A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru
Ludwig von Mises:
There is no doubt that this book, A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru, is of the highest importance for the historian, for the ethnologist, and for the economist. But in establishing this fact one has not yet fully appreciated the value of this unique masterwork.
The innumerable books dealing with the main issue of our age, the conflict between individualism and collectivism, provide us with a description and analysis of the economic, political, legal, and constitutional problems involved. The best of them have given us all that is needed to form a well-founded opinion about the feasibility or unfeasibility of socialism as a system of social co-operation and human civilization. They have treated their subject exhaustively from the scientific point of view and in this sense one may say that they have well performed their task.
But Professor Baudin's work brings to the thoughtful reader something that these praxeological and historical volumes did not and could not take up. From the pages of his treatise there emerge the shadowy outlines of life under a collectivist regime, the spectre of a human animal deprived of his essentially human quality, the power to choose and to act. These wards of the Inca were only in a zoological sense human beings. Actually they were kept like cattle in a pen. Like cattle they had nothing to worry about because their personal fate did not depend on their own behavior, but was determined by the apparatus of the system. They could in this sense be called happy. But theirs was a peculiar brand of happiness. Une menagerie d'hommes heureux—a menagerie of happy people—is the heading of the chapter in which Professor Baudin analyzes the conditions of this bizarre world of uniformity and rigidity.
This brilliant examination of the human angle of the Inca system is the main merit of this magnificent book. Marx and his followers rave about the freedom that socialism is supposed to bring to mankind, and the communists tell us again and again that "true" freedom is to be found only in the Soviet· system. Professor Baudin shows in what this freedom really consists. It is the freedom that the shepherd grants to his flock.
D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc, NJ, 1961