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It's time to finally send socialism to Hell
In a just and sensible world declaring yourself a socialist would be met with the same disgust that declaring yourself a Nazi engenders among those of good conscience, but unfortunately not even murderous ideologies get their just desserts. Writing in the Washington Post, Elizabeth Bruenig says that "it's time to give socialism a try." It would not be unreasonable to assume that it was a Washington Post editor who came up with the title for Bruenig's column and conveniently left off an illuminating and highly relevant last word: "again."
"It’s time to give socialism a try again" may not roll off the tongue as well, but it is more accurate. Believe it or not, socialism has been tried many times over. We have several real world examples of socialism being implemented, socialists cheering, inevitable shortages and starvation, repression and mass murder of civilians, and socialists suddenly declaring that it was never real socialism in the first place. The Soviet Union, Cuba, China, North Korea, and Venezuela to name a few countries that have suffered under the absurdities of socialism.
The economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out in an essay from 1920, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, that socialism is fundamentally flawed as an economic model because, given "public" ownership of all goods, there could be no rational calculation of prices for any goods, and so it would be impossible to rationally determine how any particular good should meet its most productive use, that use which would be most profitable and thus most highly desired in a free market economy, in the socialist economy. What this means is that the socialist central planner, however conceived, would have no way to judge how resources should be allocated within the economy, and the arbitrary decisions that would be made would inevitably lead to disaster.
Bruenig's argument, however, really has nothing to do with economics whatsoever, but rather rests on vague inanities about the nature of capitalism backed up by nothing. She asserts that capitalism "encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws," or that under capitalism "everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual."
Ludwig von Mises, on the contrary, writes in his magnum opus Human Action:
A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.
Where Bruenig blames "capital" for perceived breakdowns in society (Which is really only to be found in the political realm, which is the opposite of capitalism), Mises says it's exactly the opposite. As previously pointed out, socialism is entirely unsustainable as an economic model, and it's when socialism inevitably begins to breakdown and you have deprivation, starvation, and suffering among the people that society begins to disintegrate. It's when you're suffering and hungry that you stop worrying about your fellow man because you're too concerned with getting food in your own stomach. Individuals and families become atomized when they don't know how they're going to feed their children or when they're afraid that the state is going to come along and arrest or even murder them if they try to feed themselves or their children outside of state-sanctioned means.
Under the abundance of capitalism, however, where even most of the poor among society have access to basic amenities like air conditioning, television, and refrigeration, society can flourish as people in general become more wealthy by cooperating peacefully with one another on a free market. And it's in a state of abundance that people feel free to be charitable toward their fellow man, when they can turn their attention to the problems of others without worrying about their own basic survival.
This is why the nature of capitalism is inherently social; the voluntary exchange of goods implies that there are other people to exchange with. The straw-men that Bruenig creates and the vices that she lays at the feet of capitalism are completely at odds with this undeniable fact. The fact that Bruenig can't differentiate between politics, where people use force to take from others (Hence the social unrest she claims to lament), and the free market, where people voluntarily exchange goods with one another for the enrichment of all, means she's probably not qualified to speak on either, which is to say nothing of her shilling for a disgusting ideology that meant suffering, terror, and death for millions of people and still does for far too many people today.