Gently Fisking Byron

I get the odd socialist making comments on this Blog. Some are quite sincere, some are simply cretinous. Virtually all seem to have little understanding of what I mean by terms such as capitalism, or how a truly free society would work. Most have at best a very superficial understanding of how socialism would work in practice.

A few posts back I made the statement

If this country had a libertarian government no legislation or force would impact on any non “mainstream” lifestyle, family arrangement, personal habit or proclivity.

I then asked.

Would the same apply under a Workers Party/Socialist Workers/Socialist Party/Communist Party/Communist League etc government?

Byron of the Workers Party, one of the more lucid and sincere of my socialist commentators posted some replies.

Here are my questions, followed by Byron’s replies then my counter arguments. If Byron wants to challenge my counter arguments, he can email them to me and I will post them.

Could I maintain my business and lifestyle as I do now?

Byron I’ll answer those two things separately: Business, depends on what your business is, are you self employed or do you have employees? If you have employees then at the least they would have the unrestricted right to strike (this has been a Workers Party policy in the last election) But that would be the same under a libertarian government wouldn’t it? No big state interfering with peoples freedom of movement and association.

Lifestyle: I’ll have to guess at your lifestyle, I’d say its something along the lines of home in suburban crosshatch, possibly a family, three good meals a day, access to entertainment? Of course you can maintain that lifestyle, socialism is about material abundance, everyone could have that lifestyle.

Yours Truly I would certainly expect my staff to have the right to strike. Conversely I would also expect to be able to fire them for breach of contract and immediately employ new staff. I would also expect the right to hire or fire whomsoever I chose, for any reason I chose, free from state interference. The state’s role would be confined to enforcing, if necessary, any contract my staff and I freely negotiate. Glad you’re on board with this Byron.

Re lifestyle. What if my lifestyle is that of a jetsetting industrialist or a multiple McDonald’s franchise owner? What if I believe that I have the right to consume as much as I have the ability to produce? What if I’m simply brighter and more hardworking than my lazy, pig ignorant neighbour and wish to enjoy a hugely affluent lifestyle? Can the world support everybody’s wishes to match my lifestyle, even if many of them have neither the wit nor the work ethic to match my productive ability? How can everybody match my multi-millionaire’s lifestyle Byron?

What will the Workers Party do when I produce and consume hugely more than my slack neighbours. If socialism is about equality, Byron how will your government bring about equality without taking my wealth or reducing my level of affluence? If it won’t do that, how does it differ from a capitalist government?

Could I educate my children as I wish?

Byron Of course, why not? Difference is education will be free, right up through university, and will be available to everyone. I do think that the change in the material conditions of society is going to change the way we think about education, learning and teaching, but we won’t see how until it happens.

Yours Truly How would you pay for this universal free education, without taxing me heavily and thereby lowering my ability to enjoy my chosen lifestyle? A major feature of socialist governments is total control over the education curriculum. Why in the world would a Marxist-Leninist, Workers Party government, risk all their good work by allowing Capitalist nutters like me, to educate my kids to oppose everything you and your comrades stand for?

If education is “free” that simply means someone else is paying for it. In this case the Workers Party controlled state. He who pays the piper pays the tune. You can educate your kids any way you want. Yeah right! The freedom and abundance of Capitalism will change education completely. Socialism, if allowed to continue, will reduce education to a rigid system of formalised indoctrination.

Could I advocate for free enterprise and against socialism?

Byron Of course. (see next question)

Yours Truly See next answer.

Could I join with others to get rid of the Socialist government?

Byron Again, of course. The thing is, socialism comes about through popular revolution, meaning that the vast majority of people will want socialism, so a group of people going against it isn’t going to make a lot of difference.

Yours Truly The entire history of human existence tells us that man’s primary motivation is betterment of self, family, social group and mankind, usually in that order. The beauty of Capitalism is that by allowing man free rein to improve self, he can acquire the wisdom and wealth to also help family, friends and his fellow man.

Socialism seeks to reverse this natural order by making man’s efforts first conform to society’s needs. As this conflicts with man’s nature, force is soon required to get results. Where is your evidence Byron, of a single sustained revolutionary socialist movement that did not rely primarily on force? Left alone Byron, people get on with the “pursuit of happiness”. By bettering themselves intellectually, financially, emotionally, spiritually or artistically, they all make the world a better place whether they intend to or not.

Nobody, beyond a very small minority is going to voluntarily move from freedom, towards socialism. So at some point Byron, the socialists are going to have to either abandon their dream or resort to force. Sorry Byron, but faced with the same choice, I think your Workers party, will, if able, choose force. Certainly several of the groups your publications support, such as the Maoist guerrillas of Nepal and the Philippines seem to have no qualms about killing their opposition.

Could I criticise the government, or other individuals or groups I disagree with?

Byron Again, of course, spread the word to anyone who will listen.

Yours Truly Pure fantasy Byron, for the reasons stated above. For Communism to succeed, all serious socialists acknowledge that man’s conciousness needs to be purged of the capitalist “brainwashing” that saturates it. This is a vital task and no revolutionary worthy of the name is going to allow filthy capitalists to pollute the minds of the peasants with their poisonous ideas. No Marxist-Leninist government has ever tolerated a capitalist opposition for any longer than it absolutely had to. I guarantee that a Workers Party government would be no different.


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  3. Byron, you’re quite right about primitive communism. But it is just that, it is primitive. Human progress in my opinion has been a process of the individual becoming more free in relation to the tribe. There will always be a collective element to life, but to me civilisation advances as individual rights become stronger.

    Regarding my view of survival priorities. I think its pretty self evident. Ultimately only you know what is best for you and when it comes to the crunch you will put self, family nd friends before the “collective”-and so you should.

  4. I’ll just make a couple of quick points before I head to class,

    On tax-funded education; I don’t think theres a need to tax anyone under socialism, all services could be funded out of surplus value

    Also on education, I would say its a rigid system now, under capitalism education focuses on up-skilling, courses are packaged commodities sold for a profit, personally I think it should be about learning.

    “The entire history of human existence tells us that man’s primary motivation is betterment of self”

    Can you find anthropological research to back this up? for most of human existance there was a hunter gatherer society (what Fredrick Engels called ‘Primative Communism’) selfishness came about around the same time as the concept of private property, just a few thousand years ago.

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