The socialist empire of the Incas

Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso

CATO – Carlos Rodríguez Braun comments on the proto-socialism of the Incas, as this was pointed out by Marx and studied by Louis Baudin in his 1928 book, The Socialist Empire of the Incas ”.

French anti-capitalist writer Laurent Binet told El País: “With the Incas, we would have had Social Security for centuries.” Had the Indians imposed themselves on the Spanish, we would have had “a less brutal globalization.” This absurdity illustrates hegemonic progressivism. It wants anything except capitalism, that is, anything but a society of free women and men. The fall of the Berlin Wall, and the unquestionable verification of the genocidal character of anticapitalism only made them hesitate momentarily, and they went at great speed to forget about communism and to cling to the closest thing they have to an illiberal society: the modern redistributive state. Hence the celebration of Binet: had we been conquered by the Incas, we would have had the welfare state for a long time, that is, a high degree of political and legislative coercion. Naturally, he applauds it.

The proto-socialism of the Incas is well known, and was pointed out by Marx himself as a variant of primitive communism. Less well known is that the French jurist and economist Louis Baudin published in 1928 a book entitled L’Empire socialiste des Inka. The North American edition, from 1961, features an introduction by Ludwig von Mises, no less. Binet, therefore, arrives almost a century late to emphasize the subordination of the mass of the people to the ruling minority, characteristic of the Incas and of all previous and later variants of socialism. “The property of the masses – says Baudin – was socialized; the elites, on the other hand, developed private property ”.

Mises emphasizes that, although there are many books on socialism, Baudin’s merit is “to sketch what life is like under a collectivist regime, what the specter of a human animal is like devoid of its fundamental human quality: the power to choose and act.”

For the great Austrian economist, the Inca model is more zoological than anthropological; people “did not have to worry because, like cattle, their fate did not depend on their behavior, but was determined by the apparatus of the system.” All variants of the left assure us that only socialism guarantees genuine freedom. But the analysis of the Incas in this pioneering work by Baudin clearly shows, concludes Mises with echoes of Alexis de Tocqueville, what this freedom articulated in function of the State consists of: “it is the freedom that the shepherd grants to his flock.”

This article was originally published in La Razón (Spain) on November 15, 2020.