The Socialist Road To Tyranny

Mr. Crocker, author of Roosevelt‘s Road to Russia, is a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. This article is from his column of September 1, 1963.

Elbert Hubbard was a kindly man who searched for the good in so­cialism 60 years ago. He eventu­ally defined it as "a sincere, senti­mental, beneficent theory, which has but one objection, and that is, it will not work."

He was almost correct, but not completely. Socialism can be made to work—albeit badly—by the im­position of sheer coercion. The dream passes; the tyranny en­dures, an encrusting slag that seals out the air of freedom. In our times many important people have been slow to learn this. One of them was Ferhat Abbas.

When Algeria became indepen­dent in July, 1962, its new leaders proclaimed "a socialistic democ­racy." Jubilant was Ferhat Abbas, an elder statesman of the freedom movement, who became speaker of the National Assembly. He had read the same books which have misled many a visionary at the Sorbonne, or at Harvard or Stan­ford; so when the opportunity came, he worked hard for his ideal, which was a democratic govern­ment erected on an economic base of socialism.

He is a wiser man today. As na­tionalization proceeded, he became the last influential voice speaking for parliamentary and popular freedom in Algeria.

Ferhat Abbas has now resigned and will live abroad. Freedom, he learned, has to be sought else­where. To find it, he must go to a capitalist country with a relatively free economic system and a re­spect for private property. This is not what those books had told him.

Algeria‘s brand new Constitution explicitly adopts socialism, for that is the most expedient device to centralize all economic and po­litical power in the ruling regime. This suits the designs of President Ahmed Ben Bella. Algeria is and will remain a one-party dictator­ship.

Our home-grown socialist will smile and demur: "Ah, that is dif­ferent; the socialism we advocate is the democratic kind." That was the kind poor Ferhat Abbas advo­cated. He learned too late what Elbert Hubbard told us long ago. It has to do with the nature of the human animal. That kind "will not work."

But, as our century is proving, it is a road to tyranny. Like the road to Hell, it is sometimes paved with good intentions.