Sacrificing Freedom on the Altar of Socialism

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Malema
EFF supporters rally to hear Malema.

The philosophy of socialism is premised on the value of the group over the needs, wants, and interests of the individual. To bring about the glorious revolution (with its promises of free healthcare, food, education, etc.) the anointed group (a particular race, economic class) must have complete control over people’s lives.

Daniël Eloff recently invited the wrath of EFF supporters by commenting on a photo of the Red Berets’ leader, Julius Malema, enjoying the fruits of capitalism in business class on a trip. While I enjoy seeing people enjoy the wonders and technological advancements brought to us by the free market, I can only hope that Mr Malema does not get too used to such a lifestyle; if he succeeds in bringing glorious EFF socialism to SA, businesses and investment will leave, the economy will disintegrate, and he may have to settle for being driven around in a Mercedes AMG. After all, as we all know, the enforced equality of socialism, of bread lines and starvation, never applies to the leaders of the revolution – it is only enforced on their supporters.

Hypocrisy is built in to socialism; freedom for me but no freedom for you. Socialists accept the premise that the state must force us how to live; yet they make free decisions, afforded to them by the free market, every single day. Socialism requires force: the state, under guidance from whichever group or individual happens to represent ‘the cause,’ must employ force to push people in the ‘right’ direction, to make the ‘correct’ decisions. For any of us to make some sort of successful shot at living our lives, we need to make decisions. Whether these decisions are large or small, we do not grow without making mistakes and learning, and only by being free can we truly test ourselves. Socialism demands that people’s choices and decisions be restricted as much as possible – you cannot trust people to make the ‘right’ decisions if they have ‘too much’ freedom.

When any socialist heads to the grocery store, he or she is making a voluntary choice to spend their money as they decide best on that particular day. This is capitalism: voluntary trade between individuals, free from force or coercion by any third party. There is no enlightened politician deciding for us how we must live or where we must spend our money, yet somehow we manage to survive and thrive (I’m sure that spontaneous order appears to be a miracle to socialists, something inexplicable, which is probably why they try to restrict people’s lives as much as possible). Malema’s supporters voiced their indignation at anyone attacking Dear Leader (™) by taking to social media; using cellphones produced by profit-hungry companies. If the irony wasn’t so blindingly obvious, there would almost be a sense of sadness to it.

I have no problem with Mr Malema choosing to fly business class; it is his prerogative to do with his money as he pleases (or his supporters’ money, I suppose). The problem lies here: he advocates for a system in which he, or any nameless bureaucrat or politician in the future, can take my wealth and use it as they think is best.

Socialism does not entertain freedom of expression or freedom of speech; ideas which are different from those desired by the leaders of the revolution must be silenced. The most effective way to silence dissent, especially in 2019 South Africa, is to label one’s opponents as racist or elitist. This incredibly easy, and lackadaisical, method of thinking is the default for those who cannot distinguish between individuals, who only see people as having worth if they have a particular skin colour or come from a particular background. True diversity, the kind which arises in a free society, dies the more socialism is entrenched in a society; diversity of thought and expression does not serve the goals of the revolution.

Socialism breeds a society of suspicion, jealousy, hatred, and resentment. Where the real, hard work of economic reform can be done in SA to free the economy and allow people to build wealth for themselves, socialism depends on pitting one group against another, on dis-empowering people by abusing their poverty and making them more and more dependent on the state.

If you support Mr Malema, if you support socialism, I can only pray that you are prepared for the day he requisitions your wealth and possessions for the good of society, for the needs of the revolution. This will always happen at some point in a socialist society; as wealth leaves the country, stricter measures must be imposed to redistribute the little wealth that remains. The philosophy of socialism will not produce the rivers of milk and honey promised by its leaders.

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