As the Democratic Party has slid willingly down the gullet of socialism, many of us meanly point out that socialism doesn't work; ask the nearest Russian, North Korean, Chinese, Romanian, German, or Venezuelan, and they'll tell you plainly enough.
My own experience of living under the deadening pall of socialism was in Britain, which in 1976 after three decades of decline (sugarcoated farcically as genteel) needed to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund. A great nation — for a long time, the greatest — was on its knees, squalid and broke. During the 1978-79 "Winter of Discontent" trash was left uncollected and festered on sidewalks in rat-infested mountains up to 20 feet high. Even gravediggers were on strike.
Such scenes make plain that when one says socialism doesn't work, it's not just about economics. Sure, it ruins finances and kills prosperity, but socialism does a whole lot more damage than that. It fails morally. It corrupts. It dulls spirits, shrinks ambitions, narrows horizons, and fosters a malaise that militates against joy and creativity. In other words, it stops people from being free and fully human.
These thoughts surfaced as I read our cover story, “History, as seen on TV” about the collapse of history at colleges and universities. Grant Addison explains a deep irony that serious historical study is dwindling at exactly the same time as public interest in history as entertainment is surging.
TV history focuses on great events, battles, heroes, crises, and triumphs. It’s consumed voraciously by mass audiences. Many millions of people are gripped by high-budget productions that capture the passion, intrigue, intensity, and sheer excitement of history, and all its politics, adventure, and human calamity.
If people love this stuff, why do fewer and fewer of them bother with it in higher education? As usual, socialism is to blame, along with its theoretical underpinnings of Marxism and intersectional multiculturalism. They’ve drained history of everything people find fascinating. Colleges and universities disdain to teach about great men and women facing extraordinary challenges or about nations and whole peoples rising to preeminence or dwindling into servitude. Human agency is deprecated and actual events are relegated to jetsam floating on vast impersonal tides of economic, technological, and biological determinism.
The teaching of history indispensable to a civilized people, can be revived if schools do what TV is doing and teach students about what they actually find interesting. When you’ve secured their interest with stories so great you can’t make them up, the overarching themes will follow.
Other great reads: Ilya Shapiro examines Democrats’ plans to pack the Supreme Court with ideological poodles and Seth Mandel lays out “Biden’s Bind” now that his party and presidential rivals look at his handsy history through the #MeToo lens.
Read in Life & Arts about Masters golf at Augusta, disobedient cheese-loving dogs, and fishing for piranha. Word of the Week is “gestalt,” and you need to know whether it’s OK to notice when a girl wears leggings to church.