In an absurd article posted on Salon, author Jesse Myerson tries to explain why we’ve all misjudged communism. Myerson moves through several points, but there’s one that stuck in my craw in particular.
According to Myerson, modern Americans believe the following: “21st Century American communism would resemble 20th century Soviet and Chinese horrors.”
In response, Myerson writes:
“Given the technological, material, and social advances of the last century, we could expect an approach to communism beginning here and now to be far more open, humane, democratic, participatory, and egalitarian than the Russian and Chinese attempts managed. I’d even argue it would be easier now than it was then to construct a set of social relations based on fellowship and mutual aid…”
Jesse Myerson suffers from a common delusion suffered by many liberals, called historian complex. Historian complex is a product of arrogance, and ignorance, which combine to lead the sufferer to believe that simply by virtue of his place in time, he is more intelligent, and more capable than those who lived before him.
An example: I believe that Nazi Germany would never have risen to power in the 21st century, because we have advanced as a society to the point that we would not allowed Hitler to do what he did. I believe that with sanctions, and dialogue, we could have averted WWII. But hey, it was the 1940’s. What did they know?
This belief is rooted in incredible arrogance. I would like to ask Jesse what exactly makes us any different from Maoist China, or Stalinist Russia? If the answer is that we have learned from the past, and that because of Mao, Stalin, and Hitler, we know better; that is incorrect. I’m sorry to say that prior to Mao, and Stalin, there were many dictators. Time doesn’t often learn from its mistakes.
If the answer is that we have advanced as a society, I’m afraid that is also incorrect. First, what says that we have learned? We have made advances in many fields, but does that mean we are more stable as a people? Are we less gullible? I would argue otherwise. We are the same. People don’t change. Our culture may change, as do our abilities, but humanity is finite in its ability to learn from the past. We are equally prone to foolishness as our ancestors. Given that, what makes us less vulnerable to corruption?
What about technological and social advances makes us less susceptible to being duped, less susceptible to being corrupted ourselves? Something like that cannot be pinned down. Communism is inherently a creed of greed. It fosters envy, and resentment. For example, class warfare. Telling the poor that the rich don’t deserve what they’ve worked for, that they should be forced to give a “fair share” to the poorer among us. How is that kind? How is that generous? It’s greedy.
The idea that communism is this benevolent philosophy geared toward equality is a lie. It’s a philosophy of anger and greed. It fosters war and propagates equality at the expense of others—which isn’t equality at all. It is a philosophy born out of the mud, and that’s where it should stay.
Jesse Myerson’s assertion that we would do communism better is outrageous and extraordinarily naive at best, deadly at worst.