Socialism as a Family Enterprise
MAY 01, 1976 by YALE JAY LUBKIN
Dr. Lubkin is a consulting engineer in Israel.
Defenders of socialism often win debating points on "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need" by claiming that the family works this way and that the nation is merely an extension of the family. Defenders of Liberty often reply with the observation that the family is based on love, and the nation is not, and the two are not comparable. Certainly, to cite an extreme example, I would sacrifice much for my children, but nothing at all for an Angela Davis. For that matter, I would not willingly sacrifice very much for anyone, including the President, the Pope and the Editor.
The family analogy is, however, much better than the critics of Socialism believe. In my family, after all, I am the one who determines what everyone’s need is, and I am the one who determines what efforts are required of each of my seven children. I am a despot, in a very real sense. A benevolent despot, to be sure, guided mainly by love, but a despot nonetheless. If David wants a sports car, I am the one who decides that he does not "need" it. If Judith wants to stay up an extra hour to watch television, I am the one who decides that she does not "need" that. I decide that Sara has the ability to make her bed and help with the dishes, and that David has the ability to take care of irrigating the orange grove, and woe betide them if they do not perform according to my estimate of their ability.
As might be expected, there occasionally is rebellion in the ranks, which gets more and more serious with age. Adam, at six, may complain a little, and do his chores with much reluctance on occasion, unless I pay him with money that he can spend as he pleases, but rebellion is a way of life for David at seventeen. While I may not feel that David is sufficiently mature and capable to cope with the world, David feels that he is, and my choice in the matter is either to let him or to lock him up.
I can hardly fault David for his feelings, for they are exactly the same as mine. I resent being told by a Government flunky what I must plant and to whom I may sell it and for what price. I resent being forced to obtain the approval of numberless faceless functionaries to do what I want to do, and to be prevented from doing it by whim or stupidity or spite. I resent being liable to punishment for violation of any of thousands of regulations, most of which I have never even heard of and most of which I consider silly, oppressive, arbitrary or offensive. I resent having to pay taxes under threat of violence to support efforts which I disapprove and I resent having to reveal and explain to some clerk, with whom I normally would not even associate, the details of my affairs so that he may judge whether adequate funds have been extorted from me.
The comparison between Socialism and the family is better than the Socialist wants. The benevolent despot can only function with subservience, with children too small and too immature to know better. When the children become adults, they will no longer submit, and insist on running their own lives as they see fit.
What the Socialist really wants is not a family, but an Animal Farm. On a farm, the farmer determines exactly what each animal needs, and that is what the animal gets. He may love his horse, but the horse does not get to eat all the oats he wants. He may love his dogs, but they do not get sirloin.
The farmer also determines exactly what each animal’s ability is — and enforces his decision. If the farmer decides that a hen should lay 300 eggs a year, either she lays 300 eggs, or she goes to the stew-pot. No appeal. When the steer is fat enough, off to the butcher, and when the horse can no longer pull his weight, off to the knacker.
In the Socialist’s dream of a Socialist paradise, guess who will be the farmer.