Socialism successfully does just one thing: It fails. Always.

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Fayetteville resident Harold DeRienzo tried to stealthily argue the case for Marxian Political Economy in his letter published here on May 14.

The casual reader can take the time to refute the factual errors DeRienzo made. A more careful reader can even point out the disjointed logic in his arguments. But what is the point?

This conversation takes place daily on social media, and yet there are still hard-core proponents for the many-headed-hydra of socialist thought. The abject failure of socialism to achieve its desired ends is all the evidence anyone should need. But the socialist will simply protest that “true socialism has never been tried.”

Could that be because as you approach true socialism, the share of society that is either imprisoned or starved approaches 100 percent?

The fundamental flaw of Marx was the presumption that society involves the exploitation of one group of individuals by another. Marx’s fundamental claim is that the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat. Or, as DeRienzo stated “business entities … run the country.”

The precise mechanism by which this exploitation is accomplished is never very well defined, so the socialist instead turns to broad generalizations that propose a sinister and secretive alliance of powerful actors who work to subvert the interests of the people. Coincidentally, that is also the definition of a “conspiracy theory”.

Indeed, as pointed out by F. A. Hayek in his book “The Fatal Conceit,” socialism lacks any kind of framework which is able to account for all the myriad interactions which occur in an economy, and therefore cannot explain the outcomes in any other way except through conspiracy.

Something else that Marxism is unable to explain is the phenomena of charity. The Marxian model of continuous class struggle and exploitation is at a loss to explain why people freely give their money, time, and labor to humanitarian and social welfare causes while harboring no expectation of a return.

Marx made almost no attempts at an effective explanation for the broad efforts mounted by religious organizations in the West to alleviate the suffering of the poor and infirm, instead choosing to dismiss religion as yet another instrument of exploitation by the bourgeoisie.

In this context, he cynically denounced the Judeo-Christian tendency to view suffering as a consequence of being by writing that “religion … is the opiate of the people.” Marx, however, clearly didn’t find strength in his own arguments, since the essay containing this infamous line wasn’t published until after his death.

Contrary to the ugly Marxist model of society, the reality that we live with today and which is visibly evident in the interplay of society under laissez-faire free-market capitalism is this: people are good, people are kind, and people are beneficent. This is evident by the billions of dollars that flow to charitable organizations each year, or the millions of hours of volunteer time that is done in lieu of wages by everyday people. It is a fundamental aspect of the human condition that we experience empathy for those who are suffering, and we are compelled by our nature to help them.

Americans have historically rejected the nihilistic visions of socialists, and continue to do so today. Instead of the cudgel of tax policy by which the socialist seeks to fleece the productive class in order to buy the sympathy (and votes) of the downtrodden, Americans instead seek the freedoms to direct the surplus of their own labor to the causes they individually support.

Instead of a common treasury of the State as administered by technocrats, Americans look to the democratic act of organizing themselves voluntarily to address needs as they arise.

This is the spirit of freedom and democratic principles upon which our republic is organized, and the principles of Marxian Political Economy are antithetical to those principles. Therefore, we reject its call.

Andrew Krause
Peachtree City, Ga.

5 COMMENTS

  1. As a capitalist myself, I would not defend socialism as a grand economic and social design. However, Mr. Krause is guilty of dishonesty in arguing this worn out canard that socialism in all of its forms has failed. While citing only dictatorships, he misses the Scandinavian countries who seem quite happy with their form of limited socialism.

    I believe that unbridled capitalism in which a few people end up owning everything is just as dangerous as the unbridled socialism Krause describes. The beauty of our American experiment is that we have found the gray area between the two extremes and have applied the rule of law to prevent either extreme from predominating. When our middle class fails, our economy and lifestyles will fail with it. That is the danger of the present administration in Washington on the one hand and the left wing socialist politicians on the other.

    • There’s one glaring flaw in your baseless accusation of dishonesty here: the Scandinavian countries are not socialist by any stretch of the imagination. The fundamental basis of the Nordic Model is, in fact, a free market capitalist economic system that preserves private ownership of free enterprise. The system of government-run collective bargaining and social welfare that is instituted under the Nordic System is a fee-for-service arrangement by which citizens in those countries pay an elevated tax rate, but also enjoy broad access to free or low-cost social services. That is a far far different arrangement than Socialism. Bernie Sanders recently got a strong rebuke from the exasperated Prime Minister of Denmark for repeating this same worn-out canard.

      You are also painfully possessed of a glaring misapprehension about the American Experiment itself. As a Constitutional Federal Republic, the United States is (or ought to be, regardless of the ambitions of demagogues) agnostic about how the economy as a whole or in each state should be organized. If we were to return to the original construction of this nation, nobody would have to worry about what personality is in the Oval Office, and could rightly direct their attention to the personality in the Governors’s Office and the Mayor’s office. We must re-assert the idea that the power of our nation lies with the people; not with Washington DC.

      Danish PM in US: Denmark is not socialist – The Local (English Edition)
      https://www.thelocal.dk/20151101/danish-pm-in-us-denmark-is-not-socialist

      Nordic Model – Wikipedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model

      • Mr. Krause – I’m not sure we are as far apart as you think. You will notice that I am not defending socialism as a viable economic system, and I was clear that the Scandinavian countries were happy with their form of “limited socialism.” By that I mean government-provided healthcare, education, wage supports, etc. – the things Fox News watchers call “socialism.” Indeed, by right-wing definitions, our public education system is a form of their “socialism.”

        I stand strongly by my belief that unbridled capitalism or unbridled socialism both lead to dreadful consequences (oligarchy or 5% of the people with 95% the wealth in the former and draconian dictatorships like you describe in the latter).

        We do differ on the role of the federal government. I much more favor Hamilton’s comprehensive federal perspective than your Jeffersonian local one. In the 3 mile-an-hour world in which the founders lived and people rarely traveled more than 25 miles from their birthplace, Jefferson made more sense. Our states are far too intertwined now for this to be viable. Just image if you were required to gain a driver’s license in every state you traversed. Local leaders tend to acquire far too much power and establish little fiefdoms when not checked by overarching regulatory systems. Patronage becomes the model for government as it was predominantly in the nineteenth century when there was far more local control. Just look at the far right-wing ideology of our current governor who will extend government intrusion into a woman’s body and his designs to deliver Georgia back to mid-twentieth century morality.

        This Hamilton – Jefferson debate has gone on since Washington was commander in chief and they both served in his Cabinet. This is an ideological issue on which we could each advance many exemplars to bolster our cases. I favor a capitalistic economic system just as do you, albeit I’m more contented with legal regulations to keep the playing field more level.

        • Saying “limited socialism” is a pretty poor retreat from your previous position. For the government to participate in markets by providing products and services underwritten by taxpayer dollars is not at all a ‘socialist’ construction. This is a feint used by post-modernist neo-marxists to acculturate a population into accepting socialism in name without having to justify socialism in practice, and one that would be soundly rejected not only by Marx, but pre-Marxian Socialists like Owens or Fourier. And Fox News? Please.

          For whatever reason, you keep raising the issue of “unbridled capitalism” when nobody asks. This is also a misnomer. The phrase is a fairy tale and one created by Socialists themselves. In 1904, writing for the International Socialist Review (Vol 4. Pg 652), Max Hayes’s essay “The World of Labor” in which he had to find a way to explain the utter failure of organized labor to raise wages for miners. In a classic failure of institutional analysis (and as in my letter, the tendency of those captive to socialist thought towards Conspiracy Theory), he concluded that unbridled capitalism had managed to rob the workers of their surplus again somehow and that it would do the same again in other industries. The reality is that the workers themselves rejected wage increases because they understood that demand was falling in response to increased prices and that they would soon be out of work entirely but for accepting the prevailing wage the market could bear. And that reinforces the exact reason why “unbridled capitalism” is a fairy tale: capitalism itself is self-regulating through signaling mechanisms inherent in voluntary markets. Attempts by large institutions such as the government (or monopolies) to interfere with market mechanisms in order to effect an arbitrary outcome comes with disastrous consequences.

          At the end of the day, arguing for regulation is nothing more than saying “we can fix this mess we created ourselves by adding just the right amount of tyranny.”

          • Mr. Krause – Your faith in the market is far greater than mine. What is the role of government then? Should independent contractors build all roads and charge a toll for passage? Should justice go to the highest bidder? Should trusts be allowed to stamp out all competitors and then raise prices at will like the current pharmaceutical companies? Should education be withheld from those without money? Should the poor bleed out at the doors of the emergency room for want of insurance?

            You greatly underestimate the tyranny that markets alone can hoist upon a people. I will give you credit for being a pure ideologue for capitalism; it is just a bit naïve. Ask anyone unfortunate enough to live in an oligarchy, and they will help you understand the dangers of unbridled capitalism.