Reflections on the empire before its demise
As the Soviet mathematician and dissident Igor Shafarevich, who spent many years in the Gulag slave labor camps for his opposition to the communist regime, said in his book The Socialist Phenomenon (1980):
Most socialist doctrines and movements are literally saturated with the mood of death, catastrophe, and destruction … One could regard the death of mankind as the final result to which the development of socialism leads.
That 20th-century socialism would lead to nothing but this outcome was understood at the time of the Bolshevik victory in Russia. It was clearly expressed by the greatest intellectual opponent of socialism during the last 100 years, the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises. Near the end of his famous 1922 treatise Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Mises warned that
Socialism is not in the least what is pretends to be. It is not the pioneer of a better and finer world, but the spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created. It does not build, it destroys. For destruction is the essence of it. It produces nothing, it only consumes what the social order based on private ownership in the means production has created … Each step leading towards Socialism must exhaust itself in the destruction of what already exists.
When voices are once again heard calling for socialism – even by a recent candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for US President or on university campuses around the country – it is important, no, it is crucial, that the history and reality of socialism-in-practice in those parts of the world where it was most thoroughly imposed and implemented, as in the Soviet Union, be remembered and fully understood. If we do not, well, history has its own ways of repeating itself.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.