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]

Samizdata quote of the day

How can an idea that has been tried and tested so many times, and that has always ended in failure, still be so popular?

A big part of the reason has to be that socialists have long been very effective at distancing themselves from real-world examples of socialism in action. Mention the Soviet Union or Mao’s China, and inevitably, socialists will roll their eyes, and say: “Oh come on! Now you’re just being silly.” Holding the failure of such experiments against a self-described socialist is considered a rhetorical cheap shot, not an intellectually respectable argument. It is considered a lazy straw man, deployed by people who are still mentally stuck in the Cold War.

However, while socialists insist that ‘their’ brand of socialism is so fundamentally different from anything that has been tried in the past that it makes all comparisons meaningless, they usually struggle to explain what exactly they would do differently. The best they can do is become evasive, and talk about lofty ambitions rather than tangible institutional characteristics.

Kristian Niemietz

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36 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Schrodingers's Dog

    Surely the appeal of socialism can be summed up in two succinct words: “free stuff”.

  • The Fyrdman

    The USSR, Mao’s China, Pot’s Cambodia and all the rest are failed attempts at socialism. I’ll give them that. But then, the US, the U.K. and all of our others are our failed attempts at liberal, capitalist democracies. I still know where I’d rather be.

  • Thailover

    Schrodinger’s Doggy, I think collectivism has it’s appeals on a more deeper level. Humans evolved as a social species, in packs or tribes. As such, I suspect we have innate tendencies toward certain ideas (but not instincts. I categorize instincts to be innate information, like a male bluebird knows instinctively how to attract a female bluebird and a bluebird knows instinctively how to build a bluebird nest. We, however, have to figure out specific information, but I think we DO have innate drives).

    Such innate desires, vague and un-thought out as it where, include the idea that equal means fair, somehow, and that those that have a lot have a moral obligation to “give back” to those who have less, that those that have more can safely be assumed to have somehow obtained it unjustly and at other people’s expense. And that we need a tribal chief (government) to make things all better, otherwise we’d let everyone else starve or die in the streets. (An absurd idea). In short, they (i.e. most people) seem to view the world in zero-sum terms. That is, if Bob profits from a deal, then it must, to some degree, be at Stan’s expense. After all, how can both grow wealthier at the same time from the exact same exchange with no one getting poorer? Isn’t that like pulling money out of thin air?

    Well it turns out that this is exactly what happens, because win/win is nothing more than voluntary cooperation to mutual benefit, positive sum, not zero sum. Why positive sum? because wealth, i.e. goods and services, are created today from innovation, ingenuity and hard work, not merely hunted and gather, i.e. scavenged from our environment as humans were want to do, to a degree, before the neolithic period, and certainly during the paleolithic period.

    I view collectivist tendencies to be atavistic human baggage, tribalism that is holding us back from enlightenment.

    I hope I don’t seem too crazy when I suggest that Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is indeed the Philosopher’s Stone.

    Peace.

  • Thailover

    Fyrdman, with all due respect, a “mixed economy” isn’t captalist. In fact, the oft used phrase “crony capitalism” is a self-contradictory phrase. Cronyism is the opposite of free enterprise. What people should really be calling cronyism is crony fascism.

  • Ferox

    I still know where I’d rather be.

    You haven’t been re-educated yet. But don’t worry: there is a self-righteous leftist out there somewhere who is determined to help you get your mind right.

  • Laird

    After a century of utter failure, with no demonstrable success anywhere, the continued belief in socialism can only be characterized as a mental illness.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m with Schrodinger’s Dog. The very idea of free beer is so attractive that it really doesn’t matter that it’s fiction.

    Offered an imaginary date with Liz Hurley or a real date with Diane Abbott, I’ll take the imaginary date with Liz Hurley thanks.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A socialist might claim that defenders of capitalism can sometimes make a similar point (“this isn’t real capitalism” etc). I think that commits a basic error in that even mixed economies are better than total statism, but worth figuring out a response that will appeal to waverers.

  • Lee Moore

    Is not the fairly straightforward response that “total” capitalism and “total” socialism are theoretical constructs that cannot exist in the real world. Even genuinely crazy places like North Korea and Pol Pot’s Cambodia did not succeed in eliminating all family ties. What we have is a continuum with infinitely unreachable ends. And it turns out that the further you go in the socialist direction, the poorer everyone gets and the more coshing and murdering goes on; and the further you go in the capitalist direction, the richer everyone gets and the less coshing that goes on. It may be that the more distant lands in the capitalist direction have nasty features, but that is as yet, untrodden ground. Whereas the ground to the left has been trodden quite a long way into the realms of madness.

    So everywhere in the middle – which is any current democracy – is waaaay better than anything further left. But walking a few steps in the capitalist direction is always going to make you richer, freer and generally less coshed.

    It’s about direction of travel.

    PS which is one of my problems with von Mises. He’s obviously jolly clever and has analysed ze vundamental vlaws ov zojialischt planning to death. But he’s an absolutist. Any government interference in the economy must necessarily destroy the price system and zo the whole basis for rational economic calculation. Yeah, but….no government interference isn’t possible. And it turns out that a bit less government interference perks things up, and a bit more damps things down, so it can’t be the case that any government interference destroys all rational economic calculation. We can still get by with some.

  • The Fyrdman

    That’s why I described them as failed attempts. Socialists excuse their failures by saying how they don’t meet their imagined standards, the same is true for our societies – they are not pure free markets but mixed economies. And yet the modicum of the free market allowed in our societies has created the best standard of life ever known. Contrast that to socialism, which is able to reduce such a standard to barbarism in a few short years.

  • Jordan

    Stupidity= Trying the same thing over and over again but expecting different results- Albert Einstein (allegedly)

  • Lee Moore

    I think it was insanity rather than stupidity.

    And interestingly, Einstein was not happy about Bohr’s probabalistic conception of quantum mechanics – “God does not play dice with the Universe”

    And yet if you fire a series of particles at a double slit, you do get different results each time. Admittedly after a while you get a pattern that is, as a pattern, pretty much the same pattern you got last time, but particle by particle, you do the same thing, you get a different result.

    But just for the avoidance of doubt, collectivising agriculture always causes a famine. So no need to try that one again.

  • Mr Ed

    I venture that a lot of people who support socialism are nasty and brutal, and actually like the idea of robbing, enslaving and, in their sick dreams, killing their ‘betters’. After all, it won’t be them who suffer, will it, it’ll be ‘the rich’, won’t it?

    Since reason, logic and evidence don’t matter to socialists, why should they think about actions past or future? All they care about is their gratification, and they care about actions to the extent that they get gratification.

  • Pat

    Thing is the idea usually results in success. Provided the group practicing Socialism is small enough for everyone to know everyone else then “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs” works pretty well. But it requires that everyone feels confident that they know other people’s needs and means, and it mostly needs a parental figure to judge disputes.
    However it doesn’t scale up. The largest functioning Kibutz has about 2000 members, each carefully selected. It seems beyond that number the requisite level of trust cannot be maintained, so people feel cheated (even when they aren’t) and leave. If they can’t leave they start cheating themselves.
    Now everyone grew up in such a group, called a family, plus school is structured to resemble a family, so most people get to 18 without experiencing a non socialist environment.
    They then have to be taught that socialism doesn’t work for countries.
    Of course most parents and teachers leave the instinct to feel ownership of things alone, just to make their own lives easier, so things are arranged that the poor kid gets help but not by taking stuff from the rich kid. This programs rich kids to think they can help the poor at someone else’s expense.

  • Alisa

    Thing is the idea usually results in success. Provided the group practicing Socialism is small enough for everyone to know everyone else then “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs” works pretty well.

    You obviously have no first-hand experience of life in a kibbutz (or in a country that was forced to collectively subsidize them). The largest group in which it can and often does work is a nuclear family – anything beyond that is wishful thinking.

  • The new attempt at socialism will not have the same outcome as before, despite using very similar methods, but the “nazi-like” resistance to it will have exactly the same outcome as in Hitler’s day, despite the analogy between the two striking the un-woke as coming somewhat from a distance.

    One could ask the woke if insufficient sleep is what makes them able to believe these two things at once, but something (insufficient sleep?) seems to cause unhelpful answers.

    “lofty ambitions” – another way of saying ‘good intentions’ – this time, so good they will overcome the effect of perverse incentives. 🙂

  • bobby b

    Pat
    June 25, 2017 at 11:42 am

    “Thing is the idea usually results in success. Provided the group practicing Socialism is small enough for everyone to know everyone else then “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs” works pretty well.”

    You’ve just described some of the Mennonite communities NW of my location, in South Dakota.

    They’re run internally as social communes. They usually have between 40 and 150 members, all of whom share equally in their fortunes. They tend to be full of motivated hard workers who produce things that the surrounding people want to buy, and so do well financially.

    Those people who do NOT feel the social motivation to produce well and work hard tend to leave, so there’s a lot of self-selection which, as you say, doesn’t work when you try to scale it up.

    But it works quite well for them in their present state.

  • Mr Ecks

    The danger of Corbyn–and McNasty and the scum who surround him–is that once voted in he won’t ever accept being voted out.

    He will bring in several million imports to vote for his gang and try to cow the native population but–if after 5 years of socialist disaster–he still gets a massive heave-ho–he wont go.

    He’ll claim the CIA hacked the election or some such cockrot. After all the American left are doing the groundwork now for all anti-democrats.

    He won’t be removed by anything short of armed force. And his first moves will be to consolidate his hold on that.

    He is the scum who brazenly admires Chavez and Maduro after all.

  • Jake Haye

    “If I’m allowed to steal from other people, then other people will be allowed to steal from me.”

    This is a lesson that leftists never learned as children.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby,

    I had no idea that there are Mennonite communities in Minnesota. Indiana, Illinois, Ohio … not Minnesota.

    Your comment implies to me that the customers of the Mennonites are outside the Mennonite communes (are they properly called communes in the strict sense?). Is that so? Because if so, it raises the question of whether a commune actually can be totally self-sufficient or whether it must have an outside source of customers, for revenue (or perhaps for bartered necessities or desirables — and “necessary” or “desirable” to whom, and as specified by whom?).

    And is intra-community commerce possible at all? Or is there some sort of leader or council that prescribes who gets what from whom?

    I wonder how the setup there differs from those of the Owenites, the Pilgrims, the Kibbutzes and so forth.

    The Amana Colonies were a going concern for a long time I believe. I have no idea how they were set up.

    It would be interesting to look into this. Perhaps this afternoon, after I have properly explained QM to Schrödinger. :>))

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Too much theory here. The fact is that ‘government’ inevitably turns into concentrating power (and hence wealth) in the governing class, and the theory of governance – whether Socialist, or ‘Capitalist’ – is just an excuse for making people do what profits the rulers. It’s advertising, and what it’s selling is always the righteousness of the rulers’ control.

    In theory (and in practice, for as long as it lasts), Capitalism and limited government gives the best combination of freedom and prosperity; but what Ayn Rand failed to appreciate is that Capitalism and ‘limited’ government naturally evolve to Cronyism. My suggestion, for some time now, has been that the corrupt execution of an official’s office should be legally classed as a lethal assault that justifies a lethal response against him by any member of society. If Smith shoots Mayor Jones, and at trial can prove that Jones was taking bribes, or hiring incompetent relatives, or ‘doing favors’ for his donors, then Smith is innocent by reason of self-defense.

    I don’t especially like the idea, but I don’t see any other way of discouraging government corruption that doesn’t rely on corruptible government. It has the further advantage of working regardless of the theory of governance, providing that the principles of ‘honest government’ for that theory are defined, and trials are honestly conducted.

    Getting such a law enacted is left to the student as an exercise, however.

  • llamas

    JiC – I actually know a guy who farms part of what used to be Amana colonies land.

    They fell apart for the exact reason that all those religious/idealist colonies fell apart. It doesn’t work above a couple of hundred people who have a strong common ethnic and religious bond. Amana (and Oneida, FTM) fell apart because some succeeded in business and some did not, and that don’t fit the model. Social, economic and sexual jealousies tore them apart. IOW, the human condition at work.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Stonyground

    I’m not sure that the common people always see matters in terms of socialist or capitalist ideologies the way we do. I remember as a kid listening to a friend’s mum cursing the ‘Bloody Conservatives’ over tax rises in the budget back in the seventies. In her mind, Labour represented the common people whereas the Conservatives represented the rich, it wasn’t really any more complicated than that. Otherwise why would you curse a party for putting up taxes while preferring the party that tended to raise taxes more? Of course, it never occurred to me to point out that any party that claimed to represent poor people would have a vested interest in keeping them poor.

  • Laird

    I like Lee Moore’s analysis. (June 25, 2017 at 6:10 am)

    As to “the idea usually results in success“: Not so. Even the Pilgrims, about as small and homogeneous a group as it would be possible to construct, nearly all died of starvation in that first year when their communist community failed to produce adequate food. Only after abandoning that failed experiment did the survivors begin to flourish.

    I don’t know much about Mennonites (Julie, there are also some in Pennsylvania; my wife is distantly related to some), but as bobby b noted they clearly benefit from self-selection, and for all I know they aren’t strictly socialist anyway. But if they are, that’s clearly an outlier, and the first socialist society to achieve a modicum of long-term success that I’ve ever heard of.

  • Deep Lurker

    I’d say that “free stuff” is less important to the popularity of socialism than the powerful human tendency to overestimate the size of big piles and underestimate the total size of many small piles. So when people make their intuitive estimates, they underestimate how much socialism will cost, and grossly overestimate how much money “the rich” have available to pay for it. As a result, the speed at which socialists run out of other people’s money always a surprise and often a shock. This despite all the warnings; those warnings get discounted as lying propaganda from those rich meanies that don’t want people to have nice things.

    It’s also the reason why the eco-Left has had such a hard time selling “Peak Oil!” and “Resource Depletion!” as reasons why ordinary people should tighten their organic vegan belts and give more power to leftist-run governments. People aren’t being wise about seeing through the lies of the eco-left; it’s simply a matter of those lies being counter-intuitive. They cut against people’s intuitive estimates of the size of big piles vs many piles.

    (The eco-left has had much more success selling “Global Warming!”/ “Climate Change!” because that scam doesn’t go against human intuition about big vs many piles.)

  • Pat

    @Alisa.
    I have only learned information of Kibutzim, but that indicates what I said. Whether Kibutzim smaller than 2000 really work or pretend to I don’t know. But Kibutzim are not populated at random but by people who believe in the ideal. Hence I conclude that socialism cannot work in a community larger than 2000, and will ordinarily fail at lower populations.
    The problem is trust. In a socialist system everyone has to trust everyone else to play their part. In a family everyone knows who is the rich uncle, who is unlucky, who is a wastrel etc. The rich uncle bails out the deserving and gets credit for it. Nobody wants the wastrel bailed out.
    Scale that up to nation level and the rich uncles don’t get credit for bailing people out, they get abuse for keeping some of their wealth, and threatened with expropriation. So they either hide their wealth or leave. The wastrels get as much or more help as the unlucky, causing further resentment. Those of average means discover themselves to be seen as rich (the really rich having departed) and go the way of the rich.
    Human inability to trust strangers dooms state socialism
    The fact that advocates of socialism ardently promote mistrust makes state socialism less likely to succeed.
    The free market requires trust, but way less of it. Are the goods as described? Will you hand them over? That is all a buyer has to trust, and these can be checked. Will I get the money? That’s all a seller needs to trust and again it can be checked.

  • Pat

    Anything beyond that is rare but does happen.
    My central point is that people whose only life experience is of a family will believe socialism practical because in their limited experience it worked for them.

  • rxc

    Lee Moore nails it, and the concept of “free stuff” and “care for life” are the hooks. Everyone wants to live like the gentle and benevolent owners of Downton Abbey, with caring staff and enlightened management working together to make things wonderful for everyone. It just never works.

    Human nature intervenes, and conflict arises, and the stress breaks everything apart.

    Even the mennonites and the Amish and the kibbutz are not real examples of successful socialism, because even though they are “isolated”, they really have very strong ties to the surrounding communities for all sorts of supplies and services that they cannot provide by themselves. They need clothing and metals and energy supplies that are not possible to produce at small scale. Amish women use LOTS of polyester fabric because it is easier to sew than cotton or wool, and they use cash to buy it because they have determined that it is more efficient than spinning and weaving it themselves from their own sheep. So they have to interact with the outside, and people are bound to see that there is some other way to live, and it has so many possible attractions that the life inside becomes intolerable.

  • bobby b

    Julie:

    A. Not Minnesota. South Dakota. And (I believe) North Dakota, extending up into Canada.

    B. They do interact with the outside community – there’s no chicken you can buy that’s better than a Mennonite chicken! – but once an asset enters the community – e.g., the sale proceeds from those chickens – they become community assets. And where did we get the idea that complete sealed-off self-sufficiency was a required characteristic of true socialism? I know that one of the standard excuses for the failure of socialism is that the rest of the world is not socialist and thus skews motivations and results, but if a truly socialist community is trading well in the outside marketplace, then it is establishing value for value and is sufficient unto itself. Or are we saying that the USSR was never truly socialist because the USA existed outside of it and they traded?

    C. As for leaders, there are business leaders – people with more experience or training than others in various areas who naturally have more authority to make decisions such as “which feed should the chickens get today?” or “do we need another barn?”, and these people are listened to in all respects more so than most others, but in terms of profiting from their own leadership, while they might get more respect, they still only have a share.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Socialism is popular because we all like to imagine that the only reason we are not the center of the universe is because of some conspiracy by powerful people to keep us from our rightful due. Socialists promise justice, which we imagine means that we will get our rightful due of other people’s (ill-gotten) goods. Poor people are not poor because they don’t work hard- someone, somewhere, is holding on to their wealth! Doesn’t the world make sense now? You SHOULD be rich! Let the Socialists monopolise power, and they’ll give you the now-useless paper money!
    That is why it will always be popular.

  • Alisa

    Pat, I agree with everything you wrote – my only point was that it doesn’t work even under 2000 members, or even at 200.

    That said and as has been pointed out above, the nub of the issue is probably in the manner in which the commune interacts with the larger surrounding society and with the state. Of course total isolation cannot be used as a precondition for evaluating the success of a community, just as single individuals cannot be expected to succeed without interaction with other individuals. The problem with the alleged “success” of the kibbutzim was, as I pointed out, its being heavily subsidized in various ways by the ideologically sympathetic governments that ruled the country for the first three decades of its existence.

    As far as I can tell, that is not the case with the various communes in the US, such as the Amish and others, so they may well serve as an example of your point

  • CaptDMO

    “How can an idea that has been tried and tested so many times, and that has always ended in failure, still be so popular?”
    Because EVERYBODY dreams of being the BIG lottery winner (without realizing the consequences) , or owning “the rights” to a viable electric light bulb, that even an imbecile can buy, and replace, without a special license.

  • Paul Marks

    Socialism is not attacked, either in theory or practice, in most schools or universities – and that means (as most people get their ideas from their education) it is not attacked in the media either.

    Someone like Chancellor Phillip Hammond does not know how to attack socialism. For example (as Fraser Nelson points out in this week’s Spectator magazine) if the living standards of working people go up, Mr Hammond will not attribute this to cuts in personal taxation, or to cuts in business taxation allowing them to employ people – he will attribute the improvement to the government MINIMUM WAGE LAW. Not in an off the cuff comment (when he was very tired or something), but in his formal “Mansion House” speech.

    Think about that Perry (and others) – in his most formal speech of the year the “Conservative” Chancellor spouts socialist propaganda (and he does not even know it is socialist propaganda) that improvements in living standards come from government edicts.

    And to anyone who says “he is a millionaire businessman Paul – he must be a free market person” that it self shows socialist (indeed Marxist) class based thinking, there is nothing stopping a millionaire or a billionaire being a socialist, business and economics are DIFFERENT things (not the same thing). The interventionism of Mr Hammond and co depends (although he does not know this) on socialist assumptions – and must, in the end, lead to socialism.

    Things have got worse (much worse) in this country ideologically over the decades – in the 1980s free market thinkers such as F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman were still on university reading lists (even if most academics hated them) and appeared on television – now NOT so.

    The young are exposed to socialism and interventionism and nothing else – so it is no wonder that they turn out either socialists (cheering on John McDonnell at Glastonbury as he calls for the overthrow of the capitalist “murderers” and nodding in agreement at the latest “Dr Who” show that makes the same charge, that “capitalists” murder people, on the BBC) or interventionists – they are not taught anything else (they are given no other options).

    Billionaire businessmen (such as the creator of Facebook) talk absolute bovine excrement as soon they open their mouth about government policy. Free money for everyone! Every problem to be solved by government spending and regulations! It is NOT that the creator of Facebook is a moron (although he talks like one) – it is just that he has never been exposed to ANTI interventionist ideas in his whole life. How could he be? After all his education (from his most early years) has been “first there was darkness – then THE STATE said let-there-be-light-and-there-was-light.” The Frederick the Great Prussian “education system” (designed to make people worship THE STATE) is now universal in the Western World. The only division being between being interventionists (essentially socialism by the instalment plan) and “Socialism Now!” types such as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

    So Western Civilisation is buggered – as the population (including “Conservatives” such as Mr Hammond) are taught nothing but socialism and interventionism.

  • Paul Marks

    And the response of the Republicans in the United States?

    Why more money for “education” of course – even in conservative States such as South Dakota and Texas.

    It is hard to know whether to cry – or to laugh.

    Of course some people not only resist the interventionist education and media – and go to incredible lengths to find things that contradict their teacher. For example contradict the idea that government intervention is either a Good Thing (TM) or that the only reason that that government intervention might not be a good thing is that it is “really” done to serve the interests of “Big Business” “capitalists” (the Marxist “alternative” to interventionism – taken up by some demented libertarians, who think Gabriel Kolko and co were telling the truth).

    But in the words of the old Science Fiction series “Blake’s Seven” many years ago…..

    “Ah you are a resister, someone on whom the education system and the media does not work. Resistors do exist, they are about one in a thousand of the population (possibly a genetic quirk) – but you do not really matter, because there are so few of you”.

  • Paul Marks

    The end?

    Mass starvation and the collapse of civilisation.

    Unless (unless….) there is some factor I have missed.

    Let us hope so.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, “demented libertarians” —

    I am still on the fence on Chris Matthew Sciabarra, but he is somewhat of a big noise amongst those interested in Objectivism (though not necessarily Randite fellow-travellers) and some other libertarians.

    As you know, he’s the author of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, a work well-known in Objectivist circles that I still haven’t read, which among other things aims to shed light on her intellectual influences and of the effects of her Russian education and of Russian culture of the times on her thought and her psychology, or perhaps psyche. Also he’s been a visiting lecturer or some such at NYU.

    To your point, I quote this from his website, posted 5/29/17 American, from something he wrote sometime on facebook:

    It was Rothbard who introduced me to the trailblazing work being done by folks like Gabriel Kolko and James Weinstein on the new left (especially their valuable revisionist scholarship on the Progressive era)….

    https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002283.html

    The title of the posting is ‘Rothbard’s Impact on “How I Became a Libertarian.”‘ It is short, and interesting. He’s a big Rothbard fan, or was when he wrote the facebook posting, and since his Notablog posting is only a month old, and there’s no mention of anything like “I have since come to see things a bit differently,” it’s fair to assume he stands by what he says there.

    Wikifootia’s article: “/Chris_Matthew_Sciabarra” . Short, but quotes both negative and positive criticisms of The Russian Radical.

    .

    One thing I should note: Others here probably know far more about this than I do, but my understanding is that “dialectics” should not be thought of as necessarily Hegelian or Marxist Dialectics. The dialectical method of inquiry or thought goes back to (whom else!) the ancient Greeks at least, and as I understand it the general idea is that as you consider an issue, you come to a provisional conclusion or at least a hypothesis, and you then see how well it fits either the reality you observe, or if purely abstract, other prior conclusions. You then expand or change or otherwise tweak your theory, and check it against reality or the rest of your thought again, and so on. Or, I suppose, you scrap the whole thing and start over.

    I mention this only because Dr. Sciabarra appears to find a “dialectical method” in Miss R’s work; but that statement doesn’t necessarily mean he finds traces of Marxist or Hegelian Dialectics there. (Maybe he does, though–as I say, I haven’t read the book, and I’m not really all that interested in the good Doctor anyway. Life may be broad, but it is short. *g*)

    So I don’t think the very appearance of the word ought to imply wrongheadedness in the author.

    . . .

    As a matter of fact, dialectics, as I understand it above, seems fairly obvious as the best way to do an investigation. However, the word does begin with the prefix “dia-,” as in “dialogue” and other words signifiying duality or “two-ness.” To this issue, I quote from the Great Foot’s article on ‘Dialectics’:

    [Dialectics] is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.