Friday, April 22, 2011

A Question for Socialists

By Zach Foster

For those who have studied Marxism, whether or not they subscribe to its flawed schools of thought, it is evident that the aim of international socialism (Marxism, Communism, a rose by any other name…) is to overthrow the bourgeoisie, establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, and create a utopia where all people are workers, all workers are equal, there is no state, no money, and the means of production are public property.  This utopia is to be created and maintained by the New Socialist Man—the worker who has mastered his instincts and base desires (basically conquered nature)—who is a super worker, completely selfless, respects all material things, and lives only for society.  Here is a question for Socialists: How would a utopian society made up of New Socialist Men and Women be possible?

In The German Ideology, Marx elaborates on a perfect man who will find happiness and fulfillment in different kinds of work—all for the benefit of society.  In this utopia, man would work in the factories in the morning, hunt or fish in the afternoon, and criticize literature or philosophy in the evening.  One should ask the socialist: is this even remotely realistic?  This is not to be a literalistic misinterpretation of what Marx was elaborating on, for obviously one could only hunt, fish, work in a factory, and criticize if all of the above workplaces and living spaces were located in the mountains or by a lake where fish and game were prevalent.  To be fair to Marx’s argument, his elaboration could be applied to someone living in South-Central Los Angeles.  A worker could wake up in the early morning, work on painting buildings or renovating identical housing projects which have endured the wear and tear of age, then take a bus to go work at a power plant on the LA River, take a bus back home, and in the evening write a response to whatever the latest philosophical book is.  However: this utopian vision begs the question: how will the people of this society be provided for?

Every attempt in history to centrally plan a large economy and carry it out socialistically has failed miserably (it is simply naïve to believe that humanity will produce nothing but super humans), and the charades were only prolonged because the socialistic policies of the central planners were enforced by bullets. Trotsky writes in Literature and Revolution:

“Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.”

As pretty as the idea of the New Socialist Man may sound, human nature is something that can only be conquered by the strongest of people—the Henry Reardens and Dagny Taggarts and John Galts of the world—and even though lust, greed, gluttony, and a desire to exert one’s will on one’s neighbors can be put in check by conscious will power, baser human needs like food, water, and shelter can only be held off so long before they begin to supersede the superhero quality of this New Man.  What will the central planners do when a famine strikes?  What will the central planners do when the train tracks bust, or the busses break down, and the food cannot be shipped from the farm to the processing plants or from the processing plants to the consumers?  Desperate from hunger, the New Socialist Man will begin to regress into a feral beast and hunt for food at the expense of his neighbor’s food supply and safety—the world becomes a dog-eat-dog world.  Society is only a few missed meals away from total anarchy, and contrary to Trotsky’s promises, mankind can defend himself against nature’s power and even harness it, but mankind cannot conquer nature.  What will the central planners do when severe weather destroys entire cities?  If many factories are destroyed by a tornado or hurricane or large earthquakes or tsunamis, or even multiple natural disasters at once as the world recently saw in Japan, then the means of production will also be destroyed, and under a Socialist/Communist society, there will be no means of rebuilding the damage, unless extensive resources are borrowed from other towns or communes, thus greatly slowing the progress of mankind in creating, building, harvesting, and production overall.

In Part 2: Why Capitalism Serves Society Better

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