Urban myth: The college socialism experiment
This letter appeared in the Manawatu Standard on January 31, 2012. My reply, which I wrote the same afternoon:
T. Whyman’s tale, supposedly illustrating “Socialism’s folly” (Letters, January 31), is an urban myth that has been circulating since the mid-1990s, in recent years as a chain email. One of the latest versions of it has the classroom experiment being conducted at Texas Tech in 2009. There is, however, no evidence to support this claim. Other current versions of the tale appear to have been designed to discredit President Obama’s alleged socialism. In short, the whole thing is sheer bunkum, and a waste of newspaper space.
It should be obvious to any discerning person that this type of story is apocryphal (to use a charitable adjective). One’s suspicions should be immediately aroused by its careful exclusion of any facts (name of college, name of professor, date, etc.) that can be checked.
T. Whyman responded on February 9, 2012, as follows:
My reply, written on February 10:
With reference to T Why-
man’s letter of February 9: I don’t accept that his/her “analogy of socialism” works — except at the level of the comic strip, where individuals are reduced to automatons who act strictly in accordance with the ideological bias of the cartoonist.
Furthermore, his first letter (of January 31) effectively reverses the reality of our privatised and deregulated international order, in which those who are poorest — the virtual slaves in the sweatshops of the Third World — are actually those who work hardest.
Conversely, most of the super-rich make their money not through real work, or through any productive activity, but through a process that has seen them (a) gamble with their clients’ funds, (b) lose everything, (c) receive bailouts from the taxpayer, and (d) continue to pay themselves multi-million-dollar bonuses.
Call this “capitalism”, if you like. I call it a racket. These “banksters” have been compared with the Conquistadors of the 16th century, who looted the frontier of the New World.
The only difference now is that the “frontier” is the state, and that we, the citizens of the state, have replaced the hapless, bamboozled Aztecs and Incas. It’s hard for us to resist, because it’s hard for us to even grasp what is going on.