Don’t shoot me. Marx said it. He posited that his invention of Marxism was the bridge between socialism and communism – since history has proven that communism is equivalent to tyranny, I feel comfortable that my headline is correct.
A friend of the blog, Scott from Panama City, flagged this up to me:
Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?
The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.
“I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us,” Schumer said. “If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.”
Scott’s question was this:
Now if this passes do you think we would have the will to apply it more broadly? I mean if people are unable to manage their own affairs cannot own a gun. Why should they be allowed to vote or manage their own finances? The whole thing is a slippery slope…
I must admit that it sounds a little sexy to do because of the possibility to apply it to the cases that Scott mentions. Hell, just think – applying that standard would prevent almost every member of Congress from voting. I could go for that but for Scott’s last point – it is a very, very slippery slope.
I made the point that socialist, even democratic socialist, societies eventually slide toward totalitarianism and tyranny.
I tend to quote Freidrich Hayek a lot because Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom about the UK and its failure to return to a market oriented society following the government dominated and controlled society that existed during WWII and he wrote it as it was happening.
Hayek said this of economic matters – I would propose that it also applies far more broadly:
I believe it was Lenin himself who introduced to Russia the famous phrase “who, whom?”– during the early years of Soviet rule the byword in which the people summed up the universal problem of a socialist society. Who plans whom, who directs and dominates whom, who assigns to other people their station in life, and who is to have his due allotted by others? These become necessarily the central issues to be decided solely by the supreme power.
As soon as the state takes upon itself the task of planning the whole economic life, the problem of the due station of the different individuals and groups must indeed inevitably become the central political problem. As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power. There will be no economic or social questions that would not be political questions in the sense that their solution will depend exclusively on who wields the coercive power, on whose are the views that will prevail on all occasions.
And another quote from The Road to Serfdom (pp 158-159):
Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order.
Once a citizen abdicates the power to make choices in order that someone else may make those decisions, there is no limit to what decisions the government will make for them. Anything can be justified – just look at Obamacare for an example.
Once a state controls behavior by deciding who can do what things, the aspect of who promulgates and enforces those rules becomes even more germane. Referring once again to Hayek’s Road to Serfdom and a chapter titled “Why the Worst Get on Top”:
Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own. They must, above all, be unreservedly committed to the person of the leader; but next to this the most important thing is that they should be completely unprincipled and literally capable of everything. They must have no ideals of their own which they want to realize; no ideas about right or wrong which might interfere with the intentions of the leader.
There is thus in the positions of power little to attract those who hold moral beliefs of the kind which in the past have guided the European peoples, little which could compensate for the distastefulness of many of the particular tasks, and little opportunity to gratify any more idealistic desires, to recompense for the undeniable risk, the sacrifice of most of the pleasures of private life and of personal independence which the posts of great responsibility involve.
The only tastes which are satisfied are the taste for power as such and the pleasure of being obeyed and of being part of a well-functioning and immensely powerful machine to which everything else must give way.
Being “a little socialist” is like being “a little pregnant”, there is no such thing and that last line is why socialist societies will always result in a slide toward totalitarianism and tyranny.