As Stove points out, there is an air of paradox in saying that benevolence may be a cause of poverty. But there shouldnât be. Good intentions alone are never sufficient to guarantee the success of oneâs endeavors. Utopian schemes to reorganize the world have regularly ended in failure.
Easily the most important example of this phenomenon is twentieth-century communism. As Stove reminds us, the attractiveness of communismÂthe Âemotional fuelâ of communist revolutionaries for over a hundred yearsÂhas always been Âexactly the same as the emotional fuel of every other utopianism: the passionate desire to alleviate or abolish misery.â Yet communism was such a monumental failure that millions of people today are still suffering its consequences.
In this most prescient of essays, Stove warns contemporary readers just how seductive universal political benevolence can be. He also shows how the failure to understand the connection between benevolence and communism has led to many of the greatest social miseries of our age.
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