I just published a video version of my essay, “Why Socialism is Always Oppressive, Dictatorial and Corrupt.” In it, I explain why socialism, when implemented to a high degree in the real world, results in dictatorship, oppression, rampant corruption, and personality cults.
Someone might object that, while I have shown that mass imprisonment and mass murder can easily be done in a socialist country, I have not shown why they generally do happen in such countries. Such a person would have a point.
To see why such things do happen, we need only follow the logic of socialism a little further. First, we can recognize that the people who get into power as the “great voice of the people” are the kind of people who are eager to exercise their power over others “for the good of the community as a whole.” Those who are not eager to do this are not dedicated to becoming powerful, and will not make their way up the hierarchy and stay on top. They will either be replaced from above, or usurped from below.
Now, as I showed in my video, “Why Socialism is Morally Wrong: The Basis of Property Rights,” socialism does not produce prosperity, because it kills innovation by entrepreneurs, and stifles the ability of everyone to make their own lives better by their own thought and planning. Socialism stagnates, and government planning of the economy necessitates forced privations at whatever technological level the society is at. The government must prioritize certain “collective products” at the expense of others, and people experience shortages of things that they need to make their own lives better.
Socialism is supposed to produce the flourishing of “the community as a whole,” but what individuals primarily experience is stagnation, rationing, decay, rot, and suffering. If the government is responsible for planning every major event in the economy, as it seeks to be, then people will naturally conclude that the government is responsible for the stagnation, rationing, decay, rot and suffering that they experience.
To release the government from responsibility for people’s suffering, it needs a scapegoat. There must be an enemy that is preventing the government from succeeding in its efforts. This enemy can be internal and/or external, and it has generally taken the form of internal “counter-revolutionaries,” and the external “Dark Forces” of the “capitalist West,” led by the United States.
There is a constant hunger by government officials to lift the people’s morale by showing that they are rooting out the enemy. They are fighting hard, they are making progress and they will prevail! So there is a constant hunger for individuals or small groups to label as enemies. Anyone who voices any dissent from the party line is liable to be arrested and punished as a scapegoat. They may be branded as an internal counter-revolutionary, or as a collaborator with foreign enemies. But they will be made an example of, as a defective member of the collective who doesn’t properly conform.
This is why socialist societies are not only easily capable of mass imprisonment and mass murder, but are driven to continually persecute dissenters. Brutality serves the dual purpose of providing the government with scapegoats, and instilling fear to keep individuals in line with the government, so they don’t rebel.
Footnote Transcript for 5:33:
Some who call themselves socialists may object at this point that their socialism is not based in government. They define socialism as “worker control of the means of production,” and they favor cooperative enterprises, where the workers directly control their own companies. Each co-op is owned by its own workers, not the government. There are two alternatives for someone who advocates for co-ops. The first is that the person thinks that individuals who build businesses can retain property rights in what they have built, while hiring workers who choose wage-labor as their sole responsibility and a wage as their sole compensation. But the person just advocates that groups of workers should choose to build businesses themselves and own and manage their own workplace. This sort of person is advocating a capitalist governmental system. Voluntary co-ops can and do exist under capitalism, and such a person is merely advocating that more people should choose this sort of organization. (Note that the difference between capitalism and socialism is a difference in governmental systems, not merely economic “modes of production.” The difference between the two lies in what the government recognizes as rights, especially, whether or not it recognizes individual rights to property used as means of production.)
The second alternative is that the person thinks that anyone who builds a business and hires wage-workers, should lose her personal property right to what she built. (As with Jill in the previous video in this series.) As soon as wage-workers are hired, the government transfers the title of the business to the workers, dividing ownership evenly between them. The person who built the business can then be hired or fired by the decision of the rest of the workers. All workers, so long as they work for any company, are forced to bear the responsibility of managing the business. This system is not capitalism, but I wouldn’t really call it socialism, either. It’s rather like what is typically called “syndicalism.”
In theory, these syndicalist companies are going to be competing with each other for product sales and competing for workers. Workers will lose their jobs, and many companies will go out of business. As collectivists see it, there will be a lot of so-called “cutthroat competition,” “disharmony,” and “bitterness” in the community. The allegedly “positive” impulse behind collectivist social movements is to bring unity, peace and harmony to human life. And part of the collectivists’ justification for collectivism is that individuals aren’t “self-sufficient,” (i.e. they don’t operate in a vacuum.) This same observation applies to businesses. So there is always a push toward larger groups as the goal of human action and the unit of organization. The most naturally stable and common unit for social collectivists is the nation. Thus, I would say this system is ideologically inconsistent with its alleged justification, and it would be very unstable in practice, (not to mention rather stagnant and unproductive, like genuine socialism.)