Here at Logical Anarchy we follow Salon on Twitter. It’s mostly because Salon is hilarious and the logic they use to argue their points are idiotic. Everyone needs a good chuckle once and while. But recently, and I don’t know how I missed this 8 months ago, they retweeted an article by Jesse Mayerson entitled “Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism)“. The article is laughable and the economics is completely flawed. The aim here is to take all 7 claims and show that only an imbecile would believe them to be true. Part one here will deal with point one. To explain how they are wrong will take more than one article, so each point will be an article all its own.
The article first makes a laughable assumption by saying that taxation is “social justice.” Hilarious. As if taking property that does not belong to you and passing it along to people who did not earn it is somehow “justice”. This is a prime example of how statists make a “moral free” zone for their government. If I stole from someone, and even gave it to someone else less fortunate, I would pay the price. Somehow, if I throw on a magic suit and badge and steal from someone else, I’m dealing out “social justice”.
“But state violence (like taxation) is inherent in every set of property rights a government can conceivably adopt – including those that allowed the aforementioned hypothetical baron to amass said fortune.”
I’m glad that they acknowledge that taxation is violence but it only serves to highlight that socialists are violent people. This single sentence shows that they totally carve out a moral vacuum for their god, the Almighty State. Violence done by individuals is wrong, but violence done by the state is good. This is the illogical premise their whole economic opinion rests upon. Secondly, they somehow think that private property is compatible with government. Mises has already pointed out that it is not.
“All those in positions of political power, all governments, all kings, and all republican authorities have always looked askance at private property. There is an inherent tendency in all governmental power to recognize no restraints on its operation and to extend the sphere of its dominion as much as possible. To control everything, to leave no room for anything to happen of its own accord without the interference of the authorities. This is the goal for which every ruler secretly strives. If only private property did not stand in the way! Private property creates for the individual a sphere in which he is free of the state. It sets limits to the operation of the authoritarian will. It allows other forces to arise side by side with and in opposition to political power. It thus becomes the basis of all those activities that are free from violent interference on the part of the state. It is the soil in which the seeds of freedom are nurtured and in which the autonomy of the individual and ultimately all intellectual and material progress are rooted. In this sense, it has even been called the fundamental prerequisite for the development of the individual. But it is only with many reservations that the latter formulation can be considered acceptable, because the customary opposition between individual and collectivity, between individualistic and collective ideas and aims, or even between individualistic and universalistic science, is an empty shibboleth.
Thus, there has never been a political power that voluntarily desisted from impeding the free development and operation of the institution of private ownership of the means of production. Governments tolerate private property when they are compelled to do so, but they do not acknowledge it voluntarily in recognition of its necessity.”1
Government does not mix with private property. As Mises points out, private property makes for government, an area of society they cannot control. Being that government is always being lead by controlling psychopaths, it’s something the State does not like and will continually infringe upon. This means violence against the individual and their property. Communism and socialism require complete economic control over a society, or central planning, that means planning by the individual becomes almost impossible.2
The author then goes on to describe property rights in the most twisted fashion. They of course have to make reference to the Koch Brothers because all liberals have a weird fascination with them. I love how they say people own property because government says so. Isn’t that just hilarious? To quote Bastiat, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”3 Isn’t that Statism in a nutshell? “I can’t imagine owning anything unless government has given me permission to do so.”
From there the author tries to confuse the reader by confusing “possessions” as separate from “property”. “When Marxists talk of collectivizing ownership claims on land or ‘the means of production,’ we are in the realm of property; when Fox Business Channel hosts move to confiscate my tie, we are in the realm of personal possessions. Communism necessarily distributes property universally, but, at least as far as this communist is concerned, can still allow you to keep your smartphone. Deal?”
Can you see the fallacy? Here is the thing. If you own your body, you own the work and fruits of your labor that your body produces. You own that which you use to create the fruits of your labor, namely “possessions” like land, machinery, raw materials etc. To try and confuse external possessions as separate from property only highlights their agenda. They need to confuse these terms in order to make the violence of the state through taxation seem moral and just. As far as the smartphone is concerned. If the means of production is centrally controlled, that means that they control the choices you have with your smart phone. And to think that Android or Iphones could possibly be invented under economic systems that frequently experience shortages of scarce resources, you would have to be an imbecile.4 Something like a tie that you gained justly in the market place is as much “private property” as land that you acquired justly through the same methods. There is no distinction.
To control the “means of production” is to control all the rest of human existence. To play with the semantics of private property as to allow the State room to take away that which it wishes, is to give the State the authority to take away all that you have (including your smartphone, which would not have been created in socialism or communism). Communism requires that a central economic plan be mandated for all individuals, regardless of their own personal wishes, value scales and dreams. Being that humans are a stubborn creatures (because each on is an individual), violence is a necessary tool of the central planner in order to make their socialist/communist plan work.
Violence is inherent in the system! So long as someone plans for someone else, violence will be used in order to limit the property of the individual, their economic choices, and any other aspect of their lives.
1. Mises, Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien. Greaves. Liberalism: The Classical Tradition. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005. Print.
2. Hayek, Friedrich A. Von, and Bruce Caldwell. The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents: The Definitive Edition. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
3. Bastiat, Fredric. THE LAW (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
4. “Soviet Food Shortages | Making the History of 1989.” Soviet Food Shortages | Making the History of 1989. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2014. <http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/182>.