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What is Wrong with Socialism?

The American Dream used to mean an opportunity to achieve success through hard work, rather than being promised a free ride at others’ expense. Those of us who respect the former, rather than believe in the latter, have an instinctive disdain for “socialism.”

But mention anything untoward about socialist ideals in polite society nowadays, and one is likely to be greeted with the reply:

What is wrong with Socialism?

Socialism is a necessarily totalitarian ideology that seeks to synthesize the political, economic, social, and private life of individuals and places control over it all in the state.  Indeed, capitalism makes the separation of life into separate spheres possible, because freedom of choice economically is necessary for freedom of choice in every other sphere.
Individual rights, and specifically, private property, free exchange, freedom of labor movement, are necessary for political and social freedom. One cannot labor freely under a system when one’s economic or even personal fortunes are subject to the whims of the masses or are predicated on one’s political attitudes, which in practice means support for the government.

The alternative vision to socialism that is capitalism is a world where people work competitively and with one another in the absence of coercion to build better goods and provide better services to their fellow man. It is a world where each person owns his own life and his own labor decides what he or she will do with it, given that he does not coerce others or obstruct others from doing the same.

Capitalism is thus not envisioned to be a world of absolute freedom, which is impossible. It is one where people choose whether or not to take personal responsibility for their lives.  It is understood that under this system people suffer the consequences of their actions, learn, and adapt; as opposed to shifting the consequences of their behavior off onto “society.”

The process of learning and striving brings out the best in men, and ultimately, leads to great civilizations led by great men. Civilization is not fundamentally driven by the political class, but by those who comprise the economy and the society. There are no great civilizations where elites rule over human chattel.

Utopian socialism holds out the possibility that desirable ends can be accomplished by undesirable or morally reprehensible means. This is the great lie of socialism. Morality itself is disfigured in the socialist utopian worldview, where evil becomes good, destruction leads to creation, and coercion leads to freedom.

It has never been satisfactorily answered: How is it possible to use coercion to propel mankind into a world free of coercion? How can one expect a socialist world of selfless contribution to society and the state, when socialism itself attracts those intellectuals and workers who themselves seek at all costs to avoid personal responsibility?

In other words, in practice wouldn’t a world run by socialists itself be comprised of people seeking to mutually avoid personal responsibility, and if so, wouldn’t this lead to declining personal contributions towards production?

And if so, wouldn’t this itself provoke the coercion socialism is said to be designed to rid the world of, as economic conditions crumble? Therefore, wouldn’t a socialist world wind up being infinitely more coercive, not less?

We find that socialism itself is an inherently destructive ideology without any redeeming value of being able to express specifically how mankind can transform society into a morally, economically, or politically superior system of human affairs as can free market capitalism. Instead we find socialism to be the rationalization of a deep-seated hatred for self-interest.

There is a misconception that socialists are naive and idealistic. This is not the case for the American Socialist, who is not just nurtured on theories of Utopia, but Machiavellian texts like Antonio Gramsci‘s The Prison Notebooks and Saul Alinsky‘s Rules for Radicals. The American Socialist radical assumes that self-interest is a political, economic, and social reality. We must understand that at its deepest roots, the socialist agenda is driven by a deep hatred of self-interest, first and foremost.

There is a good explanation for this. In primitive socialist imagination, the pursuit of self-interest comes at the expense of the tribe. This makes the socialist message readily consumable to the masses who have been deprogrammed of their rational faculties. It is an irony that socialism, recast as “progressivism,” is primitive in its aims to pander to the basest instincts of man: Painless security, effortless prosperity, and unearned love and admiration.

The socialist politician seeks to obliterate self-interest by embedding institutions in society that harness self-interest and turn it against itself; he offers “welfare” that comes from “the state” financed invisibly and without apparent opportunity cost to society. The politician’s proffering of welfare ensnares dependents on the state, and enables a form of selfishness that is lain on a foundation of coercion. This is true whether the value lost in the economy through the allocation of welfare, and by the recipients’ consumption of scarce resources, comes at the expense of taxes or currency devaluation.

The perversion of self-interest is this: it turns the independent pursuit of self-interest (or happiness) into the pursuit of self-interest that comes at the cost of others in society. The pursuit of independent self-interest in a free market economy does not come at the expense of others; indeed, the only way one can benefit is to provide a desired (or demanded) good or service. But the socialist politician sees the pursuit of independent self-interest as a direct loss of his own personal power, in other words, as a detraction of his own unenlightened self-interest.

The state, as it becomes less ideologically and thus institutionally constrained, enables politicians to pursue their self-interest at the expense of others in society. Socialism thus manifests the ultimate in political selfishness. Capitalism, on the other hand, allows men and women to serve one another, trading value for value in a voluntaristic manner to meet one another’s needs.

So, what is wrong with socialism? It is an authoritarian economic system that eventually leads to the obliteration of freedom. When economic choice is gradually eliminated, political choice and social license necessarily follow. The sooner our friends on the left realize that they cannot demand others serve them through the state, while maintaining a libertine culture and democratic elections, the better off our nation will be.

Kyle Becker blogs at RogueGovernment, and can be followed on Twitter as @RogueOperator1. He writes freelance for several publications, including American Thinker, Misfit Politics, and OwntheNarrative, and is a regular commentator on the late night talk shows at OTNN.

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  1. Socialism’s failures, the short version, is all about how a garden constantly shadowed by an overbearing gardener never reaches is full potential.

  2. This is a terrific post—clean, cogent explanation. To be honest, whenever someone responds to me with, “What is so wrong with socialism”, despite knowing the answer, I’m so shocked I’m stricken dumb.

    Also, I’ve seen that some misunderstand what socialism is. One misguided woman in particular explained that it is a system where people help each other. Oi. Bless her heart.

  3. Now, here’s the deal, if a person cannot understand what this article is saying because they were not taught reading comprehension in school, then that is exactly what the purpose of integrating the schools without protecting our high standard of educational excellence found in our schools. Instead of our politicians protecting our educational standard, and handing our culture over to the Socialists, they made it so our young people would not be able to understand something like this article that could have given them the sight to see what the liberals were doing to them and what they were doing to the entire country. Without education, learning, and independent thinking being taught to our children, the people end up so dumb they won’t know what is happening to them making the Socialists job much easier to overthrow their country. We are there now with over half of the nation to dumb to know what Obama is, what the liberal progressive Socialists have and are doing to this country, it makes it very hard to fight the left. With half the country to dumb to know what is going on it’s like trying to fight for the heavy weight title with one hand tied behind our backs. We may not make it. We need the help of the other half of this nation, but they don’t think anything wrong is going on. Thus their question, “What’s wrong with Socialism?”

  4. How do we defeat these people? We can’t. We gave them the opportunity to take over the culture, the society, the government, the whole country, and our position in the world. How do we make a come back from all of that? We don’t, that’s just it. What was is over and cannot come back to like it ought to be unless the other half of all those who ask the question, “What wrong with Socialism?” either wake up, but how bad would it have to get before that happened? No telling, and it could be so bad that we would be destroyed in the process of their awakening. Then when they woke up there wouldn’t be anyone of us left to tell them how things were supposed to be.

    But the other scenario is our half get up the guts to act on our Constitutional right to take our government back by force of arms. I’d like to hope that it wouldn’t take but a little bit of that and they would give up and not want the destruction they would have to know would come if they stood up to us to defend all they had worked so hard to get and waited so long to have. They have done alot to take this nation from us, and it may anger them more than we expect if they see that we waited until the eleventh hour to decide to take the country back, what with all the people all over the world who have built huge organizations and spent billions of dollars to prepare for this time, and those in power when threatened just give up??

    I think the Maurice Strong’s, and George Soros’s of the world and those entrenched in the U.N., Russia, China, and those in the Middle East who’ve been waiting to take Israel without our getting in the way? I don’t think the Arabs would take it very well that those in power inside our government just gave up as soon as we raised a gun to them and said “quit”, and they did?? I don’t think the Arabs would let them. I think the Arabs would probably tell Obama or whoever to either destroy us or they will unleash their terrorists and do it for them. They will probably do that anyway. That’s probably what they are waiting for is for us to get fed up and freaked out and march on Washington with guns in our hands to take our government and our country back, and that’s when we’d see the gigantic army of Muslims that have been waiting in the shadows all this time. We’d probably see a couple of nukes thrown at us to, and that would be the end of it all.

    Do you think the Muslims are really concerned about what kind of shape this nation is in when they move to take out Israel? Hell no. Their only concern is that we can’t help Israel, and they go down.

    I suspect that is what will happen and as long as we are out of it, that’s all that matters to Arabs. That’s when we’d see Gods hand come down and smite Islam and we’d see the scripture that says “…there will not be a man left standing.” Where God destroys Islam once and for all, and every man who follows it.

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