Monday, November 4, 2013

Exposing The Naked Socialist - Critique 01

Back in September of 2012, in what was my first attempt to understand Socialism, I read a horribly inaccurate and flawed book titled "The Naked Socialist," by Paul B. Skousen. The reason I say the book is inaccurate and flawed is not because it presents Socialism as evil and tyrannical (a position which I essentially agree with), but rather because it does not provide the reader with a truthful and genuine understanding of what Socialism actually is.

According to the author, Paul Skousen, Socialism is any and every form of tyranny or government control, regulation, or enslavement. Under this definition, there is no distinction whatsoever between Socialism, Communism, Fascism, or any other type of totalitarianism. According to Skousen, they are all one and the same. This view (which I've noticed is extremely common among American Conservatives) is dangerous because it destroys an individual's ability to correctly and accurately recognize Socialism, causing them to think that it's impossible for tyrants to promote capitalism, and that capitalism, in and of itself, is sufficient for establishing a free society. Unfortunately for them, they are sorely mistaken. Tyranny can still manifest itself even in a society that operates on a capitalist economy. To quote Milton Friedman, "Capitalism is a necessary condition for freedom, but not a sufficient condition." For proof of this, simply observe the modern People's Republic of China, a nation which completely abandoned Socialism in 1979 and replaced it with capitalism, but which still maintains a tyrannical and authoritarian government under which the people have few rights or liberties.

In light of this discrepancy, distinguishing between Socialism and other forms of tyranny is extremely important, which is why I've taken it upon myself to point out the atrocious and abhorrent errors in Paul Skousen's line of reasoning. To begin, here is an excerpt from the book, page 128:

As you can plainly see (at least I hope it's plain), Skousen's understanding of Socialism is incredibly sketchy and convoluted. It's as though he had only a cursory understanding of the topic before deciding to write his book.

1984: The movie adaptation of 1984 (which was ironically released in the year 1984) was based on the 1949 novel of the same name by George Orwell, and nothing written by George Orwell can be considered anti-Socialist because George Orwell was a Socialist! Many people are surprised when they learn this fact, considering the heavy anti-totalitarian themes of Orwell's novels. However, when we recognize that George Orwell (whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, by the way) was a proponent of Trotskyism, a specific sect of Socialism which was annihilated by Joseph Stalin because he viewed Leon Trotsky as a political rival, then the reason for George Orwell's anti-totalitarian themes become more clear – he was a victim of Stalinist oppression. His earlier book, Animal Farm (published in 1945), presents a satirical fairy tale about the political clash between Stalin and Trotsky, who are depicted as farm pigs named Napoleon and Snowball. I'm not promoting Socialism here (I personally oppose all forms of Socialism), but those who try to say that any of George Orwell's stories are anti-Socialist are demonstrating gross ignorance about George Orwell's personal political beliefs.

Fahrenheit 451: I haven't seen this movie nor read the book, so I can't comment on it.

THX 1138: Released in 1971, this was George Lucas' first professional film (though he had previously made a student version in school), and marked his directorial debut. Much of the visual imagery from the film feels very reminiscent of the original Star Wars trilogy, and this is also where George Lucas got the name for his famous THX sound system. I personally found it to be an incredibly boring movie, but that's beside the point. The point is that this movie has about as much to do with Socialism as the Star Wars movies do. That is, nothing at all. This is a film about totalitarianism, certainly, but there is no trace of Socialism anywhere in it. Regarding the final chase scene at the end of the movie, the hero gets away for no other reason than because the robot police simply stop chasing him due to the cost of his capture exceeding the allotted budget set by the fictional government in the film. However, this cannot be called "true socialist fashion" because Socialism is an economic theory in which money does not even exist. (Also, the hero already had a mate, and he never demands a new one at any point in the movie.) Honestly, it's as if Paul Skousen has no understanding of this subject at all.

V for Vendetta: Directed by James McTeigu, this 2005 film has absolutely nothing to do with Socialism. It's about Facism versus Anarchy. On top of that, Alan Moore and David Lloyd (the writer and the artist of the original comic book, respectively) are both liberals, and created V for Vendetta as a warning about what could potentially happen if the political-right in England were to completely take over the government of that country. The Wachoiskis (directors of The Matrix) wrote the script for the film adaptation, and they're extremely liberal as well (one of the Wachoiskis – Lanna – is even a male-to-female transsexual). Plus there's also the fact that V for Vendetta blatantly and openly promotes gay rights, so Paul Skousen's endorsement of the film seems rather curious, considering his own obviously homophobic comments in "The Naked Socialist" where he states that homosexuality and transsexuality are degenerate, unnatural, abnormal, and unhealthy (page 486). V for Vendetta is certainly a story about government tyranny and totalitarianism, but Socialism has no part in it. Socialism is always tyranny, but tyranny is not always Socialism. This is a critical and fundamental distinction which is completely lost on Skousen.

The Village: M. Night Shyamalan's 2004 horror film is not about Socialism – it's about religious oppression. Never, at any point in the entire movie, is the subject of economics ever brought up. There is no mention of either Socialism or Capitalism in the film, nor any other economic system. The people who live outside of the village are never referred to as Capitalists, nor are the people in the village ever referred to as Socialists. This movie is about how religious dogma can prey on people's natural superstitions in order to blind them to rational thinking and keep them under control. It's an important message, but Socialism has nothing to do with it.

The Matrix: Paul Skousen's description of the Wachowskis' 1999 blockbuster hit is especially absurd. Once again, he demonstrates his inability to distinguish between Socialism and other forms of tyranny and servitude. The Matrix has nothing to do with Socialism, but rather is about being a slave to the system and then escaping that system. Skousen apparently thinks that the only type of system one can be a slave to is Socialism, but in truth, an individual can be a slave under just about any system, even Capitalism. If we were to draw analogies from The Matrix to the real world, the slave system that the movie most obviously seems to depict is not Socialism at all, but rather corporate America at the end of the 20th century. How Skousen could get such a fundamental point of the movie so horribly wrong is absolutely mind-boggling.

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