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Socialism's popularity - not quite explained

The Commentator.

I am conscious that I have yet to make good on my promise to explain the continued political success of Socialism, despite its core ideas having been so thoroughly and bloodily discredited. Every time I try to write the promised post, something easier comes up to distract me. To be honest, it's hard to write anything the executive summary of which is not that "my fellow citizens are incredibly stupid." I know, on average, that's not true so I keep binning drafts tending that way.

Douglas Carswell MP has however made a contribution to this field of study in the linked post.

...government in many Western states started to grow soon after the introduction of unequal taxation. In the first decade of the twentieth century, in Britain, America, Australia and elsewhere, so-called progressive taxes were introduced. Government has grown in every decade since.

His thesis seems to be that while the original justification for "progressive" taxation (higher rates for those with higher incomes) was Socialist redistribution of wealth, it persists not because voters believe in that.  Rather it's because it makes it easier, selfishly, for them to vote themselves more benefits at the imagined expense of others. I am not sure that saying "my fellow citizens are incredibly greedy" is much more appealing than the way my binned posts were leaning, but he might have a point.

The first comment on Mr Carswell's post is also rather interesting. It has some potential for explaining why the state's "redistribution of wealh" so often seems to be from the poor to the middle class - a sort of national microcosm of the old saw about foreign aid amounting to poor people in rich countries giving money to rich people in poor countries.

The increase in government increases the employment of middle and upper middle class well educated people who lack the drive, technical skills and initiative to run their own businesses. These people have the ability to understand complex procedures and enjoy the fact that following rules will provide a relatively well paid, safe and secure employment.

Might this at least account for the popularity of Socialism with the middle class Guardianisti? Delightfully, if true, it would mean that they are effectively higher-paid welfare scroungers, which might account also for their indignant defence of those worthies. Of course that's perhaps adequately explained by their making a living from farming the underclass, rather than belonging to its saloon bar version.

What do you think? Did the concept of unequal taxation lead us to our present bind? Is the real motivation for big government not the discredited Socialist ideas used to justify it, but the sinecure jobs it provides to educated idlers?

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