For the past week or so, I have been listening to the audiobook version of Atlas Shrugged – and this weekend, my wife and I watched all three of the Atlas movies (I is great, II is OK, III is a made-for-TV movie and gave Rand’s work the low budget Hallmark Christmas movie treatment).
Personal note: I do recommend getting the audiobook version – I think it is more accessible to folks and less intimidating than a printed volume weighing as much as a cinderblock.
Several thoughts collided as reports of the “Yellow Vest” riots in France were overlaid with the struggles of Dagny, Hank and John Galt against Wesley Mouch, Cuffy Meigs, Dr. Floyd Ferris and Mr. Thompson, the Head of State.
Rand wrote of it in “Atlas” but all one needs to do to validate the situation France (and our own) is to critically examine history. When one does, it is a simple matter of logic and reason to deduce 1) lawless regimes have a multitude of laws and regulations, 2) passing and enacting laws that are arbitrarily and capriciously enforced is indistinguishable from lawlessness – and 3) #1 and #2 combined ultimately result in a governmental system so arbitrary and capricious and so simultaneously ubiquitous and powerful as to render it virtually indistinguishable from a lawlessness regime.
As Floyd Ferris told Hank Rearden, “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws…the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt.”
The first thing every third world tin-pot dictator learns in third world tin-pot dictator school is that the first reaction to lawlessness by a lawless regime is to create more laws and exert even more control, essentially creating even more lawlessness.
The same is true with the urges to enact policies to “combat climate change”.
What if these policies were enacted and caused such a decline in the global quality of life that they resulted in millions of deaths or even more people living in poverty? Isn’t that what the climatistas claim to desire to avoid?
Many don’t believe there is empirical evidence that man is causing the climate to change.
So, how do you get them on board with the collective?
You coerce them – by peer pressure first, economic sanction next and by force in the end. In the end, the use of coercive force is the only way.
Before we continue, let me state that I lump socialists, Marxists, communists and our Commie-Lite progressive friends into the same “collectivist” bucket. I believe, as Rand did, that the different flavors of collectivists are merely different gangs with the same ultimate motive – to take your stuff and if you resist, to take your life.
Collectivism exists in two forms – voluntary and coercive. Voluntary collectivism works, coercive collectivism does not. Voluntary collectivism allows individuals of differing skills and abilities to contribute to a specific goal and when that goal is achieved, or the individual comes to disagree with his productivity being used for a goal he no longer supports, he can choose to leave the collective. In voluntary collectivism, no one cares who benefits more – the goal is to provide a result which benefits all without regard to the amount of effort individuals bring to bear. School fundraisers, church service/mission events, many community projects are such examples of voluntary collective activities.
As with any voluntary event, people opt in or opt out. It’s called freedom of choice. We accept that in a free society – we accept that there will be those who won’t contribute and that’s OK because we don’t place a limit on the upside of others.
Coercive collectivism, the inevitable authoritarian incompetence that accompanies it, and the totalitarian control necessary to sustain it tend to save people by killing them. It has always been so. It was true in Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and in Leninist/Stalinist USSR. It IS true in Castro-led Cuba, Maduro’s Venezuela and Fat-Boy Kim’s North Korea. If you add all these folks up, you find that these 5 countries account for something like 200 million deaths in pursuit of the collectivist Shangri La.
And yet, compared to the current collectivist regimes where people die of depravation, starvation and want, Americans routinely die of excess, abundance and plenty.
How many are likely to die as a result of coerced collectivist climate policies?
Who really knows? Truth is that nobody does – but there is one thing for sure. History proves that people die under the yoke of totalitarian, authoritarian, coerced collectivism in numbers far exceeding those under voluntary capitalism.