Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1: The Socialist Attitude to Ethics - Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
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1: The Socialist Attitude to Ethics - Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis 
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, trans. J. Kahane, Foreword by F.A. Hayek (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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The Socialist Attitude to Ethics
For pure Marxism Socialism is not a political programme. It does not demand that society shall be transformed into the socialist order, nor does it condemn the liberal order of society. It presents itself as a scientific theory which claims to have discovered in the dynamic laws of historical development a movement towards the socialization of the means of production. To say that pure Marxism pronounces itself in favour of Socialism or that it desires Socialism or wishes to bring it about would be just as absurd as to say that Astronomy wishes or thought it desirable to bring about a solar eclipse which it had predicted. We know that Marx’s life and even many of his writings and sayings sharply contradict his theoretic outlook and that the Socialism of resentment is always showing its cloven hoof. In practical politics at least, his supporters have long since forgotten what they owe strictly to his doctrine. Their words and deeds go far beyond what the “midwife theory” permits.1 This, however, is of secondary importance for our study, which here deals only with the doctrine pure and undefiled.
Besides the pure Marxist view that Socialism must come of inexorable Necessity, there are two other motives which guide the advocates of Communism. They are socialists either because they expect socialist society to increase productivity, or because they believe that a socialist society would be more just. Marxism is unable to reconcile itself to ethical Socialism. But its attitude to economic-rationalist Socialism is quite different: it is possible to interpret the materialistic conception of history as meaning that the trend of economic development naturally leads to the most productive type of economy, that is to say Socialism. Of course, this view is very different from that held by the majority of Marxists. They are for Socialism, firstly because it is bound to come in any case, secondly because it is morally preferable, and finally because it involves more rational economic organization.
The two motives of non-Marxian Socialism are mutually exclusive. If a man advocates Socialism because he expects it to increase the productivity of social labour he need not try to bolster up his demands with a higher moral valuation of the socialist order. If he elects to do so, he is open to the question whether he would be prepared to advocate Socialism if he discovered that it was after all not the morally perfect order. On the other hand it is clear that one who advocates the socialistic order for moral reasons would have to go on doing so even if he were convinced that the order based on private ownership in the means of production yielded greater productivity of labour.
[1. ]How little the Social-Democrats have made this fundamental doctrine of Marxism their own, one sees from a glance at their literature. A leader of German Social-Democracy, the former German Minister of National Economy Wissell, confesses succinctly: “I am Socialist and shall remain Socialist, for I see in socialist economy, with its subordination of the Individual to the Whole, the expression of a higher moral principle than that which lies at the basis of individualistic economy.” Praktische Wirtschaftspolitik (Berlin, 1919), p. 53.