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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6077/the-socialism-of-mr-shaw/

The Socialism of Mr. Shaw

January 1, 2007 by

In this previously unavailable essay, Albert Jay Nock examines the politics of George Bernard Shaw. “Mr. Shaw is a Socialist. In his view the extreme of collectivist Statism is a cure for all ills, like the old grandmother’s pennyroyal. In politics it will abolish the party system, simplify procedures, and ensure the keeping of good and capable men in office. Mr. Shaw’s State will establish equality of income, provide the right kind of education for children, settle the land-question, control production and distribution, keep everybody at work, and so forth and so on; and all in the public interest. Mr. Shaw unsparingly diagnoses the various ills to which the body politic is heir; his diagnosis is complete and correct; and for each and every ill he prescribes the one remedy — State action.” FULL ARTICLE

{ 30 comments }

Tim Swanson January 1, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Quote of the day:

What completely vitiates Mr. Hayek’s work, Mr. Eric Johnston’s, and a whole shoal of others, is that they concede a small and strictly limited measure of State intervention — a sort of five-percent Statism. Apparently, like Mr. Shaw, these writers never heard of the Law of Parsimony, and have no idea of what it can do. If they had even considered the history of this country’s twenty-five years’ experience under the Income Tax Amendment, they would begin to see the reason why their notion is as absurd as the notion of a small and strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis, syphilis, or cancer.

Sasha Radeta January 1, 2007 at 2:56 pm

“strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis”

Isn’t that called vaccination?

http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/tb/vaccine_development/bcg/en/index.html

: )

Tory Anarchist January 1, 2007 at 5:37 pm

I never thought I’d see Nock mentioning Hayek, much less knocking him (pardon the pun).

Dennis Sperduto January 1, 2007 at 5:39 pm

One can not competently discuss the organization of society under the division of labor without giving primary consideration to the fundamental economic issues. I do not believe that Mr. Shaw properly came to grips with these issues.

As Mr. Nock indicates, Mr. Shaw does not discuss the Law Of Parsimony, which ultimately arises from the fact that human beings live and act in a world of scarcity. Regarding the “exploitation” issue, Mr. Shaw apparently does not acknowledge that the Ricardian/Misesian Law of Association is at least implicitly understood by many, even if it is not fully and consistently practiced. Finally, Mr. Shaw evidently never understood Mises’s economic calculation argument demonstrating the impossibility of socialist society, no matter what the ethical standards of the human beings in control of the state apparatus.

David White January 1, 2007 at 7:20 pm

Sasha Radeta writes:

” ‘strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis.’ Isn’t that called vaccination?”

If so, then by this logic, small injections of the state — i.e., “limited government” — would have all but eradicated the disease.

A better analogy is being a little bit pregnant . . . with Rosemary’s Baby.

Sasha Radeta January 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm

With that kind of logic Mr. White, Mises.org will allow anything to be published without any critical comment – until it looses its importance and becomes a laughingstock.

I didn’t mean to dedicate too much space and time to this small lapse that did not take anything from otherwise great article about Mr. Shaw, but I am worried about some tendencies here when it comes to the quality of postings. Lazy thinkers should not be treated as sacred cows that are protected from even the smallest objection.

I am not a proponent of “limited government” created without a complete liberation from the current fascism… but sloppy analogies with things absolutely unrelated to our subject are not valid arguments. If we are going to use unrelated “analogies” with nature, than we are no better than statist mathematical economists who look at the similar things, just with numbers.

Anyway, the statement that the notion of limited government is as “absurd” as “strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis” – can only make us laugh… At least those of us who know about BCG vaccine.

Sione January 1, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Sasha

Once again you ignore context and quote other writers selectively, omitting that which does not suit your purpose. Your behaviour is intellectually dishonest (and it’s become a bit of a habit for you).

Nock wrote: “Apparently, like Mr. Shaw, these writers never heard of the Law of Parsimony, and have no idea of what it can do. If they had even considered the history of this country’s twenty-five years’ experience under the Income Tax Amendment, they would begin to see the reason why their notion is as absurd as the notion of a small and strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis, syphilis, or cancer.”

Nock is not making analogy to a vaccine. Surely, Sasha, you have the wit to understand that. Note that at the time he wrote there was no vaccine for cancer (we only got a successful anti-cancer vaccine developed last year and as far as I know it’s the first one that’s worked anywhere in the World). Was there a commonly available anti-syphilis vaccine back when Nock was writing? Most unlikely. Go look it up. Either way it is clearly the case that Nock wasn’t thinking of vaccines when he wrote his comment.

David White was correct to pull you up. Your comments were demonstrably false. Please try to avoid these sloppy and foolish errors.

Sione

PS. You have also demonstrated your pig ignorance about vaccines. Go check out the link you yourself supplied. It is not tuberculosis that is supplied to the recipient of the vaccine. It is a different strain of virus altogether. It started out different and further, it’s one that’s been selectively and purposfully bred for the pupose by Man over decades. Injecting that is not the same as a “strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis”. It’s not even analogous.

If one must employ analogy (accepting the inherent limitations of the method) perhaps a better analogy would be to discuss exposing Libertarian children to the lies of collectivists in order to demonstrate the falsehoods and evasions of those arguments so that the children could understand them and reject them in future. This would not be the same as coercively subjecting them to collectivism.

Sasha Radeta January 2, 2007 at 12:49 am

Sione,

When I was politely referring to some ignorance on narrow-mindedness of some people on this blog, naturally you recognized yourself and felt anger. I understand your frustration, but you only proved me right.

First of all – I did not say that “available anti-syphilis vaccine back when Nock” as you hallucinate. But there was an anti-tuberculosis vaccine, which is exactly based on a limited dosage of TB causing bacteria, which helps to create our own anti-bodies.

Nevertheless, my point is that all these analogies are irrelevant. It’s the same type nonsense that statist mathematical economist do when they try to observe correlation between recessions and natural phenomena – only the methods are different.

And my second point is that on this blog there are some tendencies so typical of

SIONE SAID: “You have also demonstrated your pig ignorance about vaccines. Go check out the link you yourself supplied. It is not tuberculosis that is supplied to the recipient of the vaccine”

OH MY GOODNESS!!!

I can’t believe my I eyes, while I’m laughing out loud!!!

Poor Sione,

Some of us are not high school dropouts and we know the following:
1) Mycobacterium bovis that causes tuberculosis is (as its name suggests) BACTERIUM – plural: BACTERIA… Not a “strain of virus,” you poor thing!
2) If TB causing bacteria was not administered through BCG vaccine (but some other strain), human body would build anti-bodies for something else. You are clueless about the purpose of vaccination, yet you speak so arrogantly about my “pig ignorance,” about something I learned in 5th or 6th grade. Funny indeed.

Anyway, thanks for proving all my points.

Regards,

Sasha

Sasha Radeta January 2, 2007 at 12:54 am

Sione,

When I was politely referring to some ignorance on narrow-mindedness of some people on this blog, naturally you recognized yourself and felt anger. I understand your frustration, but you only proved me right.

First of all – I did not say that “available anti-syphilis vaccine back when Nock” as you hallucinate. But there was an anti-tuberculosis vaccine, which is exactly based on a limited dosage of TB causing bacteria, which helps to create our own anti-bodies.

Nevertheless, my point is that all these analogies are irrelevant. It’s the same type nonsense that statist mathematical economist do when they try to observe correlation between recessions and natural phenomena – only the methods are different.

And my second point is that on this blog there are some tendencies so typical of totalitarian systems. No criticism is desired – even when it points out some obvious nonsense and unintentional contradictions that will make educated people laugh.

SIONE SAID : ” You have also demonstrated your pig ignorance about vaccines. Go check out the link you yourself supplied. It is not tuberculosis that is supplied to the recipient of the vaccine

OH MY GOODNESS!!!

I can’t believe my I eyes, while I’m laughing out loud!!!

Poor Sione,

Some of us are not high school dropouts and we know the following:
1) Mycobacterium bovis that causes tuberculosis is (as its name suggests) BACTERIUM – plural: BACTERIA… Not a “strain of virus,” you poor thing!
2) If TB causing bacteria was not administered through BCG vaccine (but some other strain), human body would build anti-bodies for something else. You are clueless about the purpose of vaccination, yet you speak so arrogantly about my “pig ignorance,” about something I learned in 5th or 6th grade. Funny indeed.

Anyway, thanks for proving all my points.

radeta@netzero.com January 2, 2007 at 2:03 am

It’s really sad that we cannot point out one small lapse that is really funny – without enduring verbal attacks from some “guardians” of the official politics of this blog. Of course I quoted the author SELECTively, when my purpose was to SELECT the place, which needed a correction – but if these “guardians” really want to talk about the context of that statement, I provided them some food for thought about the topic: “the use of irrelevant and incorrect quasi-analogies with natural sciences in Austrian and Neoclassical economics.”

And I hate the fact that I have to write essays on vaccinations… Can we please dismiss the “quote of the day” and come back to Mr. Shaw? Dennis Sperduto had an interesting comment…

Sione January 2, 2007 at 4:45 am

Sasha

Fair enough. I made an error. I should have not have referred to a virus but a bacterium when writing about tuberculosis vaccines. Nevertheless the point about the substance of your comments stand. You argue concretes in isolation and evade explaining premise and principle altogether. You also spend a lot of effort dealing with non-essentials.

In this thread you attempted to make a critique about Nock which was false (error of evading the context) and you were pulled up on it.

I note that once again you are arguing non-essential rather than facing the central point at issue. As others have demonstrated, you are dishonest.

Sione

PS No Sasha I was never a high school drop out. Ad hominem is not going to get you far. You really are getting desperate to rely on that.

Now I could list my qualifications, if you think it necessary but is that essential?

Daniel M. Ryan January 2, 2007 at 7:08 am

Given that Nock mentioned the thirty-five dollar transaction in this essay, it’s a shame that he didn’t mention fourteen-carat statism, rather than “eighteen-carat collectivist statism,” at the end of this piece.

24 / 14 * 20.67 = a little more than 35 dollars.

With some justification, it could be said that President Roosevelt bequeathed a fourteen-carat dollar to the U.S. in 1933. (14 plus a fifth, if you want to shave it his way by a miniscule amount.) Given this, I suppose Nock didn’t really have it in for President Roosevelt, et. al. at the time that e wrote this essay.

David White January 2, 2007 at 8:17 am

Sasha writes:

“With that kind of logic Mr. White, Mises.org will allow anything to be published without any critical comment – until it looses its importance and becomes a laughingstock.”

I haven’t the foggiest idea what you mean by this, but in any case, I was simply countering your analogy with one that I considered, given virtually all of recorded history, to be more appropriate — i.e., little doses of the state do not protect society against it but merely sew the seeds for the monster it inevitably becomes.

Sasha Radeta January 2, 2007 at 11:27 am

Mr. White,

I didn’t make any analogies, so there was no need to counter anything. I was only making a point that we should avoid quasi-analogies with natural sciences (because we criticize mathematical economists about this). We should especially avoid those analogies that contradict us and make people laugh.

My whole point was that I cannot say a simple, scientifically proven fact – without some “guardians” immediately attacking me and telling about my “pig ignorance.” And then they’ll tell me that “ad hominem” won’t get me far, when I say that some of us are not high school dropouts, without ever saying anything bad about anyone.

Regards

David White January 2, 2007 at 11:52 am

Sasha,

You equated “strictly limited implantation” with vaccination, and I countered with what I thought was more appropriate — i.e., limited government is like being “a little bit pregnant.”

I remain at loss as to why arguing thus would “allow anything to be published without any critical comment.”

RogerM January 2, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Shaw’s socialist utopia reminds me a lot of the anarchist utopia. Both intend to eliminate all of society’s ills, one with total government, the other by killing off all government. Socialism endures the disadvantage of having been tried and failed, while anarchy still awaits its opportunity to fail. I guess I’m just a skeptic at all attempts at utopia. They have usually ended in the deaths of millions.

Paul Edwards January 2, 2007 at 1:07 pm

“One wishes our anti-Statist writers had that much intrepid faith in their principles and as clear knowledge of what their principles are; the only exceptions I have so far heard of are Mrs. [Isabel] Paterson and Mrs. [Rose Wilder] Lane. What completely vitiates Mr. Hayek’s work, Mr. Eric Johnston’s, and a whole shoal of others, is that they concede a small and strictly limited measure of State intervention — a sort of five-percent Statism.”

Exactly. Good essay.

Sasha Radeta January 2, 2007 at 2:02 pm

David White,

I did not equate “strictly limited implantation” (of tuberculosis) with vaccination… The science did that in the early 20th century.

I simply asked “Isn’t that called vaccination?” And I smiled at this contradictory and unsuccessful attempt of analogy.

The fact that I get verbal attacks for doing that (I even expected them) only proves my point about some medieval tendencies here. If such hatred of science and pluralism prevails, the quality of this place is going to diminish.

Enough about that please.

David White January 2, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Sasha, forgive me for not seeing you smile and for therefore failing to understand that you were attempting a contradictory analogy. So you agree, then, that limited government is not at all like vaccination and more like being a little bit pregnant?

As to “verbal attacks,” whoever else may have engaged in them, I’m not one of them. And if “hatred of science and pluralism” (by which I assume you mean openness to other points of view) were the rule rather than the exception on this site, neither I nor most of the others who regularly post here would even bother visiting it.

Maybe you need a breather.

Sasha Radeta January 2, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I am more for not using meaningless analogies with natural sciences (like neo-classical economists love to do, just with numbers), because they don’t prove anything.

About a breather: maybe…

And maybe we could start talking about Mr. Shaw.

David White January 2, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Sasha, however meaningless analogies may be in the natural sciences, they certainly have their place in political science, which is why Nock’s point about “limited implantation” is so apt and why he is so appreciative of Shaw’s all-or-nothing absolutism and dismissive of Hayek’s “five-percent Statism.” For to engage the debate in this manner is to put the state in its proper context: Either it is good and should therefore exist in its totality, or it is evil and should therefore exist not at all.

But of course the debate is so rarely framed in these terms that what passes for political discourse today is but a same-sided coin being endlessly flipped, with no thought that since the total state has been tried, only to fail miserably, it’s only fair that the non-state get its chance.

That the state chooses not to play fair, of course, is really all one needs to know about its existence.

Sasha Radeta January 2, 2007 at 7:33 pm

You are persistent… Well, the answer is no. Political science, just like economics, has nothing to do with processes in natural sciences. Even if you recognize some figurative similarities, they are completely irrelevant. Plus, in maybe 50 years those quasi-analogies will be funny to future readers (you see, cervical cancer joined tuberculosis with vaccination). Plus, now proponents of limited government can now use that analogy, claiming that “right amount” of government is a vaccine against totalitarian tendencies : )

My advantage is in sticking to strict applications of economic axioms and usually not engaging in silly discussions on whether some political system resembles vaccine or cyanide. That’s just too close to psychosis and I’m only comfortable about laughing at some funny attempts, like Nook’s with TBC.

Francisco Torres January 3, 2007 at 12:30 pm

“strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis”

Isn’t that called vaccination?

Sasha, Nock was using this analogy to illustrate a point. I can certainly concede that it was not a GOOD analogy, as you stated, and your point is well taken, but I think the use of a much better analogy (the one I often use in discussions) would have sounded outrageous in Nock’s time: A little bit of State is like being raped just a bit.

This is reason why I try not to be too strict, or nit pick in the extreme, with essayists of yesteryear.

Sione Vatu January 5, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Sasha

You are not telling the truth again. It was you who introduced the analogy of the vaccine to this thread.

Speaking of introducing irrelevant and faulty analogy, it was you who did exactly that when arguing patents and copyrights recently on another thread. You introduced the farming analogy remember. Anyway one hopes you take your own advice in future.

Returning to Nock. His critique of the 5 percenters is right. They give up principle by granting that little bit of statism. Perhaps they become frightened by where their arguments are headed- the conclusion of their arguments is taking them towards anarchism (an uncomfortable thought). Perhaps there is a cherished idea they wish to protect even while their own arguments are leading to the conculsion that the idea is wrong. Hence they retreat a little. the trouble is that 5% is a lot!

I know some people who are like that in business. They know exactly what needs to be achieved and how to do it. Somehow they lack the last few percent, the confidence (perhaps) to commit to action and hence the ability to do what needs to be done. They never get ahead. Other people pass them by. It’s frustracting for them and sad to see. 95% is not 100%.

Sione

David White January 5, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Sione,

I’ve found, as you no doubt have too, that outside of libertarian circles it’s almost impossible to question the existence of the state and the notion that it not only isn’t necessary but is the least necessary of all human institutions. Instead, only the state’s policies can be questioned and even then only from a partisan political perspective.

Yes, one or another TV commentator will occasionally be critical of both sides (Tucker Carlson, for example), but never do they stop and question the system itself. Never is the possibility that the US Constitution might have sewn the seeds of its own destruction discussed, much less whether constitutionalism itself might be fatally flawed.

And while Larry Kudlow opens his CNBC program by saying that he “aims to be right on America, right on capitalism, and right on the money,” never is a guest allowed on who will say that precisely because Kudlow is WRONG on the money, he is accordingly wrong on capitalism and wrong on America. Sure, Fed policy can be questioned but not the existence of the Fed itself, much less the concept of central, fractional-reserve banking.

What to do? Personally, I don’t waste my time with such matters in “polite” company and concentrate instead on being as loyal as I can to my family and closest friends by telling them exactly how I feel, citing my reasons why and hoping that when push comes to shove, as it inevitably will, at least a few of them will have seen the light and prepared themselves accordingly.

Granted, it may be, as with E over on another thread, that there’s no preparing for the horror that’s to come. On the other hand, however, who knows what effect mises.org might be having in the hinterland, as someone reads a post like this and points a friend or family member to it.

Who knows but that Time’s Person of the Year is not only deserving of the title but is poised to achieve that which would have otherwise been thought impossible — i.e, saying yes to “digital democracy” so as to eventually say no to the state.

It’s just a numbers game, after all, the only question being how many Persons of the Year it will take to tip the balance.

Sione Vatu January 6, 2007 at 2:05 pm

David

At first I thought that people considered government in the same sense that they considered a local shopping centre or a medical centre or plumbing supply depot etc. Hence govt was an organisation constructed to undertake a specialised task. Most of them seemed to be amenable to the argument that govt had gone a little “out of control.”

It is when you question the need for government they get concerned or even scared. Take away their local shops and they don’t mind. Take away the local hospital or climic and they’re a little annoyed but they don’t really object. Take away the govt and you have an amazing amount of passionate resistance. The only thing I can put it down to is that the education system and the media have accomplished their tasks perfectly.

I often wonder what to do about the impending troubles. First up my expectation is that parts of the USA or Europe or Asia are definately not places to be. Isolated and relatively small communities are where one should settle. Stay away from the madness of crowds.

One of my friends insists that since the monetary system is such a fraud one should command as much debt as possible and when the system fails simply walk away from it! After all it’s only marks on paper. Others counsel careful savings and management of key assets. You can well imagine the arguments that rage between the former and the latter!

I remember years ago when a well known politician in New Zealand was asked on TV what he thought about euthanasia (then a controversial topic) he answered, “I reckon we should look after our own kids first.” Many thought he was a fool but he’d successfully avoided being drawn into a debate he didn’t want a part of. He’d also provided some interesting advice in a subtle way. There is wisdom in his comment at more than one level. Certainly one should concentrate on looking after one’s immediate family and closest friends first. I can see the logic in that. My kids are not getting indoctrinated with all the BS that’s taught at local schools.

I guess in the end it’s a matter of “perfect your own life” and get on with that!

Sione

PS

David White January 6, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Sione,

It’s interesting that you bring up monetary fraud and how best to cope with it. Personally, I expect it to end in a hyperinflationary depression, in which case one would do very well to borrow now at what will be incredibly low interests rates and invest the money in precious metals.

Heck, even now, had you taken out a home equity loan at the beginning of last year and bought silver, you’d be up around 40%. So just imagine how you’d make out if silver went to $50 or $100 over the next few years (not at all unlikely) as interest rates skyrocketed. You’d be paying back your loan with chump change and reaping windfall profits along the way.

On the other hand, you’d be doing so in a world turned upside down, in which case you’d need more than a nice stash of shiny to see you through — i.e., you’d need savings in the form of food, fuel, and other essentials, precisely as some of the regulars over at the USA Gold Discussion Forum — http://www.usagold.com/cpmforum/default.html — are constantly advising.

Who knows what the future holds, of course, but I for one think it’s the purest folly to believe that our near-century of monetary fraud — certainly the past 35 years of totally irredeemable paper currency — can last much longer. It’s the Mother of All Ponzis, after all, and therefore the longer the powers that be are able to keep it going, the worse its aftermath will be and the longer will it last.

One’s thing’s for sure, though: The government, counting on the people’s cluelessness about money, will blame it on “market failure,” in which case “five-percent Statism” will be about 95% shy of the mark.

Sasha Radeta January 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Sione,

You seem incapable of telling the truth, or understanding it. I didn’t introduce any vaccine analogy – Nock did it by referring to “strictly limited implantation of tuberculosis.” It’s not my fault that this particular “implantation” is called BSG vaccine, making Nock’s attempt very funny, and at the same time revealing your ignorance and a baseless arrogance.

Anyway, attempts to attack any idea based on pseudo-analogies with completely unrelated things from nature are destined to fail.

Sione January 6, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Sasha

“Anyway, attempts to attack any idea based on pseudo-analogies with completely unrelated things from nature are destined to fail.”

Which is why YOU should avoid doing it, little man!

Sione

Sione Vatu January 6, 2007 at 8:49 pm

David

Yes. I agree.

Recently I read Count Heinrich von Einsiedel’s book, “The Shadow of Stalingrad- being the diary of a temptation.” It was published in 1952. the author was a pilot who got shot down and captured by the Russians at Stalingrad. It deals with his experiences as a prisoner gradually realising he can’t justify his actions to his captors (they asked why he was involved in attacking the USSR). He becomes a communist before finally realising that system was even worse (it being even more savage and corrupt than the German national socialism he started out with).

What is striking is how Heinrich never bothered to consider what it is he is actually involved in doing as he flies air-cover and straffing and bombing raids during the nazi invasion of Russia. It is only after he gets interrogated that he begins to feel shame at what he has been up to. He can’t justify it as he never thought about it in any depth. He faces the same trouble a second time when he sees what it is that communism is actually about.

This guy was a well educated man from a great family. He falls into the trap of not thinking about what he is doing and ends up with decades of his life wasted. He just goes along with the flow. Perhaps this is what so many people are up to these days.

Of great concern is what occurs after a serious recession/depression starts and the statists start blaming a “market failure”. Last time around it ended up with a war. Then there were decades of regional unrest and mutually assured destruction.

Perhaps people these days concede far more than Nock’s 5% when they turn to the govt to alleviate every problem or discomfort that confronts them. In this regard they are well inferior to the likes of the 5% intellectual.

Sione

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