The real mistakes of socialism

Here is a short list of what I think were the major mistakes made in socialist approaches to addressing poor distribution of wealth and other contradictions


Lack of spiritual engagement, denial that human experience must have a spiritual depth and therefore only reinforcing a materialist perspective, even while trying to redistribute wealth (thus assuming basic values of capitalism)

1) Emphasis on monetary value. Assuming value can be converted into cash, into numbers

2) Embrace of an industrial society and assumption that the organization of the industrailized society is the best

3) Lack of recognition for, and approval of,  traditional ways of living and their wisdom.

4) Assuming the myth of modernity as an absolute break and a modern life is absolutely superior

5) Ignoring impact of industry or policy on the environment.

6) Ignoring the role of local government and of local village economies

7) Allowing for a centralization of the economic structures that made it easy for people to take over large units, privatize them and become billionaires overnight. The failure of socialism to build in guards against this abuse was a big mistake.

8) Lack of balance of powers between different parts of government to avoid concentration of power in one institution
9) Mistaken assumption that because markets are exploitative that there is no use for markets.

3 responses to “The real mistakes of socialism

  1. Craig March 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    In this, I see no criticism of the central concept at the core: That as individuals we are irrelevant, and that we exist only inasmuch as we are members of a group or class, and that a central body can “manage” us like cattle, in our best interests but without our direct control.

    What I don’t see here is a call for democratic governance or democratic control of the economy.

    And there are many aspects of traditional “ways” that were incredibly destructive. Swidden agriculture, for example; or clear-cutting, or slavery. Slavery has been the hallmark of most human societies for thousands of years. One of the chief criticisms we can level against most socialism in practice is that it revives various forms of compulsion and extortion in labour reminiscent of slavery.

    I would start my criticism of socialist approaches to governance and economics at the lack of democracy inherent in most socialisms.

  2. Emanuel Pastreich March 25, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Give me a day to respond. I am starting from my own perspective on the topic, but my list is not comprehensive.

  3. Your friend October 30, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Capitalism has always alligned itself fiercly against socialism. But once the winners take all — and they are going for it great guns now — my guess is the intent will be to give a paltry socialism that appears to be a democracy but in fact is a mask underneath which lies a tyrannical authoritarianism.

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