Mar 19, 201411:08 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Socialism is dead; so is Tony Benn of Britain
(page 1 of 2)
They are burying Tony Benn. Had to; dead, y’know.
By all accounts, Anthony Wedgewood Benn, age 88, was that British specialty: the well-born eccentric, aspiring to commonality rather than greatness. As the longest-serving Labour member of Parliament, he was Britain’s Fred Risser — only more so. He renounced his inherited viscountcy so that he could continue using the levers of government to force socialism well past its expiration date.
As an unreformed, hardline socialist, the old man takes pride of place in John Nichols’ pantheon of heroes. My comrade in advocacy journalism writes that Benn …
… championed cooperatives and worker ownership as Britain’s minister of industry in the 1970s, battled not just Margaret Thatcher but the compromising leaders of his own Labour Party [i.e., Tony Blair] on behalf of the working class … Benn was a proud radical, an anti-colonialist, a socialist without apology.
In other words, as a columnist for The Sunday Times of London called him, “that twinkling, old, poisonous irrelevance.” (“Farewell, Tony Benn.” Paywall)
Have we forgotten the misery that socialism visited upon Britain? Unlike the U.S., the U.K. elected full-bore socialist governments immediately after World War II. By 1981, uncollected garbage was rotting on the streets. Just as Margaret Thatcher was settling in as prime minister, Christopher Hitchens could write, for Mother Jones magazine:
Britain, the first mature capitalist system and the one on which Marx and Engels cut their teeth, is gradually ceasing to become a producing country. It has become the world’s first moribund industrial society. … Unemployment stands at nearly three million: there is war in Ireland; the cities are on fire; the pound sterling has become a joke: productivity is at prewar levels …
Winston Churchill saw through socialism’s big lie right away. In 1948, when American citizens were sending care packages to Brits, Churchill reflected that, in the previous 10 years, “Two disasters have come upon us: the Second World War and the first Socialist Government.”
“What the German U-boats could never do to us has been achieved by our own misguided fellow countrymen through their incompetence, their arrogance, their hordes of officials, their thousands of regulations and their gross mismanagement of our affairs, large and small.”
Socialism cannot survive without coercion. Today’s Wall Street Journal excerpts a snippet from Milton and Rose Friedman’s joyous gospel of freedom, Free to Choose:
A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality.
Did I say that socialism is dead? Or is it hiding under an assumed name? Look under “Progressivism.” See: Barack Obama. Get tenure with the UW’s Havens Center. Visit Detroit. Occupy Wall Street. Watch MSNBC. Subscribe to The Nation. Or maybe both dead AND hiding. That’s it! They’re zombies!
To hell with Fred Hayek. Got to get this book for the untold story: