Friday, July 22, 2005

In Your Dreams

The Socialist Party, one of many tiny leftwing sects competing for the same diminished constituency, celebrates what it considers a boost to its future prospects with the announcement that BBC Radio 4 listeners “had voted Karl Marx the 'greatest philosopher of all time”.

The article appeared in the 21-27 July edition of The Socialist under the heading: “The Greatest Philosopher of All Time” by Tony Saunois.

The hyperbole continues:

“The vote for Marx was overwhelming, winning 27.93% of the vote compared to his nearest rival, the free trade supporter and contemporary of Adam Smith, David Hume, who received only 12.67% of the vote. This vote represents a blow to capitalist commentators. It illustrates hostility towards modern capitalist society amongst even sections of the middle class.”

Out of such exaggerations a belief becomes heady for those infected. Yet, in a moment’s reflection, Tony Sauvnois might ponder that if 27.83 per cent voted for Karl Marx, then 72.07 per cent voted for other philosophers, which suggests the Red Dawn is postponed again, as it has been for far longer than the Socialist Party has been in the propaganda business.

Of course, that 12.67 per cent voted for David Hume (an astonishing result given how little is known about Hume) and even fewer voted for Adam Smith whose philosophical contributions remain unknown to many (the majority?) who see Smith as an economist, the result might be thought to be dispiriting for those enthusiastic about the public recognition of both men. On the contrary, Hume and Smith are not celebrities, but their ideas have had more impact on the global economy and societies than is measured by popular polls.

However, while socialism has come and gone (and was hardly an advertisement for human achievement), markets have gone on from strength to strength. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat turned out to be just that – a nasty dictatorship and few BBC Radio 4 listeners (I am not so sure of all BBC staff) would vote for one being formed in the UK (if they are allowed a vote by the socialists after they got into power). Socialists from Lenin and Mussolini onwards – including the interlude for the National Socialists of Hitler’s Third Empire – have not allowed democratic votes once they seize power.

Countries run by socialists become poorer; it is a race to the bottom. Everybody is equally impoverished, tyrannized and wishes they were somewhere else. It is better that Tony Saunois dreams his dreams in a capitalist country; he would only have nightmares in a socialist one.


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