Monday, February 8, 2016
The seduction of Socialism
When we were young and impressionable, I remember how our grade-school teachers had us read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. I loved the book so much, I read it twice. Then, a few years ago as an adult I decided I needed to read it again. I still loved the story, but I was shocked. I finally saw Sinclair was writing to promote socialism, his book was nothing short of propaganda. With Bernie Sanders campaigning hard, I think socialism is on most American's radar these days.
This post is asking "why" would anyone want socialism. This is a follow up on my last post, Who Would Want Socialism
I hear the question quite a bit, "Why do people want socialism?" Or something close to that, like, "How could anyone think socialism is a good idea?" What I want to do here, as briefly as possible, is try to explain the lure of socialism and perhaps debunk the three biggest draws as I see them.
#1. Socialism seems fair.
Let's be clear, socialism isn't evil, it may be naive or it may be counterproductive and untenable, but it's not wicked. Socialism seems fair because of the claim it can level the playing field. I like that idea too, letting everyone share and be equal, only, that isn't reality.
Keeping to the analogy of leveling the playing field, you can't have a playing field without coaches, players, managers, and an audience (none play an equal role). Without even referencing "winners & losers" there is still no such thing as a level playing field with full equality. We've seen what happens to a generation of young people who grow up playing sports where everyone gets a trophy and no one loses, and we've seen socialism fail on many fronts.
Socialism seems fair, with rhetoric that's based in redistribution. Please tell me how this is fair? If you take away from the people who have earned, through their hard work, the fruits of their labor -- how is this fair the person who has worked hard to achieve their success?
#2. Socialism seems to be classless.
Who likes to compete within a class system of have's and have not's? No one. I like the idea of equality. The only catch is, in Socialism all people will not be equal and the class system is extrapolated to segregate the working people from the ruling government who dictates ruthlessly their agenda.
#3. Socialism gives you everything you want and you'll never be in need.
Who doesn't like free stuff? Who wants to be in need? This sounds great, the idea that socialism can be like grandma & Santa Claus all wrapped up in one. The problem is, a free handout method of governing demotivates the producers and the receivers. Those who work hard become embittered, and those who "take" see no need to exert any effort. And soon, no one will want to carry the load.
There's no such thing as a "free lunch." Someone has to buy the ingredients, someone has to prepare them.
On top of this, could it be demeaning and dehumanizing to remove the blessing of hard work? People shouldn't be ground into dust to earn a living, or worked like dogs to just get by, but the truths is hard work feels rewarding. We need to strive and toil and spend energy to achieve results. It's a human need to gain a sense of accomplishment. Both hobbies and volunteering are stimulated by this need to break a sweat. To take away the need for effort in the claim to provide all we want, could possibly be the most dangerous aspect of socialism, after all, we already know people who have everything to live with and nothing to live for.