“Until rulers have the nature of philosophers or philosophers become the rulers, there can be no civic peace or happiness.
In a recent debate with someone who suggested that certain public services were Socialist programs: fire departments, law enforcement, public schools, and Medicare…I felt inclined to clarify that such services are designed to perform a basic function in society. Regardless of employment prosperity, or lack thereof, and even if no one was in danger of being homeless or starved; there would always remain a need for these services for the sake of maintaining order and safety.
Socialism, as history has determined, has been more about consolidating resources and redistributing them to certain groups of people for the sake of quality of life.
For example: In Ancient Mesopotamia… Lagash, a metropolis with a rich history was the first to enact the idea of redistribution of goods by way of taxing the wealthy to give to the poor.
Urukagina was the Patesi (elected king, if you will), who came from a wealthy family, but renounced his wealth for the sake of helping the poor is recognized as the first reformer and who enacted policies similar to modern day Liberal-thinking.
Some called him the first Jimmy Carter.
It won him great favor among the masses, at first.
Most of the wealthy class, and even the priests, however, despised him for this because it took money out of their pockets.
Mind you, he did this during a time when Lagash was still frequently at war with the rival city-state of Umma over water rights and land.
Eventually, Urukagina’s push to tax the wealthy more than the poor, and then to redistribute that wealth among the poor led the wealthy to leave to surrounding city-states, and some even found refuge in Umma.
The thing historians discovered was that without a wealthy class to contribute to the “bank” for the redistribution of funds there remained no one to provide the poor with a means to buy food or pay for services/goods.
It proved to be an early study, in retrospect, of human behavior, because without the incentive to earn more income the ambition of the poor was basically extinguished by the good intentions of their leader.
(Human nature has repeatedly shown us that when you take away a person’s incentive to earn their own keep…they won’t bother to find a way to earn on their own. This isn’t the case with everyone, but consider how Illinois’ system has hindered progress compared to welfare systems in other states, like Wisconsin that require a tier system of progress to essentially ease someone off of the assistance program.)
Back to history:
Eventually the merchants fled the city too, because again…there was no one to PAY for services and goods.
Who is left to tax, if the poor aren’t paying enough in taxes to contribute to military for defenses? After-all, the military (soldiers) were the guard and the police of the city-state during that time.
Eventually, Lagash had no fiscal means to defend itself and Umma FINALLY… after hundreds of years being defeated by their nemesis, overtook Lagash.
They destroyed the city…and it was basically lost to the sands of time.
This led to the emergence of Lugal-Zagesi, king of Umma who sought to build the world’s first empire, but who eventually fell to Sargon the Great.
Socialism was not seen again until after the Middle Ages.
In more recent times, Socialist Russia proved how dangerous a Socialist government can be to the poor.
Another individual criticized my reference to Russia, and suggested that countries like Sweden, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and France “have far better systems” established in lieu of the corruption, lobbying and wage income gap that perpetuates a separation of Classes in the United States.
And though I am aware of how other nations have utilized Socialism, I contended that it’s not always as cut-and-dry as one might think. There’s a myriad of intricacies to how it functions…and in many cases other factors of governing must be compromised, which American’s are seldom willing to do.
With regard to Russia…
I referenced Russia as an example of how dangerous a Socialist government can be because there is documentation of how resources were pooled from the vast farmland throughout the countryside to provide food for the masses in the more densely populated cities/regions of the country.
The consequence led many farmers’ families to starve. To the point where mothers had to kill off an infant in order to have enough food to feed her older children who helped out on the farm.
That’s not propaganda…that’s history.
Though this individual takes umbrage with overlooking the thriving Democratic countries where Capitalism does not exist, he proposed a conversation about what works for those free and Democratic countries.
I had to remind him that the United States is a Republic, a Republic that has thrived on Capitalism.
For a successful paradigm shift from one form of government to another, there must be a change in the core philosophy of governing; otherwise the conflict will merely be exacerbated.
He argued that “Capitalism is not in the constitution,” and I was glad he did, because I asked him to elaborate on where it states in the Constitution that Socialism not only equates to a better way of life, but also substantiates it as a necessary form of government to that end.
He was unable, or unwilling to do so, but to be fair I argued that one couldn’t postulate, “Capitalism is not in the Constitution without substantiating said claim.”
I made that statement because such a supposition seemed to be predicated more on merely making a reference to the Constitution (given that it seems to be the “word of the day,”) than actually having an understanding of how the Constitution correlates to government.
Case in point: the Guarantee Clause of the US Constitution Article 4, Section 4, Clause 1:
“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
Not to be confused with the Republican Party.
The Republicanism as written by our Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers, and a myriad of other writings, refers to a political philosophy and not merely an unsubstantiated notion.
For, in truth, a Republic requires strong and healthy private and civil sectors in which citizens pursue their own ambitions backed by a public sphere limited to enumerated powers.
Enumerated powers, as listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to exercise powers granted by the Constitution.
Whereas a Socialist government, akin to monarchism, relies on a strong and healthy sovereign public sphere that oversees a small portion of the private and civil sectors in which the PEOPLE have LIMITED scope of action.
In short, consider this…
In a Republic, education should be what the people make it. Perhaps that means we should let professionals who best understand how to teach and how to create curriculums to maximize a student’s potential do their job without government interference.
Does this remind anyone of how vehemently we have argued against the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education?
Instead, however we turned education into a state indoctrination in the public sector with disastrous results, in that children aren’t free to practice their civil liberties and freedoms. Think of the controversial decision to cease the daily practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. Primarily because a group of Individuals expressed discontent with the words, “one nation, under God…”
This is a simple form of how the public’s freedom and power is shifted away from the citizens and into the hands of government. Basically, this is reflective of how things unfold when the paradigm shift goes from Republicanism to Socialism.
The Constitution clearly supports the former, not the ladder.