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Rod Dreher calls Niall Ferguson's first column for The Free Press a "banger" and he's right.

Ferguson highlights an alarming number of similarities between the last years of the Soviet Union and the United States today. Does it mean the United States is reaching the end? That's the implication, obviously, and when you consider the parallels, it's hard to reject the implication.

What I find even more surprising (or disturbing) is that the parallels are so comical. If the stakes weren't so high, the parallels would offer the best comedy since Eddie Murphy's zenith.

Niall Ferguson: We’re All Soviets Now
A government with a permanent deficit and a bloated military. A bogus ideology pushed by elites. Poor health among ordinary people. Senescent leaders. Sound familiar?

It reminds me of the Distributist assertions (backed by encyclicals, though tempered by Centesimus Annus) that Capitalism and Communism are merely flipsides of the same coin. Both focus on material improvement to the exclusion of the spiritual.

I've never accepted that positions for a variety of reasons, including the concession by Distributists (and the same Popes who inveigh against Capitalism) that free markets are good. I can't analytically distinguish "Capitalism" from "free markets." Though I intuitively believe there is a distinction, it's so nebulous, I don't think it's a helpful distinction.

Does Ferguson's stunning essay show that Capitalism and Communism are, indeed, flipsides of the same coin, and the coin is now lavishly obvious by their late stages?

I don't think so. For starters, the parallels emanate from big government, not from markets. Even the parallels that tie back to big corporations are linked to big government: the pharmaceutical companies that control politicians and the airwaves and the health insurance industry that became bloated when insurance premiums became tax deductible.

I think the essay points to a more fundamental problem: Gnosticism. Communism and Progressivism, Voegelin pointed out, are both Gnostic systems. They differ in their approaches, but their underlying and fundamental assumptions are all the same.

I'd further submit that they're all the same because both systems sprout from an overweening left hemisphere. More on that later.

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