Einstein on Socialism

I honor Lenin as a man who completely sacrificed himself and devoted all his energy to the realization of social justice. I do not consider his methods practical, but one thing is certain: men of his type are the guardians and restorers of humanity.

Einstein and the Generations of Science. Lewis Samuel Feuerl. p.25

Albert Einstein is one of the famous scientists who have ever lived and has greatly contributed to physics world with his theory of relativity among other achievements. He also had a strong opinion on many other subjects such as religion, the belief in god, love and politics. Now, he is just a scientist and his opinion on matters other than science should not be valued more. However, they are worth being taken into consideration as the man is a famous historical character.

A USSR stamp in 1979 commemorating Albert Einstein.
A USSR stamp in 1979 commemorating Albert Einstein.

In May 1949, the first issue of Monthly Review was published and it included an essay by Einstein himself titled Why Socialism? This was almost four years after the end of World War II and debatably two years after the begging of the Cold War. During the time, the United States was starting to become more and more anti-communist as it tries to stop the influence of the Soviet Union over the world.

Einstein began by comparing both economics and astronomy. He said that both look at different phenomena in order to find the interconnection between all of those. The ultimate goal is to find an explanation of the cause and consequences of what happens in the natural world. However, he made a distinction as he asserted that the job is harder for economists. It is definitely harder to break down economic phenomena as there are many causes that are hard to isolate and analyze. Therefore, is it “advisable” for a person who is not an expert to give his opinion on economics? Einstein believed so.

Man is both a solitary and social being at the same time. This might sound very contradicting but it’s just how human being are. They seek affirmation and validation from their fellow members in society in order to attain self-assurance. Einstein believed that it’s this contradicting nature that makes man powerful and unique. It is, therefore, evident that man is dependent on this concept in society in his survival.

Man has become conscious to his connection to society. However, according to the physicist, this connection has been perceived as negative and as a threat to the man’s human rights and his “economic existence”. Humans, prisoners of their own egotism, are making each other weaker as they disconnect from their surroundings. This has promoted a form of “capitalist anarchy” which he regarded as the ultimate source of evil. It has made the means of production the private property of a few individuals, depriving the workers from the fruit of their labor. The production of the good is being accomplished for the profit rather than the actual use of the good. In addition to that, the technological progress is only helping the increase in unemployment rather than lifting the burden of production.

This form of “unlimited competition” is a huge waste of labor. It also cripples the individuals as they are always in fear of losing their jobs. They do not work because they want to produce a good, but rather to have enough money to purchase the result of their own work. This in turn inflicts damage on the whole educational system preparing overly competitive students, who regard academic success only to be necessary for a successful future career.

The solution? A socialist economy in which the means of production are owned by society. In addition to that, Einstein suggested that this society should be accompanied with an educational system glorifying social goals and the prosperity of all human beings, rather than his own success in life. The realization of this kind of society faces many problems. How can it be realized? How can we prevent bureaucracy empowerment? And how can we further prevent the enslavement of the individual? The problems must be addressed but at Einstein’s times, this topic was considered a taboo as socialists were being chased and oppressed.

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