Friday, 24 May 2024

    Socialism and Motherhood by Peter O’Brien

    There’s been a lot of talk about Socialism and Socialists of late, with several being elected to Congress. All this even as Venezuela – a land blessed with natural resources – unravels under socialist rule. When challenged that socialism has never worked, the Socialists respond that true Socialism has never been tried and that if we simply execute Socialism correctly, everyone will benefit. Besides, as Socialists are fond of pointing out, Socialism is good, that is, the basic tenets of Socialism is what we all really want. Some even go so far as to imply that Socialism is what we will find in paradise.


    It’s true that there’s an image of paradise that is common in art and literature of a place where no one works, no one wants, and most especially for our purposes, no one owns anything. Everything is in common, and all share.

    This presents an interesting challenge for parents, especially mothers, as they are the ones who have traditionally been charged with rearing the next generation. I can reduce this to a simple question: can good mothers also be socialists?

    There are several interesting lessons that mothers – at least all the mothers I have come in contact with – teach their children: responsibility for their behavior, sharing with their brothers and sisters (and later with their friends), honesty, doing the right thing, treating others as you would want to be treated. By any other name, what mothers attempt to teach (whether the mother knows them by these names or not) are the 7 virtues: prudence, justice, temperance courage, faith, hope, and charity.

    Interestingly though, none of these things are found in Socialism.

    Socialism is the ownership by the state of the means of production, with the society as a whole the focus, and the individual being of little importance. While the “means of production” as originally conceived focused on factories where everyone worked, it quickly grew to include agriculture on the one hand and individual professional services (such as that provided by doctors) on the other. So, to make Socialism work, the state must not simply take control of large corporations, it also takes control of individual, such as doctors, dentists, engineers, etc. Thus, pure Socialism, the kind the Socialists say will actually work, not only denies the individual the opportunity to act virtuously by giving or sharing, eventually the socialist state evolves to the point that it denies the individual the opportunity to give his life to a calling – such as medicine.

    If I give a coat to someone who is poor – having learned the lesson from my mother to share what I have and to help those less fortunate than I, then I can be said to have done something virtuous. If, on the other hand, I pay my taxes – I obey the law – paying what I am required to pay, using whatever deductions the law allows me to take, I have only obeyed the law, more out of fear of penalty rather than anything else.

    If the state then uses my tax revenue to buy a coat for a poor man, the man benefits from having the coat, but no one has acted virtuously. Arguably, because I now pay higher taxes AND I know that the state has accrued to itself the responsibility for taking care of the poor, the state has denied me an opportunity to be virtuous. I might be virtuous otherwise, but this particular case has been denied to me.
    More simply, there is no moral benefit to the citizens for the state ordering them to act in any way or to fund certain behavior by the state, especially in that the state is not concerned with the individual, just the society as a whole.

    Stated otherwise, the Socialist State eliminates virtue.

    Which leaves any good mother at odds with the Socialist State.

    The Socialist devotees would have us all believe that, if they can only be given free rein, they will create heaven on earth; that if we would just get rid of things like individual rights and private property and all that stuff, that greed would fritter away, that all would be cared for, and that life would be bliss.

    But the fact is that for Socialism to work, the state needs to get rid of virtue. A state without virtue; want to know what that looks like? Consider Venezuela.