America: Democratic, or Socialist?
The plague of socialism is not something recently foisted upon us by the arrival of politicians like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, or the congresswoman everyone calls AOC. Americans have struggled with this topic for quite some time, which given socialism’s unhappy impact on the human condition (nation following nation, era following era), one would think that by now, lovers of freedom should have figured it out.
Maybe we would have figured it all out were it not for people like Woodrow Wilson, a lawyer, a teacher, a politician, and a devout communist, who served as president of the United States (1913-1921), and President of Princeton University (1902-1910). Wilson’s background makes one wonder, what made voter’s think he was the right man at that time in our history?
Even if we ignore the fact that he was a lawyer, a teacher, and a politician (three strikes, in my opinion), did anyone read what he wrote? Perhaps not … in the late 19th century, most Americans were illiterate and had little time for reading the inane discourses of committed socialists —which begs the question, who (back then) even knew what socialism was?
As an academic, Wilson had plenty of time to write books and infect the minds of his students. In 1885 (20 short years after the Civil War), Wilson became a regular contributor to the journal, Political Science Quarterly. In his first contribution, an essay titled “Congressional Government” suggested that the United States must adopt a parliamentary system. Why? Because, according to Wilson, the United States Constitution was radically defective.
How? Because the US Constitution did not provide a branch of government with conclusive authority to decide what should be done, and how. Twelve or so years after Wilson’s administration, certain government officials began speaking of “Czars” to run various agencies and departments of the United States government; it began under the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945).
The term supposes absolutism in running various branches of our government —and there’s nothing American about that. Roosevelt, by the way, was elected to the presidency on an unprecedented four occasions.
Woodrow Wilson’s first book was titled The State. In it, Wilson suggested that government could legitimately promote the general welfare through authoritarianism. Of course, it was difficult to argue with him on this issue given the circumstances of child labor and unsanitary industrial conditions of the time, but we should wonder, if the people rule through their elected representatives, why should it be necessary to institute and protect an authoritarian government?
The State was widely used in American colleges through the 1920s, which probably explains political thinking in the United States for the following forty-to-fifty years. He also laid the groundwork for the modern welfare state by insisting that charitable efforts be removed from the private domain and “made the imperative legal duty of the whole.”
During their respective administrations, Wilson and Roosevelt implemented this concept through taxation. Henceforth, the government would see to matters of charity “from those according to their ability, to those according to their need”—a hallmark phrase attributed to Karl Marx in 1875.
Wilson’s fourth book, a five-volume work titled History of the American People (1902), no doubt inspired the faux-historian Howard Zinn in the 1960-70’s. At this point, there should be little doubt about the impact to American society and culture, indeed the entire framework of our nation, of the opinions of academics, lawyers, and politicians.
On the one hand, we encourage the free exchange of ideas; on the other hand, a cautious citizen will always question what they read or hear. Wilson was better educated than most Americans in his own day, but he certainly had no advantage by the level of his intelligence. In modern parlance, Wilson was an egghead.
We should also pay closer attention to what the so-called intelligentsia tell us in their oratory. On 22 August 1887, Woodrow Wilson offered remarks about socialism. Wilson is somewhat difficult to read because his speaking and writing style reflects a bygone age.
Note: I have had students in high school who were unable to read any cursive writing, which appears to underscore the sign of the times in American education. But in reading Wilson, one must consider the purpose of his remarks, which appeals to emotion rather than intellect.
In any case, while the full text of his remarks can be read here, a short summary follows: “I point these remarks particularly at current discussions of socialism, and principally of ‘state socialism,’ which is almost the only form of socialism seriously discussed among us, out-side the Anti-Poverty Society.
Is there not a plentiful lack of nerve and purpose in what we read and hear nowadays on this momentous topic. One might be excused for taking and keeping the impression that there can be no great need for the haste in the settlement of the questions mooted in connexion[sic] with it, inasmuch as the debating of them has not yet passed beyond its rhetorical and pulpit stage.
It is easy to make socialism, as theoretically developed by the greater and saner socialistic writers, intelligible not only, but even attractive, as a conception; it is easy also to render it a thing of fear to timorous minds, and to make many signs of the times bear menace of it; the only hard task is to give it validity and strength as a program in practical politics.
Yet the whole interest of socialism for those whose thinking extends beyond the covers of books and the paragraphs of periodicals lies in what it will mean in practice. It is a question of practical politics [emphasis added], or else it is only a thesis for engaging discourse.”
“Roundly described, socialism is a proposition that every community, by means of whatever forms of organization may be most effective for the purpose, see to it for itself that each one of its members finds the employment for which he is best suited and is rewarded according to his diligence and merit, all proper surroundings of moral influence being secured to him by the public authority.
‘State socialism’ is willing to act though state authority as it is at present organized. It proposes that all idea of a limitation of public authority by individual rights be put out of view, and that the State consider itself bound to stop only at what is unwise or futile in its universal superintendence alike of individual and of public interests. The thesis of the states socialist is, that no line can be drawn between private and public affairs which the State may not cross at will; that omnipotence of legislation is the first postulate of all just political theory.”
“Applied in a democratic state, such doctrine sounds radical, but not revolutionary. It is only an acceptance of the extremest[sic] logical conclusions deducible from democratic principles long ago received as respectable. For it is very clear that in fundamental theory socialism and democracy are almost if not quite one and the same [emphasis added].
They both rest at bottom upon the absolute right of the community to determine its own destiny and that of its members. Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals [emphasis added]. Limits of wisdom and convenience to the public control there may be: limits of principle there are, upon strict analysis, none.
Of course, Wilson was lying. Democracy and Socialism are as incompatible as a nest of pythons in an infant’s crib. Democracy is a political ideology; socialism is an economic theory—one that so far in world history, has been proved unworkable in the context of humanitarianism and democratic ideology.
It is possible to modify one to accommodate the other, but in doing so, significant changes are made to the essential tenets. In order to achieve equal outcomes, it is necessary to take from some in order to give it to another. This does not appear what our enlightened founding fathers had in mind. The United States Constitution provides unalienable rights. To the extent that human society can cooperate with one another, it should … but socialism seeks to impose its will, according to how the politician of the day defines its necessity. The concept of “cooperation” is thus redefined and, again, not in the way our founders intended.
Thomas Jefferson once suggested that an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people. I believe his exact quote was, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Mr. Jefferson, recently reviled in the pulp-press as a slave owner (which is only about one-third of the story), also told us, “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history: whether man shall be allowed to govern himself, or be ruled by a small elite.”
If society is unable to decide how our children are educated, then we have lost our control over the future direction of the United States of America. Our children today are NOT being educated; they are being brainwashed by such men as Karl Marx, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Howard Zinn, every Democrat in the House of Representatives, and every President who ever embraced socialism as the “way forward.”
In conclusion, some additional food for thought:
“There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force; socialism by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.” —Ayn Rand
“The purpose of socialism is communism.” —Vladimir Lenin
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