Guild Socialism

From Ayn Rand : “The Cashing-in: The Student ‘Rebellion,’” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
Particularly Relevant to Every Aspect of Statist Québec :
 The student rebels’ notion 
that universities should be run by students and faculties 
was an open, explicit assault on the same right 
attacked implicitly by all their other notions: 
the right of private property. 
And of all the various statist-collectivist systems, 
the one they chose as their goal is, 
politico-economically, the least practical; 
intellectually, the least defensible; 
morally, the most shameful: 
guild socialism.
Guild socialism is a system that 
abolishes the exercise of individual ability 
by chaining men into groups 
according to their line of work, 
delivering the work into the group’s power
as its exclusive domain, 
with the group dictating 
the rules, standards, and practices 
of how the work is to be done 
and who shall or shall not do it.

Guild socialism is 
the concrete-bound, 
routine-bound mentality of a savage, 
elevated into a social theory. 
Just as a tribe of savages seizes a piece of jungle territory 
and claims it as a monopoly by reason of the fact of being there, 
so guild socialism grants a monopoly, 
not on a jungle forest or waterhole, 
but on a factory or a university
not by reason of an individual's ability, achievement, or even “public service,” 
but by reason of the fact that he is there.
Just as savages have no concept 
of causes or consequences, 
of past or future, 
and no concept of efficacy beyond the muscular power of their tribe, 
so guild socialists
finding themselves in the midst of an industrial civilization, 
regard its institutions as phenomena of nature 
and see no reason why the gang should not seize them.
If there is any one proof of 
an individual's incompetence, 
it is the stagnant mentality of a worker 
(or of a professor) who, 
doing some small, routine job in a vast undertaking, 
does not care to look beyond the lever of a machine 
(or the lectern of a classroom), 
does not choose to know how the machine 
(or the classroom) 
got there or what makes his job possible, 
but proclaims that the management of the undertaking 
is parasitical and unnecessary. 
Managerial work, 
the organization and integration of human effort 
into purposeful, large-scale, long-range activities, 
in the realm of action, 
what an individual’s conceptual faculty is 
in the realm of cognition. 
It is beyond the grasp and, therefore, 
is the first target of the self-arrested, sensory-perceptual mentality.
If there is any one way to confess one’s own mediocrity, 
it is the willingness to place one’s work in the absolute power of a group, 
particularly a group of one’s professional colleagues
Of any forms of tyranny, this is the worst; 
it is directed against a single human attribute: 
the mind
and against a single enemy: 
the innovator. 
The innovator, by definition, 
is the person who challenges the established practices of his profession.
To grant a professional monopoly to any group, 
is to sacrifice human ability and abolish progress; 
to advocate such a monopoly, 
is to confess that one has nothing to sacrifice.
Guild socialism is the rule of, by, and for mediocrity. 
Its cause is a society’s intellectual collapse; 
its consequence is a quagmire of stagnation; 
its historical example is the guild system of the Middle Ages 
or, in modern times, the fascist system of Italy under Mussolini.

The particular form of economic organization, 
which is becoming more and more apparent in this country, 
as an outgrowth of the power of pressure groups, 
is one of the worst variants of statism: guild socialism
Guild socialism robs the talented young of their future, 
by freezing individuals into professional castes under rigid rules. 
It represents an open embodiment of the basic motive of most statists, 
though they usually prefer not to confess it: 
the entrenchment and protection of mediocrity from abler competitors, 
the shackling of people of superior ability 
down to the mean average of their professions. 
That theory is not too popular among socialists though it has its advocates,
but the most famous instance of its large-scale practice was Fascist Italy.
In the 1930’s, a few perceptive people said that Roosevelt’s New Deal 
was a form of guild socialism and 
that it was closer to Mussolini’s system than to any other. 
They were ignored. 
Today, the evidence is unmistakable.
It was also said that if fascism ever came to the United States, 
it would come disguised as socialism.