Their Cherished Socialism

I don’t know how many shirts bearing an image of Che Guevara have been produced and sold in the past fifty years or so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number were in the millions. I note that almost all, if not all, of these shirts were produced by private manufacturers and sold via markets connecting willing private sellers and willing private buyers. Is there no irony in the existence of this huge market?

Today we commonly see people who espouse “socialism” and purport to despise “capitalism” enjoying drinks from Starbucks, Apple computers and devices of various sorts, privately produced goods of all kinds delivered by Amazon, and so forth. In short, wannabe revolutionaries almost universally avail themselves of the fruits of the market system, including many products and services they cannot imagine doing without, showing no awareness whatsoever that the conditions of material abundance they take for granted spring entirely from the room for maneuver that remains open to private producers, room that would be wholly eliminated if their cherished socialism were ever to hold sway in the world.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.