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My childhood upbringing included a lot of jokes about Spaniards. I’m sure they’re the same type of jokes that Frenchmen tell about Englishmen and vice versa, that Germans tell about Frenchmen and vice-versa.
It is one of those funny things that liberals can’t seem to integrate in their war-as-missunderstanding meme. The more two human tribes live close to/know each other, the more they cordially hate each other. And of course mate. I mean, there is this whole “Fight, trade and f*ck” that goes with human tribes being near neighbors. but fight and unkind jokes are definitely always a part of the package.
One of the jokes my mom used to tell — not so much a joke as an allusion to one — was to say “You almost went like the Spaniard’s donkey,” usually when I was very little and she was late feeding me or something.
I don’t know how many times I asked her to explain — my kids for a while would need to have certain things explained every month or every week. Kids’ memories are funny — but around ten or so the explanation stuck.
It was from a story about a Spaniard who inherited a donkey and who decided to save money by getting it used not to eat. “And then when it was perfectly fine with not eating, the d*mn donkey died!”
It seems like a stupid joke, and your immediate impulse, even if you were raised in Portugal is to say “oh, come on. Not even Spaniards.”
But a great part of the trick of a socialist regime is to do exactly that. To figure out how to get the donkey used to as little as possible without killing it.
Places like Cuba prove you can go pretty damn far into starving the donkey, if you do it in such a way that first it feels threatened from outside or that it’s getting a little more food than before (while the people who didn’t flee consume what the ones who fled left behind. The Nazis pulled a similar trick, redistributing their victims wealth to others to give a brief appearance of prosperity.) And then reduce, and reduce and reduce.
The trick is to balance on the knife edge, between starving the donkey and getting it used to not eating.
There are tricks to keep it going. The USSR invaded/plundered/exploited much of the third world (while calling the US exploiters and imperialists. It seems this mirror-trick is a specialty of socialists, as well) which kept its people at home from going too far down in lifestyle. And Cubans for a long time were their mercenaries, their Hessians, in American revolution terms. So they too had plunder as well as time abroad oppressing other victim– er… beneficiaries of the glorious revolution. What they did in the abandoned Portuguese colonies in Africa doesn’t bear describing, nor does it need to be. Remember the mirror. “Think of the worst racist colonialist power. That.”
But sooner or later — sooner if your leaders are total asshats — you fall off the knife’s edge. It always happens. The question is always “how much socialism can a human society take in before it dies?” and the answer is always “Depends on how slowly you introduce it.” See Europe for slow slid. And us for slower one.
Thing is, there is no such thing as a therapeutic dose of socialism. It’s not even as near-term beneficial as arsenic.
Because the problem with socialism is that it empowers envy. And envy is the most destructive emotion/force in human society. Envy makes you incapable of creating, and incapable of cooperating. You can’t create, because you’re consume with rage at what others created. And you can’t cooperate, because you’re sure what they have was stolen from you.
Each of us knows his own capabilities, of course. Well, we do if we’ve not been raised with self-esteem education, though I suspect even those people know it.
So we know what we can do. Heinlein talked about how “luck is how morons explain the work of genius.” This is true and isn’t. A lot of what is called luck is actually hard work and positioning. And sometimes just insane amounts of hard work. For instance, all of our friends consider Dan and I too lucky to live. Actually we fail at most things we try. We just try harder (like Avis.)
But there is also luck. J. K. Rowling would never have crossed the Atlantic in book sales pre-Amazon, then in its early days.
Envy makes you look at EVERYTHING other people have and accomplish as luck and therefore as “unfair.” It also turns it inward, because you know you’re not lucky. You know how much effort goes into your breaks. And when you decide you’re not lucky, you stop being able to do and create.
If on top of that you, like Marx, believe the world is a finite pie, it amps up your envy and hate to eleven, because it means those breaks other people are having SHOULD be yours. You know you’re better than your circumstances.
And the finite pie eventually stretches to everything. There is an article making the rounds of the net about how reading to your kids gives you an unfair advantage. I wish it were satire, but I know one of my kids got told by a teacher that he had “a lot of privilege” at a time when we were barely making it to the end of the month in groceries, because he’d told his teacher that we often pinched money from groceries for books.
In fact, the very concept of privilege is a creation of finite pie and envy. I mean, sure, some people have advantages.
Take for instance a child who wishes to write science fiction and fantasy for a living. Who do you think would have more privilege? Someone born to a wealthy NYC family who put her through the best schools in the hub of publishing where she could make all the contacts, or a girl born in a village in Portugal, where they don’t speak English, and where the very concept of science fiction is alien.
And yet, both I and that girl from NYC are professional science fiction writers. Sure, I had to battle a lot harder to get there, but then I wanted it badly enough.
There is no way to make everyone’s circumstances at birth equal. We’re all born with different IQs and more importantly different drives. We want different things. Even if we were all issued robots as parents, some robot would malfunction and create an inequality of circumstances, let alone what people are BORN with.
You can’t make people stop reacting to pretty people better than to ugly ones. You can’t make smart people as dumb as the dumbest. Even if you legislate that, people will get around it.
Which bring us to socialism. You see, socialists are not the children of the Enlightenment or the American revolution. (Yes, I know there are a bunch of confused people out there. I’ve read them. Rolls eyes.)
Yes, they called themselves that, but so what? Socialists call themselves a lot of things, like a bad Chinese restaurant changing names.
The French Revolution was the bourgeoisie (which is to say a group of people who were the rulers in all but name, overturning and arrogating to themselves the power of those who had it before.) This is pretty much every socialist revolution ever.
And to get the people on their side, they manipulated them with envy and the idea of zero sum (though not articulated because Alas, Marx hadn’t been born.)
They promised to make people EQUAL. Not equal before the law, but equal. This promise can only be fulfilled by a procrustean process of subtraction. Because the government creates nothing, it only steals and redistributes.
So the French revolution ended in fire and blood fairly quickly. But post-Marx its descendants perfected the expropriation-redistribution-denial more and more till they can progressively starve a country and its people adapt to each lower level, stop noticing the descent, until they hit bottom, which — looks at Europe — can be along way down. Particularly when invaders are brought in to support the government on that descent, invaders for whom the new circumstances are an improvement.
Do not be fooled into thinking this isn’t happening with us. I bet if you tally the last eight years, you can point to a dozen things that you’ve cut back on. Staycations were always a thing with us, but we’re doing them less often. Also going out to eat, also my taking classes. Just a dozen little things aren’t happening, but we’re so rich and they’re so minor we haven’t noticed.
The thing is we are both the donkeys fed on pound cake (another of Mom’s thing “like feeding donkeys on poundcake.” If she explained that one, I didn’t get it, and the donkey who won’t sit still.
Our socializification started as early as Europe’s. Look at FDR and Wilson, sometime. And while we have here and there clawed a little bit back, at the level of government and taxes we’re not markedly different. (Not when you add in the stuff we pay to city taxes and local taxes.)
The difference is the American… legend. The whole rags to riches story makes it impossible — unless you’re exquisitely brought up or a government dependent — for us to wholly buy the socialist envy narrative.
Enough of us retain a clear enough head to CREATE that we keep running ahead of the grey wolf of socialism.
The internet, ecommerce, new tech in movies and music and publishing are just part of that. Without the new tech those fields would be dead as dead already.
But they’re running ahead of the wolf. Without throwing other people behind.
Of course, if we don’t start winning that race, it will just be a REALLY slow descent.
So, to you, particularly the younger ones, I say: refuse to accept the socialist tyranny of mediocre expectations. If you want something badly enough you still can do it. Yes, the promotion of cronies and party apparatchiks is actually legitimately unfair. But you wouldn’t want to win like that. You’re better than that. So, don’t envy them.
Piss off a socialist today. Go out and create something that makes money.