In order to understand a thing you have to strip it back to its essence. The fault of too much political thinking has been that it is too abstract. It tries to impose a theoretical system on human nature rather than accept human nature as the basic building block. This is especially the case with the political ideas of the Left and it is the reason the same pattern follows whenever they are implemented. Finding that socialism/social democracy comes up against the ordinary human nature of the workers, the Left requires that human nature changes. The theory is correct therefore it is the humans who are in error. But finding that people prefer to be in error the Left attempts to enforce change. It does this first through law, but if it meets opposition, being convinced that the goal of socialism is worth it, the Left resorts to force. Everything follows from the failure to understand and accept the essence of human nature.
Why do you go to work? People have different reasons and it sometimes depends on the job that they do. Some people claim to love their job so much that they would do it even if they were not paid. But there are few indeed of us who would like to live without any sort of income. If I won the lottery, I might decide to quit my job. But I would only do so because I would think that I could maintain my lifestyle without that job. For the vast majority of people, the reason why we get up every morning is so that we have an income and so that we can spend that money on things that we want and need.
Who do you spend your money on? The answer to this is simple. I spend my money on myself and on my family. What proportion of your money do you choose to spend on anything or anyone else? Well, if you think of this proportion in terms of household expenditure, you will find that most people spend a very small proportion on anyone other than their family. Out of each person’s disposable income what proportion is donated outside the family? Some people are indeed very generous, their generosity sometimes increases with their affluence, but even so it is still the case that for the vast majority of people an overwhelming proportion of our disposable income is spent on ourselves and our family.
Why do we encourage children to get a good education and why do people who work seek first a good job and then a better job? Why do people seek promotion in their work rather than just remain at the level at which they begin? Again there can be a variety of motives. We might hope that our children have a more interesting job because of their education. We might think that education makes life more worthwhile and interesting. We might want to do more good by being promoted. All of these things may be true, but if we are honest, most of us will reflect that we want a good education in order to get a job that pays well, we want promotion because we want our pay to increase and we want all of these things because we want to provide our families with a better lifestyle.
I know someone who was working as a cleaner. She was earning the minimum wage. She decided she could do better by working for herself. To begin with she was actually doing rather worse than when she was paid by an employer. Now that she had her own small business, she found that for every hour she wasn’t working she was paid nothing. But when she was working she could charge more and the amount that she was paid went to her business rather than the business of her employer. There was an element of risk in setting up her own business. There was the cost of equipment and the risk that she would not be able to find customers. She had to manage the accounts by herself and deal with some complex government rules and regulations. But gradually her business grew and she ended up earning more than previously. Why did she do this? Why not just earn the minimum wage? The answer is obvious. She wanted to earn more in order to provide a better lifestyle for her family.
At root the basic motives of nearly all of us are capitalist. We work for the sake of ourselves and our families. We hope to earn more by obtaining better qualifications and gaining promotions or by setting up our own businesses.
Out of your earnings what proportion do you keep and what proportion is taken away? This will depend on what you earn. But add together all of the tax that you are charged, income tax, property tax, national insurance, VAT etc. and you will find that it amounts to a significant proportion of your income. I don’t know the exact figure, but my guess is that it amounts to greater than 40% of everything most of us earn.
Which of us goes to work every day in order to pay this 40%? We may be happy to pay tax. We may think it reasonable to do so. We may support political parties that favour higher rather than lower taxation. But do we work so as to pay this tax? Is the reason you get up every day so as to contribute to the general wellbeing of society? Do you work in order that the Government can fund unemployment benefit and so that it can build schools and hospitals? We all think that these things are a good idea, but is that your motivation? If it were, we would have no need for tax.
If everyone were motivated primarily by the desire to provide society with what it needed, then we could at the end of each month decide to simply donate 40% of our earnings to what society needed. There is absolutely nothing preventing us all from doing just this. Why have taxation at all? Everyone knows that we need the Government to spend public money. Why not simply donate it?
Rich socialists like J. K. Rowling could bring about their goal quite easily simply by retaining whatever proportion of their wealth they needed and giving the rest away to the Government. This unilateral form of wealth disarmament would make society just that little bit more equal. Why doesn’t everyone on the Left simply give all they have to the poor? Think of the example that it would set. It would be just like unilateral nuclear disarmament. Soon everyone else would follow this example.
But no. The reason Rowling doesn’t give away all she earns to the poor, is that she fears no-one else would. The reason we have taxation is because we reflect that if we made giving money to the Government optional few indeed would be the people who would give it.
You don’t work in order to pay tax. At least the vast majority of people don’t. The reason for this is that if you had the chance, you wouldn’t pay tax. This is the case even when you recognise that it is a good thing for governments to spend money on public services. You still would rather spend that proportion of your money as you choose.
It is not property that is theft, rather it is taxation. If I go to your house and take away 40% of the things in it, I will quite rightly be called a thief. But if I vote for a political party that wants to take away 50 or 60 % of what you earn and eventually make everything a matter of public ownership I will not be called a thief, rather I will be called a socialist.
No-one is preventing people on the Left from giving away their income. No-one is preventing them from sharing what they earn with others. Each socialist could do each of these things immediately. What they want is for everyone else including themselves to “give away” what they earn and to share what they have. The Left recognises that human nature is capitalist and for this reason always wishes to achieve its goal by means of compulsion.
Given that human nature is capitalist, that is, we work in order to better our own lives and those of our families, why is it that so many of us vote for political parties that are not capitalist? This question is of especial importance at the moment for more than 40% of the population has just voted for a party whose leader in effect is a revolutionary socialist. Make no mistake Mr Corbyn may seem like a cuddly, beardy grandfather, but his goal is exactly the same as all the other socialists who tried to implement their theory in the past century. The means by which Mr Corbyn wishes to achieve socialism may or may not differ, but the aim is the same. In the end the means won’t differ much either. Socialism always comes up against the capitalist nature of humanity and compels humanity to change. Nice Mr Corbyn too would force you to be equal, for the simple reason that the goal of equality can only be achieved by compulsion. It is for this reason that socialism is essentially a totalitarian philosophy.
Why would people who work in order to earn money for themselves and their family vote for a political philosophy that is the antithesis of their own motivations? Some of them do so out of self-interest. If you earn very low wages and are either unable or unwilling to seek a better job, then it may at least in the short term be rational to vote for socialism. The same calculation may apply if you can’t or you won’t work. People who don’t work or who earn very little pay only a little tax. If I pay only 20% of my small income in tax, it might look like a bargain if I make someone else pay 60%. That person’s paying more might mean that my unemployment benefit rises or my minimum wage increases. Likewise if I have debts due to tuition fees, I might be very glad if someone else had to pay the debt rather than me. Voting for something that makes me better off would not usually be described as altruistic, but because I am a socialist I can feel virtuous even though I am in fact taking rather than giving.
People who vote for socialism because it will make them materially better off are of course not acting morally. They are acting selfishly. The only people who are not acting selfishly when they vote for socialism are those like J. K. Rowling who are rich and who are willing to pay more tax knowing that it will make them worse off. But if I have a fortune of hundreds of millions, even losing 50% of it will still leave me hundreds of millions. This is a rather easy form of selflessness. Best of all it gives that warm glow of virtue that will outweigh any material loss. The desire to feel virtuous and appear virtuous to others is, of course, another form of selfishness.
But the rich socialist’s “selfless” choice of voting for higher taxation is at the expense of all those who really don’t want to pay more to the Government. It is “forcing them to be free”. It is this that makes socialism immoral. Morality depends on my having the free choice to give away what I earn and to share with others. Socialism makes this a matter of compulsion. “Give all you have to the poor” says Jesus “and follow me”. But I’m sorry Jesus I can’t give anything to the poor, because they Government took it.
It may be virtuous to share with those who are poorer, but Labour voters would take away the choice. They want to compel both themselves and others to give away a proportion of their earnings. But this is to destroy virtue, because morality requires that I have a choice. Socialism changes morality into law and seeks to achieve its aims by taking away my choice. In this way it destroys morality and is the antithesis of it.
The poor may calculate that socialism is in their material interest and that by taking from the rich they increase their own wealth. However because socialism contradicts human motivation, the poor rapidly find out that their short-term self-interest is contrary to their long term self-interest. Our ability to pay high levels of unemployment benefit, our ability to maintain good public services depends on the motivation of ordinary workers working for themselves. Socialism damages and in the end destroys this motivation. When I work less for myself and more for the Government, I end up working less hard than I otherwise would. In time this leads to a lessening in productivity and the economy stagnates. This means we have less to spend on schools, hospitals and the unemployed.
By attempting to reform human nature and by undermining the motivations that we all have in our daily lives, socialism undermines the foundation of economic activity. It is only because I work for myself and my family that I reach the levels of productivity that I do. Without the impulse to improve my own material situation I will simply slack. For this reason, above all, socialism damages economic growth. Why work hard, why study, why strive if the result of my effort is the same as if I did none of these things? When I wish to do better for myself and my family I seek inequality. That’s what success is. Equality means I can do no better than anyone else, no matter how hard I try. So why try? Why set up a small business? Why invent something? Why get up early rather than stay in bed? By taking away the motivation for success, socialism ends up with economic failure. Growth declines and the amount of money the Government has to spend falls. This means that quite quickly we find that socialism makes the poor poorer.
For this reason socialism is not merely amoral because it compels and therefore prevents me from being able to choose that which is moral, it is also immoral because whatever its intention it makes people less free and lowers the average standard of living. The rich become much poorer, but so do the poor. Worse still the poor no longer have the opportunity to become rich. Socialism may well achieve equality, but the price that is paid for this is equal levels of poverty.
Only when we recognise that our nature as people is to be capitalists, only when we accept that the building blocks of society are individuals and families, only then will we make progress politically. There is no use fighting against what we are. Anyway the only way to radically change human nature is through force and compulsory re-education. It is this that you are voting for when you support Labour.
We need to pay taxes, but it is necessary to recognise that the level should be as low as possible because people are not motivated to pay taxes, rather we are motivated by our desire to improve our own standard of living and that of our families. Lower taxes mean that each of us works harder, this in turn means the economy grows as much as possible and in the end means that the overall amount that the Government receives increases rather than decreases. In this way the economy by being in tune with human nature rather than opposing it reaches its peak level of efficiency. This benefits not merely the wealthy, but the poorest also.
Socialism is a theory that has been tested to destruction. It contradicts human nature and therefore can never work. Wherever it is tried it makes people poorer and less free. It is not accidental that socialism leads to totalitarian Government it is fundamental. People are naturally unequal and can be made equal only by force. Socialism is voting to give the keys to your house to Government so that it can control how you think and steal what you have. It is for this reason that socialism is theft.
This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: http://effiedeans.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/socialism-is-theft.html