Patterico's Pontifications


Robert Stacy McCain’s American Spectator Column on Communism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:03 pm

Writing in the American Spectator, Robert Stacy McCain takes on the Salon numbskull who thinks he’s teaching people about communism.

68 Responses to “Robert Stacy McCain’s American Spectator Column on Communism”

  1. How many millions of people have the commies killed in the 20th century?
    Murderous thugs.

    mg (31009b)

  2. The unavoidable obstacle to Utopia is the immutable frame of man. Where the rubber meets the road we all measure success as it pertains to our bottom line, not society’s.

    When omniscient central planners finally determine the perfect soviet iPhone numbers to be produced at the perfect price the goals for producers must be established in some measure.

    At that point they will inadvertently determine an unwanted feature of the product.

    For example, if the goal were expressed in tonnage of output, the iPhone will weigh, sooner or later, several pounds.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  3. Moe Lane:

    “Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people.”

    Jeff Weimer (bb9480)

  4. the template was first put in place in Venezuela,

    recall Mark Lloyd’s words on the subject.

    narciso (3fec35)

  5. It’s a bit like pushing your thumb in mush. The mush fills back, but it’s still mush.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  6. Why did Stalin kill 50 millllion citizens??

    They just wouldn’t listen.

    Gus (70b624)

  7. The Bible speaks about people like Myerson.

    Proverbs 26:11

    Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  8. Kipling references that passage in the ‘God of the Copybook Headings;

    narciso (3fec35)

  9. Tonight an economics major was trying to express something about the difficulty of predicting and controlling the Market analogous to my musing about a corresponding difficulty in characterizing Climate Change.

    I admit up front I don’t understand much economics, more than the Maverick, but that ain’t saying much.

    My half of the analogy: The Oceans store 3000 times the heat that the Atmosphere can store, the surface of the Earth notionally half that of water times 1/3 for their respective areas.

    But the issue is complicated by the fact that the Earth, Oceans and Atmosphere absorb and evolve stored heats at radically different rates.

    Average global air temperatures really tell us nothing about where we are with a global energy budget, about how hot it will be next year. What we need is a differential equation that may be impossible to create relating input energy including adjustments for things like cloud cover and atmospheric extent and evolution of heat over time.

    Not happening.

    Well this young fellow was explaining how a free Market has all this nearly infinite store of information invested in it already and extracting its secrets, some meaningful distillation is virtually beyond comprehension itself.

    Central planners, e.g., the Federal Reserve, and the other central banks, with all their meddling, only confuse, distort and destroy the information contained in Markets and render informed decision making that much more difficult.

    At least I imagine that was his drift.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  10. Here’s a histogram for the proles amusment:

    Now we know they will look at the Defense column and be greatly exercised. I don’t really blame them.

    But if we can get their attention, eventually, note the next bar to the right. That big drop of $50 Billion in Treasury outlays is just a fluke of financing, a crush of rollovers in the month of November 2013 to the tune of $4 Trillion that leaves an illusory hole Q1 2014.

    That cost isn’t going away and, in fact, will eat into entitlements just as the columns for HHS and Agriculture(read Food Stamps) push, push, push higher.

    Guess what proles, your piece of the pie was as big as it will ever be.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  11. Could it happen here?

    Yeah, trick question. It already has.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  12. I don’t know how I missed The Gods of the Copybook Headings, narciso. Considering I followed Kipling’s recommendation and shipped myself “east of Suez.”

    Ok, maybe he didn’t mean it as a recommendation. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  13. Actually I do know. I’m very rarely fired up with curiosity to look at everything anyone has ever done just because I like the few things I’ve come across.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  14. So, this 20-something is arrogant enough to lecture everyone on how they’ve had the world all wrong all this time? He thinks we’ve been waiting for him to come along to set us all straight?

    Why am I reminded of Obama?

    Kevin M (536c5d)

  15. #3:

    Marxism is one of those stupidities that only intellectuals will fall for. Think of it as the Vizzini Principle.

    Kevin M (536c5d)

  16. 15. …Why am I reminded of Obama?

    Comment by Kevin M (536c5d) — 2/5/2014 @ 11:49 pm

    Because every single one of his policies, domestic and foreign, is what you’d expect to emerge from a freshman dorm pot party circa 1980.

    But of course you knew that.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  17. Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/5/2014 @ 10:23 pm

    Will the fire be blamed on some Pro-Falklands terrorist cell?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  18. 18. Or Yankee incompetence. We’ll probably be sued when the archivist goes bankrupt.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  19. 11. Cont. User beware, Breitbart seems to be slipping here and there:

    The “$9 Million over 10 years” cuts to Food Stamps in newly minted Farm bill is just a typo-should be ‘Billion’.

    But to my understanding ‘crop insurance’ applies to the farmer’s cost not his expected profit.

    Not that we want to take the risk out of business and remove moral hazard, but simply planting marginal farmland, without some other fraud, wouldn’t seem to be a path to riches.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  20. They are the people they have been waiting for. The finest, moralist, best educated people. They can make Communism work. Yes, they can.

    ErisGuy (76f8a7)

  21. Mr M wrote:

    Marxism is one of those stupidities that only intellectuals will fall for.

    Alas! Were only that true! Trouble is, there are many more pseudo-intellectuals, wanna-be intellectuals and just plain sycophants who will swallow anything someone with a PhD after his name will say, who have fallen for Marxism/Communism/Socialism.

    In one way Chairman Mao was right: there are a lot of the intelligentsia who need to be sent down to the countryside to harvest the crops.

    The historian Dana (3e4784)

  22. Mr 57 wins the internets for the day:

    Because every single one of his policies, domestic and foreign, is what you’d expect to emerge from a freshman dorm pot party circa 1980.

    Well said, sir, well said!

    The Dana who wishes he'd said that! (3e4784)

  23. I know a ton of Communists. Literally. A metric ton at that. They may have even put on more weight since I last saw them. They’re bright and educated and well past college age. And Communists. Once you get that s**t in your head, it’s hard to get it out. Here’s the thing. All those Communist “monsters” made history. In a big way. Maybe Boris Pasternak can say it better than me.

    “No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history’s organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries. ”
    ― Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

    nk (dbc370)

  24. We see the failure of Communism as a sustainable economic or legal system. They see Revolution. It’s kind of romantic, isn’t it?

    nk (dbc370)

  25. Beyond Mises, no matter how much information socialism’s central planners have they’ll never be able to effectively manage the wide-ranging complexities of a national economy: the USSR’s endemic food and consumer goods shortages weren’t caused by a lack of information, they resulted from the limitations inherent in central planning itself. Moscow’s bureaucrats knew where the food was produced, they knew the rail system could transport it to population centers, yet year after year food rotted before it reached the hungry.

    No matter how informed, and no matter how rational, policies developed at the central level are designed to control the activities of dispersed operational nodes, while differing local conditions almost always render general rules and regulations so inappropriate or actually destructive that local officials resist central authority. Which creates a feedback loop of crackdowns and tighter more arbitrary regulation from the central planners and produces not compliance, but evermore resistance, both open and surreptitious, from local officials.

    The fundamental problem of Socialism is the arrogant intransigence of political leaders who assume rain dances produce downpours. Central economic planning never works because operational managers at the local level who are responsible for producing results are caught on the horns of a a bureaucratic dilemma, following the rules prevents the production of goods.

    ropelight (69f515)

  26. Da Speaker:

    In an abrupt switch from his months of work to bring immigration reform back from life support, Speaker John Boehner told reporters today that the issue cannot move forward until President Obama proves he can be a trustworthy partner to implement the law as written.

    Well if that’s really true, Mr. Speaker, then we won’t be hearing from you again on the matter.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  27. Thanks for the kind words, Dana.

    Anyhoo, if you don’t read Captain Capitalism, you should.

    Why You Can’t Criticize Karl Marx

    It’s all a must read, but this? This is like the angels singing:

    We could go on as the examples are endless, but the point is that it isn’t “bad ideas” that threaten society, but a weakness in human psychology that excuses people for believing in them. The belief that you can have something for nothing. The inability of the human mind to understand delayed gratification. The willful ignorance of not asking “where does the money come from?” It’s almost as if there’s a piece of the brain that, despite thousands of years of wisdom, evidence and fact, stubbornly insists on forcing its host to make bad decisions in the long run.

    Because of this merely criticizing Marx, socialism, and socialists won’t work. The people that need convincing do not believe in socialism or Marxism on a logical level, but an emotional, psychological, even greedy one. Throw all the charts up in the world, cite all the case studies of North vs. South Korea, point to China’s historic improvement, it won’t work (trust me, I’ve tried) simply because socialism’s adherents WANT to believe in socialism just like a fat woman wants to believe “one more cookie won’t hurt” or an alcoholic’s belief that “one more drink is fine” or a 38 year old spinster’s belief that “38 is the new 24.”

    Therefore, I suggest a new approach when battling socialism. Instead of fighting it on a logical and mathematical level, we fight it on a psychological one.

    …I suggest being mean.

    Specifically, shame, mockery, and ridicule.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  28. Someone should point out to young Mr. Myerson that the same country who brought us Lenin and Marx can’t manage to build hotels where the doorknobs don’t fall off in your hand; and they couldn’t manage to find enough pillows to provide to the Olympic athletes.

    If I can’t trust them to provide a pillow, I don’t think I want to turn over the entire economy to them.

    rochf (f3fbb0)

  29. 26. Comment by ropelight (69f515) — 2/6/2014 @ 9:43 am

    Central economic planning never works

    All true, but then why do some people want to centrally plan immigration?

    Sammy Finkelman (dfe091)

  30. Don’t trust Sochi “horror” stories. There’s a rainbow of hues which tinges the “news” from Sochi.

    nk (dbc370)

  31. words fail;


    narciso (3fec35)

  32. No, narciso, words don’t fail. I have the words. It’s just that I’d be banned if I used them.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  33. I can not express my contempt for this Senate for approving Max Baucus as ambassador to China 96-0 without using those words.

    Obama promised Baucus an ambassadorship in exchange for letting the Democrats keep that seat. And hence giving them better odds to keep control of the Senate. I do not have any idea what calculations went into the Republicans voting to approve that payoff. Other than they’re all members of the club, and given Graham’s and McCain’s performance in Egypt equally incompetent. So, professional courtesy. Like approving Hagel as SecDef despite his laughably pathetic performance. And Kerry as SecState.

    I don’t feel like we’re reliving the last days of the Roman Empire. More like the last days of the Song Dynasty. The Mongols are about to invade and all the competent people have been replaced by court eunuchs.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  34. #32, Sammy, my comment addressed the problems inherent in economic central planning, not immigration, but do note that in Socialist countries immigration planning consists of ways to prevent citizens from fleeing to free-market countries.

    ropelight (da52d2)

  35. Comment by ropelight (da52d2) — 2/7/2014 @ 6:28 am

    Sammy, my comment addressed the problems inherent in economic central planning, not immigration,

    I know that, but people want to centrally plan that. In great detail. And they also want to use numbers of people as their biggest planning tool. Set a number, and then allocate. That is completely crazy.

    If there is “bad immigration” and “good immigration” why would you want to limit “good immigration?”

    Every person with a college degree, barring a few exceptions, should be permitted to immigrate to the United States, and take one adult person with them. Full stop. About this there should be no question. If you want, add a condition or two. But no limit on numbers.

    Numbers was the cause of the failure of the 1965 immigration law.

    John Cowperthwaite, the financial secretary of Hong Kong from 1961 to 1971 considered his most consequential achievement was that he abolished the collection of statistics. Not his flat income tax rate of 15 percent, his deregulating nearly everything that caught his attention, his nullifying of various labor laws, his buildinmg of housing, his discoragement of automobile use in crowded Hong Kong, and his dismantling ofbarriers to imports and exports.

    In his case, it actually was a form of self-defense. He was not a king and could be ordered to do things, so he prevented people from coming up with reasons for him to do things that were based purely on abstract statistics.

    But the point still remains, collecting statistics and the ability to enforce rules, regardless of the number of people who would want to evade them, creates mischief.

    Sammy Finkelman (dfe091)

  36. but do note that in Socialist countries immigration planning consists of ways to prevent citizens from fleeing to free-market countries.

    Countries that called themselves Socialist. That was probably more for reasons of maintaining control of the government, than economic ones, although there was a small element of that too.

    As soon as the Iron Curtain between Hungary and Austria was torn down, the government changed. As soon as the Berlin wall was taken down, Communism in East Germany collapsed.

    With freedom to leave, comes a considerable measure of freedom from arrest, and when hat happens, things start to happen. There is agreat deal of less fear of the government. By at least some people.

    (It didn’t work in all countries. Gorbachev actually had to force change in Bulgaria and maybe Czechoslavkia.

    If the Mariel boatlift had been allowdeed to continue, that would have been the end of Castro’s government io Cuba.

    A Communist dictatorship fell in Russia in 1991, and nearly fell in China twice, in 1976 and in 1989, also because of a loss of fear – and this can happen in a few other ways besides an abiliy to leave.

    The war in Syria broke out because of a loss of fear, and continues because there is more fear of surrender.

    Sammy Finkelman (dfe091)

  37. The explanation for people like Myerson is that there is probably someone whom he feels close to, possibly an ancestor, whom he does not want to say was wrong.

    Sammy Finkelman (dfe091)

  38. Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/5/2014 @ 9:25 pm

    I very much like the argument you present with the exception of one word (which may simply be a novelty you wish to introduce): evolution.

    I, personally would prefer the term conservation in the place of evolution because there is no law of evolution, but there is a law of conservation of energy.

    felipe (6100bc)

  39. Mises book, Socialism, is one book (among many, no doubt) that I missed in my readings. I will have to correct that. No wonder I am so naïve!

    felipe (6100bc)

  40. Oops! argument analogy!

    felipe (6100bc)

  41. 1. Comment by mg (31009b) — 2/5/2014 @ 8:14 pm

    1.How many millions of people have the commies killed in the 20th century?

    R. J. Rummel, of the University of Hawaii, has a whole website on the subject of people killed by governments.

    This page includes a table:

    Sammy Finkelman (dfe091)

  42. #40, Sammy, lawful immigration is good immigration and illegal immigration is bad immigration. Every illegal alien working here is costing an American a job (and our own people are very much in need jobs) and most of the unemployed illegals are sponging off our social welfare system, taking money out of the pockets of our own unemployed needy) albeit with the active complicity of Democrat controlled unionized government bureaucracies.

    ropelight (3fa47b)

  43. 40 Comment by ropelight (3fa47b) — 2/8/2014 @ 7:42 am

    , Sammy, lawful immigration is good immigration and illegal immigration is bad immigration.

    If that’s the case, then the solution is simple: legalize everyone who requests it.

    Every illegal alien working here is costing an American a job

    That is not true, because there is no limited number of jobs. * And when did a job become a property right?

    * The CBO projection about the effects of the PPACA was a based on the notion that to predict the number of jobs, you should predict the number of people looking for them. Some people did not understand this. (that actually was based also on the idea that Obamacare insurance policies were affordable, and good insurance, neither of which is the case. They were also predicting a lot of people would sign up based on nothing apparently except predictions by HHS.)

    Long term Social Security projections are based on this assumption as the most impoirtant one, and you can use no other.

    No other method of predicting the long term job trend is possible. Anything else will create great errors.

    You cannot attempt any projection based on economic trends independent of people. You will then either be projecting massive unemployment or massive numbers of joobs remaining unfilled for years.

    Sammy Finkelman (f2d620)

  44. b> The number of jobs varies with population, or more precisely, with the number of people seeking jobs.

    But, as the Marxists, say, this is something that works in reality, but the question is: Does it work in theory??

    This kind of thinking is as wronghaded (and maybe as destructive to human prosperity) as Marxism.

    Sammy Finkelman (f2d620)

  45. (and our own people are very much in need jobs)

    Not any more than usual.

    And not only do they not substititute for Americans in general, they don’t even in particular for the most part.

    and most of the unemployed illegals are sponging off our social welfare system,

    No they are not, precisely because they are illegal.

    They only get schooling for their children, emergency medical treatment, and minor things available to the general public without inquiry.

    taking money out of the pockets of our own unemployed needy)

    No, they don’t. Whatever budgetary limits exist, they are not affected by this. Locally, the number of poor people is related to the cost of housing, and any illegal immigrants who leave should be replaced by even poorer people, or by nobody. Now maybe the poorer people may get food stamps.

    albeit with the active complicity of Democrat controlled unionized government bureaucracies.

    The private sector unions have now asked President Obama to suspend all deportations because it interferes with union organizing.

    Sammy Finkelman (f2d620)

  46. So, wonder what State has to say about this, a provocation? Daydreaming? Intellectual rehearsal?

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  47. 48. Majesty? So Mean Girl’s our Queen now?

    Pull Geraldo’s plug already.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  48. Sunday morning click-fest: NBC Gregory running defense for Schumer vs Portman on jobs, Dionne, Brooks and Mitchell on fixing Amnesty, Obamacare, etc.; ABC meth-addict appearing Raddatz interviewing Vermont Governor and experts on heroin epidemic as an opportunity for government to solve a problem.

    Government is losing big and nobody can miss that conclusion.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  49. I understand Sochi has increased interest in Russia, but why all the news coverage in lieu of coverage of Amerikkka, why all the Congressional interest in having information and input in Russian intelligence?

    Are we lobbying for a seat on the Politburo or in the Supreme Soviet?

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  50. “And when did a job become a property right?”

    Sammy – Exactly!

    What kind of crazy thinking does it take to believe that people who crossed the border illegally have the right to stay in this country?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  51. Comment by daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 2/9/2014 @ 12:43 pm

    What kind of crazy thinking does it take to believe that people who crossed the border illegally have the right to stay in this country?

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

    Sammy Finkelman (c08134)

  52. Sammy – Who do you believe the “We” refers to?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  53. The people who issued this declaration. But the truths that are self-evident applied to all men.

    Sammy Finkelman (c08134)

  54. If not, then you agree with Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision, and disagree with Abraham Lincoln.

    “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

    Sammy Finkelman (c08134)

  55. Well Gary, they’ve been contesting that region since 1785 with Sheikh Mansur, and the very stadium, stand on the site of the last battle of the Circassian conflict, kind of like the Indian burial ground in ‘Poltergheist,

    narciso (3fec35)

  56. 63. Well the details notwithstanding, just WTF is with this obsession about Pooter and the Caucasus from the head of the DHS committee?

    When this A-hole can tell us why the Tsarnaev’s were not on a watch list when the Russky’s warnings went unheeded he can step in front of the camera.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  57. Stuck on mutha freaking schtoopid:

    Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/9/2014 @ 7:21 pm

    What a jackass. He runs unopposed in the primary in a few weeks.

    Dustin (303dca)

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