Ludwig von Mises was an eyewitness to the rise of socialism and the Bolshevik take-over of Russia. As an economist, he studied socialism and, subsequently, wrote a detailed book on the subject. He had many interesting insights; here is one of them.
August Glen-James, editor
To the first category belong municipalization and nationalization of enterprises; to the second, sabotage and revolution.
Socialist policy employs two methods to accomplish its purposes: the first aims directly at converting society to Socialism; the second aims only indirectly at this conversion by destroying the social order which is based on private ownership. The parties of social reform and the evolutionary wings of the socialist parties prefer the first means; the second is the weapon of revolutionary Socialism, which is primarily concerned to clear the ground for building up a new civilization by liquidating the old one. To the first category belong municipalization and nationalization of enterprises; to the second, sabotage and revolution.
The importance of this division is lessened materially by the fact that the effects achieved by both groups do not greatly differ. As we have shown, even the direct method which aims at the creation of a new society can only destroy; it cannot create. Thus the beginning and end of the socialist policy, which has dominated the world for decades, is destruction.
In the policy of the communists the will to destroy is so clear that no one can overlook it. But although destructionism is more easily recognized in the actions of the Bolshevists than in other parties, it is essentially just as strong in all other socialist movements. State interference in economic life, which calls itself 'economic policy', has done nothing but destroy economic life. Prohibitions and regulations have by their general obstructive tendency fostered the growth of the spirit of wastefulness. Already during the war period this policy had gained so much ground that practically all economic action of the entrepreneur was branded as violation of the law. That production is still being carried on, even semi-rationally, is to be ascribed only to the fact that destructionist laws and measures have not yet been able to operate completely and effectively. Were they more effective, hunger and mass extinction would be the lot of all civilized nations today.
Our whole life is so given over to destructionism that one can name hardly a field into which it has not penetrated. 'Social' art preaches it, schools teach it, the churches disseminate it. In recent decades the legislation of civilized states has created hardly one important law in which at least a few concessions have not been made to destructionism; some laws it completely dominates.
Mises, L. V., Hayek, F. A., & Kahane, J. (2014). Socialism. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Incorporated.