Tuesday, September 26, 2006


"The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians" -- Henry Louis Mencken

Power of Nightmares, a BBC documentary that originally came out in 2004 was being discussed the other day on a local show on the Air America affiliate here in Phoenix. I have not seen the show but the basic gist is that the fall of the Soviet Union (and them being driven out of Afghanistan), in effect, caused a parallel and dangerous escalation of the two groups most guilty of our current world situation .... radical Islamists and neoconservatives. Both made the colossal mistake of taking credit for that fall and using the resulting publicity to further their causes. And both have benefited from exaggerating the terrorist threat.

Both wanted to take credit for a fall that was going to happen without them. The Soviet Union was collapsing from within.

It's an interesting theory and there is at least some truth to it.

It's scary to think that the same supposedly good event inadvertently ignited the two most destructive forces in the world right now. Both are drunk with their own self-righteousness. They were emboldened by an event they were merely spectators to.

I hate to break it to you guys ... those that worship at the altar of Ronald Reagan ... but his policies did the exact opposite of what conservatives say they did. Supposedly for small government, the government grew under his watch. Supposedly against terrorism, he supported the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan ... the very same people we call terrorists now. Our policies in Lebanon got Marines killed and did nothing to stop terrorism.

Both groups understand that it is not so much what is true but rather what can you convince your followers is true.

"Arrogance diminishes wisdom" -- Arabian Proverb


CyberKitten said...

If you can get hold of a copy of 'Power of Nightmares' I can highly recommend it. It's probably on the Net somewhere.

It's actually shockingly good.

Laura said...

Hmm. I'll have to try and find that someplace. Good post.

Don't forget our "allies" Pakistan and Saudi Arabia's roles in creating the global terror movement. It was through them that we covertly funded the mujahideen and hence created the Taliban...

dbackdad said...

A local Bookman's was talking about having a screening of it. I'm sure I can find it on DVD somewhere. It does sound really interesting.

Scott said...

I agree, Reagan was a terrible president.

"The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians"

What does that say for Communist Christians?

It's an incorrect quote though, the problem with communism is that it is immoral in principle and ineffectual in practice. Which is why economists like Ludwig Von Mises predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union well before World War II.

Shawn said...

There are obvious similarities between the extremism of some Islamic believers and the extremism of the neo-conservative movement. Both, are indeed, 'drunk on their own self-righteousness.'

Both are like a guy who goes out for a walk along the street and starts fights the whole way. Then he comes back and announces that it's dangerous out there on the street.

CyberKitten said...

scott said: the problem with communism is that it is immoral in principle

Why is Communism immoral in principle? What principle? As to it being 'ineffectual in practice'.. do you mean because the Soviet Union collapsed? That's much proof against Communism.

dbackdad said...

CK is right. Communism or socialism are not inherantly immoral. Neither is capitalism. Authoritarianism is. The fall of the Soviet Union in and of itself is not a failure of communism. No more than the collapse of the U.S. would be the failure of capitalism.

Shawn said...

Politically speaking, communism in it's pure form is the same as democracy in it's pure form. Everyone having an equal stake in the governing of their community.

Economically speaking it is quite the opposite of capitalism.

I suppose, then, it could be considered immoral if one's morals were based on money and the acquiring of wealth.

Laura said...

It depends on how you define "moral". If ethics and morality are primarily distributive in your mind (i.e. ensure everyone has an equal amount of X - be it money, power, jobs, etc) then communism is the epitome of morality. Equal distribution.

I don't think it is that simple, however.

CyberKitten said...

Spot on dbackdad. That's exactly what I meant.

Scott said...

No, communism (or socialism, same thing to me) is immoral. Sadly, (I know you're sad about it) I don't have time to get into a detailed argument about it. It is necessarily oppressive and limits rights. The first plank of communism is the abolition of private property, which is a severe blow to personal rights. You have no right to that which you don't own.

The sixth plank is the Government OWNING all means of communication. That's not Leninism, that's pure Marxism. This is a form of intimidation and control.

The problem with Communism is that it is an inherently violent, inherently failing idea. It is built on the idea of making government all-powerful, then breaking down this absolute government into a permanently bonded social "contract" to which all people will be compelled to agree with. The only way to create this system, as you can see from the 10 planks of the Communist manifesto, is to use violence, intimidation and control to usher the people from orderly society into this absolutist one.

The only peaceful, expedient and humanitarian way for people to come to a better or "perfect" society is to keep the power of government low while everyone is free to decide for themselves. As we all become better, society will improve and diversify. That decentralized vision of utopia is impossible in Communism, which thinks itself so important that it can centrally direct the human race into one imposed vision.

So, it's inherently a bad idea, and the result is a system that is economically blind and impossible to financially sustain (Ludwig Von Mises elaborated on this), led by dictators who are using their conquests to bind more people to the same, narrow imposed vision of utopianist society, or whatever it means to the dictator to have utopian society.

These leaders have no trust in mankind, moreso, no concept of what mankind truly wants. We have inalienable human rights not only because we own ourselves by natural law, but only we know what is best for ourselves. No dictator or utopian visionist or central authority can know these things for us. We need free markets and civil liberties - the antithesis of Communist Socialism - if we expect our collective individual abilities to ever improve society.

The idea of a central imposed vision is the idea of Communism, and that's why it's inherently flawed. It's a rejection of the most basic philosophical precept of man, that we own ourselves. Communists believe that not only do we not own ourselves, but the community owns us, and as such there is a central authority for the community to make decisions for everyone. This system is always going to fall so long as the community aspires to be more than drones or slaves.

I know it's popular now-a-days to say the Soviet Union wasn't a testament to the failures of communism, but the fact is they followed all ten of the planks.

And when the United States does fall (which it eventually will), it will not be because of capitalism or a testament to the failure of capitalism. It will be a testament to the fact that WE ourselves have followed EVERY SINGLE ONE of the ten planks of communism ourselves. Mainly the fifth plank which gives the power to control money to the State and has enabled us to form the Federal Reserve which has eroded our dollar to almost nothing and given every Democrat and Republican since FDR the power to inflate our national debt to a staggering level that we may never be able to pay off. In fact every penny you pay in income tax, EVERY SINGLE CENT, goes to paying interest on that debt. None of it goes to any of the social services we think it does.

Ah, much more to be said of course. But I gotta go, it is my boss's birthday and there's cake out there!

dbackdad said...

Oh, Scott. You are truly one of the group now. You prattle on off-topic with the best of us. lol

I think we need to make a distinction between communism with a little "c", a variation of socialism, and that of Communism, that which the Soviet Union practiced. One can very easily make the argument that the Soviet brand was immoral. But that wasn't the subject of this post. My contention was (and I think this agrees with your views on Communism) that the fall of the Soviet Union had more to do with internal causes and the failure of their brand of communism than with any outside forces.

The relative merits of socialism and capitalism are a subject for another post. And though you do love to lecture, I'd venture to say that there are commenters on this blog that had already studied a lot of socialism, communism, and capitalism while you were still in diapers. He-he. .... oops, I've just created the most disturbing image in my head. A baby with Scott's head holding von Mises' book on socialism in one hand and the Constitution in the other. lol

dbackdad said...

OK ... I apologize ahead of time on this one. To Scott for obvious reasons. And to everyone else for my lack of skill with computer graphics. But, I had to do it. I had to exorcise my demons.

Scott as Libertarian Child

greatwhitebear said...

LOL... great pic!

Back to the subject of your post (he says, trying to get back on topic). You hit the nail right on the head. And Gorbachov has publically made the same points. The Soviet Union was collapsing from within. It was only desperation that made the communist party elect a reformer like him as chairman in the first place. But it was already way too late.

So Reagan's great legacy turns out to be a sham that has come back to haunt us, and may well cause us to collapse from within.