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Shakedown Socialism: a book by Oleg Atbashian.

I am currently reading this excellent book by Oleg Atbashian of the wonderful blog called The People's Cube. It resonates with me because, during my  19 years in post-communist Eastern Europe, I met many people like him who, as he puts it,

...believed, in my parochial Soviet ignorance,  that the spectacular failure of forced equality in my country would serve as a repellant for the rest of the world, making sure that people would stop solving problems by bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Little did I know.

Much of the book is focussed on the path to communism being beaten by the American trade union movement. This came as a considerable shock to a refugee from the aftermath of failed communism in the former Soviet Union and there is much insight to be found in his, at times, despairing comparisons. What led me to put down the book and blog about it however, was this passage;

If some people had wings and others didn't, and the government wanted to enforce "fairness', soon no-one would have wings. Because wings cannot be redistributed, they can only be broken. Likewise a government edict cannot make people smarter or more capable, but it can impede the growth of those with the potential. Wouldn't it be fair if, in the name of equality, we scar the beautiful, cripple the athletes, lobotomize the scientists, blind the artists, and sever the hands of the musicians? Why not?

Why not indeed? I love to see truths so starkly spoken. What does it tell you about our society though, that part of me wishes to say "Hush Oleg, don't give them ideas?"


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Maybe this is material for a new post? On the best books for libertarians to buy their statist friends for Christmas?

George Speller

I was just about to refer to the same . . . oooow! that was a doozy . . . now what was I saying . . .

N. Mouse

It's a scary thought.

Equality in many aspects is a good thing, Forced anything is terrible. I like my freedom to make choices, my freedom to live.

Perhaps that is why "forced equality" sounds all the more chilling.


"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut.

Diana Moon Glampers thrives in modern British politics.

Suboptimal Planet

No problem, and good idea ... a copy for my Welsh in-laws seems in order :-)


Thank you for the comment and for the sub-editing. I have corrected the typos. It's a good book to buy for yourself and as a Christmas gift for any Labourites and/or trade unionists you may know.

Suboptimal Planet

I read that quote on his website after your People's Cube post. Great stuff.

I think I'll put that book on my Christmas list.

[Some typos: "lowest comment denominator", "despariing", "scare the beautiful"]

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