruling elite has shown itself particularly literate when it comes to religion. As Prof Tariq Modood of Bristol recently commented: “The decline of public religion in Britain in the second half of the 20th century has meant that British society, including higher education and its leaders, has little understanding of religion.”

Our leaders lack the ability to understand what faith means to people. They seem to think we should regard it in the same way they treat their party’s principles – something infinitely malleable and, in an emergency, saleable for something more serviceable.

The Welsh Government, not usually a fan of the Conservatives, has jumped on the bandwagon of the “extremism” agenda to suggest that because religious education is badly taught in Welsh schools, it should be scrapped and replaced with something that fits with the “social cohesion” agenda. This sort of thinking is the fruit of the old narrative, taken as normative in the West, that religion is a fading force in the world which can be generally done away with in the public sphere, and which, if it must exist, should be strictly confined to the private sphere. That this is not true of much of the rest of the world, or of many in this multicultural country, appears to be beyond the grasp of a political elite which fails to see the dangers that will follow by treating public affirmations of faith as signs of “extremism”. Mr Spencer’s blithe assumption that his constituent would agree with his definition of extremism is precisely what should worry us, because he is far from alone in sharing it

With so many examples before us to choose from, it would be futile for anyone to argue that this is not the thin end of a wedge; it always is. Every time our liberties are curbed, we are assured that this is the end of it, but that will come only when the relevant authorities are satisfied we are all on message.

and

The Government’s instinctive mistrust of what it does not understand, combined with an equally instinctive desire to ban opinions it dislikes, is worrying. Claiming to be progressive, the Government is, in fact, in danger of regressing to the days of the Test Acts of the period from 1689 to 1828, when membership of the political nation required a Confessional Test – were you or were you not a communicating member of the Established Church? We already see, with Andy Burnham, that it is necessary to jettison authentic Catholic teaching on matters such as birth control, abortion and gay marriage to secure support in the Labour Party, while Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s about-turn on the issue of same-sex marriage tells us the same is true of the Tories.

Politicians who are practising members of the Catholic Church are wise to either self-censor or change their views on fashionable issues if they wish to get on. The monstering of Tim Farron by a media shocked at the idea of a believing Christian leading a political party reveals how hostile our political life is to confessed Christians, while his own muted reaction on the issue of same-sex marriage shows how hard it is to speak against the fashionable consensus which so illiberally enforces its writ. Is it wise to give this political elite such wide-ranging powers to decide what we can and cannot express with regard to our faith?

It is, perhaps, hopeless to expect a Conservative Party bent on erasing all traces of it to remember its own history, but the last time it legislated directly on matters of belief was the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874. Designed to stem the rising tide of ritualism within the Established Church, it forbade various practices such as candles on altars and the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. The result was that some patently holy men ministering in the poorest parishes of London found themselves in jail for obeying their consciences rather than the government. The law quickly fell into disuse, but not before creating a generation of Anglo-Catholic martyrs. Perhaps Mr Cameron and Theresa May cannot conceive of men and women so principled that they would go to jail rather than defy their own consciences?

via CatholicHerald.co.uk » David Cameron’s ‘British values’ agenda is anti-Christian.

Professor John Charmley is head of the Interdisciplinary Institute at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. His speciality as a historian is modern Britain, with a focus on the Conservative party.

I’m not convinced that people like Cameron and May even understand what a conscience is. And do understand, it is happening on this of the pond as well.

Of Dark Webs and Surveillance Societies.

140820-internet-trolls-2346_00499daa06aa00b7d583df7a4fbe2fb7-412x430Sorry about the last couple of days, I’ve been feeling rather suboptimal.

In any case, a close friend sent me these, and he informed me that the first one, a new BBC documentary kept his ten-year-olds interest right through. It did mine as well.

Now, Ed Snowden, I’m not going to tell you how to feel about him, partially because I can’t decide either. This doesn’t cut down on any of the old separations, liberal-conservation, young old or anything else does it. Except maybe, we have a right to live our lives without the government knowing everything about us.

One thing these talk about a lot is the sheer power of traffic analysis, what they’d like us to call metadata.

And always remember what Theodore Roosevelt said

patriotism_-_roosevelt

 

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