Shakedown Socialism

Unions, Pitchforks, Collective Greed, The Fallacy of Economic Equality, and other Optical Illusions of "Redistributive Justice"
Oleg Atbashian
ISBN: 1882514912
Format: Paperback
Pub Date: 08/01/2010
Publisher: Greenleaf Press
Shipping Weight: 0.31lbs
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Shakedown Socialism is a unique book in many ways. The book is a decisive refutation of the principles of socialism and "progressivism." The author, Oleg Atbashian, draws on his personal experiences growing up in the totalitarian economic system of the old Soviet Union to show why socialism not only has not worked, but cannot work.

Atbashian's own awakening from an inculcated acceptance of the superiority of communism to an embrace of the free market is the underlying story of the book. Growing up in the Ukraine, Atbashian gradually became aware of the hypocrisy of those who ran the command economy of the Soviet Union. While proclaiming the virtues of forced "economic equality" all of the Soviet officials, the "apparatchiks" who ran the country, instinctively sought every advantage they could not just for themselves, but for their children. Reflecting on this, Atbashian recognized the fatal flaw of socialism - Every parent will seek to secure the best for their children.

This epiphany eventually led Atbashian to emigrate from Russia to the United States. Here is how he describes his decision:
"Some years ago, I escaped from the shipwreck of the Soviet "worker's paradise" and moved to the United States, making a conscious choice between the forced inequality of socialism and the volunteer material inequality of capitalism. I didn't expect to be rich; I only wanted an opportunity to earn an honest income without sacrificing my dignity. I wanted the freedom to pursue my own choices and aspirations, not the ones prescribed by the state. I wanted to live in a country where my success or failure would depend on my own honest effort, not on the whim of a bureaucrat. I wanted my relations with people to be based on voluntary agreements, not mandatory requirements. And finally, I wanted my earnings to be protected by law from wanton expropriation.

America deserves credit for living up to the ideas of liberty and fighting off the redistributionist utopia for as long as it has. As crippling as the hosting of two opposing economic systems can be, it still remains a free country. But the balance is rapidly changing. Like many immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity in America, I find this change not simply misguided but personally painful. And so do all freedom-loving people elsewhere in the unfree world, for whom the mere existence of this country still gives hope and validates their belief in liberty and individual rights."
Oleg is a brilliant (and funny) writer. I first encountered him while reading his satirical postings on When I read his observations on the fallacies of socialism, I knew I wanted to help get his work to a larger audience.

This is a relatively short book, and an easy read - but the ideas and analysis it contains are profound. In seven chapters and 134 pages, Oleg pops balloons, pokes fun, exposes hypocrisy, sounds a warning, and destroys the intellectual underpinnings of socialism.

Some of the most powerful parts of the book are Oleg's own illustrations, and his selections of ironic photographs and cartoons. In what can only be described as providential irony, Oleg was trained as a graphic artist and had been employed by the Communist Party in a town in Siberia to produce propaganda posters. He uses those skills to great effect. There are 90+ photographs and cartoons scattered throughout the book which drive his points home. Many of them will make the reader smile, if not laugh out loud! The book cover is, naturally, designed by Oleg.

Here are the chapter titles:
  • Chapter 1. Lenin: Trade Unions are the School of Communism
  • Chapter 2. Incoming: Forced Inequality and Economic Injustice
  • Chapter 3. Unions: A Study in Collective Greed and Selfishness
  • Chapter 4. Rigging the Economy in the Name of "Justice"
  • Chapter 5. Want a Financial Crisis? Impose "Fairness"
  • Chapter 6. The Fallacy of "Economic Equality"
  • Chapter 7. Joyriding the Gravy Train of Material Inequality
  • Appendix. Obama the Pitchfork Operator: Remake of the Soviet Classic
Here's a sample passage from chapter 6:
"If some people had wings and others didn't, and the government wanted to enforce "fairness," soon no one would have wings. Because wings cannot be redistributed, they can only be broken. Likewise, a government edict cannot make people smarter or more capable, but it can impede the growth of those with the potential. Wouldn't it be fair if, in the name of equality, we scar the beautiful, cripple the athletes, lobotomize the scientists, blind the artists, and sever the hands of the musicians? Why not?"
I urge everyone who cares about freedom and free markets to read this book. Better yet, buy extra copies and give them to your friends.


Rob Shearer
Publisher, Greenleaf Press
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