Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Part V of excerpts from the chapter entitled "The Road to Nowhere" from David Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith. A long one this time:
Straitjacketed by its central plan, the socialist world was unable to enter the "second industrial revolution" that began to unfold in countries outside the Soviet bloc after 1945. By the beginning of the 1980s the Japanese already had 13 times the number of large computers per capita as the Soviets and nearly 60 times the number of industrial robots (the U.S. had three times the computer power of the Japanese themselves). "We were among the last to understand that in the age of information sciences the most valuable asset is knowledge, springing from human imagination and creativity," complained Soviet President Gorbachev in 1989. "We will be paying for our mistake for many years to come." While capitalist nations (including recent "third world" economies like South Korea) were soaring into the technological future, Russia and its satellites, caught in the contradictions of an archaic mode of production, were stagnating into a decade of zero growth, becoming economic anachronisms or what one analyst described as "a gigantic Soviet socialist rust belt." In the 1980s the Soviet Union had become a military super-power, but this achievement bankrupted its already impoverished society in the process.

Nothing illustrated this bankruptcy with more poignancy than the opening of a McDonald's fast-food outlet in Moscow about the time the East Germans were pulling down the Berlin Wall. In fact, the semiotics of the two were inseparable. During the last decades of the Cold War, the Wall had come to symbolize the borders of the socialist world, the Iron Curtain that held its populations captive against the irrepressible fact of the superiority of the capitalist societies in the West. When the Wall was breached, the terror was over, and with it the only authority ever really commanded by the socialist world.

The appearance of the Moscow McDonald's revealed the prosaic truth that lay behind the creation of the Wall and the bloody epoch that it had come to symbolize. Its Soviet customers gathered in lines whose length exceeded those waiting outside Lenin's tomb, the altar of the revolution itself. Here, the capitalist genius for catering to the ordinary desires of ordinary people was spectacularly displayed, along with socialism's relentless unconcern for the needs of common humanity. McDonald's executives even found it necessary to purchase and manage their own special farm in Russia, because Soviet potatoes -- the very staple of the people's diet -- were too poor in quality and unreliable in supply. On the other hand, the wages of the Soviet customers were so depressed that a hamburger and fries was equivalent in rubles to half a day's pay. And yet this most ordinary of pleasures -- the bottom of the food chain in the capitalist West -- was still such a luxury for Soviet consumers that to them it was worth a four hour wait and a four hour wage.
I could stop here, but no. The next paragraphs are just too good:
Of all the symbols of the epoch-making year, this was perhaps the most resonant for leftists of our generation. Impervious to the way the unobstructed market democratizes wealth, the New Left had focused its social scorn precisely on those plebeian achievements of consumer capitalism, that brought services and goods efficiently and cheaply to ordinary people. Perhaps the main theoretical contribution of our generation of New Left Marxists was an elaborate literature of cultural criticism made up of sneering commentaries on the "commodity fetishism" of bourgeois cultures and the “one-dimensional" humanity that commerce produced. The function of such critiques was to make its authors superior to the ordinary liberations of societies governed by the principles of consumer sovereignty and market economy. For New Leftists, the leviathans of post-industrial alienation and oppression were precisely these "consumption-oriented" industries, like McDonald's, that offered inexpensive services and goods to the working masses -- some, like the "Sizzler" restaurants, in the form of "all you can eat" menus that embraced a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits and pastries virtually unknown in the Soviet bloc.

These mundane symbols of consumer capitalism revealed the real secret of the era that was now ending, the reason why the Iron Curtain and its Berlin Walls were necessary, why the Cold War itself was an inevitable by-product of socialist rule: In 1989, for two hour's labor at the minimum wage, an American worker could obtain, at a corner "Sizzler," a feast more opulent, more nutritionally rich and gastronomically diverse than anything available to almost all the citizens of the socialist world (including the elite) at almost any price.

In the counter-revolutionary year 1989, on the anniversary of the Revolution, a group of protesters raised a banner in Red Square that summed up an epoch: Seventy Years On The Road To Nowhere. They had lived the socialist future and it didn't work.
Don't miss tomorrow's QotD!

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