What do Muammar Gaddafi, Adolph Hitler, and Fidel Castro have in common?
They all seized power as Socialists and led political parties embracing that label. Strange that one political movement could attract so many thugs, madmen, and murderers.
Stranger still, once a Socialist reveals himself as a thug, madmen, or murderer—or all three in Gaddafi’s case—Western scribes and talking heads stop referring to him as a Socialist. National Socialist abbreviates into the content-free “Nazi,” the alliance between National Socialists and Soviet Socialists somehow defies rational explanation, and the red flag is dismissed as a coincidence. Socialism is the Teflon ideology, and its disassociation with Gaddafi is the latest demonstration of its knack for slipping away from its ugly exponents.
The official name of the government our government unofficially seeks to overthrow is the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. This last word means “government by the masses,” a joke on par with “People’s Republic of China” or “German Democratic Republic.” The slogan of the Libyan Jamahiriya is “Power, wealth, and weapons—in the hands of the masses.” If only the last third of that were true, Gaddafi would be history.
The self-dubbed “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” isn’t called that much in the West. Media outlets dub him “Wacky Gaddafi” or some other moniker denoting his lunacy. But his madness has a name: socialism.
This condition deludes a few men into believing that they can manage the affairs of millions of men by remote. Initially, this hubris may confine itself to the economic realm. Strangely, the inability to control the economy to achieve the desired outcome results in control exerted over other areas of private life: religion, education, speech, reproduction, media, politics, etc. Muammar Gaddafi, like his hero Joseph Stalin and his friend Hugo Chavez, is a control freak.
There is more than a mild connection between the marathon speeches, ubiquitous portraits, and ostentatious titles of Socialist dictators, on the one hand, and the megalomaniacal ideology that elevates them to gods usurping the choices of men, on the other. Socialism attracts, and breeds, narcissists. Plastic-face Gaddafi is exhibit A for this charge.
Socialism can exist without guard towers and barbed wire, as the short-lived New Harmony and Brook Farm communities proved in 19th century America. Socialism can’t persist without coercion, as Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea and Fidel Castro’s Cuba demonstrate abroad. Gaddafi’s regime has lasted more than four decades because it has enjoyed a monopoly on force, just as it has monopolized broadcasting and political activity.
Socialism is force. It compels.
Work here. Vote this way. Shut up. Don’t read that. Watch this. Give us your money. Go to this school. See this doctor. Charge this amount.
Should anybody be surprised that an ideology based on force relies on force to stay in power?
State oppression certainly comes in many varieties. Kings, ayatollahs, and strongmen show that Socialists don’t have the market cornered on iron-fisted rule in the Middle East. But it is interesting that the brutality of the harshest Arab regimes—from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Hafez Assad’s Syria to Gaddafi’s Iraq—derives not from the local soil but from a doctrine grown in the West.
Tyranny and socialism go together like vomit and peach schnapps. When we hear of a people rising up against their oppressor, it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that the oppressor is a Socialist. Nor should it surprise us if that autocrat’s socialism gets airbrushed out of the official picture.
More than 20 years ago, Eastern Europeans revolted against socialism. The rebels in Libya, Syria, and other Middle Eastern states may not see their fight in this context, but part of what they rebel against is the failure of socialism.