So What's Wrong with Socialism Anyway?
You think the answer to the question is so obvious we don’t need to discuss it? You’ve never heard a student or young adult ask it today.
And what if Leftists rebrand their ideology and hide it under a current political party in American politics? It’s still going strong in Europe and numerous countries around the globe.
Further, you’ve also heard that socialism in its purest form is good, but no society has yet practiced it purely. So whatever you do, don’t use the old Soviet Union, China, and North Korea to tear down the purity of the doctrine. If only the doctrine could be implemented properly, the world would be better off.
However, does their pure doctrine have fatal flaws, inherent impurities?
First, let’s examine the claims of original Marxism, found in Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto, published in 1848 in London. Marxists today claim they don’t follow that old document. Fair enough. But the essential flaws in their ideology will be the same in their various updated expressions of socialism today.
Marx states his goal for the proletariat (workers or the Little People or the Many) clearly over against the bourgeoisie (the owners or the powerful, the Few):
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e. the proletariat organized as the ruling class, and to increase total productive force as rapidly as possible. (Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd ed. p. 490)
Boiled down, this excerpt says it’s all about common ownership. The new ruling class -- the proletariat -- will “wrest” (read: take by force if necessary) all capital from the rich and powerful, and they will centralize all instruments of production (factories or businesses) in the hands of the State, or in themselves. They also want jobs “as rapidly as possible.”
This policy, however, is riddled with problems. Even though Marx says that this revolution is done “by degrees” or slowly over time, he says in the next paragraph that the control must be carried out by “despotic inroads on the rights of property,” in other words, a revolution by despotism. Marx also assumes that the proletariat will do a better job at running the economy. Is this necessarily true?
Where is the fatal flaw in this belief? It can be asked in these ways: who centralizes and organizes or abolishes or wrests? The State is an abstraction for humans working in it and forming it by passing laws restricting the Few. But what if the successful business owners got rich by legal means? Why should his business be stolen from him? Who does the stealing?
Only these few socialists do those things and determine your destiny.
So this is the fatal flaw in socialism: people. More specifically, it assumes the proletariat is somehow pure, while the bourgeoisie is sinful. Poverty purifies you; prosperity ruins you.
It’s a misread of human nature.
Worse still, the power of the people or the Many is a false promise because power is concentrated in the hands of the Few -- socialists who soon rule over the Many, ironically in the name of the Many. Someone has to stand in front of the soviet meeting and hit the gavel on the podium and decide who gets the community tractor, owned by the State.
Further, these questions can be posed: Who’s the State? Who decides who’s in charge? The Few in Red Square (in the old Soviet Union), Beijing, Pyongyang, Havana, Caracas?
Key point: the Old Few, the bourgeoisie, has been overthrown and replaced by the New Few -- the socialist leaders within the government. The Old Few, still hanging around, are the bad guys; the New Few are now the good guys.
I wonder whose power the New Few will support by law and “elections.” Answer: their own.
Whether one is merely influencing society or actually wielding authority, this famous line is revealing: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).
However, one could object that if socialism could somehow evolve checks and balances, wouldn’t it be superior to other forms of government? No, because property goes to the hand of the State, and therefore limits liberty.
Thus, socialism-turned-democrat Leftism in the U.S. is founded on control and restriction, with a little of the brakes released, so that the economy and our daily life do not crawl downhill. Leftism appears to offer individual freedom, but in the name of the government or State it is designed to protect us from the rapacious rich, the evil big corporations, for example. We need their power because we’re helpless without them.
However, why can’t we, the Many, look after ourselves? For them, we’re children.
So the second flaw is that liberty, a fundamental right, is restricted.
In contrast to socialism, we can go all the way back to John Locke, who said that individuals have a fundamental right to life, liberty and property. Our Founders, deeply influenced by him, said life, liberty and pursuit of your own happiness, as you define it. For their ideology, the power remains in the hands of the individual; for the Left’s ideology it is concentrated in the hands of the State, which they call the “Little People” or the Many, but which turns out to be the New Few.
The Founders, influenced by Christianity, believed humans are inherently sinful, so they need to be held in check. Apparently for the Left, the Little People, who supposedly have no need of redemption since they suffered so much already, can bring it about for sinners -- the powerful and rich, the ones who control the means of production (the factories and whatnot).
It’s still another classic misreading of human nature and utopia and the instruments of redemption. The more accurate reading says God alone redeems, not humans.
The Founders on the federal level embedded checks and balances on the fatal flaw (sinful people) in all forms of the social contract.
Applying this brief analysis to today is not difficult.
Many Democrats today see themselves as socialists, but of course they hide the term. (Only Bernie Sanders has been consistent about it.) This ideology explains to a large degree why they want as much control over our lives as possible.
- They want to control the education of children through powerful teachers unions (the tools of the governmental Few), without representing the proletariat’s (the Many’s) free choice to send their children to the right school for them.
- They control (wrest) private property through the EPA in the name of protecting the environment, by stopping property development without compensating the landowners.
- They slap business with heavy-handed regulations, which is another way to control them without actually taking them over, except for General Motors in 2009.
- Finally, they’re suing religious business owners who don’t toe the leftist line, denying through the courts and commissions (the State) the free expression of the owners’ deep religious convictions.
Forgive the older pop culture references, but clarity is the goal here. Today liberty is to the Democrat Party what kryptonite is to Superman. Control is to them what spinach is to Popeye.
We are in a tug-of-war in this nation, between the Right and Left.
Which side will you choose?
Whichever one you pick, please understand that the Left minimizes your liberty by concentrating power in the hands of the new governmental Few (flawed, powerful humans) who pass laws or sign executive orders implementing their power.
The Right maximizes your liberty by devolving power away from a centralized Few towards the fifty states and many flawed but equal humans before the law.
Control by the powerful, imperfect Few is the fatal flaw in socialism, and it must be stopped in the land of the free.
James Arlandson has written a supernatural historical fiction about his ancestor and the seventeenth-century real founding of America: Will Clayton: Founder, Quaker, and Demon Breaker. His website is Live as Free People.