Larkin spells it out better than I could. It all comes down to whether or not you are willing to
actively or passively kill your neighbor to protect your own interests.
There cannot be true charity unless there is free will.
By Larken Rose
Two very simple, understandable laws of economics GUARANTEE that collectivism will always result in both poverty and violence.
November 1, 2008 - The ones I most hope read this message are, unfortunately, the ones least likely to do so. People like to have hope; they like to have something to believe in, something to cheer for. And when they think they've found something to be proud of, something to have faith in, something worth supporting, they become psychologically attached to it, which often makes them unable to objectively examine what it is they are supporting. If you call into question their supposedly noble cause, they are far more likely to question your motives than they are to listen to what you have to say. However, the truth should always be stated, whether people want to hear it or not. So here goes:
Hardly anyone is pleased with the political status quo in this country these days, as evidenced by the fact that the very phrase, "status quo," has a derogatory implication. Every politician knows this, which is why every one, including those who have been in the establishment for decades, speaks about wanting "change." After all, who would ever win an election with a campaign based on, "I like things the way they are"? Nobody.
And a desire for real, significant change is certainly understandable, given the cesspool of corruption and deception which our federal government has devolved into. So when someone stands up and says, "I want something different!," many people instinctively cheer. They want something different, too. In fact, almost everyone wants something different, so much so that they often forget to ask WHAT will be different, and how. "As long as it's not what we have now..." The assumption is that it can't be any worse. Well, it can be. A lot worse.
A lot of people are deeply excited about the candidacy of Barack Obama, whose campaign theme, as everyone by now has noticed, is "change." The structure of the message is not new or unique: "What we have now is rotten, but if you put me into power, it will change dramatically." Such a simple, persuasive message is what put Adolf Hitler into power. And Mao Tse-tung. And all the communist tyrants in the former Soviet Union. And Castro in Cuba. And Pol Pot in Cambodia. The list goes on forever: the vast majority of names that we now associate with suffering and death acquired the means to do what they did by promising to change the way things are.
Of course, a lot of good people, who accomplished a lot of good things, also stressed the message of change. The point is, "change" in and of itself is neither automatically good nor automatically bad, but has the potential to be either. But, in order to avoid being enablers of evil, any potential adherents must set aside their enthusiasm and hope long enough to ask themselves, "WHAT change is being advocated here? What will be changed, and how, and what will the effects, short term and long term, be?"
How do supporters of Barack Obama answer those questions? In short, only those with mental telepathy powers can answer them at all, because no one in the campaign is saying precisely WHAT the "change" is going to be. There are the usual vague, feel-good politician lines, such as "Everyone will have affordable healthcare." That would be a nice outcome, but unless Mr. Obama has a magic wand and pixie dust we don't know about, there has to be a MEANS to achieve that noble-sounding end. So what is it? And the same can be asked of any of the other promises, from Mr. Obama or anyone else. When they paint the picture of hope, love, and happiness for all, how do they propose getting there? If merely WANTING those things would make them happen, they would have happened centuries ago. So what is the mechanism through which Mr. Obama proposes to achieve such things?
It is in this paragraph that most current Obama supporters will simply refuse to continue reading. They like the feeling of hope that Obama-mania gives them, and they like to believe that this could be their chance to help make a better world. So they don't want to hear it, and so will shut their eyes and ears, when someone like me breaks the news to them: Mr. Obama's proposed "change" is not unique; it is not new; and most importantly, it always results -- every single time -- in increased suffering and destruction. Today this "change" is decorated with rainbows and sunshine, and images of unity, love and happiness. But underneath the window dressing, the "change" proposed has a name: "communism." It does not promote unity, love or happiness; it is horrendously destructive, and utterly incompatible with human civilization.
When most people use terms like "communism" or "fascism," they use them for shock value, or as generic derogatory terms. Most people who use such terms can't even define them. I, on the other hand, do not use such terms for their emotional effect, or as meaningless insults. I use them to precisely and literally describe belief systems, and the types of "governments" they naturally lead to.
We've all seen videos of the cheering throngs at speeches given by Adolf Hitler. Were they cheering because they were all evil? No, of course not. The were cheering because they believed his lies, and allowed their best virtues to be twisted and exploited by the deceptive rhetoric of people who were driven entirely by love of dominion. In light of that fact, I would strongly urge any supporter of Mr. Obama -- and any supporter of Mr. McCain, for that matter -- to take the time to read the following, before throwing your support behind this latest unspecified pitch for "change."
"Communism" is a dirty word these days, but though almost everyone knows it means something bad, they can't actually define the term, and can't really say for sure what's so bad about it. All they know is that it's something nasty, and that lots of people have suffered as a result of it. But there is a specific, simple principle behind all collectivist philosophies, and there is a very logical reason for the horrendous things they have led to throughout the world and throughout history. Though the terms "communism" and "socialism" have slightly different academic definitions, the underlying premise of both is collectivism.
The concept of collectivism is all about property and ownership, not only of material things, but also of human beings. In a nutshell, it is the idea that every individual, rather than belonging to himself, is the rightful property of the people as a whole -- the "collective." Whatever an individual creates, or whatever he receives in trade (such as getting paid for doing work) does not -- in the eyes of collectivists -- actually belong to that individual any more than it belongs to anyone else. The collectivists' view of property is summed up nicely in the line, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
At first glance, it seems like a nice idea: everyone will be productive, and the less fortunate will get what they need. So why does it always seem to end up as death and destruction when put into practice? The answer is actually painfully simple and understandable, though you won't get it from the media or from academia (both of which are devout advocates of collectivism).
Suppose you come home from work at lunch time one day, and are craving an egg salad sandwich. Maybe you have your own chicken coop, or maybe you buy eggs from someone else. What you don't make yourself, you can get by trading the stuff that you get paid for doing the work you do. You then sit down in your kitchen, combine and process the ingredients, and voila: an egg salad sandwich. Just before you take a bite, your collectivist neighbor walks in.
"Hey, what's up?" asks the collectivist.
"I was just about to eat my sandwich," you respond.
"What do you mean YOUR sandwich?" he inquires.
"My sandwich. I just made it."
"Well, how hungry are you?"
"Pretty hungry," you answer, and try again to take a bite.
"Well, I'm sorry to break the news to you," Mr. Collectivist says, "but I'm extremely hungry, so it's actually MY sandwich."
"What are you talking about? I bought the ingredients, with money I earned, and I put it together. That makes it mine."
"Oh, you capitalist exploiters are so ignorant," Mr. Collectivist responds, adding, "Don't you know that your ABILITY to make the sandwich obligates you to make it, but my greater NEED for it entitles me to have it?"
"Look, I still have enough stuff for you to make your own. Heck," you add, starting to feel rather annoyed, "I'll even make one for you, if you'll just shut up."
"No, no, that won't do. You see, it's not yours to give. It's rightfully mine, because I NEED it. For you to eat it would be stealing. In fact, I must insist that you give me my sandwich right now."
"I bought the stuff, I made it," you growl, "and that makes it mine. I was going to be nice and make you one, but now forget it. Get out of my house."
"What do you mean YOUR house? I have more kids than you, and more furniture than you, yet your house is bigger than mine. You obviously don't NEED this house as much as I do, and therefore it rightfully belongs to me, not you. So get out."
"Are you out of your mind? You think you supposedly 'needing' it matters more than the fact that I'm the one who pays the dang mortgage every month?"
"Absolutely. Your outdated bourgeoisie concept of private property is oppressive and unjust. In truth, you are robbing me merely by having something that I need. Once again, I must insist that you get out of my house. Oh, and give me my sandwich on your way out."
"Wow, you've really gone off the deep end, haven't you? If you think you can pay all the bills, you can go get your own house."
"This IS my own house. My need entitles me to it. And besides, I'm not going to be paying the bills. You are. I'm not able to pay all those bills, as you know. You have the money, so you are obligated to pay the bills."
"So you want to take this house, and you want me to pay all the bills, too? And what if I don't?"
"Well, I really must insist. Since my need makes all of this rightfully mine -- not just the house, but the water and electricity, among other things -- then you would be stealing if you refused to provide these things to me, and I can't allow that."
"Before I kick your lunatic rear end out of here, I have one more question for you. If all the time, effort and money I've put into this house doesn't make it mine -- if NEED determines who owns all this -- then why would it be yours? Why wouldn't it all rightfully belong to some homeless guy who has nothing, and who 'needs' it a lot more than either of us?"
"Because I was here first!"
Granted, the foregoing hypothetical conversation seems unbelievable. This is NOT, however, because it does not accurately reflect the basis of all collectivist philosophy, but because in real life, collectivists are never that honest about what they actually believe. They know that to have their beliefs accepted by the mainstream, they must be hidden under many layers of euphemisms, distractions and obfuscations. For example, here is what a discussion might very well sound like between me and just about any politician:
"We need to do more to help the less fortunate," says Mr. Politician.
"I give pretty much, though these days I feel like I AM the less fortunate," I answer. "But what are you actually proposing? Are you just asking me to please give a little more to charity?"
"Well, no," he answers. "I'm saying that we need more government funding and programs to assist the poor and needy, so they can have a better standard of living, affordable health care -- "
"Sorry to interrupt you there," I rudely cut in, "but where does government get the money for that stuff?"
"Well, from taxes, of course," he answers, beginning to fidget a bit.
"You mean from what the government takes from me, and lots of other people?"
"Of course. Taxes are the price we all must pay in order to have the great civilization that -- "
"By 'must' pay, do you mean that we really ought to, or do you mean that the government will punish us if we don't?"
"Well, I'm proud to pay my taxes, knowing that it helps those less fortunate, and that -- "
"Okay, I wasn't really asking whether you like paying it. I'm asking, am I free to choose to pay this or not, or will the government do unpleasant things to me if I don't pay?"
"Well, of course we need the people to pay their taxes. There have to be penalties for those who don't comply."
"So if I don't go along with it, they'll take even more, or throw me in prison? What justifies that threat of force against me?"
"Well, there are people who are in poverty, who need various services and goods. And since you have money -- "
"So my supposed ABILITY to hand over money makes it okay to rob me, and their alleged NEED entitles them to receive it? In other words, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need?"
"Um, I have to go now..."
Collectivists like to imagine themselves to be charitable, when they are nothing of the sort. In fact, the philosophy of collectivism is utterly incompatible with true charity. Charity is when a person chooses, of his own free will, to give his time, effort and/or money to someone else. To give away someone ELSE's property is not charity, especially when it is taken from them against their will. Furthermore, it is not charitable to be robbed, even if what is stolen from you is given to someone truly needy. There cannot be true charity unless there is free will -- unless the giver VOLUNTARILY gives to someone else -- and that is never how "government" works.
In fact, because collectivists view "need" as the basis of rightful ownership, the needy person already OWNS whatever he "needs," and so the person who gives it to him, even willingly, is -- in the eyes of collectivists -- merely returning stolen property. The concept of "giving" depends upon the concept of private ownership. If you own nothing, you can give nothing. And for the collectivists, only "need" creates legitimate ownership, rendering charity and kindness literally impossible.
Another glaring flaw underlying all collectivist beliefs is the fact that "need" is something that is utterly impossible to objectively define or determine. Imagine some lunch room at a work site. You walk in with an egg salad sandwich, and ask, "Who needs this the most?" What are the chances that among a dozen workers, everyone would agree who "needs" it the most? Anyone who is hungry will WANT it, and will claim to "need" it.
Even if someone invented a "hungerometer," that would not solve the problem. If one guy is more hungry, but has a full lunch box in his locker, the less hungry guy next to him, who has no lunch box, would have the greater "need." Unless that guy has plenty of pocket cash, and so could easily go buy food, in which case the next guy over, who has no cash and no lunch box, has the greater need, even though he's not very hungry at the moment. Then the biggest guy says his need counts for more, because he needs to eat more food.
Suppose that, in spite of the thousands of different factors involved, everyone there agreed on who "needs" the sandwich the most. After the guy has eaten half of the sandwich, or even one bite, the equation changes again. He has now eaten a bit, and some of the others have had nothing, so their "need" now outweighs his. They could spend hours coming up with a complex mathematical formula, taking into account dozens of variables, to determine that Worker #1 is entitled to 16.3456% of the sandwich, and that Worker #2 is entitled to only 7.2345% of the sandwich, and so on. What are the chances that everyone would agree on the results? Slim to none.
And that's just for one sandwich among a dozen people. Now imagine applying such a standard to all the material wealth in the world, to be divided up among six BILLION people. Because "need" is always a subjective concept, there can never be mutual agreement on exactly who "needs" what, even among a dozen people, much less six billion. And that is why every collectivist state quickly becomes a question of, Who gets to DECIDE who "needs" what? And the result is that a group of people wearing the label "government" declare themselves to be the ultimate deciders of who "needs" what, and therefore the deciders of who will have money, food, housing, etc., and who will not. In practice, therefore, the misguided ideal of everyone jointly owning everything (collectivism) always results in a very small group of people controlling and owning everything. The real-world results can be seen in the mass starvation, mass murder, and widespread oppression and poverty under the regimes of Stalin, Mao, and many other collectivist "leaders."
It has been said that communism works in theory, but not in practice. But it only works in theory if one ignores half a dozen obvious, simple aspects of human nature and logic. Two very simple, understandable laws of economics GUARANTEE that collectivism will always result in both poverty and violence, despite any utopian predictions to the contrary.
The first can be seen in the egg salad sandwich example. If "need" determines rightful ownership, then if two collectivists each think they "need" something more than the other, then they each view that thing as their OWN rightful property, and likewise view as theft any attempt by anyone else to take that thing. And when someone views something as his own, he will feel justified in using violence to stop someone else from taking it. The guy who thinks his supposed "need" makes that sandwich HIS, will feel perfectly justified punching out the other guy who is trying to take it from him; while the other guy, who also thinks the sandwich belongs to him because of his own "need" for it, will feel perfectly justified in trying to take it by force.
And if you multiply the problem to include billions of people and all the wealth on the planet, instead of a dozen guys and one sandwich, it's not difficult to understand why collectivist "systems" always degenerate into violence. In short, despite all the high-minded rationalizations it hides behind, collectivism is the "philosophy" of every cockroach and sewer rat: "If I want it, I must need it, and if I need it, I have a right to it, and if I have a right to it, it doesn't matter what I have to do to get it." The fact that such an inherently animalistic, short-sighted, anti-human viewpoint is now painted by some as compassionate and "progressive" does not make it any more sane, or any less dangerous.
The reason collectivism leads to poverty is no more complicated, and can again be seen in the egg salad sandwich example. If you lived in a world where everyone was a devout collectivist, what incentive would there be for you to make an egg salad sandwich? In a free, individualistic society that understands private property, the incentive is simple: making the sandwich provides you with lunch. But in a collectivist society, being the one who makes the sandwich, or buys the ingredients, doesn't give you the slightest claim to the sandwich as compared with anyone else. If "need" alone determines ownership, then you would have to make several BILLION egg salad sandwiches, and somehow distribute them to everyone hungrier than you, before you'd have the right to eat one yourself. Otherwise, in the eyes of the collectivists, you'd be stealing, because every sandwich you made would rightfully belong to someone else -- someone who "needs" it more than you do.
The same is true of all other wealth. Why work to earn a paycheck, why build a house, why save up for the future, why do anything remotely productive if doing so doesn't give you any rightful claim to anything? If a bunch of ungrateful, entitlement-mentality whiny parasites are going to fight over who gets to take whatever you produce, why bother? If what you get comes entirely from your supposed "need," and not at all from what you produce, why produce anything? Is it worth building several billion houses, so you can have one? Is it even possible? Of course not, which is why productivity screeches to a halt when collectivism is instituted. (Even Karl Marx, the most famous proponent of communism, acknowledged this, saying that free trade was needed to CREATE the wealth, after which collectivists would take over and fairly distribute it to those who needed it most.)
So if you like to feel good about yourself, while promoting violence and poverty, have at it. But if you actually CARE about other people, you might want to think twice before falling for the same old collectivist garbage wrapped up in new, fancy packaging. There is a very simple test to determine whether you are advocating collectivism:
" But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes
from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom
it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by
doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." [Frederick Bastiat]
EVERY politician, Democrat or Republican, does exactly that, on a daily basis, in order to buy the votes of the very people he is robbing. And though this has been going on in various countries for centuries, and has never resulted in the utopia predicted by the collectivists, people keep right on cheering for it. Whether it's called "change," "progress," "hope," or anything else, it will always be inhuman and horribly destructive.
Ironically, something very close to the utopian ideal envisioned by collectivists can be, and has been, accomplished by the exact OPPOSITE of collectivism: an uncompromising adherence to the concepts of individual rights and private property. Though it has been many decades since the United States had anything resembling a free economy, in a very short time the relative economic freedom which followed the American Revolution transformed a bunch of mostly farming colonists into the leading economic power of the world. The wealth created by such freedom allowed for a level of charity unheard of in the rest of the world, and we are still riding the momentum from that experiment, though 99% of Americans haven't the faintest idea of what made this country so wealthy (freedom). A comparison of the "needy" in the former Soviet Union, and the "needy" in this country, is all one needs to decide whether collectivism is helpful or not.
Barack Obama is a collectivist. Despite the usual window-dressing and euphemisms which conceal the true nature of what he advocates, he is, in every way, an advocate for the idea that every individual -- and all wealth -- is the property of the collective, as represented by "government." In other words, he believes in communism.
So should everyone vote for John McCain?
No. Mr. McCain is also a collectivist.
In fact, with very rare exceptions, ALL Democrat and Republican politicians are collectivists, as they have been for many decades, even back when they were feigning concern about the "spread of communism."
So why did I focus on Obama? Because, unlike Mr. McCain, Mr. Obama seems to have a lot of enthusiastic support from well-meaning, albeit misguided, Americans. As with Bill Clinton, Mr. Obama makes the advocacy of widespread government violence, theft and oppression sound both noble and useful. It is not.
So if all of the above was not intended to make you vote for someone -- and it certainly was not -- then what is being suggested?
First, I want people to understand what the self-proclaimed "leaders" are actually proposing, because it is not "hope," or "change," or "progress," or any of the other vague, feel- good rhetoric being fed to the general public. It is what EVERY government "leader" always proposes: more power for the state, less freedom for the people. They pretend to have the purest motives for it, but the means to their goals will ALWAYS be less freedom for you, and more power for them.
After people realize that;
Second, I want them to be honest about their OWN beliefs and agenda. If, for example, you support any of the collectivist redistribution plans and programs pitched by both major parties, then I simply ask that you drop the charade, set aside the euphemisms and obfuscations, and do it openly and honestly.
If you believe that there is someone somewhere whose supposed "need" entitles him to what my time and effort have produced, with or without my consent, then pick up a gun, come to my house, and take it from me yourself. Don't hide such destructive evil behind elections, legislation, and political rhetoric. Do it openly and honestly, or don't do it at all.
If you give your vote to ANY collectivist, you are just as guilty of robbing me, and robbing a couple hundred million other people, as if you had done it yourself. But in addition to being a thief, you'd also be a fraud and a coward, because you lie (maybe even to yourself) about what it is you advocate, and don't have the spine to go do it yourself.
If you think I'm being too harsh, too bad. I spent a year as a political prisoner for resisting the collectivism that ALL Democrats and Republicans advocate. If you voted for Clinton or Bush, YOU helped put me there, whether you intended to or not, by giving your endorsement to the forced redistribution agenda of both major parties. (Never mind that I didn't even break the law to get put there.)
On the other hand, of all the people you will hear from this election season, I am one of a very, very few -- possibly the ONLY one -- who does NOT advocate that YOU be robbed to pay for what I want. Ever. Even if I think it's good for you, even if I think someone needs it, I will let YOU decide what is done with that which belongs to YOU. I will not take it by force, nor will I advocate that anyone else do so either, openly or under the guise of "taxation." No Democrat or Republican can honestly say that. Though they bicker about how to hand out the stolen loot, they ALL agree that they have the right to take your money and spend it how THEY want it spent. While there are lots of good ideas and noble causes that I can think of, I'm not going to advocate that you be forced to pay for any of them. I hope you will return the favor, and be at least that charitable, but 99.9% of you won't.
And if the collectivist electorate of this country is offended when they hear that, too bad. I'll stop saying words they don't like when they stop advocating oppression and robbery.