Mistaken at the very beginning!

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle. Freeman and slave, lord and serf, capitalist and proletariat, in a word oppressor or and oppressed, stand in opposition to each other and carry on a constant fight…” Karl Marx, begins the communist manifesto thus. Here’s where I disagree.

Perhaps the history of all society till Marx’s time indeed had been class struggle, but that is no reason to suspect that it shall remain so! Life is not a zero-sum game. Game theory tells us something rather vital in this connection- win-win! A strategy where everyone benefits without blood and revolution. Call it the the Pareto optimum- ‘you can’t give to Peter without robbing from Paul’ that’s the sort of efficient distribution of social primary goods (health, wealth and the social basis of self-respect etc.) that an ideal society ought to have. A corrected version of the ‘classless’ society.

Unfortunately regulation and distributive justice or the welfareist model of government is the wrong way to try this. The point is this: Don’t try to redistribute wealth for two reasons: 1) You cannot make people equal in that sense 2) Someone is always the loser. People cannot be equal nor should they be, equal people are not free and free people are never equal. Equality is a conscious belief and should not be forced upon- differential pay for example is a function of progress. If you were are equal and irreplaceable no one would ever be promoted!

Don’t try telling people that ‘capital’ is not the most important thing in life. It is! Intellectual capital, social capital, literature, music, family and all that flows from comfort and unfortunately money buys all that. The Marxian notion of redistribution again falls pray to the Malthusian notion of a fixed resource. Malthus in his famous analysis of population growth suggested that with the passage of time the geometrical growth of people would outnumber the arithmetic progressional growth of food and resources, thus making people live in increasing misery.

Malthus was wrong! He forgot technology. Technology which could produce enough and more. Similarly Marx was also wrong- wealth is not a fixed resource. The secret is the creation of wealth. How can we create more wealth? By encouraging entrepreneurship, free trade, capital flow and ensuring the best conditions for livelihood of the poorest. Unfortunately, this where socialism become the enemy of the poor, those very souls Marx set out to free free from their chains. Who chains the hawker or the rikshaw puller? The multiple atrocities of babudom– forty odd licenses to earn!

How can one not see so obvious a crime. A friend of mine once remarked about the ‘Slum Development Board’… ‘slums will never disappear. Why? Take a look at the title. How many babu’s would loose jobs if slums ceased to exist? They have a direct incentive to preserve slums– don’t they?

No one can in good conscience trespass on private property and tell the owner what do with his property, including what he could build on it, what he could store on it, and who had access to it at the point of a gun. It is no different if he uses the state. What kind of life is it where you do not have enough freedom to choose your profession and practice it optimally?