Socialism and Unicorns

I’m sorry, but it’s just hard for me to take people that talk about socialism seriously.  If I said I believe in government by unicorns” you would laugh at me. But socialism is no more connected to reality than unicorns are.

The central promise of Socialism is that it removes greed from the economic decision-making process – it’s an economic system that rejects greed as a motivating principal. It does this by ending private ownership of the means of production. Instead of a capitalist owning and operating a factory to advance his or her own interests – to satisfy their greed – the government owns the factory, run by professional managers that are making decisions for the good of all instead of their own self-benefit. That really is the core belief of socialism – if we end private property we end greed and its distorting effect on our economy.

Except.. it doesn’t. Ending private property doesn’t end greed. Because there is benefit from controlling the means of production, even if you don’t own the means of production. If I run the factory, even if I don’t own it, I still receive a wide range of economic and non-economic rewards. I get to hire my friends and relatives. I get to make life miserable for the people I don’t like. As the factory manager, I need to visit suppliers in different countries, or go to trade shows. I need to give my product to my friends first, so I can better understand what people want. As a factory manager, I can accumulate more and more power, expanding my factory or taking over management of other factories. And the more power I have, the more rewards I have.

Greed doesn’t end, just because you can’t own the factory you manage. This is the critical theoretical flaw in socialism. Its whole premise is based on the ability to end greed. But even in theory, it doesn’t do so – it doesn’t end greed. It just closes off one channel for greed, and greed flows elsewhere. This is why every country that tried socialism failed. It wasn’t because they were doing it wrong. It’s because socialist theory has this giant flaw – ending private property doesn’t end greed. The people that ran factories under Socialism were just as greedy as the people that run factories under capitalism. They just pretended they weren’t. And this is why people that call themselves socialists are hard to take seriously.  The only way to consider oneself a socialist is to ignore the failure of every country that tried socialism, and to ignore this giant intellectual flaw. The only way a person can claim to be a socialist is delude oneself into thinking that ending private property ends greed.

So why does anyone claim to support socialism? My perception is, it seems like it lets them feel morally superior. It allows them to say “Oh, well, I believe in an economic system that rejects greed and is based on a higher purpose. I want a better world”. Yes, my perception is that people that call themselves socialists lie to themselves so they can feel morally superior.

I’m sorry, but I’d have more respect for you intellectually if you just called yourself a unicornist.

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