Alan Charles Kors
Alan Charles Kors (born 18 July 1943) is Henry Charles Lea Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught the intellectual history of the 17th and 18th centuries. He has received both the Lindback Foundation Award and the Ira Abrams Memorial Award for distinguished college teaching. Kors graduated A.B. summa cum laude at Princeton University in 1964, and received his M.A. (1965) and Ph.D. (1968) in European history at Harvard University.
- What universities are saying by these codes, special protections, and double standards — to women, to blacks, to Hispanics, to gay and lesbian students — is, "You are too weak to live with freedom. You are too weak to live with the First Amendment." If someone tells you you are too weak to live with freedom, they have turned you into a child.
- As quoted in "College" (2005), Bullshit!, HBO
Can There Be an "After Socialism"? (2003)
- "Can There Be an ‘After Socialism’?" (27 September 2003), Atlas Society
- [S]ocialism was to reap the cultural, scientific, creative, and communal rewards of abolishing private property and free markets, and to end human tyranny. Using the command of the state, Communism sought to create this socialist society. What in fact occurred was the achievement of power by a group of inhumane despots: Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Castro, Mengistu, Ceausescu, Hoxha, and so on, and so on.
- No cause, ever, in the history of all mankind, has produced more cold-blooded tyrants, more slaughtered innocents, and more orphans than socialism with power. It surpassed, exponentially, all other systems of production in turning out the dead. The bodies are all around us. And here is the problem: No one talks about them. No one honors them. No one does penance for them. No one has committed suicide for having been an apologist for those who did this to them. No one pays for them. No one is hunted down to account for them. It is exactly what Solzhenitsyn foresaw in The Gulag Archipelago: "No, no one would have to answer. No one would be looked into."
- As quoted in "Notable & Quotable: The Victims of Socialism" (17 February 2016), The Wall Street Journal, A13
- Socialism, wherever it actually had the means to plan a society, to pursue efficaciously its vision of the abolition of private property, economic inequality, and the allocation of capital and goods by free markets, culminated in the crushing of individual, economic, religious, associational, and political liberty. Its collectivization of agriculture alone led to untold suffering, scarcity, and contempt for property as the fruit of labor.
- Until socialism—like Nazism or fascism confronted by the death camps and the slaughter of innocents—is confronted with its lived reality, the greatest atrocities of all recorded human life, we will not live "after socialism."
- The pathology of Western intellectuals has committed them to an adversarial relationship with the culture - free markets and individual rights - that has produced the greatest alleviation of suffering; the greatest liberation from want, ignorance, and superstition; and the greatest increase of bounty and opportunity in the history of all human life. This pathology allows Western intellectuals to step around the Everest of bodies of the victims of Communism without a tear, a scruple, a regret, an act of contrition, or a reevaluation of self, soul, and mind.
- As quoted in "Notable & Quotable: The Victims of Socialism" (17 February 2016), The Wall Street Journal, A13
- The cognitive behavior of Western intellectuals faced with the accomplishments of their own society, on the one hand, and with the socialist ideal and then the socialist reality, on the other, takes one's breath away. In the midst of unparalleled social mobility in the West, they cry "caste." In a society of munificent goods and services, they cry either "poverty" or "consumerism." In a society of ever richer, more varied, more productive, more self-defined, and more satisfying lives, they cry "alienation." In a society that has liberated women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and gays and lesbians to an extent that no one could have dreamed possible just fifty years ago, they cry "oppression." In a society of boundless private charity, they cry "avarice." In a society in which hundreds of millions have been free riders upon the risk, knowledge, and capital of others, they decry the "exploitation" of the free riders. In a society that broke, on behalf of merit, the seemingly eternal chains of station by birth, they cry "injustice." In the names of fantasy worlds and mystical perfections, they have closed themselves to the Western, liberal miracle of individual rights, individual responsibility, merit, and human satisfaction. Like Marx, they put words like "liberty" in quotation marks when these refer to the West.
- [V]oluntary exchange among individuals held morally responsible under the rule of law creates both prosperity and an unparalleled diversity of human choices. Such a model also has been a precondition of individuation and freedom. By contrast, regimes of central planning create poverty and occasion ineluctable developments toward totalitarianism and the worst abuses of power. Dynamic free-market societies, grounded in rights-based individualism, have altered the entire human conception of liberty and of dignity for formerly marginalized groups. The entire "socialist experiment," by contrast, ended in stasis; ethnic hatreds; the absence of even the minimal preconditions of economic, social, and political renewal; and categorical contempt for both individuation and minority rights. Our children do not know this true comparison.
Socialism's Legacy (2011)
- "Socialism's Legacy" (2011), The John W. Pope Lecture Series, The Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism (full transcript)
- Socialism is easily understood by any child; it is taking other people's stuff.
- [F]reedom depended ultimately on the outcome struggle between private property, voluntary production, and voluntary exchange on the one hand, and central planning on the other.
- [S]ocialism with authentic, political power must lead to tyranny and cruelty.
- The collapse of European communist regimes will not entail disillusionment with the substance of socialism under other names until the latter is identified and linked to the catastrophic experience of the former. There is no reason to believe that this has occurred.
- Socialism almost never has been judged as a goal in value by the experience of communism in power.
- Let the dead bury the dead? But, the dead can bury no one.
- Kids, who in the 1960s had portraits of Mao and Che on their college walls, the moral equivalent of having hung portrait of Hitler or Goebbels in one's dorm, now teach our children about the moral superiority of their generation.
- Ask college freshmen how many died under Stalin's regime, and they will answer even now, "Thousands? Tens of thousands?" What does that mean? It is the equivalent of believing that Hitler killed hundreds of Jews.
- Chile offered refuge and asylum to Erich Honecker, the tyrant of East Germany who wanted the tanks in the streets. Everyone said, "It is time to bury the past without bitterness." But then Chile clamored for justice for General Augusto Pinochet. On the same day, Spain indicted Chile's Pinochet for crimes against humanity, and welcomed with honors, Fidel Castro, while Castro's critics or any group that annoyed the tyrant, lay dead or rotted in prison, or tried to recover from the deadly work camps to which he sent them.
- Most of Europe has outlawed the Neo-Nazis, but the French Communist Party was from 1999 to 2002, part of a ruling government. One may not fly the swastika, but one may proudly hoist the hammer and sickle at official events. In most of Europe, the denial of Hitler's dead, or the minimization of the Nazi Holocaust, is literally a crime. The denial or minimization of communist crimes, on the other hand, is an intellectual and political art form. The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia enslaved the nation and slaughtered a fourth to a fifth of the entire Cambodian population, as if an American regime had slaughtered some 56 million to 70 million of its people.
- The bones of Cambodia, and the millions who risked death to flee communist Vietnam and Laos for an uncertain life anywhere else, tells us about the moral value, though not necessarily the military tactical wisdom, of the anti-communist cause.
- Until socialism is confronted with its lived, communist reality, the gravest atrocities of all recorded human life, we live in its age.
- Western intellectuals fail to understand and appreciate the form of society that has given us the ability to alter those defaults. They believe both that the most productive human cultures are almost totally dysfunctional, and that evolved, successful societies may be re-drawn at will by intellectuals with political and cultural power. They write as if relative pockets of Western poverty should occasion our astonishment, when in fact the term, until recently, for almost infinitely worse levels of poverty, was simply "human life."
- The chasm between what central planning and liberal society brought us, should be the most studied phenomenon of our times. One looks in vain for such study in our research, textbooks, schools, and universities.
- What should have occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall? For almost 50 years, America had sacrificed its wealth and at times the lives of its young, to contain armed communism. Its brave pilots risked their lives by skimming the hills of Western Europe to the great annoyance of German picnickers whose liberty depended, in fact, on such sacrifice. Its submariners left behind comfort, family, and friends, to make full deterrents real. Its men and women in uniform stood at places of peril, willing to risk their lives for our liberty. The West did whatever it had to do to prevent the armed Bolsheviks from achieving tactical or strategic superiority. It sustained its will and its great burden of debt even when its artists, college students, professors, authors and filmmakers, turned against the alleged folly of such efforts. It obsessed on communism and anti-communism; it was haunted by its own and its enemy's bombs, missiles, and nuclear strategies. This was the burden it chose to bear. And then, in a seeming miracle, the fatal weaknesses of tyranny, central planning, and il-liberalism, at a moment of American will, were actualized in the collapse of European communism. Now we could assess and do a real accounting of what we had fought to preserve and to prevent.
- Imagine if World War II had ended with a European Nazi Empire, from the Urals to the Channel, soon armed with nuclear weapons, in mortal contest with the United States, in a peace kept only by deterrence. Imagine an evolution from a Hitler to an Albert Speer Nazi. Would the children of the Left have led songs of "All We Are Saying Is Give Peace a Chance" beneath symbols of unilateral disarmament? Would American opposition to Nazi influence anywhere, let alone to Nazi securing of bases in the western hemisphere, have led to domestic charges of our being the imperialist world policeman? Would our intellectuals have mocked or cheered a president who used the phrase "The evil empire"? But what were the differences between that totalitarianism and the other? Deaths? Camps? The desolation of the flesh and spirit? The bodies will not be buried without an answer to that.
- How mute we were in 1989 during what should have been at the least the celebration of the fall of the world's most powerful hammer and sickle, symbol of the ultimate human slaughter. If it had been the Third Reich Swastika that had fallen after two generations of Cold War, the joy and catharsis would have lit our cities.
- [W]hen Eisenhower heard that the German residents of a nearby city "didn't know" about a death camp whose stench should have reached their nostrils, he marched them, well-dressed, through the rotting corpses, and made them help dispose of the dead. The mayor of Gotha and his wife, went home from this and hanged themselves. We lack Eisenhower's authority.
- Let the apologists for communists acknowledge the dead, bury the dead, and atone for the dead. Otherwise, let them be forgiven only when they have put out their eyes and wandered blind, away from Thebes.
- The bodies demand accounting, apology, and repentance. Without such things, the age of communism lives.
- Red China will make Libya look like a picnic if that government feels threatened.
- Students once asked me, if being a historian, I could predict the future and I said "No, I can't. But, I can tell what you what won't happen.", and someone said "What won't happen? What do you know what won't happen?" and I gave two answers. I said "Russia will never allow the reunification of Germany" and "whites in South Africa will never give up their tyranny without a bloodbath." So, let's not take me as a prophet.
- Milton Friedman, a great defender of liberty in my view.
- When you have a planned economy and when you abolish private property, someone must make the decision "Plan in what ways? What do people need?" They now must make those purchase decisions for you. What should you really buy and what shouldn't you buy? Removing choice in the interest of a collective pursuit, those central planners who are one and the same time your schoolteacher, your landlord, your employer, and your police, that's an extraordinary concentration of power, ladies and gentlemen. That is an extraordinary concentration of power. They must get people of what we are planning for and you see this in the history of every communist society. Which means in the final analysis, they must govern the culture, they must control values. Its why religion or any independent thinking is such an enemy. They must control the values, the preferences, the culture, and the education and they must find ways to repress those who are urging different paths and elections don't take care of that because if you're planning an entire economy. If you're planning the allocation of all goods and services and human choices. You can't every four years turn around and say "Oh, lets abandon 'A' and do 'B'." Elections don't get you out of that dilemma.
- I don't think that you can impose liberal societies from the outside.
- I think it's almost impossible to impose a free and liberal society from the outside.
- A government, a regime that is not willing to slaughter large numbers of its own citizens to stay in tyrannical power will lose power.
- The crucial moment of the end of the Cold War for me was the meeting between Gorbachev and Honecker, tyrant of East Germany, and Honecker said to him, and I'm sure Gorbachev is accurately conveying it, Honecker said to him if you don't send the tanks, "If you don't let us send out the tanks, it will be the fall of communism", and Gorbachev said "I wont send out the tanks, you may not send out the tanks." and I believe in China they will send out the tanks.
- The logic of governmental power is to exercise it such that Republicans can talk "Terrific free market!" language until they actually have power. Where upon, its program after program and crony after crony. The extraordinary bailout occurred under the Bush administration. I think that raises extraordinary dangers of the fact that as power accumulates, it never gives anything back. Its always expanding.
- Government programs once established never end, they just never end. The logic is evermore decision made by government and ever fewer decisions made by individuals. Democracy is an extraordinary thing, but Hitler could've been elected democratically. Democracy is not the same as liberty. It is not the same as individual rights.
- There are in the final analysis, two kinds of decisions. One, decisions you make for yourself and two decisions other people make for you, whether it's one tyrant or 51% of your fellow citizens.
- The critical thing, I mean, what I would keep my eye on, is private property. If the state can take away property that you owned, that you've lived on, and give it to a developer because that's good for economic development, not to mention the developer gives lots of money to the local politicians, if private property goes, then in my view there is no safeguard whatsoever, and I would always keep my eye on the relationship with government to private property.
Who's too Weak to Live with Freedom? (2013)
- "Who's too Weak to Live with Freedom?" (2013), TheFIREorg
- You can't say to people, you're too weak to live with freedom, only that group is strong enough to live with freedom.
- What a terrible price students are paying now for the idea of comfort.
- The problem of free speech in, both in society in general and on campus in particular, is everyone will say "I believe in free speech, but." The problem is everyone has a different "But!" exemption that they would put on free speech. So the issue really becomes, who has the power to enforce their exemptions to free speech while keeping absolute free speech for themselves?
- The correct answer to speech you abhor is bearing witness to what you believe.
- Due process of law is an evolved way of living in a civilized fashion that protects the freedom of all.
- We are either all equally free, or we are not free.
- What gives me grounds for optimism is that this is the only country on the face of the Earth where if you tell a 10-year-old kid, "You can't do" something and it strikes him as absurd, a 10-year-old kid looks up and says "It's a free country." This is the only nation on Earth whose children say "It's a free country." It's going to take a whole lot to root that out of the American spirit.
- Encyclopedic article on Alan Charles Kors at Wikipedia