Punchinello’s Chronicles

September 26, 2008

Socialism has Collapsed

Filed under: Butterfly Wings — Punchinello @ 11:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

For the past 100 years or so, there have been two basic ideas about how societies should work. The “work” part means the economy of those societies, and how property and knowledge can be owned, bought and sold. On the one side has been capitalism, differentiated or opposed by communism and socialism.

America and much of western civilization has moved toward capitalism. That means individuals own the fruits of their own minds. Individuals can own property, including intellectual property. To own something means to be able to sell it and keep the profits from that sale.

On the other side of the equation has been the erstwhile Soviet Union, much of Asia (led by the People’s Republic of China), the Third World nations (many of them), and large political parties in Europe. Communism has seemed like a great idea, with poor people everywhere wishing they could get a piece of the pie through the use of a gun.

The problem is that China saw that communism doesn’t work. They changed the way they do business back in the 1970s, leaning closely toward capitalism. The Soviet Union simply couldn’t compete anymore, and communism imploded.

How come? What’s the philosophic problem?

Ecomonists seem to believe that communism and socialism are based on certain premises, which in turn are based on what they see as human behavior, attitudes, beliefs, and human nature. The main assumption is that the natural human behavior is to want to help people around them in society.

Those economists now say that a more accurate and realistic proposition is that the natural human motivation is greed.

Unfortunately, most economists aren’t philosophers and don’t really see much difference between the term “greed,” and the concept of “self interest.” Ayn Rand made it even more specific, delineating the opposite of altruism as being “rational self interest.”

Regardless of the rationality or not, self interest does NOT automatically mean greed! When I eat dinner each evening, it’s in my self interest to continue to eat. Partly it maintains my health, but it also supports my life. On the other hand, if instead of eating a burger and some fries I eat a whole chicken, that’s greed.

Greed is a desire (human behavior) to accumulate excess; to accumulate more than one needs or even wants. It means to have no stopping point or exit point. Greed leads to never-ending accumulation regardless of any rational utilization of that accumulation. That’s not at all the same thing as self interest!

Capitalism functions on the basic concept that human beings will only act when they see a personal benefit to those actions. In a society, where everyone chooses and wants to be part of that society, such things as charity, helping neighbors, doing favors and other forms of helping eventually come down to self interest. Who would want to live in a society littered by dead bodies, or where starving people attack anyone in the area?

It sure would be nice if economists and their theories of how to build a better world and economy would get with the program. Human beings aren’t naturally greedy! Nor are they naturally altruistic — meaning we help people based on their needs and for no other reason whatsoever.

We’re natually sociable, but we each of us wants to live a better life, enjoy more fun, and get a fair shake in things. It isn’t a binary choice of altruism or greed! Greed isn’t the natural opposite of altruism! Self interest, with a pretty solid sprinkling of rational thought is the natural human condition. “Greedy capitalists” means that some capitalists are greedy, but not all greedy people are capitalists!

Ya gotta wonder though, why half the country wants to vote for a socialist? Mr. Obama would lead those people toward an American Socialist Republic, despite the fact that pretty much everywhere in the entire world that it’s been tried, it’s utterly failed. Maybe those people just don’t read anything?

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2 Comments »

  1. Or maybe ‘those people’ are being fed a heavy diet of media sound bites instead of sound logic and nutritional reality. Maybe history is being rewritten by media moguls and their star performers before it has time to hit the virtual air and sound waves. During WWII and the Cold War, that was known as propaganda, a tactic used to gain control of the populace. Fortunately, the ‘vox populi’ will be heard in November when we elect the next President of the United States, which is for now still a free country.

    Comment by Unavocce — September 26, 2008 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  2. I think another fatal blow has been the “tipping point” of blogs, alternate news channels (the Web), and the number of people now connected via broadband. What used to be a small minority voice of thought, news, and opinion, has become just another group—the mainstream media. That implies a non-mainstream media, and there’s where you have talk radio and every other online source (accurate or not).

    Comment by Punchinello — September 26, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Reply


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