Guns or Butter

Does Socialism have a choice?


History abounds with evidence that highly socialized economies are able to produce war goods in abundance but unable to produce consumer goods in anything like adequate supply. We read, for instance, that when the Inca rulers commenced their socialization of the Peruvian economy in the late 12th century, an increase in number and scope and success of military operations occurred, but also an increase in the oppression of the ordinary peasant and worker, along with a gradual decline in his living standard. Thus, by the 15th century, the Inca King, Pachacutec, having "completed his work of unification by laws which regulated work with great precision, established compulsory military training and reduced the standard of living of the people to the lowest point. No more feather ornaments or clothes of vicuna wool, no more simmering drinks, one drink only—maize chicha. This hopeless austerity," adds the author, "is today called basic leveling," and he notes wryly, "One could wish that the ruler had applied to himself and his family the same high principles which he imposed on his people." [1] We might, in our own times, apply the same descriptions to Communist Russia, Red China, or any of the other highly socialized economies that have been spawned in this century.

One would think that this abundant historical evidence on the nature and effects of socialism would give the American intellectual community—and especially the members of its universities—some pause in their advocacy of that doctrine. But not so. Generally, either they blithely ignore the plain evidence of past and present history or they twist it to the account of socialism. Thus, turning light into darkness, they will often argue in this fashion: "Socialist economies are demonstrably productive—consider their ability to produce war goods in abundance. That they do not produce consumer goods in abundance must, therefore, be due to mere accidents of one sort or another. When these accidents are eliminated, socialist economies will produce consumer goods in as much abundance as they now produce war goods."

A more militant form of the same argument is worth our particular attention. It goes: "Communist Russia and her socialist allies are forced to produce great amounts of war goods in order to counter capitalist (laissez-faire) aggressions and threats. It is this production of an abundance of war goods that prevents Communist Russia and her friends from producing an abundance of consumer goods. Once the capitalist (laissez-faire) world is destroyed and the socialist world thus permitted to live in peace, the latter will fulfill the productive dreams of its founders. So our first task must be to destroy capitalism (laissez-faire)."


It is, of course, a mistake for anyone to refer to the economies of the United States, England, or the other members of the self-styled "free world" as laissez- faire or capitalistic (in the sense of "laissez-faire capitalistic"), even though this terminology is common in socialist and other circles. When Frances Trollope came to America in the late 1820's, to a large extent in the United States and to a small one in England, a laissez-faire economy did no doubt exist. Mrs. Trollope tells us, for instance:

They [the Americans] knew not, they cared not, for her [Great Britain's] kings nor her heroes; their thriftiest trader was their noblest man; the holy seats of learning were but the cradles of superstition; the splendour of the aristocracy, but a leech that drew their "golden blood." The wealth, the learning, the glory of Britain, was to them nothing; the having their own way everything.

Can any blame their wish to obtain it? Can any lament that they succeeded?

And now the day was their own, what should they do next? Their elders drew together, and said, "Let us make a government that shall suit us all; let it be rude, and rough, and noisy; let it not affect either dignity, glory, or splendour; let it interfere with no man's will, nor meddle with any man's business; let us have neither tithes nor taxes, game laws, nor poor laws; let every man have a hand in making the laws, and no man be troubled about keeping them; let not our magistrates wear purple, nor our judges ermine…let every man take care of himself, and if England should come to bother us again, why then we will fight altogether." [2]

A government which imposes neither taxes, tithes, game laws, nor poor laws; a government which interferes with no man's will or meddles in his business; a government which leaves each person to take care of himself, is certainly a laissez-faire government! We may want to discount this account of Mrs. Trollope's to some extent, but, distilled as it was from several years' personal experience running a business in the United States, a wide acquaintance with Americans, a keen, observant mind, and an attitude toward Americans and their manners that was by no means sympathetic, it cannot, on the whole, be quarreled with.

But if in the late 1820's laissez-faire largely ruled the American scene, it visibly no longer does, nor has it for several generations at least. The condition that now reigns is compounded of a determination by government, society, and individuals to see that taxes and tithes are levied everywhere they possibly can be, to see that game laws, poor laws, and their offspring, e.g., antipollution laws, pure food laws, social security laws, etc., etc. are multiplied everywhere they possibly can be, to see that everyone's business is meddled in wherever it possibly can be, and above all, to see that no one is allowed to take care of himself. This peculiar state of mind has been sometimes termed "welfarism," sometimes "interventionism," and its political manifestation, "the welfare state" or "the interventionist state." But the question whether laissez-faire capitalism or welfare-interventionism in fact prevails in the nonsocialist or noncommunist world is indifferent to the conclusion that I finally want to argue for in this article. That conclusion is that, whatever sorts of nonsocialist economies may prevail, replacing them by socialist ones must result, not in a world at peace, but a world at total war. My premise for this conclusion will rest, in turn, on a demonstration that it is no accident at all that socialized economies, though proving capable of producing abundances of war goods, have historically proved incapable of producing even bare sufficiencies, much less abundances, of consumer goods. [3]

Putting my contentions in a nutshell, I shall maintain that the success of socialized economies in producing war goods and their seemingly discrepant failure in producing consumer goods can be traced to these two sources: inherent differences in the distribution of war goods and consumer goods, and inherent differences in the motivations affecting the production of each. I shall deal with the inherent differences of distribution first.


Since the distribution of war goods rests ultimately upon the demands and calculations of a supreme military commander, we shall want to ask at the outset what criteria of requisition motivate this personage or body of personages. Does the supreme military commander, for instance, concern himself with the competition of men's appetites for satisfaction? With respect to war goods themselves, he clearly does not. Men have no appetite for tanks per se or bombs per se. What competition there is for war goods comes down to a few contending generals arguing matters of tactics, strategy, and logistics. This general argues, for instance, that he needs a thousand tanks placed in such-and-such a location in order to carry out such-and-such a plan; another general argues that the plan in question calls for five hundred tanks placed in such-another location, and so on.

In contrast, the distribution of consumer goods has as its end the contending appetites of everyone. People do desire food per se, clothes per se, cigarettes per se, etc. They vie in their consumption of these things; and they are immediately satisfied or dissatisfied in the distributions that eventuate.

We already see, then, the following inherent differences characterizing the distribution of war goods and consumer goods. The demand for war goods reduces, finally, to the demands of a single person or a singular group of persons, i.e., high-ranking military officers. The demand for consumer goods involves the demands of everyone. The requisition of the former rests not on the direct gratification of men's appetites but on such removed and abstract ends as victory, strategic advantage, etc. The ordering and parceling of the latter have as their immediate end the gratification of men's appetites.

Flowing from these differences in distribution and purposes are these further ones. The military commander does not have to concern himself with questions of an equilibrium between supply and demand. Thus, he does not have to concern himself with the question whether all the war goods he requisitions will be used up. Rather, the considerations that motivate his requisitions are of these sorts: Will there exist enough war goods to meet any hypothetical battle emergency? How many tanks are necessary to break through such-and-such a defensive line? Now, such questions and their answers are highly speculative and imprecise. Hypothetical emergencies on the battlefield, for instance, can take almost an indefinite number of shapes. One can hardly know what the enemy is going to do in any exact detail, and so on. Typically, therefore, war goods remain crated in warehouses or standing in fields, simply waiting to be used up. And if not used up, they are disposed of by being dumped into the oceans or converted into scrap. No one can be blamed for this wasteful and chaotic distribution. It is dictated by the inherent nature of war and by the fact that the goods produced for war are not per se objects of human appetites.

Those concerned, on the other hand, with the ordering and distribution of consumer goods must concern themselves with questions of equilibrium between supply and demand. For not only do they cater directly to the appetites of everyone but people's appetites are peculiar in these regards: in some respects, they are practically "bottomless"; in some others, narrowly constricted; in some respects, flexible end changeable, and in some others, rigid and permanent. There is, for instance, almost no limit to most person's appetite for display and luxury. Given the opportunity, one individual can consume the production of a thousand. Yet, people's appetites are narrowly circumscribed also. Men cannot eat hay; they cannot wear shoes of the wrong size; and some people cannot eat beef and others can or will eat very little else. Appetites change in all kinds of ways. The person who likes beef today may detest beef tomorrow. Other appetites and desires of men are as inflexible as rock. Because of the "bottomlessness" of men's appetites the situation can never exist where their appetites are exhaustively satisfied; but because of the narrowness of men's appetites, it is perfectly possible to produce an unusable plethora of some consumer goods, say, size two shoes. Since productive forces are always limited, the manufacture of an unusable plethora of size-two shoes may be reflected in a lack of size-six shoes and the latter in people going bare-footed. Can the person responsible for such erroneous requisitioning excuse himself like the military commander who says, "But who can tell what battlefield emergencies will come to?" Clearly not. What might or might not happen on a battlefield is sheer speculation; a vague cluster of subjunctives. But there is nothing speculative about whether persons are going barefoot or not, and that they are because of just this requisition or that one. Again, the person looking at a thousand unused tanks standing in a field does not see in them victory or defeat, security against an enemy, etc. But what can he, barefooted, see in a warehouse filled with unusable size-two shoes? He must see the shoes that he might be wearing but is not. And seeing this, he will be unhappy, angered, ready to sulk or riot.

I have sketched some of the crucial differences (but surely not all) that characterize the distribution of war goods and consumer goods. What even this partial sketch shows is that the requisition and distribution of war goods not only can but must proceed in a largely arbitrary manner; hence, a largely arbitrary and capricious method of ordering and prorating goods will suffice. But the distribution of consumer goods cannot be arbitrary or capricious. If it is, disequilibriums between supply and demand will be immediately occasioned, and these in turn will make themselves felt immediately in the dissatisfaction and outrage, if not the actual demise, of persons.


One can perceive at once why socialist economies fail in the distribution of consumer goods; and why laissez-faire or free economies not only can but historically have succeeded in this enterprise. Socialist methods of requisitioning and distributing consumer goods are essentially the methods of the military's requisitioning and distributing war goods. Socialist requisitions and distribution are based on speculations covering hypothetical emergencies, economic strategy, etc., projected by a supreme economic planner or body of such personages. They are fated, accordingly, to incorporate all the insensitivity, imprecision, and arbitrariness of the military commander's requisitioning and distribution, without possessing, however, his transcendent prerogatives to be wasteful, imprecise, and economically absurd.

In contrast, laissez-faire economies have built into them what one might compare to an organism's homeostasis, a wondrously immediate sensitivity to all shades and variations of supply and demand, men's appetites both fixed and changeable, and the demands of justice. The possibility and basis for this sensitivity consists of the myriad minds and perceptions of knowledgeable entrepreneurs and the principles of trade and profit. This organic, as opposed to mechanical, interaction of individual minds and free-wills, combined with the principles of trade and profit, adjusts the requisitioning and distribution of consumer goods with mathematical precision and computer speed to supplies and demands and just proportions.

But why, we must ask, should faulty systems of distribution result in inadequate production of consumer goods? What is the connection?

We have already touched on one factor. Chaotic and arbitrary requisitioning and distribution of consumer goods will necessarily result—men being what they are—in unhappy and frustrated persons. Unhappy and frustrated persons are poor producers. One can expect, therefore, in socialist systems, producers of consumer goods who are indifferent to and even alienated from their work. But abundant production rests on conscientious and prideful labor.

Ignoring, however, the temperament of the producer, we might restate Kant's dictum, "Concepts without percepts are empty; percepts without concepts are blind," to read economically: "Distribution without production is empty; production without distribution is blind." What I mean in the last connection is this:

No matter how productive producers might wish to be—say, even that men worked as industriously as ants, producing from a sheer love of work—faulty and imprecise requisitioning and distribution must cut off and choke production. For production is not spun simply out of the good wills of men. Production involves the presence of right amounts of productive factors, raw materials, machines, transportation units, workers, etc. One cannot, for instance, manufacture ten thousand pairs of shoes (no matter how willing one's workforce) if the proper number of hides have not arrived, if the machinery is not in working order, if the workforce consists of unskilled persons, and so on. But the right amount of productive factors requires right requisitioning and distribution. Thus, an economic system that fails inherently to provide precise and sensitive distribution of consumer goods must, a fortiori, fail to produce adequate consumer goods. This failure in production must, in turn, cause to open up still further the already existing gap between adequate requisitioning and distribution and the requisitioning and distribution that in fact obtain; the latter, in a still further falling off in production; the latter in still further disequilibriums in distribution, and so on. Each revolution in this maelstrom of failures carries the economy with ever-increasing speed downward: first, through slow stages of feverish activity and thus seeming but illusory prosperity; next, through accelerating stages of grim austerity and exhortations of sacrifice; and then finally into that fragmentizing chaos of cynicism, despair, depravity, and universal misery which is the lot of men who have known but lost freedom. We trace here both the necessary and historical course of socialism as it infects an advanced economy of laissez-faire capitalism.


There may still, however, seem to exist a serious lacuna in our argument. If the socialist system of distribution must choke off production of consumer goods, how is it that it does not choke off production of war goods? For have we not already admitted that socialist economies can produce war goods in abundance?

Now again two answers suggest themselves to this question. For one thing, when we speak of an abundance of war goods, we refer to a species of things which, as we have already noted, plays no part in the direct satisfaction of men's appetites. War goods are not subject to being devoured, therefore, in the way that consumer goods are. No "bottomless appetites," for example, yawn under them. The comparatively small maw of the battlefield is all that has to be satisfied. A thousand tanks, for example, may seem a very large number and amount of war goods. But say that these thousand tanks were translatable into automobiles at the ratio of ten automobiles to a tank. Ten thousand automobiles are hardly very many automobiles in terms of consumer appetites. What constitutes, then, an "abundance" of war goods does not translate into an abundance, but rather a meager outlay, of consumer goods. It does not follow, therefore, that the same productive forces that might be capable of producing an abundance of war goods would be capable of producing an even barely sufficient, much less an abundant, supply of consumer goods.

Motivation also, and no less importantly, enters into the discrepancy we are dealing with. Men are not in fact ants. They do not toil from a sheer love of work (supposing that ants do). They toil when and because they are motivated to.

Now wherever an abundance of consumer goods is produced, two motivations above all seem to be involved. Elliptically speaking, these are personal gain and the need to toil in order to survive. Within a context of "justice done," though not necessarily elsewhere, [4] these two motivations reflect the two faces of a single coin, private property rights.

On the one hand private property rights say that what I possess, trade for, or earn is not the possession of anyone else or any group of anyone elses. On this rock rests the equation, "The more I produce the more I gain," and on this equation, the motive implied in, "I work harder because I gain more." On the other hand private property rights say that I cannot claim the possessions, bartered goods, or earnings of anyone else or any group of anyone elses, and that hence I am "on my own." On the last rock rests the motive implied in, "If I do not produce I shall die." Needless to say, these two motivations will have their fullest play in laissez-faire economies.

What we must ask now is whether these two motivations which underlie, both in theory and practice, the production of abundant consumer goods can play any role in socialist economies and if so to what extent.


Let us consider the motive of personal gain first. It might, on the surface, seem that far from socialism being inhospitable it is hospitable to this motive. Certainly socialist theorists have generally wanted to maintain that it is to "the Worker's" personal gain to live in a socialized economy. We shall not try to weigh this nebulous claim. What is clear, though, is that when we pass from the Worker (with a capital W) to the individual worker, socialist theory has a different story to tell us. As illustrated in the communist principle, "From each according to his ability to each according to his need," individual personal gain is mixed into the indiscriminate common pot, to be served out not according to production, but need. This is not an accidental feature of socialism or an idiosyncrasy of just some forms of socialist doctrine. It flows from that philosophy's essential principle, from the very notion of socialism itself. The essential principle, the very notion, of socialism is that the individual must give up his economic powers to society. But why must he? The answer is: so that justice will be done! And what is meant by "justice" here? In the last analysis what is meant is that the productive shall not be better off than the unproductive, the strong than the weak, the endowed than the unendowed, etc. If this were not the subtle, half-hidden central principle of socialism, socialism could claim no title to the production of the productive, the strong, the industrious, etc., for the latter, asked to contribute their abundant production to the nonproductive, the weak, the shiftless, etc. could and would indignantly refuse to.

The thought of a socialist economy sustaining itself on the production on the nonproductive while the productive produced for themselves is absurd on the face of it, and this condition above all others is what cannot be tolerated by a socialist notion of justice—and is not. "Social justice" demands that the productive produce for the nonproductive. The result is that socialist theory gravitates either to a rationed equality of distributions, as in Bellamy's LOOKING BACKWARD [5], or an inequality in which the productive, the strong, etc. are not only taken from and the unproductive, the weak, etc. given to but in which the productive receive less than the unproductive or needy, as in Marxist communism.

The theoretical gravitation of socialism is, then, always in opposition to the equation, "The more I produce the more I gain" and therefore to the motivation of personal gain. But is this the gravitation of socialism in practice? One should have to say: yes and no. When Lenin first took power in Russia, for example, he attempted to adhere to his theoretical advocacy of wage-egalitarianism. [6] Distinctions between different sorts of work in terms of pay received, titles bestowed, etc. were abolished. It is indicative that in a very short time this policy had to be reversed under the pressure of drastically declining production [7]; and in the so-called "retreat to NEP" [8] wage-differentials, titles, etc. were restored. The same fluctuations between theory and practice occurred throughout the dictatorship of Stalin and have continued to. It is clear, however, that no matter how socialism may compromise its theoretical principles in this matter, the latter must always vitiate practice and the motivation of personal gain remain in fact largely inoperative. Because efficiency of production is not judged by the market itself in socialism—but by politically oriented bureaucrats—political and other extraneous considerations are bound to enter into, and sour, the determination of who receives "merit" awards for productivity. In addition, those who do not receive equal awards or none at all for productivity are bound to feel that "social justice" is not being done, since the more productive person is being made "better off" than his "fellows." [9] Within a socialist context, therefore, any concession to the motivation of personal gain tends to create about as much disincentive as incentive to produce, for feelings of injustice result in feelings of dissatisfaction and these, as we have already noted, in disincentives to produce.


But, if not the motive of gain, can not socialism still call upon and exploit the motive of self-survival, implied in "If I do not produce I shall die?" It might seem at first sight that socialism not only can but that it must. For it is not mere theory but fact that, in a developed economy at least, men must produce in order to survive and that they strive to survive. To deduce from these premises, though, that the individual in a socialist economy must be motivated by the thought, "If I do not produce I shall die," is to commit a fallacy of division. The socialist, by definition, has to maintain that it should not be necessary for the individual person to see about and to ensure his own survival; society will take care of him; or, in the words of Dr. Leete in LOOKING BACKWARD, "No man any more has any care for the morrow, either for himself or his children, for the nation guarantees the nurture, education, and comfortable maintenance of every citizen from the cradle to the grave" [10]—this is the very raison d'etre and justification for socializing the economy, along with "social justice." When, in this way, an individual's responsibility for maintaining himself is shifted from himself to society or (what amounts in socialist practice to the same thing) government, the motive implied in "If I do not produce I shall die" recedes from the proximate foreground to the remote background. It converts, in fact, into an end transcending the individual. I am not faced directly by the question of survival any longer; society is "guaranteeing" that. But then I am beholden to society; and flowing from this beholdenness is the transcendent duty to work for society. But before we turn to the last sort of motivation we might consider one further sort that takes place in human affairs.

So far as I know no socialist has actually proposed as an essential part of socialist theory that the production of consumer goods in a socialist economy is to be accomplished by the use of governmental force, punishment, prisons, etc. This has, however, long been the contention of nonsocialist thinkers. Thus, Spencer, in his prescient essay, "The Coming of Slavery," published as long ago as 1884, [11] writes:

[In a socialist state] there cannot be as under our existing system, agreement between employer and employed—this the scheme excludes. There must in place of it be command by local authorities over workers and acceptance by the workers of that which the authorities assign to them. And this, indeed, is the arrangement distinctly, but as it would seem, inadvertently, pointed to by the members of the Democratic Federation. For they propose that production should be carried on by "agricultural and industrial armies under State-control": apparently not remembering that armies presuppose grades of officers, by whom obedience would have to be insisted upon; since otherwise neither order nor efficient work could be ensured. [12]

On the ground that a person who "has to labour for the society, and receives from the general stock such portion as the society awards him…becomes a slave to the society"[13] Spencer concludes that the worker in the "industrial army" stands "toward the governing agency in the relation of slave to master." [14] Now whether socialism is literally a state of slavery or not is perhaps debatable but what is not debatable is that both a slave and a subordinate in an army are kept obedient by the ever-present threat of punishment should they disobey. Nor is it debatable that to the extent that an economy is socialized—to the extent, indeed, that government intervenes in any way in an economy—economic motivations are expressible in such sentences as, "I produce because if I do not I shall be punished by the State." But even socialist theorists are generally agreed that coercion by persons, as exemplified in the slave state, is a deterrent to productivity in an advanced economy; and from the same premises one may infer that motivations based on fear of government retaliation are bound to be deterrents also, and not incentives, to the production of consumer goods.

But if the absence of fully operable motives of personal gain and survival and the presence of motives of punishment in the socialist state help account for the failure that all such states in fact seem to display in the production of consumer goods, they obviously do not help account for the discrepancy that concerned us: namely, that though unable to produce consumer goods in sufficiency, socialist states do seem able to produce war goods in abundance. Does this discrepancy rest entirely on the nonmotivational factors that we previously considered? We said that we thought it did not. Presumably, therefore, we need to ask what motivates men beside personal gain, survival, and the fear of punishment, these cupboards having proved, in the present connection, bare.


Now in our discussion of what happens to the motive of survival in a socialist context, we noted that it converts to a transcendent end and duty. Elaborating, we can say that men may sometimes be motivated and spurred by some ideal or purpose which they consider superior to their own personal likes, interests, and lives. Spurred by love of God, for instance, medieval artisans and workers sometimes raised up cathedrals. Spurred by love of country men not only risk their lives on a battlefield but toil in mines, in factories, in shipyards. Call all these motives "transcendent motivations": here we locate not only the answer to our present question but the very sort of motivation that socialist theorists consistently appeal to in their admonitions and manifestoes to the worker. The worker's motive for producing is supposed by these theorists to be expressed in sentences like, "I toil out of duty to the socialist state" or "I toil out of love for humanity." Consider, for example, the following passage (among numerous others like it) in "The New Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1961":

The fulfillment of the grand program of improving the living standard of the Soviet people will have world-wide historic impact. The party calls on the Soviet people to work perseveringly, with inspiration. Every one of the working people of the Soviet Union must do his duty in the building of a Communist society and in the struggle to fulfill the program for the improvement of the people's living standard. (15)

Anyone who would depend on transcendent motivations in the production of consumer goods, however, might well consider Machiavelli's shrewd advice to the Prince," 'Tis better to be feared than loved." In moments of transport, these transcendent reservoirs of men's energies may be called upon in consumer production. But they are reservoirs of energy invoking self-sacrifice, and impulses to self sacrifice are generally either sustained by transcendence of ends or quickly dissipated by self-interest. But transcendent ends must be just that; they must not be visibly akin to oneself. If they are, their transcendence is almost at once eroded. The users of consumer goods, it goes without saying, are as such simply other persons like oneself. Appeals to a person to produce consumer goods for the love of God, or the love of Man, or love of country must therefore soon lose their aura of transcendence and thus their force.

We might take the concrete case of a workman producing shoes. We may imagine that with some effort he manages for a week to look at the shoes he is producing as shoes serving humanity. Sooner or later, though, he must look at these shoes as shoes other individuals like himself will wear or that he might wear. And then he must look with a self-interested eye. And then he must demur inwardly at toiling for "humanity."

In contrast, the producer of war goods cannot look at the tank he is producing as possibly satisfying the appetites of persons like himself. Thus, he can continue to toil under some transcendent end without that erosion of transcendence setting in which is engendered by self-interest.

If, then, we are to conceive realistically of the motivations that spur producers, we can call upon transcendent motivations in the production of war goods but we shall not want to in the production of consumer goods or not, anyhow, for any length of time. The problem for the socialist is that, theoretically, he can only call upon motivations of transcendence or, at the most, motives of transcendence supplemented by motives of punishment.


Both, then, from the side of distribution and the side of the motivations affecting production we can perceive why socialized economies have historically failed and must always fail in the production of adequate consumer goods though they may succeed in the production of adequate war goods. We can perceive, moreover, that the "why" in question has nothing to do with accidents; it has to do, instead, with certain hard realities of human nature and the objective conditions of distribution and production in advanced economies. The claim, therefore, that once the "laissez-faire" world is destroyed and the socialist-communist world is left to its own devices, people will enjoy a super-abundance of consumer goods shows itself to be a deadly lie. If that time comes (God forbid), the only abundance in production has to be in the production of war goods. Here alone will socialist rulers be able to point to successful accomplishment, even as today they advertise their benevolence and statescraft in May Day celebrations devoted, not to festive distributions of food, clothing, and automobiles, but to parades of tanks, rocket-carriers, and flights of jet-bombers.

But the production and display of war goods demands for its raison d'etre the threat or actual presence of war. It is thus absolutely predictable, politicians and their motives being what they are, that in the socialist-communist world which is so devoutly prayed for by so many contemporary "intellectuals" there will reign, should it come about, not the peace prophesied for it, but war of unprecedented virulence and duration. Though the fierce rulers of that world may not be so candid as Mussolini as to exclaim, "[We] above all do not believe either in the possibility or utility of universal peace. War alone brings all human energies to their highest tension and sets a seal of nobility on the people who have the virtue to face it," [16] confronted with monumental and unrelieved failure in almost all other endeavors, [17] armament and aggression must be their inmost thought and constant policy.

Should it be objected that this prediction takes the claims of abstract theory too seriously we should want to reply that in social-economic affairs visible fact is the creature of theory. Thus, the theory that made the thriftiest trader "the noblest man" had as its creature the visible fact that the United States and Canada have a common border of three thousand miles without a fortification and have had for a hundred or more years. On the other hand, wherever one casts one's eye upon the socialist world, past or present, one finds a constant preparation for war, a constant posture of war, a constant aggression. One sees Finland attacked wantonly in 1939 by Russia and later the Baltic States swallowed alive; India attacked by China and Tibet swallowed. At this very date one sees Russia pointing her atomic warheads not only at the United States but at her socialist daughter, China; and China laboring to point an equal number of atomic warheads at her socialist mother, Russia. These visible facts, which are the creature of theory, also, of course, confirm our metatheoretical deductions concerning the philosophies involved.

Dr. John O. Nelson is professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. He has published numerous articles in various philosophical journals.

[1 ] Bertram Flornoy, THE WORLD OF THE INCA (Anchor, Vanguard Press, 1965) p. 178; see also pp. 113-16.

[2] Frances Trollope, DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE AMERICANS (Vintage Book Inc. 1960), p. 406. One might ask, "And how did the Americans find this laissez-faire condition?" Mrs. Trollope has this to say: "A single word indicative of doubt, that any thing, or every thing, in that country is not the very best in the world, produces an effect which must be seen and felt to be understood." (p. 408).

[3] In speaking of economies producing or not producing goods I have, needless to point out, been speaking elliptically. It is, of course, people and not abstractions like economies who produce things. But their production is affected by the economic system they happen to live under and it is to convey this aspect of the matter that I have used the elliptical expressions in question.

A word also needs to be said concerning how I am using the terms "socialist," "socialism," and "socialized." The following contrasts will suffice, I think, to make clear how I use these terms. In a laissez-faire state, the government does not intervene in the operation of the modes of production and relations of distribution; in an interventionist-welfare state it intervenes in the operation by others of these modes and relations; and in a socialist or communist state it, itself, takes over and operates both-usually in the name of "the people." Thus, as Ludwig von Mises points out, the "interventionist state" lies somewhere between the laissez-faire and socialist state, but is ideologically pointed in the direction of the latter.

[4] For example, one might murder for personal gain; or, in a communist state, one might toil in production in order to survive because one is told that if he does not he will be executed or sent to a concentration camp. In neither case would the context be one of "justice done." For a fuller account of the difference between "force of circumstances" and "force of persons," the one operative in laissez-faire and the other in socialism, see this author, "Coercion in Capitalism and in Socialism: The Coercion of Events and Persons," 3 RAMPART JOURNAL (Winter 1967), pp. 21 ff.

[5] Edward Bellamy, LOOKING BACKWARD (Dolphin Books), p. 67. When Dr. Leete is asked "By what title does the individual claim his particular share?" he answers, "His title…is his humanity…When asked if this means "that all have the same share?" Leete replies, "Most assuredly."

[6] For Lenin's theoretical wage-egalitarianism, see Lenin, "State and Revolution" in THE ESSENTIAL WORKS OF MARXISM (Mendel ed., Bantam Books), p. 180.

[7] See Lenin, supra note 6, pp. 96 ff.

[8] IBID., p. 201.

[9] Instructive here are such passages from LOOKING BACKWARD as, "According to our ideas, buying and selling is essentially anti-social in all its tendencies. It is an education in self-seeking at the expense of others." (Emphasis added.) Bellamy, supra note 5, p. 64.

[10] Bellamy, supra note 5, p. 65.

[11] In 45 CONTEMPORARY REVIEW (April 1884).

[12] Spencer, "The Coming Slavery," in Ebenstein, GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS, (Rinehart & Co., 1st ed. 1954), p. 630.

[13] IBID., p.627.

[14] IBID., p. 630.

[15] Krushchev, "The New Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1961," THE ESSENTIAL WORKS OF MARXISM, (Mendel ed.), p. 450.

[16] Mussolini, "The Doctrine of Fascism," READINGS IN FASCISM (Swallow), p. 15.

[17] Some success may be achieved, history shows, in such things as seeing that the streets are kept clean, that passenger trains run on time, etc. But it is only a welfare-state that finds it difficult to cope with such simple things as these.