Bryan Caplan  

Lenin and Goebbels: Can You Tell Them Apart?

Economic Nationalism, once mor... Red-Handed Ratchet Effect...

You probably can, but mostly because Lenin is such a terrible writer:


Bourgeois social theory is primarily concerned with the individual. It is thus essentially determined by pity, or compassion, or the Christian love of one's neighbor or similar conviction. Our Socialist ideas and actions have nothing whatsoever to do with such notions. Our starting point is not the individual; we do not support the idea that one must feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty and clothe the naked - we have no use for such beliefs.


[P]sychologically, this talk of feeding the starving masses is nothing but the expression of saccharine-sweet sentimentality characteristic of the intelligentsia...

It's quotes like these that make me think that Ayn Rand had a better understanding of socialism than either Hayek or even Jeff Friedman:

[T]he truth about their souls is worse than the obscene excuse you have allowed them, the excuse that the end justifies the means and that the horrors they practice are means to nobler ends. The truth is that those horrors are their ends.

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The author at Houston's Clear Thinkers in a related article titled The criminalization of business mindset writes:
    Peter Lattman -- whose WSJ Law Blog has quickly become essential daily reading on business law matters -- points us to this Corporate Crime Reporter article on former Enron Task Force director Andrew Weissmann, who is leaving the Justice Department... [Tracked on February 25, 2006 9:13 AM]
COMMENTS (8 to date)
liberty writes:

Collectivism as an economic phenomenon is the same whether the desired outcome is a worker's paradise or an aryan paradise. Hayek understood this at least as well as Rand, hence Road to Serfdom.

spencer writes:

As far as any sense of a social compact or concern about the welfare of your fellow man they sound like a couple of libertarians to me.

asg writes:

Freedom is slavery, eh spencer?

James writes:

I was so worried that the nonlibertarians of the world have thoughtfully considered the libertarian idea and rejected it. The comment comparing Lenin and Goebbels to libertarians brings a smile to my face, as it illustrates the fact that so many nonlibertarians haven't even figured out what the libertarian position is.

Hint: Libertarians oppose taking money from some fellow man to improve the welfare of some other fellow man. This is a position on theft, not a position on whether or not people should be concerned with the welfare of others. There is no libertarian position about how one should regard the welfare of his fellows.

John Pertz writes:

So Spencer, in your estimation violence equals compasion? If a gun is not forced to the side of your head threatening imprisonment then it is impossible for people to act compasionately? That is the essence of a social compact? I prefer compasion predicated upon a relationship of voluntary association.

dsquared writes:

On the other hand, Bryan, I seem to remember that your own view on "feeding the hungry" is pretty entertaining as well isn't it? I seem to remember a post on "bleeding heart libertarians" that might provide a suitable quote.

Scott Scheule writes:

Provide it, dsquared, if you'd be so kind. I can't seem to find it myself.

Tilde writes:

Can I get the rest of that Lenin quote for context? Call me paranoid, but I don't trust anything with an elipsis.

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