Last weekend, I stopped by my local communist bookstore. Yes, some people are still waiting for the revolution. Workers of the World Unite!
I don’t want to merely criticize this particular bookstore, because that would really be too easy, and too predictable. I decided to walk in with an open mind. It was a small bookstore with about a 1,000 or so titles. I learned that no one is paid to work the counter, they’re volunteers. The collection ranged from diehard communism to the book I bought: Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
In their favor:
1. They knew the titles well, and were happy to talk about pretty much anything.
2. Hugo Chavez has had some success in creating social programs in his own dictatorial, latin strong-man kind of way.
While buying it, however, they kept pushing leaflets and other propoganda into my hands and into the bag. This was clearly “go” time for building the revolution, and as we talked it became more clear this was what they had been waiting for. They made it tough to leave, and as I left, I walked around the corner to the garbage, and threw everything but Hawking’s book away.
I’ll let Karl Popper have the last word here:
“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”