Monday, August 14, 2006

Anti-social attitude

From the book Socialism:

Part III,Ch.20 in paragraph III.20.32
In a free society no classes are separated by irreconcilably contrasted interests. Society is the solidarity of interests. The union of special groups has always as its safe aim the destruction of this cohesion. Its aim is antisocial. The special community of proletarian interests extends only so far as they pursue one aim—to break up society. It is the same with the special community of interests which is supposed to exist for a whole nation.

Part III,Ch.18 in paragraph III.18.49
Of all accusations against the system of Free Trade and Private Property, none is more foolish than the statement that it is anti-social and individualistic and that it atomizes the body social. Trade does not disintegrate, as romantic enthusiasts for the autarky of small portions of the earth's surface assert; it unites. The division of labour is what first makes social ties: it is the social element pure and simple. Whoever advocates the economic self-sufficiency of nations and states, seeks to disintegrate the ecumenical society; whoever seeks to destroy the social division of labour within a nation by means of class war is anti-social.

Part IV,Ch.30 in paragraph IV.30.29
In Ethical Socialism imperfect understanding of human social co-operation is combined with the resentment of the ne'er-do-well. It is the inability to understand the difficult problems of social life which renders ethical socialists so unsophisticated and so certain that they are competent to solve social problems offhand. Resentment strengthens that indignation which is always sure of a response from those of like mind. But the fire of their language comes from a romantic enthusiasm for unrestraint. In every man there is a deep-rooted desire for freedom from social ties; this is combined with a longing for conditions which fully satisfy all imaginable wishes and needs. Reason teaches us not to give way to the first unless we are prepared to sink back into the deepest misery, and reminds us further that the second cannot be fulfilled. Where reason ceases to function the way to romanticism is open. The anti-social in man triumphs over the mind.

Part V,Ch.34 in paragraph V.34.29
And, speaking once again of power it may be well to inquire at this point on what this power, in common with all other power, is based. The power of the workers organized in trade unions, before which the world now trembles, has precisely the same foundations as the power of any other tyrants at any time; it is nothing more than the product of human ideologies. For decades it was impressed upon people that the association of workers in trade unions was necessary and useful to the individual as well as to the community, that only the wicked selfishness of exploiters could think of combating the unions, that in strikes the strikers were always right, that there could hardly be a worse infamy than strike-breaking, and that attempts to protect those willing to work were anti-social. The generations which grew up in the last decades have been taught from childhood that membership in a trade union was a worker's most important social duty. A strike came to mean a sort of holy action, a social ordinance. On this ideology rests the power of the workers' association. It would break down if the theory of its social utility were superseded by other views on the effects of trade unionism. Plainly, therefore, it is precisely the most powerful unions which are obliged to use their power sparingly, since, by putting an undue strain on society, they might cause people to reflect upon the nature and effect of trade unionism and so lead to a re-examination and rejection of these theories. This, of course, is and always has been true of all holders of power and is no peculiarity of the trade unions.

Part V,Ch.35 in paragraph V.35.21
The victory of the socialist idea over the Liberal idea has only come about through the displacement of the social attitude, which has regard to the social function of the single institution and the total effect of the whole social apparatus, by an anti-social attitude, which considers the individual parts of the social mechanism as detached units. Socialism sees the individuals--the hungry, the unemployed, and the rich—and finds fault on that account; Liberalism never forgets the whole and the interdependence of every phenomenon. It knows well enough that private ownership in the means of production is not able to transform the world into a paradise; it has never tried to establish anything beyond the simple fact that the socialist order of society is unrealizable, and therefore less able than Capitalism to promote the well-being of all.

Part V,Ch.35 in paragraph V.35.22
No one has understood Liberalism less than those who have joined its ranks during the recent decades. They have felt themselves obliged to fight excrescences" of Capitalism, thereby taking over without a qualm the characteristic anti-social attitude of the socialists. A social order has no excrescences which can be cut off at will. If a phenomenon results inevitably from a social system based on private ownership in the means of production, no ethical or aesthetic caprice can condemn it. Speculation, for example, which is inherent in all economic action, in a socialistic society as well as any other, cannot be condemned for the form it takes under Capitalism merely because the censor of morals mistakes its social function. Nor have these disciples of Liberalism been any more fortunate in their criticisms of Socialism. They have constantly declared that Socialism is a beautiful and noble ideal towards which one ought to strive were it realizable, but that, alas, it could not be so, because it presupposed human beings more perfect morally than those with whom we have to deal. It is difficult to see how people can decide that Socialism is in any way better than Capitalism unless they can maintain that it functions better as a social system. With the same justification it might be said that a machine constructed on the basis of perpetual motion would be better than one worked according to the given laws of mechanics—if only it could be made to function reliably. If the concept of Socialism contains an error which prevents that system from doing what it is supposed to do, then Socialism cannot be compared with the Capitalist system, for this has proved itself workable. Neither can it be called nobler, more beautiful or more just.

msS: Epilogue in paragraph E.155
It is precisely this point which anti-social individuals fail to see. Such people condemn the formalism of the due process of law. Why should the laws hinder the government from resorting to beneficial measures? Is it not fetishism to make supreme the laws, and not expediency? They advocate the substitution of the welfare state (Wohlfahrtsstaat) for the state governed by the rule of law (Rechtsstaat). In this welfare state, paternal government should be free to accomplish all things it considers beneficial to the commonweal. No "scraps of paper" should restrain an enlightened ruler in his endeavours to promote the general welfare. All opponents must be crushed mercilessly lest they frustrate the beneficial action of the government. No empty formalities must protect them any longer against their well-deserved punishment.

: Epilogue in paragraph E.156
It is customary to call the point of view of the advocates of the welfare state the "social" point of view as distinguished from the "individualistic" and "selfish" point of view of the champions of the rule of law. In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots. For their ideology tacitly implies that the government will exactly execute what they themselves deem right and beneficial. They entirely disregard the possibility that there could arise disagreement with regard to the question of what is right and expedient and what is not. They advocate enlightened despotism, but they are convinced that the enlightened despot will in every detail comply with their own opinion concerning the measures to be adopted. They favour planning, but what they have in mind is exclusively their own plan, not those of other people. They want to exterminate all opponents, that is, all those who disagree with them. They are utterly intolerant and are not prepared to allow any discussion. Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. What he plans is to deprive all other men of all their rights, and to establish his own and his friends' unrestricted omnipotence. He refuses to convince his fellow-citizens. He prefers to "liquidate" them. He scorns the "bourgeois" society that worships law and legal procedure. He himself worships violence and bloodshed.