The Fatal Flaw in Socialism

Soviet Flag socialism
Soviet Hammer and Sickle flag

Right-wing belief systems, such as capitalism, have certain characteristics that are unattractive to many socially-conscious people.  Socialism or social democracy, with their humane objectives, provide far more attractive alternative philosophies. Unfortunately, however, the left-wing belief systems seeking social justice and opposing the right, all currently possess a fundamental flaw which precludes them from providing a genuinely rational and honest political alternative, and to retain their credibility this defect needs to be addressed.

The flaw is that for its implementation socialism requires people to behave in a way that is fundamentally against human nature. The fact of the matter is that the normal humans naturally dedicates, at the very most, 10% of their wealth or time regularly to assisting other, non-related individuals. And the average is in fact probably significantly less than this, closer to 5%.

Historically, this appears always to have been the case, and there is no reason to believe that it is ever likely to change. This figure applies equally to socialists, because there is no evidence whatsoever that socialists in their private lives are any more altruistic or generous than non-socialists. While, as a social animal, humankind is altruistic to a degree, we have clearly evolved with a primarily self-interested nature, which has allowed us as a species to survive, and this is an inescapable evolutionary fact, hardly in itself subject rationally to moral criticism.

To clarify: socialism is predicated upon the conjectural and unquantified claim that every individual in society has an overriding moral obligation to assist those significantly less fortunate than themselves.

The actual extent and degree of the individual’s putative moral obligation to the poor in society, however, are nowhere identified in socialist theory. The vitally important question is left entirely open. Nor is it made clear whether or not this moral obligation takes precedence over the individual’s natural self-interest.

Does altruism take precedence over self-interest or follow it? To exactly what extent is the individual morally obliged to attend to the interests of the poor, and why? Instead of providing an answer, socialism deliberately passes over the question (to which nobody has the answer) and the percentage of income to be extracted from the economically productive and redistributed in order to attain supposed social justice is determined entirely arbitrarily by the socialist politicians who control the state and coercively enforce the putative obligation.

Because no objective measure for the actual degree of our putative moral obligation to one another is known or exists, it is here that the flaw in socialism is manifest. While all humans are altruistic to a degree and altruism is an important voluntary social practice which obviously should be encouraged, the excessive and coercive altruistic demands that socialism makes upon the economically productive in the name of social justice are totally misaligned with actual human nature. The ambiguity and uncertainty of this problematic moral question is deliberately exploited by socialism. Fully aware that there is no answer to the moral question, in an act of intellectual sleight-of-hand it makes out that the answer is a given known to it and proceeds to provide the supposed solution, which is to extract the maximum wealth possible from the economically productive and redistribute it among the poor (thereby securing their votes by turning them into a permanent underclass).

A political system that demands on supposedly moral grounds that people do far more for strangers than is in accordance with human biological nature, even while the vast majority of its own individual supporters and leaders are failing its own proclaimed moral standard, is clearly neither rational nor genuinely moral.

The contradictory element of socialism revealed by this irrational demand on human nature indicates socialism’s true objectives to those who will see. These are no longer altruistic and genuinely concerned with the welfare of the poor, as perhaps they once were. Rather, they are purely political, aimed specifically at winning political power through the significant electoral support of the ingenuous, well-intentioned part of the public, as well as that large section which anticipates benefiting materially from socialism’s redistributive policies.

To eliminate the fatal flaw in left-wing thought, and offer a rational and genuinely moral alternative to right-wing beliefs, socialism has accordingly to do either one of two things: drop completely from its ideology its pseudo-moral demand that people behave in a way entirely contrary to their biological natures, or else somehow get every socialist actually to dedicate on a regular basis significantly more than 10% of their wealth and time to benefiting less well-off strangers, so that socialism can be taken credibly as a genuine moral force.

Society would no doubt benefit from an alternative belief-system challenging that of the right. But it needs to be a rational and genuinely moral system, which socialism is far from providing and not corrupt political expediency dressed up as virtue.

Get your copy of David Matthews’ book on ideology and morality, Our Captured Minds on Amazon.