A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what a repulsive tyrant Mao Tse-Tung was. In that piece, I remarked at how the world has turned upside down, with Marxists currently commended for their compassion and capitalists portrayed as vicious oppressors. This was not the nation in which I grew up.
A few days later, I received an email from a reader of my own generation. He too lamented at how many people nowadays have forgotten the legacy of Marxism. Not having personally experienced it, they romanticize the horrors perpetrated by butchers such as Che Guevara.
As a sociologist, I am surrounded by Neo-Marxists. Many of my colleagues, especially at other universities, advocate socialism. They sincerely believe that a collectivist economy presided over by experts, such as themselves, promotes social justice. Only this, they are convinced, can create egalitarian prosperity.
And yet, over the last century, socialist experiments have wrought little but destruction. Their partisans proclaim a multitude of successes, whereas failure has been the norm. Whether in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Cuba, and now Venezuela, a succession of dictators delivered poverty and repression.
It is the same in the United States. The damage done has not been as extensive because neo-Marxist control has been less far-reaching. Nonetheless, although liberals regularly boast about their accomplishments, their path here is also strewn with the bones of rotting social programs.
Do you remember how Jimmy Carter was going to be a man we could trust? He would bring down inflation and apply his engineering expertise to foreign policy. But what did he give us? Well, it was a roaring inflation and dozens of hostages held by the Iranians.
Do you also remember how Bill Clinton would extract us from a recession and preside over a peace dividend? But he tried to give us HillaryCare and higher taxes. Only a conservative congress saved him from himself. Without this, there have been no balanced budget or growing economy.
Lastly, do you remember when Barack Obama assured us he would oversee a rebirth of transparency and peace? Yet his was the most secretive administration the nation has ever had, while “strategic patience” allowed Syria to splinter and Russia, China and Iran to assert their hegemony.
Look too at how progressive policies have dumbed down education, expanded welfare dependency, brought violence to inner city streets, exacerbated race relations, over-regulated the economy, and turned health care into a battleground. Was this supposed to be progress?
Words are not deeds. Promises are not performance. Neo-Marxism, whatever it is called, has never worked. Its sorry record of repression and over-sold salvation springs from the contradictions at its core. Collectivist regimes depend upon humans being what they are not. As a consequence, these governments dole out the opposite of what they undertake.
First, ordinary people never love others with equal intensity. Love, of necessity, has a narrow focus. Genuine love is only of a few. Second, ordinary people are not egalitarian. They want to be special. They want to be winners, not mediocrities.
Third, this means that neo-Marxists must use force when imposing their solutions. Why? Because people resist what goes against their nature. Fortunately for the collectivists, they enjoy employing force. They are, as a result, determined to assemble so much personal power that no one can resist them.
Ironically, we are seeing the fruits of these propensities in the Trump presidency. To begin with, Trump would not have been elected had not millions of Americans rebelled at being treated like sheep. They were no longer prepared to delegate their fate in an insensitive federal government.
Next, liberals would not be so upset with Trump had they not provided him the tools to undo their legacy. By concentrating additional power in Washington, he was enabled to use executive orders to nullify what was created by executive order. Now Democrats have difficulty stopping what they designed to be unstoppable.
Here then is the supreme irony of Neo-Marxism. The dictatorial government machinery it bequeathed us can be turned against itself. When people recognize how feckless the progressive record has been, they are able to reverse it with the same imperious techniques used to create it.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Kennesaw State University