That socialism, founded on coercion, cannot bring about the production which socialized distribution presupposes, is plainly evident once we understand the genesis of all production. Ralph Waldo Trine put it plainly:
Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material. The realm of the unseen is the realm of cause. The realm of the seen is the realm of effect. The nature of effect is always determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.
Professor Ludwig von Mises, noted free market economist, supports this view:
Production is a spiritual, intellectual, and ideological phenomenon. It is the method that man, directed by reason, employs for the best possible removal of uneasiness. What distinguishes our conditions from those of our ancestors who lived one thousand or twenty thousand years ago is not something material, but something spiritual. The material changes are the outcome of the spiritual changes.
Just imagine how antagonistic is a slap in the face, or the threat of death or imprisonment to those spiritual experiences which precede manufacture: insight, intuition, inventiveness, cognition.
The fact that creative action can and does take place even when financed by funds coercively collected does not in any way modify my assertion that coercive action is destructive, not creative. The Kremlin’s master destroys freedom of choice on a big scale. Russians may not choose how the fruits of their labor are to be expended. Mr. Big does the choosing in their stead. He chooses to use much of the income thus extorted—socialized—for sputniks and other military hardware.
We now come to the most important point in this thesis: True, Mr. Big or the head of any other socialistic state, with the money he has obtained by diverting funds from producers’ use, can induce creative action along the lines of his choice. But observe where this authoritarian process channels creative energies: it puts genius at work on questionable if not downright evil ends! Let us remember that not all genius is employed on the side of the angels. Is it not plain that creative energies can be turned to destructive ends? Do we need any more proof of this than the amazing ingenuity that has brought about the most destructive force ever devised by man? But putting aside the H-bomb, and such miraculous and fascinating follies as orbiting monkeys and men around our earth, reflect on the countless economy-destroying projects that result from man lording it over his fellow men. Man cannot feign the role of God without finally playing the devil’s part. This is to say, as Emerson so eloquently phrased it:
Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end pre-exists in the means, the fruit in the seed.
Stated in other terms, man cannot use coercion for other than destructive purposes; for even a legitimate police action for defense is still an inhibiting or destructive action, however necessary a police force may be. Raise billions by destroying freedom of choice—the socialist format—and the creative energies the funds finance will rarely serve the higher ends of life. Three men on the moon, farmers paid not to farm, flood control that floods land forever, mail delivery that bears a $3 million daily deficit, the rebuilding of urban areas that the market has deserted, the financing of socialistic governments the world over, are cases in point. None of these is a creative or productive endeavor in the full sense of those terms.
I began this chapter with the resolve to demonstrate that socialism depends upon and presupposes material achievements which socialism itself cannot create, that socialism is productively sterile. But after thinking it through, I must confess that my affirmation can be proven only to those persons who see the long-range effects of present actions; and to those who know that man playing God is a prime evil, an evil seed that must grow to a destructive bloom, however pretty it may appear in its earlier stages.