By Anang Pal Malik
Socialism vs Capitalism is basically a conflict of two visions of man. Of how man is conceived by the two camps. Socialists say that man is perfect, capable of overcoming all failings like desires and greed, etc., and doing good of others all the time, without expecting any reward. If he is not currently doing so, it is because of the political and social systems that force him to do less than noble things. If therefore, wise men (read intellectuals) seize control of society and reconfigure everything, ensuring that every man gets work according to his capacity (which they somehow think they can know about each individual) and gets paid according to his need (which again they assume they can determine for each member of society), ideal man would emerge. Though even a bit adult contemplation itself would reveal that 1. For a select small group, it is impossible to reorder society, they may of course collapse it. 2. For this group, neither it is possible to know the capacity, nor possible to know the need of each individual member of society. And of course apart from contemplation, now we have had empirical evidence of at least a hundred countries, and all that the socialists achieved was destroying the countries beyond repair. Of course there is this little matter of Freedom itself. Giving a group of men such power over the remaining means the members of society are no longer free. They are more like zoo animals, with the select group (polit bureau) as the zoo-keepers.
The opposing camp says that man in imperfect. If violence is monopolised by the State, nobody else is allowed to use force, and Private property is made sacrosanct, individual members pursuing their own selfish ends, through mutual trade and cooperation (cooperation only because both gain from doing so), create ever more prosperity for the society as a whole. Empirical evidence shows that societies which follow this vision, have indeed created unimaginable prosperity for their members. This camp says that systems which govern the whole society grow organically over a long period of time, and any change will also be over a long period of time, and the systems for the society as a whole can not be created anew by a select group of people. Much like languages: very complex languages, with very elaborate rules, have grown over thousands of years, without any committee or polit bureau overseeing the construction. A simple reflection will show that it is impossible to create a new language by a small group of people, howsoever talented, within even a life time.
Of course, unlike science, in which a vision is discarded once experiment proves it false, these two social visions are living side by side for at least two centuries now. Because no controlled and repeatable laboratory experiments are possible, therefore even when a vision is tried and fails ( for example socialism in USSR), its votaries simple shrug and say that it was not correctly applied. Therefore, conflict between these two visions is going to persist for a long time, without any conclusive victory for any side.