“I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate (the) grave evils (of capitalism), namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.” (Albert Einstein, Why Socialism)
I must admit, statements like the one above produce in me great sympathy…for devout capitalists. I end up thinking, how can such a genius be so stupid? It may sound good to the thoughtless, but the first question I have when I read what Einstein said is, whose “social goals” is our educational system to be oriented towards? Are we to be ruled by the wise? And who are the wise? Is it the scientist? The philosopher? The theologian?
Nazi Germany was a “National Socialist” movement that very efficiently educated the people toward social goals. In fairness, they were not the goals as presented by Einstein above. Never-the-less, I think my questions exhibit clearly enough the problem with socialism. There is within the ideas of the most high-minded and idealistic socialists no clear standard of right. (In fact, they deny the categories of right and wrong–in their words the problems caused by class division are “not a matter of good and evil or anything like that”). Nor is there a defined mechanism for enforcing their goals outside of the most idealized version of “democracy.” That is why socialism is open to–and has been the source of–some of the most horrid abuses in human history.
To show more clearly what I mean I turn to the World Socialist Movement’s “Declaration of Principles” (www.worldsocialism.org). We need go no further than the opening lines to begin to see the problem.
The stated objective is:
“The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.”
Again I ask, who determines those interests? Democracy can quickly deteriorate into the tyranny of a mob (or more likely tyranny at the hands of the one leading the mob) especially when entrusted with the job of determining the “interests” of the whole community. For instance, what if my interests are to farm a moderate sized piece of family land and sell the produce? The Socialists claim that shared ownership applies only to means of production and not to my home or clothing or toothbrush. What if my home is a family farm–a means of production? What if I love my land and love farming it? Can society take it from me? Or what of the small production company where the owner is the hardest worker? Socialism has no room for the self-employed, the family farmer, the small business man. Everyone must fit in the two categories–distant, greedy, lazy, non-producing owners or the laborers who produce everything and are cheated out of the benefits. See how easily, even when the democratic society of the united workers has control, that common hard-working people can be abused?
Still, the far greater evil of socialism is that it holds to a materialistic worldview. The idea that all the problems of life are matters of economic class is at best incredibly naive. The socialist claims that if we simply spread the wealth and socialize the means of production so everyone is socially invested and validated, then all the evils of the world will vanish. Take for instance this statement:
“What we need is a society that allows us to use our strengths, and that accepts and accommodates our weaknesses.
“Socialism will be a society geared to meeting human needs, and the need to be accepted for what we are is probably the most basic of human needs. When the breeding ground (capitalism) for these hatreds (racism, sexism, etc.) has disappeared, people will naturally be able to eradicate them with all the other negative leftovers of capitalism.”
How does the socialist scheme propose to end greed, jealousy, or hatred? A full stomach and social acceptance has been deemed by these wise democrats to be all we need. Yet socialists fail to see the basic reality that even if we could eradicate need we will never eradicate greed. After all, must we all have the same house? What if mine is prettier or yours has a better view? There is no end to the human potential for greed and jealousy. As Jesus said, “out of the heart come evil thoughts.”