a briefing document
|Socialist religions is one of a series of documents analysing dysfunctional social, or group, behaviour in modern society.|
|1||factional hatreds within religions|
|2||the error of tolerating intolerance|
|3||some dogmas of socialism|
|emotion versus reason|
|4||commentaries on some socialist parties|
|Mussolini / Fascism||Nazi Party|
As the various factions of the left fight amongst themselves, they generate all sorts of religious sub-cults. Some of the world’s bitterest hatreds are reserved for heretics, between Jews and Islamists and Catholics and Protestants and Calvinists, all stemming from a Abrahamic root, while other traditions such as Hinduism and Confucianism are hardly noted among the squabbling factions.
Likewise, the modern, shallow, simplistic, puritanical religion that is socialism has its internal hatreds as its members spit words like fascist, communist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, Nazi, at one another. Never be confused—these are just battling factions within the modern religion that is socialism, each sub-cult searching for power, expansion, recruits and disciples.
I am concentrating here on central features of the dogmatic religion that is socialism. Of course, it is obvious that many other hierarchical religions share some, or all, of similar central characteristics. Socialism has essentially risen in the West, particularly in northern Europe. Socialism has, naturally, imbibed much of the cultural background of Western religions. The authoritarianism is virtually identical to that of Rome, the Puritanism is clear in several branches of Protestantism, and the tendency to rewrite history, brilliantly satirised by Orwell in 1984, has a long precedent in the heretic-hunting, also perfected by Rome.
One issue that should be kept in mind is that socialism is a fairly recent christianist schism. As religions gain history, they tend to become more complex, whereas socialism is still at a very crude stage of early development. Hence, very likely, socialism’s easy appeal to under-educated people.
Like all socialists, Oswald Mosley  was eager in his wish to restrict the civil liberties of others. Ironically, he was the one whose civil liberties were heavily curtailed through much of his life. The aspiring liberal democracy has a theoretical conflict at its very centre—how to stop would-be dictators from using the mechanisms of democracy as a means of obtaining the power to impose dictatorship upon others. Liberal democracies cannot tolerate intolerance, for such toleration inevitably contains the potential seeds of its own destruction.
Like religious fundamentalists everywhere, socialists pursue the salvation of others with dedicated enthusiasm. Being ‘idealistic’ and rather shallow, they just know what is good for their fellow citizens. They start by assuming that their nostrums of absolute perfection will be obvious to all right-minded people. But people are not like this, people tend to want to follow their own objectives, not those of the hopeful dictator. The authoritarian mind-set is: that which the authoritarian wants, is to be called good; and anything that opposes the ‘programme’ is bad, or evil.
Hayek has set out clearly the steps by which the (socialist) idealist must inevitably move towards dictatorship, as their wonderful visions are opposed by the uninformed. I have no intention of repeating Hayek’s work here. Every person should read Road to Serfdom as part of their basic education.
Self-rule, as opposed to centralised rule, requires education to self-development. Authoritarian power structure demands education to herd-like conformity and obedience. By the structure of education in the classrooms, can you assess the present objectives and the good will and judgment of the elite. For more on power and the need for power see ‘why power’.
People who are fearful of things that they cannot control, cannot believe that society will function without control, preferably theirs! A major element driving dictatorships has been the fear of lack of control and ‘order’. It is has been the ‘democratic’ societies that have far outperformed the various socialist ‘experiments’. But what is very striking, when studying the various socialist hells on earth of the last century, is the ‘religious’ dogmatic certainty among the proponents that they had achieved some major social advance and vast intellectual breakthrough. Yet Adam Smith knew better long before these shallow cults developed.
There is nothing more designed to destroy wealth than governments that imagine they can choose better for us that which we want than we can achieve without their beneficent ‘help’. However, we have also moved on somewhat since the understanding of Adam Smith:
See also the logic of ethics.
This ‘knowing what is best for others’ is definitive of puritanism, quite apart from an attachment to ‘simplicity’ and the miserly, a taste for the hair shirt, the distrust of any joy or enthusiasm for anything but the objectives of the party (‘religion’). Even the songs and the parades must be sterile of any content beyond that of the great project.
Highly definitive of the various sub-cults of socialism is an utter contempt for the individual. The individual is but an ant that serves the nest—and, of course, the leaders of the nest. The ant must have no life or ambition or interest that does not serve the state. Hence, the grave outrage expressed by socialists in Britain when Margaret Thatcher said, “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people”. 
For the libertarian, society is the expression of the individuality of millions of independent beings. For the socialist, there is no such thing as an individual. Society is driven by abstract forces of historical materialism. For socialism, it is the economic structure that defines the individual, it is not the individual who, independently, chooses the manner in which they should live and develop.
Strangely, free-market dogmatism, which is often mistakenly thought of as a libertarian view, is also infected by the socialist virus. The markets decide, individuals do not plan and construct society to meet their own needs. The notion that markets might fail is difficult to impress on the free-market dogmatist; just as hard as driving the idea that the state may fail into the skull of a committed socialist.
Interestingly, socialists have the view that individuals can be perfected by the setting up of ‘perfect’ states. This is the reverse of the Western individualism that has grown out of christianism, where the onus is upon the individual to seek a higher state of grace. This idea has also surfaced in behaviourism with Skinner, who claimed that we may control ourselves by controlling our environment. These positions are yet more examples of the error of either-or ‘logic’ central to Aristotelianism. For more detail see the logic of ethics.
What matters is action, not analysis.
And of course, any change is really designed to serve the interests and impulses of the would-be rulers.
Socialists tend to despise ‘ordinary people’. Their basic view is that things would better if only they were in charge. To this end, socialists have an attitude that, in their narrowness and sophistry, they mislabel pragmatism. Thus, an attitude developed early among socialist ‘ intellectuals’ of the useful myth (see, for example, Georges Sorel).
It does not matter what the useful myth is, it does not matter whether the myth is true or false. What matters is whether the masses can be made to believe it and follow it. The myth can be “The problem is the fat cats, the capitalists” of Marx, or the National Socialist myth that “All our problems are due to the Jews”.
The purpose of the myth is as a rallying point around which society can be ‘militarised’ and all can be made to march in lock-step. No dissent can be tolerated and any opponent can be smashed for the good of ‘the people’. Everything must be organised and controlled. The central slogan being:
“All for one and one for all”.
In summary, socialism is an irrationalist creed that cannot appeal to reason. Socialism relies upon appeal to emotions and is a creed of the mob.
There are several confusions among those who attempt to study the development of socialism: communism confused with anarchy; dozens of flavours using the word socialism, revolution and so on. But the essential commodity hardly varies—always the simplistic nostrums and the same basic dogmas. The one consistent definition that seems to be available among the adherents is “we are the real socialists”. When questioned about other supposed variants, one is consistently told, “Oh, that is not - or was not - real socialism!” The prayer books vary, whether Mao’s little red book, Mein Kampf or the communist manifesto of Marx and Engels. The prayers, the slogans, the songs and the flags vary (although you can usually rely on a lot of red and black), but the underlying dogmas are easily recognisable.
Just about every version of socialism has a psychological need for a class or racial enemy. So they acquire enemies and scapegoats, whether it be the Jews, the bourgeoisie, the democracies, the non-Arabs; or, in due course, even other versions of socialism, such as the real dangers of communist socialism. Thus in the end, one version of socialism justifies itself by reference to the dangers of another flavour of the self-same product.
As Jeeves repeatedly observes,
Authoritarian regimes do not arise from reason, they arise from the psychology of the individual. Some individuals want to be ‘in charge’ and, therefore, subscribe to dogmas which justify that wish and drive. The dogmas are not developed on the basis of what works most efficaciously for society. All the evidence of history, and especially of the 20th century, is that liberal democracies are much more creative, efficient and productive. But a ‘democratic’ structure does not justify the maintenance of dictatorial power positions, nor the perks and vanities of power.
Socialism is inherently authoritarian. Despite claims that ‘socialism’ has roots in anarchism, authoritarians simply have no grasp of the meaning of anarchy; the notion is quite outside their natural and rigid headset. Anarchism is far more expressed in ‘free-market’ capitalism; it is not something you can deal with by laying down a dogmatic formula, or a set of rules to tell you how to act in any and every circumstance. The ideas of such rules are antipathetic to free choices among responsible beings. Democracies deal with rules with systems of laws administered by independent judges. The independence is a categorical essential in an ever-changing world, but the authoritarian sees allowing independence as unfair or uncontrolled. For a free society, the rules are not sacrosanct, people have to think and judge! Thus the general contempt for ‘effete’ and ‘weak’ democracy that pervades those seeking ‘revolutionary’ socialism.
For a currently fictional, but excellent, description of a more developed anarchic society, see and then there were none.
To have a revolution, it is quite essential to have a class or group of persons to revolt against!
Much of the theorising in the 19th and early 20th centuries came from people incensed by the contrast between the fortunes being made by the new entrepreneurs of the industrial revolution, and the poverty of the multitudes that fled the countryside as feudalism broke down. In their intellectual poverty, the socialist theorists have consistently sought groups to ‘blame’. Few had the patience or the foresight to await the riches forecast by Adam Smith from the growth of industrial society and the development of the mass-production factory system. So we move onto the next basic dogma: the supposed end of property. But, of course, property is concentrated in the hands of those who own the socialist states.
"What luck for the rulers that men do not think.”
There is nothing more designed to cause a tragedy of the commons than government ‘ownership’ or no ownership at all where, because no-one feels responsible, everyone plunders and wastes. Further, ownership gives independence to individuals, quite the reverse of the normal aim of socialist governments. The only ownership a socialist government wants is to be itself sole owner and controller of every resource in a new and even more dull form of feudalism. Everybody, everything is the property of the government.
It is in this area that socialism has some valid concerns with the capitalist society, but the quality of ‘analysis’ is dire beyond belief. As Keynes says,
|John Maynard Keynes, The End of Laissez-Faire|
|The related briefings document, Citizen’s wage, suggests a major way of undermining government intrusion and power, while also remedying the valid concerns in this area exploited by socialism.|
|Related further reading|
|authoritarianism and liberty||citizen's wage|
|fascism is socialism||power, ownership and freedom|
|papal encyclicals and marx - some extracts||corporate corruption, politics and the law|
|islamic authoritarianism||British establishment interference with civil liberties during the 20th century—the example of Diana and Oswald Mosley|
from Russell, Bertrand, The practice and theory of bolshevism,
first published in 1920 by George Allen & Unwin. 
1995, Spokesman [Nottingham, UK], 0851245412 pbk / 0851245404 hbk
email abelard at abelard.org
© abelard, 2003,18 august
the address for this document is http://www.abelard.org/briefings/socialist_religion.htm