Monday, September 03, 2007

The failure of socialism

Gary Becker:

Much has been written about the rejection of socialism by major powers like China and the former Soviet Union. But nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz.
Utopian socialistic experiments like the kibbutz movement, and countries that tried to create large-scale efficient socialism, all failed for the same reasons. They did not realize that while the zeal of pioneers, and the result of revolutions, could sustain a collectivist and other-serving mentality for a short while, these could not be maintained as the pioneers died off or became disillusioned, and as circumstances became less revolutionary. Basically, they ignored the evidence of history that self interest and family orientation is not the product of capitalism, but is human nature due to selection from evolutionary pressure over billions of years. Sure, there is abundant altruism toward one's family, and some altruism toward others, and the latter might sustain a society for a brief time. But it shows a depressing ignorance of history to believe that a little propaganda and the enthusiasm of some leaders can organize an effective long-term society on the basis of any altruism and desires of mostl persons to help institutions, such as a kibbutz or a country, rather than themselves and those close to them.

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