A classic cold-war era joke used two cows to illustrate the various political systems that dominated the 20th century world. There were different renditions of the joke, but they tended to follow this pattern:
- SOCIALISM: You have two cows. State takes one and gives it to someone else.
- COMMUNISM: You have two cows. State takes both of them and gives you milk.
- FASCISM: You have two cows. State takes both of them and sells you milk.
- NAZISM: You have two cows. State takes both of them and shoots you.
- CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
...and so on. The original point of the joke was to highlight the differences between ideologies in theory and ideologies in practice.
Socialism in theory means those who have been blessed with prosperity freely share their bounty with the less fortunate. Socialism in practice involves the state using force to redistribute this bounty.
Communism in theory takes socialism to the next level -- where the masses freely choose to collectivize their labor as well as their possessions for the good of all. Communism in practice involves the state collectivizing labor and possessions for the good of the state, allowing the masses just enough to subsist on.
Today, I was intrigued to notice that modern renditions of the joke leave communism the way it was in older renditions, but the socialism part of the joke has shifted to the in-theory definition, with the clear intent of promoting it as the superior system.
|The entire chart can be found at The Meta Picture|
"You have two cows. You give one to your neighbor."
Socialism is just people being nice to each other. Who could be against that?
If socialism worked like that in practice, I would be more than happy to concede the point.
But here's the reality: Socialists have never been happy with the inefficiencies of voluntary wealth redistribution, and have always ended up resorting to state force to advance their goals.
I believe that the utopian goals of socialism can never be realized except at the point of a gun. Feel free to contend otherwise in the comments.