Man is fundamentally imperfect. The inherent flaws of the human condition cannot be ignored by any political philosophy. Naturally, then, it follows that any system relying on unrealistic expectations of human actions will fail. This is the fundamental flaw at the heart of socialism.
It is important to remember that humans are inherently spiritual beings. Unlike the omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient God that many of us worship, mankind is selfish, ambitious and suffers deeply from personal pride. We cannot be expected to act consistently in an altruistic manner, or to be “Christ-like”, as some refer to it. Nor can we be expected to sacrifice our individuality and put aside our hopes and ambitions in order to work in the interest of “the masses”.
At the heart of socialism is the enforcement of equality of outcome rather than opportunity. On first sight, this appears to be a principle with a positive moral message at its core. However, moral questions require a deep discussion considering both the intentions and the outcomes of the supposed moral action.
It is not enough for a principle to appear “good” if it leads to great harm when imposed in practice. As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. If a policy does not produce a positive moral outcome, how can one claim that the principle is inherently moral? This rule especially applies to those cases in which there are the noblest of intentions. How, then, can one easily reconcile the belief that a socialist economic model is “moral” when it strips individuals of their liberties and makes the majority worse off?
Even the most loving person will expect a decent return from the work they have contributed. With little or no returns, man will be demotivated and will struggle to continue his hard work. If you are a talented individual with a drive to succeed in your chosen field, the best option for you is specialisation. You require a tailored path that allows you to develop and grow your talent so that you can become the best possible version of yourself. Under a socialist system, there is no interest in what makes you special or unique. Rather than asking what makes you individual, the question you would be asked is “how are you like everyone else?”
Even on a purely business level, hampering the development of young entrepreneurs spreads the seeds of what will be a future of lower productivity and less income. This results not only in less money for the individual but also less money for our public services and, therefore, less money to help the poorest in society.
The argument that socialists have often used against a capitalist system is that, on paper, it is not a system based on moral intentions. In fact, they say, it seems to embrace the shortcomings of humanity: greed, selfishness and ambition. The simple response, however, is that moral outcomes do not have to be achieved by policies with moral intentions. Accepting the moral limitations of humanity is not wrong, it is courageous and humble – it is this humility and realism that allows humanity to strive.
Unlike socialism, capitalism allows humans to fill their desires. An individual’s ambition leads them to further themselves and act in their own self-interest, but this ends up helping many others as a result. Increased work results in more rewards and allows an individual to share their prosperity with others. Increased productivity allows for greater consumer choice, lower prices, higher economic growth and higher tax receipts – creating the conditions for everyone to be better off. Under capitalism, we witness a system that results in greater moral outcomes than those achieved under collectivist policies.
Because, ultimately, socialism is the philosophy of moral entitlement. It is usually pursued by those who feel better if they think that they are helping others regardless of whether they actually are. The truth is that socialism does not help others, rather it creates a society of coercion and force in which the individual has no choice but to follow the will of the state. And due to human nature, we become uninterested when there is no room for personal gain.
Capitalism, on the other hand, may not seem as fair or moral at first. It can be accused of being a system that enables greed and selfishness. But acting out of self-interest ensures that your own house is in order which provides the path to helping everyone else in society. Indeed, the freedoms and opportunities that embody capitalism have led us to be able to state with absolute certainty that no other system comes close in its successful record of furthering humanity. Least of all the socialist model.