I just finished Jesús Huerta de Soto’s Socialism, Economic Calculation and Entrepreneurship, only to find that the Cobden Centre’s Andy Duncan has already produced a review. Since his review explains how he went from Marxist to Austrian-school free-marketeer, I shall let him do all the hard work, in his own inimitable style:

Although my self-education had kicked socialism back into the envious schoolyard nursery where it belongs, all the books I had read had never clarified one last question, which had nagged at me for years. Why does socialism keep taking so long to fail, with the Soviet Union surviving for 70 years and the fiat currency union of the west surviving for 40 years, since 1971? Yes, there is economic calculation, the short-sightedness of fools, and the system of organised criminal lies which we name government, but what is the essential mechanism that separates the free market from the jackboot of socialism and how does a typical rancid and rotten bloom of socialism survive for decades, when from my previous readings such a malodourous bloom ought to fail within years or even months, once the hideous mask of its hateful spiteful envy is revealed?

Andy’s review is rather more brutal in its dissection of socialism than I usually prefer — after all, socialists mean well — but it is well worth a read for that style, not despite it.

Next up in Andy’s queue was The Ethics of Money Production by Jörg Guido Hülsmann, which, as it happens, I began dipping into a week or two ago. You can find his review here. However, I begin to wonder, did Andy Duncan steal my reading list?


  1. Hi Steve, I hope you are well. Perhaps you could have sky dived into work and got in quicker.

    I think the reason why socialism has lasted so long was that even in the Soviet Union there was internal, economic competition. Also real pratical democracy can be traced back to 1866 when the Swedes beat us by a year for general suffrage. The other reason why socialism has lasted is that there is always a certain per centage of people who like controlling other people’s lives.

    In the UK they have moved from the economic planning ministry to nannies, bullies and controllers on health.

  2. Socialists mean well? The absolute root of socialism is envy. Envy causes the deliberate destruction or attempted destruction of someone else’s property or life in order to make the perpetrator feel better, even if this in turn causes the perpetrator themselves to be harmed. This is a price worth paying, thinks the socialist, so long as the enemy gets it good and hard.

    Hence, punitive taxation to make the pips squeak is carried out in the full knowledge that it will harm an economy and actually bring in less tax revenue, purely because it puts a smile on the faces of socialists when they think of some ‘rich exploiter’ suffering due to this. Hence, environmentalists want to destroy western industry, via whatever mechanism they can, to send us back into the stone age, because they cannot stand to see businessmen lying full length in business class on trips to the Far East (though they themselves enjoy flying to New Zealand, and Thailand, and other places, to experience the great outdoors, and never say no to free upgrades, if they get them). When western industry is finally decimated though, through environmentalism, then the environmentalists will smile happy little smiles to themselves, before searching for more grubs under the bark of the nearest tree.

    No, Steve, socialists do not mean well. They have never meant well. Yes, there is a scale, with Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao at the top, then through Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, and other pompous fools, all the way down to someone who votes Labour to ‘give the other lot a chance’. But it’s always the same. Identify an enemy (previously going about their own business), then harm them, drag them down, and cut those poppies down to size, to make the harmers, the draggers, and the cutters feel better about their own pitiful inadequacies when faced up against the pressures of a market economy. It is not coincidence which places Adolf Hitler onto the streets of Vienna begging for a living, later to impose one of the most vicious regimes of socialism onto the world, only to end his own life with a bullet, and one through the head of his wife for good measure. Yes, his own life ended terribly, rather than as a comfortable librarian in a country Austrian town, but it was worth it to inflict so much pain onto those who ’caused’ his struggles in early life. All those people in Vienna with so much money, and not recognising his genius and his talent as a great artist and rewarding him for this talent, as was his birthright.

    This is the story of the typical socialist, only taken to an extreme. The market did not want Hitler’s terrible art, and so he punished the market for its temerity.

    He is a typical socialist. They all are full of some level of hatred and want to punish others in some way for daring to be better than them (in their own eyes).

    They do not mean well. Their entire philosophy is based on harming others, either through taxation or regulation, and preventing them living full lives, to give the socialists enjoyment in seeing this pain. It’s not even about the money. Yes, it may hurt the enemy to steal their money from them and spend it on stupid wasteful crackpot schemes like welfare and millennium domes, or even throw it into the sea (or overseas) to prop up dictators. But it’s the hurting that is the thing, not the stealing for its own sake.

    Under the skin of every socialist is a crabby inflictor of pain who wants to harm other people. Once we understand this, we more fully understand socialism, and can therefore more easily defeat it by bringing this appalling tendency into the open.

    Because although this motivation lies at the heart of socialism, nobody calling themselves a socialist ever wants it brought out as it is far too embarrassing. Some of them don’t even realise they suffer from it. Which really is terrible for them, and everyone else. These are the ones who think they ‘mean well’, when they inflict their busy-body nanny-state views onto everyone else.

    Most of these pompous dangerous types end up as Labour Party politicians.