When I was reading this book, I could not get rid of a deja vu feeling. And then it dawned upon me. Her style and ideas are very similar to bolshevik agitators of pre-revolutionary Russia. They, too, have stirred the workers’ and peasants’ masses with loud slogans and revolutionary ideas. But, as a result of bringing these ideas into life, has human unhappiness been really abolished? No. The revolution brought Russia only more unhappiness, atrocities, famine, more oppression and deaths.
Leftist ideas do not work. (They do for you if you want to receive a grant or publish a book, but as a solution, for real life, they don’t.) There is no need to explain this to me or someone like me who grew up in a socialist state. However, talking to people in Canada I was surprised to hear them praising “free healthcare” that socialist countries provide. I am sorry to say that this comes from insufficient knowledge about how things really were in socialist economies. For example, I am sure no one of them would like to have a root canal done without anaesthesia. None of them would like to live with their mother-in-law for twenty years without any possibility of moving into your own apartment. None of them would like to have one bedroom for the whole family. Yes, officially housing was affordable. But in fact you had to be entered on a municipal waiting list and wait. And wait. And wait… Besides, you would not be entered into the municipal waiting list unless you have less than a certain number of square meter per person (in my time, it was 5). To give you some idea, an average Canadian home has about 180 square meters. It means that 36 people had to be living in the house this size before they would be allowed to enter the municipal waiting list. Does that sound like paradise to you – or more like “1984”?
Mikhail Bulgakov, a Russian author, wrote a book, “Dog’s heart”, about a dog who got a human brain transplant. (You can find an English translation here: http://www.lib.ru/BULGAKOW/dogheart_engl.txt.) The dog started changing and eventually looked like a man. The newfangled man proved himself extremely rude, obnoxious and ignorant. The dog-man started expressing extreme leftist ideas. He proposed the simplest solution to people’s inequality: “Take everything away from everybody, then divide it up . . .” Of course, it was instantly clear to the readers that his ideas were ridiculously unfeasible. However, when similar ideas start coming from better-washed and more articulate people, other people don’t deride them that easily. But history proved that “take everything from everybody…” principle does not work. And the people who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.
Simple solutions never work, because life is not simple. The problem is that simplistic solutions appeal to people who do not have a habit of critical thinking. And that’s how fascism starts.
When Klein incites ghetto teens to go and picket Nike headquarters with demands like “Decrease the price of sneakers to 30 dollars AND give your profits to community centers AND raise the workers’ wages”, it is ridiculous. Why 30 dollars and not 25 or 35? Has Klein made any calculations based on real expenses of the sneaker manufacturing company? Probably not, at least she does not say so. Does she know what happens when a company is forced to sell its wares at the prices lower than cost? Two things can happen: either the company closes down and the people lose their jobs, or the company has to be subsidized by the government with money taken from our taxes. Do you feel like subsidizing sneakers manufacturing this morning?
Of course it is ridiculous. But it is scary, too. Because it is very easy to brainwash someone who has no real experience in life and no habits for critical thinking. Hitler-Jugend or Hong Wei Bing, anyone?