Saturday, May 5, 2018
Cinco de Mayo - A Joyous Day for Mexican Americans; A Sad Occasion for the World on the Bicentennial of Karl Marx's Birth (1818-1883)
Cinco de Mayo is a joyous day of celebration for Mexican-American culture. It makes the victory of 4,000 Mexican soldiers over a well-armed French force of 8,000 soldiers at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is not Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16 and is mostly celebrated in the United States. May 5, 1862 is a joyous day. May 5, 1818 is a global day of world tragedy. Today, May 5, 2018, marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth in Trier, Germany. Two great economic theorists arose out of England. The first is Adam Smith, an apostle of capitalism in The Wealth of Nations. The Wealth of Nations was published in 1776, ironically the year of America’s Declaration of Independence. Adam Smith and the Enlightenment spoke to the Rights of “Man” (the people). The second is Karl Marx, the prophet of Communism (and socialism). Karl Marx was already well radicalized when he fled to England in 1849 to escape the threat of persecution on the Continent. The denizen of the British Library could only have strengthened his views by observing the abject poverty of the British workers during the Victorian Age. Karl Marx wrote for the rights of the state. Hegel, Marx, Engel, Lenin, the Marxist Dialectic Karl Marx’s most famous works are The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867-1894 – Volumes 2 and 3 were completed and published posthumously by Engel). He posited the history of society is the history of class struggle. His basic tenets include: The Abolition of private property The 4th Amendment protects the rights of property owners in the United States; the government can take property, but must provide just compensation One of England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's major acts was to let workers buy their homes Abolition of the rights of inheritance Republicans have peeled back the “Death Taxes” Heavy progressive or graduated income taxes Karl Marx failed to heed the admonition in Aesop’s Fables about Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg Heavy taxation leads to tax refugees Confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels Centralization of credit in a state national bank Centralization in the government of the means of communications and transportation England had to quasi privatize its trains after decades of incompetence The New York City transit system proves government management of the modes of transportation is no panacea. If government still controlled the communications system, we would not have the internet today. Steve Jobs and Apple would be non-existent He ranted against the bourgeois, the social class owning the means of production. He foresaw the fall of the bourgeois, leading to a social and economic utopia. How has that worked in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, Cuba and Venezuela? Some of his famous quotes: Religion “is the opium of the people.” Senator Barack Obama told us “They cling to their guns and religion.” “Workers of the world, unite.” World War I showed workers preferred nationalism to global solidarity. Marxism led to Lenin and Stalin, Trotsky, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were true believers, but once in power the Bolsheviks became petty, but brutal tyrants. The 20th Century death toll from Communism cannot be given a definitive number. Estimates range up to 100 million victims from executions, Gulags, forced collectivization and “land reform,” and mass starvation as Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Castros and Kims, Ho Chi Ming, in Romania, Hungary, Ethiopia (Red Terror) sought to “purify” their people. Robert Conquest, the expert on the Great Terror under Stalin, estimates that at least 15 million perished in the Great Terror. A different genocide occurred with the War on Kulaks, the peasant farmers of Russia. Some were wealthy; many were small farmers. Their major sin was that they owned private property and were unsympathetic to the Communists. Lenin started the war on Kulaks and the collectivization process. Stalin carried it to a Stalinesque extreme between 1929 and 1932. He ordered the Kulaks to be liquidated. Their lands, livestock, and produce were sized while the Kulaks were either executed or deported to Siberia. An estimated 4-8 million were killed. The collectivization destroyed Russian agriculture for decades. The dictatorship of the proletariat became a dictatorship in the name of the proletariat, a dictatorship which repressed both the bourgeois and the proletariat. Some apologists for Marx say the brutality of Communist and socialist regimes was not intended by Karl Marx. The opposite is the case. He recognized the need for the use of any means to bring about a socialist dictatorship. He even wrote ‘The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.” Socialism appeals to the human spirit, but denies the human spirit. It denies personal independence. It denies the difference in individual abilities and skills. Capitalism unleashes the human spirit. Socialism inexorably deadens it. It provides no opportunity for entrepreneurs, visionaries, ingenuity, creativity, Hard work is not rewarded. It posits the government is the source of knowledge and power. It posits the government knows the needs of people. It posits that bureaucrats make the best decisions for the people. The government bureaucracies are replete with rampant inefficiencies. We see it in this country with agencies such as the Veterans Administration. The Russians joked: “They pretend to pay us. We pretend to work.” Communism has to use the power of government to enforce its will on the people, the same people it is professing to represent. The Soviet leaders took over the dachas of the capitalists and royals. The leaders have different standards for themselves. Beria was a pedophile. Chairman Mao liked young women. They denied God, substituting the state for God. The people, without meaning in life, turned to vodka. The core concept of Marxism is “From each according to his ability, To each according to his need.” The great philosopher George Santayana warned us “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony initially practiced collectivism in 1620. Those who hunted or farmed would contribute their production into the common while women engaged in domestic chores would do them for their neighbors. The Pilgrim’s early exercise in socialism was a quick, dismal failure. The workers and gatherers were discouraged by failure to reward their initiative while freeloaders coasted. Socialism and Communism, simply a bastardized form of socialism, create even more extreme manifestations on inequality than capitalism. Two British icons have said it best about the failure of socialism. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Karl Marx was a poor prophet. He did not foresee the evolution of capitalism to reward its workers and create a vibrant middle class – the bourgeois of Modern America. He failed to foresee upper mobility. He failed to understand America as a beacom of liberty and opportunity to the world. Socialism, or Communism, has consistently failed even as the Soviet leaders were declaiming the “capitalistic bourgeois democracy” of the West. The Russian leaders proved they could marshal the manpower and resources of the vast Soviet Union to create a first rate military power, but a sclerotic economy which collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping survived the Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution and turned Communist China into a capitalistic society, albeit under Party control. China is now a great economic power. European socialists founded the modern Israel, which became a vibrant, innovative capitalistic nation. Jawaharial Nehru and his followers imposed a socialistic economy on India on its independence. The economy stagnated. His successors turned to capitalism to unleash the Indian economy. Eastern European countries, such as Poland, rapidly rejected collectivization once the Soviet Union collapsed. Mexico nationalized its oil fields and facilities in 1938. Production soared, peaking in 2004, and then started progressively dropping. PEMEX, the Mexican oil company, was inefficient, had a bloated work force, and lacked both the capital and technology to increase production. Mexico turned to the private sector in 2013 to revitalize PEMEX and Mexico oil production. Venezuela is going the opposite, replacing the managers of its oil company with military and bureaucratic hacks. Yet, socialism still emits its seductive appeal. Michael Moore, the American film-making polemicist wished Karl Marx a Happy Birthday today, comparing him to Jesus Christ. Large numbers of young Americans have rallied under the socialist mantra of Senator Bernie Sanders: Free tuition, universal healthcare, high minimum wage, parental leave, sick leave, vacation time. PIE IN THE SKY! Ask Emmanuel Macron how that played out in France? A final irony. China gave a 15’ tall statue of Karl Marx to Trier. Trier accepted it, but not all are happy. Trier is in West Germany, but Germans remember the Leninist-Marxist tyranny of East Germany before the unification.