Why Politicians Win (and Workers Lose) Under Socialism
La ferme des animaux, George Orwell 1945
Socialism leads to the politicization of society.The reality is much different. Declaring everyone a co-owner of everything only nominally solves differences in ownership. It does not solve the real underlying problem: there remain differences in the power to control what is done with resources.
In capitalism, the person who owns a resource can also control what is done with it. In a socialized economy, this isn’t true because there is no longer any owner.
Nonetheless the problem of control remains. Who is going to decide what is to be done with what?
Under socialism, there is only one way: people settle their disagreements over the control of property by superimposing one will upon another.
As long as there are differences, people will settle them through political means.
If people want to improve their income under socialism they have to move toward a more highly valued position in the hierarchy of caretakers. That takes political talent.
Under such a system, people will have to spend less time and effort developing their productive skills and more time and effort improving their political talents.
As people shift out of their roles as producers and users of resources, we find that their personalities change. They no longer cultivate the ability to anticipate situations of scarcity to take up productive opportunities, to be aware of technological possibilities, to anticipate changes in consumer demand, and to develop strategies of marketing. They no longer have to be able to initiate, to work, and to respond to the needs of others.
Instead, people develop the ability to assemble public support for their own position and opinion through means of persuasion, demagoguery, and intrigue, through promises, bribes, and threats.
Different people rise to the top under socialism than under capitalism. The higher on the socialist hierarchy you look, the more you will find people who are too incompetent to do the job they are supposed to do. It is no hindrance in a caretaker politician’s career to be dumb, indolent, inefficient, and uncaring. He only needs superior political skills. This too contributes to the impoverishment of society.
[Excerpted from Why Socialism Must Fail, published in The Free Market Reader.]