Rebirth of Reason


A Personal Response to Einstein’s Why Socialism?
by Sarah House

I recently read Albert Einstein’s Why Socialism? and I have some thoughts regarding it. However, since I am not an economist or political scientist I won’t respond regarding the inefficiencies of a socialist economy or the political nature of a socialist government. Instead, I’ll tell you how I responded to Al’s writing (while I have a great deal of respect for Einstein as a scientist, I can not in good conscience extend that respect to this matter, for the reasons below, hence the use of “Al”).

What I reacted to most strongly were these statements: “Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.” This, for me, sheds a new light on the socialist perspective of life. You see, I am among those who cherish solitude; those who get sweaty palms simply standing too close to someone I don’t know; those who keep Rufus’ Party of One on their bedside table. I can count on one hand (in fact, one finger) the number of times I have felt lonely. Whatever pseudo-scientific value psychology may or may not have regarding introversion/extroversion, I know this: Al’s above words make my skin crawl.

I have, on numerous occasions, heard it said that Americans in particular are unhappier because of the strong individualistic view of life. We are alienated from one another; there’s no more meaningful contact amongst us; we’re just afraid of getting close to one another. As Rufus examined in her book, many cultures view the loner as an abomination. It would seem the socialist shares that view. ‘How can you not want to live for your brothers and sisters?’ ‘How can you find pleasure in anything but helping society?’

Well, here’s what I have to say to say to Al: Yes, it is through society that I am well fed, well clothed, and well read. Yes, those that I have been close to have helped to shape me and I them. Does that mean that it is in them I find happiness and meaning? Absolutely not! It is in creating that I find meaning and happiness. That’s right, I. I do not have the audacity to claim to know what will make all people happy. Yet, in all my egotistical selfishness I can still appreciate the simple and stunning beauty of a sunset or a butterfly in flight or a night sky saturated with stars or a freshly green tree melting into a bright blue sky. If the best way to refute a statement is to find a counterexample then Al, consider yourself refuted.
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