Socialism: The Gateway Drug of Politics

Many think of Karl Marx as the “father” of Socialism.

But I think of it in its modern form as starting in France in the early 1800s. Marx wasn’t even born until 1818.

Most forms of Socialism were a reaction to the effects of industrialization on cities, transforming them from refined habitats for the well-to-do into grimy places full of slums where the workers lived. In my brief exposure to socialist-type writings (such as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward) I did not detect any great awareness of rural society and how it compared (for the poor) to urban life. Though urbanization eventually became a path to upward mobility for many economically disadvantaged people, in the early 1800s it was not clear that any such thing would ever occur.

The actual phenomenon that troubled many thinking people of those times (and earlier) was what seemed like conscious attempts by members of the elite classes to maintain a disadvantaged class that they could take advantage of. In those years, the European world was just beginning to realize that slavery was wrong, but also arising were new theories about human nature that would justify the mistreatment of people in new and “more scientific” ways.

Opium of the people

Marx famously described organized religion as the “opium of the people.” It is clear from this statement – and many others of course – that Marx had problems with all elements of the “status quo,” not just the behavior of the wealthier capitalists. Marx himself was a sickly person who had trouble holding down a job and doing right by his family. So, besides trying to explain why so many workers were so willing to live in poverty, he was also trying to explain why he, an educated person originating from the upper classes, was also having so much trouble.

Following in the line of many earlier troubled thinkers, he was unable to become self-aware enough to notice his own complicity in his problems and chose instead to blame them on “the system.” He called this system “capitalism” and blamed it – or so it seemed – for all evil in the world, including his own psychological problems.

I hope you can see that this is a ridiculous claim. Though many churches, businesses and government institutions were run by very short-sighted, if not vicious, men, they were following patterns that seemed to work for them and to some extent for society at large. It was their own spiritual weaknesses, I contend, and not “the system” or “capitalism” that was responsible for the results they were getting.

If anything, religious study, whether that be the Bible, Buddhism, or Lao Tzu, would have assisted them to rule with more humanity and humility. They, on the other hand, were being taunted by the allure of materialism, which they were helping to strengthen with their manufacturing efforts, their marketing to the public, their support of the hard sciences and engineering over the humanities, and their own conspicuous consumption.

And Marx was also a materialist!

Damned lies, and more damned lies

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This is a quote from Mark Twain (1835-1910, for reference) which he attributed to a politician of his age, though we cannot find any evidence that the particular politician in question ever said it.

But Twain was often cursing popular leaders for how deceptive they were, and in this he was, I am sure, quite astute.

It is just that he wasn’t really saying anything new. Some of the most cherished narratives of this planet are based on lies. Everything from biblical Genesis, to the Vedas, to Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Big Bang and New Age “ascension.” Someone’s been doing a real good job here on Earth of hiding the truth from us.

Marx in his turn promised that all we had to do was replace Capitalism with Socialism and everything would be fine. On this planet? Really? But people believed it. Marx advocated for violent (if necessary) “revolution” to destroy the “status quo.” And we got a classic example of this in Russia in 1918. China worked a little differently but resulted in the most enduring Communist regime so far. Western democracies also played around with Socialist and “welfare state” ideas to deal with the collapse of older safety net systems in the face of — what?

If you ask a psychologist what sort of personality lies the most, they should answer you “the psychopath.” And if you then ask them what we can do about it, they would normally answer “it’s incurable.” If you ask a Scientologist the same question they will tell you, “the Suppressive Person; keep them out of positions of power, they are pure poison.” It’s basically the same answer with slightly different concepts.

Was Marx a psychopath? I can’t answer that question. He acted a lot like one. Was Hitler one? Most of us think so. Who else? We know several psychiatrists who have been caught behaving like psychopaths. Undoubtedly there are many more like this in positions of power, as they are attracted to such positions. There are also the millions who operate at lower levels in society. They cause plenty of havoc, too. So, why all this talk of changing political systems? Why don’t we attack the correct target?

A problem of responsibility

If you fell sick, would you be willing to take total responsibility for the illness, rather than blame germs, or something else, for “making me sick?” If you could, I guarantee you would get well faster.

We have similar problems in many other areas of life, including especially politics. We want our governments to be as strong as the criminal organizations they oppose. But expecting our governments to fight criminals is the perfect way to transform governments into criminal organizations. Because the criminals will feel threatened and thus plot to take over. And they are often successful. And that’s when you get a “status quo” which is totally intolerable!

If you got sick and were knowledgeable enough to look around and find the psychopath in your environment that wanted you to be sick, and then competently handled your connection to that person, you would be on your way to staying permanently well. But that takes a lot of responsibility on your part. You have to face the fact that you must have been willingly involved in a toxic relationship.

It is similar in politics. If we don’t take sufficient responsibility for our own condition and the choices we made to get into them, we’ll never get out of them. Though the first step is to handle the suppressive connections, after that you have to go ahead and take responsibility for handing the reasons you agreed to those connections. It’s not always easy to do. Anyone who says it is is lying. But if you want to really improve your life and the lives of those around you, you have to take that much responsibility. It’s not easy for me, either. And I’m the one trying to remind you of this!

Temptations versus real answers

Most of us wish that we could do better, that life could be easier, that we could be as secure in life as the rich guy who lives on the hill. And so when something happens that threatens our income or our health or our children, we tend to curse the situation, blame it on others, and look for someone else to rescue us from something we obviously weren’t to blame for.

It’s probably true that some of those rich guys out there didn’t really earn their riches honestly or under their own steam. But some of them did. And if they have managed to remain in good shape for a long period of time, chances are they are very able beings. You have the choice to simply resent them and their “privilege” or to do something to strengthen your own life, and confront and handle your own toxic connections.

Are there “systemic” problems in this society that unfairly support those who are already successful? Undoubtedly.

Will a “new socialist (progressive or ?) revolution” solve those problems? No!!! The best you’re going to get is a band-aid.

Will a thorough study of the psychopathic personality and how to deal with it solve those problems? It would be a good start.

And after that, we need to follow through and strengthen ourselves spiritually. That’s the permanent answer. At least it is in theory! We won’t know for sure until more people actually try it. But for sure, no “system” no matter how tempting or well thought out will solve life on Earth. Our problems didn’t even originate on Earth! And if you haven’t discovered that yet, you still have a long way to go!

Could all this talk of a way out just be a “higher level” delusion? I suppose it could. But it has worked for some people. Why not give it a try? What do you have to lose? Your problems? Don’t worry; there are plenty more where those came from!

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One Response to “Socialism: The Gateway Drug of Politics”

  1. Concepcion Perez Says:

    Tough questions, here!!! I personally has no answers (like, can socialism successfully solve dire issues such as hunger / poverty?)? My own thoughts (that might tend to lead me back to plausible socialist leanings): I has a problem, with people dying in front of a hospital. Whatever es decided (on a societal level): I personally do not wish to live in a world – where people literally die in front of the very resources that they need for survival. To the extent that we can avoid needless hunger etc – I am totally ok with social safety nets. The ideal (I believe) is that everyone gainfully support themselves. But, if we have catastrophes that unexpectedly affect a lot of persons (such as a flood or earthquake) – then, I don’t see a problem with redistributing resources to those in greatest need. If the strength of a society is measured by its weakest links, then I vote to protect and strengthen the vulnerable amongst us. I also support preventive measures over corrective measures – such as a society that would rather invest in preventive early childhood education (vs investing in corrective endless prisons).

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