“America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination and control,” President Trump said in his State of the Union message. “We are born free and we will stay free.” And as the president clarified, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a Socialist country.”
That brought applause even from Democrats such as Chuck Schumer. For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat stone-faced, and as Peggy Noonan noted, the Democrats’ rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looked “sullen, teenaged and at a loss.” The 29-year-old socialist shot back that “the president failed to offer any plan, any vision at all, for our future. We’re flying without a pilot.”
In the socialist vision, a ruling class elite of surpassing wisdom pilots the nation, eliminating poverty and injustice, tranquilizing all anxieties and ushering in unparalleled prosperity. This ruling elite stands apart from human corruption and seeks only good things for all humankind. Trouble is, as F.A. Hayek showed in The Road to Serfdom, no person or group can possibly possess the knowledge to govern in that fashion. So under socialism poverty prevails and oppression follows because under socialism the worst always get on top.
Countries that are barren of liberties are also barren of groceries, and that has been on display in Venezuela. Socialism has bludgeoned a prosperous nation into squalor, with millions fleeing and a bemedaled thug persecuting the opposition. This reality has failed to register with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow Democrat socialists.
French historian Hippolyte Taine explains the dynamic:
“Nothing is more dangerous than a general idea in narrow and empty minds”: as they are empty, it finds no knowledge there to interfere with it. As they are narrow, it is not long before it occupies the place entirely. Henceforth, they no longer belong to themselves but are mastered by it. It works in them and through them, the man, in the true sense of the word, being possessed.”
Alexandria Vacio Cortex, as she might be called, shows little if any knowledge of the great works of political economy, by thinkers such as Hayek, Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell, author of Basic Economics and many other great books. She also seems unaware of how, long before Venezuela, the “general idea” of socialism wreaked havoc in Cuba and Eastern Europe, leaden regimes from which people fled in droves. Despite the yield of poverty, repression and death, the general idea prevails in the narrow, empty minds of socialist Democrats, who hail it as America’s future.
The general idea was also on display in American socialist Anna Louise Strong, who wrote in I Change Worlds that Stalin was too important to be called a “god.” As Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, Strong had an expression of such overwhelming stupidity that it actually gave her a rare kind of beauty. Despite the sullen Vacio Cortex, socialists are not necessarily stupid people. On the other hand, as Saul Bellow said, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
Long after its planned famines, mass murders and repressions were well known, Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders chose to spend his honeymoon in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The largest nation in the world, with vast natural resources, never came close to rivalling the USA, and with collective farms the USSR had trouble feeding itself. Communist bosses sought grain imports from, of all places, the United States.
After the State of the Union Speech, Bernie Sanders tweeted, “I say to Trump: People are not truly free when they can’t afford health care, prescription drugs, or a place to live. People are not free when they cannot retire with dignity or feed their families.” This drivel calls to mind another French thinker.
In Voltaire’s Candide, published in 1779 the young hero Candide finds a world of pestilence, poverty, murder and enslavement. Yet his tutor Dr. Pangloss tells Candide he lives in the best of all possible worlds. The socialist Democrats reverse this dynamic.
Of all the nations that actually exist or have existed, the United States of America is by far the freest and most prosperous, attracting millions from around the globe. For the socialist Democrats and their support groups, the United States has always been an oppressive vale of tears, the worst of all possible worlds.
Whatever America’s actual record of preserving liberty and prosperity, the socialist Democrats promise a transformation to a social justice paradise that has never existed. Past socialist bosses may have failed, but the Democrat socialists expect things to be different under such wise, morally pristine leaders such as themselves. And the establishment media play along.
Nobody at CNN, CNBC, the New York Times or Washington Post is going to pose any hard questions to socialist Democrats like Alexandria Vacio Cortex. And now abide utopianism, obstructionism, and ignorance, but the greatest of these is ignorance.