Sunday, June 15, 2003
There is a certain strain of people who are willing to obfuscate horrendous truths in an attempt to protect an ardently held political/ philosophical ideal. These people crop up frequently in liberal academia and in the press.
Two of the biggest causes/ ideals are communism and anti-Zionism (call them what you will.) This is not a new phenomenon as this case demonstrates. I admit that I am baffled at the fact that their decent peers, who surely outnumber them, do not drum such people out of the universities and media outlets.
What can it say about your ideal that it allows such things to happen? What does it say about you that you feel the need to deny and avert attention? Could you really be so ardent as to hide atrocities, and yet feel that your ideal is so fragile that it cannot withstand the light of disclosure?
I have absolutely no patience for people with communist leanings. Not because the idea is bad. It's not. It's a beautiful idea. That's why it attracts idealists. But it doesn't work. Human nature will never allow communism to work. The idealists wail that "it's because it's never been done right!"
There is a classic component of Game Theory called the Prisoner's Dilemma. It goes as follows:
Two criminals who are arrested after a crime are immediately separated into two police cells. The police know that they committed the crime but have no evidence.
Each prisoner is approached individually and told that if they confess and implicate the other person, they will get a significantly reduced sentence.
The dilemma for each prisoner is as follows: -
* If I confess, I get a reduced sentence and my colleague gets a full sentence.
* If I trust her/him not to confess and keep quiet, but s/he confesses, I get the full sentence.
* If I trust her/him not to confess and keep quiet, and s/he does the same, we can both walk free.
* Of course, if we both confess, we both get the full sentence!
* Unfortunately, we cannot communicate now we are in the cells and I do not know whether he will honour any agreement we made before we were arrested.
When that particular force is applied to a whole society it's called the tragedy of the commons.
Look at the lessons of history. How many millions more must die to convince you that it won't ever work? Show me one example of a functional communist state. You can't. Rational people will not invest the best of their effort in a system that does not reward them. It only takes one free-rider to corrupt the whole system. That's the tragedy of the commons in action. So the government must force people to work. Soon you have the majority doing the bare minimum that it takes to avoid the gulag. As time goes on that has an amplifying effect and the bare minimum becomes less and less. The government must tighten the grip more and more. Viola: the USSR, North Korea, China, and Cuba. (China's saving grace has been its willingness to embrace economic capitalism to a certain extent. I still hold out hope that it will slowly transform that society before the pressures of AIDS, SARS, a population of millions of unmarriageable men, and the havoc that the one child policy has wrought in the rural areas, precipitate a disaster.)
Idealists can weep that human nature makes this beautiful idea impossible, but to continue to espouse it is to make roughly 300 million deaths meaningless and that is monstrous.
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