By Seth Richardson
Reason tells us that when a society seizes and redistributes wealth from one segment of society to another, the receivers are enslaved to the welfare state, and those from whom labor is taken are induced to less labor because they are denied the enjoyment of the fruits of their labor. Simple logic tells us that this is not a sustainable economic model, and that eventually the productive class will run out of wealth, and will decline to labor in excess of what it is permitted to enjoy the fruits of, will decline to labor in service of the dependent class, and the ability of the welfare state to provide the promised support to the dependent class will evaporate. Chaos, war, and death quickly follow.
Socialism doesn’t work because it makes presumptions about human nature that do not comport with actual human nature. It fails at the outset by presuming that each will provide according to his ability, at the maximum possible input of labor that he is capable of, upon the inducement that he will only enjoy the fruits of that labor which the state determines he needs. This fundamental precept of socialism is so fundamentally flawed that it’s astonishing that anyone with any sort of rational ability can accept for a moment the asinine proposition of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” as a valid social or economic model.
Human nature doesn’t work that way. Human beings look first to their own well-being and satisfaction of their hierarchy of needs, and they are not willing to labor for the benefit of others, in general, unless their needs have been met first and they see justification for donating labor to the needs of others. Primarily this means family and friends, not abstract members of society with whom they have no personal connection. Only when the individual’s, family’s, or community’s basic needs are met, and there are excess resources, will luxuries be acquired, and only when the hierarchy of needs and wants has been adequately satisfied will people be willing to donate their labor to the needs and wants of others. This is fundamental human nature. There are exceptions, of course, seen in those who will sacrifice their own comfort and security in service to others, but this is an individual and voluntary act, not something that a society can depend upon as a point of societal organization.
Thus, if one has to build 50 widgets to obtain resources for one’s survival, one will build 50 widgets. If one can obtain additional resources, or luxuries by building 100 widgets, one is induced to build 100 widgets in order to enjoy a higher standard of living for oneself and ones family. If one is determined by the state to only need to build 50 widgets to obtain the “necessary” resources, and any widgets over 50 one builds are taken by the state and the resource value of that labor is given to some stranger, to no benefit to the builder of the widgets, what then is the inducement for the laborer to build 51 or more widgets?
There is no inducement to extra labor of course, and so he will do everything in his power to limit his input of labor to match precisely the minimum required and authorized as his “fair share” of widget income. He will not do one iota of work more than he absolutely must do to get everything that the state deems he’s entitled to. This leaves nothing for the state to appropriate for distribution to others, or to pay for the administrative state.
This of course is intolerable to the socialist state, since the state will deem that the laborer is deliberately slacking (which he is), so it will institute authoritarian regulations and mandates that all workers produce 100 widgets, on pain of punishment, in order for there to be a surplus of widgets above that required to support the labor force that the state can use for other purposes. This tension between labor and management will result in ever-increasing authoritarianism, more despotism and virtual slavery of the laborer to the interests of the state. And that’s exactly what happened in the Soviet Union. There were production quotas and lists showing how many potatoes each laborer was worth. Fail to meet the quota for production, and eventually you got sent off to a gulag to die for being reactionary and counterrevolutionary and failing to give your all according to your ability.
This cycle is so obvious that it needs no statistics or outside references in support of it, and I’ve not found even one person who can successfully refute the logic involved. All that ever happens is that socialists declaim “It ain’t so!” while producing a bunch of charts about how successful Norway and Sweden are (while studiously ignoring the Soviet Union and Greece), and while ignoring the fact that socialist systems only fail AFTER they have exhausted all the other people’s money.
No rational, thinking person can come to the conclusion that socialism is a successful and enduring social model. Only those who care nothing for the liberty of others, and who willingly enslave others to their own economic interests can support socialism.
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