Emma, Mikhail and Voltarine live on Socialism Island, a tropical island surrounded by clear blue waters. They survive by fishing with their bare hands. It’s very hard work and they can only catch one fish a day, just enough to not starve. They don’t have the time or energy to do more.
One day, Mikhail is washing his shirt made of animal skin and accidentally drops it into the water. Pulling it, he finds, to his great surprise, that a little fish was caught in his shirt as well! He runs back to his comrades and they all realize that some sort of net may be more efficient for fishing.
They choose Voltarine, who is most skilled at building the little tools they use, to make a net. As always, they pool their resources and each of them eats two-thirds of a fish for one day. This is not a lot of food, and they begin to feel sharp hunger.
But the next day Voltarine has finished the net. Instead of one fish a day, the net lets one person catch ten fish a day. That’s all the three of them need in order to eat to satiety. They decide to have one person fishing each day in rotating order, while the other two can make different sorts of tools. Soon they have made a primitive axe and are starting to use wood to build better shelter.
Because they cooperate and share freely, the people of Socialism Island experience little friction in their day-to-day lives. As they produce more and more, life gets easier and easier.
The situation was rather different on Capitalism Island. There, Able, Baker and Charlie did not share their food in common, so when Charlie thought of the idea for a net, he had to shoulder the entire risk. While making the net, he starved terribly, and if the net didn’t work, he could die. So it was much to his relief that his net worked just fine, capturing ten fish in a day.
Now Charlie had a lot of food. But when Able and Baker realized how great Charlie’s net was, they came to him and begged for him to let them use his net. Charlie thought, “I almost risked my life for this, why should I run the risk of them stealing it from me? At least I deserve a reward.”
So, using his surplus fish to feed himself, he made two more nets, and demanded that Able and Baker pay him eight fish a day for using them. He called these nets his “property.” When they complained, he told them, “why are you complaining? You’ll have twice as much fish as you did before, thanks to my nets. It’s only fair that I get a reward for making them for you.”
Charlie accumulated and dried a lot of fish, while Able and Baker still worked all day. They came to complain to him again about how unfair it was that he was hoarding so much dry fish. So Charlie paid them three fish a day to build a boat so they could go out to sea and capture even more fish for him. They gratefully accepted, as they never had so much fish to eat before. But now they had to do whatever Charlie ordered them to do.
Going out to sea, the two workers discovered Socialism Island and the shelter, tools and goodies that had been made there. They went back to Charlie to tell him about it. He decided that they should storm Socialism Island and steal their goodies.
At first, the war was easy. The people of Socialism Island were weaker, and they were able to steal quite a bit. But subsequent wars got harder. The people of Socialism Island started making wooden traps, and Able and Baker started getting seriously hurt. Charlie had another bright idea: “instead of constantly coming back, we’re going to take their island over, ask them for a tribute every week, leave one of you there to keep them in line.”
After the last war, Able was left to live in one of the shelters that were built by the people of Socialism Island. He said this was the “property” of the invaders and could not be used by anyone else, no matter the need. Then he implemented the first “law”: instead of living and eating in common, every single person was to have their own “property” as well, from which each would pay their tribute.
Emma, Mikhail and Voltarine now had to work for themselves, instead of working for each other as they always had. They became like the people of Capitalism Island, and never shared anything ever again.