Libertarian radio show host Tom Woods posed a question (32:24), why does socialism have such enduring appeal, despite its supposed failures? His guest, economist Dr. Kristian Niemietz responded,
Niemietz: Well there’s a lot to be said for the theory that socialism is hardwired into us. That our economic intuitions are all fairly socialist. We often extrapolate from the kind of economy that our ancestors — our hunter gather ancestors — were living in, where economic activity is collective activity. You have the group deliberately, consciously collaborating, doing something together, and then sharing the spoils and that is a political act. And the kind of modern economy that we have today, a much more complex economy, guided by anonymous mechanisms is just counter intuitive. There is something in us that militates against that. That would also be the reason why almost no free marketeers, at least I don’t know any free marketeers, who have always been free marketeers. Appreciation for free markets is an acquired taste. It’s something you learn about by reading Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek. It’s not that you just feel instinctively that you are a free marketeer. It’s something that you convert to later. Socialism is just a default opinion. You don’t have to read Marx or Engels to become socialist. You can have socialist instincts, and then you can later read Marx and Engels to express it in more clever sounding ways.
Niemietz makes an important point. “You don’t have to read Marx or Engels to become socialist” because everyone is naturally socialist. This means humans have evolved the best way to flourish as a community. This is an excellent example of the Primal Divisions of nature from society, neighbor from neighbor, and woman from society. The masses must deny their nature in order to serve the ruling class. They must forsake each other for easier ruling management. Woman must be down graded and stripped of natural authority as mother, making it easier to discard socialism in favor or the harsher impulses.
The Primal Divisions are necessary because cooperation is more effective for group survival and success than competition. The aspiring ruling class must therefore break the power of the unified community. A healthy harmonious society is more difficult to conquer than a divided one. Thus a fundamental alienation and mistrust must prevail in order to dominate. Being instinctively distasteful, the “free market is an acquired taste”. Could we translate that from Profit Logic into English as “the masses must be breed to accept the free market”?
The socialist instincts of cooperation must be interfered with and warped by social divisions and sectarianism. The socialistic society is a healthy society. But whereas something like morality is readily accepted as an evolutionary development for the benefit of society, socialist “intuition” is shunted aside to “protect” the ruling class. We put protect in quotes because in the long run it is unhealthy for the masses to prioritize profit, ie ruling class interests.
(Note that Niemietz says the economy is “guided by anonymous mechanisms”. That certainly sounds better better than “guided by capitalist ruling class”, doesn’t it? Is it any wonder that “there is something in us that militates against that”?)
The host agrees with his guest’s claim that socialism is natural.
Woods: Right. And I think that’s generally what happens. And not to mention, not to say that people around us, or the establishment in the U.S. is Marxist — I think that’s too simplistic to look at it that way — but they will say things that superficially do sound like they’re at least in sympathy with, if not violent revolution, which Marx didn’t necessarily say in all cases was necessary . . .
Yada, yada. We would love nothing more than to agree with these gentlemen, to blame the failures and destruction of society on Marxism. But, alas, it is too absurd for the Preservation Society to pretend Marxists are doing this. It is also dangerous for social health.
Can Our capitalist masses be so pathetic? Don’t they know We hate the comfortable middling classes most of all? They still don’t know that socialism would only help them. It is not exactly a secret. Is it not an embarrassment not to know that the whole system is profit making and that big profit is king?
It would only be insulting to the individual who believed it to say you have to be a delusional idiot to pretend socialists are running the country. It is sheer lunacy. We, the “elites”, rob the masses in broad daylight and they will still support Us. But in a way, their misunderstanding is understandable. To the free marketeer the ruling class is a communist stronghold because the latter don’t want competition, because they pursue concentration of power, are rent seeking, and they accomplish most of this through government. These ills are blamed solely on government, not the profit making puppet masters.
Woods tells us that in order to understand the free market one must “thirst for knowledge”, or, he says incredibly, “you have to be a practical person who lives in the real world, have a job, or own a business”. Woods contradicts himself. He believes, along with Niemietz, that socialistic “intuition” is natural, yet claims one only needs practical sense to understand the free market. Which is it? Or does he believe socialists don’t have jobs or live in the “real world”. What about the poor? Do they? Perhaps living in the real world is what’s making socialism so popular. The “real world” of Woods is not real at all. It is the establishment, a world which, according to free marketeers, would flourish were it not for that pesky all powerful government.
How long will it take for the alienated masses to rediscover their true nature? It is only in your best interest.