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Socialism – the pitch and the purpose, Part 2

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Others may have clever monikers for socialism. The one I prefer is drama. Think about it. No matter whom you hear speak of socialism, the word always has a bit of drama. The word cannot be said with a straight face or neutral tone.

Hence, the drama of socialism. It is nearly always a laugh or a frown and seldom without emotion.

In a good drama, either in movie form or on Broadway, the players are identified. In a movie, the stars headline at the beginning and the minor players drag up in the ending credits. On Broadway, as you enter the theatre, they give you this ubiquitous little cheap yellow booklet that has short bios on the stars called a playbill.

So, we start by identifying some of the stars (this week) and the minions (in following weeks) of the "Drama of Socialism."

The roots of socialism are found in Plato in his work, “Republic,” Thomas More in “Utopia” (16th century), and others (Henri de Saint-Simon, Robert Owen and Charles Fourier).

Robert Owen built a utopian community in the United States in 1825 called New Harmony, Indiana. It failed.

What could be claimed to be somewhat socialistic communities in the United States today are successfully run by the Amish and Mennonites, but their first focus is Christianity, and the socialism part is a somewhat secondary, but very important aspect to their communities and beliefs.

Personally, I view the Amish and Mennonites as the only successful practitioners of socialism and credit their Christ-centered focus and principles for their success. I call this small group or personal socialism.

Secular socialism has never worked, because it lacks altruism, the personal giving principle and the personal connection between the giver and the receiver. I call this institutional socialism to distinguish it from small group socialism.

Modern mainstream institutional socialism begins with Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels.

Now if this were a Broadway playbill, we would get a short bio on Marx and Engels. It might be as follows: Karl Marx, a German philosopher and economist, and Fredrick Engels, the son of a textile scion, worked together.

The famous tome and “bible” of the "Drama of Socialism" was produced by these two as “The Communist Manifesto.” They also cooperated on “Das Kapital” with Engels’ work on these volumes continuing after Marx’s death.

Do you know that neither one of these gentlemen ever lived under Marxism, communism or socialism? No, indeed, they lived quite the bourgeois lifestyle, thanks to the very successful capitalist interests of the Engels family. I might say the international capitalist interests of the Engels family for this family had large textile factories in both England and Germany. The profits from these factories provided the means for Marx and Engels to spend their time daydreaming about utopias of the future.

Marx’s father was interested in the Enlightenment theories of the day and was an attorney. Marx’s mother was from at Dutch family that later founded what is now Philips Electronics.

Although German by birth, Marx and his family spent many decades in London after he was kicked out of Germany due to his publications and his theories, not appreciated by the German monarchies of the day (this was before the consolidation and unification of the German kingdoms under one government).

We may present other individual stars as we go along and we’ll bio them at the time of their discovery here.

Next up in our cast are those that Thomas Sowell likes to call “The Anointed.” As I said, we are going to go slow, so we will begin to dissect the anointed next week.

In the meantime, let’s just marinate on the idea that Marx never lived under Marxism, but instead enjoyed the genteel and well-fed life provided by capitalism, much like the headlining communists and socialists treading the stage today.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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