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Martell Spy

Workable Socialism

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3 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Did you read what I said?  No, I’m not.  The older I get the more strongly I feel that violence outside of the context of self defense is very hard to justify.

Scot, I don't think you're being unclear, but I do think the post you are responding to makes some good points. I'm not sure if I caught your take on how much death/destruction capitalism has wrought around the world. It'd be one thing if those days were behind us, but we've been in perpetual war for almost twenty years now. There's a million reasons why Islamic terrorism has focused on the U.S., but no doubt, the numbers in the post above, show why people around the world might hold such a violent rage against us. Does socialism fix this? I don't think so, but I do think once we take the need to make only make money out of the question, we quit bombing and burning other countries in the name of the free market. This is purely speculation on my part.

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28 minutes ago, maarsen said:

Concentration of capital is the problem. Throughout history this was seen as a problem and different cultures have devised solutions to the problem. West coast indigenous people's lived with much wealth due to plentiful resources and had potlatches to redistribute the accumulated wealth. Death taxes will help here in our culture.

Is that a function of capitalism per se? If it was me I’d be aiming my sights at crony capitalism, corruption, poorly regulated financial markets and loose fiscal policies and globalism in general rather than just capitalism itself. I think we have a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater with questions like this

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1 hour ago, Gorn said:

They are fully responsible for their actions, but the causes of those actions are inextricably tied to their historical context. It cannot be boiled down to "if Marxism, then authoritarianism".

On the other hand, I've always felt that "if capitalism, then imperialism" is almost a given regarding much of the 18th, 19th and 20th century (maybe even earlier). And the death toll from that is easily comparable if not greater than the authoritarian regimes of the 20th century.

Of course, the counterargument is that there are enough safeguards and international restrictions to prevent that from happening as rampantly as in the past, but you could make that argument about almost any system of governance.

Now, I do believe competition is a great engine for innovation; so I am not down on capitalism. But my perfect system would be a two-tier one with a deep safety net for the vast majority of the population as one tier and a second tier where the elites can duke it out.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, maarsen said:

A socialist government elected democratically and that did not become autocratic?  The answer is Saskatchewan.  Tommy Douglas,  Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather, did just what you asked.

Cool, how difficult would be for a Canadian province to become “Autocratic” without being independent from Canada?  I was thinking of fully sovereign governments not semi-sovereign or political subdivisions of larger governments.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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3 hours ago, Knight Of Winter said:

What OldGimletEye said in the beginning is the crux of every problem: there are just too many ways people see and define socialism that it's nigh impossible to discuss it with everyone involved thinking about the same thing. Does socialism include abolition of private property or not? Can it work alongside capitalism or not? Is it compatible with democracy or not? Ask 20 different people (even in this thread) and they'll give you 20 different threads. With all that in mind, some common grounds are necessary for this discussion, so I'll take this as a starting point:
 

Nordic model - which is currently, IMO, one of the best - if the the best - economic systems Earth can offer right now. Every great idea (with regards to economy) left had during the last 2 centuries: fight against poverty, limiting the wealth disparity, workers' rights and unions, social state, regulated market etc. has been well incorporated with free market, private property and other tenets of capitalism. And it seems they've achieved a pretty good balance: Nordic countries are continuously at the top with regards to the GDP per capita, and more importantly their HDI, their reported levels of their citizens' happiness etc. Whatever they're doing, they're doing it right.

Socialist firms, where workers own at least a percentage of their company: in theory, this has the valid psychological background - people should work better and harder, and be less alienated - if they actively partook in the companies they work. In practice - it didn't work so well. A variant of this was tried in former Yugoslavia - they called it "self-governance", and it turned out that working in a company doesn't mean per se that you're qualified to successfully lead it. 

I'm even skeptical from a purely ideological point: namely that it makes workers happier and less alienated from their work. I'm interested, for example, if you rounded up thousands of successful, happy or fulfilled workers in carious companies and asked them about reasons for their job satisfaction. I'd speculate that almost none of them would cite I'm a shareholder in my company as their reason, instead noting stuff like: my job suits my interests and personality or I have a good salary or working atmosphere is great and similar reasons.

Soviet model - this one has conclusively been proven to not work, over and over and over again. It led to tens of millions of deaths of people supposedly killed in the name of perfect society to be: from malnutrition, gulags, political persecutions and other causes (and that's not even counting Stalin's incompetent leadership in WWII, causing way more Soviet deaths than it should). It violently dealt with anyone who dared to think differently - ridiculing traditionally left ideas such as inclusiveness and diversity of thought. It oppressed and violently subdued its client states who dared to rebel (like Hungary and Czechoslovakia). And though it did achieve some stunning successes in their space program, it came at the cost of welfare of ordinary citizens. American economy was strong enough to pump billions of dollars into space program and still work - Soviet economy wasn't.

Even its supposed economic successes are dubious. I mean, just look at Germany: divided between capitalist and democratic and capitalist West Germany and Soviet puppet state East Germany. Both of them suffered collapse and huge devastation as a consequence of WWII, and both had to be built basically from the scratch. If Soviet economic system truly was superior, East Germany should have come out on top, right? Well, it didn't - by the time of 80s and 90s, West Germany was several times richer, while East Germany was the one who had to build a wall in order to stop its citizens from defecting. No wonder that Russia, along with former Soviet republics, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungray all voluntarily abandoned communism the first chance they got in late 80s and early 90s.
 

This is not a problem, though. I linked a video earlier where Richard Wolff explains why it is so mystifying that this argument has cropped up (argument being: we must have one single socialist definition). This is a construct of capitalists--who, by the way, have tons of definitions for what capitalism is. Is it purely regulated free markets? Strategic manipulation of the market through government intervention to manipulate businesses success? Here is a list of the few big types practiced around the world: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-capitalism.html

The point is, why does socialism only have to follow the rule of one model? The soviet model didn't work, though I suspect it could work under the right circumstances. Many modern socialists aren't interested in this. Many of us want corporate regulation. If they don't pay taxes, then they can't operate in the U.S. It would be a painful transition, to be honest, as these companies would play hardball. Taxing the wealthy--perhaps an income cap (it can be high, as I noted in the politics thread, the difference between millionaires and multimillions compared to billionaire and trillionaire is so vast, that an income cap can still promote a lot of wealth). Democratic workplaces where the workers have a say. The government should not control the means of production.

The reason why it's okay for many definitions is because we want to evolve systems, find what works and keep making it better, etc. Elements of capitalism can and should remain in place.

By the way, this argument about the abolition of private property has been muddied. For many Marxists and socialists, the term private property is different than personal property. I own a tv, a home, a car, let's say. That's personal property. When I used to work at blockbuster, all their videos, equipment, etc. were private property. Typically the abolishment of private property is to remove exclusive ownership over the means of production. Marx wrote about alienation, right? Where the worker feels alienated in his/her creation of products because it's not his. It's the owner's. He creates, and he longs to return to his den because he is so alienated from his work. This alienation is a stripping of humanity, and the returning to the den is animal like. Removal of private property can be seen in workers owning pieces of the production, if that makes sense. I think this is a critical distinction to make.

So it is important to explain which kind of socialism you're talking about. If another presidential candidate were running and he/she termed himself a Leninist/Marxist, then that'd be worth understanding versus Bernie's Democratic Socialism. I wouldn't vote for the first one. Nor would I defend him/her. (Though I have many friends who would). I think of this when conservatives get together. Some of them are hardcore libertarian, some of them are about fiscal responsibility, and some of them are about ideology based politics. All very different, but all united by capitalism. 

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15 minutes ago, Simon Steele said:

This is not a problem, though. I linked a video earlier where Richard Wolff explains why it is so mystifying that this argument has cropped up (argument being: we must have one single socialist definition). This is a construct of capitalists--who, by the way, have tons of definitions for what capitalism is. Is it purely regulated free markets? Strategic manipulation of the market through government intervention to manipulate businesses success? Here is a list of the few big types practiced around the world: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-capitalism.html

The point is, why does socialism only have to follow the rule of one model? The soviet model didn't work, though I suspect it could work under the right circumstances. Many modern socialists aren't interested in this. Many of us want corporate regulation. If they don't pay taxes, then they can't operate in the U.S. It would be a painful transition, to be honest, as these companies would play hardball. Taxing the wealthy--perhaps an income cap (it can be high, as I noted in the politics thread, the difference between millionaires and multimillions compared to billionaire and trillionaire is so vast, that an income cap can still promote a lot of wealth). Democratic workplaces where the workers have a say. The government should not control the means of production.

The reason why it's okay for many definitions is because we want to evolve systems, find what works and keep making it better, etc. Elements of capitalism can and should remain in place.

By the way, this argument about the abolition of private property has been muddied. For many Marxists and socialists, the term private property is different than personal property. I own a tv, a home, a car, let's say. That's personal property. When I used to work at blockbuster, all their videos, equipment, etc. were private property. Typically the abolishment of private property is to remove exclusive ownership over the means of production. Marx wrote about alienation, right? Where the worker feels alienated in his/her creation of products because it's not his. It's the owner's. He creates, and he longs to return to his den because he is so alienated from his work. This alienation is a stripping of humanity, and the returning to the den is animal like. Removal of private property can be seen in workers owning pieces of the production, if that makes sense. I think this is a critical distinction to make.

So it is important to explain which kind of socialism you're talking about. If another presidential candidate were running and he/she termed himself a Leninist/Marxist, then that'd be worth understanding versus Bernie's Democratic Socialism. I wouldn't vote for the first one. Nor would I defend him/her. (Though I have many friends who would). I think of this when conservatives get together. Some of them are hardcore libertarian, some of them are about fiscal responsibility, and some of them are about ideology based politics. All very different, but all united by capitalism. 

So a Soviet style Socialist State with real estate bubbles?

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3 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Does the ease with which these humanitarians walked down the path to authoritarian killers not give you pause?  

Are the Bolsheviks and the Jacobins not responsible for the deaths they caused and the terror they sought to inspire?

This thread is fucking bizarre. There are people in here downplaying the atrocities of the Soviet goddamn Union, Scott. I don't think you're dealing with rational actors. Or at least not informed ones. 

"The Soviet Union was an economic success" gimmie a fucking break. What Bolshevik bathroom stall wall did you silly gooses read that off, I wonder?

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I’m in the same camp as @OldGimletEye, that you need some basic parameters about what socialism is.  Most “socialism” discussions today are just socialistic safety net or redistribution within a profoundly capitalist system.  Socialism was defined by the proletariat owning the means of production.  IMO that has been proven unworkable at the level of a complex economy, and historically unsuccessful as a political system because the ideology was utopian therefore denied the need for political competition, which led to single-party corruption, authoritarianism, etc.  Even Peronism, a socialism-lite, as practiced in much of Latin America for the past five decades, including Venezuela lately, has failed as an economic and political system.  BTW Soviet Russia had extreme inequality too, but it was political leaders rather than business owners who had the luxuries and power.

I think socialism as an economic system can be disentangled from single party authoritarian political rule.  Multi party democratic systems could work in a socialist economy, but we don’t yet know how to do so.  Does the state own all property, especially companies?  If so, the electoral process will be the sole way to capture wealth, power, status, etc and will be viciously competed, soaking up all talent and incentive from the productive economy.  OTOH if companies are owned by their specific workers rather than the state, then the competition is to enter, in any role possible, the most successful companies.  Better to be a janitor at Google than a VP at any lesser firm.  Now political power would be distributed amongst the employees of the mega companies, who will jealously guard their privilege (nepotism for new hires) and manage the company solely to protect their own interests (as we see in US labor unions where the union has pay well above what’s available locally outside the union).

Our complicated economies do not seem viable without the price information and market mechanism of capitalism.  Even the rise of China should be proof of that — they retained the single party centralization but still had to adopt a basically capitalist economy.  That doesn’t mean that capitalism should be unfettered, but we’re basically left with a relatively minor spectrum of social democratic overlays on a capitalist system.  Once personal property is established, then markets and uneven wealth accumulation will follow.  Redistribution can mitigate but that is not the same as socialism. 

For me, there are basic conditions for stable, well-functioning political systems: (1) rule of law (including against corruption), (2) checks and balances on power, and (3) a relatively small dispersion in the productive capacity of individuals.  In the past century, the first two have defined whether a political regime would ultimately succeed or fail; generally available in the “West” and patchy everywhere else.  In the last 30+ years (the Technology Age) the third has become a growing challenge to political stability.  Private property is less sustainable when individuals have a huge gulf in their productive capacity, especially since the Technology Age has created winner-take-all amplification by increasing choice and access by consumers.  So as #3 becomes a problem, we need more and more socialistic overlay to keep the political system stable.  

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6 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I'm really not sure what you're saying.
I think you're pointing out that symbolic/limited violence is no longer possible because firearms greatly facilitate lethal violence or even genocide... ?
Or is it because any amount of violence in the pursuit of "revolution" would lead to massive repression using firearms?

Mostly meant the former, but both I suppose.

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Cool, how difficult would be for a Canadian province to become “Autocratic” without being independent from Canada?  I was thinking of fully sovereign governments not semi-sovereign or political subdivisions of larger governments.

Not that hard. Look up Jean Duplessis. 

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2 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Is that a function of capitalism per se? If it was me I’d be aiming my sights at crony capitalism, corruption, poorly regulated financial markets and loose fiscal policies and globalism in general rather than just capitalism itself. I think we have a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater with questions like this

It is a function of compound interest. Getting rid of that brings in a whole slew of different problems. 

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3 minutes ago, maarsen said:

Not that hard. Look up Jean Duplessis. 

I thought your point was that this was a non-autocratic Marxist Government?

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Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I thought your point was that this was a non-autocratic Marxist Government?

Duplessis was an autocrat within Canada while Douglas was not within the same federal structure.  He could have been but he did not do so while being a socialist. 

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24 minutes ago, maarsen said:

Duplessis was an autocrat within Canada while Douglas was not within the same federal structure.  He could have been but he did not do so while being a socialist. 

Interesting.  I will read up on it.

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Posted (edited)

I really don't see the need for abolishing an economic system that historically has doubled average incomes every 40 years. 

Especially not when its suggested replacement has a horrible track record in almost every respect.

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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Numberless groups were fighting over the definitions of both 'socialism' and 'communism' decades before WWI and WWII.  Sometimes these fight got quite physical.  There were assassinations, even, inter and intra groups.

Probably it would be well to just start over from scratch, and start looking at the root of socialism, which would include society and social.  Communism's root is deals with 'common'  These are very different things.

My idea has always been, silly me, that all the forms of government are part of what allows the society and the social aspect of society to work, without us hurting each other, we helping those who cannot help themselves.  This included the economic sides as well as the legal sides of everything.

The closes to us ever getting there have been some periods in the nordic nations some decades post WWII.

The US hasn't ever even come into the running there, with isolated areas of exception, on occasion, from which we backtrack quickly to the chorus of "mine, private property, help themselves and put in jail or let the rest starve.'

 

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2 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

I really don't see the need for abolishing an economic system that historically has doubled average incomes every 40 years. 

Especially not when its suggested replacement has a horrible track record in almost every respect.

That's a bit of an oversimplified (and almost propagandist, tbh) exoneration of unfettered capitalism. And while some assholes are making it real hard I think it's important to denote the difference between socialism (community buy in for communal services that benefit the entirety of the collective) and Marxism/Communism (abolishment of personal capital) that insane or stupid people think is somehow immune to human nature despite 70+ years' worth of evidence to the contrary.

There is a difference, even if extremists demand that their personal definition override everyone else's. Almost makes you wonder how someone so incapable of accepting commonality in words would go about enforcing their Utopitarian vision.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Jace, Basilissa said:

That's a bit of an oversimplified (and almost propagandist, tbh) exoneration of unfettered capitalism. And while some assholes are making it real hard I think it's important to denote the difference between socialism (community buy in for communal services that benefit the entirety of the collective) and Marxism/Communism (abolishment of personal capital) that insane or stupid people think is somehow immune to human nature despite 70+ years' worth of evidence to the contrary.

There is a difference, even if extremists demand that their personal definition override everyone else's. Almost makes you wonder how someone so incapable of accepting commonality in words would go about enforcing their Utopitarian vision.

I never said that capitalism should be unfettered. But the foundation for the economic system, sure. 

Regarding your second point, I don't think your definition for socialism is the mainstream one. If I recall my Marx correctly, socialism also involves the abolishment of all private property (capital). Although at the socialist stage it is controlled by a central government rather than the "workers" themselves, as in the ideal communist stage that would come later. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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3 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

I never said that capitalism should be unfettered. But the foundation for the economic system, sure. 

Regarding your second point, I don't think your definition for socialism is the mainstream one. If I recall my Marx correctly, socialism also involves the abolishment of all private property (capital). Although at the socialist stage it is controlled by a central government rather than the "workers" themselves, as in the ideal communist stage that would come later. 

I'm operating off of modern understandings, not the antiquated political writings of a dead man.

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I don't really get all this beard stroking about the difference between communism and socialism.  The former is very clearly distinct - read the book!  Here it is.  Hell, just skip to the last few graphs (page 39 in my copy):

Quote

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Working Men of All Countries, Unite!

I don't get how you can confuse that with the social welfare/Keynesian model that was implemented in the entire developed world since the Great Depression - which was precisely a response to the dangers of unfettered capitalism.  A communist is a revolutionary, basically permanently (because they'll never win all that Marx requires).  A socialist just wants to get her kids through college and afford a retirement.

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