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Martell Spy

Workable Socialism

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Posted (edited)

This is a thread inspired by a recent U.S. Politics fracas. It is titled as such since it is authored by a liberal with leftist leanings. How do you get to workable socialism in a society? I assume it is workable as a starting off point.

The Nordic model. This is probably the most well-known model and the one that is seen as working fairly well. 

Socialist Firms. This is where workers own at least a certain percentage of the firm. I tend to think this would work pretty well, but is obviously opposed by the rich straight white males of the world. Because obviously they should own all the money in society and be able to rape or torture anyone they wish with impunity. Because anyone who is not a rich white straight male has no merit or value.

The Soviet model. This is the one that often gets brought up as an argument to how socialism is a failure. Communism, lots of goose-stepping, and violations of civil rights. I would note though it is the uniforms and the torture and the faces getting stomped in that terrify people. The people in cages, much like is happening in the U.S. right now. That is what terrifies people, and it has very little to do with how economics are arranged.

Edited by Martell Spy

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

First we need a workable definition of socialism.

Need to stop certain sorts of people always wanting to play a game of calvin ball with that term.

Well, to go to basics, I would say first, you need to have a Democracy. If you don't have that, then you have nothing, really. And then you have to make sure you don't have a corrupted democracy. This is obviously an issue in a place like the United States, where two men, the Koch brothers have more say than millions of citizens. 

As for the economy, well there is nothing to say that say the workers should own 10 % of the firm. Or some other percentage. There is no reason that say Bank of America or Boeing owned partially by employees would perform any different. Capitalism works fairly well though, this is well known. And this is the reason given why nothing can ever change. And people highly invested in the status quo often lend themselves to this argument.

I'd also bring up the UBI, the Universal Basic Income. I think it is needed to counter automation and growing inequality.

The thing is with both UBI and employee ownership of firms, we don't have to go overnight to 100% employee ownership and a 5,000 $ a month UBI. We could start these policies at modest amounts and slowly increase them. However, billionaires and their lackeys are highly invested in stopping any of this from happening.

Edited by Martell Spy

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Posted (edited)

I think my real point is that depending on how broadly you want to define socialism, some types of socialism work just fine. And I think there is a lot the US can learn or borrow from other alleged socialist countries. For instance Germany uses a system of codetermination on their corporate boards and it seemingly works pretty well and gives labor more of a voice.

Of course, if we narrow down the definition of socialism to mean there is no private ownership of capital, then those systems didn't work out too well. Now with regard to the reasons those systems didn't work, perhaps it wasn't the ban on the private ownership of capital per se that caused the problem, but was more because the informational requirements needed for highly centralized systems are just too demanding. The price system solves those informational problems to a great extent, but doesn't work quite as well as in the over-active imaginations of some libertarian types or free market fundamentalist types.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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16 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

First we need a workable definition of socialism.

Need to stop certain sorts of people always wanting to play a game of calvin ball with that term.

Generally socialists define socialism as the workers (the people) owning the means of production. Strong laissez-faire capitalists often define socialism as a planned economy (command). I would be more inclined to go with the first definition, which means that the Nordic model is not socialism, it's social democracy, which is I'm pretty sure what most of them would say and seems to be a very workable model as a sort of compromise between communism and laissez-faire. I don't know if socialism (by the first definition) works on a large scale, historical examples of communism are pretty terrible, but democratic socialism hasn't been tried much (it hasn't worked so well in Venezuela, but I don't think we should apply one country universally). It can work well on a small scale (kibbutzim for example).

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Posted (edited)
Quote

Of course, if we narrow down the definition of socialism to mean there is no private ownership of capital, then those systems didn't work out too well. Now with regard to the reasons those systems didn't work, perhaps it wasn't the ban on the private ownership of capital per se that caused the problem, but was more because the informational requirements needed for a highly centralized system are just too demanding. The price system solves those informational problems to a great extent, but doesn't work as quite as well as in the over-active imaginations of some libertarian types or free market fundamentalist types.

 

Well, how much does 100% of anything work out? What if we cut out a 100% of all regulations? Just the other day on the radio I heard an ad that really disturbed me. It was some product that claimed they could reverse Diabetes. In a sane nation this fraud could not make the air waves. I was frankly shocked to hear it, as it means our regulators are insanely paralyzed.

But, how would it change anything if we say started a UBI of 1$ a month? Or 50? Or if we made U.S. corporations 5% worker owned? This kind of thing isn't happening not because it would not work out. But, because the powerful hate that a few crumbs might go to someone else other than them.

Edited by Martell Spy

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1 minute ago, dornishpen said:

Generally socialists define socialism as the workers (the people) owning the means of production. Strong laissez-faire capitalists often define socialism as a planned economy (command). I would be more inclined to go with the first definition, which means that the Nordic model is not socialism, it's social democracy, which is I'm pretty sure what most of them would say and seems to be a very workable model as a sort of compromise between communism and laissez-faire. I don't know if socialism (by the first definition) works on a large scale, historical examples of communism are pretty terrible, but democratic socialism hasn't been tried much (it hasn't worked so well in Venezuela, but I don't think we should apply one country universally). It can work well on a small scale (kibbutzim for example).

I'm fine with any definition. But, having been an observer of politics in the US for quite awhile, I know we have endless arguments about the merits of socialism, without every really defining what it is we are really even talking about. And certain sorts of people take advantage of that to cause all sorts of confusion,misdirection, and subterfuge.

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6 minutes ago, dornishpen said:

Generally socialists define socialism as the workers (the people) owning the means of production. Strong laissez-faire capitalists often define socialism as a planned economy (command). I would be more inclined to go with the first definition, which means that the Nordic model is not socialism, it's social democracy, which is I'm pretty sure what most of them would say and seems to be a very workable model as a sort of compromise between communism and laissez-faire. I don't know if socialism (by the first definition) works on a large scale, historical examples of communism are pretty terrible, but democratic socialism hasn't been tried much (it hasn't worked so well in Venezuela, but I don't think we should apply one country universally). It can work well on a small scale (kibbutzim for example).

Well, I would add things like law and order and an established economy to this. Sometimes things in a society don't work out because everything is fucked up beyond all repair. Corruption is a common problem.

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1 minute ago, Martell Spy said:

 

But, how would it change anything if we say started a UBI of 1$ a month? Or 50? Or if we made U.S. corporations 5% worker owned? This kind of thing isn't happening not because it would not work out. But, because the powerful hate that a few crumbs might go to someone else other than them.

I don't disagree. And lot of this happens because these people change  the meaning of "socialism" as it suits them.

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5 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

I don't disagree. And lot of this happens because these people change  the meaning of "socialism" as it suits them.

Well, I'm not a conservative in any shape or form. I'm not a communist, either.

I would say that socialism is basically government programs that help people in the society. Sometimes they are universal, and sometimes they benefit those who are not well off. And they are paid for by society, but those who are more well off tend to pay more as a matter of fairness.

I'm not a communist and I've never felt that the government should run everything. I'm more concerned with how things are at a ground level for those in poverty. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

Well, I'm not a conservative in any shape or form. I'm not a communist, either.

I would say that socialism is basically government programs that help people in the society. Sometimes they are universal, and sometimes they benefit those who are not well off. And they are paid for by society, but those who are more well off tend to pay more as a matter of fairness.

I'm not a communist and I've never felt that the government should run everything. I'm more concerned with how things are at a ground level for those in poverty. 

Well, I think you probably already know this, but I'm basically a Keynesian social democrat.  I too believe in a robust welfare state.

I don't think that makes me a socialist in its classic sense. But, some people might argue that it makes me a socialist. Of course, those people's definitions are often subject to rapid change depending on what argument they are making. I don't really mind being called a socialist, its just the squirreliness of some people when using that term that annoys me.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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12 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Well, I think you probably already know this, but I'm basically a Keynesian social democrat.  I too believe in a robust welfare state.

I don't think that makes me a socialist in its classic sense. But, some people might argue that it makes me a socialist. Of course, those people's definitions are often subject to rapid change depending on what argument they are making. I don't really mind being called a socialist, its just the squirreliness of some people when using that term that annoys me.

Well, they are basically trying to call you a communist, based upon inexact evidence. It is like me calling anyone remotely right-wing Nazi. 

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5 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

I would say that socialism is basically government programs that help people in the society.

This is sort of what OldGimletEye is saying though: people don't agree on what socialism means. For example, your definition is almost completely different from the one used by Marx, Lenin and practically all 20th century socialists. To them (and thus to me since I learned about it mainly by studying them), socialism is about control of the means of production.

That said, no matter how you define it, practically all economic systems worth mentioning turn out to be mixed economies (i.e. partly socialist and partly capitalist). There are a few possible exceptions (e.g. North Korea), but even arch-capitalist countries such as the US have governments which both redistribute wealth and control (or at least strongly influence) large sectors of the economy and even avowedly communist states such as China have their share of billionaires who privately control massive corporations.

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1 minute ago, a good and nice guy said:

social can never work because it is pure evil and human nature and uh holomodor, capitalism is pure and good and perfect and anything bad that happens is the fault of poor savages and evil ghosts

What does uh holomodor mean, please?

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2 minutes ago, Altherion said:

This is sort of what OldGimletEye is saying though: people don't agree on what socialism means. For example, your definition is almost completely different from the one used by Marx, Lenin and practically all 20th century socialists. To them (and thus to me since I learned about it mainly by studying them), socialism is about control of the means of production.

That said, no matter how you define it, practically all economic systems worth mentioning turn out to be mixed economies (i.e. partly socialist and partly capitalist). There are a few possible exceptions (e.g. North Korea), but even arch-capitalist countries such as the US have governments which both redistribute wealth and control (or at least strongly influence) large sectors of the economy and even avowedly communist states such as China have their share of billionaires who privately control massive corporations.

Marx and Lenin don't have the benefit of being in 2019. 

Like @OldGimletEye I have very few problems with the overall capitalist system as it functions now in the United States. I'm 42 years old and quite acquainted with working within it. I'm also familiar with the faults.

It is pretty obvious that the fruits of the system are harnessed for old white dudes with an average age of 72. This is a system that is obviously going to break within the next 2 decades. I think it likely I will live to see this breaking. I look forward to the day. 

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31 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

Well, I'm not a conservative in any shape or form. I'm not a communist, either.

I would say that socialism is basically government programs that help people in the society. Sometimes they are universal, and sometimes they benefit those who are not well off. And they are paid for by society, but those who are more well off tend to pay more as a matter of fairness.

I'm not a communist and I've never felt that the government should run everything. I'm more concerned with how things are at a ground level for those in poverty. 

That's not socialism, that's a strong welfare state, which is something that works very well.

9 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

What does uh holomodor mean, please?

I think they meant holodomor which was a man-made famine (by the USSR and Stalin) which caused millions of deaths in the Ukraine, many people consider it a genocide.

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8 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

What does uh holomodor mean, please?

it’s the ukrainian famine under stalin that is often used by right wingers to demonstrate the failures of communism. while i am not a such a tankie that believes it was a completely fabricated event, it is used as a cudgel to paint communism as a failed ideology as opposed to the brutal tactics of a authoritarian fighting to consolidate its power

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Clear definitions are needed.  Elsewhere, I have encountered intelligent conservative types who carefully point out that Social Security, Medicaid, and whatnot are 'social programs,' not 'socialism.'  They deem it acceptable to expand these programs - assuming suitable funding - but vehemently reject other 'socialist' programs.  

 

There is also the 'Venezuela' argument - this country is favored strawman of conservatives regarding socialism, closely followed by the old USSR.  For older conservatives and centrists, these examples of socialist evil are enough to condemn the entire argument.  (I recently read a paranoid screed on this by an apparently otherwise sane author.  He acknowledged that younger folks had cause to gripe about student loans, medical costs, and other things, but expressed horrified bafflement they would even consider socialism a viable solution.)

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