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April 2017 Policy Study, Number 17-8


A Commentary on American Public Policy


Part 4



Of this much I am certain:  Marx was keenly aware of this dilemma, and the policies he developed to install his philosophy of socialism were specifically designed to snuff out anything that stood in his way.  Marx was a genius . . . an evil genius to be sure . . . but a genius just the same:


When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.  (Part II).


As you can see, Marx’s goal was to concentrate all production, or in other words, control all assets (no private property), “in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation.”  His vision was the diminution of the individual and the dominance of an omnipotent state.  If one has these things as his goals, I can think of nothing yet devised by man that could be any more efficient and successful in bringing about this transition than the inexorable application of the ten planks of The Communist Manifesto.  It was exceedingly well thought out.  As much as we may detest his goals, we must give the devil his due when it comes to his strategy to accomplish them.  It was a stroke of pure genius.  But you can bet your horse that old Karl and his cronies had no intention of actually being dominated themselves.  They no doubt looked upon themselves as very special people, much superior to the common man.  They were “just the people” to implement this plan for peace and prosperity.  It was to be all good things — and for everyone.  After all, they did “but seek to alter the character” (of government) and “rescue” (the downtrodden individual):


Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another.  If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.  In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.  (The Communist Manifesto, Part II).


If you believe the class that they establish “will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class” and/or the immediately preceding paragraph, I still have that ocean-front property in Kansas for sale.  Exactly the opposite happens.  They become thoroughly entrenched as a class; and the condition “for the free development for all” that they establish restricts the efforts of the individual to the least common denominator.  If you are the least bit hesitant to believe this, just take a few moments to reflect on the old USSR (Russia), or the current situations in China, Cuba, and North Korea.


Perhaps Sir Winston Churchill captured the sentiment best when he said, “If capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth, then communism is the equal distribution of misery.” Once upon a time, I used to believe that Mr. Marx simply miscalculated the effects of his proposed system.  He received the benefit of the doubt.  That is no longer the case.  Marx knew exactly what he was doing.  We now switch from the greatest promoter of communism to another who well understood the consequences of the communist philosophy.  His name is Frederic Bastiat. 


Bastiat lived in France from 1801 to 1850.  At this period in French history, especially toward the end of this period, France was leaning very heavily in the direction of socialism.  (There will be no comment on France today.)  Bastiat was an economist, statesman, and author who used his considerable skills in these disciplines to thwart the encroachment of Socialism as best he could.  His exposition on the philosophy and behavior of socialism is one of the very best and most easily understood that I have had the good fortune to discover.  As an added benefit, it is quite short.  Its value seems to be inversely proportional to its length.  It is entitled The Law, and it can be obtained through The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.  You cannot be encouraged enough to read it.


There is one major caveat as we approach Bastiat’s writing.  His use of the word “law” would seem to differ markedly from the manner in which it has been used throughout these essays.  We have made a distinction between “lawful” and “legal.”  Things that are “lawful” are in conformity with the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”  Even though we may call something a “law,” those things that are merely “legal,” that is, enacted through the government of man, may or may not be “lawful.”  Bastiat’s meaning of the word is, “Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle to injustice.  In short, law is justice.”  His meaning of the word “law” concerns those enactments of elected officials, or in a broader sense, of government itself applying those enactments in the pursuit of justice.  His opening paragraph tells you he notes the difference, though he never states it as such.  His work is worth treating in detail. 




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