Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

Christianity, faith, Happiness, Work

Defining Freedom: The Old/New Lure of Socialism

defining freedom: the old/new lure of Socialism

Defining freedom: The old/new lure of socialism

On this Independence Day weekend, taking a few moments to consider defining freedom – for ourselves, our lives and our choices-seems fitting. I find this old/new lure of socialism antithetical to what we stand for in this country founded under God. But this is clearly not so for a growing number of us here and around the world.

Since I have been wondering at the reasons for resurgence of socialism, an intriguing book by Kristian Niemeitz caught my attention with this promo:

Socialism is strangely impervious to refutation by real-world experience.

Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society, from the Soviet Union to Maoist China to Venezuela. All of them have ended in varying degrees of failure.

But, according to socialism’s adherents, that is only because none of these experiments were “real socialism”. This book documents the history of this, by now, standard response. It shows how the claim of fake socialism is only ever made after the event. As long as a socialist project is in its prime, almost nobody claims that it is not real socialism. On the contrary, virtually every socialist project in history has gone through a honeymoon period, during which it was enthusiastically praised by prominent Western intellectuals.

It was only when their failures became too obvious to deny that they got retroactively reclassified as “not real socialism”.

The word freedom is a simple concept, at first, anyway.

  • Definitionally, many of us tend to think of ‘being free from’ and being ‘free to’;
  • Historically, we think of our country’s promise to its citizens that we are  equal in our right to pursue happiness.
  • Politically, our current view of freedom couples personal preferences with the rule of law 
  • Socialism is more and more popular; capitalism increasingly pejorated.

Over the two and a half centuries of our existence, the criteria for the happiness of American citizens have changed.

Considerably. As they should.

And the criteria for what the citizenry is owed by the government have also changed.


As they should?

  • Should taxpayers be responsible for my life choices? Whether due to genetics, obesity, inactivity or simply refusing to consume anything but fake food loaded with fat and sugar, are my systemic illnesses of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis your problem?
  • How about my housing, nutritional and medical needs because of a genetic condition which renders me incapable of providing for myself? Should you be taxed for my care?
  • Because I decide I am not really a woman but a man trapped in a woman’s body, should you (via taxes) pay for extensive surgical procedures to change the body that appears female to one looking male?
  • Should you pay for my college education and that of my children?
  • Because I am promiscuous, or just unwilling to accept the consequences of my behavior, should you pay for my abortions? Effectively closing your eyes to what has become a lucrative federally funded abortion industry?

The list seems endless, these increasing ‘rights’ owed us by the government whether citizens or not, that a surprising number of Americans support. Perhaps because taxes are not perceived as ‘my money’?

Or because fewer and fewer of us pay taxes?

Or both?

I doubt that I am unique in noting the recent denigration of businessmen and women, of work itself and in lauding governmental subsidy of business.

Those of us who aim to use our wits to make a profit are becoming antiquated. Like Model T’s. Who feel that we cannot be fully human unless we work.

One of the many reasons I love to write is that almost always, my thoughts, opinions and beliefs change with the thought and research required for writing. For example, my comment that our culture feels anti-business makes me smile. Albeit a rueful one.

The reason for the rueful smile is that I recall the days (more accurately decades) when I was most assuredly anti-business.

And held what I have learned from Niemietz are socialistic ideas about business and the economy.

As a Hospital Director, I did not think of myself as either anti-business or socialistic. After all, I was responsible for a massive budget, knew well the ridiculously narrow profit margin of academic medicine. And yet, these associations of many people when thinking of the concept of capitalism from Niemitz’s book, Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies, mirrored my own: ‘greedy’, ‘selfish’, ‘corrupt’ and ‘divisive.’

Money was something I needed to pay bills but unseemly to desire for its own sake. Here are a few of the prejudicial attitudes I held toward business and profits.

  • Sales people are universally deceptive and out to cheat.
  • The desire to become a millionaire if not evil, is at least suspect, perhaps even sinister.
  • Unlike my motives of working to reform health care which I believed were altruistic, although I enjoyed the benefits of each paycheck.
  • Mostly though, I relied on ideology and its proponents…had not learned the hard lesson:

Do not put your trust in princes,

in human beings, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;

on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Psalm 146

My personal experience, which consisted of successes and failures in business…home business [ gasp] network marketing, caused a total turnaround. In fact, I was so excited about my new understanding that I wrote several self-help books on these subjects.

Why the turnaround?

Four primary reasons:

  • I converted to Catholicism.
  • I read an article stating that no single individual was worthy of becoming a millionaire. But that we were called to be good stewards of our money, using it for some greater purpose.
  • I began to study sales under the business model of network marketing.
  • The very real fact that practical experience always trumps ideology.

Niemietz’s book (this link is for a free PDF of the book) was exceedingly helpful in explaining the reason for our continuing love affair with socialism. The book is an exhaustive analysis of the human capacity to ignore history and claim that we know better than those who came before us. Insist that we must replace our messy, muddy democracy with a new improved brand of Socialism, a new oligarchy constituted by ideologues.

But writer Niemietz overlooks the most crucial factor for the persistence and reemergence of socialism: Atheism…or agnosticism.

Only those of us who walk outside of God’s Law believe we can perfect humanity. Or that it is possible to select people impervious to corruption, greed, laziness, and immorality to constitute the new oligarchy.

Those of us who are friends of Jesus know that the only way we can avoid these and all other temptations is in our daily battle for adherence to His Will. There is no other way. And still, we fail. We have learned we cannot rely on ourselves but on Him. Defining freedom: the old/new lure of socialiam.

From an article called “No One Can Say It Better: Solzhenitsyn.”

In different places over the years I have had to prove that socialism, which to many western thinkers is a sort of kingdom of justice, was in fact full of coercion, of bureaucratic greed and corruption and avarice, and consistent within itself that socialism cannot be implemented without the aid of coercion.
Communist propaganda would sometimes include statements such as “we include almost all the commandments of the Gospel in our ideology.” The difference is that the Gospel asks all this to be achieved through love, through self-limitation, but socialism only uses coercion.
From The Gulag Archipelago:
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?….

(Italics added for emphasis.)
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catholicism, catholocism, god, happiness, healing, motivation, obligations, spiritual, writing

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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