CJay Engel

October 23, 2019

Understanding the New Socialism will go a long way in our effort to challenge it

One of the things that frustrates me greatly, and has been a small motivation for the creation of the publication, is the complete lack of understanding when it comes to the far left's newfound socialism. For one thing, of course there are always the doltish and teenage AOC type socialists; they are great ground for making fun and all that.

But a lot of socialists are actually quite intellectually mature and informed. Misinformed, perhaps, but intellectually stimulating nonetheless. In fact, Marxism itself is unique in that it offers a complete intellectual and philosophical system as opposed to the inherent pragmatism of mainstream statism as it has actually appeared.

Think about our own Hans Hoppe. The thing that attracted him to Marxism before he was introduced to Austro-Libertarianism, was that it was a holistic system and it therefore started and depended on fundamentals-- intellectual building blocks upon which the rest of the doctrines were constructed.In any case, three examples of libertarian shortcomings with regard to understanding modern socialism should suffice.

First, unlike traditional socialism, modern self-labeled socialists do not really call for state ownership of the means of production. In my opinion, it is a great injustice that this occurred and Mises gets almost zero credit. I think he dismantled the very idea of single party ownership so decisively that now people use the word socialism but that can't actually adhere to its original meaning. This is Mises' vindicating achievement, but no one talks about it. Rather, as will be elaborated in the Summer 2019 issue of Austro Libertarian Mag, modern socialism is much more akin to socialism; where workers own the business firms of the society.

There is "collective" ownership of the means in that sense and that sense alone.This brings me to point two: socialists, in their original or modern form, have never been against personal property. They are against private property. By this distinction (a distinction libertarians, and therefore myself, refuse to make) they mean there is a difference between consumer goods being owned in whole by the individual (legitimate) and capital goods being owned by individuals (illegitimate); or at least, by individuals who did not mix their labor with said capital good (such as capitalists!)Finally, socialism was not the struggle Americans faced in the twentieth century. We faced, and still face, interventionism; or the unhampered market.

Private ownership of the means of production, together with severe government involvement, subsidy, protection, bailout, (government granted) monopolization, price controls, regulation, taxes, mandates, etc etc. This is why the socialist left just called it all capitalism. They misunderstood, of course, but we have to be fair and understand that most of it was what Mises wrote against in his Planning For Freedom essay: it was the alleged mixed economy. And as it begins to crumble, capitalist libertarians and socialists are both pining for the future.In any case, on those three points, the crux of it all is this: libertarians need to realize A) socialism has its intellectually worthy adherents, B) just because the great enemy of the 20th century was Keynesianism doesn't mean this will be true over the next decade; socialism (which must NEVER be confused with interventionism) is on the rise, and C) we need to stop misunderstanding and misrepresenting them. This gives them power and makes us look downright idiotic.

About the author

C.Jay Engel is the founder and publisher of Bastion Magazine. He has written for, LRC, David Stockman, and related. He owns several consulting business, actively works on the magazine, and lives in Northern CA.

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