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From the Pen of David Horowitz: December 1, 2009

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Posted on December 1 2009 1:49 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here

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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.

This epic of human futility reached a climax the same year, when the socialist state formally decided to return the land it had taken from its peasants half a century before. The collectivization of agriculture in the Thirties had been the very first pillar of the socialist Plan and one of the bloodiest episodes of the revolutionary era. Armies were dispatched to the countryside to confiscate the property of its recalcitrant owners, conduct mass deportations to the Siberian gulag, liquidate the ‘kulaks’ and herd the survivors into the collective farms of the Marxist future.

In this ‘final’ class struggle, no method was considered too ruthless to midwife the new world from the old. “We are opposed by everything that has outlived the time set for it by history” wrote Maxim Gorky in the midst of battle: “This gives us the right to consider ourselves again in a state of civil war. The conclusion naturally follows that if the enemy does not surrender, he must be destroyed.” The destruction of the class enemy — the most numerous and productive element of Soviet society at the time — was accomplished by massacres, by slow deaths in concentration camps and by deliberately induced genocidal famine. In the end, over 10 million people were killed, more than had died on all sides in World War I.[25]

But the new serfdom the Soviet rulers imposed in the name of liberation only destroyed the peasants’ freedom and incentive, and thus laid the foundations of the final impasse. Before collectivization, Russia had been the “breadbasket of Europe,” supplying 40% of the world’s wheat exports in the bumper years 1909 and 1910.[26] But socialism ended Russia’s agrarian plenty and created permanent deficits — not merely the human deficit of those who perished because of Stalinist brutalities during the collectivization, but a deficit in grain that would never be brought to harvest because of the brutality inherent in the socialist idea. Half a century after the socialist future had been brought to the countryside, the Soviet Union had become a net importer of grain, unable to produce enough food to feed its own population.

These deficits eventually forced the state to allow a portion of the crop to be sold on the suppressed private market. Soon, 25% of Soviet grain was being produced on the 3% of the arable land reserved for private production. Thus necessity had compelled the Soviet rulers to create a dramatic advertisement for the system they despised. They had rejected the productive efficiencies of the capitalist system as exploitative and oppressive. Yet, the socialist redistribution of wealth had produced neither equity nor justice, but scarcity and waste. At the end of the 1980s, amidst growing general crisis, Soviet youth were using bread as makeshift footballs because its price had been made so low –  (to satisfy the demands of social equity) that it was now less than the cost of the grain to produce it. This was a microcosm of socialist economy. Irrational prices, bureaucratic chaos, and generalized public cynicism (the actually existing socialist ethos in all Marxist states) had created an environment in which 40% of the food crop was lost to spoilage before ever reaching the consumer. And so, half a century after 10 million people had been killed to “socialize the countryside,” those who had expropriated the land were giving it back.

The road to nowhere had become a detour. (Soviet joke: What is socialism? The longest road from capitalism to capitalism.) Now the Soviet rulers themselves had begun to say that it had all been a horrible “mistake.” Socialism did not work. Not even for them.

The Road to Nowhere from The Politics of Bad Faith

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