Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Demand examples from political radicals

Political radicals sometimes insist that their ideal political system has never been successfully implemented. This writer, for example, argues that the USSR was never communist:

Whatever view you may have of the USSR (and there are quite a few supporters of Stalinism out there), it was not Communism....

Well, by the way it actually worked, the most fitting description for it is State Capitalism. Simply, the state took on the role of the ultimate Capitalist and set about exploiting the workers....

Another common opinion on this Communism = USSR misunderstanding is the claim that Communism has proven to be a failure. This attempts to show that the path Russia took in the early 20th century is the only possible result any attempt for Communism can achieve and thus it is not worth struggling towards it. But this is not simply wrong, it is intellectually dishonest.

Here, by denying that the USSR was communist, the writer seeks to revive interest in communism as a practical economic system. Criticisms of communism are dismissed because in a real communist society, these problems would not arise.

Anarcho-capitalists sometimes say similar things about capitalism: the US is corporatist or socialist, not truly capitalist, and problems in right-leaning countries are the problems of whatever government intervention they do have, not problems of capitalism.

The latest example is from the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Ireland, who say that Ireland should adopt Islamic Sharia law. Asked which countries are already applying the law, they told Metro √Čireann:

“To my knowledge there is no Islamic state that implements Sharia in its entirety,” he said, “and this in part explains why there are instances of injustice in Muslim lands.

“Partial implementation only brings part of the benefit,” he added.

So here again by denying the existence of their dream ideology in the real world, Islamists dismiss examples of real world violence and discrimination connected with Sharia. Saudi Arabia and Iran are troubled, not because they apply Sharia, but because they do not apply it enough.

Communists, anarchists, Islamists and other radicals may in fact be correct when they claim that their ideas have not been implemented in reality. But let's not take their word for it. It could be that their radical ideas have been applied already, and resulted in such poor outcomes that they were abandoned.

So it might be useful to demand real world examples when debating with political radicals of any persuasion.

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