Another classic column from G. George Ostrom. This one is from February 23, 1968...
The English word, dialect, had to do with language or communication.
Greek philosophers took this root of dialect to develop a system of “truth seeking” based on rules of logic, and this system has come to present-day philosophers under the name of dialectic.
Millions of people have violently died because of the misuse of the dialectic, thousands more are dying right now, and half the world’s troubles center around the dialectic system.
As a green army kid from Hog Heaven, I found an air of sadness about Russian soldiers I met in Germany and, during the Berlin Blockade, I came close to having to shoot some of these “sad” soldiers. So, when I returned to Montana, I wanted to learn more about communism.
It was my luck to study under one of the world’s experts on communism. At the end of the first week, I went to this professor and with the air of a self-discovered genius announced “I’m dropping the course. I’ve got this communism all figured out already. The reasoning behind t is so ridiculous that it is an insult to the science of logical thinking. It fatally twists practically every fundamental law of economic and cultural structures, but above all it completely ignores the most important ingredient of successful government, human individualism.”
The professor looked at me and replied, “Mr. Ostrom, because you are sooooo astute, I’m going to give you a C+ for this week’s work. The remainder of the course is devoted to teaching geniuses like you why, where and how millions of people fall for this ridiculous plan.”
I have since boiled down that course to this theory. People become communists through desperation, and there are three causes of desperation, (a) need of food, clothing and shelter, (b) gun barrel pointed at head, and (c) intellectual impotence.
It was Hegel’s application of the dialectic to political problems that greatly influenced Karl Marx who in turn became the inspiration for Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Marx overlooked many things in applying the Hegelian dialectic to politics, but his worst mistake was probably not listening more carefully to his own teacher, who said that “… a man seeking the perfect government should avoid centralization, which would make men slaves…”
William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower and who was later elected governor of Plymouth 31 times, kept a journal which tells how their very first government was based on communistic principles and how, at the end of one year, it had almost destroyed them. Bradford said it was thought that “…the taking away of property and bringing the community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”
Had Karl Marx or Lenin read that one page in Bradford’s journal, the course of history might have been radically changed. Bradford lived 200 years before Marx.
Now, what was so funny in the paper today? Russia has been on the five-day work week for a few months because the government wanted to give the people more time “for culture,” but the people don’t want more culture, they want to go shopping, to the doctor, and go to recreational spots. The problem is typically Russian, the government doctor’s offices and stores are on five days also and the same with hotels, resorts, ect. All would probably be solved by the introduction of a little decadent, capitalistic ingredient called competition.