What Is So Bad About Socialism? Part 4

August 23, 2012

by Matt Wyers


I apologize for taking so long to post the next installment of this series.  I have had some unexpected things coming up lately so I never really found the time to keep writing.  Just as a refresher, or maybe as a first read, you can take a look at Part 1 and see the accurate definition of Socialism along with a few basic critiques of its goals.

When I wrote last I was just finishing up talking about the implications of genuinely examining a Socialist system using Christian morality and Biblical passages.  The purpose of which was to dispel the idea that Socialism, as a political philosophy, had roots in the Bible.  You can read both parts of that examination by clicking on the following links.

Part 2

Part 3

And now to the next installment, a breakdown of how Socialism would actually work if it were implemented.  The assumption of Socialists is often that the system would work perfectly fine in a real society whether it is moral or not.  After all, Socialism works fine in theory, right?  And Socialism solves all our problems of hunger, disease, and greed, right?  I am not trying to overstate the claim here, but Socialism seeks to alleviate these problems at least as much as is humanly possible with current technology and resources.

The answer, of course, is no.  Socialism does not solve any of these problems.  If anything, a transformation to this sort of system will increase the impact of these scourges.  Why?  The answer is simple actually.  Socialism works fine on paper, but like a poorly worked math problem it fails to reflect all relevant factors.

The greatest factor that Socialists ignore is that of human nature.  While focusing on human suffering common to one degree or another in every society, Socialists do not do the due diligence of examining the canvass upon which they seek to draw their brave new world.  Socialism works fine in the human imagination.  It is lauded in works of fiction like Star Trek, and if you are familiar with the Star Trek universe you know the United Federation of Planets is made up of civilization after civilization of people who have “perfected” societies and created “Socialist paradises” on a global scale.  I often like to use the example of Star Trek because it seems so many on the Left aspire to “progress” our society to the point where it parallels that fictional world.  The problem, of course, is that Star Trek’s Socialist paradise works very well because the all-powerful writers can simply make it that way without ever having to explain the intricacies of how it came to be.  It has been said that the Socialist paradise is a fantasy of the human imagination and so the analogy fits well.

Along that vein, we need to understand that Socialists argue for “central planning.”  That term simply means that a government or collection of individuals, who have amassed all authority, can “plan” every cog and spoke of human society.  Remember the definition from Part 1?  Socialism seeks to turn over wealth and the means of production to the state rather than the individual.  The state, as it has been said, is neutral and the actions of those empowered by the authority of government will surely benefit all members of society.  The alternative, of course, is that greedy individuals and companies will simply look out for themselves in a Capitalist system and in the process will damage other people.  The folly of that position is that anyone empowered by the state to centrally plan does not even have the capacity to do so.  In short, no person or collection of people have perfect knowledge of anything.

In order to centrally plan and do it well, an individual or collective must have perfect knowledge of every moving part of society and how each aspect effects all the other ones at any given moment…agriculture, manufacturing, education, healthcare, commercial products, construction, mining, travel, retail, sanitation, criminal justice, police and fire protection, and those are only broad categories and those are not even remotely all of them.  Think about it for a minute.  The government we have today cannot even keep their current responsibilities in check and you think giving them responsibility over everything else is going to work out?

For a more thorough breakdown of this idea of “perfect knowledge” take a look at this blog post.

To sum up the point, central planning is a bad idea on its face because no one has perfect knowledge.  Individuals, however, have extensive knowledge of their own lives, needs, wants, and everything else.  Taking the means of production away from the individual and giving it to someone or many someones that are incapable of obtaining this sort of knowledge about you much less everyone else is ridiculous.

In keeping with the Star Trek analogy, remember that the writers never have to explain any of the most important details.  They write whatever story they want to write and make it all work out perfectly.  All the characters, the good guys at least, in the show seems pretty happy and content, right?  And the same applies to the Socialists.  Everything works out on paper despite the fact no one even attempts much less is capable or putting forth a detailed explanation of how it might work.  Have you ever seen a Socialist, in politics or media, actually sit down and construct a detailed plan of how each aspect of society will function in cooperation under their system?  No, you have not.  Ever read a Socialist political philosopher attempt as much?  No.

Think of the ObamaCare legislation for example.  How many words did it take to put that behemoth on paper?  Take a look at this blog for some specifics on that.  If you noticed, the ObamaCare legislation is longer than the gigantic novel ‘War and Peace’ and the Bible combined!  Check back in a few years to find out whether or not the creators of ObamaCare got it right.  My guess is that their “perfect knowledge” of the healthcare system is not so infallible.  And remember, that is only one cog in the society.  My new question for debating Socialists will be to ask them to produce a plan…a complete plan.  If the Socialists are not willing to produce a plan for centrally controlling every aspect of society in unison then I think it unwise to give them the reigns to it.

The only system capable of accounting for all the complexities of society is Capitalism.  As imperfect as it is, Capitalism is the only system that allows individuals to take the reigns over their own little chunk of society.  The “free market” is the only place where individuals can interact in such a way as to bring about the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people.  The collective brain power and knowledge of each member of society may not be perfect, but I have faith it is more capable of captaining the ship than one person or a small collection of people.

One might criticize the fact that Capitalism is not perfect.  Simply put, it is not perfect because human beings are not perfect.  Human beings are incapable of creating a perfect system no matter how hard they try.  That goes for Socialism too folks because as we pointed out in our last 2 pieces, Socialism is not exactly of divine inspiration.  The point should be made that to condemn Capitalism because it is incapable of producing a perfect society is akin to condemning the atmosphere because there is pollution in it.  Capitalism is not flawed because it is not perfect.  It is flawed because of the players within it.  And Socialism does nothing to alter the players.

There is a lot to say about this subject as well and so I am going to have to break up the impact of Socialism on society and human nature in the next piece.  Stay tuned.

















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