October 27, 2006
Resisting Socialism, Then and NowBy R. E. Smith Jr.
Socialists often argue that workers should receive more wages and benefits than they can earn in a competitive market. At the same time they blame capitalists — people who take the business risks, provide jobs and invest in their enterprises — for profiting unjustly. Collectivists indignantly demand that business people share more of their private property with employees.
Paul Krugman, Princeton economcit and columnist for the New York Times, fashions ($link — enriching his capitalist employer, whose profits have been tumbling of late) a catchy phrase, the "war against wages."
Krugman principally attacks Wal—Mart, the left's favorite business target since Enron disappeared from the scene. Wal—mart has committed no massive frauds, and has created over a million jobs, often sought by thousands of would—be employees when it opens a new store. Not to mention its enormous contribution to public welfare by keeping prices low for its customers, many of whom are in the lower income segments of society.
But for the sin of being non—uinion and competing with unionized grocery chains, it cannot be forgiven.
Betraying primitive zero—sum economic thinking, Krugman believes the stock market is doing well because employers are waging this "war" against employees.
Wal—Mart doesn't pay wages according to Krugman's expectations. He sarcastically suggests that "workers are too loyal" to Wal—Mart. That there is good reason for this loyalty escapes him. This company gives hundreds of thousands of people opportunities for good wages and other benefits in a highly competitive labor market.
Krugman arrogantly condemns company policy proposals. Wal—Mart wants more part—time workers to reduce the increasing burden of health care costs on their operations. Typical of socialist busy—bodies, Krugman dismisses business decisions necessary for the welfare of the company, and all those involved with it, investors, consumers and employees.
Krugman finally gets around to the ultimate socialist fix for his
In this case, he wants the National Labor Relations Board to force companies to accept unions, forces that demand a share of company property and agitate against business interests. It's not enough that employers offer work for wages freely accepted by the employees. Socialists demand more.
I'm reminded of G. K. Chesterton's disdain for collectivists in an essay he wrote in a London socialist weekly, the New Age, in 1908. Chesterton was a prolific English writer well known as a poet, novelist, critic, journalist and essayist. He had no love for modern industrialism, but even less for collectivism. His essay was titled: "Why I Am Not a Socialist."
In a debate with socialists Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Belford Bax, he wrote that he was depressed by the "future happiness" promised by socialist idealism. Chesterton said that most collectivist utopias "consist of the pleasure of sharing." He admitted there is satisfaction in sharing, such as gathering nuts from a tree or visiting a museum. But he preferred the pleasure of giving and receiving.
Giving, he said, is the opposite of sharing. Utopian sharing, he argued, is based on the abhorrent idea that there is no private property.
Chesterton used the analogy of two men sharing a box of cigars. He didn't want that. Rather, he wished that each man might give the other a cigar from his own box. Socialist "eloquence," he said, never recognizes the ideal of "gifts and hospitalities" in its visions of the collectivist state. Their proposals may be appealing, but the "spirit" of their unfulfilled ideals becomes impractical. Ironically, they forget human needs.
G. K. Chesterton put stock in what he called "common people." He believed that individualists promoting industrialism — at that time in Manchester, England — placed an "imposition" on these people (he wrote romantically of simpler, earlier lifestyles). But he also believed that the people, though they may vote for socialists because they want something, detested the "sentiment and general ideal of socialism" as a worse infliction, imposed by "a handful of decorative artists, Oxford dons and journalists.."
This gang is still at it after a hundred years.
Although "democracy dislikes your favorite philosophy," Chesterton wrote, many people accept socialism rather than make the effort to resist it.
Unfortunately, some people will accept the illusory visions of this destructive philosophy spewed by Krugman and others. Few will make the effort to intellectually question it, let alone resist its insidious nature.