“This Regime Will Spare Human Labor”

“This Regime Will Spare Human Labor”

 

One of the most common of socialist claims … a claim made by literally 100s of socialist thinkers … is that capitalism “wastes” human labor and that the arrival of socialism would bring about a “rational” society that would end this supposedly waste.

 

Here, for example, Socialist Superstar #1 Karl Marx tells us …

 

 

  • “The capitalist mode of production … begets, by its anarchical system of competition, the most outrageous squandering of labour-power …”

 

 

A second example from French socialist Charles Péguy, who not only reports the supposed problem, but also explains how socialism would solve it. Mr. Péguy tells …

 

 

  • “this [socialist] regime will spare human labor, the waste of which is immoral. This savings will be achieved by several methods, including the following three: Competition will be suppressed … Idleness will be suppressed…. Production will be centralized as much as possible ….”

 

 

The theme that capitalism wastes labor that socialism would spare remains central to today’s socialism (rebranded “democratic socialism” due to earlier socialist disasters). Here, for example, Michael Harrington, the founder of the present-day Democratic Socialists of America, tells us democratic socialism would mean that …

 

 

  • “waste, reduplication … that are so important to capitalism would no longer be necessary.”

 

 

Studying what these and other socialists tell us about the alleged “waste” of labor by capitalism is going to help us do something you probably wouldn’t expect.

 

It’s going to demonstrate that socialism is based on a very dangerous belief: the belief that society, and not each of us as individuals, is the effective owner of our individual time and talents.

 

What we’ll discover is that what socialism attacks as the “waste” of labor is only waste because socialist philosophy operates based on the assumption that society is the true owner of the time and talents that make up our lives.

 

Conversely, if we operate from the assumption that underpins capitalist society … the belief that the time and talents in our individual lives are our personal property that we can’t be forced to give to others without our permission … then the very things that socialism labels as “waste” aren’t waste at all. Rather what socialism labels “waste” are instances of individuals using the time in their lives as they so choose.

 

This is the single most important distinction between socialist philosophy and the liberal philosophy that underpins our capitalist society. To recap:

 

  • The liberal philosophy is based on the belief that our individual abilities … our individual time and talents … are our personal property.

 

  • Socialism, conversely, says we owe our abilities to society and considers them society’s property to control. Yes, the time and talents exist in your individual life, but the mandatory duty on which socialism is founded morphs them into what are effectively society’s property (which, here on Planet Earth, in reality means the property of those running society).

 

This key distinction between socialism and the liberal philosophy we’re used to in our capitalist society may easily come as news to you. It likely even comes as news to many newbie socialists, who so often have been told very little about the basic beliefs of the philosophy they’ve been sold.

 

But the reality that socialism is based on the duty to give our time and talents to society for society to control is baked into socialism, democratic socialism included. All knowledgeable socialists are not only aware of this fact, they’re good with it or they would have dropped the socialist label.

 

We can study socialism’s foundation on the belief that society is the effective owner of our time and talents by looking at what socialist philosophy says directly on the topic as we do in Red Flags Press papers titled with these quotes from socialist thinkers …

 

  • “From Each According to Their Ability. That is the DUTY'”

 

  • “We will return with love to OBEDIENCE.”

 

  • “Society should be organized primarily for the performance of duties, not the maintenance of rights.”

 

Please note that the choice to emphasize DUTY and OBEDIECNE via all capitals is that of the original socialist authors.

 

It’s critical to see what socialists say directly about the purpose of socialism being to subjugate the individual as we do in the papers titled by the above quotes. But, it’s equally so to see how the foundation of socialism on duty, obedience and compulsion has shaped the whole of socialist thought and that the rest of socialist philosophy operates from the belief that society should be the owner of our individual time and talents.

 

One example of that reality is found in socialist claims that capitalism “wastes” labor power that socialism would save.

 

To prove this point, let’s take a closer look at what Mr. Peguy and other socialists have to say. Mr. Peguy hits three common socialist themes for how socialism will “spare human labor” …

 

  • “this [socialist] regime will spare human labor, the waste of which is immoral. This savings will be achieved by several methods, including the following three: Competition will be suppressed … Idleness will be suppressed…. Production will be centralized as much as possible ….”

 

 

For starters, let’s consider Mr. Peguy’s second method of ending what socialism deems a waste of labor power: “Idleness will be suppressed.”

 

Socialism is going to “spare human labor” by suppressing idleness. But whose labor is being spared by suppressing idleness?

 

Certainly not that of the idlers themselves. Idlers are doing as they chose with the time in their lives. If socialism considered that time to be the idlers’ individual property, then their doing what they wish with it wouldn’t be wasting it.

 

The only reason socialism says suppressing idleness can “spare human labor” is because socialist philosophy is based on the belief the time in our individual lives is society’s property to control. If, as is the underlying assumption of socialism, society is the true owner of our time, then the idler by being idle is stealing society’s time.

 

And this is exactly what oodles of socialist thinkers maintain: that idlers and slackers are “thieves” and “parasites.” We study this fact in our paper “Slacking is Theft.”

 

Now, we certainly don’t hear those selling socialism today beating the Slacking is Theft drum. But that’s not because anything in socialist theory has changed. It’s simply because explaining this automatic byproduct of socialism’s foundation on the belief that we each owe our abilities … our time and talents … to society is sales suicide. As we detail in “Slacking is Theft,” anyone who claims that idlers aren’t thieves on the basis of socialist theory is simply scamming you.

 

Let’s now consider the other two methods Mr. Péguy says socialism is going to employ to “spare human labor.” We’ll discover that they too only “spare human labor” if we assume that society owns the time in our lives as is the operating premise of socialism. Conversely, if (as I would hope you believe) we are individually the owner of the time in our lives, the supposed labor sparing methods of socialism are in fact an absolute abuse of our human rights.

 

The other two labor saving methods Mr. Péguy lists are …

 

  • “competition will be suppressed”

 

  • “production will be centralized as much as possible.”

 

Just as suppressing idleness, these are two additional incredibly common methods innumerous socialists say should be employed to “spare human labor.” Suppressing competition and centralizing/concentrating production go hand in hand in the socialist play book because the way you eliminate competition is to “fuse” and “concentrate” small producers into large ones.

 

In fact, eliminating small competitors and “fusing” these small competing operations into concentrated large operations is what Socialist Superstar #2 Friedrich Engels said would produce the “greatest savings of labor power” were socialism to replace capitalism …

 

 

  • “The greatest saving of labour power lies in the fusing of the individual powers into social collective power and in the kind of organization which is based on this concentration of powers hitherto opposed to one another….”

 

 

Mr. Engel’s wording is tricky, but give it a couple of reads and the meaning is unmistakable. Socialist theory says that competition among producers and decentralized production are “waste” and it’s by eliminating competition and the “fusing of the individual powers into social collective power” that socialism is going to “spare human labor” and result in “the greatest saving of labour power.”

 

Let’s also note that, as “fusing” small operations together into big ones represents the “greatest savings of labor power” socialism would achieve, we’re by extension being told that socialism considers the greatest waste of capitalism to be that it permits the existence of small operations.

 

But again, competition and decentralized production are only “waste” if we assume that the time and talents that make up our lives are society’s property to control, if we assume that society owns our asses.

 

On the other hand, if we operate from the premise of the liberal philosophy that underpins our capitalist society (the belief that the time and talents that make up our individual lives are our personal property, not society’s), then competition and fragmented production are simply the result of people choosing to use their lives as they wish. If we own our own lives, competition isn’t “waste” at all, it’s us using our lives as we choose … using our individual time and talents to pursue their individual goals.

 

Consider this simple example. Let’s say you and I are two independent surfboard shapers in Malibu, California (two “individual powers” in Mr. Engel’s jargon). Your little surfboard business is obviously in competition with my little one and we’re both in competition with other surfboard makers large and small.

 

Socialism arrives and those running society act on the plan to “spare human labor, the waste of which is immoral” by suppressing competition and centralizing production as much as possible, the very method Friedrich Engels says is to produce the “greatest savings of labor power.”

 

As part of this plan, socialists eliminate competing surfboard makers and centralize surfboard production, forcing closure of our surfboard shops as part of the authoritarian fun.

 

Whose labor is being “spared” by shutting down our surf shops? Certainly not labor that socialists think we own individually, for we were using our labor as we deemed appropriate. The only way in which “competition will be suppressed” and “production will be centralized as much as possible” can be seen as “saving the waste of human labor” is if that labor is considered from the outset society’s property to control, “society’s time” and “society’s talents,” even though the time and talents in question exist in our individual lives.

 

Founder of the present-day Democratic Socialists of America Michael Harrington says that socialism is going to mean the end of capitalist “waste, reduplication.” Your surfboard shop and mine and others like it? They are the very definition of “reduplication” and thus “waste” in the eyes of socialism.

 

The only way suppressing/concentrating our surfboard shops can be seen as “sparing human labor” is, once again, because socialism doesn’t consider your time and talents to be your property in the first place.

 

The bottom line?

 

Every time you hear a socialist complaining about the “waste” of competition” there’s a hidden premise in what they’re saying. It’s the hidden premise of all of socialism:

 

That society and not you individually should be the effective owner of your abilities … your time and talents.

 

This is the foundational belief of socialism. It’s a dangerous design flaw that can’t be removed. It’s the underlying reason every experiment with socialism will turn into an authoritarian nightmare.

 

Socialism is an anti-liberal and authoritarian philosophy. It …just like fascism and Nazism … rejects the idea that we each own our lives and the time they’re made of.

 

For another example of how this foundational belief of shapes socialist thought, please check out “‘Parasitic Human Rubbish.'” This Red Flags Press paper explores socialism’s obsession with “parasites,” how it stems from socialism foundation on the belief society owns our time and talents, and how socialism infected fascism with the same disdain of “parasites.”

 

To be a socialist isn’t to be a left liberal. It’s to be a left anti-liberal. A left authoritarian. Run away.