Strange Conversations While In Africa

LUSAKA (Zambia) – During business trips in far away places it is relatively easy to talk to strangers who are also traveling, just as you are, for business or pleasure. Sometimes the conversations are very interesting, sometimes bizarre.

Meeting Brian

It is Sunday and I went to the hotel gym to exercise. Afterwards, I saw a gentleman in the locker room. I said hello to him. There is a brief introduction. It turns out that this traveler (let’s call him “Brian”) is from the North of England, very close to Scotland. Brian is a nice, mild mannered man. He runs a bed and breakfast, and he organizes outdoors activities for children. A good guy, it seems. He is in Zambia for a wedding.

British politics

So Brian lives right next to the Scottish “Border”. Ah, Scotland, with all its political problems. “This matter of secession is by no means over”, says Brian. “Even though the referendum failed, they’ll try again”. I agreed with him on this.

But then we turned to British politics, and Brian observed that there are goods things going on in the British Labour Party. Indeed, there is a new beginning, on account of the election of Jeremy Corbyn, (a bizarre radical socialist), as party leader.

I was frankly stunned. Good things? From a party that just regressed to ancient Marxism? I politely noted that this leftist agenda has been tried, many times, in many different parts of the world, and it did not work.

In praise of Socialism

Well, Brian brushed all this aside. (Essentially, the Soviet Union, Pol pot’s Cambodia and Maoist China, among others, never happened; or were just small foot notes). He noted that many noble Marxist experiments, such as the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, were snuffed by the evil Americans. So we shall never know what wonders those truly enlightened Socialists might have brought about.

Never mind that Daniel Ortega, the retreaded old revolutionary leader whose dream of a just society was allegedly killed by the CIA, is alive and well, (In fact, now, thanks to the wisdom of Nicaragua’s voters, Ortega is the current “democratic” leader of perennially impoverished Nicaragua. Apparently the CIA did not do such a good job.)

It failed in the past, so let’s try again

But Brian goes further. “Well, the very fact that Socialism did not work in the past is good for today”, he says, quite seriously. “We can have a fresh start, avoiding the mistakes of the past”.

In other words, according to Brian, Socialism in principle is a very good thing. The ony issue is some implementation glitches, here and there. In other words, with more refined planning and better execution these problems experienced in the past will be avoided, and the world will finally enjoy the blessings of a just society.

As I said, Brian is a pleasant person.

And yet, in a peculiar way, he is a prisoner of a crazy ideology. Think of this bizarre –and totally irrational– argument: “Precisely because Socialism failed so many times in the past, this is the moment. We have to try again”.

He said all this calmly, in a matter of fact way.

So, here we go. One century of disastrous economic failures, (not to mention killings, the Gulag, mass murder, denial of basic human rights, and more), is a pretty good indicator of future success.

Blindness

It really worries me to see how blind belief in crackpot ideologies prevents otherwise normal people to see reality.

No, contrary to what the thinkers of the Enlightenment believed, Man is not a rational creature. Sadly, the vast expansion of knowledge about nature and the physical world has not done much to make people wiser.