Socialism: It’s not the boogeyman.

In Intro to Libertarianism on April 9, 2013 at 11:33 am


I’ve been promising a short intro to libertarian socialism for some time. This is a quick and easy read. I don’t argue that any and all goods and services would not be available without socialism (a myth about what socialists believe that is propagated by capitalists). I argue that voluntary socialism allows for costs and labor to be spread out among many…“Many hands make light work.”

Mention ‘socialism’ and most listeners will mentally image a grim, authoritarian society, all painted in gray. People naturally recoil whenever socialism gets a mention.

That’s a shame. They’ve been conditioned to do so, by propagandists trading in state capitalism and in state socialism.

Mikhail Bakunin prophesied that state socialism would turn out bloodier than the monarchies it was replacing in Europe. We have seen, in the over one hundred years of state socialism’s existence, Bakunin’s prophesy was right on the money. (State capitalism or fascism gets an equal share of blood.)

Despite its bad ‘rap’, nice people practice socialism every day.

They join civic clubs, are members in houses of worship, and they participate in group-managed recreation.

I like target shooting. But I cannot afford to build a nice range. A lot of folks are in my boat.

So, we all pool our resources and buy some land. We charge ongoing ‘dues’ to every member and maybe an ‘initiation fee’ to new members. We take turns maintaining the range, running the line, and we pool more money to buy needed insurance, targets, and other stuff.

A board of directors governs the range and its use. The directors either volunteer, according to their ability, or they are elected (according to perceived ability or past performance). Every member has a voice in how the range is operated. If a member finds some range policy objectionable, he/she can petition to change the policy, or they can vote with their feet and join some other group of shooters at their range.

Conversely, if a member becomes a pain in the ass or is dangerous to the rest of the group, the membership can oust him/her.

Sure, one person could build a range and then charge everyone else to use it. There’s nothing wrong with that if he has the money to do so single-handedly.

But, socialism allows people of limited individual means to obtain something by sharing its cost. A nice range costing $100,000 becomes a $1,000 investment among 100 members. Each member then owns 1/100th of the finished project. (In capitalism, the person supplying the capital often demands (and gets) a bigger share of ownership…as though their lucre has greater value than the sweat of the worker or any contributed raw materials needed. It is the myth of money.)

[Remember car-pooling as a teenager? Same principle. One guy supplied the car. The riders supplied gas and beer (or meals) for the driver. I don’t remember a driver ever suggesting entitlement to a larger share because his investment (the car) was bigger than the rider’s investments. The driver, having spent his money on a car, needed the riders to pay for gas and beer. Guys who trumpeted their car value as a mechanism for compelling extra beer rations often found themselves alone, sitting in their driveway…thirsty.]

It’s painful to see people who embrace voluntary socialism turn self-hating.

Socialism, libertarian socialism, is an entirely voluntary system that shares none of the horrors of state socialism (or state capitalism).

We make libertarian socialism work in so many of our daily lives. It’s not a perfect system. Any true libertarian will admit that every system has imperfections. But, if it is voluntary, where’s the harm?

So long as any economic system used is mutually agreed upon and its participants can vote to leave it by leaving, it has merit.

Socialism is not a boogeyman.

That would be the state.

Next up: Why I believe property ownership should be limited to only those goods and services actually produced by the owner. How property inheritance, like peerage titles, should be abolished unless the involved property is actually owned (or even ownable) by the bequestor. (HINT: Very little of today’s wealth was generated by the holder. It’s beyond annoying to hear some twit boasting of, “How I built…” when he actually inherited, rather than built…anything.) How it is the joy of creating that enriches man, not acquisition and accumulation. And finally, how the capitalist ‘free’ market actually enslaves by forcing a seller to go to his knees before the wealthy capitalist and beg to be enriched by him.


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