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5. The Sacred Values of Socialism

Socialism was not a contract philosophy. The socialist ideas presupposed greatly that the individuals were willing to sacrifice themselves for the good cause. In the socialist world of thoughts people naturally feel solidarity with their class fellows all over, and with the oppressed peoples in the Third World.

Thomas More 1478-1535
Thomas More 1478-1535.

It's hard to say where and when the idea of socialism came into the World. There have always been thinkers, who have sought to describe a fair society as a mirror of their contemporary society. You can go back to Thomas Moore's "Utopia" from 1516.

But, as Thomas Moore's Utopia was the nineteenth century socialist idea also a mirror of the contempory society. The idea of the righteous socialist society was a direct response to especialy England's industrialization and the English liberalism. The liberal ideology excused the factory owners for any social responsibility for their workers. Everyone was expected to work for his own self-improvement, and if it did not work so well for workers families, so it was really their own responsibility.

In many contexts, one can discuss what came first, the hen or the egg. But in this case there is no doubt. The industrialisation and the liberal ideas that were related, these were the causes, and the emergence of the socialist idea was the effect.

England and several other European countries, which quickly became industrialized, were transformed from agricultural economies to industrial nations. The vast majority of the new workers had a past from the countryside. Had it not been for the harsh and humiliating treatment they were subjected to in the new factories, they would not have begun dreaming about the just society, socialism, which would be realized here on Earth, and not in the other world.

Workers meeting in the ninetenth century Young english factory worker
Left: Workers meeting in the ninetenth century.
Right: Young english factory worker.

The new European business men's liberal idea that everyone should just work on their own self-improvement, destroyed the unity and internal cohesion among the European peoples for centuries to come.

A liberal competition economy is not a prerequisite for industrialization, as the Liberals like to put forward. See for example, the industrialization of Japan, which has been much faster than European nations. They have managed to develop an advanced industrial society, while preserving the national idendity and internal cohesiveness far better than the European nations.

Traditionally Japanese factory owners do feel responsible for their employees. For, well some years ago you could read in the Japanese newspapers that a textile factory had to close, and the employees were without work and income. The manager and his deputy locked themselves in the management office and committed Harakiri to demonstrate their responsibility and their shame over the factory's unfortunate economic development.

English worker girle The English industrialization
Left: English working girl.
Right: The industrialization of England.

Had it not been for the early capitalists' hardboiled treatment of their workers, Karl Marx today would have been a utopian socialist, known only by historical experts. He would have been mentioned in historical footnotes along with Thomas Moore, Charles Fourier, Robert Owen and Louis Blanc.

David Ricardo was one of the nineteenth century's leading liberal economists. His life struggle was that England should be industrialized as soon as possible, at any price. To promote industrial exports labor must be cheap, and therefore also food should be inexpensive.

He wrote in his famous article, "The iron law of wages":

"Labour, like all other things which are purchased and sold, and which may be increased or diminished in quantity, has its natural and its market price. The natural price of labour is that price which is necessary to enable the labourers, one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution.

English working boys 1 English working boys 2
Left: English working boys from a coal mine.
Right: More english working boys from coalmine.

The power of the labourer to support himself, and the family which may be necessary to keep up the number of labourers, does not depend on the quantity of money which he may receive for wages, but on the quantity of food, necessaries, and conveniences become essential to him from habit, which that money will purchase. The natural price of labour, therefore, depends on the price of the food, necessaries, and conveniences required for the support of the labourer and his family. With a rise in the price of food and necessaries, the natural price of labour will rise; with the fall in their price. the natural price of labour will fall."

Now it has been questioned whether he believed that the natural price of labor represented laborer purely biological survival, or whether it should be interpreted as an extended survival concept: as for example, that we today would find it difficult to survive without a TV.

With workers' necessaries and conveniences, he probably meant clothing, fuel for heating, tobacco and a bottle of gin now and then.

Upstairs and downstars life English working class children
Left: Upstairs and downstars life.
Right: English working class children.

One of his main messages is that the price of labor will affect the number of workers. This indicates that he actually had the workers' biological survival in mind.

Ricardo agreed with his friend Thomas Malthus that the workers themselves were to blame for their misery. They got too many children, which enlarged the supply of workers, and thus lowered the price of labor.

Also note Ricardo expression "able to survive and continue their race." There is no doubt that social mobility in the contemporary English class society was totally insignificant.

Fairly talented workers with self-respect may have had a hard time accepting that they and their descendants forever were doomed to live at subsistence level. They could live or die on the bottom of society, and it would only worry the factory owners and the rest of the upper class to the extent that there may be shortage of labor power.

What else could they do than to support the ideas of socialism, anarchism, syndicalism and communism? It was in this way that socialism really came into the world.

The sacred values of socialism were, roughly sketched:

The socialist agitator Vladimir Iljitch Lenin
The socialist agitator Vladimir Iljitch Lenin.

1. Socialism, the society system of the future, is ethically superior to the liberal capitalistic system of society.

The liberal capitalistic society is namely based on a primitive Darwinian survival struggle, everyone are fighting everyone. The foundation of the liberal capitalistic society is the individual's selfish desires for wealth.

Contrary, the socialist system of the future is based on human's good feelings for each other, it is based on cooperation and rational planning, and in the passing of time it will prove superior to the liberal capitalistic system.

2. The supporters of socialism do feel solidarity with the poor in society. In the socialist system of the future, there will no longer be poor and oppressed people in society, everyone will be equal or nearly equal.

3. The socialists support the Third World's struggle against imperialistic exploitation. De developed Western countries buy commodities cheap from the undeveloped nations and sell back the finished goods expensive. And this is not fair, the theory says.

1. May demonstration in Moscow
1. May demonstration in Moscow.

4. The Socialist leaders base their decisions on an advanced scientific theory known as the dialectical materialism. By means of this theory the leaders are able to forecast the development of the community, and thereby be able to make just the right decisions.

The scientific socialist theory is quite extensive; Karl Marx's "The Capital" alone fills really many volumes of tightly written lines with subtle definitions of value and dialectical contradictions. In addition comes Lenin's collected works, which also consists of many volumes. Also Stalin published collected works, but they are not so popular any more. Ordinary supporters of socialism were unable to cope with this voluminous and complicated scientific theory, they had to rely on their leaders.

In this rich literature, one could always find a passage or a quote to suit the situation. In this regard Marx' and Lenin's works recall the Bible.

In their speeches and articles the socialist leaders demonstrated their devotion for the sacred socialist values.

As Napoleon won his supporters by exporting "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" to the whole of Europe, thus the socialist leaders won the devotion of their supporters by their effort to spread socialism to the whole world and thereby allegedly saving millions of suffering and oppressed people.

Prison Camp in Northern Russia
Prison Camp in Northern Russia.

Nearly one third of the world and countless millions of people supported the socialist cause through almost a century.

As mentioned above socialism was not a contract theory. Their theory did not presume that human nature is selfish and egoistic. It was based solely on common values and called for sacrifice and devotion to the sacred cause. In this respect, it reminds about the Christianity of the Crusaders and the modern Muslim faith.

In fact, the socialist faith demonstrated in abundance that it is true that our Western culture implies a quest for the sacred; a great cause, which can unite countless individuals, who do not know each other.

Paul Craig Roberts wrote an article about the problems in the socialist Soviet economy: My Time with Soviet Economics - Vdare.com

See full text of David Ricardo's "Iron law of wages" The iron law of wages - Modern History Sourcebook
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