The text at the bottom of Marx and Engels monument in Alexander Platz in Berlin reads “Wir sind unschuldig”, i.e. “We are not guilty”. Guilty of what?
In the preface to “A People’s Tragedy”, Orlando Figes writes very perceptive words:
The Russian Revolution launched a vast experiment in social engineering — perhaps the grandest in the history of mankind. It was arguably an experiment which the human race was bound to make at some point in its evolution, the logical conclusion of humanity’s historic striving for social justice and comradeship.
Albert Einstein wrote an article for the “Monthly Review” in 1949, with the title ‘Why Socialism?’, explaining why a mode of production corresponding to Veblen’s “predatory phase” of human race could not foster the human potential, as (Veblen 1899, Ch. 1
“The predatory phase of culture is attained […] when the predatory attitude has become the habitual and accredited spiritual attitude for the members of the group; when the fight has become the dominant note in the current theory of life; when the common-sense appreciation of men and things has come to be an appreciation with a view to combat.”
Nowhere in recorded history, has argued Yuval Harari in ‘Home Sapiens’, there have been periods where being expendable in the production process has accrued in something else than insignificance. If ever we would be able to build the ‘civitatem dei’ of automata working for us, according to the old dream of the rabbi from Prague, the outcome may be straight dismissal for us. The illusion – fostered by the golden age of post 1945 Western economies miracle – that free sanitation and health care and (almost) free schooling were granted by the liberal order because of some ethical concern about the human life is soon dismissed: the (neo)liberal argument that inspired such policies was born out of efficiency considerations. Whoever has to provide for her own expensive health care is less productive and total efficiency decreases.
We are still trapped in this line of argument: if we forget this, it is at our own peril.