Saturday, February 27, 2016

Democratic Socialism: If the Pigs Take Over

In my last post, I compared the Democratic Socialists to the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
At the end of my post, I wrote:

[W]e who value freedom and prosperity must not let people forget what socialism, our current mixed economy, and capitalism really are. Unfortunately, the newly emerging debate is dominated by the Democratic Socialists and defenders of the mixed economy status quo. The voices of capitalism are not engaged, at least not in the campaign arena. That must change, or the Democratic Socialists will surely win by default.

Today, this capitalist will contribute to the debate by attempting to answer the questions: What happens to capitalists if the Democratic Socialists take over, as opposed to what becomes of socialists under capitalism? (I mean “capitalist” and “capitalism” in the broad philosophical sense of embodying the principles of classical liberalism, not the narrow economic sense of someone with investment capital.)

My aim is to explain the fundamental social distinction between socialism and capitalism, as political systems, from the respective perspectives of a socialist and a capitalist. So, consider this: Under capitalism, people are free to live under socialist principles, if they choose. Under socialism, people are not free to live under capitalist principles.

In more detailed terms:

Under capitalism, any group of people is free to voluntarily establish a private collectivist commune by purchasing or renting property, pooling all of their resources, and electing a committee charged with the task of doling out the collective material goods from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Or the socialist true believers can apply their principles in more limited ways, such as pooling some of their resources to establish retirement, medical, or other forms of voluntary social security. Under capitalism, every socialist believer is free to try to persuade others to join the collective enterprise based on socialist principles. Likewise, if a socialist in a capitalist society does not approve of some people attaining more wealth than others, one is free not to contribute to that person’s fortune by buying the fortune-builder’s product or service. For example, if one does not approve of Charles Koch’s massive fortune, one is free not to patronize any of the Koch Industies companies. Who could stop them? Not the government, which exists to protect the socialist believer's right to live by his principles. Socialist true believers, like every one else, have inalienable individual rights to freedom of association, speech, and property, so they are free to pursue their socialist values with whomever agrees to join with him. The only thing they are forbidden to do is force unwilling non-socialist true believers to join him. Those who prefer to use their earned money and associations for personal rather than communal ends is also free to do so. Under capitalism, each individual is sovereign over his own life—all of it—so long as he respects every other individual's’ sovereignty by dealing with them only by voluntary consent rather than physical aggression. Under capitalism, there is no forced “social ownership of the means of production.” Each individual rightfully owns his work product, to the extent he earns it by production and voluntary trade. The nature of capitalist government is as the servant of the people; “The People” are understood as a collection of sovereign individuals, not a collective supreme over the individual.

Things work a little differently under socialism. Under socialism, capitalist true believers are forbidden to live by their principles. Unlike under capitalism, people under socialism are forbidden to choose between using their property for personal use or handing it over for communal distribution. Just let a capitalist true believer try to keep his Social Security or Medicare taxes: He’ll be assaulted by armed government agents and thrown into a cage. Unlike under capitalism, where each person is free to follow his own judgement, under socialism every aspect of a person’s economic life, including his earnings, are forcibly confiscated or controlled by government. Every individual's wealth is seized by force, dumped it into a common pot, and divided and distributed by government; whether any particular individual agrees or not is considered irrelevant selfishness. Under socialism, the individual is a rightless subject of the collective or commune, as represented by an omnipotent government. Unlike under capitalism, where the socialist true believer has a right to his values and to say no to capitalist principles, the capitalist true believer has no right to his values and no right to say no to socialist principles. Every individual is forbidden any choices the state deems its prerogative to override. It matters not whether the government is elected or not. Under socialism, the state owns every individual, since the underlying source of “the means of production” is the individual human mind. The nature of socialist government is omnipotence at the expense of individual sovereignty.

This, then, is the essential difference between socialism and capitalism: Socialism in any form—Marxist, fascist, communist, national, democratic, or whatever—is based on raw, brute, aggressive physical force, exercised on behalf of the “public interest” or “common good” by a government of unlimited power and scope. Capitalism is based on peaceful co-existence made possible by a limited individual rights-protecting government whose laws outlaw aggressive (initiatory) physical force among human relationships and uses force only to protect individuals and their rights.

The fools who go for Democratic Socialism are willing to give up their personal economic liberty in exchange for a virtually meaningless “right to vote” on how the means of production are managed;i.e., on how the government will control others, turning friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, citizen against citizen. Insofar as Democratic Socialism divides people into voting blocks, it is a regression to pre-civilized tribalism. Under capitalism, the people as individuals organize “the means of production” through their independent buying choices, employment/ business decisions, voluntary charitable giving, and other value choices—each according to his own self-interest while leaving others free to produce and trade as they see fit. Under socialism, all of that freedom is lost to government dictates; under Democratic Socialism, each of our economic rewards are determined not by our ability and the judgement of the free market, but by our needs as determined by whoever gains power by majority vote (see the fictional but all-too-real saga of the 20th Century Motor Company).

When a socialist and a capitalist stand face to face, the difference is stark. The socialist has nothing to fear from the capitalist, as the capitalist will leave the socialist unassaulted and free to pursue his values. The capitalist, though, has plenty to fear from the socialist, as the socialist is always scheming to figure out how he can coercively mold the capitalist to conform to the collective good, in complete disregard for the capitalist’s personal desires and values. As the self-proclaimed representative of the collective good, physical assault is the tool of the socialist. To the socialist, neither the capitalist or anyone else has a life worthy of moral consideration. To the capitalist, the individual life is the standard of moral consideration.

Respect for individual human dignity under live-and-let-live vs. intolerant armed aggression is the essential practical difference between capitalism and socialism. Which would you say is the moral social system? What would you like to live under—a socialist government led by a dictatorial pig named Napoleon or a constitutional government as envisioned but the Founding Fathers? I choose the Founders, aka capitalism, and in lieu of “Join the Coffee Party Movement,” freedom lovers should consider The American Capitalist Party.

Related Reading:

China’s Recovery from Socialism vs. Bernie Sanders, The Most Evil Politician in America

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