To Be Considered: Are Socialists Fun-Impaired?

Some visible differences were on display in the videos of a debate in a Oxford Union debate in December on whether or not socialism “works”. As someone committed to conservative principles, I was interested to see what the socialists would say in defense of a system that is running out of time and running out of other peoples’ money.

What struck me most, though, were the differences in demeanor. I was tempted to suggest a private charity might offer the socialists some scholarships to a charm school.

Do you ever fall into a You Tube hole? You watch one and then an hour later you look up and realize you’ve been sucked in again. I started watching these displays because someone sent us a video of Daniel Hannan speaking to an Israeli marketing group. Like many of our readers, I enjoy watching Hannan for reasons beyond content; sometimes I don’t agree with him but mostly he gets it right about, say, America. The disagreements are minor; that he has attempted to understand what makes America tick makes him unusual.

Thus it was that after the first video, I looked on the sidebar to see what else was on offer by Mr. Hannan and so came across these December debates, with both ‘for’ and ‘against’ well-represented. And among those speaking “against” was Mr. Hannan, so I watched him explain why socialism is essentially unworkable.

See for yourself:

In the comments, one fellow said:

This was a compelling argument. The other side such as Robert Griffiths didn’t seem to be able to counter this. His ending especially the portion where someone asked “What about the right to be fed, to go to a good school, to get a job” and he responded “And where do you think you’d find the best opportunity for that in North Korea or in South Korea?” was pretty on point.

Definitely, Mr. Hannan is a disciple of Frederic Bastiat. Britain is fortunate to have him.

To be fair – we’re dealing with the question of socialism after all, so things must always be “fair” – there is equal time for a proponent of socialism below the fold. And what a self-righteous prig he is. I chose him because throughout the presentations of the “aginners”, who were having fun with their subject, his face and body language was the very picture of someone being tortured.

Be sure to notice the red-headed fellow sitting near the prune. The former was a bowlful of sour socialist jelly. His face seemed to get increasingly red and apoplectic as the Hannans and Dalrymples spoke. I take it back: the redheaded dude doesn’t need charm school. He needs to see one of those free doctors about his blood pressure.

This man, Jeremy Corbyn, is what I think of as the quintessential socialist. He sat through the arguments of the “socialism does not work” side of the debate with a sour look. Their light-hearted approach to the subject seemed to cause him deep pain. They were having fun – it was a debate for heaven’s sake – but he was far too gone in self-righteousness to appreciate their levity.

And now, here is Jeremy “Dead Ernest” Corbyn:

His real argument for universal health care, which he doesn’t voice until the end, is that if the law had not been enacted Britain would be suffering from lack of medical care in the same way it did during Victorian times. Uh huh…does anyone seriously believe that Britain’s form of healthcare would not have evolved over time, just as working conditions did? Is this the only alternative to the mess we have in the U.S.? I’ll take the Australian version – common sense and practical – any day to the expensive chaos and scandal descending on the NHS.

When Theodore Dalrymple rises to differ with Mr. Corbyn by mentioning the ever-rising costs of universal health care in the U.K. – and he ought to know, having been a provider of same for over thirty years – Mr. Corbyn doesn’t offer any refutation beyond saying he “doubted” what Dalrymple said. A polite way of saying, “liar, liar”…

Mr. Corbyn doesn’t need facts and figures. He just knows how things make him feel. His speech was the hallmark of a true believer. He’d have been a great preacher in the old days since he bases his reasons for socialism on how it ought to make Britons feel about themselves – proud, superior, etc. He refutes none of the arguments of the other side – e.g., the fact that there are no truly socialist nations that have been prosperous, or that having the state in charge of everything eventually leads to despair.

With Mr. Corbyn it certainly leads to a bad case of prune-face. If socialism is so wonderful why does his demeanor seem so at odds with his victories? A sore winner? Could socialism’s ills lie at the root of his dyspepsia?

As I said the other day, quoting Billy Joel, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints”. Definitely, libertarians have more fun.

30 thoughts on “To Be Considered: Are Socialists Fun-Impaired?

  1. I think socialism is a mental disease, one on Facebook stated that welfare does not come from taxes it is government money????? when I politely pointed out that governments don’t earn any money by and large all monies come from working people who do not work for any form of government. her answer was that I am a [female genitals redacted] so she is brain dead basically. could we consider them zombies? they are brain dead and want to make us all like them and be brain dead too!

    • Face Book is a problematic debate platform. Using logic, as you did, causes liberals to melt down into puddles of foul rage. The future Baron tells us about his close encounters on FB and they sound just as you describe. However, setting up a private group of like-minded people to discuss ideas works well. That way you filter out people who simply show up to argue.

      Gates of Vienna has a Face Book page but its admin is in Oz and our auto-feed quit working during one of the DoS incidents. So it’s pretty much dormant.

      • As an ex-engineer (who studied political philosophy as part of a BA I took years after I left engineering) I have always been rather puzzled by this overemotional reaction to well … facts.

        Clearly if people didn’t pay attention to facts and exercise their ability to think logically, nothing would ever get done. Socialists wouldn’t get their deliveries from Amazon, the sums on their electricity bills would be way off, the engines in their cars wouldn’t run, doctors wouldn’t diagnose them, they’d just open up the BNF and pick a drug at random, then write them a script, etc etc …

        The world runs on facts and logic. (Certainly the engineering world is unforgiving – if one deviates and starts guessing, the results will inevitably be bad, and could be absolutely catastrophic, depending on the field you’re working in.)

        I’ve never been impressed with other people’s expectation that I should pay attention to how they feel. It just does not matter to me. Remember the Phil Donohue interview with Bill O’Reilly? I’m Phil Donohue – when the person before you gets all emotional and tries to get you to do the same, make fun of them – because they really are ridiculous – they’re beneath contempt, really.

        • I’d like to see one of these people turn up at Casualty one fine evening and get all emotional whenever the doctor tries to diagnose what is wrong with them – yelling and shouting whenever he tries to explain, rationally and logically, what is up in order to prevent her from diagnosing them correctly. Until the doctor throws up her hands and says, ok have it your way, I will not think logically about your case, and I will require no more facts about your symptoms – let’s just give you whatever treatment is decided upon most often by doctors throughout the UK, whatever it is, because if that treatment is good for most patients, then according to what you’re yelling and shouting, it’ll be good for you as well …

          (Dr. writes a script for paracetemol and ibuprofen and sends patient on their way …)

          Let’s just say the socialist has cancer. It happens. Six months later it has metastasised and they are terminally ill. If only they’d caught it in time, eh …

          What kind of world do these people really want to live in????

          • Alternatively, I’d like to send guys like that offshore for a fortnight & see where their feelings get them, when they have real work to do and facts and thinking rationally are absolutely necessary.

            Fantasists, the lot of them. A weeks’ work out in the real world would do them the power of good.

    • Socialism may or may not be an organic brain syndrome but it’s success shows the lack of imagination of conservatives. You can’t beat Santa Claus at the polls so why are we always whining about continually losing?

      Lack of process! In the U.S. all sides pretty much agree on principle. The sides argue continually about policy because we all have our wonks. The real problem is that wonks have never really run a business.

      Process is what eventually brings something to a finer state. Ever heard a politician talking about their Six Sigma efforts? We live in a world of unequal PROCESS.

      A simple example. U.S. tax law. You work as a wage slave, you get your wages reported via a W-2. The independent contractor gets a 1099-MISC reporting his revenue. Used to work and now get unemployment compensation? There’s a pretty good chance you’ll be getting a 1099-G. Negotiated a better deal with a loan company? That benefit to you will probably be reported as income via a 1099-C. A true fact: a friend had $8000 credit card fraud on their account, the bank investigated and waived it then issued a 1099-C (as required?) and he had to argue with the IRS that he shouldn’t pay taxes on fraud.

      However, on the flip side you can get food stamps, your Electronic Benefit Card will probably work in Vegas, the home you live in is partially funded by the tax payor, your health care has almost always been available at the ER but…reporting? Where is the 1099-GOV for those benefits?

      When conservatives force the government to account for benefits at an individual level then we can talk about what my child deduction should be. If I’m working for myself, supporting myself should I only be able to deduct the same as the EBT grant? 150%? How much is my labor blessed?

  2. The problem with socialism is that, given the “gimme” mentality of the electorate, it is very successful at the ballot box. The mental age of the electorate is not high enough to comprehend the necessity of balancing a budget and of making tough choices. They prefer to vote for glib, good-looking talkers who promise rainbows and unicorns between Greek columns.

    Socialist governments are the rule rather than the exception in developed countries. I don’t see this trend changing any time soon, with the recent entrance of the U.S. in that club. With the huge voter fraud that was left unexamined and unpunished after your last presidential election (2012), I don’t see any possibility of a conservative being elected, because the fix is in.

    Marx was predicting that the forces of history would cause capitalism to eventually crumble under it’s own weight – he was obviously wrong, but I think this prediction would rather apply the modern welfare states, who **will** eventually crumble – because at some point they won’t be able to borrow any more, and it will be impossible to coerce their productive citizens to pay any more.

    What will replace the welfare state is anyone’s guess: more or less tyranny, take your pick. Assuming we live that long, because more imminent dangers are looming at the horizon.

  3. Yes between the bread and circus crowd, the racists, envirowacs, socialists, illegals, and the voter fraud the USA has become the USSA.

  4. Do you ever fall into a You Tube hole? You watch one and then an hour later you look up and realize you’ve been sucked in again.

    I dare you to go on to youtube and type in “squeezing zits” …

  5. Socialism is really like Disney’s ballet dancing hippopotomi……
    Beautifully incongruous and totally self deluded…..

    The dangerous bit is the manipulation from above, what we see are the useful idiots unknowingly playing out their master’s tricks.

    The Reichstag burns down, a Pole done it; kill all Poles….

    Poor Palestinians, a zionist dunnit; kill all Joos

    Poor Travyon, a white Hispanic did it; kill all whites

  6. Daniel Hannan does indeed talk a lot of sense here, but let’s not forget that in his role as MEP he supports Turkey’s bid for membership ( which would result in millions of Turks moving West), voted against the labelling of ritually slaughtered meat (which means we are unintentionally buying the stuff and financing the spread of Islam) and also voted in favour of prosecuting Marine Le Pen for excercising her freedom of speech. He is not really on our side.

  7. It doesn’t seem to matter how often leading economists have refuted the workability of socialism – the Anointed in the media and academia refuse to even tell the public that those refutations exist.

    Hayek did it in 1943. Thatcher, the most highly-esteemed British PM since WW2 (and in some surveys, she’s the most highly-esteemed British PM of the 20th cenutry), was a follower of Hayek. She was anything but a conservative. In 1961, Hayek said that the British Conservative Party were socialists. After the Conservative Party et-tu-Brutus Thatcher, they went back to being a socialist party.

    Mises, Hayek’s mentor, refuted socialism by 1922. It is my belief that we are on the (long) road to a massive financial crises, brought about by succeeding attempts to mask the failures of socialism. The US public deficit is one sign of that attempt to conceal these failures; the exportation of manufacturing to China is another sign of that concealment.

    Yet if you visit somewhere like Wikipedia, the entry on Mises is about 10% of the size of the entry on Cher. The entry on Mises is considerably smaller than the entry on low-brow “reality” TV programmes (in 10 years time, no-one will even remember such programmes ever existed). The infantalizing of the Demos is another attempt to conceal the failures of socialism.

    • Thatcher’s reformation of the British economy made it virtually impossible to have a whitish Christian Britain.

      • Thatcher was not in power in the 1950s, when politicians opened the doors to immigration, against the wishes of the people.

        Plenty of those on the Left blame Thatcher for the destruction of the NF, claiming she robbed their anti-immigration party of its policies.

        So, let’s hear your explanations as to why she was so much more responsible than the 25 years of politicians who came before her, and more responsible than the 25 years of politicians who came after her.

        FWIW, I was never a fan of Thatcher. But I do recognise she was the last British PM who had any balls.

    • Thatcher’s ‘property-owning democracy’ – the democratisation of property owning is that not another way of saying socialism.

  8. Quite how anyone can after the last century, claim that “socialism works”, is beyond me… if the wonders of Soviet Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Zimbawe, Cambodia and other “socialist paradise” states are not enough – then how about 21st century Britain? A place where even “White Dee” – an unemployed single mother on the program “Benefits Street” – admits working people are treated unfairly, when they can earn half as much money as those on benefits, while skilled experts earning above 40k a year leave, due to the crippling tax rates?

    On the contrary, Britain’s high point – and the reason why it’s now referred to as “Great” Britain – came during those terrible, “Dickensian” years of the 1800s – where apart from the workhouses and factories blighting the “green and pleasant land”, Britain became a pioneer in constructing bridges and railways, and British engineers and workers built infrastructure all around the world, even beyond the British Empire, in countries such as Brazil – in the process introducing their hosts to games such as football.

    Would anyone venture to give Britain that same “Great” label, based purely on its achievements of the past 70 years since the end of the war?

  9. Excellent case by Hannan.
    On empirical and historical grounds, socialism does not work.
    And no, Marxism is not science. It’s fancy.
    It sounded like fancy when I first read his Communist Manifesto, and it still does.
    And as for Das Kapital– the more pages you need to make a case, the more likely it is that there’s no case to make.

    • My problem with marx was all those “helpful” footnotes. If someone needs that level of explanation to make a case, then he really has no case to make.

  10. All our yesterdays fools, the British welfare state is a mute point as it really no longer exists in principle -now only the ruins of a deteriorating legacy plundered by crony capitalists and squandered by spiff socialists.

    The irony being that most if not all the participants are the beneficiaries of that welfare state financed by the enterprise of the working class producers – would they have reached such dizzy heights in the real world?

    The foundation of the welfare state as with those mutual financial institutions was not socialist but form the rational Christian mind.

    • Do you have a link to the history of “mutual financial institutions”? I think Jeremy C mentioned them.

      As I look back at his argument, and look past the holier-than-thou attitude, I see a man whose emotional ardor has overcome his Reason. He so deeply wants socialism to have worked that he can’t let go his fervor in order to deal with reality. His ‘shoulds’ have quite conquered his ‘coulds’ so there is no room for thinking. The redheaded fellow -I’ve forgotten his name – is supercilious and totally lacking in the ability to think carefully. He bloviates against the sins of “capitalism” rather than presenting the case for his side.

  11. @Dymphna,

    Hard to find a good comprehensive link but the Abbey National Building Society was a merger of several smaller building societies founded in churches and/or for the benefit of the congregation.

  12. I have only watched Daniel Hannan here in this Oxford debate, but have watched many of his videos in the past. I always appreciate his oratory, one of the few that rises to it. However, wondering why Dymphna said she didn’t always agree, a commenter answered. If he has indeed voted against these things, then perhaps I have been blinded by his style. I’ll look into it further but I sure am against Turkey joining the EU, supposing it lasts, against us being sold halal food without being told and Marine Le Pen should be free to say whatever she likes. Perhaps some emails to Daniel Hannan might be a good idea.

  13. I’m the guilty party who linked Daniel Hannan’s speech in Jerusalem and led you astray, Dymphna. Capitalists do seem to have more fun in an arena such as this debate, yet in the UK, at least, most professional comics, if at all political, seem to be on the Left. I have no idea whether this is significant.

    However… there is no reason why an efficient, successful capitalist country should not choose to spend a relatively high proportion of the surplus generated on the wider public good, and some do.

    • But there turned out to be no surplus, even early on. The true costs of Social Security and Medicare, for example, went straight on to the backs of future generations.

  14. Jeremy Corbyn is the MP for the neighbouring London Borough to the one where I worked as a contractor. He has a long term association with what used to be known as the Looney left and is the BBCs “go to” politico for a leftist tirade. We used him for something similar ie if there was a policy issue about which we were not sure, we googled Corbyn’s view and advised against it. The most honest assessment I ever heard of communism was by an old music hall entertainer called Charlie Chester. He said that a communist was a person who wanted all the money in the world shared out equally with all the people in the world, and, when he had spent all his, he wanted it shared out equally again.

  15. Until recipients of government aid get 1099-GOVs for their ‘income, redistributed’ and workers get a deduction equal to the median 1099-GOV we’re all just [micturating] in the wind. The fact that I said that shows how corrupted my thinking has become. Shouldn’t a workers allowed deduction be 200% of what government gives freely because work is blessed? You can’t beat Santa at the polls unless everybody gets a gift.

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