…a doctor gave the baby a blood test, a chest X-ray, and examined her carefully. When he was finished, he gave Lee some forms to take to a service desk. Lydia and Marina waited in line with him there and heard him tell the nurse who looked over his forms that he had no money, was unemployed, drew no unemployment benefits, and was living on money borrowed from friends. Lydia, who was standing in front of Marina in the line, could hear Marina, who apparently was able to make out what Lee was saying in English, hiss, “What a liar.” The nurse gave Lee a slip of paper, requiring a small payment because of his financial condition, and told him to take it to the cashier. But Lee jammed the paper in his pocket and ducked out without paying anything at all.
During the car ride back home Lee complained that medical care in America ought to be free, as it had been in the Soviet Union, and Marina was on Lee’s case in a harsh tone, all the way home. (1)
Pursued by the hospital, Lee eventually paid the reduced bill of $2.00 which, adjusted for inflation, was less than $20 at the time. Lee had attempted to defect to the Soviet Union a few years earlier. He eventually decided to return to the United States and the Soviet authorities were fine with him leaving. They had no interest in an American of his sort.
His radio plant had forwarded a report on his performance at work to the Minsk City Militia Department, which found nothing favorable to say about him: “During his employment as a regulator his performance was unsatisfactory. He does not display the initiative for increasing skill as a regulator… reacts in an over-sensitive manner to remarks from the foreman and is careless in his work. (2)
Nevertheless, from the time he was old enough to develop his own views to his death, Lee was an avowed Marxist, and to be quite frank, he was following the financial pattern that Karl Marx lived by. Both men engaged in precisely the exploitation of others that they claimed capitalists were guilty of, guilty to the point of being the scum of the earth to be purged in violence.
Marx often refused to pay his bills and when he did, it was most often paid with money he ‘borrowed’ from friends and family, never making any effort to pay those debts back, even becoming indignant when further requests for loans were met haltingly.
One thing you could say for Lee was that he actually had jobs and worked them to an extent throughout his adult life, while Marx was a serial moocher, using his bullying personality to obtain financial bequests from everyone he could bludgeon into his support.
Marx’ family was tortured by penury, and it is possible that undernourishment was partly the cause for the untimely death of one of his children. And yet, he steadfastly refused to participate in the creation of wealth for his family.
He [Marx] exploited everyone around him—his wife, his children, his mistress and his friends—with a ruthlessness which was all the more terrible because it was deliberate and calculating. His tastes were those of a feudal aristocrat. He was one of those who are determined to command, whatever the cost in pain and suffering to others…
Out of the squalor and misery of his life came those insistent fantasies of power, and we shall not understand Marx unless we realize how deeply and pervasively his strange and unhappy life was reflected in his dreams. He announced his doctrines and theories as the result of impersonal scholarship. In fact they derived as much from his private fantasies as from the revolutionary traditions of his time. (3)
Eight decades after Marx died, Lee mimicked that exploitation of his wife, his family, his country, and even a country he was attempting to adopt as his own, a country which exploited its own citizens even worse than Marx or Lee.
Of course not everyone who believes in socialism is a freeloader or a power-hungry madman. Certainly not. The moral force behind socialism is its promise of repairing actual want in the human condition. Many people, finding the level of deprivation in their area of concern to be beyond their capacity to correct, turn to state authority to marshal the resources of the whole society to correct inequity.
But it must be said that exploitation is as natural to the human condition as is poverty, and so any gift of authority to the state must be carefully arranged so that state may not become exploitative as well. After all, the state is an organization of human beings, with all the frailties, weaknesses, and foolishness that we see around us.
But why am I bothering with Marx and this Lee guy? Marx is well known and few people have ever heard Lee’s story of scamming society. Lee is actually famous in his own right. His full name was Lee Harvey Oswald. About a year after Lee tried to skip out on paying for the services the hospital provided his family, he shot John F. Kennedy who was President of the United States at the time. In fact, after being shot Kennedy was taken to that very same hospital, Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas where Oswald’s daughter had been treated. Kennedy died of course, although the other person who was shot on that street survived, governor of Texas John Connally. Oswald also killed a police officer later that day.
I’m writing about this because it intrigues me. I don’t think it is necessarily fair to draw conclusions about Marxism or socialism based upon the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. But then, his life is merely in odd syncopation with the rest of the evidence that stands against socialism as a governmental policy and cultural morality.
It’s not necessary to draw conclusions about socialism based upon Oswald’s life. The societies that have built their revolutionary governments explicitly on serious socialist principles have generated factories of assassination. Stalin repeatedly purged waves of communist officials, at least in the tens of thousands, all while those successive waves of officials were organizing the butchery and famine that destroyed millions in the USSR. In China, the devastation was even worse and the political intriguing continues to this day, with the particularly-grotesque practice of harvesting the organs of political dissidents and ‘corrupt’ officials who are merely outmaneuvered by their rivals in the life-and-death game of Go that serves as Chinese Communist politics. North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Cambodia, Angola, Zimbabwe; all followed similar patterns.
The discussion would be too long for this already-lengthy post, but those who claim that Sweden is a socialist society are wrong. As Swedish historian Johan Norberg has pointed out, Sweden is actually a capitalist country with a large welfare state. Maybe Welfare Statism just isn’t as catchy as democratic socialism.
Yet, the countries which openly avow state control of resources (what many of the self-proclaimed democratic socialists want) rapidly discover a great lack of those resources. Then, because the theory is perfect and only the practice is fouled, blame must be assigned to someone, and the waves of arrests begin, as laid out with stark clarity in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Whereas the free market allocates resources by incentive, socialism discards incentive and consequently mis-allocates everything, including human lives.
To anyone who has read Marx’s later works the soliloquy placed in the mouth of Oulanem has a familiar ring [Oulanem was a poetic tragedy Marx wrote at eighteen] The annihilating judgement, visited on the world and on men, was never far from Marx’s thought. He had little pity for the world or for the men who crawled on its surface, those “apes of a cold God,” eternally in bondage. The shattering vision, which belongs wholly to the romantic period, was to endure long after the exultations of romantic poets were forgotten. To the end he would wear scorn on his brows, and the sun would never burn it away. (4)
For those who insist that Lenin or Stalin polluted Marx’s vision, they are right insofar as it was a necessary expedient, since Marxism simply did not account for human nature and his spontaneous revolutions never came about. (He spent decades of his life pointing to events that would surely bring about the revolution within months, and never saw fit to revise his fantastic theories when revolution never happened.) But that does not mean that Marxism wasn’t going to bring about terror. Marx himself often utilized terror tactics in destroying his opponents within the socialist movement, and he often spoke of the utility terror and butchery would play ushering in the new era.
Anyone who believes that Marx was abandoned to bring about communism would do well to find out what a sociopath Marx was, not to mention an economic illiterate. He was only good at producing two things, propaganda and persuasive arguments, divorced from reality though they were. I suggest reading my source for the above quotes about Marx. Robert Payne’s biography of Marx remains perhaps the best ever written of the old deadbeat’s life, and it is not a mere screed. Payne was careful to be fair to Marx, though his subject was rarely fair to anyone throughout his entire life.
And if you want an easier start than a lengthy book, give this video a watch which sums of a few of the key points.
(1) Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, 2007 p.665
(2) Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, 2007 pgs.626-627
(3) Robert Payne, Marx: A Biography, 1968 p.12
(4) Robert Payne, Marx: A Biography, 1968 pgs.71-72