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Monday, December 12, 2005

Socialism Is Not Peaceful Sharing

Socialists pin the blame of everything on that terrible profit motive and control of productivity by people uninterested in public good. The socialists see sharing as the desired method of fair distribution of wealth while ignoring the unlikelihood of anyone being motivated to produce any wealth to begin with. The Soviet 70 year experiment proved that scarcity of everything was the norm except for those in the the ruling class. Meanwhile here in America wealth abounds for the overwhelming majority (in 2004 Germany just edged out Arkansas in per capita wealth).

My self-avowed Leftist friend sent me this comment to an e-mail I sent favoring a free market approach to the environment and liberty in general. The message can withdrawn if one adds in the glossary of 1960's cliches :

my model is woodstock--- abbie hoffmann-everything for free (or alternatively democratic socialism, downsizing the output of pollutants we are killing the world with-now there's a major drought in Brazil-cause? some experts say global warming)- I wouldn't sneeze at the cost of the Iraq war (is it now over $200 billion?)- also the cost of allowing torture, staying in Iraq and the creation of more terrorists-those guys are costing us alot of $--
bottom line, my generation needs to figure out dealing with old age and its infirmities- answer, continue to rock-n-roll- power to the people

The global politics and environmental statement aside (and we could certainly analyze those in depth), his economic credo is stated as "democratic socialism". It stands for some sort of support for a sharing akin to "woodstock". He must recognize that the capitalists actually pulled off the concert and saved some lives while the "socialists" did what they always do best---steal. Subsequent the few woodstocks that followed proves that the profit motive was not enhanced by his friends' theft of services. Live long enough and someone will have forgotten what a fiasco that event was for the producers and will host another one in 20-30 years.

George Reisman in the Von Mises website provides an in-depth look at the necessary totalitarianism of socialism-the government assumption of production. Through a review of all true socialist governments, Reisman shows that the control of production by government rather than by a free market leads to scarcity of goods. Additionally, there must be price and wage controls put into place. This leads to black markets. Since black markets breach the government structure, such is deemed subversive.

Because of the privacy and secrecy in which many black-market transactions can be conducted, the government must also make anyone contemplating a black-market transaction fearful that the other party might turn out to be a police agent trying to entrap him. The government must make people fearful even of their long-time associates, even of their friends and relatives, lest even they turn out to be informers.

Control of the all citizen thought is needed to avoid the natural human drive to improve their lots. This leads to control of associations of people since they may be conspiring to breach the government system. When products are not available due to the inevitable scarcity, purges and other exterminations must follow. Scapegoats are created to shelter the government from public scorn.

Under de facto socialism, the production and sale of goods in the black market entails the defiance of the government's regulations concerning production and distribution, as well as the defiance of its price controls. For example, the goods themselves that are sold in the black market are intended by the government to be distributed in accordance with its plan, and not in the black market. The factors of production used to produce those goods are likewise intended by the government to be used in accordance with its plan, and not for the purpose of supplying the black market.

Reisman anticipates the peaceful socialism of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. He writes:

In such cases, it is necessary to realize that along with these countries not being totalitarian, they are also not socialist. Their governing parties may espouse socialism as their philosophy and their ultimate goal, but socialism is not what they have implemented as their economic system. Their actual economic system is that of a hampered market economy, as Mises termed it. While more hampered than our own in important respects, their economic system is essentially similar to our own, in that the characteristic driving force of production and economic activity is not government decree but the initiative of private owners motivated by the prospect of private profit.

The reason that Social Democrats do not establish socialism when they come to power, is that they are unwilling to do what would be required. The establishment of socialism as an economic system requires a massive act of theft — the means of production must be seized from their owners and turned over to the state. Such seizure is virtually certain to provoke substantial resistance on the part of the owners, resistance which can be overcome only by use of massive force.

The Communists were and are willing to apply such force, as evidenced in Soviet Russia. Their character is that of armed robbers prepared to commit murder if that is what is necessary to carry out their robbery. The character of the Social Democrats in contrast is more like that of pickpockets, who may talk of pulling the big job someday, but who in fact are unwilling to do the killing that would be required, and so give up at the slightest sign of serious resistance.

So the socialist fantasy always becomes totalitarianism.

Socialism cannot be ruled for very long except by terror. As soon as the terror is relaxed, resentment and hostility logically begin to well up against the rulers. The stage is thus set for a revolution or civil war.

Of course, that is violence which my hippie friend is against.

My answer to my Leftist friend was:

In essence your socialism would result in only acoustic guitars being made by hand. Poverty would be widespread and the technological solutions to environmental problems would be nil. How would you heat your house? Burning down forests was not good for the environment throughout history.

This post borrows heavily from a more intelligent economist than I could ever hope to be.

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