So sweet is the enticement of deluxe revolution, requiring no risk or real
effort, just lots of self-applied ego massages, outdoor happenings, free
entertainment and nonstop media hype.
We can all feel like heroes by just
coming out to hear mediocre renditions by opportunistic crooners who infuse us
in high decibels with affectations of purpose and camaraderie.
isn’t part of the equation. Entitlement antics mandate no self-sacrifice. Quite
the contrary. It’s not “what I can do for my country” but “what my
country can do for me.” While the world precariously teeters on a recessionary
precipice, we indulge in anti-capitalist conniptions, incongruously powered by
the profit motive.
The summer heat and humidity have finally steamed the
leftovers of our collective gray matter and sent this nation into a hissy fit.
Our irrationality is fueled by devil-may-care irritability. We’re seemingly
ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater, to the delight of Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, et al. Boiled brains, mass neuroses, greed
and trendy tantrums make us perfect patsies for political
Regardless of the blatant Marxism now preached by cynical
protest-mongers, most individuals who fume with righteous indignation don’t
realize they’re mouthing out-and-out communist slogans. The last thing they want
is to vanquish capitalism, their mantras notwithstanding. If anything, seeking
personal gain, they crave to reap the benefits of more capitalism. Pretentious
petulance dims memories of what this country was like under the socialist
domination of its first decades.
During our socialist phase – under the
pre-state and early-state hegemony of Mapai (yesteryear’s acronym for the Israel
Labor Party) – we voluntarily were the USSR’s ideological quasi-outpost, albeit
a democratic-cum-erratic one. Young Israel was tied to mother Russia by
sentimental bonds, yet was quite unwilling to endure communist
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When labor unions doubled as Israel’s biggest employers,
then-ruling socialists forced returning Israelis, for instance, to muck up
fridges purchased abroad because only used goods were allowed in without
sky-high tariffs. Why import fridges? Because in the heyday of state control
(for which many of our headliners and self-acclaimed experts now longingly
pine), you had to await your turn for anything locally produced. If you couldn’t
pull the right strings or avail yourself of useful connections, it often took
The wait for a telephone was more excruciating. It was a privilege
for which you shelled out plenty while the well-placed apparatchik pretended to
do you a favor you didn’t deserve.
In those halcyon days of “social
justice,” if you dared bring in a reel-to-reel audio-recorder, you could count
on begrudging customs officers to unwind your tape and measure it. The homeland
could only abide so many meters of tape and no more.
were in the 80% income-tax bracket, and electrical appliances were taxed like
diamonds. Ready-to-wear apparel was drab yet extraordinarily pricey. Movie
tickets were subject to a “pleasure fee” (no kidding). Washing machines were
luxuries. Trips abroad meant exorbitant travel levies.
And, last but not
least, housing – shoddy and cramped – was famously unaffordable, while the
draconian mortgages could never be paid off.
The standards of living in
mythical Mapailand were nothing to wax nostalgic about. Neither was there
equality. Some were always more equal, notably The
Foreign currency controls led to the blossoming of the
black market. Life’s hypocrisies were straightforward and predictable. Everyone
knew there was a righteous façade and a thriving subterranean
reality. Mapainiks sanctimoniously preached to hard-working commoners and
berated them for breaching class solidarity.
A kid who flaunted a new
plaything was denounced as a bourgani
(bourgeois). No youngster quite knew what
bourgani meant, but it was a pejorative.
addressed each other as haver
(comrade) – which was Bill Clinton’s parting
epithet for Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin indeed came from sterling socialist stock (his
mother, Rosa Cohen, was a solid rock of the Histadrut establishment). While
Israelis groaned under stringent arbitrary restrictions, he kept an illicit bank
account in America (even if in the wife’s name).
The transgression wasn’t
so awful in itself. It shouldn’t have been made an offense to begin
with. Rabin, however, did nothing to de-criminalize it for Mr. and Ms.
Average Israeli, while allowing himself exemption from rules imposed ruthlessly
The exposure of Rabin’s lapse contributed to Labor’s 1977
rout. Thereafter, Israel began steadily gravitating toward the other extreme.
Begin’s government took hesitant first steps. In time, our universities churned
out enough free-marketers of the Friedman-Thatcher-Reagan mold to speed along
the reaction against Marx, Lenin, Borochov, A.D. Gordon, etc.
socialist converts to no-holds-barred capitalism, mind you, weren’t averse to
still adhering to old-Left ultra-dovish maxims and advocating in their infinite
wisdom that Israel forthwith divest itself of all its existentially vital
strategic assets. Apparently a miniature vulnerable nine-mile-wide state
– wedged into what fellow ultra-dove Abba Eban dubbed “the Auschwitz lines” – is
good for business. What’s good for business is perforce good for
And so, a new vogue was born – frenzied privatization –
ironically subscribed to most avidly by the sorts who nevertheless keep
pompously attesting to their socialist credentials and fanning the current
flames of protest.
If once bosses couldn’t fire the worst incompetents on
their payroll, today the most diligent wage-earners feel unsafe. Inscrutable
“reorganization” can make valuable employees redundant overnight.
proven penchant for extremes gives rise to genuine grievances. The predatory
nature of our extreme Left, still lurking latently – though potently – in the
offing, is to expediently seize on discontent and magnify it to lure suckers and
impress them with slogans about the “demise of the old system,” and “the people
defying the elites.”
But few dupes recognize in these the populist
hallmarks of pitting undefined “ordinary folk” against the undefined “privileged
classes.” Consider the lyrics of “The Internationale” and see how closely they
resemble the Rothschild Boulevard slogans:
Arise ye starvelings from your
…Servile masses arise, arise
We’ll change henceforth the old conditions
…So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face.
version of the socialist/communist anthem – more relevant in our case – is way
more inflammatory. Poet Avraham Shlonski’s flamboyant (if inexact) translation
envisions “flames of vengeance licking the heart.” It promises that “we will
destroy the old world to its foundations.... Our world we shall construct
anew.... This will be the last battle in a world war.” No
Fashionable poseurs in love with the fad probably won’t bother
comparing their catch-all catchphrases to “The Internationale,” certainly not to
the parody thereof in Animal Farm
Nevertheless, protesters who
unwittingly mouth similar mantras should pay heed to how the Orwellian saga
The pigs, “generally recognized as being the cleverest of the
animals,” took on the task of mobilizing the chumps. Yet in no time, swinish
intellects morphed from tools of enlightenment to implements of oppression. No
sooner were the revolutionist pigs tempted with material advantage, than they
ditched their professed doctrines and deceived the gullible saps.
to the wise (or the not-so-wise bandwagon-climber).
The second of two
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