Monday, June 5, 2017

The Fundamental Fantasy of the Left

Radical leftie Freddie de Boer has a piece out warning the left that the Iron Law of Institutions, the notion that people work to maximize their power within an institution rather than work for the institution, also includes a statement of lefty principle, which is worth quoting.
[S]ocialism is desirable in part because it’s only socialism that guarantees true freedom, the freedom to live and behave free of want. We’re the movement that can make people really free because once in power we can let them pursue their own interests free of hunger, homelessness, and so on.
Very nice. But who is going to provide "the freedom to live and behave free of want"? Oh, I see, it is "us," because "once in power we can let them pursue their own interests "free of hunger, homelessness, and so on."

This is reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi telling us how Obamacare would let artists and writers stop worrying about paying for health care, so they could get on with writing and painting.

But socialism doesn't remove the who-whom question that Lenin raised. It just concentrates it in the "once in power people," the "We." Someone has to produce the goods and services so that people can "live and behave free of want," and someone has to tell them what to do.

Actually, there is no world "free of want." We all want, and that is why we work in the world. The question is who-whom. Who works, who consumes, who gives the orders, who takes the orders.

The bigger question is whether there is a social system that minimizes the giving of orders, and limits the power that is brought to bear on individual humans to get with the program and produce so that others may consume.

It is the faith of the socialists or the "Democrats and liberals from the radical left, the political tendency [de Boer] belong[s] to" that peace and justice and freedom from want are enhanced by a socialist politics. I would say that their faith is a delusion, proved by the history of the last 100 years.

The only alternatives that we know of are a system whereby a market with prices for everything from labor to cough drops signals to each and every one of us what we should do (or more important, not do) to get what we want. The other system is one in which powerful people, either feudal lords or politicians and their socialist managers, tell people what to do.

We have some history on this. Starting in about 1800 a market-based system started up in some lands of northwest Europe. The result over 200 years was an increase in per-capita income of about 3,000 percent, something that had never happened before in human history, ever.

Starting about a century ago, a socialist-based system started up in the lands of Russia and China. The result was famine and horror, and the leaders of both countries have stopped trying to implement socialism, mainly, I suspect, because a poor country can't throw much weight around in international power politics.

Now Freddie de Boer allows as how in any week he probably attends an "organizing meeting, union meeting, or protest" and very likely more. In other words, he believes in the power of politics, of the power of a union to extract more for wage-earners from the bosses, and the power of a government to extract more for voters from the rich.

I have a fundamental problem with this, apart from the history, which is pretty clear. The whole point of social animals is to declare a zone of peace in which the use of force is avoided as much as possible. Usually this is achieved by hierarchy, where the bottom dogs cringe before the power of the top dogs; but at least there is no actual force, not usually.

In the market system of price signalling the top dog is the price, and everyone cringes before the price. That is how the use of force is diminished.

The problem with socialism and all politics-centric ideas is that they reintroduce force into the place of social peace. They say that the peaceful process of working and consuming according to the dictates of prices just doesn't work. The only way is by force, by replacing the work boss -- with the power of hiring and firing -- with the political boss -- with the power of the state, or men with guns.

It is the easiest thing in the world to pretend that what I do with power is just sweetness and light, whereas what other people do is the work of Satan.

But I believe that the way to understand politics and government is that there is no such thing as justice. Only injustice meted out by the chaps in power.

And that is why it is best that the people in power should always be thinking about what the people on the receiving end of their power think about it.

For some reason, people in power don't tend to think about this, not until it is too late.

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