Cultural Revolutions

An "Experiment" With Socialism

Eastern Europe's recent "experiment" with socialism illustrates some useful principles about slavery. Slave labor is generally recognized as less productive than free labor, and with the collapse of the Soviet Empire it has become obvious that collective property (socialism) is less productive than private property (capitalism). From these premises several conclusions follow: not only that free labor and private property represent the best of all possible worlds, but that a system combining slavery and socialism must be the worst—that if one had no choice but to be a slave, private slavery as in antebellum America would be preferable to the kind of collective slave ownership that Eastern Europe recently experienced.

The failure of this socialist "experiment" in Eastern Europe gives credence to this conclusion. Just as privately owned slaves were threatened with punishment if they tried to escape, in all of socialist Eastern Europe emigration was outlawed and punished as a criminal offense, if necessary by shooting those who tried to run away. Moreover, all over Eastern Europe anti-loafing laws existed, and governments could assign to any citizen any task and all rewards and punishments. Thus the classification of the Soviet system as slavery. Unlike a private slave owner, however. Eastern European slaveholders—from Lenin to Gorbachev—could not sell or rent their subjects in a labor market...

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