Thursday, March 5, 2009
Is Socialism ‘natural’? Is It in Harmony with Human Nature?
It’s often been argued that capitalism accepts human nature for what it is whereas socialism tries to change it. Capitalism is realistic whereas socialism is idealistic. Capitalism believes that human nature is essentially unalterable, socialism believes ‘human nature’ is but the product of social conditioning(or, it’s innately noble before being perverted by an unjust society).
Capitalists say that people are, by nature, self-interested, even greedy. This basic fact can be suppressed but not rooted out or changed. If suppressed, it undermines the very part of man that makes him industrious, ambitious, innovative, and creative. Most people work hard or take risks because for reward. If people are not allowed to work for gain and glory, they won’t be motivated. So, for wealth to be produced, capitalism is the best way. It doesn’t suppress human nature of self-interest or even greed. Rather, it channels and controls our nature through a system of laws and ethics.
Socialists long disagreed with capitalists. They believed man can be conditioned or ‘socially engineered’ to work for the ‘common good’; we could all be trained to work for social or moral incentives than for material incentives. This was the idea behind productive socialism, and it has either failed or seriously underperformed relative to capitalism everywhere. Some socialists admit that ‘moral incentives’ aren’t productive but still defend their moral value. But, most socialists have rejected socialism as a productive economic model. Most of today’s socialists are distributive than productive. They understand that capitalism produces wealth much faster and in greater amount than socialism does. Therefore, the purpose of socialism is not to replace capitalism but to feed off capitalism to support policies for the ‘common good’.
The question I want to raise if distributive socialism goes against human nature. Productive socialism certainly does. But, couldn’t one argue that distributive socialism gels well with human nature? Humans are, by nature, self-interested and greedy, true. But, humans are also, by nature, envious. It could be argued that envy is a form of self-interest and greed. When a child sees that another child has more cookies, he wants some of those cookies. When someone sees that his friend has a much bigger house, much more money, and enjoys more luxury, he wants the things his friend has. Envy is natural. And, envy is the heart of distributive socialism. (To be sure, envy also serves capitalism. People work hard because they want to keep up with the Joneses. People bust their butts so they can dress fancy and drive expensive cars like rich folks do. For talented people, envy drives them to harder work, greater ambition. But, some people are either too lazy or too dumb to succeed. Their envy has little or limited productive value. A poor smart envious Jew can use his brains and make millions in several years, but a poor dumb goy will make peanuts no matter how hard he tries. He just doesn’t have the natural talent to succeed like smart folks. Similarly, a Mexican-American can train all he wants, but he’s not going to the NBA; he wont’ enjoy money and chicks professional athletes do. This is where envy is served by distributive socialism. For masses of dummies, it’s the easiest way to get a ‘piece of the pie’.)
Good or bad, distributive socialism may well be very much in harmony with human nature. Productive socialism isn’t mainly based on envy; at best, it’s based on pre-emptive envy--creating a society where no one will have more than others and thus no reason to envy others. Productive socialism is based on the idea of collective effort. It’s the idea that wealth should be created together by everyone, and since everyone created it together, everyone should get an equal share.
But, everyone knows that capitalism produces far more wealth than productive socialism does. This is because capitalism channels and harvests the energies of human nature rather than suppressing them. But, it must be said that distributive socialism also channels human nature. Distributive socialism is not productive, but it may play a role in bringing forth a degree of social co-existence between the have-mores and have-lesses based on the ways of human nature.
Suppose there’s a kid is hired by his uncle to paint the fence. The kid is paid and buys 20 chocolate bars. His brother wants some and throws a tantrum. All chocolate bars rightfully belong to the kid who painted the fence and bought them with his money. He worked out of self-interest, very much in line with human nature. And, he bought yummies to satisfy himself in keeping with human nature.
But, it’s also natural for the brother to feel envious and throw fits of jealousy because his brother has all the candy. Suppose the jealous brother was never hired by the uncle, can’t find means to earn money to buy candy, or is too lazy to work at odd jobs. Suppose the parent finally steps in and tells the brother with the 20 chocolate bars to give 3 to his brother. Fair or unfair, that may restore peace in the house. The brother who worked and earned his money still gets to keep the lion’s share of the candy. The envious brother is partly satisfied because he got something than nothing. And, the parent can finally get some peace in the house without the two kids bickering and fighting constantly.
Or, consider the natural world. Animals are, by nature, self-interested and ‘greedy’. Animals hunt for keeps, but there’s no rule that says an animal is limited to his own kills. If a bear comes upon a kill felled by wolves, the bear will try to take it. Hyenas and lions raid the others’ kills. Packs of hyenas try to take the kills of other packs of hyenas. Prides of lions do the same with other prides. All predators do this. They take whatever they can. Animals hunt for their own kills but also take others’ kills. Whether we call it hunger, envy, or greed, animals want something through effort or no effort at all. In some cases, animals fight eachother to the death over kills. Or, an animal or a pack will retreat when confronted with stronger animal or larger pack. But, this isn’t always the case. There are times when a kind of crude ‘distributive socialism’ prevails among the beasts.
For example, suppose a pack of wolves fell a large bison and start feastingt. We could say they ‘produced’ a kill. Suppose a bear comes along and wants the kill. It could be said the bear is ‘envious’ of the kill. Though the bear didn’t ‘produce’ the kill, he wants it just the same naturally. Now, three things can happen. The bear can drive out the wolves, or the wolves can drive out the bear. But, in rare cases, the bear and wolves, though unhappy and growling at one another, may decide to ‘share’ the kill. If the bear and the wolves are evenly matched, they may sense it’s best to feast on the kill together even while maintaining a certain distance and constantly growling at one another. Why risk life and limb fighting over the kill? Of course, bears and wolves don’t consciously understand this process in the contractual sense. But, in an instinctive sense, both parties may feel that’s it’s better to share, with each side getting something, than have both parties maul one another viciously with everyone getting hurt or even killed. Animals don’t understand game theory, but there is a certain natural dynamic that takes place in such situations.
Animals want to have it all. An animal will lay claim to an entire area and mark it as his own. But, there are times when it will have to tolerate ‘socialistic’ intrusions of others on its territory or bounty if it’s to have a peace of mind and find some enjoyment in life. Suppose there’s a stream full of salmon and a bear slunkers along and claims it as his own territory. It ‘claims’ and marks the stream; it wants to have all the salmon in the stream for itself. But, suppose other bears arrive one by one and intrude on this marked territory. Suppose the newly arrived bears are ‘envious’ of all the goodies in the stream and want some for themselves. The bear that first arrived and claimed the territory can fight all the newcomers. If it’s powerful enough, it may drive them all way. But, it may well be wiser to ‘share’ the stream. The first-arrived bear may still keep the best part of the stream for itself, but it may have to let the other bears fish in the other parts of the stream. If the original bear chases after every new bear, it will grow weary, go hungry, and may even get killed in the fight. So, in order to keep something than end up with nothing, the greed of the bear will have to accommodate the envy of the other bears. This is any kind of conceptual socialism but defacto natural socialism.
Something similar can be seen among polar bears. Generally, polar bears are solitary animals who hunt and eat their own food. But, if a bunch of polar bears come upon a giant beached whale, they may go into ‘socialist’ mode. Suppose a polar bear comes upon a dead whale, claims it, and wants it all for itself. Suppose other bears arrive and want some of it since it’s a BIG feast. Often, all the bears will feast together even if they remain wary and suspicious of one another. It’s almost as if an instinctive game theory kicks into place. If the bears all fight for the entire whale, many will get hurt or even killed, and no bear may enjoy the meal. But, if the first-arrived bear shelves its ‘greed’ nature and accommodates the ‘envious’ nature of all the bears, all the bears will enjoy something.
So, one could understand distributive socialism of the human world in the same way. Of course, it’s not ‘fair’ under the rule that says those who earn their wealth should keep it all. But, the fact is there are far more mediocre folks than talented people. Far more people are unlucky than lucky. All people naturally want personal gain and glory, but relatively few people achieve much of such. Successful people naturally want to keep their gain. But, unsuccessful people naturally feel envious. Since ‘greed’ has negative connotations, capitalists say great achievers seek ‘success’, ‘excellence’ and ‘greatness’. Since ‘envy’ has negative connotations, socialists say the people seek ‘social justice’, ‘fairness’, and ‘equality’. But, at the root of both -isms is the essence of human nature: greed and envy. And, if we examine both carefully, they are two sides of the same coin. Envy is, in other words, greed of the mediocre, the unlucky, or the lazy. Capitalist greed is about using your talent and ‘exploiting’ partners, situations, and employees to maximize your profit, glory, and/or fame. Socialist greed is about using the ‘protection racket’ of the government to take some of that good stuff from rich successful folks.
Some liberal-minded capitalists may pat themselves on the back and take pride in their compassion and willingness to ‘share’ with the less fortunate, but something more elemental is taking place. Like the wolves who figure it’s better to let the envious bear have some bison and leave them in peace to eat the rest of the bison, successful capitalists figure it’s better to ‘buy off’ the people’s envious resentments by offering them some freebies.
And, this is the thinking of the capitalist class who helped Obama get elected and now dominate his administration. Though Obama is a stealth socialist radical, most of the people in his administration(the oohs, aka liberal Jews) are actually successful capitalist types who are trying to expand distributive socialism in order to save their own golden goose.
They are essentially supporters of the New Economy or global capitalism which allows the smart, cunning, knowledgeable, rootless, and cosmopolitan to trot around the world and make fortunes undreamt of by previous generations. This process has made the top 2% very very rich, a group that is disproportionately ooh-ish(liberal Jewish). The global capitalists love this cash cow so much that they don’t want to let it go. But, this process has led to the stagnation of Middle America which lost millions of jobs overseas. If this goes on, there may be an angry mass revolution. Middle America–mostly goyim–may rise up against the oohs. So, these oohs are using Obama to institute socialism not so much to empower the people but to defang their rage and anger. More and more Middle Americans have grown envious and jealous of the superduper oohs who live in fancy condos, rich suburbs, the gated communities, etc. The oohs think, ‘gee, maybe if we give them free healthcare and tax credit checks(welfare checks by other name), they’ll remain stupid, docile, and happy watching American Idol’.
Anyway, this proves that socialism too can be in harmony with human nature. For distributive socialism to work meaningfully however, it must be conditional. People mustn’t just get free stuff through the government but be willing to do community service or participate in public works and lead a reasonably healthy and responsible life. Lazy and irresponsible people who simply want to mooch off others 100% deserve to be shot. In other words, socialism can work if it’s fascist than welfare-ist.