Let us now return to the question this essay poses: “What shall be prohibited?” For it is the difference of opinion as to what should be denied others that highlights the essential difference between the collectivists—socialists, statists, interventionists, mercantilists, disturbers of the peace—and those of the peaceful, libertarian faith. Take stock of what you would prohibit others from doing and you will accurately find your own position in the ideological line-up. This method can be used to determine anyone’s position.
The following statement came to my attention as I was writing this chapter:
Government has a positive responsibility in any just society to see to it that each and every one of its citizens acquires all the skills and all the opportunities necessary to practice and appreciate the arts to the limit of his natural ability. Enjoyment of the arts and participation in them are among man’s natural rights and essential to his full development as a civilized person. One of the reasons governments are instituted among men is to make this right a reality.2
It is significant that the author uses the term “its citizens,” the antecedent being government. Such a conception is basic to the collectivistic philosophy: We—you and I—belong to the state. Of course, if one accepts this statist premise—this wholesale invasion of peaceful actions—the above quote is sensible enough: it has to do with a detail in the state’s paternalistic concern for us as its wards.
But we are on another tack, namely, examining what a person would prohibit others from doing. The author just quoted suggests no prohibitions, at least, not to anyone who fails to read below the surface. He dwells only on what he would have the state do for the people. Where, then, are the prohibitions? The “civilized” program he favors would cost X million dollars annually. From where come these millions? The state has nothing except that which it takes from the people. Therefore, this man favors that we, the people, be prohibited from peacefully using the fruits of our own labor as we choose in order that these fruits be expended as the state chooses. And take note that this and all other socialist-designed prohibitions of peaceful pursuits have police force as the method of persuasion.
To repeat what was stated in a previous chapter, socialism has a double-barreled definition, one of which is the state ownership and/or control of the results of production. Our incomes are the results of production. That portion of our incomes is socialized which the state turns to its use rather than our own. It follows, then, that a person would impose prohibitions on the rest of us to the extent that he supports governmental projects such as forcibly taking the fruits of our labor to assure others an “enjoyment of the arts.”
Only a few, as yet, favor the socialization of the arts and the consequent socialization of our incomes, but there are ever so many who favor prohibiting our freedom peacefully to use the fruits of our own labor in order to:
—perform our charities for us;
—protect us from floods, droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, freezes, insects, and other hazards;
—insure us against illness, accident, old age;
—subsidize below-cost pricing in air, water, and land transportation, education, insurance, loans of countless kinds;
—put three men on the moon (estimated at $40,000,000,000);
—give federal aid of this or that variety, endlessly.
This is the welfare state side of socialism.
The above, however, does not exhaust the prohibitions that the socialists would impose on our peaceful actions. For socialism, also, is the state ownership and/or control of the means of production. We are now prohibited from:
—freely planting our own acreage to wheat, cotton, peanuts, corn, tobacco, rice, even if used only to feed our own stock;
—quitting our own business at will;
—taking a job at will;
—pricing our own services (wages);
—delivering first-class mail for pay;
—selling our own product at our own price, for instance, milk, steel, and so on.
—free entry into business activities, like producing power and light in the Tennessee Valley.
This is the planned economy side of socialism.
Again, the listing of prohibitions is endless. Harold Fleming, author of Ten Thousand Commandments (1951), having to do with prohibitions of just one federal agency—The Federal Trade Commission—claims that the book, if brought up-to-date, would be titled, Twenty Thousand Commandments.
Those who favor the socialization of the means of production would, of course, prohibit profit and even deny the validity of the profit motive.