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113 of 119 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have the privilege to know Oleg Atbashian through membership at his hilarious and satirical website, The People's Cube. There, through the prism of his own firsthand experience under Marxism, he leads us in skewering liberalism, progressivism, socialism, hope and change . . . or whatever label the Professional Left is using these days to cover the ragged holes in that hundred year old package of phony goods they keep pushing on America.

Truth is at the heart of good satire, and a sense of humor is the lifeblood for keeping one's sanity and perspective in times of tribulation--and beyond. Oleg has the unique ability to not only look back and see the absurdity of life in a Communist regime--but to cleverly use satire and humor to educate and even warn others of its perils.

Recent events make those warnings more dire, as it becomes harder to laugh in the face of increasing danger to our liberties. Recognizing that hideous face--as well that patched up, smoldering old package leaking something foul on America's doorstep--Oleg has taken a more serious turn with this book.

The text originally appeared as a series of essays at Pajamas Media. First thing each morning I'd read the latest installment with my coffee--though what Oleg wrote did a better job of waking me up than the caffeine. Had I waited till late evening to read his work, I doubt I would have been able to sleep that night. He wrote things that alarmed me and tore at my heart--not only because they once happened to human beings in another time and place, but because I see them happening here and now--in America.

And it's not just the increasing power and corruption of unions--the centerpiece of Oleg's book. It's something that's everywhere now. For years it's been seeping into our nation's pores, and it's now metastasized like an aggressive, deadly cancer consuming every organ in the body of our society. Many of us saw the warning signs on our own, but too many others continue to be like terminal patients in denial. Perhaps they're holding out for a miracle cure from someone who claims to understand what ails them, and will tell them they want to hear. Too bad they already fell for that in 2008.

What is wrong with such people, that they either can't see it, don't want to see it, or see it but insist it's not the same thing Oleg grew up with? Is it because of the bright, shiny new label hiding the old one on the Left's package that proclaims otherwise? Back in the 1970's, a certain oil company changed its name but assured its customers they could still count on getting "the same old gas." That could just as easily be the slogan of the Left--and their gas has never been anything but toxic.

The Left incites class envy by relentlessly attacking American prosperity with indignant rants against huge salaries and bonuses, or the "obscene" profits some company raked in last year. Yet if a company shows a loss, the Left is happy to see the government step in and take over. Meanwhile, the redistribution of American wealth is already in full swing: They insist that certain government programs, to be paid for by generations yet unborn, will stimulate the economy, while tax cuts proven to do the same thing, and with more efficiency and greater success, must end--because, so they say, the government can't afford to let us keep our own hard earned money.

That is, as Oleg calls it, "shakedown socialism."

He took a courageous leap of faith when he made the decision to break free of the old Soviet Union and the only life he'd ever known. Like millions before him, Oleg ventured to America in pursuit of an entirely new way of life, one that for over two centuries has promised and delivered freedom and opportunities found nowhere else in the world--only to be confronted with the very thing he sought to leave behind for good. Where can he go now? Where do any of us who cherish our liberties go?

We can find the answer in the words of President Ronald Reagan: "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." Well, here we are. Unless we want to lose our freedom, we must stand up and fight for it--and win--just as our Founding Fathers did.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Mr. Atbashian has given us a clear and concise primer on the fallacies of socialist thought in all of its myriad incarnations. With crushing logic, he picks apart (or, shall I say, deconstructs) the philosophical sleight-of-hand that has produced Leftist gems such as welfare dependency, affirmative action, union extortion, political correctness, and dictatorial regimes around the world.

In this sense -- exposing the normally well-hidden kernel of collectivist ideology -- Shakedown Socialism is reminiscent of Hayek's Road to Serfdom.

One particularly instructive aspect of the book is the ongoing comparison between contemporary "Progressive" practice and that of the Soviet Union. Here we benefit from Mr. Atbashian's personal experience from deep within the belly of the beast. The parallels are chilling, to say the least.

Thoughtful, well-written, witty. Highly recommended.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Some books (good books) contain a thought which you can take away, and make your own forever. This book, aside from a lot of other excellent thoughts ("Why should union members earn twice as much as non-union workers??" Good question!), contains one really excellent thing.

A few years ago, I was thinking about a situation where I had employed two different people to work on making a few buildings in an empty lot. One of them was dedicated. He worked very hard, and took every job as a personal responsibility. He refused to leave before the job was done. The other was his son-in-law, one of the laziest boys I ever saw. When I told him to go help his father-in-law, I discovered him a few hours later lolling on the grass and watching his father-in-law work.

I concluded that the father-in-law was worth easily 1,000 a day, while the son-in-law would be lucky to be paid 200-300.

And this is where I got stuck. It struck me as obvious that each person was getting paid fairly and justly, and that "social justice" must be some completely different sort of justice.

Well, this book completes that thought. It states, as an obvious fact, that if you pay people justly, they will be unequal. But if you pay them all equally, the result will be injustice. (I would only add the missing premise, which is obvious: people are not all equally productive.)

In other words, "justice" and "equality" in wages are like oil and water: they do not and cannot mix. They are in fact contradictory.

Coming from a man who spent many years under Communism in the USSR, this is an idea whose time has come. (Actually, it came long ago, but political windbags have done their best to conceal it.)

By the way, if we understand that "equality" and "justice" in wages do not mix, it is very interesting to look at the modern classic Leftism Revisited: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot and realize that "equality" and "freedom" cannot co-exist. (Goethe was perhaps the first person to notice this problem.) If you put these two ideas together, you have to conclude that the concept of "equality" is at war with both freedom and justice. Try to get a leftist to admit that!

"Social justice" leads in one direction only. Political leaders will gain an enormous amount of power, while everyone else becomes a member of the slave underclass. They are all equal with one another, supposedly, but none of them even comes close to being equal with the political elite.

Well, think about it. Do YOU have the right to command Air Force jets to fly you home every weekend? And can you (meekly, of course meekly) submit your bar tab for champagne and Maker's Mark for payment by the little people? A wonderful new world, where both justice and freedom have been given lethal injections.

Highest possible recommendation!!
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
ive bought books on amazon for awhile but never felt the need to write a review before. this is not a typical anti-socialist book at all. none of the familiar rhetoric you might be expecting. while not an academic work by any means, he makes some of the most compelling arguments ive ever read.. and from an angle you seldom think about. his anti-union argument is so perfect, i will be repeating it in conversation for the rest of my life. some serious mental ammunition for arguments with any unfortunate, collectivist leaning friends you may have... even if they refuse to read it, the images (on practically every page) might catch their attention if you can get them to flip through it.

do not click off this page without buying this book.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This small book written by a Soviet immigrant is an eye opener for Americans spoon fed by mainstream media. It explains how the real socialism looks like and how this country will look if this system gets hold here.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The problem when Americans (or other Westerners) who argue against socialism make their case against it, they are speaking from a perspective of an outsider looking in. No matter how accurate and correct in their arguments, the cynic or anti-capitalist will reflexively say "they don't know what they are talking about because they're not authentic." Thus there exists an inherent bias against the West when trying to condemn the evils of Marxism and socialism.

Well that can't be said of Oleg Atbashian and "Shakedown Socialism." As someone who has lived within the two systems, his voice carries much more weight and credibility than anyone else; and for that, this book is a worthy read. It is short book and can be read very easily, and because Oleg is not a professional writer, the simplicity of his style comes through in a very direct and sincere way. You just get the sense that this man wants to convey what he saw and lived under in the Ukraine and compare it against what he now sees in the United States.

Other reviewers are correct, there are not many books like this on the market -- that alone is worth having it on your bookshelf. Like many who have fled the former Soviet bloc, the man is anti-communist, and a lover of freedom. Those of us who have lived in freedom our whole lives take it for granted, yet those that escaped to the West are much more passionate about what "freedom" means. They understand at a personal level the true nature of collectivist society, more so than any hipster useful idiot with a Che Guevara or Hammer & Sickle t-shirt walking the streets of America.

I recommend this book because it's not theory, it's not academic and it's not "US vs. Them." It is anecdotal stories of humans (and human nature) who are similar in most ways as they try and live their lives. But when acting under the guise of "social equality" those systems bring out the worst in people. Lack of freedom brings out the worst in human nature. Those that rail against "greedy Capitalism" think it's an unfair system. But they fail to appreciate that Capitalism is not a system at all; it is freedom. Freedom to live one's life, to succeed or fail, without the state dictating the terms. Oleg in his book is trying to warn people in his own way, that America is losing her freedom. Trust someone who would know it when he sees it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I should preface this review by stating unequivocally that I happen to personally know the author of this book, so anyone who believes that I have a biased impression heading into this review should take that into consideration. Even so, I do believe that I'm able to praise this polemic with a clear conscience, since it provides a unique perspective on the creeping socialism that has hobbled the American economy and culture since the height of the New Deal, continued to progress during the Great Society, and culminated in the election of President Barack Obama, a child of the Sixties idealism who has led this nation to become a pale replica of the stagnant, Euro-socialist states whose economic model we are now emulating.

Coming from the economic and spiritual malaise that seven decades of pure Communism had imposed upon a people, Mr. Atbashian realizes the potential danger we are courting by allowing those with a vested interest in suppressing freedom of choice, e.g. organized labor, the nonprofit and "caring" industries, and the political class that has a reciprocal relationship with these tax-eaters, to have free rein over the American taxpayer and creative class. The parallels he draws between the current state of our country and the transition Russia made as it became the USSR is telling, and will astonish anyone unfamiliar with the conditions that prevailed in that country just before the soon to be abolished collectivist unions seized power there. I've given this book to friends who've experienced it for themselves, and would gladly give it to others who have never experienced the arbitrary cruelty and frustration of living under the iron curtain, but who know that we are heading in the wrong direction under Commissar Obama.

Read "Shakedown Socialism" for your own mental health, if nothing else.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Having just completed W. Cleon Skousen's The Naked Communist and The Naked Capitalist, I was eager to read this work from someone who had lived through what Dr. Skousen presented in his academic works. Mr. Atbashian who lived and worked in Soviet Russia shares his first person accounts which ring true to Dr. Skousen's assesments and predictions.

This work is in no way academic, it is first person sharing and lamenting that America is unfortunately following in the footsteps of social collectivism. It happens so subtley that no one seems to recognize the demise of personal freedom. This book opens the reader's eyes to what is happening with the Spin of Rhetoric.

I recommend this book to all who are seeking understanding of the way governments work in this world. It enlightens the academic approach with the personal insights of one who has felt the effects in a very intimate way. Absolute power corrupts absolutley and Mr. Atbashian shares how this happened in his country and how he sees it happeneing in America.

My deepest gratitude to Mr. Shearer of Greenleaf Press for the review copy of this book.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This author does a fantastic job of giving an easy read to complicated material. He expertly puts a lot of history, economics, politics, and unionism into a colorful and humerous, but, dead-on and serious look at "progressive" activities from Lennin to the Obama/Clinton present. This should be required reading and coursework in every high school in the USA.
Within four days of ordering it from Amazon, I had it read and passed on to my son.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
About two years ago, Oleg Atbashian (Red Square) shared with regular readers of his "People's Cube" website a tale of how he, as an artist in the newly re-canonized Commonwealth of Independent States,thwarted an attempt by a Communist party loyalist to exploit his talent and US contacts (on Lenin's birthday, of all days!) This book shows he has retained his sharp eye for political absurdity and remains as quick and humorous a foil towards aparatchiks of the far left here as he was toward the guardians of the principles of the Russian Revolution. The book is brief, flows quite smoothly given the number of sacred cows it skewers, and perhaps most importantly, incorporates Atbashian's unmatched and razor sharp wit. Yes, we Cubists are biased (learn more about Atbashian's site, which began its life as "Communists for Kerry" during the 2004 campaign, regularly beating the number of web hits at "Billionaires for Bush", in the book), but fellow conservatives and libertarians will agree that this book is a lot of fun, as well as full of serious, common-sense explanations of why what didn't work in the USSR will not work here, either....no matter how much Mr. Obama and friends would like for it to. Those of you on the other side may not be so generous in your praise, but I would challenge you to try to refute the arguments Mr. Atbashian puts forth, particularly those regarding the behavior and history of unions in both hemispheres. The Tsarevna salutes you, Comrade Square!
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