Friedrich Hayek warned about the dangers of socialism in The Road to Serfdom. It was a dispassionate attempt to describe how, when you relax the constraints on government, the results are unintended. His chapter on “Why the Worst Get to The Top” should frighten anyone, even the well-meaning, misguided persons who foolishly believe that socialist central planning can design a better society.
Lawrence Reed stated:
Those who, in Hayek’s words, “think that it is not the system which we need fear, but the danger that it might be run by bad men,” are naïve utopians who will forever be disappointed by the socialist outcome. Indeed, this is the history of 20th century statism — the endless search for a place where the dream might actually be made to work, settling on a spot until disaster is embarrassingly apparent to all, then blaming persons rather than the system and flitting off to the next inevitable disappointment. Perhaps someday, the dictionary definition of “statist” may read, “Someone who learns nothing from human nature, economics or experience and repeats the same mistakes over and over again without a care for the rights and lives of people he crushes with his good intentions.”
We dare not depend on good people. While they exist, they will be shoved aside by bad people lusting for wealth and power. We must depend upon systemic controls that protect us from both good and bad people from usurping powers that were never intended. We need a system that controls leaders, not the other way around. Without controls, so-called leaders continue to push boundaries until a government arises unlike anything ever envisioned or intended.
In a recent post, Our Patrick Henry Moment is Here, the theoretical arguments against socialism were presented briefly. Then the empirical evidence against socialism was reviewed. When something is shown impossible to work (the theoretical case against) and then shown as a universal failure (the empirical case), one would think that the system would be consigned to the dustbin of history. Yet socialism does not go away. There is some fatal attraction that draws soft-headed people to its siren song.
No amount of rational discussion can overcome the utopian ideals that these misguided souls possess. A simple enumeration of socialism’s failures is not enough to dissuade them.
In a response to my Patrick Henry Moment, a frustrated reader suggested that the following video should be required viewing for anyone that has socialist leanings. It shows the unintended but inevitable consequences of a socialist regime. Only Germany and the Soviet Union are covered in the piece. The Chinese, who murdered more of their citizens than the other two combined, is not dealt with. Nor is the brutality of lesser socialist failures such as North Korea or Cuba.
If you choose to watch, be forewarned that the data are shocking and the video is graphic. All socialists should watch to see the brutality which Hayek deemed inevitable once a society chooses this model of governance. The video is over an hour in length. Warning: it takes some time to load.
Many are likely to say that socialism need not end this way, especially in a cultured, caring society. Germany, when socialism arrived, was arguably the most refined and cultured society in the world. They were at the zenith of music, arts, science, philosophy, etc. Yet, this cultured society allowed a monster, Hitler, to violate all civilized norms.
It was the German experience that Hayek knew well. It was what he saw happen there and begin to take root in his newly adopted country, England, that motivated him to write ”The Road to Serfdom.” He knew that freedom was not lost all at once but in small increments. He knew that after many usurpations of freedom, the government becomes an unstoppable monster that seizes total control of society.