"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
The failure is built right into the manifesto.
From each according to his ability, that’s fine, that’s actually natural, capitalistic even. It’s the ‘to each according to his need’ part that seeds the failure in the system. Harmless enough on the surface, it is easy to fall victim to such a utopic ideal, but let’s focus on the word Need.
Need is not a concrete term. You can not build a philosophy on a meaningless word, especially when the philosophy is meant to govern and better the lives of a diverse and dynamic population.
That's the obvious question, to which of course the creed answers, “each persons need.”
That's a very nice idea, but a little childish in it's simplicity. The question it leaves unanswered is “who decides who Needs what?”
This is why socialism and communism, (Marx himself recognized that socialism was only a side track on the road to communism) are so popular with governments. It is the same reason why Keynesian economics, a terribly flawed concept, is so popular with governments. As with socialism, governments love to sell it as the answer for one simple reason. It gives the government a role in society. It gives them the opportunity to be our savior. And hence, get our votes.
It is one thing to be a governor, sitting in a big room, being the governor. But there isn’t much power in sitting. One must engage the citizenry, point out their flaws, and offer ‘solutions’ by their own hand (with our money of course). Otherwise, we the people will just busy our selves with making business and lifestyles out of thin air for ourselves. We would likely only approach the ‘authorities’ when some line of conduct had been breached by one or more of us. We would tell the authorities what displeased us, and they would act to restrain said activity. But that would be far to passive for any practicing political narcissist.
The way it is presently, and ever more persistently, the authorities are in our face daily, telling us what we are doing wrong, and how they are going to fix us, stealing our ability to make lives for ourselves, and claiming they are trying to help. That is a far more powerful position for those we call politicians. It is not suitable to the narcissism of a politician to simply wait for issues to come up.
It was clear in Obama’s Farewell Iraq speech, when he steered way off subject and began campaigning to basically say, “my job is to fix you.” That should make it clear that he and many involved in government today see their role as doctor of all ills. Whatever the issue, they think they have the power to do something about it, and act with impunity to enact such reforms as necessary to further establish their control over the situation, as it slowly falls apart further.
But why? Why does it fall apart further the more they try to control it? Don’t they have the best intentions?
Well, their intentions are debatable, but that is not the point of this article. There is a very specific reason centralized decision making fails in all accounts. One person can not make 300 million decisions, each second, 24 hours a day. 300 million interchanging decisions each with infinite potential. That is why man remained in bondage until capitalism (the natural existence of man and nature) was nurtured into a social frame work.
From feudal England to Castro’s Cuba, whenever one man, woman, or elite group of men and women as we face now, attempts to manage a diverse and dynamic socio-economic body, the machine runs inefficiently, leading to rationing and shortages at first, and then later to despotism and possibly even land clearances at the expense of millions of lives. As in Stalin’s case, when you find you can’t govern such a large body politic, you simply have to massacre many of them, so you have a better shot at managing the remnants.
Each person has a very different idea of what they need. As soon as you decide that you know better what someone else needs, you have introduced despotism into the system. Despotism leads to collapse. Always has.
The only way to distribute the needs of the people is by doing so ‘to each according to their own ability’. Marx should have just combined his maxim and stopped there.
How about a new manifesto: “To each according to their own ability and charity towards your fellow man.”