Thursday, 11 October 2007

Why socialists are stupid Pt. 2

Socialism doesn't work. This can be taken as a given.

There are degrees of course. A more or less modest amount of socialism, as in Wilson's administration between 1964 and 1970, produces a more or less modest amount of failure. A rather larger dose, as in the Wilson/Callaghan administrations of the 1970s, leads to a rather larger degree of failure. And of course a full-on application of the medicine produces utter prostration (cf the Soviet Union, Cuba, Burma, the eastern bloc, etc, etc, etc). But it doesn't change the fact that every time – not just most times but every time – the result is failure.

So why persist? The answer is that socialism is a religion, an article of faith. As such, it requires that you can't admit you are wrong.

This is not to say that the present government is no more than a updated media-friendly version of 1980s Benn/Kinnock socialism. Blair and Mandelson saw to that. It is at least superficially a friend to business, a party of the centre rather than of the left per se, hence the crucial ditching of Clause 4 in 1995.

But it is socialist for all that. More particularly, it is socialism a la Brown. And what does that mean?

Brown may have been hooted at lately for his banging on about vision when, to all intents and purposes, the man appears entirely blind. But it would be wrong to say he has no master plan. The problem, however, is that like all socialist master plans it hasn't worked.

What is it?

That given an economy in sufficiently good health, courtesy of course of his prudent, far-sighted economic management (no mention here of the foundations laid by the Tories or of the global economic upturn over the same period), it is possible to increase taxes steadily, preferably by stealth, and then unleash a vast cascade of cash on the sacred cows of the socialist pantheon. Hence the deluge of money lavished above all on the NHS and education since 2001, the idea being that Brown can then boast of vast increases in public spending – meaning, by definition in his Cyclopean world view, inevitable improvements in services – as opposed to Tory spending cuts, code for inevitable cut-backs and reductions in services. (It is worth noticing that he was up to this again yesterday in his clunking performance in PMQs).

It would be tiresome to detail the limitless failings of the NHS and state education since the unleashing of the Bottler's billions. Others have done it far better than I could ever hope to. Take a look here, here and here for starters. This is a particularly fine example. More here, too, from the beautiful Camilla Cavendish of The Times. There is a vast amount in the same vein.

But the point is that in the face of these failings, all achieved at prodigious cost, the knee-jerk socialist reaction is: More of the Same! If the health service is still not working – though it is of course perfect – that means we must spend MORE MONEY. It is all oddly reminiscent of Barmy Benn's belief after Thatcher's election in 1979 that the failure of the Callaghan government was the result of its not having gone far enough. It should have been more socialist, not less.

The reason of course for these myriad failings is that, as I have said before, governments are constitutionally incapable of running any business. They bring a bizarre incompetence to bear that is all their own and which guarantees failure. It becomes all the more hilarious of course when, dimly aware of their failings, they then attempt to ape the private sector in the belief that works for that must work for them, too, the only result being yet more failure though this time dressed up in half-digested management gobbledegook plus, at even greater cost, even more managers.

Will the penny ever drop? No, because for that to happen you have to admit you are wrong. And being wrong, for the faithful, is akin to apostasy. Much better to remain in denial and so true to your poor, misguided socialist beliefs.

Better, in short, to remain stupid.

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