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Darzin

Communism vs Capitalism does anyone actually think we'd be better off in a Communist society?

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9 hours ago, Rippounet said:

But the point isn't to "optimize the status quo," the point is to better use resources (raw materials especially) and to have a lesser impact on our environment.
Such a goal obviously places more value on innovation, not less. Even within the current structure this is already the case. Why would collective oversight make such value disappear?

Well, your original point was that we don't need markets to optimize production, because we have all this data we can share and analyze. And I told you why I believe that this is wrong. The goals are fine, but method for game-changing innovation is not going to be the complete analysis of available data, rather something Schumpeter called "unternehmensgeist" or entrepreneurial spirit. I.e. trying something new and taking the risk of failure.

The collective oversight you are envisioning is surely different than the collective oversight we already have, the way I'm reading your posts, its basically everyone deciding everything. And I don't think that you will see the same level of personal risk-taking, if a) you have to get democratic approval for everything new you want to try out and b) the potential gains associated with the risk are collectivized.

9 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Except it really doesn't. Basing your view of government on that of Eastern Germany or North Korea is as if I were constantly referring to Philip Morris and Exxon to discuss the role of corporations and markets.

Taking the worst of an organisational structure as a standard isn't "balanced." At best it's a soundbite for fruitless internet discussions... or to make internet discussions fruitless.

Except it does, because it provides a counterbalance to your perspective and your experience. And no, Eastern Germany was by far not the worst that Socialism could offer, even amongst the states that are now part of the EU. You are basing your view on government on what? Your objective and omniscient mind? No, it's your experiences how a state works. Your inability to even consider that others have had other experiences is quite baffling, but I have news for you: within your relevant institutional framework (i.e. the EU), millions of citizens have lived a long time in opressive states. So if you want collective oversight, these people will have a voice too and then your dismissal of their background as "soundbite" will not exactly win them over, whereas people like Orban do. And really, I'd much rather keep a shitty status quo than having to live in a socialist utopia that gets taken over by the likes of Orban or Le Pen.

9 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Anyway, you seem to have this idea that I want "the state and the corporation [to] become one" but actually that is not the case (don't think I said anything like that). Individual corporations would be fine as separate entities, either remaining as they are, developing stakeholding, or becoming cooperatives. The collective control over the means of production does not automatically entail central state planification.

No you haven't, but the points get mixed up in this thread. If your idea of collective oversight is "individual corporations would be fine as separate entities, either remaining as they are, developing stakeholding, or becoming cooperatives.", then this is what we already have.

Quote

These arguments smack of the 1990s to me. We're in 2020, when corporations hold sway over governments, not the other way around.

An assertion that smacks of 1890s to me. We're in 2020, when corporations, unions, ngos - all kinds of associations and organizations are lobbying for influence on the executive and legislative institutions. I don't really know what you base your perception on or what has supposedly changed since the 90s.

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On 10/6/2020 at 6:21 AM, Liffguard said:

I do, because I don't think that a truly democratic society can function when some people are a few tens of millions of times more powerful than others. That's my primary objection to billionaires, not the concentration of resources (okay, not only the concentration of resources), but the concentration of power.

Exactly. As soon as you have billionaires you're going to have their cruise ship size/mass thumbs on the scale to pour more wealth into their mouths.

A huge part of the catastrophic failure of our current system comes down to people successfully obfuscating a portion of the cost of what they're doing and making it either a) someone elses problem, or b) everyone's problem instead of their own. The massive wealth that our societies have amassed due to all that economic growth has come at the cost of exploiting the resources of other parts of the world and polluting the natural environment to the point that we are staring down the barrel of causing our own civilization to collapse yet the major drivers of this not only continue to amass wealth at accelerating rates but actively block us from doing anything to stop it.

I find it amusing that a similar dynamic is at play within the conflict/discussion of ideologies - if you want a more socialist society you have to explain away line by line everything that went wrong in East Germany, the USSR and China but the capitalism that's destroying our planet doesn't even have to answer for the things its currently doing, that's all shifted to be caused by something else. All the good things we have derive solely from that system, all the bad stuff comes from elsewhere!

One of the everygreen lines against socialism is that "people just want steal from other people instead of doing the hard work themselves". From where I'm sitting I'd view "polluting the environment so badly that third world nations become literally uninhabitable, then putting up walls (and lets be real - its going to get more aggressive than just walls) to keep them out when they flee searching for a new home" to be stealing something a fuck of a lot more important. But of course, we have nothing to do with the fact that their home isn't livable, despite having been the nations that caused this fucking crisis.

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4 hours ago, karaddin said:

Exactly. As soon as you have billionaires you're going to have their cruise ship size/mass thumbs on the scale to pour more wealth into their mouths.

A huge part of the catastrophic failure of our current system comes down to people successfully obfuscating a portion of the cost of what they're doing and making it either a) someone elses problem, or b) everyone's problem instead of their own. The massive wealth that our societies have amassed due to all that economic growth has come at the cost of exploiting the resources of other parts of the world and polluting the natural environment to the point that we are staring down the barrel of causing our own civilization to collapse yet the major drivers of this not only continue to amass wealth at accelerating rates but actively block us from doing anything to stop it.

I find it amusing that a similar dynamic is at play within the conflict/discussion of ideologies - if you want a more socialist society you have to explain away line by line everything that went wrong in East Germany, the USSR and China but the capitalism that's destroying our planet doesn't even have to answer for the things its currently doing, that's all shifted to be caused by something else. All the good things we have derive solely from that system, all the bad stuff comes from elsewhere!

One of the everygreen lines against socialism is that "people just want steal from other people instead of doing the hard work themselves". From where I'm sitting I'd view "polluting the environment so badly that third world nations become literally uninhabitable, then putting up walls (and lets be real - its going to get more aggressive than just walls) to keep them out when they flee searching for a new home" to be stealing something a fuck of a lot more important. But of course, we have nothing to do with the fact that their home isn't livable, despite having been the nations that caused this fucking crisis.

I’m 49.  Is seem to recall fairly significant problems with pollution under the Soviet Union and its Satellite states in Eastern Europe. Chernobyl for example.  Is this not correct?  

This in no way justifies or exonerates capitalist pollution and climate damage but do we have any evidence Socialism will do better?

https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1992/11/cj12n2-2.pdf

 

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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12 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I’m 49.  Is seem to recall fairly significant problems with pollution under the Soviet Union and its Satellite states in Eastern Europe. Chernobyl for example.  Is this not correct?  

This in no way justifies or exonerates capitalist pollution and climate damage but do we have any evidence Socialism will do better?

https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1992/11/cj12n2-2.pdf

 

Yeah, its not real clear to me either why a socialist system like the USSR would do necessarily better on environmental issues, particularly if the leaders decide their grip on power depends delivering their promises of material prosperity. In fact, complaining about the environment, if it goes against the party line, might get you more than just being ignored. It might get you having your head smacked by a baton.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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1 hour ago, karaddin said:

I find it amusing that a similar dynamic is at play within the conflict/discussion of ideologies - if you want a more socialist society you have to explain away line by line everything that went wrong in East Germany, the USSR and China but the capitalism that's destroying our planet doesn't even have to answer for the things its currently doing, that's all shifted to be caused by something else. All the good things we have derive solely from that system, all the bad stuff comes from elsewhere!

I don't think that's an accurate description of the debate and probably not an accurate description of the causes for enviromental destruction, either. Because the environmental destruction is something that can be observed over a range of different economic models, socialism, capitalism etc. - even pre-industrial societies exploit and destroy their environment to the best of their abilities (the prominent example being the Easter Islands where the naives cut down all the trees until no new ones grew back and they were basically stuck on their island for lack of ship building material).

What we do see in many western states that have little own ressources, is that (to a varying degree) local environment gets protected and a lot of conservation efforts are made, i.e. regulation through the state works - but only for us. I totally agree, that we basically externalize the problem either to weak states where local factions and warlords basically exploit the local ressources for their own personal gain (like in Congo) or we externalize it to strong states that prioritize consumtion and growth over health and environmemt (like China). I don't think that socialism is the solution here, at least not in the context of nation states as we know them or even supranational institutions like the EU.

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3 hours ago, karaddin said:

I find it amusing that a similar dynamic is at play within the conflict/discussion of ideologies - if you want a more socialist society you have to explain away line by line everything that went wrong in East Germany, the USSR and China but the capitalism that's destroying our planet doesn't even have to answer for the things its currently doing, that's all shifted to be caused by something else. le, despite having been the nations that caused this fucking crisis.

Depends upon what you mean by "more socialist". In a number of ways, depending on upon one's definitions, I'm not against the US becoming "more socialist". But, I completely opposed to a centralized command economy.

This isn't just a matter of explaining "everything that went wrong" in East Germany, North Korea, and the USSR, etc., but explaining how you would avoid the common features of these societies which was the horrible authoritarianism and the terrible economic results. Based on the results of what has happened in these countries, people have every reason to fear communism. And they should pick at proponents of communism on how they would avoid the past and similar problems of past communist regimes. And the proponents of communism should be required to do more than just say, "well they didn't do the 'real communism'".

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6 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Depends upon what you mean by "more socialist". In a number of ways, depending on upon one's definitions, I'm not against the US becoming "more socialist". But, I completely opposed to a centralized command economy.

This isn't just a matter of explaining "everything that went wrong" in East Germany, North Korea, and the USSR, etc., but explaining how you would avoid the common features of these societies which was the horrible authoritarianism and the terrible economic results. Based on the results of what has happened in these countries, people have every reason to fear communism. And they should pick at proponents of communism on how they would avoid the past and similar problems of past communist regimes. And the proponents of communism should be required to do more than just say, "well they didn't do the 'real communism'".

Precisely.  Pragmaticly, socialism works and regulation works.  That doesn’t mean switching to full State ownership of all “means of production” will be “even better”.

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1 minute ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Precisely.  Pragmaticly, socialism works and regulation works.  That doesn’t mean switching to full State ownership of all “means of production” will be “even better”.

Yes, there seems to a number of configurations of state intervention versus private markets that can seem to work. But, complete state control always seems to fail badly.

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I don't even claim that communism would magically fix environmental damage, I'm saying that there's a double standard in how we assess the pros and cons of the system and refuse to adequately or accurately assess the shortcomings of the current system even when it's literally driving us off a cliff.

You can't just look at the lifestyle of middle class and above people in the United States etc to declare that as desirable (which obviously I also have a lot of sympathy for, at least to the extent that I'm talking about my middle class life in Aus) without taking into account the cost of this on the planet and the rest of humanity. I don't think the USSR or East Germany or China even approximate something to aim for, but I think that condemnation is just as appropriate for our societies from a global perspective.

And Scot - a tragic accident in a nuclear power plant which could easily have happened in the US is not a good counterpoint to billionaires gaslighting hundreds of millions of people into disconnecting from reality just so they can further profit from the decaying corpse while they live in luxury bunkers. There is indeed plenty of other pollution examples from the USSR for local environmental pollution but there's nothing on the scale of the complex cluster fuck that is climate change. 

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8 hours ago, felice said:

Start off with exactly the same sorts of evaluations investors do now. Then add in public good considerations, eg accounting for externalities like effect on climate change. And giving savings for the public the same weight as profit for the company - eg if a widget manufacturer figures out a way to make indestructible widgets, and could make enough to fulfil all humanity's widget needs for the next century by the end of the year, that becomes a good thing that the shareholders are delighted by, rather than a potential disaster for the company (and all the staff would be guaranteed their full pay after the factory closes down, until they find new jobs). Some of the factors to be considered would be political issues, yes - and they'd be democratically determined. You can potentially have far more democracy under communism than under capitalism, where a great many decisions are made by unaccountable individuals whose only motivation is maximising private profit.

Data creation (including but not limited to porn) would ideally not be required to generate any kind of direct financial return, people would just need to want it. One option is a subsidised crowdfunding system; put up a proposal, and if the general public are willing to contribute X% of the required funding, the government automatically provides the rest. The value of X would depend on how much the government currently in power allocates to the data fund, and the amount of money the public are putting in (since that affects how quickly the fund gets used up). Some data creation would also be funded directly as being in the public interest.

Actually, there's no need to restrict it to data; crowdfunding could become standard for new physical products, too. The subsidy part wouldn't be needed in that case, since physical products can be expected to cover costs through sales. Though unlike current crowdfunding platforms, there should be some kind of official evaluation of the people making the proposal and whether they have the skills needed to pull it off (a failed evaluation could result in a "buyer beware" warning on the project, rather than outright rejection).

You guys keep on talking about "data creation" in order to figure what people want.
But you know what prices do? They present a whole lot of information about what people want and about the ability to supply what they want, in a very compact form. That was essentially Hayek's point.
Interest rates to some extent are information about how much people value present goods versus future goods. People are generally not going to lend money, unless they get that money back with a little bit of interest.
The way financial analyst usually go about determining whether a corporation should make an investment is by computing a net present value. The net present value is computed by initial outlay + present value of the stream of payments. A zero net present value suggest that the stream of payments will cover the capital cost (ie interest). A positive net present value suggest that not only will the stream of income cover the capital cost (ie interest), but also that more investments should be made because that is what people want. In a competitive environment more firms will be drawn in expanding output and lowering the price.
Rates of return and borrowing  cost present a lot of information about what people want and how much it will cost to provide it.
If the government  makes decisions on every investment project, the scope of investment decision making would be enormous. It would have to make every decision from investing in research on extremely complicated technical questions, right down to whether the guy at the local pizzeria should buy another oven to make pizzas. The government bureaucracy would have to be enormous and some point you think that diseconomies of scale would start to happen. And then one wonders whether the decisions of this enormous bureaucracy would be truly democratic.

8 hours ago, felice said:

As long as they're not filming and publishing anything illegal, no, of course not. There are laws about such things under capitalism too, and no reason they'd need to change.

Of course not. They can buy anything that's legal to buy, just as they can now.

Of course not. People just download whatever they want to download when they want to download it; anonymously if they wish.

Of course not, people can apply for whatever jobs they want just as they do now.

The rest of this suggest that you are keenly aware of the problems that happen if the government controls every facet of economic decision making.

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12 minutes ago, karaddin said:

And Scot - a tragic accident in a nuclear power plant which could easily have happened in the US is not a good counterpoint to billionaires gaslighting hundreds of millions of people into disconnecting from reality just so they can further profit from the decaying corpse while they live in luxury bunkers. There is indeed plenty of other pollution examples from the USSR for local environmental pollution but there's nothing on the scale of the complex cluster fuck that is climate change. 

Was Chernobyl a “tragic accident” or the result of a serious design flaw that was ignored because it was less expensive and the Soviet Authorities decided the cost benefit analysis made the risks worth the danger?

This would be better for a seperate thread if you want to continue this discussion.

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I really don't thanks, it's still a poor example for your exercise in deliberately missing the point which you've continued in this last post instead of accepting that I'm scoring our current system, not singing the praise of a model that is - on account of it collapsing before I had proper consciousness - indisputably a failure. 

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I don't think there is good evidence that pollution was handled any better under communism than under capitalism but neither was the Chernobyl catastrophe something obviously closely tied to the flaws of communism. While it is true that Western capitalist nations were quicker to provide to some extent against pollution I am not sure that this was a typically "capitalist" feature either. Most of them were simply ahead on the curve, i.e. had been further industrialised around 1900 than Russia etc., so did not have to catch up as quickly as the Eastern bloc did and then they were both richer and able to transition away from heavy industries (that were simply off-shored to other countries, often with bad environmental consequences). Most people here (myself included) are simply too young to remember the 1950s/60s when heavy industries were still central to Western European economies. I am old enough to remember disastrous pollution of the Rhine (Sandoz, I think, in the 1980s) and all these things have improved a lot (within a fairly short period of time). But other things actually became worse. There were was no heap of disposable coffee cups in the 1980s and lots of other lifestyle changes within the last 20-30 years that seem to be taken as birthright of everyone in a Western country are surprisingly recent.

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For the third time I am not saying communism gets a passing grade on planetary preservation, I'm saying our capitalism is also a failure. But sure, let's talk about the hypothetical "current" pollution from communist states which no longer exist (or do not exist as communist states) rather than the actual pollution from the actual countries. 

Thanks for so aptly demonstrating the deflection that I was talking about.

What we are currently doing isn't working - it's wrecking the planet and going to put forward genocidal fascism as the only way to "keep our quality of life" in the face of ecological collapse and mass refugee movements.

So we need to change if we want to avoid that future, and I'd really really like to. You don't have to have all the answers just to acknowledge that this isn't working.

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14 minutes ago, karaddin said:

For the third time I am not saying communism gets a passing grade on planetary preservation, I'm saying our capitalism is also a failure. But sure, let's talk about the hypothetical "current" pollution from communist states which no longer exist (or do not exist as communist states) rather than the actual pollution from the actual countries. 

Thanks for so aptly demonstrating the deflection that I was talking about.

What we are currently doing isn't working - it's wrecking the planet and going to put forward genocidal fascism as the only way to "keep our quality of life" in the face of ecological collapse and mass refugee movements.

So we need to change if we want to avoid that future, and I'd really really like to. You don't have to have all the answers just to acknowledge that this isn't working.

But if there is no evidence that socialism deals with pollution or climate change any differently from capitalism why are you raising that issue as part of this discussion?

Yes, we need to address serious issues about climate.  Yes, capitalism and markets have failed to deal with externalities.  In this discussion why is socialism/communism better equipped to deal with extetnalities?

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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If you can't see how an accurate assessment of the performance of capitalism is relevant to a thread discussing this topic then I really don't know what to say to you.

Particularly when some others have already said they want something new rather than either of the two in the title, and the advocates for communism still aren't advocating in favor of the failed attempts from the past and would clearly make radical changes for anything they'd want to implement.

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The point is that the main experiences we have from the past wrt pollution are negative from the Eastern bloc and mixed/hopeful from the capitalist/somewhat social democrat economies of the "West" (inl. Japan, Australia...). This is not to deny the actual problems but we do have cases like the Rhine or the air quality in European industrial cities (London smog) etc. that were successfully improved in the last ca. 40 years. And as I understand many here, they are advocating to work along such experiences instead of creating some cloud cuckoo land that has never been tried and even less worked and most importantly has no realistic chance of political realization. I am not really on any side. I think the main problem is consumerism which is at the core a (broadly speaking) spiritual failure neither mainstream capitalism nor utopianism are willing/able to address properly. And tbh I am not sure if smaller movements or religions that could address this have any chance to work on a larger scale. An obvious start for a typical middle class person in the West would be to cut consumption of Everything down to 25-50% of its current value which would wreck economies if more than a few thousand freaks would follow the idea. And this would not help with political participation, nihilism etc., only with the environmental impact.

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2 hours ago, karaddin said:

If you can't see how an accurate assessment of the performance of capitalism is relevant to a thread discussing this topic then I really don't know what to say to you.

Particularly when some others have already said they want something new rather than either of the two in the title, and the advocates for communism still aren't advocating in favor of the failed attempts from the past and would clearly make radical changes for anything they'd want to implement.

Captialism’s failure to properly address externalities like pollution and climate change is not in dispute.  No one here is saying captialism is doing a good enough job with those issues.  As such it seems like a red herring.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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2 hours ago, karaddin said:

not singing the praise of a model that is - on account of it collapsing before I had proper consciousness - indisputably a failure. 

What a noob.

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