“With dread” is the only sensible answer

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

If you’re a socialist, you have to be concerned that so many socialists before you defended totalitarian regimes as they committed atrocities, but you might say that the best socialists spoke out:

A reasonable position. I don’t want my views judged by the quality of the typical person who shares my label, either.

Still, this raises a weighty question: How should the best socialists react when they discover that a new socialist experiment is about to start? “With dread” is the only sensible answer. After all, the best socialists don’t merely know the horrifying history of the Soviet Union and Maoist China. The best socialists also know the psychotic sociology of the typical socialist, who savors the revolutionary “honeymoon” until the horror becomes too blatant to deny.

If dread is the sensible reaction to the latest socialist experiment, then how should the best socialists react to any earnest proposal for a new socialist experiment? It’s complicated. The proposal stage is the perfect time to avoid the errors of the past – to finally do socialism right. Yet this hope must still be heavily laced with dread. After all, socialists have repeatedly tried to learn from the disasters of earlier socialist regimes. When they gained power, disaster still followed.

That’s Bryan Caplan, by the way, and he continues:

At this point, it’s tempting to shift blame to the non-socialist world. Without American-led ostracism, perhaps Cuba would be a fine country today. Or consider Chomsky’s view that the U.S. really won the Vietnam War:

The United States went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason. They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that would have a virus effect – infect others who might try to follow the same course. There was a very simple war aim – destroy Vietnam. And they did it.

If Chomsky is right about U.S. foreign policy, however, the best socialists should feel even less hope and even more dread. Even if the next generation of socialists finally manages to durably build socialism with a human face, the U.S. will probably strangle it.

Personally, I’m the furthest thing from a socialist. If I were a socialist, though, I would be the world’s most cautious socialist. Socialist experiments don’t merely have a bad track record; socialist self-criticism has a bad track record.


  1. CVLR says:

    *The solution to this problem was to raise prices, slash wages, regulate everything, and undertake to demote the citizenry from owners to renters of property.

  2. CVLR says:

    You’re going to have to click “older comments” in order to see my reply.

  3. Sam J. says:

    CVLR says,”Sam, the backing is the value of your labor…”

    Eeeeehhh…labor value of money??? Not buying that. A guy with a shovel digs a ditch. A guy with a backhoe digs a ditch. Is their labor value equal?? Not really.

    Guy drives backhoe. Another guy repairs backhoe. Labor equal. No.

    I’m sure you get that so using labor as a principal just seems wrong.

    And no I’m not a gold bug. Guess I’m a basket goods value equivalence money value person. Big Macs seem to be cited as being relevant to the general value of a currency.

    Since the first big bank bail out some reasonable numbers for money given to the banks is $40 trillion. Where’s my, and every other Americans, 1% interest $114,285.71 loan??? All I got was the payment and none of the principal. Weimerica.

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