The basic premise of Socialism is class warfare. Socialists believe that rich and privileged people have too much, leaving the poor with nothing. Not considering that many wealthy people achieved their means through hard work.
In countries that embraced socialism in it’s communist form, the rich were quite literally robbed of their wealth, their lands confiscated whilst they were placed in squalor!!! Although one cannot argue that there is no disparity between rich and poor, and there is from time to time an underclass. The question is, how do we deal with this challenge?
The socialist model involves depriving the rich of their riches, and redistributing these amongst the poor. Okay, so lets say this is done, then what? Now everybody is poor, so are the poor any happier? The previously wealthy certainly aren’t! Imagine if you worked hard all your life, to then have a government take it all away again! Is that really social justice?
However, it is certainly true that the situation of those less well off, has to be resolved somehow. Another alternative, implemented by less extreme socialists, is a welfare system. To some degree, this improves the lot of the poor. At least they now have a basic income, healthcare and education. But there is of course, one very serious drawback, they didn’t work for these benefits.
People who have received welfare over a long period of time, often begin to expect a certain standard of living, they never worked for. This can lead to a lack of appreciation for what they have.
Another very serious drawback of both these socialist models, is complete lack of incentive and higher aspirations. There is little room for self improvement in a socialist system. One of the reasons capitalism has continued to be successful, in spite of it’s own shortcomings; it allows the individual to improve his/her situation. People want liberty and opportunity, two things that socialism denies while still claiming to be on the side of the poor!
Whatever direction politicians take in the near future, we need to learn from the lessons of our past. Socialism has failed to improve the situation of people from working class backgrounds. Something we need to consider in 2008, our society still faces many of the same social issues we did at the beginning of the last century.