Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Mrs. Optimist and I have been busy escorting our flower-daughter about the country, investigating colleges.

Apparently while I was gone there were riots in Egypt, Libya and Wisconsin, as the oppressed masses have risen up to throw off the chains of the totalitarian regimes that rule them. Qaddafi, Mubarak, and Gov. Scott Walker: all evil, but worst of all Walker, who is also Republican.

Picture credit

(Try to guess which one is the Wisconsin governor
and which one is the murderous Libyan tyrant.)

Picture Credit

For the average Wisconsin Democrat, there is apparently more to like in Qaddafi and Mubarak than in Walker. In a spate of civility no doubt stimulated by President Obama's call for more restraint after the mass shooting in Arizona, Democratic teachers in Wisconsin have been calling Governor Walker "Adolf Hitler."

So far Qaddafi or Mubarak have not been called Hitler. Apparently you are not allowed to call murderous, ruthless Muslim dictators Hitler; only Republicans.

The left-wing notion of civility is quite marvelous. I thought for a long time it was marvelously hypocritical, since the left typically views the "Hitler" chant as just the opening salvo in a war of personal slander. But the chant is more than hypocritical. It is invincibly loopy, like making fun of someone for being as ugly as your wife.

Hitler was a socialist, a left-wing politician. A "National Socialist," to be more precise. That's what he called himself and his party: Nazis, short for National Socialists. The practical differences between him and Stalin were something like the differences between a golden Lab and a chocolate Lab. Of some mild interest, but no consequence.

Back to Wisconsin.

It seems obvious, from a distance, that Wisconsin has to cut its budget. It seems obvious that teachers, like other government employees, are going to have to take a "haircut," as it is called in the real world.

And the "haircut" here is quite reasonable. Teachers in Wisconsin will still be much wealthier than the average taxpayer. In addition, the alternative to a general "haircut" is to start laying off government employees.

It also seems obvious that something has to give with teachers' unions and their control over public education. Public education has been in a downward spiral for a generation, yet the people who control it - teachers' unions - are not held accountable. Any effort to hold them accountable is met by screams of "Hitler."

The situation reminds me of the end stages of the Soviet empire. The failure of the system to deliver was obvious to all, even to the party apparatchiks, but no one within the system could bring themselves to actually say that Marxism was to blame. To do so was the unpardonable sin.

Teachers as a class, or individually, are no better or worse than other people. In many respects, as a group, they are much nicer and kinder than the students they have to teach.

It is just to say the obvious: the system is not working. The emperor has no clothes.

When a human organization isn't producing, one of the remedies is to change the people in control. That is a fair outcome. The change is typically unpleasant, and it doesn't always work: witness the present administration.

But it is still a fair outcome, just as Obama's election was a fair outcome. People voted. A majority didn't want McCain. They elected Obama. It was fair. Ditto Wisconsin's election of Scott Walker.

Trying to change a broken system through elections (a new Republican governor) and the democratic process (new legislation) is not "Hitler." "Hitler" is genocide, torture, death camps and world war. And disrupting normal democratic institutions through street demonstrations and rioting. Which is where the Nazis got started.

Teachers and their friends in the legislature should try to keep democratic self-government and socialist totalitarianism separate. Deliberately confusing them is not a legitimate form of protest.

It is lying.

The Democratic legislators moving to a Motel-6 in Illinois in order to stop the majority in the Wisconsin legislature from balancing the state's budget is weird, like a friend who insists he doesn't need to take showers anymore. I mean, what do you say? Imagine the outraged gnashing of teeth in the New York Times if Tea Party legislators did such a thing.

Now click on the video below for the Wisconsin fight song. Here's wishing the people of Wisconsin all the best as they struggle with difficult budget issues.


  1. >>It is invincibly loopy, like making fun of someone for being as ugly as your wife.
    >>like a friend who insists he doesn't need to take showers anymore.


    So you won't be doing this?

  2. It fascinates me to see how other cultures celebrate important events like weddings.

  3. Hey EO, I want you to know you are the greatest! I love your work. It is excellent and I can't wait to see it go global! It's strange, I feel as if I've known you my whole life. I assume you are a man since you often make reference to "Mrs. O". PC cautions me against being presumptive here. Nevertheless, just want to let you know, I love you brother - in a "phileo" kind of way.

  4. Thank you for your kind words - I am indeed a man and Mrs. Optimist is a woman. This has worked well for us and our children. As for global, I'm not sure I could keep up with the reader comments. I have trouble now.

  5. "Hitler was a socialist, a left-wing politician." Wrong. Hitler was a Right-Wing Fascist Politician. You must have gotten an F in History.

  6. No, actually, all "As" in history, except for one B+, as I recall.

    Hitler insisted on calling his party "National Socialists," or "Nazis," for short, because that's what they advocated: totalitarian socialism in a nation state, rather than on an international level.

    The Bolsheviks were frantic to differentiate themselves from the Nazis, which proved to be quite difficult, given the enormous similarities of vision, method and consequence. Witness the 1939 Molotov - Von Ribbentrop pact, the Gestapo and the KGB, Auschwitz and the Gulag.

    When the truth was problematic, the Bolsheviks always lied. They taught Hitler the value of the big lie. So it was that Stalin began a propaganda war, labeling the Nazis "right wing."

    The Bolsheviks and their apologists in the West spent a lot of time pushing this nonsense, which only stands up when people are desperate to see vast differences where their are only trifling ones. For instance, the differences between Trotsky and Stalin are so miniscule that they are laughable, except to Bolsheviks, Trotskyites, and their Western apologists.

    In the same way, the differences between Hitler and Stalin were inconsequential.
    They were both vicious totalitarian socialists. Together they illustrate the dark side of big government, and the inevitable calamities waiting for a people who are willing to trade their freedom for a promise of security.

    Nazism was just Bolshevism tethered to German nationalist ambitions; Hitler just Stalin with a German accent and a smaller mustache. Uncomfortable facts, but hardly controversial.