And Again, History Proves Socialism Does Not Work

 The level of and reason for the humor depends heavily upon which person you are in this.

One of the Utopian ideas of socialism is for everyone to be more equal, and for the government to take care of us all. The left continually decries the top 1% of Americans for owning so much of the wealth, and says that proves that capitalism is crushing us all.

Let’s take a look at Sweden, one of the most well known socialists countries on Earth. The top 1% owns 40% of the wealth in Sweden. Surely if wealth spread out among classes is the measuring stick of the success of socialism, Sweden must be far better than the U.S.?

In this Cato Opinion piece by Alan Reynolds, it turns out that the top 1% in the U.S. earns 20% of the wealth. And the statistics have been been put out time and time again that show this is not a static group, but the top 1% is a constantly changing dynamic of people.


68 Responses to “And Again, History Proves Socialism Does Not Work”

  1. 1 koll
    November 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    i hated this cartoon it made my kind of poor people beggers and i made my family cry because he got some spare change when my family and i have never gotten any. it made me feel like a bum.

  2. 2 Bill B.
    December 10, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I’m a middle of the roader. Sometimes I vote Republican, sometimes Democrat.

    When it comes to the left wing redistribution of wealth, that’s where the Dems lose me. Why should someone have to support others just because he is more successful than them.

    Most of the time people are poor because of the way they live their lives. Dropped out of high school, started drinking or doing drugs, just have a bad attitude about work and never goes the extra mile or for that matter the extra foot, doesn’t want to learn English, etc. While someone who is successful in most cases works harder and smarter, puts their life savings at risk to start a new company.

    What is the sense of penalizing the hardest workers in order to support the worst ones. In this country it is not hard to become middle class. Graduate from High School and learn a trade or go to Junior College, and then work hard at your job and 90% of the time you will make out well. If you have a crappy boss, quit that job and find another one. Getting ahead in America is not rocket science. It just requires a good attitude and hard work.

    • 3 Jacob
      September 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm

      Oh my god, you did not just say that! How dare you even think those things?! Are you prepared to walk up to a homeless man and say it’s his fault he lost his home? What will you say when he tells you that he went to college and had a good job, but his company decided to fire him to cut costs, then he got sick while he had no company insurance, then had to stop looking for a job to go to the hospital who left him with a giant bill, then got his home foreclosed because he stopped paying during the time he was out of work, and was forced to live on the streets because he had no family?

    • 7 DeniseR
      November 7, 2009 at 7:06 am

      Why does everyone like to use the term middle class? Did you know there is low class and lower class? Middle class are those who earn 200,000 a year and that’s a fact. You wont get anywhere close to middle class by just having a HS Diploma or a Trade School certificate.

      • 8 Dr D
        February 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

        Check you facts dude. The median household annual income for North America is approximately 50,000 a year. That is only one quarter of 200,000 and yes anyone with a two year degree and a full time job can attain this level of income if the effort is there!

      • 9 Rhonda
        February 24, 2010 at 8:53 am

        Not true. What are people who earn 100,000 per year? & you can get there with a high school diploma. It is just a little harder and takes longer. We did it.

    • 10 Jim Jones
      January 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      Bill B wrote:
      “While someone who is successful in most cases works harder and smarter, puts their life savings at risk to start a new company.

      What is the sense of penalizing the hardest workers in order to support the worst ones.”

      Bill – Your observation is precisely what the proponents of socialism believe: Reward those who work hard and produce.

      Bill Gates and Warren Buffet got to where they are because they worked their butts off. They should be rewarded. Paris Hilton, Spencer Pratt, and other spoiled rich brats got to where they are because someone in their family worked hard. They are no different than people who live on welfare.

      But the other parts of socialism – public ownership of goods & services – is deeply rooted in Western society. Isn’t it a good thing to have public lands where we can all fish, hunt, and hike? Where would we be without public roads, schools, fire departments, or police departments?

      Personally, I don’t agree with the cartoon. That’s not a depiction of socialism; it’s a depiction of smug ignorance. Personally, I don’t agree with a full socialist society either. I own a business and rental property, but I do like a society that rewards hard work over laziness – rich or poor.

  3. 11 socialist
    January 3, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Obviously you’re society is not elite enought to comprehend socialism. ignorance and propaganda cause societies to decline, and sadly this is propaganda.

    • 12 Travis
      September 1, 2009 at 10:30 am

      Shut the fuck up you ignorant botard. If taking from others against their will to provide for the lazy or unable to work is NOT the definition of socialism, then you tell me what socialism is. You make me sick.

      • 13 Durruti's Ghost
        December 19, 2009 at 1:24 pm

        It’s worker control of the means of production. I don’t know what “socialist” means by saying society isn’t “elite” enough to comprehend socialism, though. That sounds rather anti-worker to me.

    • 14 Caleb
      April 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      As Durruti’s Ghost pointed out, socialism is specifically OPPOSED to elitism. For socialism to work, it must be a movement of the people!

    • 15 Grey
      January 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Good name socialist, it precedes your ignorance creating a feeling of sympathy for your mental disability.

  4. 16 Brandon
    February 17, 2009 at 3:27 am

    This is a perfect example of what our county is doing. To you “socialist” first learn to spell and second socialism is a awful path for a nation to take. Simply look at the Canadians and their health care system.

    • 17 Jacob
      September 6, 2009 at 4:01 pm

      I have. Lots of people are happy because they pay less for more a more efficiant system. Also, Canada has much less homeless living on the streets. Canada is a truely messed up nation.

    • 18 Darrel
      October 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm

      I love when people on boards critique others’ spelling mistakes then fuck up themselves.

      “…is a awful…”

      So, to you, Brandon, either learn to type, or go back to grammar school.

    • 19 DeniseR
      November 7, 2009 at 7:10 am

      Well, just to let you know many people move to Canada because of the great health care system there is.

    • 20 Caleb
      April 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      Canada is not a socialist nation. There can be no such thing as a “socialist nation”. In order for true socialism to work, it must be a global system.

  5. 21 some guy
    March 2, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Thats interesting, because the last time i checked, this is capitalism illustrated

    • 22 Caleb
      April 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Agreed! Capitalism by definition is based on the exploitation of other human beings.

      • 23 Grey
        January 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        To Caleb the idiot? Try to learn to be specific. What kind of capitalism, like state capitalism, crony capitalism, fascism, or free market capitalism. Of course when people use a word as a catch phrase it becomes evident they haven’t a clue about it’s real meaning.

  6. 24 bw
    March 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    socialist, your an idiot.

  7. 26 Larry
    August 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Socialism just cannot work, look at our military. That system of “state owned” tanks and equipment just proves that it can’t work.

    Or the roads and transportation systems. Those obviously socialist programs don’t work, they should all be private toll roads. Why should people who don’t drive have to pay for those that do.

    Just on a side note. I know rich people, and I know poor people. And I would say in general. The poor people work much harder than the rich ones.

    • 27 Jacob
      September 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm

      Which is exactly why Socialism works! Generally, poor people work harder, so they receive more benefits as compensation. If you look at Black Water, you know why private contractors in the military are a bad idea. As for roads, toll roads made by private industries are also a terrible idea. Why should people pay to go on roads just to give the greedy extra money?

    • 28 Caleb
      April 14, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      Nothing would be “state owned” in a true socialist society as there is no government in a socialist society – you’re confusing socialism with state capitalism, which is often, but wrongly, called socialism.

  8. October 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I have seen the scenario illustrated above in both systems. The abuse of Capitalism has created an American health-care system that is greedy, bloated, and increasingly unaffordable. Big business is killing the health-care industry in exactly the same way that it is killing the Agriculture industry. Socialism on the other hand, is only as successful as the character and benevolence of the dictator administering it. In terms of justice and beneficence, it is not necessarily a political system that brings Hell into our lives but the values intrinsic to Hell that are practiced by those with the power to do so.

    • 31 monergist
      March 31, 2010 at 2:07 am

      Correction, socialism is only as successful as the character and benevolence of the *people* (not of “the dictator administering it”). Dictators become necessary only after socialism fails (as it always does). When the people stop feeling so benevolent as to have the majority of their hard-earned money taken in taxes and given away to those who do not work (whether able or not), they stop trying to earn money, and socialism collapses. Whenever we take hard-earned money from the working-class wealthy to grant benefits (“entitlements”) to the non-working, we ultimately penalize productivity and reward laziness (whether we intend to or not). The more people choose the latter over the former, the poorer socialistic societies like ours always become, until the system collapses and/or someone in authority steps in to *force* people to work. That is why the United States will not (cannot) remain a democracy/republic for long with our present trajectory. It has truly been eye-opening how easy it is to work the system and do nothing. I’m currently on food stamps with an income last year low enough to obtain the max EIC (earned income credit) on my tax return, and I have to tell you, there is absolutely no incentive for me to go back to work, no accountability, no one setting limitations or urging me to get back on my feet. My personal choice to look for a job is strictly out of my own principles, principles which I’m afraid are becoming rarer and rarer in society at large. I have a college-age cousin whose parents are divorced. His dad works a construction job while his mom does nothing at home and collects welfare. He’s faced with a choice: (a) work really hard like his dad for a living, or (b) do nothing like his mom and get it all for free. Currently he’s choosing the latter. And why not? Indeed, why not move-in with your girlfriend, have lots of kids and live off the welfare she’s consequently entitled to? When the majority of Americans begin to choose that option, there will be no more America.

      Socialism always seems humanitarian at its conception and birth, but when it reaches full maturity it is worse than anything capitalism could ever spawn. Capitalism may not be perfect, and there will always be the less-fortunate who slip through the cracks by no choice of their own, but no system can escape that. At least capitalism, on the whole, encourages productivity and creates a prosperous society for the majority.

      • 32 VaGJ
        April 12, 2010 at 6:20 pm

        So what the heck happened with the Great Depression? Was that just a flux? Or our current predicament? These Great Depressions happen wherever capitalism flourashes for a while. Pyramid schemes? The housing bubble? THAT is capitalism. Everything’s going great until there’s no one else to buy in. Not to mention monopolies. That’s why the government has to regulate.

        Which, by the way, happens to be the underpinnings of socialism. Socialism is REGULATED capitalism, in essense. And if you didn’t already know, that is ALREADY what America is. We are already a socialist nation. Name one thing the government doens’t regulate. Name ONE THING you do the government hasn’t stuck its finger into.

        Lifting a glass of water for a drink? That water was regulated to be healthy for you. See the waterfountains in school, in public buildings? Regulated. Everything about your life is regulated, from what you wear to what you eat; from what you do daily to what you drive on, with, in.

        Government regulation is so often referred to as “Big Brother” looking over your shoulder; if it weren’t for that awful “Big Brother” we’d have poisoned water supplies, roads that would be unsafe to drive one because no one is going to enforce any safety regulations. Capitalism only ensures that the business men have to be as good as their neighbors. How good the neighbors are is up to them, not the people; we can’t exactly boycott everybody until they do what we want them to; we’d starve because the food sources now-a-days are miles and miles away. We can’t regulate capitalism the way we can regulate the government. I don’t support communism in any way, shape, or form; but this isn’t communism. Socialism is just government-regulated business. And I, for one, enjoy not having to boil my water every time I drink it.

      • 33 Caleb
        April 14, 2010 at 3:45 pm

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. There has NEVER been a true socialist society. Were there to be, excess laziness would likely not be a problem. First of all, people would not need to work as long or as hard as the number of jobs in the world would go down by over 50% (accounting, politicians, security, etc.) and the workforce would likely increase (no prisoners kept from working because of property-related crimes, for example). Secondly, people would be able to do the work they desired, the work they were skilled at, suited for, and found pleasant. Few people are satisfied with living their lives on a couch.

    • 34 Grey
      January 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      The medical system in America is one of the best examples of the union between business and government , It in no way is an example of free enterprise. All these ideologies, socialism, fascism and communism incorporate government interference. Also known as extortion.

  9. 35 man x
    October 4, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Well we know capitalism is a failure of a system as well. So maybe if everyone calms down and starts actually trying to think about solutions instead of arguing constantly so they look good for one party, something might get done. But the rich want to stay rich and I doubt no one would ever vote for a mandate like “castrate every felon” b/c usually dumb breeds dumb at a rapid pace (just look at the growth of NASCAR and why alcohol sales almost never are hit by a recession.

  10. October 4, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    you all suck! why question what is ‘good’ for this society when we’re all going to die??

  11. 37 idkyet
    October 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

    because of the future, we want better for our children.

    • 38 Olavi Säkkinen
      October 30, 2009 at 10:08 pm

      True. Capitalism doesn’t work without mass unemployment. Capitalism doesn’t care about the unemployed, the sick, or any other kind of “weaker” person. Here’s an interesting detail:
      Capitalists usually are, or declare themselves christians. BUT, what is closer to christian principles than socialism.Nothing. Jesus Christ himself was the first socialist. Capitalism is for those who are greedy. Socialism is about integrity, solidarity, wellfare, taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves, those who are unemployed by capitalism, socialism is about democracy, about equality, about love for the idea of equality. Capitalism is about the love for the money.
      “Why should I pay to some homeless guy, he has caused he’s own problems?” You, or maybe with more chances, your children maybe in the same situation. We all are vulnerable. All we need is depression, and job cuts, and we are in the same position than the homeless man. Because we are all equal. Because we are all humans. People don’t always cause their own problems. In a country like U.S where you have to pay huge sums of money just to study in university don’t give the same starting positions to everybody, unlike here in Finland. Some children are born into poor families, and are not given the same chances in U.S. Other schools are more apreciated than others, and are not equal. Socialism is about equality. That all people are given the same rights. What is capitalism? Capitalism is class-diversity, about very rich, and very poor, about private schools, and public schools, about race-unequality, about opression of the poor, about not giving same chances to everyone, about Imperialism, as U.S foreign policy shows, Iraq, Afghanistan. About GREED. Socialism is not taking from others, that’s what capitalism is. Socialism provides equality.
      YOU MUST REMEMBER THAT socialism is a different thing than communism. Communism is extreme-socialism. Soviet Union didn’t provide freedom of speech etc.
      Most of nordic countries society structures, like all-equal, and money-free schools, colleges, universitys, women’s voting rights, are from Socialism, or from Social Democracy. Free schools, Multi-party systems, not 2-party systems, like in U.S( where there’s always a donkey or an elephant in lead( look at party signs)) are Socialism. Working Unions are Socialistic, Worker’s right’s are Socialistic. Human right’s are derived from Socialism, not from the conservative capitalism. Capitalism is about opression. People don’t cause their own problems, the Capitalistic Systems produces them. When U.S education is about who has the money to go to college, it’s not equal. All People should be provided with the same education and FREE EDUCATION as priority. All the fundamentalist organisations are born when there are problems and recession, poornes, unemployment.. And Americans complain about terrorism, which the capitalism
      has supported in other countries, against socialist, or other goverments. Vietminh was invented by Americans. Talebans were trained by Americans in the 80’s. Iraq and Iran was supported by Americans. Now U.S is in war with the other, and close to another war with another. Capitalism is about Greed, and money, oppression. Socialism is about the idea of integrity, about equality, about giving chances to everybody. About idea of christianity, about every other loving religion, Islam, Buddhism Etc.. About love. It’s idelogy of equality. Capitalism is an ideology of money. Socialism works. Communism doesn’t.

      • 39 Gil
        November 19, 2009 at 11:13 pm

        Capitalism is about the growth of wealth. Socialism is about one group being taxed much more than another group because they have more wealth. Socialism kills initiative in a country where we have a growing class of people who have a mentality that the government should take care of them.. It might work in the Nordic countries, but the Nordic countries are smaller and more homogenized.

        Capitalism also did not create the problems.. Issues outside of the state’s control created those problems.

        And if you are SMART and make good grades you can usually get a scholarship to college..

      • 40 Keltic Warrior
        February 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm

        Unemployment under Bush 4.5% Unemployment under Obama !17%

      • 41 Caleb
        April 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm

        @ Olavi – I appreciate that you’ve made some good points about the flaws within capitalism, but you should realize that Finland is NOT a socialist country – there is no socialist country in the world today.

        @ Gil – “Socialism is about one group being taxed much more than another group” Wrong. That’s just another form of capitalism. In socialism there is no taxation, because there is no money and no government.

      • 42 Caleb
        April 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm

        Oh, and Keltic Warrior, if you’re implying that Obama is a socialist, you are sorely mistaken – he’s just as capitalist as the rest of ’em, and he is not supported by the Socialist Party USA!

  12. 43 Olavi Säkkinen
    November 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    In previous text, by integrity, I meaned integration. Sorry , but english isn’t my native language.

  13. 44 dt0x
    December 26, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    “In this Cato Opinion piece by Alan Reynolds, it turns out that the top 1% in the U.S. earns 20% of the wealth. And the statistics have been been put out time and time again that show this is not a static group, but the top 1% is a constantly changing dynamic of people.”

    That is a FLAT OUT LIE!!!!

    Capitalism ONLY serves the Rich…. Its ok Capitalism is now showing its true colors….Wheres your Bail-Out, and Stimulus Package?

  14. 45 ali
    January 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    hahahahaaa x]

    no ned to swear& get all pissy here. lol

    but whats socialism really?

    • 46 Caleb
      April 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      Socialism is not what most people think it is – it is clouded by a lot of misunderstanding and propaganda. Usually, when people speak of “socialism” they are actually referring to state capitalism – Stalin, Mao, the USSR, that sort of thing. True socialism has nothing to do with any of that. Socialism simply involves the ownership of the means of production by the people, resulting in a classless, government-less, money-less society.

  15. 47 David
    January 29, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    The cartoon is not an example of socialism. In socialism, everyone gives a little, not one person stealing from another. That’s more like capitalism. We know capitalism doesn’t work. Congressmen cast their votes according to what will get them re-elected, not what will be more beneficial to the people they represent. Socialism seems good, and Olavi Säkkinen made one heck of a convincing argument. However, I don’t think we will get it perfectly right any time soon. Greed and injustice will always be affecting us and our governments as long as time exists.

  16. 50 CCCP
    February 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    America, land of the needy and greedy.

  17. February 18, 2010 at 5:22 am


  18. 52 qwert
    March 8, 2010 at 2:40 am

    America is slowly becoming into Capitalism and look where we are, recession and possibly Great Depression. Many people cannot find jobs and it’s not their not fault. If socialism dominates capitalism in America, people would find more opportunities to find job without having to worry about bankruptcy or any kind of tricks that the government can potentially take away their home. A lot of people lost their homes and still are loosing their homes because of capitalism. Powerful corporation and Stock marketing are basically in control of our economy. Funny how most of the people agree on capitalism are rich and republicans. Socialism is definitely not the same as communism. This is only my opinion and my opinion might be wrong to others.

  19. March 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Most people over 100k a year “especially Wall Street” supported Obama…this is

    FACT! And this is why he “Obama” neglects creating jobs and opportunties in the “Black”

    communities as well as the working class “white” communities and his

    redistrbutation plans is mostly all “Corporate Welfare” to the Elite class that

    would just assume see all of us equally dependant on them and their bought off

    Political class!

    … The the fools both white/black ” the

    street soldiers” if you will “of the Left” are the dregs of humanity being

    controlled by the same Corporate entities they claim they hate so much. Marching with their Anti-Capitalist, tune right into slavery because they are freeloaders who think theyre entitled! …That been lied too ❤

    …thats where folks who arent a part of this "Elite class" of Lawyers,
    Bankers and Politicians DO NOT undertand where will they be in the Caste

    when the cast is dyed

    • 54 Caleb
      April 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Although your wording is a bit tangled, you’ve made a good point. The left, while perhaps posing as anti-capitalist, is just as capitalist as the right. Both the Democratic Party and Republican Party exist to protect the interests of the capitalist class, not the working class.

  20. 55 JG
    March 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    For those intellectuals that think they are all knowing. Here is a perspective from a real intellectual who made some valid points in this article.

    Why Socialism?
    by Albert Einstein

    This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949).

    Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

    Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

    But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

    Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

    For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

    Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

    I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

    It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

    Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

    It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

    Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

    If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

    I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

    The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

    For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

    Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

    The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

    Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

    This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

    I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

    Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

    Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

  21. 56 JG
    March 16, 2010 at 12:00 am

    We need to be very careful when a society privatizes, politicizes, and subjects a capitalistic approach to healthcare, education, and security. These sectors of a civilization should not be leveraged by profits or special interests. Just knowing that my son or daughters health, security, or education is directly impacted by a profit margin or dollar sign is scary. knowing that there are people profiting from these sectors and making decisions purely based on dollars when interacting with our children is shameful. There is a place for capitalism, albeit while regulated to a reasonable degree, so to keep accountability and transparency alive. This still doesn’t remedy the problem, we still have corruption, and most of it is between politicians and private sector people that leverage money and power to get what they want. This aspect of our society is really a big problem, it makes capitalism look bad.

    In theory, capitalism should be a well oiled machine. However, the internal mechanisms of capitalism with its dependency on government (to a certain extent) creates a very volatile environment. If we were all robots and can fight temptation, capitalism would probably work well for the sectors I mentioned above.

    I also feel there should be limits on senate seats and in congress. This phenomenon of having 10-20 year senators and legislators is ridiculous. Having a career politician just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s this system that has hurt us primarily, we see people do almost anything to get a seat in congress or in the senate. If terms were shorter you would focus on passing more laws benefiting your city town, state etc… The longer you stay the more alluring the deals become.

  22. 57 Patrick O'Neil
    March 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    The guy in the middle is a banker.

  23. April 1, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Instead of mis-using the word socialism why don’t you coin a new ism to describe what you’re really trying to illustrate? All you have to do is look in the dictionary for the definition of socialism and it will be clear that it does not mean ‘redistribution of wealth’. I know the Right takes pride in being anti-intellectual but that doesn’t mean you have to be an ignoramus – just pick up a dictionary and/or a encyclopedia and look it up for yourself!

    • 59 monergist
      April 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      How about this ‘ism’:

      • 60 Caleb
        April 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

        Monergist, more propaganda. There would be more freedom in a socialist society than in our current capitalist society. There would be no government, no system of coercion employed by the capitalist class. The PEOPLE would have control of the means of production, not a gang of oligarchs.

  24. 61 Caleb
    April 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    The author of this blog obviously lacks a proper understanding of socialism. First of all, there is no money in a socialist society. Second, Sweden is not a socialist country – there is no socialist country in the world nor has there ever been.
    Know what you’re talking about, then criticize, if you feel the need:

    • May 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Your version of socialism, still amounts to voter control and democracy. The Greek states of ancient history long ago showed us that democracy does not work. Humans are not equal and limiting the strong does not strengthen the weak, it weakens all of humanity.

      Further, your system is totally idealistic, there is no way to abolish capitalism, we will always seek ways to trade with each other in what ever way best benefits us INDIVIDUALLY. The paper you linked adheres to the false anarcho-communism model that has no basis in reality and thus can never exist. – There is no means to induce all people to behave as you would like them to behave and such a model requires us all to treat each other as equals – this runs counter to the nature of man and the the nature of all life.

      Capitalism, on the other hand is about free markets – it is totally about anarchism and being truly ‘right wing’ in nature it has no need of government monopoly to control it – critical to understanding capitalism is to understand that it acts as a *natural system* acts – it is thus molded by the ‘invisible hand’ i.e. nature itself and not other men.

      The counter of such is when we allow monopoly, as such are always introduced by people claiming to be ‘socialist’ – so it’s no wonder that everyone identifies government with socialism. Your different definition on what socialism is in reality pure fantasy and fanciful thinking.

      There is no means to ‘ban’ money! There will always be trade amongst men – how many trials of prohibition on *name-your-vice* do we have to have before we realise that it never works! Prohibitions only create black markets, and introduce violence to the marketplace. A total prohibition on trade is total folly.

      What we need to eliminate suffering in this world is *sound* money – and a sound monetary system that doesn’t promote corruption.

      Capitalism in the early days of the republic, before the bankers and monopolists took over government worked very well.

      I’ve looked at your links, so please to return the favor by learning how money *currently* works and how it drives super-exploitation – check out the “money as debt” vids on my youtube channel:


      Also have a look at my forum on alternatives to our corrupted monetary system:


      If we can take back the monetary system and reduce government back down to a size where it can perform it’s intended duty of protecting the rights of the individual, we will be on course for a new Renaissance.

  25. 63 Liam
    May 13, 2010 at 9:40 am

    The National Health Service in the UK is a socialist invention which functions so well that no Political Party could get elected if they threatened to dismantle or replace it.

    Capitalism should be restricted to retail – the essentials (utilities, health, education and others) should be run and owned by everyone.

    A life spent in the pursuit of money is no life at all.

  26. May 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm


  27. 65 bobojenkins
    May 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    this doesnt make sense, how could sweden be in the same predicament as us yet they dont practice capitalism and we dont practice socialism

  28. 66 The Swedish Socialist
    June 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    You certainly don’t know a shit what you talking about…

    I’m from Sweden, I’m swedish, I live in Sweden. Do I live in a socialist nation? No I don’t, cause we practises the capitalism system as much as you guys across the Atlantic do.
    However, the difference is that we do help out the poor helpless people in another way. But the truth is that even the social democratic party has given up the quest for socialism. Instead it is the welfare state, with universal healthcare, education, unemployment insurance and stuff like that, that is on the agenda.

    Your problem in America is that you think the so called “free market” can fix everything, a universal tool. Obviously, that isn’t the case.

    Myself? Yeah, I’m a socialist, I think our economy has gone way to far in the wrong direction the past 20 years. To far to the right, that is. But at the same time I’m very happy that I was born in Sweden and not in USA. If I would have been born in USA, I would probably be like you, ignorant, naive and brainwashed by non public service media that does everything in it’s way to maintain stability. And stability in a companies mind is to maximize profit, to maximize the capital extraction of the poor and to survive. A privately owned media company cannot be objective.

    You probably don’t even know that the “facts” told to you on prime time by a “political expert” is pure propaganda? Cause it’s actually what it is. Obama is as much socialist as the king of Sweden. Sweden is not a socialist country, I wish it was but it isn’t.

    In order for socialism to work, it needs to be practised all around the world, or at least all around Europe. That isn’t the case right now, but when the time is ready, we all will get a better world, where no people are poor and where the earth can survive. Capitalism might be a creative ideology, but it’s also a destructive ideology. The climate crisis (which you guys over there probably still denies) can only be solved with socialism, for with socialism it’s the long term stability that is put in the first place, not profit.

    Long live socialism. Long live the legacy of Marx.

  29. 67 Thomas
    July 9, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I have not read the whole thread Because it was quite long. But I’m from Sweden and if I compare how I live in Sweden in relation to my friends in the U.S.. Then I have a lot better. I had free food when I went to school, free healthcare, you have to pay $ 100,000 if you want to read at university I do it for free. I will not be homeless if I become unemployed. I have five weeks of paid vacation. The list goes on.

    Americans may have higher salaries but when they have paid for Schools healthcare’s and so on they left with less.

  30. August 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Socialism never had worked and never will work. Look at all the countries that tried socialism. Where are they? They all collapsed. As a fact for a country to survive you need people to work. In socialism unemployment is good because people are dependent on the government. Dependency is Bad and makes lazy people more lazy. Why work in socialism if you can get welfare checks, food stamps, ect. Socialism in fact punishes the smart and creative people and rewards the stupid lazy scum of society. There in fact never been a 100% socialistic country because they collapse before they reach that point. The 1 reason the socialistic like countries collapse is high unemployment, Useless spending in large amounts, and debt. Check it out. America theoretically is collapsing. Americas unemployment is going up. Osama Obama keeps making and passing dumb spending bills which all have failed, which brings up the debt that has almost doubled under obama socialistic views. So I conclude my lengthy post to say Socialism will never worked. Free Market Capitalism is the way to go.

    PS I have not even graduated High School yet. I had to read on my own and teach myself. Our public education system is horrible by the way.

    You need to congratulate creative, hard working, smart people with higher pay. That person earned it. Homeless and lazy people are scum.

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