If the option of plundering their own or other societies is excluded or has run its course, and if socialism has led to miseries that have become intolerable, then the political leadership and the populace must enter a new and sometimes difficult path to prosperity: the path of hard work by each and all—willingly chosen.
Socialist governments and socialist influences on government policies are a distraction from the issue of maturation. They represent the economic conflicts inherent in a society functioning with the.
Any transition from this ethos inherently involves a general principle of intellectual strife and personal struggle. The conflict gets labelled according to your preferred perspective:
The essential personal requirement to make an effort is maximized by the provision of freedom for all to pursue their own personal interests and to keep the rewards of effort (or much of it anyway).
This freedom, perhaps appealing at first sight, can be frightening and socially disturbing because it involves:
Is there to be collective responsibility with guaranteed social protection, or must each person fend for themselves?
Guaranteed protection sounds so much more appealing—of course it does: because… it is a dream-memory of our childhood when we were naturally cared for, protected and unconditionally loved. Or if we weren't, we have a deep sense of entitlement: it wasn't fair then and it's just not fair now—we should have been cared for properly! It's up to them!
The ideological battle that counts is not between governments or between political parties as it is so often portrayed. Each person, each family and each citizenry must think this through for themselves.
The conclusion in favour of mature self-reliance still leaves room for community provision of a safety-net. Freedom also turns out to be the basis of ethics, including the exercise of virtues like compassion, helpfulness and benevolence.
Many agrarian societies with numerous small villages (e.g. in Asia) are kinship-based. Traditional customs may require parents to socialize their children to subdue personal wishes and competitive urges so as to maximize social harmony. There are conventions to help each other in the fields during busy periods. The villagers are not «socialist» as such, but rather «community-oriented». They value their own possessions and the fruits of their efforts. Many or most desire continuity and stability of their traditional way of life.
It seemed as if an ideological battle was played out globally in the Cold War in the latter half of the 20th century. But this may be a misconception, given that similar power battles continue today. The Cold War was probably a power-centred interest-based confrontation between two nations desiring global influence or dominance. The ideology was useful rhetoric on both sides, even if it was indoctrinated into their citizens and believed in by political leaders in a cynical or possibly self-deluded way.
Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Jan 2014