Enslaved by Collectivism

hitlerThe left loves to rationalize that a totalitarian rule is necessary to achieve the utopian world they envision. They argue that a totalitarian regime ruled by “decent” people, for the “good” of the whole, is the only way to survive.  What folly – the creation of a totalitarian regime demands suppression of freedom, suppression of the people as a whole in order to exist.

It is generally human nature for people to be drawn to a man or party who seems to possess the strength and resolute to “get things done,” who exercises the greatest appeal, and inspires confidence. Yet, under a totalitarian rule, this person becomes not our  savior  but the greatest enemy of a free society.

There is little doubt that a totalitarian Fascist system in America would differ greatly from say Hitler or Stalin’s regimes but judged on the world’s historical past, an American Fascist rule would, in the end, prove no different or less intolerable than its prototypes.  The width of the gulf which separates totalitarianism from a democratic rule, the difference between the whole moral atmosphere under collectivism and the essentially individualist Western civilization, is a gulf that no sane free person should aspire to cross.

That socialism can be put into practice without the destruction of our current Constitutional government is a lesson learned by many social reformers in the past. The success of fascism was preceded by the refusal of the European Socialist parties to learn the lesson that in a planned society, the question of what a majority of the people agree on is not as important as what the largest single group wants done, a group that is not likely to be formed by the best but rather by the worst elements of society.

A potential dictator cannot rely solely on such a group but must weld together a closely coherent and homogeneous body of supporters, the docile and gullible who have no strong convictions of their own but are prepared to accept a ready-made system of values drummed into their ears loudly and frequently.  It is a method employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of the masses.

It is almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program, on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off, than on any positive task. The contrast between the “we” and the “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidify a group for common action. From the left’s point of view, this “creed” gives them the greater advantage. The enemy, whether it be the Jews of Germany or Christians  in America, seems to be an indispensable requisite in the army of a totalitarian leader.

When an individual or government is placed above the individual, only those individuals who work for the same ends can be regarded as members of the community.   Indeed, the very concepts of humanity and therefore of any form of internationalism are entirely products of the individualist view of man, and there can be no place for them in a collectivist system of thought.

The moral basis of collectivism has long been debated but what should concern all Americans is not its moral basis but its moral results.   Collectivism on a world scale seems unthinkable except in the service of the ruling elite. What true socialist would contemplate the equal division of existing capital resources among the people of the world when they regard capital resources as not belonging to humanity but to the ruling elite?

One of the inherent contradictions of the collectivist philosophy is that, while basing itself on humanistic morals, it is practicable only within a relatively small group. Can anyone realistically conceive of a collectivist program other than in the service of a limited group, or whether collectivism can exist in any form other than that of some kind of particularism, be it nationalism, racialism, or classism? The left’s belief in a community of aims and interests seems to presuppose a greater degree of similarity of outlook and thought than truly exists between men.

The principle that the “end” justifies the “means” is the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves “the good of the whole,” because the “good of the whole” is to him the only criterion that must matter.

The raison d’etat in which collectivist ethics has found its formulation, knows no other limit than that set by expedience, the suitability of the particular act for the end in view.   And what the raison d’etat affirms with respect to the relations between different countries applies equally to the relations between different individuals within the collective state.   There can be no limit to what its citizen must be prepared to do, no act which his conscience must prevent him from committing, if it is necessary for an end which the community has set itself or which his superior orders him to achieve.

And, it is not enough that a man must be prepared to accept justification of vile deeds, he must himself be prepared actively to break every moral rule he has ever known. Since it is the supreme ruler who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own. They must have no ideals of their own which they want to realize; no ideas about right or wrong which might interfere with the intentions of the leader.

Truth makes room for itself. Collectivism is the enslavement of the strong by the weak, the productive by the parasitic and the good by the evil. Change starts with self-sufficiency and solid principles. It begins with unwavering pride in the value of sovereignty and liberty. It begins with a relentless pursuit of balance and truth.

Source:  The Road To Serfdom by F.A. Hayek

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