Rara
Topic Author
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The Great Socialism Hoax

Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:47 pm

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.
 
TristarAtLCA
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:59 pm

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
 
RJdxer
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:03 am



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.
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san747
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:26 am

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...
 
victrola
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:42 am

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?
 
NIKV69
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:45 am



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.
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
haggis79
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:47 am

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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haggis79
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:54 am



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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planewasted
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:56 am

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..
 
RJdxer
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:00 am



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.
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, and a road that goes forever. I'm going to Texas!
 
haggis79
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:09 am



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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PPVRA
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:49 am

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]
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Boeing744
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:01 am



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.
 
SkyyKat
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:33 am



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
 
DiamondFlyer
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:54 am



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
From my cold, dead hands
 
baroque
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:59 am



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 
 
Dougloid
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:48 am



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.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:56 am



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.
 
Boeing744
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:13 am

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]
 
11Bravo
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:15 am



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.
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SkyyKat
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:19 am



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.
 
Boeing744
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:23 am

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]
 
SkyyKat
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:35 am



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.
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:57 am



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
 
astuteman
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:46 am



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
 
Doona
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:12 am



Quoting Rara (Thread starter):
Sweden is socialist

Historically, social democracy is the natural evolution of marxism, at least in Western Europe. A minority broke off from the European workers unions, parties and organisations, because they felt that the workers' parties hade sold out to capitalism when they gave up the idea of revolution as they noticed that alot could be accomplished through the political process.

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 14):
Must be some sort of "Do as I say, not as I act" ploy on their part, right?

Well, they are politicians after all. What do you expect?

Cheers
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DocLightning
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:50 am



Quoting Rara (Thread starter):

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.

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 and the only personal property is stuff like family heirlooms and other things of undefinable monetary value.

The only organization that I know of that has even approached anything resembling communism is (sit down before reading on) the Catholic Church. Priests, nuns, monks, etc. all renounce all their worldly possessions and work for free because they feel that it is the right thing to do. In turn, their needs are provided for by the Church. In true Communism, the entire world would be structured in a similar fashion without the authoritarian hierarchy. People would work at their jobs out of a sense of duty and would not be paid, but the community would provide for their needs because everyone does their jobs.

Quoting Rara (Thread starter):

The idea that the free market cannot provide all services in society is at the very basis of Capitalism.

Oh it drives me CRAZY. People voting against Prop 1 because they believe that the government shouldn't do ANYTHING except build roads (which flies in the face of their ideals) and run the military.

Folks, it's the job of ANY government to build, maintain, and regulate infrastructure. Now, the actually construction and maintenance can be privatized, of course, but it should be overseen by a centralized, governmental body.
-Doc Lightning-

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WunalaYann
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:03 am



Quoting Astuteman (Reply 24):
The whole discussion thus becomes an interesting exercise in "shade".

Too true.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 26):
People would work at their jobs out of a sense of duty and would not be paid, but the community would provide for their needs because everyone does their jobs.

I like this argument. Pushing it further, the question is why socialist states did not abolish currency. It is used by most critics of socialist regimes. I would actually be interested in finding out what Marx had to say about money and currency.

Interesting thing to do on a Thursday night.  sarcastic 
 
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sebolino
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:03 am



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?

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 "communism", and the political socialism (if I can say so ...) in Europe, which is also called social democracy and which is part of the capitalism, but with a state regulation when necessary. But in this socialism, the private property do exist !
Denmark, which is led by a right wing governement, in one of the most socialist country in Europe, if we consider the high level of taxes and the great social aids it distributes to unemployed people, disabled, sick people ...

It's the same with the term "democracy". Some dictatorship use this word to qualify themselves, it doesn't mean that all democracy are dictatorship, does it ?
 
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DocLightning
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:33 am



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 27):
I would actually be interested in finding out what Marx had to say about money and currency.

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 is that in time, currency would become useless and unnecessary.

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 27):
I like this argument.

I don't because it's not realistic. People won't do their jobs just because it's the right thing to do. Many people need to have a direct incentive to work. I don't, personally, but then again, I get paid to do what I love to do. Not everyone can be so lucky; SOMEONE has to do the dirty jobs.

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 27):
. Pushing it further, the question is why socialist states did not abolish currency.

Well, because Communism doesn't actually work, silly boy!  Silly
-Doc Lightning-

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ferengi80
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:12 am

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 Socialism are similar. I see Communism as far to the left of Socialism. It's almost like saying Fascism is similar to Conservativism. The only real link is that they are both to the right of the political spectrum, Fascism being to the extreme right, whereas Conservativism is to the right of centre. The definition you use of Socialism, in my understanding, is actually that of Communism. Yes, Socialism calls for the nationalisation of the banks, public services, public transport companies, etc. Socialism, in my understanding, calls for a fair deal for all, whereas Communism calls for everyone to be equal, regardless of their social status.

Calling Obama a Socialist is actually a compliment - as a Democrat, he should be to the left of centre politically, which falls within the Socialist area. The Labour Party here in the UK call themselves a "Socialist Democratic Party", however they are currently hovering around the centre ground, and therefore are not socialist.

Hope this helps.

Jason
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David L
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:34 am



Quoting Astuteman (Reply 24):
The whole discussion thus becomes an interesting exercise in "shade". Unfortunately, some of the contributors fail to recognise this, for their own reasons

 checkmark  We see this every time the subject comes up. Some seem to believe that countries employing any degree of socialist instruments are automatically just like the old Soviet Union. At what point does a country become "socialist"? When it introduces any subsidy for medical presecriptions? When it introduces any form of unemployment benefit? When it introduces any amount of state pension? When it introduces any taxes at all? If the USA is not "socialist" and European countries are, what precisely is the crossover point?

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 28):
It's the same with the term "democracy". Some dictatorship use this word to qualify themselves, it doesn't mean that all democracy are dictatorship, does it ?

 checkmark  "The Democratic Republic of..." is usually a giveaway.  Smile
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:59 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 26):
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 and the only personal property is stuff like family heirlooms and other things of undefinable monetary value.

The only organization that I know of that has even approached anything resembling communism is (sit down before reading on) the Catholic Church. Priests, nuns, monks, etc. all renounce all their worldly possessions and work for free because they feel that it is the right thing to do. In turn, their needs are provided for by the Church. In true Communism, the entire world would be structured in a similar fashion without the authoritarian hierarchy. People would work at their jobs out of a sense of duty and would not be paid, but the community would provide for their needs because everyone does their jobs.

Actually you are describing Anarcho-Syndicalism, as was popular in Spain during the Civil War period (and proposed by the CNT-FAI trade unions).
Communism includes a hierarchy in the form of the dictatureship of the proletariat (and in the Leninist / Stalinist / Maoist version made up from a cadre of party functionaries).

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
Rara
Topic Author
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:21 pm



Quoting PPVRA (Reply 11):

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.

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 state does so with a certain goal in mind, however. This may diminish "efficiency", but certain goals (usually egalitarian goals) cannot be achieved without such intervention.

Consider the health sector as an example. In an unregulated state, this sector would be very efficient: prices for medication and treatment would reflect their real value. This would lead to excellent medical services for those with money, on the other hand you'd have paupers dying in the streets. Thus the state distorts the market: it raises health insurance which is more costly for people with a higher income, controls the price of medication, or creates a public health service like in the UK which prevents other suppliers to enter the market.

Likewise, if the state identifies the reduction of CO2 as a necessary goal, it will distort the market. There could be positive incentives like tax reductions for low CO2 emissions or subsidies for energy-friendly houses, or negative incentives like a carbon tax. It could also simply put limits on CO2 production. Nowadays, thanks to the works of J. K. Galbraith and other economists, we have found ways to identity market externalities (like CO2) and are able to re-integrate them back into the market. Therefore, we can influence market action without bereaving the market of its dynamics.

Quoting Doona (Reply 25):
Historically, social democracy is the natural evolution of marxism, at least in Western Europe. A minority broke off from the European workers unions, parties and organisations, because they felt that the workers' parties hade sold out to capitalism when they gave up the idea of revolution as they noticed that alot could be accomplished through the political process.

I see what you mean, but that's questionable. Socialism and social democracy where already in existence, and Marx, when writing the scientific foundations of Communism, identified them as reactionary and basically as enemies of the Proletariat. Western European Socialism and Marxist Communism actually took a different path in history and were only forcefully reconciled in the Eastern bloc (by creation of unified socialist parties as demanded by Moscow).

"Wer hat uns verraten? Sozialdemokraten!"  Smile

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 26):
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 and the only personal property is stuff like family heirlooms and other things of undefinable monetary value.

Yes to the latter, but the absence of government is in fact called Anarchy and differs from Communism.

Today we use the word "Anarchist" in a derogatory sense and tend to forget that prior to World War II, there was a sizeable Anarchist movement in Europe, Russia and Mexico, with some high-profile supporters of the idea (Proudhon, Bakunin, Propotkin come to mind).

Quoting Ferengi80 (Reply 30):
Yes, Socialism calls for the nationalisation of the banks, public services, public transport companies, etc. Socialism, in my understanding, calls for a fair deal for all, whereas Communism calls for everyone to be equal, regardless of their social status.

In fact, Socialism calls for more than that. Nationalised public services, transport companies etc. were a key feature of post-war European societies, most of which were not governed by a Socialist party. You casually mention banks in line with public services and transport, while in fact that is quite a crucial point! If banks are indeed nationalised, private entrepreneurs have no way of legally acquiring capital, and the state is in de-facto control of the market. If that is the case, then we can speak of a Socialist system. A "fair deal for all" is social, but not socialist.
Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
 
baroque
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:16 pm



Quoting Ferengi80 (Reply 30):
Fascism is similar to Conservativism

Well now you come to mention it Ferengi!!  duck 
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:57 pm



Quoting Rara (Reply 33):
Quoting Doona (Reply 25):
Historically, social democracy is the natural evolution of marxism, at least in Western Europe. A minority broke off from the European workers unions, parties and organisations, because they felt that the workers' parties hade sold out to capitalism when they gave up the idea of revolution as they noticed that alot could be accomplished through the political process.

I see what you mean, but that's questionable. Socialism and social democracy where already in existence, and Marx, when writing the scientific foundations of Communism, identified them as reactionary and basically as enemies of the Proletariat. Western European Socialism and Marxist Communism actually took a different path in history and were only forcefully reconciled in the Eastern bloc (by creation of unified socialist parties as demanded by Moscow).

There were certainly various social (pre-Marxist) movements around, like those of Lasalle.

Quoting Rara (Reply 33):
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 26):
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 and the only personal property is stuff like family heirlooms and other things of undefinable monetary value.

Yes to the latter, but the absence of government is in fact called Anarchy and differs from Communism.

Today we use the word "Anarchist" in a derogatory sense and tend to forget that prior to World War II, there was a sizeable Anarchist movement in Europe, Russia and Mexico, with some high-profile supporters of the idea (Proudhon, Bakunin, Propotkin come to mind).

Don't forget the Spanish Anarchists in the early 20th century.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
Rara
Topic Author
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:22 am



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 35):

Don't forget the Spanish Anarchists in the early 20th century.

 checkmark   checkmark 
Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:54 am



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 29):
Read the Communist Manifesto, then

I did. Years ago. A scary read - what with taking children away from their parents so they do not become "bourgeois". Yikes.
 
AverageUser
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:22 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 26):
The only organization that I know of that has even approached anything resembling communism is (sit down before reading on) the Catholic Church. Priests, nuns, monks, etc. all renounce all their worldly possessions and work for free because they feel that it is the right thing to do.

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 not possess anything. When you think of it I'd say sacred persons in many other belief systems do just the same, denouncing the World. (I wonder why there are no Jewish nuns or monks, btw.)

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 26):

In turn, their needs are provided for by the Church. In true Communism, the entire world would be structured in a similar fashion without the authoritarian hierarchy

Somehow to me at least, with the Pope whose word is the final authority and stuff, flat structures and the Catholic Church do not mix too well.
 
AverageUser
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:54 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 37):
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 29):
Read the Communist Manifesto, then

I did. Years ago. A scary read - what with taking children away from their parents so they do not become "bourgeois". Yikes.

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 "children":


The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labor, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests
(..)
Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.
(..)
The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed correlation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor.
(..)
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.



To me this 1848 stuff sounds just like standing up against what is still going on today in many 3rd world countries!
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:23 pm



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 39):

To me this 1848 stuff sounds just like standing up against what is still going on today in many 3rd world countries!

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 most developed countries (due to social reforms, which softened the impact of capitalism. E.g. Bismarck, as reactionary an aristocrat as you can get, in mid 19th century Germany introduced major reforms, which still form the base of Germany's social security system. He was an arch-reactionary, but he realised that without these reforms the proletarians would become so desperate that they would raise and start a revolution).
Similar reforms happened in e.g. England Mining Act ofg 1841, which banned girls, women and boys below the age of 10 from working underground and limited duty hours.
The industrial revolution changed the economy in Europe big time. Advanves in technology and chemistry permitted farmers to grow more food with less farm workers, also the traditional craft shops got replaced by factories. Many unemployed former rural workers went to the cities to find jobs as labourers. New professions, like the mechanic and engineer, appeared.
Society was layered: At the bottom the unskilled labourers (Marx's classical proletariat), followed by the skilled workers (the proletarian aristocracy, who had a skill, but, unlike the master tradesmen before, didn't own the means of production, like tools), the petit bourgois class, which owned e.g. shops or lived as civil servants or white collar workers, the large bourgois, the classical capitalists, who owned the factories and mines, and the aristocrats, who were slowly being removed from power, but still controlled agriculture and politics.
Similar conditions still exist in many third world countries though.

Friedrich Ebert, first democratically elected president of Germany in the 1920s, who used to be a social democrat and labour union leader before (and who fought the revolutionary communists), was quoted "that for him the main success of the social democrats was to have made bourgois out of the labourers". This means that due to the social reforms, the industrial workers were not anymore forced to live from the hand into the mouth, but could plan their future, save some money and e.g. buy themselves a home.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
PPVRA
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:40 pm

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 17):
Although it forgets about externalities, positive and negative.

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 creating demand for oil among other things.

(by that I mean having to live in a polluted environment, for example)

Quoting Astuteman (Reply 24):
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.

Oh I know. It's one of the many tools they have to get votes.

Quoting Rara (Reply 33):

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 state does so with a certain goal in mind, however. This may diminish "efficiency", but certain goals (usually egalitarian goals) cannot be achieved without such intervention.

True.

Quoting Rara (Reply 33):
Consider the health sector as an example. In an unregulated state, this sector would be very efficient: prices for medication and treatment would reflect their real value. This would lead to excellent medical services for those with money, on the other hand you'd have paupers dying in the streets.

Yes, but even if you look at the US--supposedly a market system though not really--most hospitals are charity. I once read an NYT article that said only 20% or so are for-profit institutions. I've even seen good arguments against for-profit hospitals.

Quoting Rara (Reply 33):
controls the price of medication

The argument against that, of course, is that there would be less research into medication. On the other hand, there are free-market arguments against Intellectual Property rights, particularly in the form of patents and copyrights. In a no-IP rights scenario, price controls of medication would have a similar effect of that of price controls of food in the past: kill off the producer, emptied supermarket/drugstore shelves.

One thing is without a doubt, however: IP has a major impact on the pharmaceutical industry and how resources are allocated.

[Edited 2008-11-07 13:10:45]
"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
 
PPVRA
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:22 pm

Quoting Rara (Reply 33):
The state does so with a certain goal in mind, however. This may diminish "efficiency", but certain goals (usually egalitarian goals) cannot be achieved without such intervention.

By the way, some of these goals (egalitarian, conservation, etc) are also conflicting.

We have price controls in electrical utilities so that it is less a burden on those with lower income. On the other hand, this lowers the cost of operating electrical appliances, which means less an incentive to develop more efficient electrical appliances and what not. And energy efficiency has been a big issue lately, and the market could have been active in that area for quite some time now (and to a great extent it has regardless of the policy). You can add lower amounts of resources directed at solar energy research and other alternatives as well.

We then turn to higher taxes to fund government research on these areas that have been killed off/reduced by policy to begin with.

[Edited 2008-11-07 13:24:54]
"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
 
AverageUser
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RE: The Great Socialism Hoax

Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:47 am



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 40):
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 most developed countries (due to social reforms, which softened the impact of capitalism.

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 our own modern western standard of living through global commerce and trading. We may have removed the exploitation out of our sight, but the developing economies have scavenged our historical dustbin.

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