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Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Double Game of French Socialism

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  • The Message
    • II. Doctrine and Strategy in the Socialist Program for France
      • 6. Why Corporate  Reform Requires a  Reform of Man
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6. Why Corporate  Reform RequiresReform of Man

When it comes to reforming mankind, the Program runs into exactly the same difficulties encountered by statist communism.

Although they may have lent themselves to abuse, the economic principles in force in the West emanate from human nature itself. In brief, the common characteristic of these principles is the affirmation of the legitimacy of private property, initiative and profit.

The socialists, however, propose to establish another economic system directed toward other ends and stimulated by other incentives (cf. Program, p. 173). What they call profit only for some must be gradually replaced by the criteria of social utility, determined by the sovereign will of the people. In other words the socialists, like the communists, hold that the individual exists for society and should produce, not for his own good, but directly for the good of the community to which he belongs.

Under this system, the best incentive for work disappears, production necessarily drops, and indolence and misery prevail in all of society.

Every man seeks, both by the light of reason and by a continuous, powerful and fruitful instinctive movement, to provide first for his personal needs and those of his family. When self-preservation is at stake, the human intelligence fights more easily against its limitations and grows in both sharpness and agility The will overcomes laziness more easily and confronts obstacles and struggles with greater vigor. In short, the worker attains a level of productivity quantitatively and qualitatively commensurate with the real necessities and decorum of society. From this initial impulse imbued with legitimate love of himself and his own, a man's love of his neighbor extends like concentric waves that should ulti­mately encompass society as a whole. In this way, far from benefiting only his small family group, his activity assumes a scope proportional to society.

Socialism instills discouragement in every worker by abolishing this powerful and natural initial incentive to work and by replacing it with an increasingly egalitarian wage system that fails to reward the more capable proportionately.

Thus, the whole impulse of a nation's work force drops and becomes weak and insufficient, as so obviously happens in Russia and its satellite countries. This also happens, though perhaps less obviously, in Yugoslavia. And analogously this is what is going to happen in self-managing France. 18

Here we stress the strength of incentive provided by inequality and the depressive effect of both general equal and microscopic inequalities.

The wage ceiling in an egalitarian society will inevitably be equal for all, or only slightly unequal, as can be verified by comparing wage ceilings in communist countries with those in the West.

By the very nature of things  work capacity varies immensely from man to man. The overall productivity of a nation presupposes the full stimulation of all capacities, especially those of the extremely capable.

            The legitimate ambitions of the extremely capable can be almost unlimited in the socio-economic regime of the West. Once set in motion, they successfully stimulate the whole hierarchy of necessarily lesser capacities which also have before them proportionate possibili­ties of success. Once the rise of the very capable or the capable is limited, their productive drive decreases. Furthermore, when the very capable work below capacity, the capable also become discouraged, and the overall production level drops.

Thus, egalitarianism necessarily leads to a production inferior to the sum of a country's work capacities. The more radical the egalitarianism, the lower the level of productivity.

Now, it seems that the ceiling allowed by the Program responds only to the modest aspirations of the average.


18.          This negative psychological effect is intrinsic to self-management. However, this does not mean that each and every self-managing undertaking will fail. In one exceptional case or another, this effect of self-management may be counterbalanced or attenuated by psychological or other factors. But such sporadic exceptions are by no means sufficient to form a stable foundation for all the business undertakings of a  hole nation.


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