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Why Socialism?

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  630 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Nook, 18 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1951)
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Dec 16, 2011 added it
Shelves: socialism

"Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life."

"If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and th
Mohamed Almahdi
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics, philosophy
Five stars because it is very concise and to the point. Nevertheless the content is very condensed that it might not be understood without a brief background on socialism and what problem it views in the capitalist means of production.
Benjamin Chambers
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Why Socialism?” is a short essay written by Albert Einstein for the socialist journal Monthly Review’s first issue. In it, Einstein briefly outlines his critique of capitalism, which borrows heavily from classical Marxism, and why a transition to socialism is essential for the survival of the human species.

Here are his major points:

The current laws of economics are derived from a capitalist society and thus only applicable to it. Socialism supersedes capitalism; it is a radical transformation o
Mar 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: socialism, politics
If this essay shows anything, it's that you have no business talking about economic orders when you don't understand economics. This insight is so trivial that it sounds silly when you type it out, but apparently, it was completely lost on Einstein. Why Socialism? was published in 1949, when the problems with central planning had already been laid out in great detail by such economists as Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, but Einstein doesn't lose a word on them. Neither does he actually justify ...more
Sumit Ghosh
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Short and to-the-point, with a clarity of thought expected of a man of his intellect.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing

"...human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate."

I was very surprised to find out Einstein was a socialist. A rather short essay, Why Socialism? gets it's point across in a very easy to understand and decluttered way. (something I wish more leftists would consider doing).
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
he snapped
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful introductory article on Socialism, one that would help a novice to understand the crux of socialism. I shall attempt to summarise the key ideas that Einstein focuses on.

- He begins by highlighting the inherently oppressive nature of all of human civilisation and the role that conquests and religion played in it. His view that priests took over the education system to make the masses comply with, internalise and normalise the oppressive status-quo is very relevant even today.
Sam D
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great introduction to the principles of socialism, written in a clear and easily accessibly way.
Dheraj Ganjikunta
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good essay. Took the broad view on socialism, and was concise in its reasoning.
Blake Frederick
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legis ...more
Georang A Cavazos
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the smartest men to ever lived thought that socialism was the best option for governing people.
Ankit Solanki
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-college
The essay outlines the aims and problems of socialism, and a bit on capitalism—in a linguistically precise semantic structure.
Reshid Bey
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Question (1949) : Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism?

- Scientific method is not an end but a tool used to inspire people to envision what it means to live. The current approaches of observing economic phenomena proliferate a stagnant viewpoint that compartmentalises and ignores a range of factors outside strictly economic influence e.g. conquest.

- The west was built upon conquest, where one group seized
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: society-politics
An article by Einstein in which he expresses his support for a society with a planned economy and democratic forms which could keep bureaucratic tendencies in check.

It is available free online at:

Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Albert Einstein himself makes a case for socialism. Albert Einstein of all people. But the right says it won't work, and who knows more, Einstein or Ben Shapiro? ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very good essay that outlines Einstein's economical views. I cannot fault one thing that he says. If only we could get more people to read it and realize who wrote it -- someone far more notable than Adam Smith. ...more
Mehran Ali
May 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't disagree with it anywhere. Marx's criticism on capitalism is so substantial and solid that it everyone who has read it adores socialism. This is a solid motivation for anyone towards socialism who has some questions about the present economic system in the World.
And this essay ends with a question which is still unresolved (in my view) even after 70 years it was written " How can the rights of the individual be protected (in a socialist state) and therewith a democratic counterweight to
Bryan Heck
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
At first I was not sure how to view this essay. Einstein starts off relating Economics to Science and the similarities between them and then dives into the "benefits of Socialism" and the "problems of Capitalism. Einstein points out many of the same issues Karl Marx pointed out in Wage, Labor, and Capital. The one difference between Einstein and Marx that I did like though was that Einstein did not end with the conclusion that Socialism did not have flaws. Although Einstein did not point out all ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit out of date (clearly), but really on the nose about a lot of stuff. Namely: the tension is between the individual as an individual and the individual as a member of society, but when it comes down to it, we're all part of a society and who we are as an individual reflects our society.
Also, we need to beware of the centralization of the economy as this will (and has) led to an all-powerful bureaucracy. He argues, rightfully so, for strong individual rights to protect us in the event that th
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent simplified answer to "Why Socialism". Would recommend to anyone starting to learn about socialism. This book and a bit of economic history is enough to potentially change core political beliefs ...more
Elif Ozcan
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
If the translation was better, it would be a great book to read and discuss!
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great piece on why and how socialistic principles is about a better future. His characterization of capitalism is a bit harsh, but I in view of his time it is understandtable; Einstein had just lived through the great depression and two world wars when he wrote this in 1949.

In my opinoion we need a constrained version of capitalism and global trade, but it needs to strive towards ending all wars, poverty, inequality of opportunities, discriminations, racism, animal cruelty and contamination of
Xristina Hodor'i
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the ...more
Jun 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The people that I have seen giving this a low score made somewhat of a impression on me, making me wonder what was so awfully disagreeable about Einstein's simplistic and idealistic text. Considering that this was meant as a sort of introductory text to a magazine that promoted socialism, and, as a reviewer cleverly put it, Einstein's name carries a certain weight to the common people, and if he can convert people to this cause, I'm more than willing to call this good.

Since I can't account for
Dec 11, 2020 added it
"All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. 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 crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitiv
Mauricio Cruz
Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A short essay inaugurating Monthly Review, this text is extremely easy to read and quick, while still exposing readers to Marxist conceptions of alienation, the labor theory of value, the falling rate of profit of capitalism and the boom-bust cycle, as well as the topic of human nature and the nature-nurture argument.

Excellent starter for people interested in socialism, especially if they’re STEM-oriented or hold Einstein in high regard.
Riannon Sanford
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great introduction to socialism. I came in not knowing much about anti-capitalism and came out of it more enlightened, so it definitely did the job. This is beginner friendly without being oversimplified in my opinion.
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A quick overview of Einstein's political stance, particularly his critique on capitalism and what he called the 'economic anarchy' which undermines the existence of societal and individual needs. Serves to be a great intro as well to the concepts of socialism. ...more
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In 1879, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Zurich by 1909. His 1905 paper explaining the photoelectric effect, the basis of electronics, earned him the Nobel Prize in 1921. His first paper on Special Relativity Theory, also published in 1905, changed the world. After the rise of the Nazi party, Einstein made Princeton his permanent home, becoming ...more

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“This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.” 20 likes
“Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.” 18 likes
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