By any name, it kills

First, here are the classical definitions of socialism:

  1. Government (not “communal”) control of property, and ownership of the means of production.
  2. Some definitions include the elimination of private property, but this overlaps with communism, and somewhat contradicts Marx’s definitions.
  3. In Marxist theory, an intermediary/transitional form of government between capitalism and communism distinguished by unequal distribution of property and income. “Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.” – Karl Marx

Socialism

Now, the use and meaning of the word “socialism” has changed a LOT recently.  So I’ll contrast it to communism, as defined by Marx:

  1. The state is eliminated (true anarchy) and all property and means of production is owned equally by the people as a collective.
  2. No private property. “The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.” – Karl Marx
  3. Distribution of goods and services by: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” – Karl Marx

People can of course believe whatever they want.

If they want to call themselves socialist and then redefine socialism to be something they like better than the old definition…well, who am I to argue?

Words change all the time. The English language hardly resembles what it did before the Vikings and French and Shakespeare started messing with it.

But let’s not fool ourselves with our words, either.

Words are extremely powerful.  It’s by words, and the actions we apply to words, that we turn corporate abstractions like “tribe,” “gang,” “army” and “nation” into deadly forces of oppression, slavery, genocide and war.

I know a lot of decent, well-meaning, well-educated and very intelligent socialists. They all perform the same, subtle linguistic/mental alchemy:

They trans-substantiate politicians into “The People,” and are, really, advocating communism.Atheists

In other words, today’s socialists dismiss the inevitably violent and impoverishing despotism of an almighty government, and transmogrify the realities of authoritarianism into the dreams of a Marxian Kumbaya.

Now, to a degree and in a way, we all do that, and it’s not all bad.

All government is by consent of the governed. Politicians, elites and even the legions of bureaucrats all put-together, are vastly outnumbered by the people who in one way or another consent to be ruled. So even the most oppressive tyrants reflect The People’s willingness to submit, if nothing else.

We’re tribal, pack animals, and we tend to Follow The Alpha. But even the most well-armed and entrenched ruler can be thrown down when the actual human populace (and not an abstraction like “The People”) get mad enough to finally act.

So it’s true, though we act like it’s not: ALL government is by consent of the governed.  ALL government is a reflection of the people.  It is the collective’s avatar.

But socialists aren’t thinking of We The People as a republic with representative politicians. Even more strangely, when they’re asking politicians to take over every aspect of life, they’re imagining this will lead to freedom, not being subjugated by an authoritarian despot.

I really do understand this. It sounds great. In fact I used to do this mental trick on myself, and I fell for a good bit of Marx and Engel’s rhetoric:

If you’re unhappy with the way things are in general, or the way your life is working in specific, doesn’t this sound appealing? “We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. …Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and … the alteration of men on a mass scale is, necessary, … a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.” – Karl Marx

And how about this one: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!” – Karl Marx

And this one from Marx is absolutely true: “A nation cannot become free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations.

I’m not sure why “socialists” don’t just come out and say it; again, here’s Karl Marx: “It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Specter of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.

But let’s consider the label “Democratic Socialist” (which is itself very Marxian: “Democracy is the road to socialism”).

A few hours ago I read a rose-colored “Democratic Socialism” article that said “Socialism can be defined as ‘a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control.’

OK, fine. But what the heck is “social control” if we don’t have it already?

What doesn’t our government control right now, today? Are socialists somehow saying that our government is not the social organization of our society?

You can argue all you want about the benefits of income redistribution and that mysterious ether “social justice.”

But if you’re using “social control” of property and income as the definition of socialism, then we’ve already got it, and socialists should be delighted.NoGun

But they’re not, are they?

So, what do they really want?

Well, actually, I think most want, in a broad sense, what I want.

  1. They may be angry at people, and even violent toward their political foes; but all the “socialists” I know say they want peace. World peace. As in, quit bombing people. That’s a fine wish. I’d be happy to work with them on this.
  2. They want prosperity, however they define it. I may strongly disagree with their ideas on economics, but our goals are the same. People should prosper.
  3. They know our current social order is corrupt, and want that to go away. Me too! Oh man do I agree with them on that.
  4. They want something like “fair.” OK, they do tend to categorize people and have special classes of rights and privileges for special people, and I hate that. But they still have a sense that things aren’t fair now, and that something has to be done. I’m cool with that.
  5. While I think they’re calling oppression down on their own heads, they think they’re working toward freedom…personal freedom. I’m totally for that goal.

So, my problem with socialists isn’t their goals; it’s their chosen plan to attain their goals. I don’t think they’re thinking straight about their “social control” versus authoritarian corruption, poverty and violence. I think they’re grabbing onto the same, ancient snake-oil political promises and imagining that they’re the newest Get Rich Quick scheme.

lucy-charlie-brown-footballWe’ve done this before. We’ve done it to death. We keep believing the promises of dreams and ending up with the nightmares of yet another despot.

I know the arguments about western intervention in socialist nations like North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and other descendants of the Russian revolutions of 1917. They have some merit. Our Presidents T. Roosevelt and W. Wilson did tremendous damage to the world in making war into a grand adventure of Empire instead of self-defense only.

But the arguments that socialism quickly tears itself to bits are much stronger, in my opinion.

Strong enough, I think, that the real peace, freedom and prosperity lovers among us should keep offering a much, much better way for a better life, and try to convince our fellows that what didn’t ever work as advertised before…still won’t work.

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Indiana’s embarrassing tribalism

Like everything Democrat v Republican, the Orwellian-styled legalistic effluvium known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (Indiana’s recent edition of this, anyway) has become its own religion, with priests and heretics, idolaters and zealous enemies pro and con.  So, once again, the self-appointed Two Party System has you arbitrarily separated into two opposing partisan tribes, feuding against each other needlessly, in our apparently endless game of Enemy Du Jour Whack-A-Mole.

This is stupid, destructive, and, of course, unconstitutional.

Unless you actually read the text of the law, you are deceived by the profusion of political rhetoric.  If you do read the law and still think it’s what the combatants, pro and con, say it is, you are self-deceived.

Let’s take this step by step, shall we?

First, did anybody amend the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Sections 1-5, where people are acknowledged to have religious rights surpassing any government power?

No.

So why do these enumerated rights need restoration?  Who took away these rights?  From whom do they need to be restored if politicians were to keep their mitts off these freedoms?

Why do we think this law is necessary?

Because no politician in Indiana is keeping her/his oath of office, that’s why.

Nobody is affirming constitutional rights over the plethora of contradictory, divisive, cliquish and corrupt laws that, according to the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Section 25, (and as clarified by the federal constitution’s 9th and 10th amendments) are null and void anyway.

Nobody is doing the constitutions.  Not politicians, and certainly not voters who can’ be bothered with such things when there’s always something more entertaining going on.

I shouldn’t have to go any further than that.

But let’s look at the law itself now:

Sec. 6. As used in this chapter, “governmental entity” includes the whole or any part of a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, official, or other individual or entity acting under color of law of any of the following: (1) State government. (2) A political subdivision (as defined in IC 36-1-2-13). (3) An instrumentality of a governmental entity described in subdivision(1) or (2), including a state educational institution, a body politic, a body corporate and politic, or any other similar entity established by law.”

Pay attention to the preceding definition of applicable governmental entity.  It basically grants that all agents of our current government, including bureaucrats, teachers, or anybody under political whim, has authority under this law.  For the purposes of this law (you’ve got to read it), that is unconstitutionally granting that non-executives have executive power, and non-judicial folk have judicial powers, since this law grants (as you will see) broad powers of judgment and action to governmental entities to “burden” your rights.

Before pondering the obviously vague term, “burden,” let’s get more into the more clearly understandable “language” (Newspeak for “words”).

Sec. 7. As used in this chapter, “person” includes the following: (1) An individual. (2) An organization, a religious society, a church, a body of communicants, or a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes. (3) A partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that: (A) may sue and be sued; and (B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: (i) an individual; or (ii) the individuals; who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.”

Note the corporate person fiction.  Corporations, including churches under 501c3, are already under political authority as they, unlike actual living people, are government-created abstractions.  Grouping actual humans into this should warn you that this law evokes all the usual corruption.  But most people don’t get this, and that is another topic for another day, so I’ll move on to the more actionable words:

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Sec. 9. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person’s invocation of this chapter.

Sec. 10. (a) If a court or other tribunal in which a violation of this chapter is asserted in conformity with section 9 of this chapter determines that: (1) the person’s exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened; and (2) the governmental entity imposing the burden has not demonstrated that application of the burden to the person: (A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest; the court or other tribunal shall allow a defense against any party and shall grant appropriate relief against the governmental entity. (b) Relief against the governmental entity may include any of the following: (1) Declaratory relief or an injunction or mandate that prevents, restrains, corrects, or abates the violation of this chapter. (2) Compensatory damages. (c) In the appropriate case, the court or other tribunal also may award all or part of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to a person that prevails against the governmental entity under this chapter.”

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Read the whole section above and see how, “A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if…” …it wants to.

Do you not see what happens here?  Read the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Section 25.  Try to find anywhere in that constitution where politicians should have any authority to write a law that in any way “burden a person’s” rights, either enumerated or not.  That’s not how the constitutions, state and federal, are supposed to work…at all!

We The People are supposed to be the boss of government, not the other way around!

Boiling down what the law actually says:

The state itself can’t oppose your rights…unless it wants to.  The state may back you up in court…or not.  The state is who the state says it is, and it decides whether its motives and actions are right, or not.

Does this comfort you?

It never affirms anybody’s rights in any way at all.  It never grants that you can do business as you see fit.  It never says that nobody will make you sell when you don’t want to sell.  It never says the state can’t force you to compromise your religious beliefs in action. 

To the contrary…it says very clearly that the state may well oppose you in all the above.

Now, back to that “burden” thing…

The Indiana Constitution’s Article 4, Section 20 says, “Every act and joint resolution shall be plainly worded…”

What’s plain about “burden?”  What are the limits of that law-defining-word?

Yeah, that’s what I think, too.

So, my dear fellow mortal human sinners…we’ve screwed up yet again.  We’ve again given everything unto Caesar.