With the government bailout and the charges of socialism being thrown at Obama, there has been a great deal of discussion about socialism. Given that America lives under the delusion that we are a free-market, capitalist country, it is hardly surprising that socialism is seen as bad. Naturally, this view is correct.
Socialism can be seen as bad in the same sense that oxygen is bad. While this might seem and odd thing to say, it actually fits quite well. Like oxygen, a little socialism is a good thing and enables us to survive. Just imagine what it would be like without the state providing social services, police, military, law and so on. It would be Hobbes’ state of nature. Like oxygen, a lot of socialism is a bad thing. Just as breathing pure oxygen would be very bad, living in pure socialism would be rather bad as well. After all, under pure socialism, the state would own all capital, business and such.
Now, this would not be bad just because of state ownership. The state owns the police, the military and so on but we do not say that these are bad because of that. The problem lies with the fact that complete state ownership would be a monopoly of the worst sort.
History has shown that private monopolies are bad and it seems safe to infer that a complete state monopoly would be at least as bad-and even worse because it would be a universal monopoly. Competition, as the free market folks say, is beneficial and encourages better products, technological advancement and so on. Monopolies tend to encourage inferior products, stagnation and so on.
Of course, a pure free market is bad as well-it leads to private monopolies and chaos. To use an analogy, imagine a “free-market “football game with no referees and no rules. While the “best” team would win, the game would be horrific (but no doubt would have amazing viewership numbers). Or, imagine if instead of having police, we relied on a “free market” approach to crime prevention: people would just sort out their problems on their own, perhaps by hiring private security and gunmen to take care of things. That would, of course, be chaos.
Thus, socialism is bad. But so is oxygen.