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Kristian Niemietz: Socialism: The failed idea that never dies

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Konzervatívny inštitút M. R. Štefánika organizoval ďalšiu z cyklu prednášok Conservative Economic Quarterly Lecture Series /CEQLS/.

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Kristian Niemietz: Socialism: The failed idea that never dies

  1. 1. SOCIALISM THE FAILED IDEA THAT NEVER DIES DR KRISTIAN NIEMIETZ HEAD OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, IEA
  2. 2. “COMMUNISM COULD HAVE WORKED IF IT HAD BEEN BETTER EXECUTED.” -Number Crunch Politics (2018) 0 10 20 30 40 50 18-24 25-34 35-44 Agree Disagree Neither/Don't know
  3. 3. “DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURABLE OR AN UNFAVOURABLE OPINION OF SOCIALISM?” 0 10 20 30 40 50 18-24 25-49 50-65 Favourable Unfavourable Not sure -YouGov (2016)
  4. 4. % WITH A FAVOURABLE OPINION OF SOCIALISM/COMMUNISM/MARXISM 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Generation Z Millennials Generation X Boomers Socialism Communism -Victims of Communism Foundation &
  5. 5. % WHO ARE LIKELY TO VOTE FOR A CANDIDATE WHO SELF-IDENTIFIES AS A SOCIALIST 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Generation Z Millennials Generation X Boomers -Victims of Communism Foundation &
  6. 6. SOCIALISM SELLS
  7. 7. THE MEDIA HYPE AROUND SOCIALISM
  8. 8. SOCIALISM ≠ SOCIAL DEMOCRACY • “[S]ocial democracy […] left capital structurally dominant. […] [C]apitalists were able to hold democratic governments hostage […] Social democracy is a step in the right direction, then, but ultimately not enough” • Bhaskar Sunkara (DSA & Jacobin), ‘The Socialist Manifesto’ • “Today, the radical left […] is calling not for social democracy but for democratic socialism. […] [T]he former means the taxation and regulation of private enterprise, while the latter means the democratic ownership of most large corporations and financial institutions.”
  9. 9. NEVER BEEN TRIED? • “There hasn’t been a shred of socialism in the Soviet Union.” • Noam Chomsky • “A socialist society […] doesn’t exist yet” • Owen Jones • “While it is true that a number of political projects have labelled themselves communist […] the aspiration was [not] accurate” • Aaron Bastani
  10. 10. THE SOVIET UNION
  11. 11. “We may perhaps sum up the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. by emphasizing its reliance on the widest possible participation of the whole adult population in the public business, which includes the planned control of the whole social environment [...]
  12. 12. “[E]veryone acted as though the general good was his personal good […] [I]n America, […] the worker […] had no real voice in the management of the national economy […] Here the “average man” felt himself master of
  13. 13. “[F]or the first time in history the common man feels that the country belongs to him and not the privileged class that are his masters. […] [T]he Marxian ideal of a classless society […] has been realized”
  14. 14. “Those workers up there, carelessly dressed, coatless and collarless […] those workers, and men like them are running the new Russia” Corliss Lamont, American philosopher
  15. 15. “…talking and laughing as they worked, evidently enjoying themselves. […] It was difficult to believe that this was indeed a prison” -Mary Callcott Stevenson, American author
  16. 16. “In England a delinquent enters [prison] as an ordinary man and comes out a ‘criminal type’, whereas in Russia he enters […] as a criminal type and would come out an ordinary man but for the difficulty of inducing them to come out at all.”
  17. 17. MAOIST CHINA
  18. 18. “The people seem healthy, well fed and articulate about their role as citizens of Chairman Mao’s new China […] The Maoist revolution is on the whole the best thing that happened to the Chinese people in centuries.” -John Fairbank, American historian
  19. 19. “[T]hey are not free to change residence or job, but in spite of that […] the Chinese masses seem to enjoy a greater measure of control over those agencies that directly affect their daily lives than do most Western city workers” -Arthur Galston, American scientist and bioethicist
  20. 20. “[The certainty of success […] dominates the Chinese mood today. Their accomplishments assume dreamlike proportions in the cold light of an American day. They virtually have eliminated many […] social problems” -Carol Tavris, American social psychologist
  21. 21. “There is no trace of alienation in China, nor of those neuroses or that inner disintegration of the individual found in the parts of the world dominated by consumerism. The Chinese world is compact, integrated, an absolute whole.” -Maria Macciocchi, Italian journalist & politician
  22. 22. “[The regime is] authoritarian only towards a minority – a minority who are not workers or peasants. […] China’s successes are being achieved […] by the voluntary and even enthusiastic effort of most of the people”
  23. 23. “It was not hard […] to understand the deep affection men feel for this man […] All men – intellectuals, peasants, merchants – regard Mao as the symbol of their deliverance, the man who […] raised their burdens”
  24. 24. •“[L]ife in China today is exceptionally pleasant. […] Plenty of fond dreams are authorized by the idea of a country […] where generals and statesmen are scholars and poets”
  25. 25. “A revolutionary regime must get rid of a certain number of individuals that threaten it and I see no other means for this than death; it is always possible to get out of a prison” -Jean Paul Sartre
  26. 26. NORTH KOREA
  27. 27. “All the economic miracles of the postwar world are put in the shade by these achievements […] The outward signs of a "cult" are very marked […] But Prime Minister Kim II Sung seems to function as a messiah rather than a dictator”
  28. 28. “Here in Korea we have found a people who have laid the foundations of communism and who are now rushing […] to transform their society into an earthly paradise […] [W]e will tell the American people of the glorious victories of […] socialist revolution”
  29. 29. “…a decent society in which equality of goods, services and opportunities prevails. […] [E]veryone enjoys a certain richness of life. […] a society which is democratic in the ultimate meaning of the word – economic and social democracy which can only emanate from the end of
  30. 30. “The realisation that everything belongs to everyone is truly overwhelming; and the experience that money really plays no role puts the
  31. 31. CAMBODIA UNDER THE KHMER ROUGE
  32. 32. “[T]he people rose, freed themselves, threw out the intruders […] and began to clear up the mess. […] Then crocodile tears poured forth in the West. The brothel has been emptied and the clean-up is in progress. Only pimps can regret what is happening.” -Per Olov Enquist, Swedish author and journalist -
  33. 33. “City dwellers who once lived in villas with servants do find the food a bit meager. But the co-operative guarantees food for all. […] [T]he new society […] turn the dreams of a poor peasant into reality” -Jan Myrdal, Swedish author
  34. 34. “We had learned already about all these achievements […] but it was even more illuminating to see [them] with our own eyes […] [A] people who rely on their own strength and means can score wonderful feats.” -Gunnar Bergström, Swedish activist
  35. 35. “[A]nalyses by highly qualified specialists who have studied the full range of evidence available […] concluded that executions have numbered at most in the thousands […] These reports also emphasize […] repeated discoveries that massacre
  36. 36. “[A]part from the execution of high- ranking army officers and officials, the killing […] was instigated by untrained and vengeful local Khmer Rouge soldiers, despite orders to the contrary from Phnom Penh. […] Most of the brutality shown by local Khmer Rouge soldiers is attributable to lack of training”
  37. 37. “[O]nly the most serious criminals were executed” -Malcolm Caldwell, lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
  38. 38. VENEZUELA
  39. 39. •“Venezuela is an inspiration to the world, it really does show that there is an alternative.” •“Under Chávez, the poor have become a political power that cannot be ignored […] [H]e has proved it is possible to […] [break] with neo- liberal dogma.”
  40. 40. “Venezuela and its Latin American allies have demonstrated that it’s no longer necessary to accept a failed economic model, as many social democrats in Europe still do.” -Seumas Milne
  41. 41. “Chavez […] showed us that there is a different, and a better way of doing things. It’s called socialism” -Jeremy Corbyn
  42. 42. “Venezuela is seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting […] Neo Liberal policies […] As with Cuba the threat to the USA by Venezuela is […] a threat by example of what social justice can achieve.” -Jeremy Corbyn
  43. 43. “[W]hat’s so exciting about […] Venezuela is that I can see how a better world is being created […] The transformations that Venezuela is making toward the creation of another socio-economic model could have a global impact.” -Noam Chomsky (2007) “I never described Chávez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism.” -Noam Chomsky (2017)
  44. 44. “[Chávez] lit a spark that really started a firebrand […] Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution became an item on the agenda for all socialists […] [H]ere you had the contrast between capitalism in crisis, and socialism in action” “I don’t think [Venezuela] is a socialist country. […] I don’t think they have been following […] socialist policies […] And as a result of that they’re experiencing problems.” -John McDonnell (2018)
  45. 45. THE THREE STAGES OF SOCIALISM The honeymoon period The denial-and- whataboutery period The not-REAL- socialism period
  46. 46. WHY SOCIALISM FAILS IN THE ECONOMIC SPHERE • Market prices collect and disseminate dispersed knowledge • Competition = trial and error • Exit > voice
  47. 47. WHY SOCIALISM LEADS TO AUTHORITARIANISM • Conflict between central planning and local autonomy • No exit option • Everything is everyone else’s business
  48. 48. WHY SOCIALISM IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH DEMOCRACY • Socialist planners handle colossal amounts of highly technical information • Even today: limits to democratic engagement • Even today: limits to democratic accountability
  49. 49. WHY SOCIALISM NONETHELESS REFUSES TO DIE • Socialism makes intuitive sense • Socialism is trendy and high-status • Socialist define ‘real’ socialism in terms of outcomes, not inputs • Socialists treat unpleasant outcomes of socialism as merely a matter of choice
  50. 50. WHO SAID IT? • "[C]ontrol by society [...] over [...] labor and [...] consumption [...] must be exercised not by a state of bureaucrats, but by a state of armed workers.“ • "Instead of the special institutions of a privileged officialdom [...], the majority itself can directly fulfil all [the functions of state power], and the more [these functions] are performed by the people as a whole, the less need there is for the existence of this power.“ • "[I]t is quite possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the control over production and distribution [...] by the armed workers, by
  51. 51. WHO SAID IT? • "[C]ontrol by society [...] over [...] labor and [...] consumption [...] must be exercised not by a state of bureaucrats, but by a state of armed workers.“ • "Instead of the special institutions of a privileged officialdom [...], the majority itself can directly fulfil all [the functions of state power], and the more [these functions] are performed by the people as a whole, the less need there is for the existence of this power.“ • "[I]t is quite possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the control over production and distribution [...] by the armed workers, by

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