Today, I come to praise Bradley Gitz, not to bury him. In a recent column ("Back To Kabul," March 4) he has delivered an excellent summary of the reasons for and consequences of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He has also drawn a clear line between historical fact and Trump's vacuous pronouncements on said invasion.
To quote the good professor: "With respect to the ignoramus, as a man who apparently doesn't read books or listen to people who do, Trump doesn't know what he doesn't know, and thus allows an empty head to fill with silly beliefs which routinely and reflexively become silly utterances."
In addressing Vladimir Putin's more deliberate and coherent (but equally ludicrous) rewriting of Soviet-Afghan history, Gitz observes: "... it becomes imperative for Putin to put a more favorable spin on previous eras of tyranny in the Russian experience ... as a means of legitimizing his own."
The complete analysis verges on the brilliant, so I urge you to look up this column in the archives. You'll know more about this subject than Trump ever will.
Of course, I can't write about Bradley Gitz without hammering him for his habitually uncritical praise of capitalism and demonization of socialism. The core flaw in his argument and in his worldview is to conflate capitalism with freedom and socialism with dictatorship.
A believer in absolute individual freedom will, of course, experience a knee-jerk objection to any form of collectivism. But absolute individual freedom does not exist for anyone who lives and interacts with other people--a spouse, a family, a neighborhood, a community. There is always a balance to be maintained between the needs of the individual and the needs of the group(s) they belong to. That is why Libertarianism or Ayn Rand's "Objectivism" can't form the basis of anything we would recognize as a society.
A collection of individuals, each seeking to maximize only their own profit at the expense of others, is not a society, but a prescription for a post-apocalyptic dog-eat-dog world. A preview can be had from the tyranny of monopoly capitalism over segments of our economy today (think Big Pharma's out-of-control price hikes on insulin and other, previously cheap, lifesaving drugs).
Similarly, a believer in the absolute dominance of the collective over the individual invites suppression of initiative, forced conformity and violence against dissenters (see communism, fascism, and many other religions of various brands).
So the choice is not: "Socialism or Capitalism?" The two scales--capitalism/socialism and democracy/dictatorship--can function independently of one another. The question is how far you are willing to go to impose either system on the individual and society.
Unfortunately, failure to grasp this point drives Gitz into producing a half-truth. Yes, dictatorial socialism is always bad, but so is the dictatorship of government-enabled rapacious capitalism (see Big Pharma again).
America used to strike a decent balance between capitalist and socialist features in her economy, thus avoiding the failings of both systems at their extremes, but that has changed radically over the last 25 years--roughly since the fall of the Soviet Union. Who would have thought that the sudden collapse of our greatest ideological enemy would backfire by unleashing middle-class-destroying robber-baron capitalism at home?
If Gitz could reassess his "either/or" thinking on this matter, I might agree with him more often.
Alex Mironoff of Fayetteville is a Ph.D in experimental psychology (UA) with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard with specialization in Russian language/literature and Soviet area studies. He is retired from the UA College of Engineering, but spent most of his career in corporate America.
Editorial on 03/11/2019
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