Human Nature is Selfish, Socialism is Bad
As a communist perhaps the most flawed “argument” I regularly encounter concerns human nature. The premise takes many variations, but generally may be expressed as “communism or socialism cannot work as human nature is selfish”. Indeed, this very week while partaking in communist party street activity our group of comrades were approached by an immigrant from the United States (Yes, white middle-class Americans can be immigrants too). His first objection raised was the go to phrases of the anti communist. “Stalin killed millions”, he decried. That would be unlike the 12 million slaves killed in transit from Africa to the US, that would be unlike the murder unleashed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others by the United States, but I digress.
Eventually, he moved on to the issue of human nature. With all the brashness and self-confidence in the world he assured us (without any evidence of course) that human nature is selfish, therefore we cannot build socialism. He then talked….and talked…..and talked, very loudly and at great length regarding society’s ills only being fixable by way of personal responsibility. A typical bourgeois argument.
Some problems emerge however, and these should be glaringly obvious. How can personal responsibility be exercised by a race, by beings whoms nature and very essence is selfish? How one cannot recognize this self-contradictory logic is beyond belief. If our very essence is selfish it makes no sense that we would operate with personal responsibility (personal responsibility implies a degree selflessness - that we will act with a greater good or the good of others in mind).Obviously, we would not and certainly not in the absence of coercion eg socialist governance.
“Government is not the answer” says the false consciousness soaked proponent of the market. But we communists, we socialists do not say government is the answer. No, we say “the organized working class is the answer”.
But also, to say human nature is selfish is to imply that human nature is static and fixed. Therefore, the essence of the greatest scientific and philosophical minds is the very same as early caveman, Adolf Hitler had the same nature as Mahatma Gandhi, the investment banker acts with the same altruism as Mother Theresa. Similarly, if our nature is selfish then why is the existence of a tribal/communal mode of production fully observed as historical fact?
One’s own observation is that the fellow described in this meeting (and the many others like him) is indicative of an education which imparts “knowledge” from above with empty sloganeering as opposed to equipping the masses with the tools to discover and labour for knowledge in an independent, logical and scientific manner. But, this is as an all together other issue for another hub on another day.