The more things change
By Bruce Walker
I recommend to anyone interested in peeling off the meaningless layers of drivel which pass as news and current events the eye-opening information in old magazines and books. We live in an artificial world in which celebrity and attention mean everything and in which a real understanding of where we have been is not really welcome. Read old books and you will find that the same issues which plagued us seventy years ago plague us today. Consider the July 1943 issue of Reader's Digest.
In one article, Max Eastman, a former American Communist, during the middle of our odd "alliance" with Stalinist Russia wrote "We Must Face Facts About Russia." Eastman pulled information available to any open and curious mind about the true nature of our "ally." Such as…at least 10 million and perhaps 15 million wretched were starving and dying in Stalin's concentration camps and that Hollywood was perceived, even by American Communist periodicals like Daily Worker as working hard to convince Americans that Stalin was a benign ruler. Does this sound like Hollywood's crush on Che or Castro today? The Cuban Gulag holds tormented souls ignored by the Left. The more things change…
"U.S. Foreign Policy" urges us to set aside, in the postwar world, the "mirage" of pacifism and the "mirage" of disarmament, noting that when America eschews a robust defense of its national interests, then those who wish us harm or those who want to enslave us will find it easier and easier (more and more enticing) to violence against us. Shall we resist evil in this world or shall we pander to it? That question, very much alive seventy years ago, is very much alive today. The more things change…
The same issue of Reader's Digest has an article "U.S.A. versus the Frankenstein Monster." Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia (no relation to the Ku Klux Klan Senator from West Virginia) describes the explosion in the federal bureaucracy. Ohio, for example, had almost four times as many federal employees (not connected with the war effort) as state employees. Pennsylvania had five federal employees to every one state employee. Senator Byrd notes that the Office of Price Administration has 2,700 lawyers to devise regulations on price control and he notes that in Britain, the legal staff for the same function is ten lawyers. Byrd warns that even as we are winning the war against Nazism, we are losing the war against civilian federal bureaucracy. The more things change…
"Which Way to Postwar Jobs?" is an article condensed from Barron's. John Hanes describes how bureaucrats in Washington intend to keep unemployment low when the war ends. "Washington planners propose to provide these jobs through 'public works' projects into which billions of dollars will be poured." The article warns that Washington planners into to finance this massive expenditure of make-work projects through borrowing. Private enterprise creates jobs and produces goods and services. "There can be new inventions, new products, new services, that the bureaucratic mind would never conceive but that the system of competitive enterprise invariably creates." The more things change…
…the more they remain the same. The love affair which the Left has for socialist monsters is still quite real. So, too, is the Left's certainly that being nice to these brutal monsters will miraculously bring a millennial peace. The truth about the real brutes around the world is easy to ignore or even to paint as benign. But pretense does not change anything. Evil in the world must be defeated.
The ballooning size of the federal government and the oceans of meaningless regulations which follow is a danger seen long ago and it more and more squeezes out productive people. The Left's idea that federal deficit borrowing and "investment" in make-work jobs will somehow create wealth is a fallacy which seems indestructible. The truth that private citizens acting on their own initiative create wealth – wealth which "the bureaucratic minds would never conceive" – is just as true now as in July 1943.
If we leave the shallow pond of now for a moment, and if we travel back and see the battle of ideas fought seven decades ago, it is clear that the Left is immune to truth and, probably, indifferent to truth as well. When we hope that somehow logic, facts or wisdom will suddenly grab Leftists and make them sane and decent people, then we ignore – at our peril – the obvious: Leftism is a soul-disease and the first step to curing this malady is the ones who are sick must want to be cured.
Bruce Walker is the author of a new book Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.