[Updated to change title from "Human Nature" to "Human Behavior"]
Ok. I said I wasn’t going to post until after the election was over. And although I have written some posts since I said that, they haven’t squarely related to the reasons I originally started this blog. Unfortunately, all I have time to do right now is lay out the general outlines of what I’d like to use this forum to explore.
As a starting point, just out of curiosity, I did a search on Open Salon for “socialism.” Here is a very subjectively chosen list of links to just a few of the results:
· A post about socialism and Christianity, which points out that wealth has been and is being redistributed in this country, to the tune of trillions of dollars, only all in an upward direction, and makes the case that Jesus was more in favor of redistributing it downward.
· A post entitled “Will Socialism Save Capitalism?,” which defines socialism as “[a] political philosophy advocating substantial public involvement, through government ownership, in the means of production and distribution,” and argues that it is a necessary corrective when the excesses of capitalism get out of hand.
· A post from October 28, 2008, entitled “Socialism, or What?,” which makes apocalyptic predictions about the likely aftermath of the recent election – none of which, fortunately, appear to have materialized.
· A post with the provocative title “You say 'socialism' like it's a bad thing....,” which argues that a “little” socialism, such as “affordable health insurance,” would be a welcome change.
· And one by a Canadian, giving some very interesting and intelligent background for the question “ What do Americans Mean When They Say "Socialist"?”
All very interesting – certainly more so than “who is the sexiest man living,” which strikes me as a rather trivial topic given the times we’re living in. But still not really what I want to talk about.
Here are the sorts of questions I do want to think – and write – about:
· What are the implicit assumptions about human nature and human behavior that underly socialism, and what are the equivalent assumptions for free market capitalism?
· Which set of assumptions is closer to being valid?
· What would have to change about the way humans behave and view the world, in order to make socialism work the way it ideally should?
Needless to say, I do not pretend to have answers to any of these questions. But I do have some ideas, which I plan to explore in future posts. In the meantime, I await, and welcome, your comments and ideas.
I would also appreciate suggestions for reading matter on these topics. Just to give you a sense of where I’m coming from, here are some books I have found thought-provoking and helpful:
The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
Island, by Aldous Huxley
The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm
The Revolution Betrayed, by Leon Trotsky