The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism

I just left a Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism on I gave it five stars

The word “Socialism” or “Socialist” has been used quite a lot in recent years, perhaps without much knowledge of what the word actually means. Fortunately, we have Kevin Williamson to help us out. In his brilliant book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism”, Williamson provides the reader with a good knowledge of what Socialism is and what it is not, along with how Socialism has been developed in various parts of the world.

According to Williamson, Socialism is not, primarily, the redistribution of wealth. Welfare, Social Security, and other government programs, can be part of a Socialist system, but they are not themselves Socialism.  Socialism, rather, is the belief that central planning can produce better results than the chaotic, messy marketplace, or any venue in which people act spontaneously. The Socicialist believes that planning is more rational and fairer. Socialism, then, is all about THE PLAN.

The problem is that in order for THE PLAN to work, as Hayek demonstrated, the planners have to have real-time information about every economic transaction. THE PLAN cannot succeed without such information, and yet it is not possible for the planners, no matter how intelligent they are, or how sophisticated their computers are, to gain that information. In a market economy, each actor needs to know the information that pertains to his particular business.  The planners, whose business is the whole economy, must know everything, and again, that is not possible.  To make matters worse, the one way to obtain the information is through the prices generated by supply and demand. By determining prices based on political rather than economic considerations, the planners essentially blind themselves. This assumes that the planners are rational and impartial. In fact, there is an irresistible temptation to reward friends and cronies while punishing enemies.

Another problem with THE PLAN is that not everyone will agree on the particulars of any given plan. They will tend to want to do what benefits themselves rather then what the planners want them to do. Thus, coercion is needed to make THE PLAN work and so Socialism always results in tyranny.

Williamson takes the reader through the various forms of Socialism from the hard Socialism of North Korea and the former Soviet Union to the softer varieties found in the West European social democracies. He shows that the differences between them are only a matter of degree rather than of kind. He debunks the widely held notion that Sweden is a Socialist paradise and affirms that, yes; Obamacare is Socialism, in that it relies on THE PLAN.

Overall, Kevin Williamson has written a valuable and informant guide to Socialism.

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