Tuesday, 22 November 2016

From Russia, Without Love

Much of a Muchness

All totalitarian regimes can best be characterized as being in a state of war against their own people.  To be sure, totalitarian regimes do not always begin that way.  They commence with a great hope, or a grand principle only to find that governing is complex, and the more intrusive rules, regulations, laws, and edicts become, the more complex it turns out to be.  

In this regard we often think of Tolkien's conception of the Ruling Ring--
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and the darkness bind them
We reflect further on how Frodo offered the Ring to Galadriel, saying, "You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel.  I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it.  It is too great a matter for me."  Galadriel admitted that she had long yearned to have such power.
And now at last it comes.  You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen.  And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!  Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain!  Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning!  Stronger than the foundations of the earth.  All shall love me and despair!
When Hugo Chavez took control (was set up as a kind of king--the caudillo) over Venezuela.  He was widely loved.  Within half a generation that country is now reduced to despair.  The pattern always plays out.  A false saviour, set to put things right, morphs into a tyrant crushing the lifeblood out of subjects.  The regime ends up being at war against its people.

Angelo Codevilla provides the following description of the Soviet Union--which was not aberrant, but typical of all such.

. . . In the Soviet Union, Communist bosses allocated resources and labor for the whole country from Party headquarters--not because Marx had so prescribed but because . . . doing so allowed the Party to crush enemies, reward friends, and secure itself.

Communist managers of farms and factories, for their part, hoarded labor and materials out of proportion to economic need not because any Marxist text told them to but because control over people and goods meant power, status, and privileged use for themselves.  "Nothing but the best for the Proletariat" was the cynical principle by which people at any given level of power took what they could.  . . .

Hence, the purpose of the Communist economy was not so much to produce goods and services--much less happiness for the masses--as to use economic means to maximize the Party's control over itself and over ordinary people.  Thus, according to its own standards, the Soviet economy performed brilliantly.

A regime at war with its own people and with the world could base its economy only on compulsion: compulsion of rural populations into industrial occupations (the last of the many great drives occurring in the 1960's), compulsion of women into the labor force (90 percent participation), and compulsion of the population in general to accept uneconomically low wages--effectively  a kind of slave labor.  [Angelo Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997),  p.80f.]
In the Soviet Union under Gorbachev (the last dictator) some 46,000 firms in that version of totalitaria produced everything.  The United States at that time had 2.7 proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.  When the regime collapsed, the only common denominator was lawlessness.  Russian government over lawlessness has devolved to gangster-like protection rackets operating at the largesse of the state.
Who prospers in today's Russia?  At the bottom of the prosperous heap are those gangsters who exact protection money.  These are not merely private individuals, because they work with the approval of the various police authorities--approval they must purchase.  Gang wars come about when one gang pays some or all of the authorities a higher percentage of the take than other gangs are willing to pay.  Thus, the Moscow police swept away the Georgian gang that had been running the used car lot by the river south of Moscow on behalf of a Chechen gang that was willing to cut them a bigger share of the business.

That is the sort of business acumen that makes fortunes in Russia.  Millions of Russians produce goods and services, from bread to train rides, metals, and energy that are inherently valuable.  But such people do not receive rewards proportionate to their work any more than they did under communism.  [Ibid. p. 84.] 
The mode of oppression has changed.  The reality for Russia remains pretty much the same.  It will not change--it cannot--until the people repent and turn once again to God, submitting joyfully to His wondrous law.  Only then will tyranny be not merely restrained, but expunged.

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