- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2011


By Kevin D. Williamson
Regnery, $19.95, 277 pages

The main problem in completing a study on all of the damage and misery socialism has inflicted around the world over many generations is that at some point, the author must stop and wrap it up. Thus, the reviewer’s challenge becomes the familiar “where to begin.”

Through experiment after experiment, Kevin D. Williamson, in his book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism,” counts the many ways in which this ideological fraud has fallen short and left misery in its wake - except for central planners and their favored operatives.

So that our terms will be clear, Mr. Williamson is referring to all strains of socialism, whether practiced by the Fabians of Western Europe’s democracies and their imitators in the United States or at the barrel of a gun, as in Castro’s Cuba, North Korea under Kim Jong-iI, the old Soviet Union or Hitler’s National Socialism. “Democratic socialism” is often seen as communism on a slow train, where the inevitable result is centralized government power and less freedom for the individual.

Mr. Williamson, a top editor at National Review and adjunct professor at New York City’s King’s College, gets to the centerpiece of our contemporary experience with socialism on these shores in an entire chapter where he makes the case that Obamacare “looks like socialism because it is socialism.” Not that we could not have surmised as much by the book’s cover where old Karl Marx himself is pictured looking ever-so-scholarly with an Obama button on his lapel.

The most familiar thread in all strands of socialism - creeping or jackboot, velvet glove or iron fist - has much in common with the old hat trick. As its government practitioners play the class-hatred card to force a redistribution of wealth, many other basic human rights are also redistributed “just to make it fair.” Then ultimately, they disappear altogether for all but the elite distributors of “rights.”

Included among the glaring examples is socialist Zimbabwe’s land “reform” program used by the Robert Mugabe government as a pretext to attack organized religion.

Here at home, an example in the making is the Obama-majority Federal Communications Commission’s deceptively titled “net neutrality” program to regulate (read take control of) the Internet. You take for granted your right to go online to find your favorite source of information. Coercive socialists (is there any other kind?) want to take it away from you.

“Freedom of speech?” Oh, that’s a beautiful concept, darling, but wouldn’t it be more fair if we could “redistribute speech?”

Far-fetched? Consider Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in a law journal wherein she wrote that government’s motives should be the foremost consideration - rather than the real-world effect of the law in First Amendment cases. One shudders to think of the new justice’s thought processes when confronted with a future case wherein an aggrieved citizen is harassed by officials because he would not be silenced.

Mr. Williamson goes beyond that realm of the theoretical and cites the recent circumstance “with the Obama administration threatening to close down any insurance company that publicly links rising health insurance costs to the passage of Obamacare.”

The socialist label is in no way reserved for Democratic presidents. The author brands Richard Nixon as a socialist, in part due to his wage and price controls and health care bill, the latter a forerunner to Hillarycare and Obamacare.

“The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism” justifiably pinpoints Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president, as the man “who stands alone and uncontested as being the nearest thing to a Lenin or a Mussolini that the United States has ever endured.”

World War I gave Wilson the talking points he needed to raise the recently approved income tax, “virtually” nationalizing the ocean shipping industry; actually nationalizing the railroad, telephone, domestic telegraph and international telegraphic cable industry; becoming deeply involved in manipulating labor-management relations, securities sales, agricultural distribution and marketing, distribution of coal and oil, international commerce and markets for raw materials and manufactured products; shutting down critical newspapers and empowering the newly created Federal Reserve System into “a powerful engine of monetary inflation.”

The author draws a literary bead on a socialist target overlooked by much of the right: the Interstate Highway system, which he labels “a gigantic city-killing community-undermining expensive national boondoggle” slicing through practically any city to create “a Berlin Wall of social and economic segregation.” That, in turn, imposes costs on suburban and exurban home buyers ranging from “congestion and pollution to wear and tear on the roads as well as social costs, such as higher rates of crime in the newly developed city centers.”

Whether the failure of Mohandas Gandhi’s India, the “crackdown” by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or the “model” of Sweden (which Mr. Williamson says “stinks”), the result is a deep, dark hole. Even so, this book needs a second volume. There is no end to the long parade of disasters.

Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.

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