L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 293, October 17, 2004
The Triumph Of Mediocrity
Western European Socialism: The Triumph Of Mediocrity
Exclusive to TLE
After the Second World War, America and the nations of Western Europe appeared to stand shoulder to shoulder against the concept of socialism and ever growing government. Sixty years later; what happened???
The Allied powers destroyed Germany's national brand of socialism and formed a bulwark along the Iron Curtain against the Soviet brand of international socialism. I spent three years on tactical missile bases in Germany to help seal the deal, or so I thought.
Here we are, looking back on those years, seeing the whole of Western Europe, voluntarily placing themselves under the control of the dark forces of socialism, and we wonder where we went wrong. .
The easy answer from those who support socialism as the most perfect form of government is that the world was so tired of war, so turned off by the excessive spending and the loss of life that they collectively decided that the ruling and merchant classes were to blame and that Marx had been right after all. It was time for the workers to assert their power and make a more equitable distribution of the wealth and resources of the world.
Typically, they decided to look to the past in a time of unprecedented advancement in science, medicine and technology. Once again, socialism was on the wrong side of history.
They were wrong about how easy it would be to implement their programs.
In fact, the reason for the ease with which socialism seized the day in Western Europe has more to do with those who died than with those who survived.
In most of Europe, the war cost the nations the best and brightest of their young men. The men who would have been the inventors and innovators and risk takers who would have built a new continent based on free enterprise and free trade.
Those who did survive to return home were in many cases traumatized by their experiences, either in combat, as prisoners or just victims of the horrors that went on around them. They just wanted to go home where it was safe and there were no bullets flying. They cared little for politics and were used to being in the structured anti-individualistic environment of the military.
Into the breech stepped the socialists and neo-communists who had been waiting patiently for just such a circumstance.
It's time for the people to take control, they said. Time to bring down the upper classes and the money grubbing merchants. The government had taken from the people for too long, it was time for the government to give back.
The few conservative politicians who tried to stem the tide were quickly voted out of office and replaced with socialist fellow travelers who were eager to see a worker's paradise in western Europe.
Unions were given unprecedented power and freedom from any meaningful control. They could bring whole industries, nay, whole countries to their knees without fear of retribution.
Exorbitant "death taxes" were imposed in order to bring money into the government's coffers and to eventually plunder the property of the hated upper classes. After all, those families had only earned the wealth. It was much more important to use that money to buy votes and allegiance from the masses than it was to allow those who earned the money to keep it.
Industries were nationalized because in the mind of the socialist, centralized control was a far superior way to produce goods and services than the capriciousness of the free market. This despite the sorry example of the Soviet Union's omnipotent central government and their starving millions..
Innovation turned into duplication because the free thought required to be inventive was antithetical to socialist dogma. Thinking people make lousy slaves. A few industrial giants were still capable of developing new ideas because they were so powerful that they trumped their own governments. The rest fell into line rather than fight.
Now, the ultimate expression of western European socialism is here in the form of the European Union. The statists have a whole continent on which to experiment. I don't hold out much hope for their success.
Right now they are working with a system that was voluntarily installed by disillusioned voters and there is still ample upper class money to fund the experiment. Eventually though, the old family wealth will run out and they will have to set their sights on taxing the middle class in order to keep the largess flowing to the proletariat.
The EU will experience the same loss of intellectual power that beset the old Soviet Union and Red China. European technology will grow to resemble that of the free nations of the West in the same way the old Soviet machinery looked like American equipment and for the same reason. They will have to steal the technology of the New West because they will have destroyed their own talent for innovation. .
I give them thirty years before the people get fed up with the pseudo-egalitarianism on which socialism is based and discover the fallacious promise of centralized control. Europe's history is rich and varied and I don't believe the populace will accept a vapid, homogenized dogma based on sterile statism. I only hope the counter-revolution is peaceful.
Lever Action by L. Neil Smith, and Hope by L. Neil Smith & Aaron Zelman, both at Discount Prices. www.aspubs.com
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