We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“But if Pavlov had been given the task of introducing communism, he’d have quickly proved, by experimenting on dogs, that this way of life isn’t suitable for a living soul!’

So spake a brave and wise Czech man to a Soviet Army Zampolit (Political Officer) in an angry exchange after the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, per the wonderful, semi-biographical novel The Liberators by Soviet defector Viktor Suvorov. (BTW did the young (or old) Mr Corbyn ever condemn that particular Soviet invasion?).

But I digress. It turns out that scientists have now (perhaps inadvertently) tested a sort of socialism (we all know that the paradise of communism was always just around the corner under socialism) on dogs, and it turns out that they don’t like it.

Dogs have their own innate sense of fairness and did not learn this from humans as previously believed, a new study has concluded.

You might wonder what tree they were barking up, so let’s have a look:

In tests, wolves and dogs would both refuse to take part if they received no reward for pressing a buzzer while a partner animal got one for doing so. The same was true if they received a lower quality prize.

It was thought that dogs had learned the importance of equality – seen as a sophisticated trait found in humans and some primates – during the domestication process, but the study found the wolves displayed a greater reluctance to take part once they realised what was going on.

See how the piece smuggles in an unscientific value judgment?

So dogs don’t like being ripped off? Who does? I once met a falconer who told me that an eagle he knew remembered a ‘breach of contract’ when the owner’s son didn’t give him his due piece of meat, contrary to established custom and practice. He told me that when the son came back from University, the eagle still showed him great hostility, which lasted for years afterwards.

So it appears that dogs don’t like doing the work and others getting the rewards. The dogs are quite lucky, as they haven’t been slaughtered for opposing socialism, or just not being ‘in’, unlike 100,000,000 humans.

Some of the findings might appear to corroborate old folk tales…

the dogs in the study had been “highly socialised with humans in their first weeks of life” but did not have a pet-owner relationship.

“Nevertheless, they were still more eager to please the human experimenter than were the wolves,” the researchers wrote.

But is this science? Where, I ask myself, are the controls? I had a thought, why not use as a ‘control’ not just a wolf, but a dog raised in North Korea, where it will have only known socialism. But then again, I understand that they have already eaten the dogs there, during a famine caused by socialism…

14 comments to “But if Pavlov had been given the task of introducing communism, he’d have quickly proved, by experimenting on dogs, that this way of life isn’t suitable for a living soul!’

  • bobby b

    “It turns out that scientists have now . . . tested a sort of socialism . . . on dogs, and it turns out that they don’t like it.”

    In earlier peer-reviewed studies, worms, slugs, and leeches favored it. Vertebrate testing was Part 2.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    There’s bound to be a Randian beetle out there somewhere, here’s my guess.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, as it happens I am philosophically opposed to beetles (and June bugs), except of course for ladybugs — the real ones, small, red with black spots, not those horrid orange “Pumpkin Bugs.” Oh, and blackberry bugs, except I wish that they’d hop off the berry before you actually go to put it in the pail. I mean, you have to be sure you got all the bugs off before you serve the berries with a dollop of whipped cream. Disconcerting to bite on a blackberry and have it go crunch.

    But, that Bombardier Beetle really is pretty awesome. When she was 4 or so, I gave the Young Miss a Mack truck for Christmas, an 18-wheeler semi, completely black. I guess she wasn’t as impressed as I was–but that sucker was EEEEEEvilllll. I loved it. The Bomb Beetle reminds of that truck, though of course in fact it wears a pin-striped suit with a flashy scarlet cravat. Means business!!

    So I really have to admire it. From a distance.

    Of course, the thing is maybe kinda geeky, or else maybe it’s got ahold of Ellis Wyatt’s notes on chemical engineering and JG’s on putting it all to use in a real device. I mean, a boiler in the belly and a nozzle jetting boiling toxic spray at any miscreant creatures that come around to mess with it! That is one creative, take-no-nonsense dude.

    And it doesn’t seem to be at all interested in being lunch.

    I think you are right, Mr Ed.

    . . .

    As to the OP. Very well said, Mr Ed. I didn’t think it was necessarily the Last Word in reliability either. Good catch on the “

    how the piece smuggles in an unscientific value judgment.”

    Still, what good are a pen and a pulpit (or, of course, a phone) if you’re not gonna use ’em to do your bit to reorder the world? Would be a dreadful waste.

    Very well done. :>))

  • Paul Marks

    Well the thing on dogs does show that they reject “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” – the Communist principle.

    But why does everyone’s posts get on this site, but none of my posts?

    And why does every comment of mine (no matter what I write) always go to the trash pile?

    I am sick of this.

    My e.mail address has not changed – and I am NOT going to mess about answering stupid questions. Or standing on my head.

  • Mr Ed


    Try using a different email address in the box for the email address. That way, it might be possible to rule out a link between your email address and getting ‘modded’.

    Your comments get to be moderated first, not in the trash. So it’s not that they are seen as spam, it’s dangerous content. Blame Mrs May’s embryonic plans for monitoring the Net.

    Or do what Hillary does, and blame the Russians.

  • bobby b

    Mr. Marks:

    I have noticed (frequently) that I will read comments by several people, and then go back later and a comment by you that was not present during my first reading appears in between those other comments.

    This suggests to me that there is something in your comment – a common element in all of your comments, such as IP address or e-mail address – that is triggering some automatic process of suppression. Or, as Julie nC encountered recently, your auto-fill-in for your ID info could be spotty.

    But then, when human intervention occurs, your comment is rescued from the bin and put back in, appearing where it should have appeared originally based on its time stamp.

    Just my guess, of course. I can’t imagine anyone would be censoring you. That would interfere with disagreeing with you. 😆

  • Julie near Chicago

    Also, Paul, I’ve been seeing original posts from you lately–

    I just checked. Four of yours went up in March; no O.P.’s since, but that’s only a couple of months ago. And by the way, it was very good to see them.

    Also, bobby is right; every once in awhile WordPress loses track of my name & address, and I yowl to management because I’m on Mod, and the answer turns out to be that my vitals have gone missing, which fact I missed.

    Keep on plugging, please, Paul. Besides bobby’s humorous ending above, your postings and comments are generally informative and entertaining.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Unfortunately, due to more pressing concerns, this post won’t get the attention that it deserves.

    Mr Ed’s interpretation of the experiment seems flawed, though: the dogs were not objecting to redistribution, they were objecting to unequal pay for equal work. Dog A was not angry at dog B getting the reward for dog A’s work: dog A was angry at dog B getting more reward for doing the same work that dog A was doing. Not quite socialist, but not capitalist, either.

    Perhaps the concept is best encapsulated by Orwell: some animals are more equal than others.

  • So the Canine Wage Gap isn’t a myth?

  • Mr Ed


    In terms of redistribution, I agree it is only ‘redistribution’ in the sense that when the game becomes ‘for reward’, i.e. is commercialised, the canine brain appears to work on the basis of an implicit understanding on the dog’s part of the worth of his labour. Perhaps not at the ‘sophistication’ of an implied term as contract lawyers would know it, perhaps more akin to the parable of the workers in the vineyard, except that they were reacting to an express term of the contract being unequal. The dog’s bargaining position is compromised.


    Perhaps we need a control with cats.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed,

    Cats or Mere-Kats?


    By the way, the passage from Matthew to which you link sounds pretty radical to me. What was Matthew, some kind of Libertarian?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Besides, cats are notoriously hard to control. Whence, “dealing with libertarians is like herding cats.”

  • AndrewZ

    If Pavlov had been given the task of introducing communism he’d have been shot if his research had produced the “wrong” result. That’s how communism works in the real world, and the dupes who can’t understand why it has always failed before are destined to become part of the evidence for why it will never work in future.

  • Mr Ed

    Andrew Z,

    In the book, the author makes it perfectly clear what Communism leads to, when a Czech asks the political officer if he has compared Lenin and Stalin and he goes on to say that Lenin was a bloodthirsty degenerate, the sort that happens only once in a thousand years, who, had he had full health once firmly in power, would have made Stalin’s killings look like child’s play. He points out that Stalin didn’t write about shooting people, but Lenin specifically discussed the shooting of children as a tactic. The book pulls no punches.