Why Socialism Part 1 (Albert Einstein)



hello everybody today I wanted to read an article written by none other than Albert Einstein this was written and the first issue of the monthly review in May 1949 and it's called why socialism it is advisable for one is is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic or social issues to express views on the subject of socialism I believe for a number of reasons that it is let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge it might appear that there are no essential method methodological differences between astronomy and economics scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible but in reality such methodological differences do exist the discovery of general laws in the field of economics has made is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately in addition the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history as is well known been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature for example most of the major States in history owed their existence to conquest the conquering peoples established themselves legally and economically as the privileged class of the conquered country they seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks the priests in control of Education made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thence forth to a large extent unconsciously guided in their social behavior but historic tradition is so to speak of yesterday nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called the predatory phase of human development the observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to the other phases since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future second socialism is directed toward social ethical end science however cannot create ends and even less instill them in human beings science at most can supply the means by which to attain certain ends but the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with loth lofty ethical ideals and if these ends are not stillborn but vital and vigorous are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who have consciously have unconsciously determined the slow evolution of society for the reason for these reasons we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization society innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis and that its stability has been gravely shattered it is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile towards the group small or large to what to which they below in order to illustrate my meaning lip let me record here a personal experience I recently discussed with an intelligent well disposed man the threat of another war which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind and I remarked that only a Supra national organization would offer protection from that danger where upon my visitor very calmly and coolly said to me why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race I'm sure that as little as a century ago no one would have lightly made a statement of this kind this statement of a man who is striven in vain to attain an equilibrium with himself and is more or less lost hope of succeeding it's the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days what is the cause is there a way out it's easy to raise such questions but it's difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance I must try however as best I can although I'm very conscious to the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in simple and easy formulas man is at one in the same time a solitary being and a social being as a solitary being he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him to satisfy his personal desires and to develop his innate abilities as a social being he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings to share in their pleasures and to comfort them in their sorrows and to improve their conditions of life only the existence of these varied frequently conflicting strivings accounts for the special character of a man and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society it is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is and main fixed by inheritance but the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development by the structure of society which he grows up by the tradition of that society and by the appraisals of particular types of behavior the abstract concept of society means to the individual human being sum total of his direct and indirect actions in direct relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations the individual is able to think feel strive and work by himself but he depends so much upon Society in his physical intellectual and emotional existence that it's impossible to think of him or to understand him outside the framework of society its society which provides a man with food clothing shelter the tools of work language the forums of thought and most of the content of thought his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past present who are hidden behind the small world society it is evident therefore that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished just as in the case of ants and bees however while the whole process of ants and bees is fixed down to the small smallest detail by rigid hereditary instincts the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change memory the capacity to make new combinations the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human beings which are not dictated by biological necessities such developments manifest themselves and traditions institutions and organizations in literature and scientific and engineering accomplish Sherman's and works of art this explains how it happens that in a certain sense man can influence his life through his own conduct and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part man acquires at birth through heredity a biological Constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable including the natural urges which are characteristic to the human species in addition during his lifetime he acquires a cultural Constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences this cultural Constitution which with the passage of time is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society modern anthropology has taught us through a comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and types of organization which predominate the society it's on this it is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may crown their hopes human beings are not condemned because of their biological Constitution to annihilate each other or be at the mercy of a cruel self-inflicted fate in part two I will talk about this set the second half of this article by Albert Einstein thank you for listening and stay tuned




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