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Thoughts on Socialism

The Failure of Economic Man

One day, perhaps, a great history of socialism will be written.  A daunting task, but not impossible, since socialism, the “ism,” is not very old—a relatively new phenomenon, during the last 200 years or even less.  A history of social justice; a history of the working classes; a history of the poor—that would overwhelm any historian.  “The poor you will always have with you,” Christ said.  He taught social justice—indeed, more than that.  Humbleness and mercy were virtues that the pagan world, despite its wisdom, did not know.  To say that Christ was a socialist is stretching that word unduly—an imprecise exaggeration, though not without an uncertain little crumb of truth.  A capitalist He certainly was not.

Two hundred years after the American and the French and other democratic revolutions, we ought to recognize that democracy, just about inevitably, tends toward some kind of socialism.  Call it the welfare state, or the provider state, or the egalitarian society—it does not matter.  What mattered was that, sooner or later, every government became dependent on the support (or at least of the consent) of its working classes.  What mattered was that, sooner or later, equality before the law had to include social justice.  Where this evolution was obstructed, or hampered, or unduly slow, socialism and socialist parties arose,...

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