voluntary socialism

I used to call myself a libertarian socialist. This was in college. At the time, I didn’t realize that libertarian socialism was already a common euphemism for left-anarchism. I was not an anarchist, even though I did embrace the non-aggression principle. I just hadn’t thought it through yet.

I was an individualist, a decentralist, and a secessionist. I thought the only ethically legitimate arrangements were voluntary. But I wanted to see more voluntary experiments in socialism and "intentional communities." I absolutely did not trust businesses or markets larger than a certain very small size, and I considered "capitalism" to be a dirty word.

It was with these ideological reflexes that I made my pilgrimage to the Mecca of voluntary socialism: the Israeli kibbutz.

I lived there for almost half a year. I loved the people, loved the life, loved the land, but I also, sadly, came to the conclusion that socialism was not sustainable, whether voluntary or coerced.

It was clear to me that I was visiting a dying institution.

Christopher Westley posts to blog.Mises.org about "the Degania kibbutz’ decision to abandon socialism and allow the private ownership of property, a move many kibbutzim in Israel have been making in response to low productivity and the abandonment of their youth." Read the rest.

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3 Responses to voluntary socialism

  1. Mike says:

    “Christopher Westley posts to blog.Mises.org about “the Degania kibbutz’ decision to abandon socialism and allow the private ownership of property,”

    I take it you are defining “socialism” then as communal or collective ownership of property then? Or as that there is no “ownership” at all niether public, private nor cooperative or collective?

    I’m not disagreeing with you, I merely would like to see a clear definition, since I’ve seen the Democrats in the US, the Liberals and the NDP here in Canada all described as “socialist”. Even right-wing statist called “socialists” because they beleive in the state.

    At any rate, I think your assesment is correct but I aslo think that a form of cooperative “socialism” based on private property in a free market is entirely possible (see Mondragon).

    And as long as it is voluntary and non-coercive, hell let them try it all they want. They will figure it out eventually, as you did.

  2. quasibill says:

    Why would you go all the way over there when you could travel just a few hours and visit the Amish? It’s a very stable society with a certain level of “socialism”.

    There are different levels of socialism, and in different contexts they may or may not work. However, pointing out what does not work in the midst of one the most state socialist societies on earth is *not* a valid indictment of what might occur under a true free market. Or should I point to the failure of Israeli companies as an indictment of capitalism?

  3. Pingback: voluntary socialism versus human nature | Austrian Economics Blog

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