Roger Helle / June 16, 2021

What Have We Learned From History?

We’ve not begun scratching the surface of history’s many failed examples of socialism.

I’ve known most of my life about socialism and its twin sister, Marxism. My understanding was that it originated in the minds of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the late 1840s. The Communist Manifesto was their brain child. Anyone paying attention knows what happened in the world since then (unless you go to leftist-run public schools), but some people keep trying to make it work.

Actually, the concept of socialism has been around for over 2,000 years. Plato wrote in the fourth century BC about the mythical Atlantis, an allegedly perfect utopia. The problem is that, in reality, there are no perfect people, so a utopia like Atlantis is just that — a myth.

About power, Plato knew what we all know today — that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So, he wrote:

Tyranny naturally rises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty. … The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. … This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector. … At first, at the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes everyone whom he meets — he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to everyone … then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader. … Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by the payment of taxes and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him?

Does any of this sound familiar, such as the last presidential campaign when we were told that Joe Biden wanted to unite us? Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell saw the future in 1951 when he said this: “Power, like vanity, is insatiable. Nothing short of omnipotence could satisfy it completely. It is, indeed, by far the strongest motive in the lives of important men. Love of power is greatly increased by the experience of power, and this applies to petty power as well as that of potentates.” (Nancy Pelosi, call your office).

Russell further stated: “In any autocratic regime, the holders of power become increasingly tyrannical with experience of the delights that power can afford. Since power over human beings is shown in making them do what they would rather not do, the man who is actuated by love of power is more apt to inflict pain than to permit pleasure.”

Questionable election results, using the power of government to destroy your political rivals, shutdowns, mask mandates, following “the science,” silencing anyone who disagrees with you — what we are seeing today in America is not new to history. The sad story of socialism has been repeated time and time again across the pages of history.

In my lifetime alone there’s a long list of failed socialist governments. Generations of our youth have been indoctrinated by being told, “This time it will be different!” Remind me again of the definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.”

To answer my original question, Americans obviously have learned nothing from history. We’ve not begun scratching the surface of history’s many failed examples of socialism.

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