Why Not Socialism?

Photo Source thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

In May of 1949, the first issue of Monthly Review came off the press, with a circulation of 450 copies. It featured an essay by none other than Albert Einstein titled, “Why Socialism?” Why so famous a scientist speaking to so few people, and then out of his field of expertise?

For one, he was asked by a friend, Otto Nathan. For two, at the age of 70 he had fully formed opinions about capitalism. Regarding the deteriorating relationship of the individual to society, he had this to say: “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.” This is the sort of thing that earned him 1,000 plus pages in his FBI file.

And then, three, Einstein himself posed and answered the question, “…we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.”

Einstein had to understand things simply. In developing special relativity, he asked, what do we mean when we say two events occur simultaneously, and then proposed a simple thought experiment to test a proposition that was too obvious to need testing. Obvious to other serious thinkers for centuries, that is, but it ushered in a daring new view of the physical world.

His genius ability to see things clearly did not make him immune from criticism when it came to his secular views. He was regarded as naïve. Upon close examination, a charge of…

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