Debunking socialism … again

One suspects Kevin D. Williamson remains in fighting form to tackle Marxist myths — having recently published The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism. If so, he must have enjoyed his latest assignment for Commentary magazine, a review of Terry Eagleton’s book Why Marx Was Right.

The review, titled “Why Eagleton Is Wrong” and available at this subscriber link, picks apart various arguments made in favor of the most destructive ideology in human history. Here’s just one useful example:

The weight of the evidence reduces Eagleton to sleight of pen: “Those who scoff at socialist ideals should remember that the free market can never be perfectly realized either.” That statement makes no sense, inasmuch as the “free market” is not a utopia toward which capitalists march. It is, rather, a descriptive term.

The premises of economic and political liberalism do not require that anything be “perfectly realized.” [Kokai’s note: Though unstated, one suspects Williamson is referring to true liberalism, not collectivist notions that are labeled liberalism today in the United States.] Perfection is a project for totalitarians, absolutists, and cranks, of which the fossilized remains of Marxism provide many splendid examples. Eagleton is too generous with these exercises in equivocation, which quickly grow tiresome: “Some of those who claim that socialism is unworkable are confident that they can eradicate poverty, solve the global warming crisis, spread liberal democracy to Afghanistan, and resolve world conflicts by UN resolutions. It is only socialism which for some mysterious reason is out of reach.”

But the reason socialism is out of reach is not mysterious. The main limitation on socialism is neither moral or political nor conventionally economic. It is epistemic: socialism requires central planning; central planning requires central planners; and for central planners to succeed at their work, they require vast amounts of information they cannot conceivably acquire.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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