3 thoughts on ““But that wasn’t REAL socialism!” (Part 2: Mao’s China and the GDR)”

  1. Posted 29/07/2017 at 00:28 | Permalink

    Even if we got people to admit that past socialism was real socialism a similar line of thinking is equally dangerous: “They did it wrong and corrupted it, we’ll do it right next time.” Alternatively it could just be reduced to a matter of semantics. There’s a never ending string of people willing to put a new label on egalitarian collectivised systems that don’t provide individual incentives. If they admit socialism doesn’t work they’ll just say “Ok let’s try participism (the label they came up with at occupy wall street) instead.”

    Ideally we could find a way of putting the idea down for good. But that probably requires more theoretical support and more systematic empirical support than historical anecdotes can provide.

    The point you are trying to make is a very difficult one to prove or refute, at least the way the article goes about it. I would not be surprised if socialism became the new intellectual fad several times, but I doubt they’d have thorough surveys of everyone who called themselves an intellectual on what their opinion of the Soviet Union or Maoist China to conclusively say that it is the new thing to praise. Also it’s easy to cherry pick quotes, which presents problems even if the narrative you present is an accurate representation of what happened. As you may have noticed from part 1 the first thing someone did was name the first people criticizing the soviet union from the left they could think of or google to say your article was bad.

    The existence of that sort of counter claim means that a socialist will never see this as a reason to question their ideas because the other option results in less cognitive dissonance.

  2. Posted 03/08/2017 at 16:29 | Permalink

    The first comment here is pretty succinct so I will simply add that I agree with the essay so far. Leftists will never admit they’re wrong about anything and “real socialism” is their holy grail. So it simply must have been sabotaged each and every time. It can’t be that “some animals are more equal” than others.

  3. Posted 04/08/2017 at 12:55 | Permalink

    It’s very simple – socialists have got an incorrect model of human nature. Some things are hard-wired, and some learnt. Take the most difficult aspect preventing self-control – the Fight-or-Flee Anger & Threat mechanism. According to Neurologists, there 3 possible triggers hardwired – Myself, My Family or My Tribe, in that order of precedence. We learn how to identify the triggers by the experiences we’ve met since birth. So they may, or may not, depend on people’s race, clothing, language, body-language, etc.. The triggers may be difficult to identify. Our speed of reaction may be over-sensitive (too impulsive), or far too slow (can’t be bothered).
    Bearing this in mind, it’s obvious that at a national level humans are not even aware of how badly some folk feel they’re being treated, let alone sympathetic.

    The truth is that humans aren’t very good at sharing their own things with others – apart from trusted close friends and family. If the things belong to everybody, people don’t bother to put them right e.g. clearing litter off public flower beds. No, they’ll write a letter or make a phonecall of complaint to the public authority.

    This, in turn, makes governments authoritarian. So we need ways for the population to get their frustrations aired and dealt with.
    I’m not convinced that the UK’s method of government works terribly well. It’s 30 years since Margaret Thatcher was complaining that people expect too much, and don’t do enough for themselves. Things have only got worse since then.

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