Essays

Real Socialism and the Origin of Love

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Kinship-based socialism can work; class-based socialism cannot.

by David Sims

MARXISM ISN’T the only kind of socialism. Marxism is class socialism, based on the idea that socioeconomic class is the fundamental division of mankind. The tragedy of the commons leads easily to Marxist societies becoming police states and military dictatorships where the state can never wither away, but eventually collapses from the weight of its burdens and its own internal corruption. A foreign enemy might hasten the demise of a Marxist society, but none is really required; the tragedy of the commons, alone, will eventually undo it.

Capitalism has the same problem, though it might not be obvious at first. The only difference is a matter of time and scale and who may be a player in the game. With capitalism, the commons is the entire world and all of its resources, including the people living in it. Eventually, the commons is overburdened to the point that some critical resource (which in our case looks as if it will be energy) is used up. Then the global system collapses altogether. Marxism at least has the grace not to destroy the whole world at once.

Both capitalism and Marxism assume that the worth of man is in his material possessions. As either of these systems becomes ascendant, the measure of man moves from his heredity to his bank accounts, from his blood to his wallet, from what he is to what he owns. Legal and political definitions of worth come to be regarded as more authoritative than the inherited and biological virtues that determine worth naturally. The reason there is pressure toward this shift in determination is obvious: man can control his own yardstick, and lengthen or shorten it according to his political whims, whereas he can’t control Nature’s. When the law overrides Nature, men are usually cheating other men.

The Origin of Love

About sixty million years ago, there evolved on Earth a basis for a collectivism that could patch the tragedy of the commons, and thereby make it somewhat resistant to that failure mode.

Prior to then, animal mothers laid their eggs and afterward wandered away, reproduction job completed, and were unconcerned for their offspring. When the reptile eggs hatched, the little creatures knew instinctively what they must do. They scurried under the leaves and ate insects, or else they ran into the water to chase minnows. And they were so numerous that it did not matter to the species if two-thirds of them were eaten by predators.

With the appearance of mammals, however, with their advantage of warm-blooded winter hardiness, it became necessary for mothers to be concerned for their offspring for some time following birth. Mothers in whom this concern did not exist lost their babies, which could not survive without care. Natural selection created a new emotion to provide the incentive for baby care. The first love was that of mother toward child, and that is why this kind of love exists in all mammals today.

In the higher mammals, the emotion acquired broader purposes. Once love existed, its utility began to apply in a number of other social niches. Males began to love their mates and their children. Males began to regard each other with brotherly love, comradeship. Where the blood relationship went, love followed.

Ayn Rand’s Deception

It is typical that writers who treat social systems do much better when they criticize their opponents than when they defend their favored alternative. When Ayn Rand criticized socialism, much of what she said was important and true. But her defenses of capitalism are much less complete, much more to be suspected of not taking everything into consideration, much more to be examined for the very kind of “package dealing” which Rand frequently accused others of committing.

Ayn Rand lumped together all forms of collectivism as a “package deal,” so that she could label them all as equally unworkable, thereby dispensing with every basis of collectivism as if each of them were as unsound as the socioeconomic basis of Marxism. If you have read Atlas Shrugged, you might have noticed the curious hostility shown toward Hank Rearden by his mother and by his brother. Which real families do you know, in which the success of a son causes his parents to hate him? In which actual families does someone despise his brother because he is rich?

That should clue you in about Rand’s deception. Biology based collectivism, in which racial ties and blood kinship are regarded as primary, are partly shielded from the tragedy of the commons, by the love-patch that evolved in order that mammal species could survive. No, racial collectivism isn’t completely immune from the tragedy of the commons, but it does have a better chance against it than Marxism does.

Haters and Pretenders

Both capitalists and Marxists despise political systems which have a natural, biological basis for their organization. The reason is simple: when the natural virtues are the measure of men, it is difficult for men to cheat each other with lawyer’s tricks or with other rules where rank is awarded on the basis of artificial considerations. They hate National Socialism for the same reason that bankers hate anything that would motivate men to trust each other for credit, rather than use the banker as an intermediary.

I should add one more thing. Although socialism founded on kinship is warded to a degree from the tragedy in the commons, there is another way that it does tend to fail. There are many more people who will profess to love you as a brother than there are people who really do love you as a brother. Beware of the ambitious one who declares his love of his race and all those belonging to it, because some such persons are self-seeking social climbers who only want to get above their fellows so they can enjoy the perks of leadership while making none of the sacrifices and providing none of the service.

Still, you must trust someone, and you must start somewhere. And eventually those who really are reliably worthy will stand above the fog of selfish deception and deliberate disinformation.

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Source: David Sims

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