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America’s Groucho Marxists

“Who are you going to believe,” Groucho Marx once asked, “me, or your own eyes?” That question sums up the contempt for reason that characterized both Communist dictatorships and today's health-care debate in the US.

LONDON – Groucho Marx has always been my favorite Marxist. One of his jokes goes to the heart of the failure of the ideology – the dogmatic religion – inflicted on our poor world by his namesake, Karl.

“Who are you going to believe,” Groucho once asked, “me, or your own eyes?” For hundreds of millions of citizens in Communist-run countries in the twentieth century, the “me” in the question was a dictator or oligarchy ruling with totalitarian or authoritarian powers. It didn’t matter what you could see with your own eyes. You had to accept what you were told the world was like. Reality was whatever the ruling party said it was.

The designated successor to Mao Zedong in China, Hua Guofeng, raised this attitude to an art form. He was known as a “whateverist.” The Party and people should faithfully follow whatever Mao instructed them to do.

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