In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, a dystopian fiction novel, she describes a Communist society organized by a centralized bureaucracy called the World Council of Scholars. Children are raised collectively by the whole society and not their biological parents. These children are not given names, but rather numbers – the protagonist is referred to as Equality 7-2521. Roles are assigned to them once they become adults and they are expected to fulfill these economic roles. There is no concept of salary though; equal communal living arrangements (housing and food) are provided for everybody by the World Council. The workers are also fully expected to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the collective, if necessary.
Ayn Rand may have been describing a well-functioning colony of ants or bees. E.O.Wilson, the famous sociobiologist, once quipped: “Marx was right; he just had the wrong species”. He was referring to the fact that eusocial animals with reproductive division of labour like ants and bees exhibit traits remarkably similar to communist societies.
In eusocial species, brood care responsibilities are shared by the entire hive. Since the workers are infertile, there is no need for any genetic competition between them; they can all work together with communal ownership of resources. Since the workers are clones, there are no distinctions between them. The worker bees work as a collective to serve the Queen, who is their genetic clone sister capable of reproduction. Worker roles are typically assigned by the Queen at birth (based on dietery differences in feed to the larvae). And the workers often sacrifice their lives (they are infertile, their lives don’t mean much) for the sake of the hive.
Humans, unlike bees, are a parasocial species (but not solitary like some members of the cat family). We live together in a shared community and there is inter-adult male cooperation but we are not wired for communal child-rearing. We are genetically different and fertile, which means that there will be competition among us resulting in economic inequalities. But, being social creatures, we also trade and cooperate with one another.
The notion of property rights also seems to be genetically determined. Children often make distinctions such as “this toy is mine and that is yours!”. When a child’s toy is stolen, it creates an emotional outburst. Property rights are not a social construct; Adults often have to teach children to share. That implies that sharing is the social construct and property rights are genetic. Chimpanzees often engage in the world’s oldest profession, indicating that our ape cousins also seem to have developed similar concepts of property rights[food] and trade[food in exchange for sex].
Successful farming and dairy collectives are in existence, but they are typically family owned affairs with genetically related members. The Free Market does not impose corporate structures; it gives participants the freedom to organize their enterprises any way they want. Organizing an enterprise as a collective would require a very high degree of trust among the members and such collectives do not scale well; enterprises organized as corporations scale up more easily. This implies that the social construct called ‘sharing’ only works in genetically related, small scale units.
One of the primary corollaries of Natural Law is that the legal constructs used to govern a species must closely match the intrinsic nature of that species. All mismatches between the legal constructs used for governance and the intrinsic nature of that species create social tension and disharmony, eventually leading to violence.
When property rights are not legislatively mandated, societies remain poor and dysfunctional. When Pol Pot attempted to raise children in a communal basis, parents protested, eventually leading to a mass genocide. The Free Market, which allows competition but also trade and cooperation, is easily the best way to organize human economies.
But, process patents seems to be unnatural. Children often copy one another in sports. A child who develops a better strategy to play a game might attempt to keep that strategy secret. But, if another child manages to figure it out and copy that strategy, it is accepted as a natural consequence and is not a source of any emotional outburst. I believe that removing process patents altogether will actually make us more prosperous. Companies can keep their best practices as a secret if they can, but they should not be suing one another if their strategies are copied. Process patents will just result in making lawyers richer and consumers poorer.