Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Advance of Socialism

The advance of socialism in the United States is alarming. While its progression is nothing new, the rate at which the government is invading every part of our lives is rapidly increasing. Deficit spending, increased regulation & central planning, company takeovers, and "stimulus" redistribution are just a few current examples. We can call on the great French economist and philosopher Frederic Bastiat for explanations and arguments against socialism which are equally valid today as they were in 1850. Here are a few excerpts from Bastiat's The Law:

"Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

To prevent this, you would exclude socialism from entering into the making of laws? You would prevent socialists from entering the Legislative Palace? You shall not succeed, I predict, so long as legal plunder continues to be the main business of the legislature. It is illogical — in fact, absurd — to assume otherwise.

Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation.

This is the seductive lure of socialism. And I repeat again: These two uses of the law are in direct contradiction to each other. We must choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free.

The sincerity of those who advocate protectionism, socialism, and communism is not here questioned. Any writer who would do that must be influenced by a political spirit or a political fear. It is to be pointed out, however, that protectionism, socialism, and communism are basically the same plant in three different stages of its growth. All that can be said is that legal plunder is more visible in communism because it is complete plunder; and in protectionism because the plunder is limited to specific groups and industries. Thus it follows that, of the three systems, socialism is the vaguest, the most indecisive, and, consequently, the most sincere stage of development.

But sincere or insincere, the intentions of persons are not here under question. In fact, I have already said that legal plunder is based partially on philanthropy, even though it is a false philanthropy.

With this explanation, let us examine the value — the origin and the tendency — of this popular aspiration which claims to accomplish the general welfare by general plunder."

If you have not read The Law, you will really benefit from doing so. We must fight this promotion of general welfare by government to avoid the general plunder that proceeds from it. We must defend our individuality, liberty, and property from the encroaching Statist who wishes to take it away. The uninhibited use of our natural rights, given from God, is what will bring about the greatest societal good. Law must be used only to preserve the three basic requirements: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As M. Carlier said, "We must make war against socialism."