Amazingly, despite a century of evidence to its disastrous consequences, socialism still sticks its ugly face out in the public arena from time to time. Before the Berlin Wall fell its demagogues were trying to pick what they thought were the cherries out of the Soviet pie and present them as a palatable, even tasty option to Capitalism. Then the Soviet empire crumbled, and after a decade in the wilderness the socialist ranters came back with a vengeance.
They had found “global warming”.
We who went to school in the ’70s and early ’80s were told by our science teachers that the world was steadfastly heading for a new ice age. Science books came with frightening images of cities, far down in southern Europe, buried in ice and snow. On the horizon, a mile-thick glacier that slowly pushed south.
Some time during the ’80s the preachers of climate change stopped talking about the pending ice age. Perhaps they could not get enough research grants to continue to stay away from teaching at their colleges, so they invented a new climate change story: global warming.
A couple of years ago the climategate scandal put a big, fat nail in the coffin of the global-warming fairy tale. In January of this year news broke that there has been no global warming for 16 years now. By now, even moderately intelligent liberals should start wondering what their climate preachers have been up to, and why they can’t deliver the climate disaster they have promised for so long.
While the world is slowly beginning to see the light with sober eyes, many leftists have invested far too much of their careers in the global-warming fairy tale to let go of it. One of them is a South African socialist by the name of Jay Naidoo. Like so many other socialists of late, he is trying to use “global warming” as a moral carte blanche to impose his collectivist nonsense on his fellow man.
Naidoo is former minister of reconstruction and development in the South African government and currently chairs an organization called Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. He gets plenty of space on the Euractiv website to rant about everything between “climate change” and poverty, except what really matters:
“The drought is brutal in the north of Kenya around Lake Turkana. The rains seldom come and the lake is drying up. So is the hope of the Turkana, a proud people. They are mainly pastoralists. But the grazing lands are fast disappearing as are the fish in the rapidly receding lake.
Right here, Naidoo has put the blame on the hardship of the Turkana on non-existent global warming. Without offering the slightest evidence to the claims he makes about their environmental situation, he takes it as the starting point of a long rant on poverty and the evil West.
Even more amazingly, in the next paragraph he tells us that the Turkana are the victims of lawlessness and anarchy – yet somehow the poverty of the Turkana is still caused by evil Capitalism:
Heavily armed marauding bands of bandits from the Horn of Africa regularly raid lands and seize the cattle of the Turkana. As one herder said, “They take our wealth and our food. Our cows are our bank. We are alone. There is no government here to protect us. It is the rule of the gun. Our homes are torched, our innocent are murdered. They want to drive us from our land. Our children are not safe. They must go to the city.”
Any common-sense minded person would immediately ask why the Kenyan government, who claims jurisdiction over the territory where the Turkana live, is not interested in enforcing the rule of law. Another question is why property rights are so weak in this part of the world. Could it be because socialists look down their nose at private property?
In the next sentence Naidoo takes all the blame for the poverty of the Turkana away from the thugs who assault them, as well as from the Kenyan government:
Here poverty is driven by climate change, a precursor to the new resource wars to be fought over water, land, food and competition over scarce resources.
Like mankind has never lived under resource scarcity before. Mother of all ignorance…
Any time the price of an item is higher than zero, it is because that resource is scarce. Scarcity, in fact, is one of the driving forces that makes a society evolve – it does not motivate societal evolution on its own, but it is one of the key ingredients. But scarcity is universal and affects all mankind one way or the other. We all have to adjust our lives to the fact that we cannot get everything we want, in an instant, for free.
The question is why some societies evolve under scarcity, while others don’t. The best and most obvious answer to that question is found on the Korean peninsula. South Korea, with a population twice the size of North Korea’s and on a smaller piece of land, is able to feed itself, clothe its population, cure the vast majority of their diseases, educate them and keep them safe. The North on the other hand cannot even feed its own children.
Most people would dismiss the comparison between South and North Korea with something to the effect that “well, everybody knows that Communism isn’t working”. But the point is that despite this knowledge – despite the glaringly obvious, ocean-wide difference between Capitalist South Korea and socialist North Korea – socialism is still given a valid presence in the global public policy debate. For some reason there are people who still believe that you can blend South and North Korea, yet what they find out too late when they try is that the ingredients from “North” that go into the blend are venomous to vital organs of “South”.
The very essence of socialism is the transferal of property rights from the individual to the “collective”, almost always represented by a government. The “collective” is given the right to seize parts or all of what the individual acquires through work, trade and investment. Yet when the “collective” is given this right there is a proportionate loss of rights for the individual, and with the loss of right to the proceeds of his work, trade and investment, the individual also loses the incentive to pursue those proceeds.
This is the first and most important reason why societies with socialist economies are poorer than societies that rely on Capitalism.
As for the Turkana in Naidoo’s story, their reason to evolve and become more prosperous is robbed from them by the thugs who can come and seize their cattle with impunity. The thugs have de facto become their socialist government that imposes a heavy tax on them.
Naidoo, of course, is blind to this fact. On the contrary, he continues to cast the blame for the Turkana’s poverty on everyone else except the thugs who steal their cattle. Euractiv again:
The poverty is chronic, systemic and leaves many in despair, abandoned by the political and economic elites of the world.
Then he globalizes his warped views:
That story is repeated in the many villages I have been to in the India subcontinent, in the slums of Africa and Asia where families live in a space that is barely bigger than the bathroom of middle class families. In these communities people feel that God has forsaken them. While we have undoubtedly made progress, when I see the official reports suggesting “Enormous progress has been made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Global poverty continues to decline, more children than ever are attending primary school, child deaths have dropped dramatically; access to safe drinking water has been greatly expanded…” I wonder when these gains will trickle down to the billion people I encounter at the edges of our humanity.
My native country, Sweden, was one of the poorest nations in the northern hemisphere back in the mid-19th century. It went from being an agricultural backwater on the northern edge of Europe to a dynamic economy with rapidly growing prosperity in the 1930s. What happened? Did the world suddenly give Swedes foreign aid? Did the rest of the world suddenly impose a hate-the-rich tax in order to give handouts to Swedish farmers?
No. The reason was the same that allowed industry and entrepreneurship to thrive and prosperity to grow all over Europe: limited government and respect for property rights. (That Sweden later abandoned those principles is another story.) The smaller a government is, the more concentrated it becomes on its only real function in society, namely to protect life, liberty and property. By contrast, the bigger government gets the farther away it will drift from that function. That is why socialist governments – which includes the Kenyan government – lose track of things like people’s right to the proceeds of their own hard work.
Hence the disaster in Turkana.
Back to Euractiv, where Naidoo starts pushing for a global welfare state:
What the bottom half of humanity sees is a new apartheid that divides a global rich and predatory minority from the overwhelming majority’s growing poverty, joblessness and social inequality.
And here we go. A man who purports to be some kind of compassionate caretaker over the poor in the world finally comes out as what he truly is: a socialist hate merchant.
People who live in free countries with democratic governments, who have the right to own the proceeds of their work, who get up in the morning, provide for their loved ones, obey the law and donate to charity – they are characterized as a “predatory minority” by Naidoo. People who live honest, decent, productive lives and do their best to be contributing members of society – they are castigated as “predatory” by Naidoo, simply because they happen to live in a rich, industrialized, free country.
Even worse, Naidoo’s rhetoric is aimed at those who create jobs for hundreds and hundreds of millions of people. Entrepreneurial visionaries like IKEA’s Ingvar Kamprad or Microsoft founder Bill Gates; industrialists like the Toyoda family; around-the-clock working corporate executives who make sure their businesses continue to provide the world with clothes, food, cell phones, medicines, light bulbs, tools, appliances, water purifiers and other essential consumer goods. All these men and women are a “predatory minority” in the eyes of Jay Naidoo.
This is the level that all socialists eventually sink to. Their world view is one of relentless, ongoing conflict. To them, people do not cooperate voluntarily. People do not by their free will take a job with a large corporation – they are forced into that job by the “system”. To socialists like Naidoo there is no other cooperation than that which is enforced by government.
Even more pathetic is the fact that socialists like Naidoo are so totally and utterly blind to the free will of individual human beings. Ask any young engineer who works long, hard hours for the car manufacturer Hyundai in South Korea if he has been forced into that job by an evil Capitalist. Ask him if he would rather live and work in North Korea instead.
When Naidoo resorts to referring to the high-productive people who take advantage of economic freedom as a “predatory minority”, he gives away his true identity. His rhetoric is nothing more than the same old, dingy class warfare rhetoric that socialists have been using for a century and a half by now – and what has that rhetoric given us?
It has given us the Gulag Archipelago; the Berlin Wall; the Killing Fields in Cambodia, Cuban prison camps and children starving to death in the streets of North Korea. And don’t forget the Third Reich brand of socialism, according to which the “predatory minority” should bear a yellow six-point star and be exterminated in death camps.
Wherever socialists have gotten the chance to identify a “predatory minority” they have brought about war, chaos, starvation, depravity and death.
Naidoo’s rhetoric is the same kind of divisive, aggressive, conflict-driving language that has caused so many wars, civil and other, around the world over the past century. Naidoo’s class warfare rhetoric fueled the Leninist revolution which ended up costing 25 million Russians their lives. Naidoo’s class warfare rhetoric falls in the same line as that which Josef Göbbels used to fire up the masses against a small, innocent group of fellow citizens. Naidoo’s class warfare rhetoric built an Iron Curtain across Europe and is still today being used to defend the North Korean tyranny.
It does not help Naidoo’s case that when he gets to the practical side of his rant, he focuses entirely on “equality” and totally ignores the variables that really matter:
We need to go beyond measuring progress as a set of narrow input and output indicators. We need to address the underlying drivers of poverty and that the data has hidden a growing social and economic inequality which has risen dramatically in the world.
Suppose Jack and Joe earn $1 per day on Monday. On Tuesday Joe starts manufacturing gobbletigooks in his basement. He sells them with great success and rapidly increases his daily income. On Wednesday he earns $2 per day, while Jack still earns $1.
Where there was income equality on Monday there is now income inequality. How is Jack worse off under income inequality than he was under income equality?
On Friday, Joe needs to hire help. He now earns $4.50 per day and hires Jack to do the simple manufacturing work at $1.50 per day. The income inequality is now bigger than ever, but comparatively low-earning Jack has increased his income by 50 percent thanks to Joe’s entrepreneurship.
How is Friday’s income inequality worse for him than income equality was on Monday?
Of course, socialist Naidoo does not answer this question. Instead he dismisses China’s enormous strides toward prosperity in the past two decades:
Poverty has been defined as an income of less than $1.25 a day. Because figures are not disaggregated what is ignored is the fact that China accounts for the bulk of this success. Sub-Saharan Africa, on the other hand, is not on track on its poverty reduction
Of course not. That region is still ruled by dictators and war lords, and its largest country, Nigeria, is being torn apart by radical, Medieval islamists whose respect for individual and economic freedom we know from the Taliban era in Afghanistan. Once again, Naidoo proves the point about the correlation between on the one hand the lack of respect for life, liberty and property and on the other hand prosperity and opportunity for all.
In his position as chair of a large lobbying organization, Jay Naidoo has considerable influence on the global public policy arena. His divisive, hate-mongering socialist rhetoric is wrapped in dangerously seductive, superficial compassion for the poor, yet when push comes to shove all he wants is more government, more bureaucracies and more redistribution from the rich to the poor. He totally ignores the economic mechanisms that bring about prosperity. He turns a blind eye to the forces that have successfully lifted more than a billion people out of abject poverty in the past two decades.
Jay Naidoo is the kind of person who would rather see everyone equally poor than everyone wealthy, if that meant some got wealthier than others.
At the end of the day, that is precisely what socialism is all about. It turns people into instruments for an idea, an ideology, reducing them to bricks in a game of political power.
Socialists have had a century to prove that their ideology can work. On every occasion where they have gotten the chance, they have failed. And they have failed on every account imaginable.
Socialism is nothing more than a highway to poverty, tyranny and serfdom – for all.