Socialism’s Prescient Critics | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

‘In this comprehensive analysis, Bastiat offered many valuable insights, of which three deserve particular mention. The first drew attention to a fatal contradiction within the ideology of democratic socialism, one which continues to characterize many of the attitudes of present-day European leftists and American “liberals.” On the one hand, complained Bastiat, socialists are passionately committed to the cause of democracy, insisting that all adults are responsible individuals who should have the vote and an equal share in all political decision-making; yet on the other, they consider the same sovereign people incapable of running their own lives without the intervention and supervision of all-powerful State officials. “When it is time to vote,” wrote Bastiat, “apparently the voter is not to be asked for any guarantee of his wisdom. His will and capacity to choose wisely are taken for granted. . . . But when the [socialist] legislator is finally elected—ah! then indeed does the tone of his speech undergo a radical change. The people are returned to passiveness, inertness, and unconsciousness; the legislator enters into omnipotence. Now it is for him to initiate, to direct, to propel, and to organize.”’

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