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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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18 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

With regard to "socialist" regimes, are we talking about those that have mixed economies?

Yes.  Just, ya know, the ones that are more socialist and less capitalistic.

As for authoritarian communist regimes, I was just thinking in the shower that their method of solving principal-agency problems - imprisoning or killing bureaucrats - does do a great job limiting transaction costs.

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8 minutes ago, DMC said:

Yes.  Just, ya know, the ones that are more socialist and less capitalistic.

In that case, it seems to me that the issue isn't whether we have communism or some kind of libertarian fantasy capitalism, but about how much of each, and where and when government involvement in the economy is justified.

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8 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

but about how much of each, and where and when government involvement in the economy is justified.

Right.

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It might be good to bear in mind that there has never been a large-scale communist experiment. Going by the literal definition, "communism," cannot work above a certain scale: the "communal ownership of property" can only be a reality if the community can debate and decide efficiently, which is -as yet- impossible to do with millions.
Another way of putting it is that a "communist government" might be an oxymoron since you can't "delegate" "communal owernship."

I like philosopher Alain Badiou (with Zizek) presenting of communism as an "idea," i.e. not a given structure for a society (even less for a state) but an idealist principle for small societal structures (corporations of course, but any and all means of production, really). In other words, communism could be seen as i) less specialisation for humans, ii) the absence of social classes and hierarchy, and perhaps even iii) the end of feelings of scarcity.
Ironically,point i) aside, it seems difficult to imagine a utopia without points ii) and iii).
It's kinda the irony of communism: as a structure it seems almost incompatible with modernity, but otoh is absolutely unescapable for any idealist endeavor. Or, to simplify, that communism could never "work" today, but is the only future worth considering.

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I think we can get a lot closer to communism than just reaching parity with the more progressive European social democracies. It's just a matter of political will and technology. Are we there yet? Obviously not, in some cases were are backsliding and regressing.

The state owning certain large tech companies (Facebook, Google, etc), people owning their own data and being able to sell it, or some combination of these.

Universal healthcare, electricity, and Internet access. Or heavily regulated utilities.

Certain sectors becoming heavily automated and government-run. Trucking, freight, warehousing, food service, retail. 

 

 

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China has concentration camps. I don’t understand why people praise communism? It is a lie. You are sprouting communist propaganda. What communists say and do are polar opposites. If you don’t like America. Why live in the United States? China released the coronavirus. 

BJR--

we should object to concentration camps wherever they occur, whether we mean the original ones that the UK ran in the boer war, or the privately-operated ones that the NSDAP used for slave labor to assist german capitalists, or the ones used by the US during the second world war. if the chinese are running concentration camps for religious groups and ethnic minoritarians, this is similarly to be deplored--but not as part of communism, but rather as a deviation from left principle.

not sure that an objection about persons who are communists in theory also being hypocritical in their praxis is salient as an objection to the theory itself.  this is again an objection to deviation from doctrine.

the non-sequitur about living in the US while objecting to it is frivolous, both in terms of its placement here, in terms of its inconsistency with your argument otherwise, and in terms of the silliness of its jingoist position.

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The Chinese released the virus.

am sure we'd all love to see the evidence of this thesis.

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Those are detention centers, which ironically where created by Liberals.

it is difficult at times to distinguish prisons, detention centers, concentration camps, and such like.  is there a principle that you are using to draw the distinctions--or is it an unprincipled attempt to insulate the rightwing against criticism? 

 

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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.

OGE--

totally.  i love chris harman's argument in economics of the madhouse about what happens if robots do all the work? his point is about unsustainability of an increasing organic composition of capital and the declining rate of profit in marx's political economy--eventually capital does all the work with no labor to exploit, in which case, who buys all the stuff made by robots? point made, this is a bit of an unmarxist position, however, to the extent that new needs are always made in capitalism once old needs are met.  so, we have electricity and telephones and  water in houses in the late 20th century--but then internet and cell phones and whatnot is all necessary, and people have phoney baloney internet jobs and that's all legit capitalism.  once the robots make everything of the old economy, then, yeah, we should expect AI to have developed to the point wherein the robots can demand rights as citizens and consumers, which might render them non-capital, i.e., labor to be exploited--and the non-robots will develop a capitalist economy wherein their labor can be exploited. we shall see.

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but in this case said communist economy is an accident. A temporary policy which is susceptible to change come the next general election.

mentat--

not sure what this means.  i suspect either nothing is an accident or everything is.  i.e., all acts of state should be regarded subject to later amendment?

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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.

agreed, as to both.  it may have been better to have a more menshevik outfit in charge--though this is being a bit counterfactual idealist.

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11 hours ago, sologdin said:

mentat--

not sure what this means.  i suspect either nothing is an accident or everything is.  i.e., all acts of state should be regarded subject to later amendment?

Yes, but all states codify some specific ideological/political/economical traits into their core (usually by inclusion in a Constitutional text which requires a super-majority to modify). These characteristics are not immutable, but they do tend to be stable. It's kind of like the difference between a concrete building and a tent, neither of them will last forever, but you expect the concrete building will be there next year and the tent wont.

 

The U.S.S.R. was a communist state (for a certain definition of communist, I guess, but let's accept this for the sake of argument), there was a single party, which was the communist party and the hammer and sickle featured in the national flag and state emblem. It didn't last forever, but as long as it did, it was representing communism as its defining trait.

 

Democratic states (while obviously not lacking a founding ideology) also define themselves by the fact that most other ideologies (those that are not abhorrent to its core) can be espoused, publicly advocated and, if popular with the voters, politically represented in its parliament or government... but that none of them define it, and whatever the policies or ideology of the governing party are, come four years, they could be entirely different ones (because there might be a different government). Thus a democratic state can't be communist in the same way it can't be left-wing (even if a left-wing party might currently be in power, passing left-wing laws and implementing left-wing policies). Its core requires a level of "neutrality" or "mutability" that would preclude it, even if its population tends to lean heavily to the right or to the left (it certainly can be argued that most Western states' "neutrality" is suspect and that it's far from the blank slate I'm depicting... but I think my point stands regardless).

 

 

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3 hours ago, Mentat said:

The U.S.S.R. was a communist state (for a certain definition of communist, I guess, but let's accept this for the sake of argument), there was a single party, which was the communist party and the hammer and sickle featured in the national flag and state emblem. It didn't last forever, but as long as it did, it was representing communism as its defining trait.

I get that this is "for the sake of argument" but nonetheless I'll point out that the USSR certainly never came close to being a "communist state," not by any accurate definition. As far as I know it always claimed to be *socialist* (it's like... right there in the name) which is bad enough  - for socialism that is. 

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26 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

I'll point out that the USSR certainly never came close to being a "communist state," not by any accurate definition. As far as I know it always claimed to be *socialist* (it's like... right there in the name) which is bad enough  - for socialism that is. 

I mean, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power they established the party that controlled the USSR for the 74 years of its existence that called themselves the All-Russian Communist Party, then the All-Union Communist Party under Stalin, then the Communist Party of the Soviet Union after Stalin until the dissolving of the Soviet Union.  So I don't think it's inaccurate to refer to the USSR as a communist regime when they themselves did too.  I prefer to qualify that as referring to them as an authoritarian communist regime, at least from Stalin to perestroika/glasnost, but ymmv.

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35 minutes ago, DMC said:

I mean, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power they established the party that controlled the USSR for the 74 years of its existence that called themselves the All-Russian Communist Party, then the All-Union Communist Party under Stalin, then the Communist Party of the Soviet Union after Stalin until the dissolving of the Soviet Union.  So I don't think it's inaccurate to refer to the USSR as a communist regime when they themselves did too.  I prefer to qualify that as referring to them as an authoritarian communist regime, at least from Stalin to perestroika/glasnost, but ymmv.

Communism is a Communist's ultimate goal, kind of a Marxist Utopia. I don't think there has ever been a Communist regime that claimed to have achieved Communism. Always Socialism.

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Just now, Loge said:

Communism is a Communist's ultimate goal, kind of a Marxist Utopia. I don't think there has ever been a Communist regime that claimed to have achieved Communism. Always Socialism.

Yes, but this is splitting hairs.  There's a distinction between democratic socialist regimes that have no interest in developing into a communist utopia, and those that do which Lenin and Mao explicitly stated.

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we can draw a distinction between party and state organs, maybe--they're the communist party (though they were the social dems before the revolution), but the state is a union of separate socialist republics.  the early constitutions don't mention socialism directly, though, which is curious.  i don't take names very seriously--NSDAP has socialism in it, and they weren't. DPRK has democratic in it, and it isn't.

 

mentat--

all states codify some specific ideological/political/economical traits into their core

agreed.

These characteristics are not immutable, but they do tend to be stable. 

agreed.

The U.S.S.R. was a communist state (for a certain definition of communist,

that's reasonable.

there was a single party, which was the communist party and the hammer and sickle featured in the national flag and state emblem. It didn't last forever, but as long as it did, it was representing communism as its defining trait.

well, the solitariness didn't occur until after the 1936 constitution, as i recall it, and only then as a deviation from the constitution. it certainly held itself out as some sort of leftwing endeavor. within the party, though, there was quite a range of debate on policy.

Thus a democratic state can't be communist in the same way it can't be left-wing (even if a left-wing party might currently be in power, passing left-wing laws and implementing left-wing policies). Its core requires a level of "neutrality" or "mutability"

but it has decided already that it is capitalist and accordingly is not neutral? 

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8 minutes ago, sologdin said:

i don't take names very seriously--NSDAP has socialism in it, and they weren't. DPRK has democratic in it, and it isn't.

Yeah I'm just saying it's fair to refer to the USSR, Maoist China, Castro's Cuba, Pol Pot's Cambodia as communist to distinguish them from, say, the Nordic model.  Grouping all under the auspice of "socialism" is exactly the problem for much of my country's electorate.

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totally. i get you. we can't bog down every discussion of actual policy with a colloquy on names and what is true commanism neway or the type of discussions we had many years ago at the cybercommunist party group about whether the soviet union was state capitalism or bureaucratic collectivism or a deformed workers' state or a degenerated workers' state or a proper workers' state or socialism or communism or wut.

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1 hour ago, DMC said:

Yes, but this is splitting hairs.

It really isn't.

Reagan himself was aware enough of the difference to joke about it, and he was hardly a sympathizer. Understanding that the USSR was not a communist regime is pretty fucking basic.

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1 hour ago, sologdin said:

but it has decided already that it is capitalist and accordingly is not neutral? 

I'm not sure I agree. We're not really speaking about any specific democratic nation, but most of them are social-democracies which accept private property and enterprise but at the same time intervene in the economy, redistribute wealth to greater or lesser degree, provide some kind of social network and while they don't own all the national means of production, do own a really big chunk of the nations' infrastructure (plus a whole lot of other stuff, participate in mixed economy companies, etc.). That was part of my previous point. Democracies tend to cover the middle ground institutionally. Different political parties might pull it in different directions, but democratic institutions (if working properly) also tend to have a 'moderating effect' on said parties.

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9 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

Reagan himself was aware enough of the difference to joke about it, and he was hardly a sympathizer.

The GOP may joke about the ways in which they use socialism as an electoral cudgel to block any socialist reform by conflating such efforts with such regimes as the USSR and China, but that doesn't change their effectiveness in doing so.  It's incumbent upon the left to distinguish such regimes from "socialism" in political messaging.  If you want to suggest different terminology - say, Marxist-Leninist - fine, but I prefer to keep things simple.  The intellectual/technical distinction on the proper definition of a "communist" regime is rather academic.

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which accept private property and enterprise but at the same time intervene in the economy, redistribute wealth to greater or lesser degree, 

right.  we can democratically set the acceptance of private property very low without much inconsistency in principle--property has for many hundreds of years, in common law systems, been a matter of title, which is simply a way of stating that the public decides how property is defined; the distinction between allodial title and feudal title is very old. we see in china how--

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In 1978, the Chinese government launched the Reform Era policies that gradually replaced the planned economy with a market system. The countryside underwent a process of de-collectivization as the new Household Responsibility System was introduced, communes were abolished and collective farms divided up between households, on an equal basis; most villages continued to re-adjust land allocation according to changes in household size (births, deaths and marriages) until the late 1990s. Peasant households regained their land-use rights, though land ownership was still held collectively by the village or production team.

zhan, s. "the land use question in china.' NLR 122 (mar/apr 2020), 117. the property regime at the end there reminds me very much of georgist ideas, such as are currently in effect in fairhope, alabama. i think that property rights are limited only by our imagination, and that the point of democracy is for the public to determine sequentially which imaginary is to occupy the real. a lack of authoritarianism means that people will be persuadable toward the right and toward the left. proper communism in its extreme form is an abstraction, as ripp was saying upthread--we don't need to insist on ideological purity or 100% compliance with an ideal.  the point is ultimately an aesthetic one, about making lived lives better. we know that capitalism and communism, each as actually practiced, as opposed to their respective doctrines, elevate in different ways, and incur different costs for the elevation--always a trolley problem.

not sure if democracy in itself covers a middle ground. it's fairly radical for what it is.  it does seem to be consistent with a number of political and economic beliefs, though--and certainly it has the moderating effect of slowing down a process so that everyone can be heard--notoriously inefficient, the public listening to itself.

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10 hours ago, Mentat said:

Yes, but all states codify some specific ideological/political/economical traits into their core (usually by inclusion in a Constitutional text which requires a super-majority to modify). These characteristics are not immutable, but they do tend to be stable.

Democratic states (while obviously not lacking a founding ideology) also define themselves by the fact that most other ideologies (those that are not abhorrent to its core) can be espoused, publicly advocated and, if popular with the voters, politically represented in its parliament or government... but that none of them define it, and whatever the policies or ideology of the governing party are, come four years, they could be entirely different ones (because there might be a different government). Thus a democratic state can't be communist in the same way it can't be left-wing

Entirely different? Theoretically possible, I suppose, but in practice the policies of the US don't change that much when power shifts between Democrats and Republicans. Why can't a democratic state be stably communist, the same way the ones we have now are stably capitalist? Having a constitutional ban on private business doesn't mean there isn't room for a range of different political positions; quite the opposite! When the entire economy is under government control, how it should be managed is extremely important and you could have a number of different political parties espousing different policies. And that's on top of all the same non-economic political issues capitalist governments deal with.

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4 hours ago, Mentat said:

I'm not sure I agree. We're not really speaking about any specific democratic nation, but most of them are social-democracies which accept private property and enterprise but at the same time intervene in the economy, redistribute wealth to greater or lesser degree, provide some kind of social network and while they don't own all the national means of production, do own a really big chunk of the nations' infrastructure (plus a whole lot of other stuff, participate in mixed economy companies, etc.). That was part of my previous point. Democracies tend to cover the middle ground institutionally. Different political parties might pull it in different directions, but democratic institutions (if working properly) also tend to have a 'moderating effect' on said parties.

How many 'communist' countries have enshrined white supremacy and slavery into their constituiton or founding documents in the same way as 'democratic' or 'capitalist' ones have?  

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