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

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3 hours ago, BloodyJollyRoger said:

You couldn’t buy Tolkien Works, and Michael Moorcock in the Soviet Union. My parents are from Soviet Union.

Nobody wants a return to the Soviet Union, any more than anyone wants Pinochet. But communism is potentially better than capitalism; governments are supposed to work for the best interests of the people, while private companies have no reason to even try. We need transparency and accountability, though.

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BJR--

sure, the soviet union banned books.  it was wrong.  is that a communist policy, however, just because the zhdanovists banned books? does that mean that capitalism is the same as communism because some cappies also banned books?

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1 hour ago, felice said:

Nobody wants a return to the Soviet Union, any more than anyone wants Pinochet. But communism is potentially better than capitalism; governments are supposed to work for the best interests of the people, while private companies have no reason to even try. We need transparency and accountability, though.

Governments are corrupt. It will be disastrous. Just look at China. 

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49 minutes ago, sologdin said:

BJR--

sure, the soviet union banned books.  it was wrong.  is that a communist policy, however, just because the zhdanovists banned books? does that mean that capitalism is the same as communism because some cappies also banned books?

Communism silenced free thought and ideals.

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1 hour ago, felice said:

Nobody wants a return to the Soviet Union, any more than anyone wants Pinochet. But communism is potentially better than capitalism; governments are supposed to work for the best interests of the people, while private companies have no reason to even try. We need transparency and accountability, though.

Governments more for their own interests. You think the government cares about me? No..absolutely not.

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33 minutes ago, sologdin said:

is that a communist policy, however, just because the zhdanovists banned books?

Isn't it? Can a truly communist state survive without an authoritarian government (with all that it implies, including restrictions to freedom of speech, press, publishing, etc.) to make sure it doesn't slowly meander towards a hybrid social-democracy? Honest question.

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Communism silenced free thought and ideals.

BJR--

this is a historically contingent deviation from doctrine? you're not arguing that communism caused a 'silence' but rather that a particular set of policies from specific governments censored certain utterances. no disagreement there--but this is the same rylean category mistake made by the black book of communism, which spends most of its time on carceral policy rather than economics (the economic question is brought up almost tangentially, such as in the broadsides against the white sea-baltic canal, which solzhenitsyn had already exposed). 

but this sort of censorial policy, as found in zhdanovism or the maoist cultural revolution, is not what anyone wants.  am fairly sure, also, that the target was not 'free thought and ideals,' which strikes me as a mythical item insofar as the content of our heads is subject to constant influence through ordinary education and capitalist propaganda (i.e., advertising)--althusser's essay on ideological state apparatuses explains nicely how such alleged 'free thought' is shaped by institutional processes of family, church, school, and so on.  by contrast there's nothing inherent in communist economics that requires the censorship of retrograde fantasy novels. and it is of course more than curious if reliance on tolkien is a prerequisite for 'free thought.' 

 

Can a truly communist state survive without an authoritarian government (with all that it implies, including restrictions to freedom of speech, press, publishing, etc.) to make sure it doesn't slowly meander towards a hybrid social-democracy?

mentat--

nice.  maybe a thought experiment wherein we flip the democratic supermajority in the US--say two thirds are in favor of public ownership of the means of production and this support is sufficiently geographically distributed to guarantee that enough state legislatures ratify a constitutional amendment. isn't that majoritarian impulse strong enough to let the other one-third run its mouth about private ownership of the means of production? that third is gonna be very very surly, but it is difficult to get too excited about it--basically the same as OH NOS someone is wrong on the internet.

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17 minutes ago, sologdin said:

nice.  maybe a thought experiment wherein we flip the democratic supermajority in the US--say two thirds are in favor of public ownership of the means of production and this support is sufficiently geographically distributed to guarantee that enough state legislatures ratify a constitutional amendment. isn't that majoritarian impulse strong enough to let the other one-third run its mouth about private ownership of the means of production? that third is gonna be very very surly, but it is difficult to get too excited about it--basically the same as OH NOS someone is wrong on the internet.

 

Democratic super-majorities for positions in the far end of the political spectrum seem very unlikely (and though thought-experiments are fun, if they stretch plausibility too far I might question their usefulness). Even if for some reason a super-majority such as you describe appears (say, as a reaction to very out-of-the-ordinary or extreme events), I would expect political opinion to revert to the mean sooner rather than later. So, even in your thought experiment, my question still stands. In a purely democratic society in which this third of the population currently in the minority can criticize the government, point out its inefficiencies, compare itself to other countries, try and change people's minds and stand for election every four years under a banner of change, can your democratic truly communist state survive without slowly meandering towards a hybrid social-democracy?

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Mentat said:

 

Democratic super-majorities for positions in the far end of the political spectrum seem very unlikely (and though thought-experiments are fun, if they stretch plausibility too far I might question their usefulness). Even if for some reason a super-majority such as you describe appears (say, as a reaction to very out-of-the-ordinary or extreme events), I would expect political opinion to revert to the mean sooner rather than later. So, even in your thought experiment, my question still stands. In a purely democratic society in which this third of the population currently in the minority can criticize the government, point out its inefficiencies, compare itself to other countries, try and change people's minds and stand for election every four years under a banner of change, can your democratic truly communist state survive without slowly meandering towards a hybrid social-democracy?

The middle can change. For example, being against universal healthcare is a radical position in many developed nations. Also, it can be quite difficult to claw back major benefits, be it healthcare, pensions, cash payments, etc. There are conservatives in the UK. How successful have they been at dismantling the universal healthcare system? Do they even want to?

Edited by Martell Spy

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Posted (edited)

Democratic super-majorities for positions in the far end of the political spectrum seem very unlikely 

supermajorities will be difficult for anything in the US--though i suppose there is a current supermajority against slavery and against race discrimination whereas there was a supermajority in favor of each separately and both together in the 19th century. same with women's suffrage and civil rights? and maybe property qualifications for voting?  the US has changed quite a bit. i suppose we have a supermajority against monarchism even at the inception of the US, whereas prior to that there was a supermajority in favor of it.  abolition of the monarchy was certainly on the far end of the spectrum at one time--and we might regard the US in 1776 as the most leftwing place in the world at that point. america fuck yeah?

 

political opinion to revert to the mean sooner rather than later.

this is the thesis of one of asimov's characters in the end of eternity.  it is an interesting argument--but what warrants the conclusion?

 

In a purely democratic society in which this third of the population currently in the minority can criticize the government, point out its inefficiencies, compare itself to other countries, try and change people's minds and stand for election every four years under a banner of change, can your democratic truly communist state survive without slowly meandering towards a hybrid social-democracy?

i'd want that third there to complaint and point out the errors, to avoid what althy was saying in the other thread about being total self-certain and having a monopoly. the british theocratic royalist conservatives tolerate a loyal opposition; i can't see why the hardest of the hardcore leftists--snuff marxists, maybe--wouldn't have cappies bringing it around town.  it's an insurance, also--as in clarke's childhood's end--intentionally support your own countertopia just in case you are dead fucking wrong. does all that make it social democracy? some of this may be definitional.  i think you can have public ownership of the means of production and allows people to agitate democratically for private ownership of the MOP without losing the designation of communist economy.  if one day you lose the election big enough for the constitution to change back, then that's what we all signed up for.

i don't much care for jiang zemin's 'three represents' policy, wherein capitalists are now members of the of the chinese communist party (like, let them have their own bourgeois party?), but it is not inherently implausible--socialists are after all members of bourgeois parties, and those parties usually police their ideological boundaries to permit entryism but try to win the internal debate of counter-converting the intended converters.

that said, i don't think we should regard any situation as permanent; that would require a sense of entitlement that all self-respecting socialists should eschew. i know that marx adopted hegel's end of history arguments, and then was co-opted in turn by fukuyama--they were all wrong, i think, on that question.

 

Edited by sologdin

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1 hour ago, Martell Spy said:

There are conservatives in the UK. How successful have they been at dismantling the universal healthcare system? Do they even want to?

Just to answer that:

Many of them want to dismantle it. Openly doing so is politically unacceptable. but they are doing their best to do it under the covers by various means, notably by partially outsourcing it to private companies, and by starving it of resources so the middle classes choose to go private rather than wait for their operations. Even with the pandemic I personally doubt that the NHS will last out my lifetime in anything like its current form.

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10 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

The middle can change.

Yes, but. I'm as bad as predicting the future as the next guy, but if we accept this ideological axis (borrowed shamelessly from a post by DMC on a different thread) as true, we can see that some economic/political positions are in the extremes (like fascism, anarchy or state socialism), while others (liberal/conservative) are closer to the center. I'd posit that a democratic society will be prone to drift towards central positions. Extreme economic/political positions, on the other hand, could conceivably arise from a democratic vote, but would likely not be sustained by one on the long run. For this to happen they would require an authoritarian state. 

 

Specific matters of policy (such as your healthcare example, or things like gay marriage) would be far more susceptible to change with the times as the social mores does.

 

23 minutes ago, sologdin said:

this is the thesis of one of asimov's characters in the end of eternity.  it is an interesting argument--but what warrants the conclusion?

 

I have no answer to that, though it seems intuitive to me (and mostly supported by recent history). I'd be fascinated to read you argue the opposite, if you believe so and feel thus inclined.

 

32 minutes ago, sologdin said:

i think you can have public ownership of the means of production and allows people to agitate democratically for private ownership of the MOP without losing the designation of communist economy.  if one day you lose the election big enough for the constitution to change back, then that's what we all signed up for.

 

Yes, but in this case said communist economy is an accident. A temporary policy which is susceptible to change come the next general election. It's not a definitory quality of the state (unless it becomes the new mean which most citizens consider political normalcy and introduced into a constitutional text, but see above).

 

35 minutes ago, sologdin said:

i don't much care for jiang zemin's 'three represents' policy, wherein capitalists are now members of the of the chinese communist party (like, let them have their own bourgeois party?), but it is not inherently implausible--socialists are after all members of bourgeois parties, and those parties usually police their ideological boundaries to permit entryism but try to win the internal debate of counter-converting the intended converters.

 

If there were both a communist and a capitalist party to choose from in China, they might choose their membership differently, though. The Chinese Communist Party might also not have been in power for as long as it has.

 

42 minutes ago, sologdin said:

that said, i don't think we should regard any situation as permanent; that would require a sense of entitlement that all self-respecting socialists should eschew. i know that marx adopted hegel's end of history arguments, and then was co-opted in turn by fukuyama--they were all wrong, i think, on that question.

 

Agreed. 'The future will most certainly be different from the present' is not enough of an argument if you're pointing to a very specific one, though.

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1 hour ago, sologdin said:

that said, i don't think we should regard any situation as permanent; that would require a sense of entitlement that all self-respecting socialists should eschew. i know that marx adopted hegel's end of history arguments, and then was co-opted in turn by fukuyama--they were all wrong, i think, on that question.

In my view, the biggest thing that will change economics as we understand it is the growth of AI. It's something that we will need to keep an eye on.

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Posted (edited)
Quote

Specific matters of policy (such as your healthcare example, or things like gay marriage) would be far more susceptible to change with the times as the social mores does.

The NHS was founded in 1948. Isn't over 70 years long enough for various moderate or conservative governments to dismantle it? Perhaps it's not going anywhere?

If a $3,000/month UBI and government automation was already in place how hard would it be for moderative/conservative governments to replace? Maybe it'd just continue to exist 70 years like the NHS. And 70 years is pretty close to infinite, it is certainly past my own lifetime. And that is with many different regimes and votes coming and going.

Edited by Martell Spy

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30 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

In my view, the biggest thing that will change economics as we understand it is the growth of AI. It's something that we will need to keep an eye on.

This, and we don't really have any kind of plans in place for when large numbers, and then a majority of people become obsolete in the work force.

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14 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

The NHS was founded in 1948. Isn't over 70 years long enough for various moderate or conservative governments to dismantle it? Perhaps it's not going anywhere?

 

Perhaps. Different social-democracies have different approaches to healthcare. The private sector would sure like a bite out of that cake, and it's not impossible specific policies nudge it towards a more hybrid private/public model, or healthcare becomes part of the discussion in a future trade treaty with the U.S. or something. Or maybe not.

 

My broader point is that specific policies (regarding, for instance, healthcare) are much more susceptible to change and evolution than the whole political make-up of a country. I think Obamacare is a good example (though the NHS might not be, I'm not British, so I may be out of my depth here).

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This is an interesting take on the NHS, the NHS vs. US 'health care', academia, government, history, writing, etc. from Thatcher's 1987 Britain by the historian:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v09/n09/e.p.-thompson/diary

 

Quote

E.P. Thompson · Diary: On the NHS · LRB 7 May 1987
E.P. Thompson author of The Making of the English Working Class, was responsible for the recent study Star Wars.A collection of poems, Infant and Emperor, was published in 1983.‘Powers and Names’ is in part prompted by Szuma Chien’s Records of the Historian (91 BC), selections from which have been translated by Yan Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang for the Foreign Languages Press, Beijing.
www.lrb.co.uk

 

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9 hours ago, felice said:

Nobody wants a return to the Soviet Union, any more than anyone wants Pinochet. But communism is potentially better than capitalism; governments are supposed to work for the best interests of the people, while private companies have no reason to even try. We need transparency and accountability, though.

But governments are run by people and people always have a selfish streak.  If people were always capable of putting others before themselves communism (complete State control of production) might work.  People don’t work that way.

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