This excellent essay by Doctor Zero was published over at The Green Room. Many think that Socialism is only one form of government among many, and in theory, the best in the minds of a lot of them. A quaint notion, that, given a century of experimentation that should have disabused any intelligent observer. Here are some choice morsels:
One of the most persistent and dangerous illusions of socialism is the belief that money becomes magically virtuous when government handles it. Politicians are at least as greedy as any captain of industry. The installation of a politburo does not eliminate ambition from a society – it changes the means used to fulfill those ambitions. The political class achieves its desires through force, by definition. Unlike commerce, force produces no side benefits for the larger population – the politician and his constituents get what they want, at the expense of everyone else.
What about the little guy? Doesn’t he benefit under benign socialist control? Of course not. He never has, anywhere on Earth, during the many times collective governments have gained power. The common man might realize some short-term gains when the socialist government marches into power – wow, free health care! It never lasts. It can’t. Socialist control destroys the very mechanisms of prosperity it needs to pay off on its promises.
Socialists despise competition – they find virtue in the idea that everyone deserves everything, and benevolent leaders have a responsibility to provide it. Competition doesn’t disappear under socialist control – that’s another childish fantasy. Instead, socialism replaces competition between individuals with competition between groups. The former is energetic and constructive, while the latter is bitter, and almost inevitably violent. In a total State, the individual has no way to improve his situation, no way to build a better life on his own. Instead, he must join a collective – a group large and powerful enough to influence the government, which dispenses all benefits.
When everything you have is provided by the State, you will easily come to hate anyone whose demands take priority over yours. They are not your competitors. They are your enemies.
Capitalism is indeed a love story, born from the enduring respect of free men for the maturity and liberty of their fellow citizens. It is better to be poor in a capitalist society, than middle-class in any of the miserable “worker’s paradises” that litter the world. Free people working together, and in competition, generate the prosperity that stands as the only medicine against poverty.
In the main, an excellent summation of Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom”, buttressed by sixty years of bitter experience. Go read the whole thing.