My Mideast Punchlines: the downside of ideology….

The Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror organization has reportedly executed some 100 foreign fighters who had a change of heart after joining their ranks and tried to escape.

The foreigners were apparently trying to leave Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria, when caught by a special ISIS unit similar to the military police, tasked with capturing defectors.

Small FistThis is generally what happens with ideologies. As a main course, they tend to devour their enemies..but then comes the afters. I can’t help recalling the excesses of Robespierre and his cohorts during the French Revolution. First it was the aristocracy who were sent to the guillotine, then came the bourgeoisie, and, finally, Robespierre’s own constituents, the plebs. Poor Pierre ended up losing his head, too. That’s the problem with eutopian ideologies – they invariably contain the seeds of their own destruction. And we mustn’t forget the Russian Revolution either. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

Although Marx is popularly thought of as the originator of the phrase, the slogan was common to the socialist movement and was first used by Louis Blanc in 1851. The origin of this phrasing has also been attributed to the French utopian Étienne-Gabriel Morelly, who proposed in his 1755 Code of Nature “Sacred and Fundamental Laws that would tear out the roots of vice and of all the evils of a society” including

I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.

Sounds great. Just don’t mention the c.20 million Russians who died from the implementation of this ideology. Many of them died from starvation during Stalin’s Great Terror. And don’t get me started on the Nazis. As I said, there’s a downside to ideology – always.

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