Socialism is a big deal these days. Even Al Sharpton is caught in the craze:
But what is socialism? From Marx's perspective:
[It's] a society where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.Sounds like a whole lot of fun. Socialism is a place where you have to work, but what you do can be anything you want it to be at any time of the day.
Joseph Schumpeter's picture of the land of socialism is not so rosy:
One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion. . . We have invented happiness, say the last men, and they blink.This race of blinkers look more like suburban Americans than anything else.
Let's turn to the founder of sociobiology, Edward Wilson, for a final comment on the matter:
What I like to say is that Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species. Why doesn't it work in humans? Because we have reproductive independence, and we get maximum Darwinian fitness by looking after our own survival and having our own offspring. The great success of the social insects is that the success of the individual genes are invested in the success of the colony as a whole, and especially in the reproduction of the queen, and thus through her the reproduction of new colonies.Wilson starts by decimating Marx and ends by erecting Hobbes! Let's not even go there.
This was I think one of the main contributions of the idea of kin-selection. We now understand quite well why most species of social insects have sterile workers, and therefore can have communist-like systems. In which the colony is all, the individual is only a part of the colony, and the success of the whole community is what counts far above the success of the individual. The behavior of the individual social insect evolved with reference to what it contributes to the community, whereas the genetic fitness of a human being depends on how well it can individually use the society. We have become insect-like only by extreme contractual arrangements.