The Corner

Everybody Will Have Everything

The thing that strikes me about the Occupy Wall Street crowd and their demands is how timeless they are.

We lazily think of socialism as something that came up with the Industrial Revolution. In fact, as Eric VoegelinIgor Shafarevich, and many others have explained, it is a universal human tendency.

In We Are Doomed I included a quote from Aristophanes’ play The Congresswomen, written 391 b.c.:

Everyone is to have an equal share in everything and live on that; we won’t have one man rich while another lives in penury, one man farming hundreds of acres while another hasn’t got enough land to get buried in … No one will be motivated by need: everybody will have everything …

You could put that wellnigh word for word into the mouths of these protestors.

The dream never dies. It only slumbers, waiting for its moment.

You might think, after all the 20th century’s lurid horrors, that it will be a few generations before that moment comes round again. To judge from my kids’ public-school education, though, there is not much room for those horrors in the modern educational curriculum. That small minority of OWS protestors who could place Mao Tse-tung in the correct century probably think he was an “agrarian reformer.”

And so the wheel turns.

The powerful currents of thought and action that collided and clashed in the French Revolution … are so intimately linked to the very essence of human nature that they will inevitably [do so] again in the future.

                     — Kropotkin, The Great French Revolution (1909).

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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