Socialism has killed over 100 million dissidents and spread terror, misery, and famine over one quarter of the Earth. All of the earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, tyrannies, and wars of the last four centuries combined have not produced such devastating effects. That is a sheer and simple fact, accessible to anyone who can look into The Black Book of Communism and do some elementary calculations.

Since, however, what determines our beliefs are not facts but rather interpretations, the devout socialist always has recourse to the subterfuge of explaining away that formidable succession of calamities as the effect of fortuitous events independent from the essence of socialist doctrines, which could then maintain, immune to all the misery of its accomplishments, the beauty and dignity of a superior ideal.

To what extent is this claim intellectually respectable and morally acceptable?

The socialist ideal is, in essence, the diminishment or elimination of differences in economic power by means of political power. But no one can effectively arbitrate the differences between the more powerful and the less powerful who is not himself more powerful than both: socialism therefore must gather a power sufficient not only to impose itself on the poor, but also to successfully face the whole of the rich. Thus it cannot level the differences in economic power without producing even deeper differences in level of political power. Moreover, given that the structure of political power cannot float in thin air, but rather that it costs a lot of money, it is not conceivable that the political power might subjugate economic power without absorbing it into itself, taking the riches from the rich and managing it directly. Hence under socialism, precisely contrary to what happens in capitalism, there is no difference between political power and control over wealth: the higher an individual and a group’s position in the political hierarchy, the larger the wealth at their utter and immediate disposal. There shall be no class richer than that of the rulers. Then will the economic differences not only have necessarily increased, but rather, after being consolidated in the unified political and economic powers, they will have become impossibly unsurmountable, except by the complete destruction of the socialist system. And even destruction will not solve the problem, because, there existing no wealthy class outside of the nomenklatura, they will keep the economic power in their hands, merely swapping their means of legal legitimacy and now calling themselves the bourgeoisie. The socialist experience, when it is not crystallized in a bureaucratic oligarchy, dissolves into wild capitalism. Tertium non datur.[1] Socialism thus consists in the promise of obtaining a certain result by those means which necessarily produce the inverse result.

One needs only understand this to immediately realize the emergence of a bureaucratic elite endowed with tyrannical political power and opulent riches is no accident, but rather the logical and inevitable consequence of the very principle of the socialist idea.

This line of reasoning is accessible to any person with average intelligence, but given a certain propensity of weaker minds towards believing rather in desires than in reason, one could yet forgive those poor creatures who give into the temptation of “taking a gamble” on the lottery of reality, betting on chance against logical necessity.

Even if that is incredibly sleazy, still it is human. It is humanlike stupidity to insist on learning from one’s own experience when we have been gifted with logical reasoning, precisely so we could reduce the amount of experience needed for learning.

What is not human at all is rejecting at one and the same time the lesson from logics that shows us the contradictions of a project and the lesson from experience which, so it could rediscover what logic had already taught it, caused the deaths of 100 million people.

No intellectually sane human being has the right to cling so obstinately to an idea so as to demand that humanity sacrifice, on the altar of its promises, not only its rational intelligence, but its very instinct of survival.

Such incapacity or refusal to learn denounces, in the mind of the socialist, the voluntary and perverse debasement of intelligence to a subhuman level, the conscious abdication of that basic capacity for discerning which is the very condition of humanness in the human being. Being a socialist means refusing out of pride to take up the responsibilities of a human consciousness.

Olavo de Carvalho
Jornal da Tarde, October 28, 1999
Translation by Pedro Cava

[1] Translator’s note: from the Latin, “[a] third is not given,” there is no third option.

One thought on “What Does It Mean to Be a Socialist?

  1. I’ve just bought the Black Book of Communism to study to see where the world is headed. For it is clear that the unholy trio of Gates, Schwab and Soros have exactly this in mind for us

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