In Part 1 we looked at the importance of being able to correctly define the concepts of Capitalism and Socialism and in Part 2 we defined it. We also looked at the key difference between the two; namely that Capitalism is based on cooperation (voluntary trade) and Socialism is based on force.
Most people do not understand the force part of Socialism. They think it is people working in cooperation with one another, gladly and willingly lending a hand in order to provide equal results for all. Remember Karl Marx’ famous dictum: “From everyone according to his ability, to everyone according to his need.”
Lovely statement, isn’t it? Can’t you just picture all of these willing people lovingly sacrificing what they’ve produced and gladly handing it over to people they don’t know? Actually, there is a name for it when it is done willingly? It’s called charity. When done by force, it’s called Socialism. And, it doesn’t work. Never has, never will. And, the reason it won’t is based on human principles of action.
It’s like the person who studies hard all semester long while a classmate he doesn’t know sluffs off and parties. Our first student receives an A. The second student receives and F. Would you ever (and, please take this seriously, it is indeed an important question) . . . would you ever dare suggest that the first student take a C so that the second statement could also get a C? After all, everyone should receive equally, right? From everyone according to his ability (which includes effort) to everyone according to their need?
Same thing. People don’t like being forced to give up the fruits of their labor, and Socialism is exactly what we just witnessed in our make-believe classroom in the above example.
Good, well-meaning people, can argue between Capitalism and Socialism (any program based on government force). They can share their views, thoughts and opinions regarding how much force by government is needed to make a country work and to help people who cannot help themselves…That’s fine.
However, for the debate itself to be based on a correct premise, it must — it must — be acknowledged that Socialism IS based on force. Even the good that a government program might do better than could charity and the free market; it must be acknowledged and agreed upon that the program itself is based on force since the individual does not have a choice in the matter. Without that acknowledgement, there is not true premise for the discussion.
In a free (Capitalist) Society, you own your own life; you own yourself. In a Socialist Society, the government owns you and your life. Are you seeing the difference? It doesn’t matter that — in some instances, some person in some division of the government may know more than you about might be best in a certain area of your life. The government owns you and they own your children. The decisions are theirs, and you are powerless to resist. And, you are powerless to resist because it is backed by force. They ultimately decide where you can go and what you can do. Any individual rights you may have in such a society are given to you BY that government.
This is the opposite of a free society where you are free to make your own mistakes (and grow as a person) and reap the benefits of the lessons you learn. In this free society, you have all rights that are not expressly forbidden by the Constitution (see Amendment 9 in the Bill of Rights), and any powers that the government has over its citizens are GRANTED (not given) by the people, and can (theoretically) be reclaimed at any time. Freedom and liberty versus force.
Obviously, as a believer in Capitalism and an opponent of Socialism, I’ll suggest that government’s functions should be severely limited. Here is my Libertarian Creed, which can ONLY happen in a Capitalistic society (yes, individual liberty and Capitalism go hand-in-hand. When one of them is not there, neither is the other, despite appearances to the contrary):
“You have the right to live your life in whatever way you see fit,
providing that you don’t infringe upon anyone else’s right to do the same.”
(Okay, since someone is going to ask, “So, Bob, are you saying since I have the right to live my life however I see fit I can go rob someone?” Of course not. Please note the second half of the sentence. One’s rights can never infringe upon anyone else’s rights. On the other hand, in a Socialistic society, where no one actually owns anything, it’s a lot easier to be a thug.)
So, again: “You have the right to live your life in whatever way you see fit, providing that you don’t infringe upon anyone else’s right to do the same.”
Simple, right? Do you agree with this creed? I find that most people (even believers in big government) instinctively agree. And, yet . . . we’ve seen clearly that socialism is based on force. Quite a quandary, isn’t it?
Now, in case one is tempted to ask the questions that most people reflexively ask, such as “but in a truly capitalistic system, what will happen to the poor? . . . what about health care? . . . what about a safety net? . . . why can’t we have both Capitalism and Socialism so as to enjoy the best of both? . . . Please understand, we will get to that. Right now we are simply establishing a premise as to what these two economic systems are. That way, in our future discussions, we can always be sure we stay on point with one another and – when a difficult situation arrives, we can always go back and check our premises, thereby keeping ourselves on the right track.
Capitalism is based on cooperation. Socialism (meaning any government program that forcibly takes from one and redistributes to another) is based on force.
In the next article, we’ll see that not only does force not work nearly as well as cooperation; it is not even necessary, and actually hurts those it is supposedly intended to help.