Socialism has new wind in its sails. Americans under the age of thirty appear to believe that Socialism is just as good a system as Capitalism. What is Socialism?
Socialism is a fundamental reconstruction of society as to make economics an affair of government, so as to organize society with the goal of social equality. Surely, the lofty goals of Social Justice and Equality sound great on the surface. Many Socialists fervently believe in these goals, without regard as to how they can be achieved, merely convinced that they must be achieved, regardless of the cost.
But Socialism means the abolition of private enterprise, of private ownership over the means of production, and the creation of a centrally planned economy in which an entrepreneur working for a profit is replaced by a government planning body.
To achieve Social Justice, the redistribution of income can only be accomplished by governmental control of economic activity—known as collectivism. Everything that is true of collectivism is true of Socialism. Central Planning is necessary to realize redistribution. Examples in the United States include the National Planning Board founded by FDR in 1934; the Social Security System; and the Full Employment Act of 1946.
How Socialism Works
Socialism is a Utopian scheme closely related to Communism. Both are Collectivism. Karl Marx viewed Socialism as a transitional phase between Capitalism and Communism, with Socialism used to destroy the foundations of inequality produced by Capitalism before full-blown Communism is established.
Lenin defined himself as a Socialist until he seized power in Russia, after which he was a self-described Communist. Each person in such a society would provide the commonweal according to their ability; and each person will be supplied according to their needs.
Socialism is a system in which ownership of assets, and the control over the means of production, are taken from the people and given to the government. The central governmental authority takes over the economic affairs of society from the private sphere.
Socialism is a class movement that seeks to abolish class differences. Every Socialist wishes to revolutionize society economically. Socialism is inimical to democracy, but a brother of trade unionism. It seeks to abolish injustice and inequality; and transform the attitudes of all classes.
Socialism requires a central planning board to decide how much work each person will do at what occupation. A true believer convinces himself that he will be happy in any circumstances just to know he lives in a Socialist society, as if Socialist bread will taste sweeter than Capitalist bread simply because it is Socialist bread—even if they found mice in it.
Socialism would do away with taxes. Since those in charge would control all revenue there will be no need to ask for anything from the citizenry, other than their labor and obedience. Socialism might even work if God ran it with the help of his angels. But men are not angels. An effective manager in a Socialist economy is a dictator over other men, not a boss of men, and the temptation will be great for men holding such power.
Productivity, product per man-hour, always goes way down in a system based on Socialism. Authoritarian group discipline will be required to keep bread on the table. One problem under any economic system is what to do with the 25% of people who are and will continue to be underperformers, due to moral or volitional defects.
Social and economic inequality means inequality of possessions. Socialism aims to ban private property and eliminate individualism. Many nations have tried to put this theory into practice, with enormous consequences.
Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism, all come from the same set of ideas; ideas about freedom yielding to centrally planned economy. No one explains where ceding this power to a central government leads better than George Orwell in his incredible book 1984.
Radical Socialists are for violence, revolution, terror, and dictatorship. Moderate Socialists figure they can wrest control of society by degrees, and gradually erase class distinctions.
All socialists are disciples of Karl Marx, whether they know it or not. And most place Socialism above the observance of democratic procedure. Socialists are not above forcing upon the citizenry that which they do not want, since they obviously don’t know what’s good for them. This is, of course, is anti-democratic.
Many Socialists are aware that they need to adopt the forms of democracy without the substance in order to be victorious over a reluctant populace. If it serves their immediate interests, espousing and pledging allegiance to democracy provides excellent cover for what they are really up to.
The first Socialists who rose to power in fact called their party the German Social Democrats, as a matter of prudence. They mastered the art of flattering the masses while crushing opponents—in the name of the people.
The Swedish hybrid model is not workable in many nations. Sweden has an exceptionally well-balanced social structure, and well, Swedes.
Socialists might not abolish the vote entirely once in power. Stalin allowed voting. For instance, this was on the ballot one year: “The Russian people in unconditional devotion to the party of Stalin, the great leader, accept the program of the grand works which has been sketched in that most sublime document of our epoch, the report of comrade Stalin, in order to fulfill it unwaveringly. Our Bolshevik Party enters, under the leadership of the genius of that great Stalin, a new phase of development.”
Now, admittedly one could only vote “yes” or “no” and the vote was taken publicly so everyone knew, including the secret police, if you were with the program.
Let us disabuse those with the notion that Socialism is a Christian idea. Jesus urged His followers to give of what they have to the poor, especially widows and orphans (and other believers). He never said that governments should take your possessions and give them to someone else.
Utopia is the name of a book written in 1516 by Thomas More. It describes a society in which private wealth and money has been abolished, while citizens wear identical clothes and live in identical houses. Such societies were established on a small scale in the following centuries, but all were short-lived due to freeloaders who didn’t produce anything but drained resources from the community.
Johann Holderlin said, “What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven.”
Karl Marx first called himself a Socialist. In 1847 he decided this moniker was too respectable and adopted the term Communist.
According to Marx, Capitalism led to the misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, and exploitation of the masses. He formed a union, the International Workingmen’s Association, in 1864 to destroy Capitalism and institute Socialism, by confiscating the assets of Capitalists.
Virtually all of Marx’s predictions proved to be wrong. For instance, it was not through trade unions but through radical politicians such as Vladimir Lenin and Adolph Hitler that Socialism would be implemented.
Socialism is a counterfeit religion—a system of ultimate ends that represents the meaning of life to the believer; and guide to the salvation of those ends. Socialism promises paradise on this side of the grave. It seems to offer deliverance to those who feel disadvantaged by the meritocracy of Capitalism.
Marx taught his followers that it was good to profess faith in Democracy until their political power became great enough to drop the pretence. He also preached that they could best takeover during periods of high unemployment or depression, and that in fact, they should hope for, and perhaps even quietly work for, these calamities to happen, so that they might seize power.
The Communist Manifesto lists the immediate goals of Socialism: Free education; loose voting regulations; a progressive income tax to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor; abolishment of private property; nationalization of banking and transportation; and mandatory volunteer service for all citizens.
But Marx also felt compelled to state the obvious about the system he was against, “The bourgeoisie [Capitalism] has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, or Gothic cathedrals. The bourgeoisie draws all nations into civilization. It has created enormous cities and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.”
The evolution of Capitalism with its free market caused the evolution of democratic freedoms. It apparently never occurred to Marx that our freedom might disappear along with the abolition of free market Capitalism.
In 1917, Lenin said, “The whole of society will become a single office and a single factory with equality of work and equality of pay.”
In 1937, Leon Trotsky said, “In a country where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: he who does not work shall not eat [from the Bible], has been replaced by a new one: he who does not obey shall not eat.”
Socialists in Germany and Italy first put into practice the ideas that they should decide all activities of the individual from the cradle to the grave, to guide his views on everything, to make all problems questions that only they should answer. The general position and income of each person should be decided by the state. Only as a member of a group capable of influencing those who exercised the coercive powers of the state could a person maintain or improve his position.
The Socialists were favored at first by clerks, typists, teachers, tradesmen, petty officials, and the lower ranks of the professions—until they saw the system in action. These Socialists became known as Nazis and Fascists.
My sources for this article include Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter; The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek; and Communism by Richard Pipes.