- by Gitabushi
I saw this picture a few days ago:
I think this lays out the salient issue. The Right can insist Socialism always ends badly, the Left can counter that whatever has failed isn’t *true* Socialism, but the picture nails it perfectly: Socialism hasn’t even come close to replicating the wealth and choice that Capitalism has in a Free Market.
One possible argument is that Capitalism/Free Market results in inequality. It does. But this kind of inequality:
In a Capitalist/Free Market, you always have the option of working harder to achieve the quality of life you want. I’ve recently become fond of pointing out that discomfort is the agent of change; no one improves if they are comfortable where they are. In a Capitalist/Free Market system like the US has, if you aren’t working to improve yourself, you are getting some sort of payoff to keep you where you are. For some people, yes, that is an emotional payoff of being able to complain that the system is keeping you down. In a Capitalist/Free Market system like the US has, with some exceptions (because the US isn’t a perfect Capitalist Free Market…there are some Socialized aspects, and varying levels of regulation), you have pretty much exactly the life you are willing to work for.
And that, then, is the difference between Socialism and Capitalism. If True Socialism has never been tried, well, neither has a True Free Market. Yet the UnAuthentic, Impure versions still inevitably have this disparity:
I will give the Socialists one point, though: True Socialism has never been tried. Where they get it wrong, however, is True Socialism can never be enacted. This is simply because human nature is incompatible with Socialism. The basis of socialism is the classic “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. However, as highlighted by the arguments over socialized medicine in the US (and I truly do not understand why so many people who don’t live in the US are so emotionally invested in our health care system), people inevitably overestimate their own contribution, and underestimate the true cost of what they want. Socialism is always nothing more than an experiment in how quickly people realize they are in a Prisoner’s Dilemma, and how long it takes before everyone is doing as little as possible and taking as much as they can.
The urge to Socialism is, then, is based on a jealous moralism, like this picture argues:
Another argument I’ve seen recently is that the Deaths Due To Capitalism are greater than the Deaths Due to Socialism.
I think an appropriate counter argument is that the people who died under Capitalism would surely have died under Socialism, as well, but without the offsetting lives that were saved and improved by Capitalism. If/when people die under Capitalism, it is because of individual choices. Sometimes these choices are unfortunate and unfair, like a West Virginian choosing to work in a coal mine to feed his family, then dying of black lung. I don’t celebrate that choice. However, it is Capitalism that has incentives to work out better ways to extract and employ energy, so that the miner’s children don’t have to die of blacklung; moreover, it is Capitalism that has the wealth to compensate the workers’ untimely deaths, and the shame to do so. In Socialism, in contrast, the miners are assigned the work by the State, there is no incentive to develop a better system, and the dead are buried where they fall with the family charged for the cost of the shovel.
I don’t care whether True Socialism has ever been tried, or ever can be tried. Show me one Socialist city that has the wealth and choice of the grocery store in a small rural Montana town. A Capitalist/Free Market system is the only system that elevates people, gives them choices, and treats them as assets waiting to unleashed. Socialism grinds people down, gives them ultimatums, and treats them as liabilities that must be managed until eliminated.
I know which I choose.