Socialism’s great weakness

Socialism is famously aummed up by the maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

In a society operated according to this principle, there is no reward for working harder or better. Your wages are what you need, not more.

In the socialist dream, workers would not care about higher wages. They would do their utmost for the good of the community.

However, since for so long, people have been conditioned to want stuff, there has to be a transition period during which people are re-educated.

What this ignores is man’s fallen nature, which can be changed only through God’s grace. But since socialism rejects God, they have to use ever increasing force in the attempt to make people into good workers. Hence the mass murders and repression which characterize all socialist states.

There is an additional problem. Most people, faced with the prospect of never receiving a payrise, will be tempted to give themselves a pay rise in the form of greater ease , in other words by working less hard for the same wage.

Therefore the government faces the frustration of an ever worsening economy. This reality forced Gorbachev to abandon the whole project.

China is also abandoning the project by degrees through “special economic zones” but they are clinging to the oppressive structures.

In the mean time can all you socialists please think of something better than starting up the same experiment anywhere else?


That’s a Marxist view of socialism. I think what people generally mean when they use the term socialism these days is a form of democratic socialism. And you’ll get as many definitions of that as there will be people keen to give their personal definition.

Be prepared for some broad brush versions of political views.


All the supposedly moderate forms of socialism eventually fall to the same logic.

Socialism ican only be imposed by force.

In Italy the socialist party has in fact become radical and liberal (and very small) for 40 years.

In the past 30 years, the former Communist Party has also become radical and liberal (bigger). His current problem is radical ideology, certainly not socialist one.

It may be that the terms I use have a slightly different meaning to you - I can make them clear - but certainly “socialism” does not even remotely have the meaning you describe.

I guess that even in the rest of Western Europe the discourse is understandable only as a historical memory.

Except that, from the point of view of American Conservatives, it’s extremely important that they define meaning and reality so that all discourse takes place within their ideology.


This line jumped out at me as interesting.

Some Marxists would argue that China is on the right track to build Socialism and then Communism despite currently opening up to Capitalism. The argument goes that because China’s industrial revolution was relatively late, pretty much occurring in the postwar era, they haven’t exhausted the ideology of Capitalism. So in a truncated timeline economic systems according to a traditional reading go;


So in short the PRC hadn’t worked through the inherent contradictions in Capitalism that would lead to Socialism naturally occurring, instead trying to skip a step. So they’ve taken a half-step back to work through the contradictions and then they’ll be better placed to take a step forward once they’ve done that.

Yeah don’t get Christian Socialists, that’s definitely not a thing.

Yeah, no Capitalist country has ever done that. That’s a problem of having too much power concentrated in too few hands, it’s not an inherent flaw in either system.

I’m not sure where in the world your from Freddy, but if you mean what passes for “Democratic Socialism” in the US, it’s not, its Social Democracy.

@Freddy is currently dwelling in sunny Australia, but you are quite right, it’s social democracy. Political movements shift over time and we too frequently spend this sort of conversation debating definitions.

Certainly, as you say, the “socialism” most practised in Europe (and Australia) and proposed in the United States is Social Democracy. It does not favour the classic socialist policy of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Nor does it propose, in the classic formula of Karl Marx “to each according to need” — and that in any case was supposed to come from a communist society rather than a socialist one.

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I assume you are talking about communism. I guess you are American and, apologies to my US friends, can’t seem to differentiate between communism and socialism.
There are only 4 communist countries left in the world.

I think it could be suggested that those who use the term democratic socialism are using it in a derogatory sense whereas those who use social democracy are trying to promote it. When I wore a younger man’s clothes I flirted with communism but classed myself as a socialist. Then I described myself as a democratic socialist. These days I’m more of social democrat. Perhaps justifying the old quote incorrevtly attributed to Cburchill: If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.

Having a discussion with my twenty year old self would be quite interesting.

I think the first part of ‘democratic socialism’ would suggest otherwise.

I disagree, totally different outlook is possible. Lets see this point by point.

Marx said it differently - as conditional:

in a higher phase of communist society, after the
enslaving subordination of the individual to the
division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis
between mental and physical labor, has vanished;
after labor has become not only a means of life but
life’s prime want; after the productive forces have
also increased with the all-around development of
the individual, and all the springs of co-operative
wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the
narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its
entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From
each according to his ability, to each according to
his needs! [Marx 1875]

So - there are 2 important points: 1) socialism and communism can happen only if technological development allows it and capitalism is required for emergence of those developments. Current industrial revolution 4.0, robots, artificial intelligence can be THE technologies that are sufficient for socialism to emerge; 2) the work can and should be the means by which human being implements his most highest need (after all the basic needs are satisfied) - self-realisation (according to Maslov pyramid of needs of mentally healthy people).

We a living in the world of scarcity, of bounded resources. But current economic and philosophical outlook is that the post-scarcity world is possible. E.e. Transhumanism movement is all about the post-scarcity world that is implemented by the science and technology. Actually - we are already seeing how this transition happens today - there has been incredible quantitative easing, incredible stimulus bills, the balance sheets of central banks currently stands at 25% of GDP - totally unimaginable number, yet the inflation is so low, that there are even negative interest rate, even at the retail level (there are periods when Danish banks pay money to mortgage owners back due to negative interest rates). This is historically unimaginable and this certifies how the technology is building up supply side capacity and how we are on the path on the post-scarcity economy. Here is the Nature article about Univeral Basic Income in Spain - incidentally - it describes lot of problems about UBI, including the moral reservations, but it gives no consideration to the possibility of the UBI - UBI is possible even today and it will be more and more possible and required in the future.

… continued

This is self-congratulation and myth. There were times that even the Catholics thought that there is no salvation outside Church. Now we know that there are cases when there is salvation outside Church. E.g. human beings have natural law and conscience and by them they can discern good from evil even without Bible. The teachings of stoicism and epicureanism and modern utilitarianism - all they are demonised by scarcely educated people - actually all those teaching are about the calculated and wise approach to the goodness, preferences and utility, including the utility of societies and fairness in them. There is God and ethics of philosophers. There are other religious movements. It is true that human beings had been and still can be very bad, but I believe in inner goodness of human beings and human beings are naturally good if the resources are available. All the conflicts are feeded by the fight for resources if resources are scarce.

There are 2 classes of people - workers and creators. I know and I can speak about creators - you have this inner calling to do your things. For me it is math and computer science. I can not avoid doing this, reading things, programming, making notes and formulas, usually I try to go into flow - when hours are passing by, the ideas flow and the night comes and still writing down ideas, exploring them. This is mastery and the mastery is the source of pride, gratification and creativity of intellectual and artistic work and it is self-fullfilling. Yes, money, reward is required, but the inner reward is the ultimate gratification that makes explore even the areas which are not giving immediate monetary reward. The achievement of master requires years or learning and training, but this can be interesting and fullfilling if the good teacher and good pedagogy is available.

So - all the bad jobs should be automated and people should be allowed to self-realise themselves in creative and intellectual works.

There are so much interesting challenges today - rejuvenation is one of them. Let’s introduce people to this field and see how exciting the biochemistry, bioinformatics and systems biology can be if there is such a noble and desirable goal to be achieved within next 10 years!

Socialism and communism is about freeing people from the mundane work and giving them the opportunity to have meaningful and interesting and exciting jobs.

… continued

I have already said - USSR was not socialisms, it was rude socialism that was implemented by the brute force and which didn’t emerge naturally from the advancement of technology. Technological advancement creates technological unemployment, taylorisation (job monitoring with the automated tools and utmost exploitation) and job dualisation (inequality between bad jobs ready to be automated and the intellectual jobs), gig economy, precariate, non-contract, zero-contract jobs, unpredictable sitting on the phone line and waiting for the call to work some hours per day if the job is available. All this points that the job landscape, the economy is changing even now due to the technology and something will have to be done. It may be socialism and communism, but it may be some other forms of capitalism, but something different it should be.

China is just repeated example of rude communism, Marx already predicted it and warned against it.

So, yo can see, that I have little sympathies towards current communism movements - all those read flags and devotion to Marx. The marxian heterdox economy is underdeveloped and it is incomparable to the orthodox economy with its DSGE, AWM and other modelling tools and theories. Yet - there is urgent need to explore all Marxian ideas quantitatively - what are the conditions to the socio-economic phase transfer, are they happening now and how to manage them to avoid turbulence and suffering, how to make transition gradual. Marxian devoutees usually have very poor math skills and they are even not trying to imaging something beyond original ideas put by Marx which by itself if one of the greated scholars and minds in human history nevertheless.

There is no form of democratic socialism. Democracy assumes the right of the citizen to be master of his property and labor as a prerequisite to democratic political theory. Socialism says these things do not belong to you, they belong to the collective. “Democratic Socialism” uses the arm of the state to compel people to sell their labor for state-determined amount based on mob rule. Likewise, it uses the arm of the state to compel property/capital owners to sell or use their property in exchange for state-set amounts. “Democratic Socialism” is a touchy feely moniker whose meaning has no basis in reality. It is rebranding Marxism for a new and uneducated generation. Nothing more.

And 2 additional notes:

  • regarding the Marxism and atheism. I don’t think that atheism is fundamental part of Marxism. Historically Church was used in oppression and this created reaction, inevitably. But today communist ideas can happily live together certainly with the God of philosophers and certainly with the cafeteria catholics at least. Why communism is so hateful to religion? Well - you can the reason in this forum abundantly - so much people are ready to vote for the politicians just because they have pro-life slogans and nothing else is considered. Well - when one looks on such stance, then the reaction is inevitable.

  • regarding the Marxism and terrorism. I don’t say anything here about USSR and other totalitarian regimes which did genocide and crimes against humanity. I already classified them as crude/rude forms of socialism which are not true socialism. So - I have no need to defend or explain them. I am not Marxian adept (I already said that I can not reed dense texts without math), but I have heard that some terroristic, revolutionary ideas has been in the Marx works. Well - we should be pretty clear - peopel at the Marxian times have very little political power - less than 1-10% of population had voting rights and even then the votes were weighted by the wealth (or paid taxes) not counted. So - if people have not voting rights and other rigths on political participation then they surely have rights on certain forms of terrorism and targeted violence to respond to the oppression, that is morally sound. But - as soon as universal suffrage appears, then those rights to terror should go away without any reservation. This should be taken when reading Marx passages with the reference to the violence if there are any.

I just copy here text from the Laudato Si by His Holiness Francis (with the references to the Saint Pope John Paul II) - I made some sentences into bold - to see it more clearly:

The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct and “the first principle of the whole ethical and social order”.[71] The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property. Saint John Paul II forcefully reaffirmed this teaching, stating that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone ”.[72] These are strong words. He noted that “a type of development which did not respect and promote human rights – personal and social, economic and political, including the rights of nations and of peoples – would not be really worthy of man”.[73] He clearly explained that “the Church does indeed defend the legitimate right to private property, but she also teaches no less clearly that there is always a social mortgage on all private property, in order that goods may serve the general purpose that God gave them”.[74] Consequently, he maintained, “it is not in accord with God’s plan that this gift be used in such a way that its benefits favour only a few”.[75] This calls into serious question the unjust habits of a part of humanity.[76] is link to the full encyclical by Francis, God bless him as we pray in every Mass!

The weakness of socialism in it’s disordered and atheistic form,
is it overemphasizes the collective, or the community, at the expense of human dignity as manifested in every unique individual. And this is why you can have policies that are intended toward a good thing (like the health of a people or nation) while at the same time pursuing things like genocide in pursuit of that perceived good.
Other ideologies might tend in the opposite direction: inordinately emphasizing the rights of individuals over property and resources, and even the goods of salvation.

First, Pope John Paul the II was against Marxism, adamantly. Second. . . . If you read the Mosaic law you will find that the law did indeed recognize private property rights. There is a difference between voluntary charity, and the reallocation of property at the tip of the state’s spear. In fact, this is precisely what God warns Israel about via Samuel when Israel demands a king. Also, capitalism does not restrict private charity or benevolent giving. It doesn’t even restrict the existence of public coffer for those who are incapable of providing for themselves or who are on the margins. In socialism the state, by threat of force, determines the exchange between labor and capital, removing the ability of private individuals of engaging in voluntary free exchange, and either directly or by proxy manages the use of labor and capital. Nowhere will you find this model of economics supported in scripture.

Not sure if you realize it, but you are conflating the existence of welfare and the socialist economic system.

Here’s the problem: billionaires don’t pay income tax. They evade it by “donation” to different charity firms (of which only 5% is required to go to the charitys aim) and special interest groups. Groups who lobby for policy with more weight then you could ever vote with.

And we legally let them do it.

Maybe we should only give tax breaks too philanthropy that actually puts the money to work helping the less fortunate.

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