Wednesday, May 25, 2005

consequences of socialism

As I was saying the other day, socialism is a flawed political construct. It simply runs counter to human nature and indeed individual liberty. The typical result is economic ruin that is driven by an egomaniacal autocrat or a gang of bureaucrats. Take Robert Mugabe for example. He’s the aging kleptocrat that rules Zimbabwe with an iron fist.
He will only step down when his "revolution" is complete. He says this means the redistribution of white-owned land but he also wants to hand-pick his successor, who must of course come from within the ranks of his Zanu-PF party. This would also ensure a peaceful old age, with no investigation into his time in office.
But of course, he expects everyone to trust without verifying. It’s for the ‘good of people’…right?
The key to understanding Mr Mugabe is the 1970s guerrilla war where he made his name. World opinion saw him as a revolutionary hero, fighting racist white minority rule for the freedom of his people.
Since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 the world has moved on, but his outlook remains the same. The heroic socialist forces of Zanu-PF, are still fighting the twin evils of capitalism and colonialism.
His opponents, in particular the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are labelled "sell-outs" to white and foreign interests and, as during the war, this tag has been a death warrant for many MDC supporters.
While I certainly appreciate the desire for independence from colonial rule, common sense dictates that capitalism enables wealth creation, but socialism stifles economic growth.
But Mr Mugabe's critics - and these days they are many in a country where he was once an untouchable figure - say that despite his socialist rhetoric, his rule has been one of state capitalism which has not materially benefited ordinary Zimbabweans.

The president's political cronies have meanwhile been given prime pieces of formerly white-owned land and lucrative state contracts irrespective of how they perform, and the economy as a whole has suffered.
You see, ‘state capitalism’ is acceptable because mere plebes just cannot be entrusted with their own lives.
As many others have found, it is far easier to find ways of sharing the national cake than to make it grow bigger. Professor Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe sums it up by saying that "whenever economics gets in the way of politics, politics wins every time".
I’m shocked….shocked, I say! OK, back to the present. According to a BBC article, Mugabe’s grand socialist scheme of central planning and land allocation is fading fast. Attempts of ‘ordinary’ Zimbabweans to flirt with free-trade has been met with force.
Paramilitary units armed with batons and riot shields have been smashing up stalls of street traders as they target the huge informal sector.

Police have destroyed 34 flea markets and netted some Z$900m ($100,000) in fines and seized some Z$2.2bn of goods.

Zimbabweans in Harare are said to be absolutely furious at the police operation codenamed "restore order".
Also, not surprisingly, last week the Zimbabwean dollar was devalued by 45%. The brutality and strict control that is part and parcel of socialism is not theoretical. These people have suffered for more than two decades under that misguided ideology. When individuals are prevented from engaging in free markets and indeed forbidden to own property, negative consequences are sure to follow. This is far from the compassion that the anti-capitalism crowd claims to advocate.

via: Café Hayek

Update: The new cause-celeb, signified by a plastic white wrist band is called Make Poverty History. Stphen Pollard has an excellent post that points out the backward thinking of spoiled, 'compassionate' Hollywood socialists…uh, I mean socialites.
Much Third World poverty is the result of governments taking the decision, in effect, to remain poor. The conditions under which they can prosper are known, and available, if those in power choose to avail themselves of them. As Hernando de Soto (who has done much to alleviate poverty, not least through his seminal book, The Mystery of Capital) points out, it is easy to make a country prosperous. It needs only security of life and property, and markets in which property rights can be valued and traded. The West’s prosperity is built on property rights and the rule of law; it is the denial of those rights which causes poverty and prevents growth.

via: Samizdata