The End of Socialism and the Disintegration of the Bourgeoisie
In a hundred years the political attitudes of the Danish people have been divided between the liberal ideas of the bourgeoisie, which meant the self-employed and their followers, and the socialism, supported by the working class and some intellectuals.
Skovlund Missions House - Inner Mission prayer house, built by locals.
Numerous are the family parties, which have been wrecked by useless political discussions, and the friendships, which have been destroyed for the sake of the big political dispute.
However this great strife has now become obsolete, even not everybody has yet realized. The idea of socialism has shown up to be not working in real life, and the whole class of independent self-employed farmers and shopowners have in general vanished from society.
Very few remember any more the deep rift, which separated the Danish people during the nineteenth century, in the religious strife between the "Inner Mission" and the "Happy Christianity", the followers of the poet, Grundtvig.
Martofte Village Hall - build by local supporters of Grundtvigian Christianity.
Today only experts remember the subjects of the strife, among others "Mellem-tingene", "The in-between-things", which were dancing, alcohol and gambling. This war has ended, and this discussion had really become out of date. Today one can only with difficulty find the expression in a dictionary.
Precisely in the same way, as "The in-between-things" are not relevant as a subject for excited discussions anymore, then it no longer serves any purpose to discuss for and against "socialism" and "liberalism". We must realize, that both have been outdated by the actual history. The practical reality in society had shown that socialism did not work, and the modern capitalism no longer can be called "liberal". All the small independent farmers and shop owners, who were the backbone of liberalism, do not exist anymore.
In another hundred years, our descendants will have a difficult time to understand, what the whole controversy with the socialism and liberalism was about.
Socialism did not Work
It is said, that usually there is a good relationship between rivalizing natural scientists. It is because, that in this branch of science it is often possible to arrange an experiment, which can settle, which of conflicting theories is true. The rivals watch the experiment, draw a bit on their pipes and say, who should have thought this, then it is nevertheless true. A clear decision on which theory is the correct one has been made, and therefore they can remain good friends and colleagues.
The relations between rivalizing artists or opposite religious persuasions are quite different. They will usually hate each other very much, as their rivalry will never be settled; As it is very difficult to determine objectively, what works of art, which are the most beautiful, or what religions, which are representing the true Gods.
Just like artists and followers of different religious views, the trotskyists, anarchists and democratic socialists were very intolerant of each other. Because their theories about the organization of society were completely speculative and would never be tested on the real society.
As painters and writers can add to their works different shades of colour or themes, because they think that this looks really nice, so could the idealistic society theorists freely add all sorts of beautiful democratic, tolerant and humanistic features to their systems, completely independently of human nature and the objectively existing society.
But with the real Russian communism is different. It was tested on the real world, and it was decided if the system worked or not.
A street in Moscow 1991.
The Gods, the History or whoever has this power staged a huge laboratory experiment. The communist leaders were given a quarter of the world at their disposal and vast natural resources. Millions of staunch supporters were prepared to follow their leaders slightest hint. They were granted almost a century to prove that their theory could make the people rich and happy.
But the Russian socialism did not pass the test. It did not work. When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 after nearly a century of socialism, the Russians had not become rich and happy. They were still poor and the country was pestered by unemployment, crime and corruption.
It may be reasonable to assume, that most of the communist leaders in Russia were common personality types, related to others with normal human emotions. They would probably have been more than happy to give their citizens, what they wanted, that is freedom of speech and personal freedoms and the like. But they could not do so, because they knew, that this would cause their socialist system to collapse.
Jeltsin makes a speech standing on an armoured tank in 1991.
They can have been thinking something like, that now they just have to go through a difficult transition, and well over the hilltop everything would go by itself. The country would be rich, they could relax, and the KGB and the Gulag camps would not be necessary anymore. But it never happened because the real world cannot be shaped freely. There is something like human nature, history, culture and economic preconditions. Step by step the Communists were forced to take measures, which certainly were not adequate to make the people happy.
We can still meet people, who say, that traditional socialism is just the right way to organize a society.
They argue, that the history of the Soviet Union was a mistake. If the communist leaders simply had been more humane, tolerant and democratic, then socialism undoubtedly would have worked, they say.
The modern socialists do not understand, that socialism is not consistent with human nature. It is a beautiful idea, that everyone in the entire nation, indeed all over the world, will feel "solidarity" with each other and each individual will be willing to sacrifice their own interest for the benefit of millions, which they do not know. But this idea is unrealistic. The human nature has been such designed that we can only love persons we know.
The Birth of Socialism
Left: English working-class dwellings in the nineteenth century.
Right: English teen-age worker from the nineteenth century.
Socialism is not just something, invented by the Gods on one of their bad days. There must have been a reason, why this idea came into the world. Everything has one reason or another.
There may have been a time in the late nineteenth century, where the new independent businessmen, felt highly superior to their poor and dirty workers, fresh from the countryside. They looked down on them and treated them like dirt; and for this, they have never been forgiven.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote about the Little Girl with the Matches, and Dickens wrote about the poor boy, Oliver Twist. Back in the nineteenth century the real society also must have been something like this.
Millions of young men in the trenches of the First World must have felt, that they were simply used and that their lives were considered to be worth nothing.
A young English girl pulls a "coal tub" through a mine corridor.
Christians and Buddhist also believed that life was unfair and full of suffering. They expected justice after death or in the next life. But the new socialists would create the Kingdom of Justice in this earthly world.
The Modern Socialists or the Left Wings
The modern socialist parties do not talk very much about socialism. They have very much at heart to increase public services to large groups of voters, as retirees and immigrants, to increase the muslim immigration and to support the developing countries.
It seems like that their main concern simply is to be elected. They adjust their declarations only in order to attract as many voters as possible.
The Scottish economist Alexander Tyler, one of Adam Smith's contemporaries from the eighteenth century, is said to have stated:
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover, they can vote themselves to benefits from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to a poor economy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."
Scenes from Roman circus.
The average lifespan of democracies, until they decay, has been 200 years. These nations have evolved in this way: From bondage to spiritual faith, from faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency and from dependency back to bondage."
It was a tall order. Nor is it certain, that Alexander Tyler said exactly so. But he certainly could have had opinions like this.
The death of Socrates. Painting by David.
Professor Tyler wrote a book about the history of the ancient democracies. As we well know, the Roman republic ended up with the popular demand for "Bread and circus." We also remember that Plato detested the rule by the people, democracy, because his beloved teacher, Socrates, had been executed after a popular demand in the state of Athens.
What strikes us most about the Tyler quote, is the notion that the majority will always vote for the candidates, who promise the most benefits from the public funds. Had we really come so far out?
How do we think ourselves about this development?
It is hard not to think about the episode with "Efterlønnen", a Danish law about early retirement. An overwhelming and decisive group of voters had decided to retire early financed by government funds. Generally, they had a good health and had planned to spend some years on the golf courses before they really grew old.
Seniors playing golf.
By that time there was a shortage of labour force and especially of the older workers experience and expertise. Never the less the politicians did not dare to touch the "efterløn" arrangement. They were afraid that in that case they would not be re-elected.
Actually, most modern voters' political attitudes are really dominated by demands for greater benefits from the public. It may be shorter waiting lists in hospitals, more home help for elderly and disabled, longer maternity leave, lower prices in kindergartens, more support for refugees and immigrants or free off charge hang-out places for youngsters.
The modern socialists, that are the left wings, as they are called, have really ended up as political candidates, who seek to outdo other candidates with promises of greater benefits from state funds. All other politicians have joined the game.
At the same time, we must listen to another of the modern Socialists heart cases: "It is necessary to increase immigration to Denmark, otherwise it would not be possible to provide services to retirees and nursing home residents in the future."
The Danish constitutional law giving assembly.
What do they have in mind? All the Muslims, whom we in this way allow into our country, will have many children. They will one day also become old, and then they will argue, that even more immigrants should be allowed into our country to provide service to them. And so it will continue until the whole country will turn against Mekka every Friday.
It was certainly not that kind of democracy, which the first Constitutional Assembly had in mind in 1848. They must have meant something like the saying of the American Revolution: "No taxation without representation". If they had known, how their democracy has developed, they would probably say that it had been turned upside down.
If it had come to their knowledge, that now the receivers of government money, and not the taxpayers, have the power, then they would have been rotating in their graves.
The Original Bourgeoisie - The Self-employed
Independent fishermen's boats from the sixties.
To be an owner of a farm, a fishing boat, a shop or a family company is an unrivaled experience. To have the foot under own table and control of ones everyday life gives a quality of life, which cannot be compared with the life as a worker in an office or factory.
It is interesting and fascinating to run one's own farm, shop or factory. The owner has to plan his own production, find suppliers and have contact with customers. It is an exciting every-day, which most people only reluctantly will give up.
Half a century ago, more than half the population were closely connected to having "one's own".
All over one could find farms of all sizes, even down to six hectares of land. There were many small nursery gardens both on open land and in glasshouses. All along the coast and in the bays and inlets were numerous harbours with fishing boats and fishermen specialized in shallow water fishing.
Street with family shops in the fifties.
Independent coasters owned by the master himself performed a large part of the transport. In every city were locale truck-owners with a few trucks. There were independent lawyers and real estate agents, all with their own office in a room in their private house.
In the towns, one could find small family shops all over. There were groceries, bakers, butchers, bookshops, small cloth shops, shoemakers and many more. They were all served by independent wholesale dealers and traveling salesmen.
All these liberal farm- and shop-owners had family, friends and trusted employees, who also were quite familiar with the life of having one's own. The children followed the conversation at the dining table.
Millions of Danes must have had "the free market" completely under the skin. It represented a free independent lifestyle, which they loved. They constituted the bourgeoisie or the right wings, opposing the "socialists" who had evil intentions with these private enterprises.
The Disintegration of the Bourgeoisie
When the wind blows over the vast sandy beaches at the North Sea, it whirls the sand into the air. A few sand-grains take shelter behind a stone or a wisp of seaweed. This creates a bit more shelter in these places than there were before, and even more sand-grains will put themselves right there.
Warren Buffet - the famous American investor.
Thus the drifting continues, until all the sand has been collected in large dunes. It seems to be the stable state of nature for sand.
It is also like this with wealth and money.
At the beginning of the last century, there were, of course, many poor workers, but never the less wealth was still reasonable evenly distributed over the country and among the peasants and the numerous businessmen. But as time passed by and the chaotic economic life took place, wealth was gradually collected in fewer and bigger piles.
Money has a tendency to find its way to where money already has been collected.
Just as the sand on the beach of the North Sea whirls around and piles up in the lee of large impressive dunes, so also money and wealth mount up, where it can find shelter. This means where money already is.
One after another, all the small farms and greenhouses were sold. The owners died or gave up. Their farms were merged with other farms. Nowadays a farmer needs hundreds of hectares of land to make ends meet.
Ingvar Kamprad - the founder of Ikea.
The fishing boats were scrapped and replaced by big trawlers. The smaller fishermen gave up and took up working for salary. The small harbours of our childhood were turned into marinas for pleasure boats.
The coasters as well were scrapped and replaced by trucks and container transport.
One by one the small shops in the towns were knocked out by big shopping malls. The neighbourhood shops of our childhood were closed down and the shop windows were closed by bricks or they were briefly transformed into Pizzerias or small shops open around the clock. Logistic companies manned with clerks working for salary replaced the wholesale dealers. Real Estate Agents became employees in large organizations affiliated with the banks. The traveling salesmen became unemployed in the economy of the new time.
The development against increasing accumulations of money and wealth continues without delay. Almost every week we see in the news, that now this and that famous company has bought one of their closest competitors.
The Bikuben Bank and Giro Bank became BG Bank, which again has been bought by Danske Bank. Carlsberg bought Albani and Holstein Brewery. Vattenfall bought Elsam, Vestas and NEG-Micon have been merged.
This is how it goes week-by-week, year-by-year. The money mounts up in still bigger piles, and it is not yet over.
Indeed, it appears to be a normal development in all business areas.
The modern "bourgeoisie" do no longer own their own business. Most of the descendants of the former self-employed farmers, fishermen and traders are now employed for salary in big international firms.