Front Page Titles (by Subject) 2: Asceticism and Socialism - Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
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2: Asceticism and Socialism - 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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Asceticism and Socialism
Socialist thought at first cold-shouldered all principles of asceticism. It harshly rejected any consoling promise of a life after death and aimed at an earthly paradise for everybody. Neither the world to come nor any other religious inducements have any interest for it. Socialism’s one aim was to guarantee that everyone should reach the highest standard of well-being attainable. Not self-denial, but enjoyment was its criterion. Socialist leaders have always definitely opposed all those who show themselves indifferent to the increase in productivity. They have pointed out that, to lessen the hardships of labour and increase the pleasures of enjoyment, the productivity of human labour must be multiplied. The grandiose gestures of degenerate scions of wealthy families in praise of the charms of poverty and the simple life made no appeal to them.
But on looking into this more closely, we may detect a gradual change in their attitude. In proportion as the uneconomic nature of socialistic production becomes apparent, socialists are beginning to transform their views on the desirability of a more abundant satisfaction of human wants. Many of them are even beginning to show some sympathy with writers who praise the Middle Ages and look with contempt on the riches which Capitalism adds to the means of existence.15
The assertion that we could be happy, or even happier, with fewer goods can no more be refuted than it can itself be proved. Of course, most people imagine that they have not enough material goods; and, because they value the increase of well-being that greater exertions on their part can bring more than they value the leisure which they would gain by renouncing it, they exhaust themselves by laborious work. But even if we admit the assertions of those semi-ascetics whose outlook we have been discussing, this by no means commits us to giving the socialist method of production precedence over the capitalist. For supposing too many goods are produced under Capitalism, the matter could be remedied quite simply by reducing the quantity of work to be done. The demand that we should reduce the productivity of labour by adopting a less fruitful way of production cannot be justified by such arguments.
Christianity and Socialism
[15. ]Heichen, “Sozialismus und Ethik” in Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 38, Vol. l, pp. 312 ff. Specially remarkable in this context are also the remarks of Charles Gide, “Le Matérialisme et l’ Économie Politique” in Le Matérialisme actuel (Paris, 1924).