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The Great Socialism Hoax  
User currently offlineRara From Germany, joined Jan 2007, 2010 posts, RR: 2
Posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2622 times:

Good evening,

throughout the US election campaigns and in many discussions in this forum, the Socialism issue has been bothering me more and more. Obama is socialist, Sweden is socialist, and more such nonsense. I find it regrettable that many people on both sides of the pond seem to have a very faint idea at best of what Socialism really refers to.

The idea that the free market cannot provide all services in society is at the very basis of Capitalism. You will find it in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations". All countries of the world are built on this idea. Education, defense, public order and care for the needy (charity) cannot be provided by the market, they have to be provided by the state. This is not socialist. Now, of course one can be of different opinion as to how encompassing state-supplied services should be. Should higher education be provided? Health care? Pensions? Housing? Different nations have found different answers to these questions, but they have little to do with actual Socialism.

In Socialism, the means of production belong to the public (that is, the state), and the distribution of goods and ultimately of wealth is provided by the state. That means that the state is the only employer (or at least the most important one), that private entrepreneurship is impossible, and that reinvestment and accumulation of wealth cannot be carried out by private persons. By this definition, no Western country is socialist, and neither is China. Soviet Russia was, and Cuba still is. It also means that Obama is obviously not a socialist since he does not plan to nationalise the entire economy. Lastly, very few Western European political parties are genuinely socialist even if they still carry that name.

Communism, by the way, is an extreme form of Socialism in which private property is entirely abolished; in Socialism property is still possible. Communism was, as far as I know, never fully realised in history. Most socialist countries declared that they were in a slow transition towards real Communism, but it never happened.

Another misconception is that the absence of democracy automatically equals either Socialism or Communism. In theory, socialist countries could well be democratic (though that was rarely the case), likewise, Capitalist countries need not be democratic (see China, see South Korea prior to the 1990s). Democracy and Capitalism go together well, but that's all there's to it.

If you have anything to add or clarify, please do. In summary, can we please be more clear about what Socialism really is, and keep it separated from social democracy, a large public sector or socialised government services. Granted it's complicated, but I feel that many a senseless debate could be avoided if we stuck to the facts here.

Greetings


Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
43 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineTristarAtLCA From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2007, 609 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2607 times:

A great post Rara.

Clear and concise.


From a citizen of the Socialist Republic of the United Kingdom  Big grin



If you was right..................I'd agree with you
User currently offlineRJdxer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2602 times:



Quoting Rara (Thread starter):
In Socialism, the means of production belong to the public (that is, the state), and the distribution of goods and ultimately of wealth is provided by the state. That means that the state is the only employer (or at least the most important one), that private entrepreneurship is impossible, and that reinvestment and accumulation of wealth cannot be carried out by private persons. By this definition, no Western country is socialist

The only part I would argue here is that by using monetary policy the government can effectively direct production, "They can build coal plants but using the tax and cap system I will bankrupt them" (paraphrasing) distribution "I will take that money and give credits to those that choose to use alternative energies" (again paraphrase). By taxing certain industries more heavily based on what they put out the government can effectively drive employment in certain sectors, and by raising capital gains and corporate rates effectively quash entrepreneurship and limit accumulaton of wealth. So while the President Elect may not be a true socialist, he has socialistic ideas as do the leaders of Congress and using tax policy and regulation can achieve those aims that they wish too.


User currently offlineSan747 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 4939 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2568 times:

Great post... I need to paste this all over Facebook so that my stupid friends complaining about how "socialist" Obama is can actually make an informed opinion about the subject.


Scotty doesn't know...
User currently offlineVictrola From United States of America, joined Apr 2008, 460 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2551 times:

The problem comes in determining what to call some markets. If we stick with the definition that Socialism is the government control of all means of production, then there are few countries on this planet that can truly be called socialist.

So what do you call a country where the government, while not necesarily controling the means of production, still plays a major roll in the economy by restricting competition, fixing prices, or wages, or other types of intervention? For lack of a better term, people tend to use the word socialist to describe these types of economic systems.

Even many parties in Europe describe themselves as "Socialist". France, for example has a powerful Socialist party. However, even they don't claim to want the government to own all means of production. So what should they be called?


User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2547 times:



Quoting San747 (Reply 3):
Great post... I need to paste this all over Facebook so that my stupid friends complaining about how "socialist" Obama is can actually make an informed opinion about the subject.

In time we will be able to. Unless of course he just goes back on all his empty promises or he drives enough businesses overseas. Either will be fun to watch.


User currently offlineHaggis79 From Germany, joined Jun 2006, 1096 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2548 times:

Thanks for that great post.... I always cringe when I see Obama being called a "socialist", "communist" or even "Marxist" from people who either don't have the faintest idea what those labels mean or just use them because they hope the American people will freeze in fear when hearing them....

Obama is no more a socialist than Bush is a Nazi.... get over with it!

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 2):
The only part I would argue here is that by using monetary policy the government can effectively direct production, "They can build coal plants but using the tax and cap system I will bankrupt them" (paraphrasing) distribution "I will take that money and give credits to those that choose to use alternative energies" (again paraphrase). By taxing certain industries more heavily based on what they put out the government can effectively drive employment in certain sectors, and by raising capital gains and corporate rates effectively quash entrepreneurship and limit accumulaton of wealth. So while the President Elect may not be a true socialist, he has socialistic ideas as do the leaders of Congress and using tax policy and regulation can achieve those aims that they wish too.

What you discribe is not socialism, but regulation. While socialism always involves some harsh regulation, it is by no means the same. If you are against all regulation, that fine (I am not) - but that doesn't mean that someone who doesn't agree with you is automatically "socialist". I have yet to see Obama making a statement about nationalizing any industry - once he does, then you may be right to call him a socialist. For now, his ideas may be social democratic - but they are certainly not socialistic, communistic, Marxistic or anything like that.



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User currently offlineHaggis79 From Germany, joined Jun 2006, 1096 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2520 times:



Quoting Victrola (Reply 4):
The problem comes in determining what to call some markets. If we stick with the definition that Socialism is the government control of all means of production, then there are few countries on this planet that can truly be called socialist.

right - I think that is the point the OP wanted to make with his statement. Before 1990, there was quite a number of socialist countries - but today there's Cuba and that's pretty much it.

Quoting Victrola (Reply 4):
Even many parties in Europe describe themselves as "Socialist". France, for example has a powerful Socialist party. However, even they don't claim to want the government to own all means of production. So what should they be called?

well, most of them are called "socialist" for historical reasons - if you look back in time, at one point hey actually did want to nationalize all industries. Today, most of them are social democratic.

Quoting Victrola (Reply 4):
So what do you call a country where the government, while not necesarily controling the means of production, still plays a major roll in the economy by restricting competition, fixing prices, or wages, or other types of intervention? For lack of a better term, people tend to use the word socialist to describe these types of economic systems.

I guess the problem with that nomenclature is that people automatically think of the USSR when hearing "socialism" - and there's no way you can compare, say, Sweden's economy today to the old communist block. The proper term (at least the one we use in Germany) is "social free market economy" - a free market economy with some elements to remedy it's anti-social tendencies.



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User currently offlinePlaneWasted From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 493 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2517 times:

Well, in absolute terms there are no capitalist states, no communist states and no socialist countries. Not even any true democracies. But these terms are good when describing differences between countries and peoples ideologies.

Relative to USA, Sweden is socialist.
Relative to Mc Cain, Obama is socialist.
Relative to North Korea, Germany is democratic.
etc..


User currently offlineRJdxer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2509 times:



Quoting Haggis79 (Reply 6):
I have yet to see Obama making a statement about nationalizing any industry

Again, you don't necessarily have to nationalize an industry to direct it. I would point again to his comment about coal burning power plants. If monetary policy is enabled that sets out to bankrupt those plants, the the national government is in effect controling that end of the energy industry is it not? That is just one example. Another would be health care. He has not proposed national health care but he has proposed "fining" companies that don't offer health care opportunities to their workers. He has not said what amount the "fine" would be but for it to be effective it would have to be large enough to induce the owners to purchase a health care plan and make it available. Again, using monetary policy to direct industry. While not socialism in its book definition form, to deny it is a form of socialism would be wrong. Regulation, used to promote saftey of either the individual, or enviroment is one thing. Regulation used as a punitive measure is quite something else.


User currently offlineHaggis79 From Germany, joined Jun 2006, 1096 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2495 times:



Quoting RJdxer (Reply 9):
Regulation, used to promote saftey of either the individual, or enviroment is one thing. Regulation used as a punitive measure is quite something else.

well, for me it looks like his proposals are exactly what you mention - trying to promote the environment (by lowering CO2 emissions) or the safety of the individual (by getting everyone into a healthcare plan). While I don't think it's a good idea to have health insuranced be distributed through the employer (I prefer a nationalized healthcare plan), I don't see where his proposals are a pure "punitive measure". Of course, all kinds of regulation will always hurt someone - if it wouldn't, it wouldn't be needed.

But still, in my book this does not meet the definition of socialism.... you don't like it - fine. I don't like the Republicans, either - but I don't call them "Nazis"...



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User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8872 posts, RR: 40
Reply 11, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 2456 times:

Quoting Haggis79 (Reply 6):

What you discribe is not socialism, but regulation.

It's one thing to regulate safety, accounting practices, etc., but:

Quoting Haggis79 (Reply 10):
well, for me it looks like his proposals are exactly what you mention - trying to promote the environment (by lowering CO2 emissions) or the safety of the individual

Trying to regulate production is a mere attempt to take control of an industry to at least a certain degree, and influence/take it in a way that a fully socialized system with a government mission would have done. This would be a distortion of the market, and since the market's efficiency is derived from it's ability to efficiently allocate scarce resources, you are attacking the market system at it's very heart.

And the example you mentioned is just one situation. Between increased taxes for product A, decreased taxes for product B, tax deductions tied to getting product C, or subsidies for D, you are undermining the system by creating distortions in prices, which are the numbers people use to make decisions about how to rationally allocate their scarce resources efficiently--the very reason why markets are efficient.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not billionaire big boss who is efficient, but every one of us. It's people given the chance to see the true costs of goods and services and allowed to make decisions themselves.

[Edited 2008-11-05 17:51:21]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineBoeing744 From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1819 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 2437 times:



Quoting Rara (Thread starter):

Excellent post Rara!

I have yet to figure out whether the people who are labeling Obama as a socialist are truly ignorant enough to think so, or if they are simply trying to use it to slander him. Either way, it's pretty sad...

He won... get over it... try to work together for once.


User currently offlineSkyyKat From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2378 times:



Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 12):
I have yet to figure out whether the people who are labeling Obama as a socialist are truly ignorant enough to think so, or if they are simply trying to use it to slander him. Either way, it's pretty sad...

I wish I could take those guys back in time to where I grew up, standing inline to the grocery store with little cards. Not being able to eat your own live stock. Not being able to operate your own business.....


Let them blabber on I say! Obama is in and no more bush.... They feel a need to whine, let them do it!

We bitched about bush, now its their turn... Its only fair  Smile


User currently offlineDiamondFlyer From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1400 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2352 times:



Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 12):
I have yet to figure out whether the people who are labeling Obama as a socialist are truly ignorant enough to think so, or if they are simply trying to use it to slander him. Either way, it's pretty sad...

He won... get over it... try to work together for once.

Here is what irks me. In 2000, Democrats were pissed that their man didn't win, and did everything in their power to not work together. They wanted to do nothing to work together with the republicans, but 9/11 forced their hand. A few years later, they were back to doing anything they could to undermine the Republican leadership.
I now think its ironic that the same people, who essentially worked 8 years to undermine a president, now want the opposite side to sit idle and do nothing. They don't want the other side to criticize one bit, yet they did 8 years ago. They want to push the Republicans under for good.

Must be some sort of "Do as I say, not as I act" ploy on their part, right? Funny how that works

-DiamondFlyer



Rock Chalk Jayhawk
User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 15, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2346 times:



Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 12):
Excellent post Rara!

I have yet to figure out whether the people who are labeling Obama as a socialist are truly ignorant enough to think so, or if they are simply trying to use it to slander him. Either way, it's pretty sad...

I will subscribe to that. The answer to your question seems to be in some of the posts, probably not that ignorant, but determined to argue it is their version of black and white.

Quoting SkyyKat (Reply 13):
They feel a need to whine, let them do it!

Oh do they ever feel that need!!  yes 


User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2309 times:



Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 14):
They want to push the Republicans under for good.

The Republicans-or what's left of them-have done a damn good job of self destructing without the assistance of the Democratic party. They lost an entire generation of voters with their interminable culture wars. You'll be lucky if the Republican party is more than a chowder and debating society or a refuge for Hank Williams junior for the next few years.

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 14):
Here is what irks me. In 2000, Democrats were pissed that their man didn't win, and did everything in their power to not work together. They wanted to do nothing to work together with the republicans, but 9/11 forced their hand. A few years later, they were back to doing anything they could to undermine the Republican leadership.
I now think its ironic that the same people, who essentially worked 8 years to undermine a president, now want the opposite side to sit idle and do nothing. They don't want the other side to criticize one bit, yet they did 8 years ago.

I'm sure that you can document this charge with specifics-if not, I'll have to assume that it came from Mount Rush-more and you are a repeater station.


User currently offlineWunalaYann From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 2839 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2303 times:



Quoting Victrola (Reply 4):
France, for example has a powerful Socialist party. However, even they don't claim to want the government to own all means of production. So what should they be called?

Socio-democrats. At least that is what most European centre-left parties call themselves.

The broader concept here is socio-free-market economy.

Quoting PPVRA (Reply 11):
And the example you mentioned is just one situation. Between increased taxes for product A, decreased taxes for product B, tax deductions tied to getting product C, or subsidies for D, you are undermining the system by creating distortions in prices, which are the numbers people use to make decisions about how to rationally allocate their scarce resources efficiently--the very reason why markets are efficient.

Good point. Although it forgets about externalities, positive and negative. "taxes" may be a way to put a price next to said externalities, but I prefer a simple pricing system "this many tonnes of pollutants costs $XXX" built into the chain of production.

It is not a tax, simply a way to account for externalities that the market, in essence, cannot account for. I don't know if I'm making sense, though.


User currently offlineBoeing744 From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1819 posts, RR: 24
Reply 18, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2288 times:

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 14):
They don't want the other side to criticize one bit, yet they did 8 years ago. They want to push the Republicans under for good.

They (the Republicans) can criticise him (Obama) all they like! I think constructive criticism is a really good thing for everyone.

Calling him a socialist (whether it be malicious or ignorant) is not constructive criticism.

Quoting SkyyKat (Reply 13):
I wish I could take those guys back in time to where I grew up, standing inline to the grocery store with little cards. Not being able to eat your own live stock. Not being able to operate your own business.....

Out of pure interest, where would this be? China?

[Edited 2008-11-05 21:14:49]

User currently offline11Bravo From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1716 posts, RR: 10
Reply 19, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2285 times:



Quoting RJdxer (Reply 9):
Regulation, used to promote saftey of either the individual, or enviroment is one thing.

So,.. providing healthcare to the individual does not promote safety? It would seem to me that A) Individuals without adequate healthcare are much more likely to be unhealthy, and B) Individuals who are unhealthy are, by definition, not safe.



WhaleJets Rule!
User currently offlineSkyyKat From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2272 times:



Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 18):
Out of pure interest, where would this be? China?

Poland....You also could not even eat what you hunted....Lucky I left when I was young  Smile My family had some extra privilages though, my grandpa was an ex Major in the airforce, & a fighter pilot... Other than that it was some hard times for most people.


User currently offlineBoeing744 From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1819 posts, RR: 24
Reply 21, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2260 times:

Quoting SkyyKat (Reply 20):
Poland....You also could not even eat what you hunted....Lucky I left when I was young My family had some extra privilages though, my grandpa was an ex Major in the airforce, & a fighter pilot... Other than that it was some hard times for most people.

Ahh... Well I can definitely understand why it would be offensive to you and most people from the former Eastern Bloc to have Obama labelled as a socialist.

Edit: Anyone from a former/current repressive socialist/communist country.

[Edited 2008-11-05 21:24:18]

User currently offlineSkyyKat From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2242 times:



Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 21):
Well I can definitely understand why it would be offensive to you and most people from the former Eastern Bloc to have Obama labelled as a socialist.

You know what? I really don't find it offensive, more amusing than anything... These guys have NO idea what socialism is and they throw the term around so care-free...

But that is the beauty of democracy though is it not? The freedom of speech, the freedom to offend, and the freedom for me to laugh at them, lol  Smile

Let everyone speak their mind, its the best thing. We all have alot to learn from each other.


User currently offlineWunalaYann From Australia, joined Mar 2005, 2839 posts, RR: 26
Reply 23, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2217 times:



Quoting SkyyKat (Reply 22):
You know what? I really don't find it offensive, more amusing than anything... These guys have NO idea what socialism is and they throw the term around so care-free...

 checkmark 

I agree with you 100%. Nothing like first hand experience.

 Smile


User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9834 posts, RR: 96
Reply 24, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2194 times:
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Quoting PPVRA (Reply 11):
Between increased taxes for product A, decreased taxes for product B, tax deductions tied to getting product C, or subsidies for D, you are undermining the system by creating distortions in prices, which are the numbers people use to make decisions about how to rationally allocate their scarce resources efficiently--the very reason why markets are efficient

I'd challenge you to find a nation on this planet, though, that doesn't do some, or all of these things. In fact, international accords are signed which do this across the world.
The whole discussion thus becomes an interesting exercise in "shade". Unfortunately, some of the contributors fail to recognise this, for their own reasons

Rgds


25 Doona : Historically, social democracy is the natural evolution of marxism, at least in Western Europe. A minority broke off from the European workers unions
26 DocLightning : As I understand it, true Communism is a state where there isn't really a government and everyone works together in a system where there is no money a
27 WunalaYann : Too true. I like this argument. Pushing it further, the question is why socialist states did not abolish currency. It is used by most critics of soci
28 Sebolino : This is because the roots are common, but the way has been very long. There's a big difference between the real economic socialism, which is in fact
29 DocLightning : Read the Communist Manifesto, then. I have. Not because I'm erudite, but because it was an assignment in college. But I read it. Basically, the idea
30 Ferengi80 : I'm doing a degree in politics at the moment, and am only in the early stages, but I'm not quite sure I agree with you, Rara, that Communism and Socia
31 David L : We see this every time the subject comes up. Some seem to believe that countries employing any degree of socialist instruments are automatically just
32 MD11Engineer : Actually you are describing Anarcho-Syndicalism, as was popular in Spain during the Civil War period (and proposed by the CNT-FAI trade unions). Comm
33 Rara : I'm not disagreeing with you, but you have to realize that whenever the state intervenes in market dynamics, the market is always distorted. The stat
34 Baroque : Well now you come to mention it Ferengi!!
35 MD11Engineer : There were certainly various social (pre-Marxist) movements around, like those of Lasalle. Don't forget the Spanish Anarchists in the early 20th cent
36 Rara :
37 WunalaYann : I did. Years ago. A scary read - what with taking children away from their parents so they do not become "bourgeois". Yikes.
38 AverageUser : I'll believe that the day I read they've sold the Pristine Chapel and given the money to AIDS research! Plus I did not know Catholic priests could no
39 Post contains links AverageUser : I wonder what you've been reading? I ran the English translation available at http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/classics/manifesto.html against "chil
40 MD11Engineer : Don't forget that Marx and Engels were analysing early / mid 19th century capitalism, which has little to do with modern capitalism as practised in m
41 PPVRA : You can look at a negative externality like pollution as a cost itself, irrespective of more taxes or anything like it. It's a cost everyone pays for
42 PPVRA : By the way, some of these goals (egalitarian, conservation, etc) are also conflicting. We have price controls in electrical utilities so that it is l
43 AverageUser : One must also bear in mind that such dire conditions that Marx and Engels discussed in 1848 are common today in countries that contribute a lot to ou
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