Food for Thought

When the year ends most of us compose a ritual summary of it. Occasionally, letting events pass in review, one is made to think beyond the confines of the letter to be composed. Bad habits and failures come to mind.

Among the bad habits of your correspondent, one stands out. (Asking his wife will result in a much longer list.) It is that of most things he uses he craves to have a double. So, there are back-up copies of new slacks, shoes, pullovers and reserve stashes of food such as coffee, chocolate, and whatever.

This seemingly senseless behavior makes good sense. Growing up while involuntarily “building socialism” one learned a practical lesson. Whatever you can have now is likely to become a “temporarily non-available article” once the fans of the creed designed to save mankind from want and injustice take power. Just ask a Venezuelan to confirm the virtue of hoarding while there is still something left to stash away. At a one million percent inflation rate he will have much to tell about the miraculous multiplication of money and the reduction to micro-size of the goods that can be had for batches of it.

For our collective future, a major lesson is embedded in the mania to hoard. Certain systems do not work. This embedded failure has nothing to do with their attraction when the philosophy behind them is presented in the abstract. Nor will it help to warn soberly before the dawn of the “New Age” that bliss, justice, equality and the freedom from want are not around the corner.

Are these observations about a remote matter? Hardly. In some countries, and among certain groups in all countries, old-and-tested approaches that have been duds, are gaining in attraction. With them an undigested past and its errors report back as new solutions to be tried again. The dusted off siren song attracts the misinformed, and the myopic who desires to escape reality to settle in the easy and simple world of a fairy-tale.

This comeback is closely attached to the fiftieth anniversary of the “’68” movement. In its course, the now balding professional youngsters have failed at their immediate goal which was the overthrow of the “system” by gutting it with their disobedience. To the much greater detriment of their societies, they “retired” from trashing public property to jobs in the institutions. Much of the policy-related damage caused by left-liberal governments that undermines advanced economies and prevents the defense of successful societies, is a consequence of this infiltration. Bureaucracies, the press, and the universities serve the well paid ’68-ers to accomplish, as insiders, what they could not realize when they played “revolution” in the streets.

As the ’68-ers self-congratulations pour in, it appears as unkind to recall two salient conditions. The resistance now rated as heroic consisted of bold resistance against a supposedly repressive state. In fact, it was restrained by its constitutional system that protects the extended definition of “free speech” even if it is used to advocate what is not only foolish but also seditious. With those liberties guaranteed, struggling against “war-mongering capitalism” did not quite involve the risk of standing up in Tiananmen Square against the admired Chinese clones of the ’68-ers. The “movement” stood in firm intolerant ignorance for everything that practice proved to be wrong before their time and that failed subsequently. While they opposed the armament that dissuaded Soviet expansionism, they wished to import her system; it has brought to those that fell under its sway “nothing but blood, sweat, and tears”.

The described process of the revival of the Left with the help of amnesiacs who forgot what they have not cared to learn, has been evolving for some time. Dealing with it here has a personal trigger. Your correspondent’s grandson reports disheartening conditions. At his university a number of matters cannot be discussed, many terms are not to be used, and certain views may not be expressed. Censorship, externally imposed and self-inflicted to avoid trouble, rules the place. The upshot makes the entire campus into a “safe” zone in which no “disturbing” matter that upsets the morally empowered is brought up.

This happens so effectively that some students are unaware that “deviant retards” exist outside their circle, and that those who hold other than PC-sanitized views are not isolated in politics’ leper colony. Free inquiry seems to be more hindered by PC than “Marx, Mao, and Marcuse” could curb thinking with open ended results in ’68.

Well organized, -disciplined-fanatical-, and energetic, -violence prone- minorities have often gained control of communities. It might even be that rule by elites is the standard condition of mankind. Present elites have it easier than in history. Majorities enjoy unprecedented access to the goods that amount to the “good life”. The hedonism of those that are spoiled by their good fortune has nudged the good citizen out of the picture and replaced it with the consumer. Seemingly, “things are just fine” and so our privileges seem secured regardless of “politics” whose entertainment value is surpassed by serials. An upshot is a dangerous illusion, namely that what is, is guaranteed, and that the troubles of the world “cannot happen here”. Not recognizing danger multiplies the threat it represents. Effective self-defense requires that perils be spotted and they be acted upon in time; ignored hazards grow and they do not dissipate by themselves.

While feeling-secure, majorities find that public affairs interfere with the enjoyment of life, and thereby the enemies of “the system” can take control of freedom’s institutions. Not unlike the distracted and apolitical majority, dissident elites also lack an understanding of how wealth is created and what good government should do or let be. That trait makes these elites susceptible to join movements with an ideological core. These ideas will confer power on those who, -as the Pigs in Animal Farm- interpret the guiding world-view to determine what is to be done. The critical question, “does it work” is ignored. With coercion, the “perfect theory” will need to be translated into practice by the armed prophets. This makes the GULAG not an accident but a systemic necessity.

Activists that should be laughed off the stage, reproduce dusted-off grandiose plans that have repeatedly failed to function. In many instances this is allowed to happen because the mental dope sounds good. Furthermore, if all opinions have the freedom of being publicized, then they all must be equally good and worthy of the chance to “try again”. The adage, that repeating a failing action expecting a new outcome amounts to stupidity, is ignored. Therefore, the collectivists, statists, green and red fanatics are having comebacks.

The advice to free peoples regarding their proper response is too obvious to be stated. On the personal level, however, an anticipatory step to reinforce the bad habit of stashing reserves gains attraction. My childhood dream during the Stalin era had been to celebrate my future liberation, by eating scrambled eggs using twelve of the rarities that communism made disappear. Once free in a system that could feed its people, the dream has not been consummated. Now the blindness of some makes us slide closer to a solution that will, again, fail to fail while there is still time. So, getting a box of eggs before Sanders, Corbyn, and Ocasio-Cortez make them disappear begins to agitate my taste-buds. Bon appetit, folks.

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