Coded gray.

Tuesday 1 May 2001

Garden flowers

Pic of the day: Garden flowers. People work all day long in their gardens around here today, because May 1st is gradually developing into Gardening Day. It is the end of the world as the socialists know it, and I feel fine.

Socialism: The big fat lie

Much as I appreciate having a day off from work, I'd wish it could be to celebrate something else than socialism. You'd think that after nearly a century of the Flynn Effect, we would be smart enough to discard socialism out of hand, discredit it utterly, bury it on the muck heap of history and leave it there without ever turning back.

"But there is something good in socialism too!" No, there is not, and I shall endeavor to explain why we would have been better off if it had stayed in the library of obscure philosophies where it belongs.


"Socialism is responsible for the progress in this country." No way dude. For comparison I shall point out the United States of America, a country which by our standards has never been close to socialism. Even so, the country is as rich as ours, and is the world leader in many ways, both technologically and culturally. And you may or may not like this, but there is not exactly a flood of refugees out of the USA. Last I heard, more people were still moving from Norway to America than the other way, though the difference was much reduced from its high days.

People here in Europe like to point out that the differences between rich and poor is much greater in the USA. To some extent this is certainly true. In part it is because the rich are insanely rich, but the really poor are also by and large poorer than our own underclass. So why don't they flee, like poor people around the world has done? It's not like we don't get poor people sneaking into Europe from much of Africa and the Middle East, for instance. But not from the USA. How come?

My answer is: Because the poor in America don't want to be slightly less poor in Europe. They want to become rich in America. And America is such a place where this is actually possible. This is because it is a dynamic society, with regards to economic power.


Most societies have been fairly static. Feudalism, which preceded capitalism here in Europe, was highly static. Power / riches was bound to the earth, and the earth was ruled by dynasties. The power was inherited, and you could not change that with less than a war. This did not just apply on the national scale (in as far as there were nations in our meaning at all). Even locally, the lord's son became lord, and the serf's son became a serf.

A socialist society is static for a different reason. In theory, power is already equally distributed. (In practice, you still have rulers, of course, as history shows.) When there is no power differential, there is no incitement for the workers to improve their lot. They cannot improve their lot without at the same time improving the lot of millions of other workers; and that is a tough job even for the greatest genius. So the individual has no reason to excel. He has no reason to find his strengths and apply them where they are most needed. Therefore the society is doomed to be less efficient.

In a market economy, people are free to position themselves where they believe that their particular strengths can have the most effect. If they are right, they get to keep a substantial part of the surplus generated. This gives them a measurable feedback on their effort. If they can get more money by taking another job, they will often do so. And if someone is willing to pay them more, this proves that their special strengths can be put to better use. The mechanism is dynamic and corrects itself. If an employer or an employee has had unrealistic expectations, they are free to break up and try again elsewhere.

The increased effectivity of a market economy means that you have a bigger cake to share. So even though you don't share it quite evenly, there is still a bigger bite to most. And those who get less, still know that they may have better luck next time.


Now for the big fat lies of the "terrible unchecked capitalism". Socialists like to point out that early capitalism had robber tycoons who were filthy rich, while their workers struggled hard from dawn to dusk for almost no pay. "This is the true face of capitalism" say the sociaists. "Only a strong government can keep it in check by regulating the details of working life."

I shall assume that the people who argue like this are simply ignorant, the way most people are. We cannot all have an interest in history, nor do all live with it closely during their childhood. But know this: The workers of early capitalism were not today's workers, suddenly transported back in time, losing all their privileges and forced to work hard for every penny. Nor were they rounded up by armed squads and forced to go to the city and work in the industry. On the contrary, they came on their own, because they were worse off already.

In the pre-industrial agriculture, you already had to work hard from sunrise to sunset, starting in early childhood and lasting usually all your life or till you were utterly infirm. Despite all this hard work, you had no assurance. The locusts might eat your grain, the blight might take your potatoes, your cow might fall ill and die. And you would starve, despite all your hard work. People flocked to the industry because it liberated them from an even worse predicament.

Early capitalist society was a step up from the feudalist agrarian society that preceded it. From there on, it has continued its upward spiral to the glory that is western societies today. True, the communist countries also industrialized and had economic growth. At the cost of killing off dissidents in the millions, for all practical purposes instilling slavery under fear of death. Despite this, they did not manage to keep up.

We have nothing to learn from an ideology that fostered mass murder and mass slavery. Not a word. Begone, socialism; be forgotten; rot in peace.

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