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Samizdata quote of the day

Socialism has been tested out more times and in more variations than probably any other social system. It has been implemented in every continent, every culture, every stage of economic development. It has always led to disaster, to the extent it has been implemented. If you’re lucky, your country gets off with a mere economic crisis, as in Greece. At the worst, your country is in for decades of living hell.

Robert Tracinski

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25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • rxc

    I like to say that socialism is the only social “science” that has actually been fully tested. At every scale (large countries, small countries, small communes, etc), in different countries where the population was evenly divided so that it could be tested in a particular culture (Germany, Korea, China), in societes that have lots of resources and countries that have few resources, in countries where the culture is known to be capable (Germany) of dealing with the required discipline and in cultures that are not nearly as advanced (the third world). In every instance, it fails. It is truly a scientific falsification of a “scientific” theory about how people should live their lives.

    But the left continues to say that they will get it right, the next time.

    I think it was Einstein who said that trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is truly the mark of insanity.

  • William O. B'Livion

    I disagree. It worked VERY well for Stalin, Lenin, Castro, Chavez…

    What, the People? F*k them, who cares about them.

  • Paul Marks

    The quotation is correct.

    But the left have an “answer”.

    Greece is the victim not of big government (wild Welfare State promises that Greece could never afford) – no Greece is the victim of the “banksters” Mr Putin’s boy Max Keiser will explain it all…..

    Even the Soviet Union was not “really” socialist – it was “state capitalist” (ask the college professors…..).

  • Thailover

    “What had once been an alleged ideal is now a ragged skeleton rattling like a scarecrow in the wind over the whole world, but men lack the courage to glance up and to discover the grinning skull under the bloody rags. That skeleton is socialism. Fifty years ago, there might have been some excuse (though not justification) for the widespread belief that socialism is a political theory motivated by benevolence and aimed at the achievement of men’s well-being. Today, that belief can no longer be regarded as an innocent error. Socialism has been tried on every continent of the globe. In the light of its results, it is time to question the motives of socialism’s advocates. The essential characteristic of socialism is the denial of individual property rights; under socialism, the right to property (which is the right of use and disposal) is vested in “society as a whole,” i.e., in the collective, with production and distribution controlled by the state, i.e., by the government. Socialism may be established by force, as in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—or by vote, as in Nazi (National Socialist) Germany. The degree of socialization may be total, as in Russia—or partial, as in England. Theoretically, the differences are superficial; practically, they are only a matter of time. The basic principle, in all cases, is the same. The alleged goals of socialism were: the abolition of poverty, the achievement of general prosperity, progress, peace and human brotherhood. The results have been a terrifying failure—terrifying, that is, if one’s motive is men’s welfare. Instead of prosperity, socialism has brought economic paralysis and/or collapse to every country that tried it. The degree of socialization has been the degree of disaster. The consequences have varied accordingly…When you consider socialism, do not fool yourself about its nature. Remember that there is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the “right” to “redistribute” the wealth produced by others is claiming the “right” to treat human beings as chattel.” ~ Ayn Rand, The Monument Builders, VOS ~ December 1962

  • PeterT

    The main threat now of course is the ‘mixed economy’, where the State redistributes resources, even if it does not in all areas presume to direct the details of production. You’d think that any comparison of, say, the NHS with the private sector systems in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Korea etc would quickly convince, but no, the stupid is strong. Politicians of course cannot get away with stupidity as an excuse. In their case wilful ignorance is no different from active malice.

  • Rob Fisher

    PeterT, interesting. Learning about healthcare systems in countries other than the UK and USA is probably a good debating strategy. Lefties love sophisticated Europeans. One could make points about the streets in Holland not being full of dying poor people. This site might be useful: http://www.expatica.com/nl/healthcare/Healthcare-in-the-Netherlands_100057.html There is a list of articles about other countries at the bottom of the article. Then again, the comments seem to be full of people complaining about how terrible Dutch healthcare is…

  • the other rob

    But the left continues to say that they will get it right, the next time.

    The Einstein quote is on point, of course, but lately I’ve been favoring a different analogy. Instead of comparing the left to lunatics, rather compare them to wife beaters. After all, aren’t those magnificent specimens of humanity well known for saying “It will be different this time, darling”?

  • Julie near Chicago

    other rob: Good point.

  • Mr Black

    It will be a great day in the advancement of human thought when a belief in socialism is grounds for dismissal from employment and a cause for ostracism of anyone who speaks of it with approval.

  • Unfortunately, Mr Black (April 25, 2017 at 8:20 am) – or perhaps fortunately – it is the left who see a fellow-worker’s politics as valid grounds for their hiring or dismissal. So your “great day” will never come. Our true triumph will be a culture in which the typical workplace is apolitical – and the idea that things can be apolitical is accepted.

    Can that be maintained only by firing, instead of laughing at, those who would politicise it? I’m no pacifist, so I’d consider the idea. But laughter is better – when it is enough.

  • PeterT

    Indeed, I find it prudent to keep my global warming views to myself, as I work in a global professional services company where the SJWs have made some inroads (we have a ‘lets talk about race’ campaign at the moment FFS – at the same time I am meant to do 5 hours of billable hours per day @ £600 per hour). Obviously the lefties have no problem moaning loudly about Trump and Brexit with zero chance of consequence (to be fair though, I have a friend in a similar situation in a different company and there was an email from the boss telling everybody to shut up about it).

  • NickM

    Might I add a corollary to Brian’s OP?

    It seems to me not only does socialism always fail but there is a tendency for the individual horrors suffered to scale with the size of the socialist experiment. By scale I don’t just mean the size of the socialist entity but the completeness of it and the difficulty of getting out.

    To answer Paul. I think they have a bit of a point those that say socialism has never been tried the “right way”. No, really! The problem is neither has the flying unicorn been mastered nor ever will be. And more than anything else that is what they are either deluded or lying about. Of course these professors etc. just know they’ll wind-up as the philosopher-kings don’t they? They’ll get a rude awakening when someone harder and more ruthless has them digging drainage ditches through the permafrost of the gulag.

  • John B

    Socialism = central economic control; empowerment of the State over the individual.

    Can anyone name one Country where Government does not control the economy from the centre (choose from a few: fiat currency; interest rates; subsidies, minimum wage; price controls; import tariffs; labour and business regulation.) and does not seek to empower the State over the individual (choose from: State controlled education; State controlled healthcare; hate/thought crime laws; Internet, mobile phone, email snooping; licensing of marriage; taxation; positive discrimination; regulation of drugs, tobacco, certain foods like fats, sugars.)?

    No?

  • Laird

    John B, that depends upon your definition of “centre”. There’s certainly a lot of government control over most of those things (depending upon the jurisdiction), but some of it is “decentralized”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Expanding on Laird’s point, as Richard Epstein (among others) has pointed out, local government can be just as nasty as a central government.

    And surely we all know the tales about goings-on where the local government, be it the town council or the Sheriff and his henchmen, is corrupt as the very dickens and rules the citizenry with an iron fist. As just one example, it was the local government of New London, Conn., that thought it would be just fine to swipe Suzette Kelo’s house out from under her. (Shame on the Supremes for letting them get away with it.)

    Corruption and rule by intimidation are alive and well here and there among local governments in the U.S.A. But surely not in the government of the Less-Than-Great State of Illinois.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Socialism has its roots in the word ‘social’, which is a pleasing sound, and suggests lots of friends. Also, the word is flexible. Any variant between complete Anarchy and total centralism can be called ‘Socialism’. There is no defining textbook called ‘This is real Socialism’, so just call your own ideas socialist, and nobody can refute you! Since it has no fixed definition, it should always be around, like the common cold- a mental social disease, evolving to survive.

  • Chester Draws

    Can anyone name one Country where Government does not control the economy from the centre

    Sure. New Zealand.

    The Reserve Bank issues currency, but does play around with it — it could have “control” but choses not to — and in any case the Reserve Bank is not controlled directly by “Government”. There are basically no subsidies. There is a minimum wage, but it is low and its effect is minimal. There are no price controls. Import tariffs are rare, low and being phased out. Labour and business regulation exists, but not to control the economy, as such (for example, a regulation that says businesses must not kill its workers is not an attempt to control the economy — it is the same for all businesses, and has no effect on how they price or sell their products.)

    There are exceptions — cigarette sales are controlled. There are a few tariffs still. There are some business regulations but a regulation that says that a business must make complete and true accounts public isn’t controlling the economy as the economy. Government owns some businesses, but they are run as stand-alone units, and are expected to make profits.

    In general though, the New Zealand government doesn’t try to run “the economy” very much.

    The control of the individual is more restrained, but not so you’d notice much in practice.

    There is state controlled education and healthcare, but neither are compulsory and they compete against large private operators (we don’t have a centralised NHS, but separate areas work independently, and they are held to targets, which effectively makes them in competition. Education is centralised, sort of — it’s complicated). There aren’t many hate or thought crimes yet on the books. There is no censorship of the Internet (apart maybe from, I’m not going to look to find out, kiddy porn). You don’t have to get married and there are no financial advantages to doing so. Positive discrimination is largely outsourced, because the Maori are given money and expected to do it themselves, though there are a few university courses it’s somewhat easier to get into (but only somewhat). Drugs are regulated. Fats and sugars are not.

    On the whole, it’s not exactly 1984 territory.

    I’m sure you will find some point, somewhere, to say “the Government” controls something, therefore it is centralised and Socialist, but most people will just think that’s silly. In general we are allowed to do our own thing. I would refute utterly that we are Socialist in any sense that “the Government” runs everything from some mythical centre.

    Note, that we are quite left-wing as a country, so we have centrally funded health, education, accident insurance, etc. But that doesn’t stop us being economically “dry” as well. Except I suppose to the purists, who insist that any limiting of individual freedom is slavery.

    By the way, you need to be quite a lot more definite about who you think is controlling things. “The Government” includes the PM, the various ministers, the ruling party, the parliament, the judiciary, the bureaucracy and assorted quangos etc. Many of whom do not co-operate at all well with each other. In an actual Socialist state there is one “Government” and it issues orders that are obeyed. The NZ Prime Minister doesn’t come close to having that power.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Chester, the government is hardly a decentralised paradise, is it? Could someone print their own money to compete with NZ’s money? And doesn’t the government keep on centralising, using any excuse? (Is there a war on drugs, etc.?)

  • PeterT

    The true measure of freedom is when some aspect of society doesn’t “work” but government leaves the situation alone regardless.

    Sure, the private sector is also capable of coercion, and in theory government could act as a counterweight to that. But so far, in almost every instance, the cure has been many multiples worse than the disease. Freedom is largely identical to absence of government.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    I see that the Olympic rower Jamie Cracknell was quoted in the article saying that North Korea is one of a few countries that has a “handle” on obesity. Of course, Stalin, in his politically-inspired famines in the 1930s, was also doing his bit for this problem, as no doubt were the protectionists seeking to stop imports of cheap food into Ireland at the time of the Great Famine.

    Forgive my sarcasm, it is hard not to submit to it.

    The current obsession with obesity, coming as it does as the Great Tobacco Terror recedes, is as we can see another of those subjects where a certain earnest type of individual, sometimes in business or in some sort of sinecure, feels a need to make an impact. Maybe they are sincere and not malevolent. (But sincerity is no defence when defending imbecility.) I kind of wonder if Cracknell, if could witness the sheer horrors of NK, would repeat such views, particularly if confronted by the locals. There is too much of this nonsense from Western, affluent types around such countries. It is like a sort of sickness. Where does this madness come from?

  • nemesis

    NickM
    To answer Paul. I think they have a bit of a point those that say socialism has never been tried the “right way”.

    I frequently hear the argument that ‘Capitalism has failed’ to which the normal response is that it hasn’t been tried the right way.

  • pkudude99

    Back in the mid 1800’s in Illinois the Mormons came up with their own version of socialism called “the United Order” that they to this day proclaim is “God’s best way, if only us humans were righteous enough to live up to it” with the caveat that communism/socialism are the devil’s counterfeit copy of it (and thus the Mormon’s current general aversion to communism and socialism). To my eyes it’s a distinction without a difference, but whatever….

    Anyway, they eventually founded a town in Utah called “Orderville” where this “United Order” was voluntarily practiced in that single town, so a nice limited scale test. According to the wikipedia article, it started off pretty well as a trading hub for other towns (wait, a trade hub, isn’t that a market?!?!?!?!), but once other options for trade opened up the town became notably poorer (“old-fashioned”) than the surrounding towns, leading to changes in the rules of how they lived, which caused “inequality and internal strife” and it didn’t last long (only 10 years from 1875 to 1885) as a result: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orderville,_Utah

    Why must our governments insist on large-scale country-wide long-term experiments when even *voluntary* limited-scale short-term ones fail?

  • NickM

    Orderville, Utah. Sounds a Par-tay town!!! Who needs Vegas!

  • Runcie Balspune

    Brexit happened mainly because there were (a) a very substantial proportion of the UK population who remember what life was like before the EU started its inroads into every aspect of our daily affairs, (b) the same proportion who can be bothered to get off their arse and go and vote about it.

    With socialism, and indeed the steady rise of the government invasion of everything, it would be rare to find a soul who remembers when there was no NHS or massive welfare state. I vaguely recall my mother-in-law telling me about the pre-war days when you paid medical insurance (and how it effectively was more expensive for her under NI). I think the idea that the government have to run everything is so deeply ingrained into the British psyche, that no amount of militaristic proto-commuinists in charge of our unions and seeping into the pores of HM Opposition, will deter many from voting for them.

    The Thatcher decade instilled a rabid hatred of “tories” (normally spoken in that fake northern/scouse twang) inspired by the Militant thugs who nearly put Labour back into third party status, there might be many of the working class who have woken up to who really represents them in parliament, but would they really hold their nose and tick the blue box when it comes to it?

    Even the progressives of yesteryear must be racking their brains, decades ago they endured the expulsion of theocracy, the persecution of fascists and anti-semites and the promotion of the great British working class hero, but now we have the same people sucking up to religious nutcases intent on killing us, giving safe harbor to the most vile of the anti-Zionists (read anti-Jewish) and throwing the workers under the bus in favor of bussing in overseas voters. Do you think they’d realise who they’ve become – and vote right?

    I think socialism has a long and steady future ahead of it, like a parasite that you’ve come to accept is actually part of your life, easier to put up with than to treat.

  • bobby b

    pkudude99
    April 26, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    “Why must our governments insist on large-scale country-wide long-term experiments when even *voluntary* limited-scale short-term ones fail?”

    Because a philosophy that has absolutely no hope of prevailing in the real world can at least last long enough to loot everything worth looting if it enjoys a closed system with no competition?