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  1. #21
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    But when I use the word "Social Democrat", I don't mean, "Exactly what was tried in Europe." It's sort of how like when you say "I'm a Marxist", you probably don't mean "Exactly what was tried in Russia and China."
    You can have different styles of social democracy obviously, but social democracy is what was frequently tried in Europe, whereas really the only Marxist element in Russia and China was the first 6 years in Russia. After that was a political counter revolution. Mao thought he was Marxist, but didnt bear much resemblance to Lenin and Trotsky who were expert Marxists.

    [QUOTE=GoldPhoenix;440543]


    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    Anyway GP, in a mass workers party, are you in or out?[COLOR="Silver"]

    Define "workers party", and we'll see.
    My personal definition would be a broad left capable of uniting somehow the unions, the Marxist parties, the left social democrats, the left in parties like the Democrats, people who dont really agree with the democrats / New Labour, but vote for them as 'lesser evil' and so on. Its aim would be explicitly socialist, but it would include Marxists and reformists.

    A better question would be suppose the mass workers party got elected and was gonna nationalise all the big stuff. This is probably a revolutionary situation. In this kind of instance you can only take two sides - revolution or counter-revolution. On the counter revolution side you have such lovely people as Pinochet, Suharto, Hitler and so on.



    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Even nationalizing the first "150" or "500" companies is destined to fail. Do you realize what the implications of such a thing is?

    If you don't pay the people who're involved at least something, you're destroying the livelihood of a lot of people, including those of the low middle classes. I'm all for taxing the wealthy, but you should not just take a giant dump on everyone who has any kind of wealth. That's just asinine.
    Who said anything about not paying the people? What do you mean destroying livelihoods? I dont know what you mean, you will have to clarify. Who are the people getting dumped on? Socialism isnt gonna happen if we alienate half the population, obviously.

    Why is the nationalisation of the top 500 monopolies destined to fail? What are the implications you refer to?


    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Secondly, how on earth would you propose that you smoothly have such a massive change in power? Even the top 10 companies would have huge impacts on everyone. How would you orchestrate this? It would require having someone who basically oversaw everything and made massive, life-altering decisions. How are we to ensure that this person is not corrupted by the same greed and power that corrupts the current political system? Personally, I don't trust any group of people, whether self-proclaimed socialists and especially not Marxists, to be making these decisions, let alone in one rapid movement. Trotsky, as I seem to recall, predicted this exact problem with the Russian Revolution.
    Dont know what you mean about Trotsky there, he was one of the two main leaders of the Russian Revolution. Yeah, in a revolution leadership is critical. There is not getting around that. Its unfortunate, but such is life. You either have a revolution or you dont. If you do, you take over the 'commanding heights' of the economy, effectively disabling the capitalist class as much as possible, or you do in in slower and give them time to rip you to pieces. You are fighting a tiger, give it a death blow or just stick pins in it and see what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    This is why I support slow-changing, but accumulating, reformations. You cannot tell me that in the last 100 years, America has not changed massively, and nearly all for the better. (Even from a Marxist standpoint)
    Which bit of 'progress' am I supposed to be writing home about? The bombing of Hiroshima? The coups and dictators supported by the American establishment? The wars? The trillions spent on weaponry, and the weapons shipped round the globe? The destruction of the environment? The sabotage of the economies of poor countries? The world recession? The rising inequality both in the USA and globally?
    A healthcare system which looks like a cruel joke when compared to lowly Cuba next door? The $ billions spent marketing junk food to kids?

    Of course we have some nifty new technology, like the internet which if you notice costs nothing because it was given away royalty free as a service to humanity by its inventor.



    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Like czahar, I have my skepticism towards planned economies. I'm not saying it will never be possible, but right now, the study of economy is just not capable of giving us enough knowledge on how to handle such a system. I would have no problem with experimenting on small scales with planned economies, but allowing trade unions/syndicates seems like a more practical method of keeping worker's rights from being curbed, but still not "planning" the economy.
    The economy is already half planned, huge multinationals plan their production. But the markets dictate and the markets are a casino. America is run by gamblers. You dont think the workers could do better?


    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    I would tend to agree, if humanity as a group were ever to achieve a successful version of pure socialism, we would have to essentially have a world power. None of this I have a problem with, however, the world just isn't ready for this at the moment. And again, I'm not even certain yet if pure socialism really is the direction that society needs to go. At the moment, however, it seems to be the most reasonable.
    No, the world isnt ready for socialism. Materially it is, ideologically ie class consciousness wise it isnt. In Russia 1917 it was the other way round. But consciousness is to a large extent determined by the reality you live in. When socialism failed to deliver, people lost interest.


    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    manc said : The Social Democrats would have to decide on which side of the fence they wanted to be - revolution or counter-revolution. I would say in advance that some would hop one side, some the other, some hopping back and forth as the political wind veers across the land


    I disagree. Change happens everyday. Sometimes, countries become more leftist and sometimes more rightist. But the general trend always has been, by definition nearly always will be, towards the left. Advancements in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, economics, and culture will all help move the world towards a more peaceful, more egalitarian place. So they, by themselves, will be enough to progress society.
    I meant in a revolutionary situation.

    But the world isnt getting more egalitarian. America has a Gini figure of about 45, 0 = total equality, 100 = total inequality (one person owns everything in the whole country). America was about 35 in the 1960s, it has steadily crept up. The UK has crept up from 25 in the 60s to 38 today.

    Yes its true world poverty rates have fallen. And China accounts for nearly all that.

    0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s assets in 2004
    The wealthiest 20% of the world’s population consumes 76.6% of the world’s goods while 80% of humanity gets the remainder

  2. #22
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s assets in 2004
    The wealthiest 20% of the world’s population consumes 76.6% of the world’s goods while 80% of humanity gets the remainder
    Do understand that most of the proponents of capitalism as a system and philosophy don't approve or especially desire a concentration of wealth and capital?

    The whole idea of capitalism is based on the idea of equitable trade, that I give you X and you give me Y and that each of us is happy we got and gave equally. It does imply that person X may be able to give much more, that person Y and thus is likely to be wealthier and more successful, but aside from that it by no means implies that person X should have all the money possible. Whatever Y can contribute is what Y should receive.

    Markets are said to be distorted if someone is actually taken advantage of and cheated of their fair value. If a worker is paid slave wages and they produce far more than they are paid for, then the market is failing and capitalism is not working as its intended to.

    Yes its kind of pie in the sky thinking that everyone will be fair to one another, but that is the philosophical objective.

    You seem to approach socialism, more as a reaction to the corruption in markets and act as if that corruption is the essence of the competing philosophy.

    Is your primary thrust that the philosophy of you get what you earn is wrong, or that capitalism simply leads to some getting far more than they earn and others far less?
    Feed me some debate pellets!

  3. #23
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    The latter. Capitalism inevitably leads to some getting far more than they should and some far less. I'm not an economist, and I haven't even read the 3 volumes of Capital let alone am I able to paraphrase the gist easily. But capitalism clearly leads to a concentration of capital and extremes of inequality that are barely imaginable and as far as I'm concerned are a blatant crime against humanity. Call it corporatism if you want, but capitalism does lead to corporatism. Whats gonna stop it? The most successful companies snuff out the competition, even if the competition is just people trying to make a living, trying to survive. The capitalists in the richest companies will NOT turn down state subsidies on principal if they need them.

    Anyway, as far as Marxism is concerned, employing anyone to make a profit is really exploitation, no matter how equitable you tyr to make it, the employer takes some of the value created by the employee. Its not abuse of capitalism, thats the definition of capitalism, thats what profit is. Profit = exploitation.

  4. #24
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Capitalism inevitably leads to some getting far more than they should and some far less.
    You realize that almost everything you think about capitalism... isn't what capitalists actually believe or argue for, right? For instance, this. You're smuggling some ideas in with the word "should" that are, at least, debatable.

    What determines what a person "should" get?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    ...capitalism clearly leads to a concentration of capital and extremes of inequality that are barely imaginable and as far as I'm concerned are a blatant crime against humanity.
    "Crime against humanity"? Them's fightin' words!

    Seriously though, let's touch on this idea of "inequality." If person A has $1000 and person B has $100, I agree with you that they are "inequal" in the sense of having different sums of money. But I don't know how I would judge when that inequality is "extreme," or "barely imaginable," let alone a "crime against humanity." I also don't see that there's anything wrong with such inequalities.

    I read an article yesterday about the salaries of the wealthiest CEOs; their salaries are fantastically high, the largest one being over one billion dollars per year. What I guess I don't understand about your position is, why should I be upset how much money he (or anyone else) makes? Jealousy aside, his success doesn't make my life worse. My own pay isn't reduced when his goes up. How does his accumulation of wealth hurt me?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Call it corporatism if you want, but capitalism does lead to corporatism.
    I disagree with this. It's the failure to actually understand/implement capitalism that leads to "corporatism." It's also those who think that "middle of the road" solutions are best, that wind up creating Frankenstein governance and economics. In achieving "compromise," they sacrifice principle, which in capitalism's case means things like "individual liberty," etc., as those are the principles upon which capitalism rests. It is not capitalism, but the attempt to "compromise" capitalism that does, in actuality, compromise it, and lead to "corporatism."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Whats gonna stop it?
    In theory? The law. (I.e., the Constitution.)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The most successful companies snuff out the competition, even if the competition is just people trying to make a living, trying to survive. The capitalists in the richest companies will NOT turn down state subsidies on principal if they need them.
    Well, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about "snuffing out" one's competitors. State subsidies would be the unconstitutional, anti-capitalist "wrong way."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Anyway, as far as Marxism is concerned, employing anyone to make a profit is really exploitation, no matter how equitable you tyr to make it, the employer takes some of the value created by the employee. Its not abuse of capitalism, thats the definition of capitalism, thats what profit is. Profit = exploitation.
    Regarding profit, I guess it might be obvious, but I don't consider profit to be "exploitation." Specifically, the employer does not "take some of the value created by the employee." Instead, the employee offers his services/work--which is a value--in exchange for money, or other compensation, which is also a value. A person trading their own time/effort/labor for something they value more is not exploitative... in fact, that is the source of profit, getting something greater in value (compensation) in exchange for something lesser in value (a day's toil, etc.); employees, themselves, profit from their own labor, and from the fact that they've found someone willing to trade for it. In a capitalist exchange, both parties stand to profit.

    Anyways, we can discuss capitalism further, and I'd like to discuss it further, but I also want us to maintain the topic of the thread, which is Marxism/socialism. So I really hope you're planning on responding to my last post in this thread, following the tale of Tom, the man-who-would-be manager.
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

  5. #25
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    Unhappy Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    You realize that almost everything you think about capitalism... isn't what capitalists actually believe or argue for, right? For instance, this. You're smuggling some ideas in with the word "should" that are, at least, debatable.
    What determines what a person "should" get?
    You mean capitalists or libertarians? So is Bill Gates not a capitalist? As far as I'm concerned, everyone should get the same, thats the goal of socialism.

    I was however agreeing with Sigfried and paraphrasing what he wrote, which I think mean get paid equivalent to the value of work done. Thats the sort of first stage of socialism if you like, where the wealth gap would be reduced to a more sensible ratio of say 6 to 1 instead of thousands to one.







    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Jealousy aside, his success doesn't make my life worse. My own pay isn't reduced when his goes up. How does his accumulation of wealth hurt me?
    Socialism isn't so much about redistribution of wealth as it is about a more efficient economic system. But that said, most of the worlds wealth is in the hands of a tiny number of incredibly rich people. If a person is paid a billion a year, then that could be shared out to all the poor people, so yeah of course it impinges on others. Money doesn't grow on trees.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I disagree with this. It's the failure to actually understand/implement capitalism that leads to "corporatism." It's also those who think that "middle of the road" solutions are best, that wind up creating Frankenstein governance and economics. In achieving "compromise," they sacrifice principle, which in capitalism's case means things like "individual liberty," etc., as those are the principles upon which capitalism rests. It is not capitalism, but the attempt to "compromise" capitalism that does, in actuality, compromise it, and lead to "corporatism."



    In theory? The law. (I.e., the Constitution.)



    Well, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about "snuffing out" one's competitors. State subsidies would be the unconstitutional, anti-capitalist "wrong way."
    Its never gonna happen. How are you ever gonna get to a state where state subsidies for big companied are outlawed? Its a total non-starter. Big companies like their handouts, and governments have good reason to shun your 'pure' capitalism as unworkable. Look what happened in the great depression when they let companies go under. It ended in world war.

    Dont get me wrong, I oppose the bailouts, but for completely different reasons.

    No bailouts probably would have meant a deflationary spiral. Now we have the opposite of bailouts in Europe. Cuts. This is a capitalist government taking money off the poor to give to the rich. Robin Hood in reverse. This is what capitalist governments do, this is their function. They dont care what Libertarians think, I think they only exist in the USA anyway.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Regarding profit, I guess it might be obvious, but I don't consider profit to be "exploitation." Specifically, the employer does not "take some of the value created by the employee." Instead, the employee offers his services/work--which is a value--in exchange for money, or other compensation, which is also a value. A person trading their own time/effort/labor for something they value more is not exploitative... in fact, that is the source of profit, getting something greater in value (compensation) in exchange for something lesser in value (a day's toil, etc.); employees, themselves, profit from their own labor, and from the fact that they've found someone willing to trade for it. In a capitalist exchange, both parties stand to profit.
    Sorry but Im gonna have to use a paste or a link or summat. Anyway that the Marxist definition as I understand it, all profit is exploitation and profit is only made by the capitalist, not the employee.
    http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/p/r.htm#profit



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Anyways, we can discuss capitalism further, and I'd like to discuss it further, but I also want us to maintain the topic of the thread, which is Marxism/socialism. So I really hope you're planning on responding to my last post in this thread, following the tale of Tom, the man-who-would-be manager.

    I did reply to that, post 18

  6. #26
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You mean capitalists or libertarians? So is Bill Gates not a capitalist?
    Capitalists are those who believe in capitalism, not simply those who happen to live in a "capitalist" country. As to Bill Gates, I don't really know what he believes, nor do I think it matters to our discussion. My point was (and remains) that you offer critiques of "capitalism," but your critiques don't match up with what capitalism actually is. Like socialism, capitalism is a specific idea, not a catch-all.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As far as I'm concerned, everyone should get the same, thats the goal of socialism.
    Groovy, let's take it from the top. Why should everyone get the same? Not everyone's contributions are (or ever will be) equal, because: people by their nature have different capacities and capabilities. So why should people get equal rewards for unequal contributions?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I was however agreeing with Sigfried and paraphrasing what he wrote, which I think mean get paid equivalent to the value of work done. Thats the sort of first stage of socialism if you like, where the wealth gap would be reduced to a more sensible ratio of say 6 to 1 instead of thousands to one.
    Why is a ratio of 6:1 "more sensible" than 7:1 or 1,000:1 or 1,000,000:1? What, exactly, does this "wealth gap" matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism isn't so much about redistribution of wealth as it is about a more efficient economic system. But that said, most of the worlds wealth is in the hands of a tiny number of incredibly rich people. If a person is paid a billion a year, then that could be shared out to all the poor people, so yeah of course it impinges on others. Money doesn't grow on trees.
    I don't believe you've demonstrated how the person being paid a billion a year means that others are being "impinged" upon. Again: my neighbor becoming rich does not make me a poor man. If he gets a pay raise, it doesn't take bread off of my table. If possible, I'd like for you to show how some people getting richer hurts me, or my standard of living, because I maintain that it does not. The gap between my net worth and Bill Gates' may continue to grow, but I don't suffer more from it. Why should I be anything other than happy for Gates?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its never gonna happen. How are you ever gonna get to a state where state subsidies for big companied are outlawed? Its a total non-starter. Big companies like their handouts, and governments have good reason to shun your 'pure' capitalism as unworkable.
    That may or may not be true, but what does it matter to our discussion? I'd say that my ideal of capitalism is *at least* as likely to be implemented as your ideal of socialism, but I'd never attack your ideas on that basis, because what others choose to do has nothing to do with whether socialism (or capitalism, or etc.) is a good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Look what happened in the great depression when they let companies go under. It ended in world war.
    It may take us a bit too far off topic for the moment, but I'm not sure I'd reduce WWII to capitalist economic policy. Actually, I'm not sure I'd reduce the Great Depression to capitalist economic policy, either. Though perhaps we should leave historical examples for later...

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    This is a capitalist government taking money off the poor to give to the rich. Robin Hood in reverse. This is what capitalist governments do, this is their function. They dont care what Libertarians think, I think they only exist in the USA anyway.
    Oh, well, taking from the poor to give to the rich isn't what "capitalist governments" do, but you know that by now. And I'm fairly sure there are libertarians outside of the US, though it may well be that they're a smaller minority elsewhere than even here. But what's certainly true is that most modern governments are fairly statist, and there's rather little "free market" to be found even in the states that you would term "capitalist."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Anyway that the Marxist definition as I understand it, all profit is exploitation and profit is only made by the capitalist, not the employee.
    That may be the "Marxist definition as [you] understand it," but it's not correct. Perhaps the "Marxist definition" is wrong. Allow me to share the capitalist conception of profit. Profit is getting more than you've given; it is trading something of lesser value for greater value. If I give you a one dollar bill and receive a five dollar bill in return, I have profited, four dollars.

    Though that seems straightforward enough, there are many potential sources of confusion where the concept of "profit" is concerned. Among these confusing aspects are the facts that valuation is context dependent, and can be highly personal.

    Consider: If I'm very hungry, I will value food highly. Given the right context, it may well be that a hamburger could be "more valuable" to me than a rare diamond. What the hamburger is "worth" depends on a number of factors (such as: how hungry I am at the time; the ease in fulfilling my hunger through some other way; etc.), and must be determined by me, individually. (Therefore, and perhaps surprisingly, McDonald's doesn't get to decide what their hamburgers are worth--they can only set a price, and then see if others decide that their price matches the value of the hamburgers they're attempting to sell.)

    So, in some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario, it may well be that I trade a diamond for a hamburger and profit in the exchange. I profit everytime I give up something and get something of greater value in return. (Please note that, in this way, it is possible for both sides of a trade to profit; the person who gains the diamond will have a different personal context--they might not be hungry like I am--and so, from their perspective, they're receiving the greater value. When two sides trade, and both profit from the exchange, there's hardly anything that can be described as "exploitation.")

    The reason why I work at a job is because, while I value my time and labor, I value the compensation I receive even more highly. If I did not, then I wouldn't work. So you can see, in giving up something (my toil), I get something of greater value in return (my pay). That is to say, I profit.

    Calling profit "exploitation" doesn't make it so, and I think that now I've demonstrated how and why it is not "exploitation." If you still think me wrong about this, that's fine. But what I'd like is, instead of linking out to some Marxist site or another, for you to take the time to show me how/why I'm wrong, if possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I did reply to that, post 18
    Too right, you did. But then I responded to post 18 with post 20, and that's actually what I was referring to. I'd love to eventually get your response to that post as well. But feel free to take your time: trying to suss out socialism and capitalism is a weighty and difficult thing to do, and I simply appreciate your effort.
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

  7. #27
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Capitalists are those who believe in capitalism, not simply those who happen to live in a "capitalist" country. As to Bill Gates, I don't really know what he believes, nor do I think it matters to our discussion. My point was (and remains) that you offer critiques of "capitalism," but your critiques don't match up with what capitalism actually is. Like socialism, capitalism is a specific idea, not a catch-all.
    Well I am using the term like all Marxists do, to describe the general economic system in places like Britain and America (and most countries). To us, capitalists are employers (not really including people who run small businesses though) and people who live off investments - unearned income.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Groovy, let's take it from the top. Why should everyone get the same? Not everyone's contributions are (or ever will be) equal, because: people by their nature have different capacities and capabilities. So why should people get equal rewards for unequal contributions?
    Because in a socialist society people's contributions would probably be more equal. But a billionaire does not do a billion times more work than a poor person in a slum trying to feed his family.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Why is a ratio of 6:1 "more sensible" than 7:1 or 1,000:1 or 1,000,000:1? What, exactly, does this "wealth gap" matter?
    Of course it matters. Even the capitalists admit that sometimes. America's inequality is 45%. In other words nearly half way to total inequality. If it was 100%, one person would have all the income and wealth in America. Everyone else would have nothing, and presumably die of hunger very quickly. Assuming they lived, they would have no money to buy anything. How would the economy function? Sounds crazy? You are almost half way there.

    The cake is not a fixed size of course, but the fact is that the rich have been getting a bigger and bigger share of the cake, and the workers have been getting less. Thats what caused the financial crisis.

    It matters to us because we think its obscene that someone can spend $1 billion on a yacht when millions are starving.

    But the key thing is that the profit system means that rich countries hold back poor ones, so poor countries never get a chance to develop.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I don't believe you've demonstrated how the person being paid a billion a year means that others are being "impinged" upon. Again: my neighbor becoming rich does not make me a poor man. If he gets a pay raise, it doesn't take bread off of my table. If possible, I'd like for you to show how some people getting richer hurts me, or my standard of living, because I maintain that it does not. The gap between my net worth and Bill Gates' may continue to grow, but I don't suffer more from it. Why should I be anything other than happy for Gates?
    If having a few billionaires around meant that everyone in the world got a good standard of living, I might be prepared to accept the status quo. But its not the case. Millions starve because of capitalism, and a few get very rich because of capitalism. We need to scrap capitalism mainly because of the damage it does. Wealth distribution does come into it though. A few rich people have nearly ALL the wealth.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    That may or may not be true, but what does it matter to our discussion? I'd say that my ideal of capitalism is *at least* as likely to be implemented as your ideal of socialism, but I'd never attack your ideas on that basis, because what others choose to do has nothing to do with whether socialism (or capitalism, or etc.) is a good idea.
    Well a good idea is not good if it wont ever happen. Hypothetical is not gonna feed anyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    It may take us a bit too far off topic for the moment, but I'm not sure I'd reduce WWII to capitalist economic policy. Actually, I'm not sure I'd reduce the Great Depression to capitalist economic policy, either. Though perhaps we should leave historical examples for later...
    The depression and the war happened because of capitalism, not because of any specific policy, but that is why they didnt do the same thing this time round. Well they did let Lehmans go under, and then they all panicked and rushed to Keynesian rescue policies.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Oh, well, taking from the poor to give to the rich isn't what "capitalist governments" do, but you know that by now. And I'm fairly sure there are libertarians outside of the US, though it may well be that they're a smaller minority elsewhere than even here. But what's certainly true is that most modern governments are fairly statist, and there's rather little "free market" to be found even in the states that you would term "capitalist."
    I disagree. You might not wanna call it capitalism by a strict definition, but as far as Marxists are concerned a bailout or two does not mean its suddenly not capitalism. A capitalist is not a capitalist because the government gives him a tax break or a subsidy, or taxes imports to protect him, or destroys another country's economy to protect him. Why do you think 'capitalism' never happened then? Because there is no such thing. Capitalism overthrew feudalism in England first, and replaced the feudal state with a capitalist one. The government is there mainly to make sure everything is hunky dory for the capitalists.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    That may be the "Marxist definition as [you] understand it," but it's not correct. Perhaps the "Marxist definition" is wrong. Allow me to share the capitalist conception of profit. Profit is getting more than you've given; it is trading something of lesser value for greater value. If I give you a one dollar bill and receive a five dollar bill in return, I have profited, four dollars.

    Though that seems straightforward enough, there are many potential sources of confusion where the concept of "profit" is concerned. Among these confusing aspects are the facts that valuation is context dependent, and can be highly personal.

    Consider: If I'm very hungry, I will value food highly. Given the right context, it may well be that a hamburger could be "more valuable" to me than a rare diamond. What the hamburger is "worth" depends on a number of factors (such as: how hungry I am at the time; the ease in fulfilling my hunger through some other way; etc.), and must be determined by me, individually. (Therefore, and perhaps surprisingly, McDonald's doesn't get to decide what their hamburgers are worth--they can only set a price, and then see if others decide that their price matches the value of the hamburgers they're attempting to sell.)

    So, in some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario, it may well be that I trade a diamond for a hamburger and profit in the exchange. I profit everytime I give up something and get something of greater value in return. (Please note that, in this way, it is possible for both sides of a trade to profit; the person who gains the diamond will have a different personal context--they might not be hungry like I am--and so, from their perspective, they're receiving the greater value. When two sides trade, and both profit from the exchange, there's hardly anything that can be described as "exploitation.")

    The reason why I work at a job is because, while I value my time and labor, I value the compensation I receive even more highly. If I did not, then I wouldn't work. So you can see, in giving up something (my toil), I get something of greater value in return (my pay). That is to say, I profit.

    Calling profit "exploitation" doesn't make it so, and I think that now I've demonstrated how and why it is not "exploitation." If you still think me wrong about this, that's fine. But what I'd like is, instead of linking out to some Marxist site or another, for you to take the time to show me how/why I'm wrong, if possible.
    Well if you wont read the link I will paste a bit.

    "Profit is the unpaid labour expropriated from workers by a capitalist and distributed by various means among the capitalist class, measured in proportion to the total capital invested.

    The notion of profit is closely related to that of surplus-value.

    Surplus value is the unpaid labour expropriated from the working class as a whole. Surplus value is taken in proportion to the value of labour-power. In general, it is difficult to relate the concept of surplus value to single unit of capital, since the necessary labour time which determines the level of wages is socially determined according to the cost of living."

    Basically a capitalist starts out with his capital. He employs some workers to make things. He then sells these things. The money he gets from selling them he divides, some he gives to the workers as wages, some he keeps for himself, profit. Profit is the unpaid work done by others.

    You invest $1million on the markets. You make $1.5 million. Where does the 0.5 million profit come from? It doesnt grow out of thin air. It is unpaid labour, extracted from workers. This is the only place it can come from. Money represents labour.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Too right, you did. But then I responded to post 18 with post 20, and that's actually what I was referring to. I'd love to eventually get your response to that post as well. But feel free to take your time: trying to suss out socialism and capitalism is a weighty and difficult thing to do, and I simply appreciate your effort.
    Ah, dont remember seeing that post, will reply to it...

    ---------- Post added at 12:18 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:15 AM ----------

    In the meantime, allow me to paste a classic explanation of how money causes poverty....

    The Great Money Trick Taken from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Robert Tressel

    "Money is the real cause of poverty," said Owen.
    "Prove it," repeated Crass.
    "Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy
    to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labor."
    "Prove it," said Crass.
    Owen slowly folded up the piece of newspaper he had been reading and put it in his
    pocket. "All right," he replied. "I'll show you how the Great Money Trick is worked." Owen opened his dinner basket and took from it two slices of bread, but as these where not sufficient, he requested that anyone who had some bread left should give it to him. They gave him several pieces, which he placed in a heap on a clean piece of paper, and, having borrowed the pocket knives of Easton, Harlow and Philpot, he addressed the, as follows: "These pieces of bread represent the raw materials which exist naturally in and on the
    earth for the use of mankind; they were not made by any human being, but were created
    for the benefit and sustenance of all, the same as were the air and the light of the sun."
    "Now," continued Owen, "I am a capitalist; or rather I represent the landlord and
    capitalist class. That is to say, all these raw materials belong to me. It does not matter for
    our present argument how I obtained possession of them, the only thing that matters now
    is the admitted fact that all the raw materials which are necessary for the production of
    the necessaries of life are now the property of the landlord and capitalist class. I am that
    class; all these raw materials belong to me."
    "Now you three represent the working class. You have nothing, and, for my part, although
    I have these raw materials, they are of no use to me. What I need is the things that can be
    made out of these raw materials by work; but I am too lazy to work for me. But first I
    must explain that I possess something else beside the raw materials. These three knives
    represent all the machinery of production; the factories, tools, railways, and so forth,
    without which the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abundance. And these three
    coins" - taking three half pennies from his pocket - "represent my money, capital."
    "But before we go any further," said Owen, interrupting himself, "it is important to
    remember that I am not supposed to be merely a capitalist. I represent the whole capitalist
    class. You are not supposed to be just three workers, you represent the whole working
    class."

    ---------- Post added at 12:20 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:18 AM ----------

    Owen proceeded to cut up one of the slices of bread into a number of little square blocks. "These represent the things which are produced by labor, aided by machinery, from the raw materials. We will suppose that three of these blocks represent a week's work. We will suppose that a week's work is worth one pound." Owen now addressed himself to the working class as represented by Philpot, Harlow and Easton. "You say that you are all in need of employment, and as I am the kind-hearted capitalist
    class I am going to invest all my money in various industries, so as to give you plenty of
    work. I shall pay each of you one pound per week, and a week's work is that you must
    each produce three of these square blocks. For doing this work you will each receive your
    wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like with, and the things you produce
    will of course be mine to do as I like with. You will each take one of these machines and
    as soon as you have done a week's work, you shall have your money."
    The working classes accordingly set to work, and the capitalist class sat down and
    watched them. As soon as they had finished, they passed the nine little blocks to Owen,
    who placed them on a piece of paper by his side and paid the workers their wages.
    "These blocks represent the necessaries of life. You can't live without some of these
    things, but as they belong to me, you will have to buy them from me: my price for these
    blocks is one pound each."

    ---------- Post added at 12:20 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:20 AM ----------

    As the working classes were in need of the necessaries of life and as they could not eat,
    drink or wear the useless money, they were compelled to agree to the capitalist's terms.
    They each bought back, and at once consumed, one-third of the produce of their labor.
    The capitalist class also devoured two of the square blocks, and so the net result of the
    week's work was that the kind capitalist had consumed two pounds worth of things
    produced by the labor of others, and reckoning the squares at their market value of one
    pound each, he had more than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the three pounds
    in money and in addition four pounds worth of goods. As for the working classes,
    Philpot, Harlow and Easton, having each consumed the pound's worth of necessaries they
    had bought with their wages, they were again in precisely the same condition as when
    they had started work - they had nothing.
    This process was repeated several times; for each weeks work the producers were paid
    their wages. They kept on working and spending all their earnings. The kind-hearted
    capitalist consumed twice as much as any one of them and his pool of wealth continually
    increased. In a little while, reckoning the little squares at their market value of one pound
    each, he was worth about one hundred pounds, and the working classes were still in the
    same condition as when they began, and were still tearing into their work as if their lives
    depended on it.

    ---------- Post added at 12:21 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:20 AM ----------

    After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh, and their merriment increased when
    the kind-hearted capitalist, just after having sold a pound's worth of necessaries to each of
    his workers, suddenly took their tools, the machinery of production, the knives, away
    from them, and informed them that as owing to over production all his store-houses were
    glutted with the necessaries of life, he had decided to close down the works.
    "Well, and wot the bloody 'ell are we to do now ?" demanded Philpot. "That's not my business," replied the kind-hearted capitalist. "I've paid your wages, and
    provided you with plenty of work for a long time past. I have no more work for you to do
    at the present. Come round again in a few months time and I'll see what I can do."
    "But what about the necessaries of life?" Demanded Harlow. "we must have something to eat." "Of course you must," replied the capitalist, affably; "and I shall be very pleased to sell you some." "But we ain't got no bloody money!" "Well, you cant expect me to give you my goods for nothing! You didn't work for
    nothing, you know. I paid you for your work and you should have saved something: you
    should have been thrifty like me. Look how I have got on by being thrifty!"
    The unemployed looked blankly at each other, but the rest of the crowd only laughed; and
    then the three unemployed began to abuse the kind-hearted capitalist, demanding that he
    should give them some of the necessaries of life that he had piled up in his warehouses,
    or to be allowed to work and produce some more for their own needs; and even
    threatened to take some of the things by force if he did not comply with their demands.
    But the kind-hearted capitalist told them not to be insolent, and spoke to them about
    honesty, and said if they were not careful he would have their faces battered in for them
    by the police, or if necessary he would call out the military and have them shot down like
    dogs, the same as he had done before at Featherstone and Belfast.

    ---------- Post added at 12:22 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:21 AM ----------

    sorry, bit longer than I remembered, oh well...

    ---------- Post added at 12:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:22 AM ----------

    So this explains why we have recessions, why capitalist countries have excess capacity even in a boom. The workers cant afford to buy back what they have produced. And the capitalists cant sell them.

    ---------- Post added at 01:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:27 AM ----------

    Reply to post (20) I missed...


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    This seems like a bit of a dodge to me. Consider: in an earlier post, you made the point that "the American Marxist magazine is called Justice." Clearly, "justice" is an important concept to socialism, and it seems to me that a large part of your drive to change the world is to make it more "just."

    So I think it's worth figuring out what you consider just, and what you do not, and why. I brought up a hypothetical, based on a famous historical example, of a democratic action that I consider horribly unjust. The reason I did so is because it seems that much of your system is based around increasing "democracy." But I believe that unfettered democracy is an absolutely dangerous system of government, and that democracy without restraint lends itself to the dangers of tyranny; democratic action can be as unjust as monarchical action or that of any other system of government. I'd like to know your stance on that.
    Well obviously its unjust.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    When we're discussing executing one of the greatest minds in world history because his style of asking questions was annoying... I think that calling it a "dodgy decision" is putting it a bit lightly.

    But anyhow, I disagree with your contention here. I don't think this is about "education"; the Athenians were educated. (Weren't they? Czahar can pimp slap me down if I run afoul of, you know, what actually was.) And consider: the people here on ODN are educated. That doesn't mean we're apt to agree on what's moral, or what's just. I'd expect that we could come to as many "dodgy decisions" as anyone else.

    How would education prevent "the masses" from committing gross atrocities? Education is a wonderful thing, but I'm not convinced that it makes people better, in the sense of more moral. Further, there are many different conceptions as to what "better" or "more moral" would even mean; certain groups of (highly educated) Christians might disagree with me as to certain issues of morality. How do you propose to eliminate the potential for democratic tyranny via education?
    Im not sure what dodgy decisions you think the masses might come to. This is not ancient Greece, where socialism would have been impossible. This would be a modern, progressive society based on equality for all. What sort of dodgy decisions are they likely to make, en masse? If the socialist leaders thought the masses might get something wrong, they would have to explain the issue to them.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I'm glad to hear that this is the case. But don't you anticipate any potential problems, if Tom is able to refuse becoming the manager?

    Not all jobs are pleasant, and specifically, being a manager is not necessarily pleasant. It can mean a lot of additional stress. If we remove incentives for taking on that additional stress (like pay raises), and if people are allowed to refuse it... then why would anyone agree to become the manager?



    Can you understand why I might *want* to give Tom a portion of my wages, to convince him to become manager?



    Well, here's the thing: it's not that Tom simply "doesn't want to be a manager." It's that Tom doesn't want to be a manager in return for the same level of pay as he'd get by having a less-stressful role. Tom might well want to be a manager... for the right price. At some point, he might consider the additional burdens of the new position to be worth the compensation.

    But you're right in this sense: so long as Tom doesn't want to be a manager, it's unlikely he'll be a good one. That's (one of the reasons) why forcing him into the role would be an awful idea. What we need to do is be able to convince Tom to want to be a manager. That's why I might be willing to give him a portion of my wages, as incentive.
    Its possible it could happen, I dunno. A better example might be who would do the dangerous, dirty jobs, the extremely difficult ones etc. These are things nobody could answer, it has to be done through trial and error, practice. But the managers at the top, the board of directors, they would only get the average wage.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    You're putting a lot on "education." But look, it's not just being "capable" of managing that we're discussing here. Even among capable, educated people, there's a great deal of difference in our skills and individual talents and inclinations. Even among a group of very educated people, you're going to have some people who would make for good managers... and others, less so. And sometimes you'll get a person who is great at it.

    If we have a person who is great at managing, then frankly, we might not even want people taking turns at managing. Would we? Suppose Tom is a great manager. And suppose that Frank, despite being highly educated, is a poor manager. (People simply have different talents, and I really don't think we'll be able to eliminate that by fiat anytime soon.) Wouldn't we want Tom in the managerial role, rather than Frank?

    But suppose Tom doesn't want the manager's job at the average wage--for purpose of argument, we'll call it $10/hr--because it's too stressful, and since he can get his $10 without that stress, that's the intelligent (indeed, the educated) thing to do. But he'd be willing to do it for $11.

    If it was worth it to me to have Tom as manager to take $9 instead of $10 and give the remainder to Tom, because having a great manager makes a worker's life that much better, don't you think I ought to be allowed to do that?

    Or does this all seem completely nonsensical to you? But even if so, please tear into this; I think we're coming to some very important issues that can help to explain my problems with socialism, as I understand it.
    A bit. Its too black and white. There would be a gradual transition to socialism which could take years, generations even. In the end, everything would be free, there would be no money, no countries, no state, no classes. It would not occur to people to say 'I want more', because they would look like a twat.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Because in a socialist society people's contributions would probably be more equal. But a billionaire does not do a billion times more work than a poor person in a slum trying to feed his family.
    The issue is not whether they are contributing more labor, but how valuable their contributions are. Some people's contributions to society are far more valuable than other people's. Take your hypothetical poor person vs. Bill Gates, for instance. I would wager that the hypothetical man working in the slum works far harder than Bill Gates and receives far less. But while his labor probably benefits no one outside of the slum he lives in, Bill Gates' labor benefits the entire world. For that reason, he deserves far more than the man working in the slum. A clerk at a video store might work similiar hours to a doctor. Who knows, perhaps, because he has a family, he needs to work twice as many hours just to pay the bills. Does that mean he deserves pay equal to or greater than the doctor? No. Keeping people healthy is a far more valuable service than supplying them with movies for three days.

    Now, am I saying that every person in the world deserves what they get? Of course not. There are plenty of talented individuals who are barely making their monthly rent payments while others (e.g., Paris Hilton) receive paychecks which FAR exceed their contributions to society. I am also not saying that the state should not help those in need. Of course we should have programs which gaurantee all people are given adequate medical care, a chance to get a quality education, healthy food, and shelter. But to imply that your average nobody should be given the same pay, or even close to the same pay, as a doctor or Bill Gates is absolutely absurd.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    But things would be different then. Im not talking about going to a system where everyone gets the same overnight. Im talking about that as the ultimate goal, which could take generations. We would start by raising the minimum wage, pensions, student grants and benefits for disabled and so on. And we would take the wealth of the very rich , like Gates. We would aim to reduce the inequality gradually, but starting with the necessary big bang of nationalisation of the big corporations.

    After several generations of a socialist system everything would be different, we cant really imagine what it would be like. Culture would be completely different. You would not get your cred, your respect, by having a bigger car than anyone else, you would get it by how much you put into society. People would design software because they like doing it, may people find it extremely interesting. They wouldnt want more money because they wouldnt need it, and because it would be uncool, unthinkable.

    You can only have this when everyone has a good standard of living. They you only need money for luxuaries.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well ultimately there would be no private industry, so this wouldn't be an issue.
    I thought we were talking about a slower, more gradual transition to socialism. As you yourself said: "...you can't nationalise every fish and chip shop overnight." Thus the wealth would come from the pockets of the private industry, and this doesn't necessarily mean the richest citizens, but anyone that pays taxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I think people get too fixated on money. To produce wealth, ultimately you need raw materials from nature, and human labour. If you have everyone working, and you have efficient modern production, you will create a lot of stuff.
    Your implication is that eventually you envision all the raw materials from nature will be shared by the entire population. But what about the fact that certain countries have more natural resources and others have less? Essentially, you'd have to argue for global communism to be implemented. Similar to free-market forces of globalization, this will erode national sovereignty and essentially mean the end of borders which define the sovereignty of a state.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The only problem doing this on a world scale is the planets resources, so it would have to be done carefully, the key word is sustainability. And sustainability is not even in capitalism's vocabulary.
    The production and use of resources (such as oil into fuel and natural gas, and the deforestation of billions of trees) has been rapid within the past two centuries. Clearly, the driving forces of capitalism conflict with ethical use of our environment and natural resources. Capitalism is driven by the profit motive, and if that means the oceans will be void of oil, seas will be void of fish, the forest will be void of trees, and the lakes will be void of fresh water, then that's certainly the cost that capitalism will take. And I think that's a problem that we both can agree on.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Anyway, in the short term, the oft asked question 'where would the money come from'. Well I can give you a few examples. First the rich have nearly all the wealth. The richest 1% in America have more than 70% of the country's financial assets now.
    From the most recent statistics, (at the end of 2001) the richest 1% of the population owned 38% of the wealth, which is still significantly high and disproportionate but nowhere near the 70% mark that you've claimed.

    Globally, the richest 1% own 40% of the world's wealth (interestingly this statistic nearly parallels exactly that of the United States).

    I agree that the United States has grown to become a society with increasing inequality, but if we are to debate this issue, let's get our numbers straight.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Over recent years the inequality in America has been increasing and increasing, before and after the crash. America now has its highest ever recorded income inequality. In 2009 Wall Street bonuses were $150 billion.
    The Wall Street bonuses were disappointing. They were an insult to the American people that helped to bailout those same banks, and many of those American individuals have financially suffered without anyone bailing them out (they've suffered through home foreclosures and lay offs). But let's remember that as unethical as the bonuses seem, the banks that paid them out paid back all of the TARP money, with interest. And it's also important to remember that while the bonuses were inconsiderate, they were not illegal.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Second, a quarter of American taxes go on the military. Billions are wasted on pointless wars. This can all be diverted into more useful things. Trillions were spent bailing out the banks when they simply should have been taken over.
    Agreed except for the part about the bank takeovers. While I contend that the executives should've been fired and replaced, and that a proportionate percentage of ownership should've been assumed by the government based on the amount of money handed out until all the money was paid, I don't think they should've been completely taken over by the state. Government takeovers (nationalization) of industries are no better than unregulated, corporate monopolies.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    We would make green energy and public transport instead of making weapons and exporting them all over the world. Last year a $ trillion was spent on the military in America.
    This is all part of the Military-Industrial-Complex that President Eisenhower talked about in his January 17, 1961 farewell speech. Unfortunately, with war and the loss of life comes huge profits for corporations that get lucrative reconstruction, private security and oil contracts.
    *If you're interested in an eye-opening documentary about war-profiteering, I recommend watching Iraq for Sale.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    American families are spending a fortune on food and fuel because the price has been driven up by speculators. The waste in the system is phenomenal. The American healthcare system costs twice as much as the British one, and even the NHS has waste due to the scam of PFI where hospitals are built privately at 5 times the actual cost.
    Unfortunately, the health-care industry lobby has profound influence on several members of Congress in the United States that have worked for special interests. Of course, any member of Congress working for a special interest group comes with a price tag. A few hundred thousand in contributions here, and a few hundred thousand in campaign donations there, and you're bound to get someone in political office that's now working for you, instead of for the citizens that elected them into office. Ensuring that the private health corporations stay in power, the health-care industry launched massive campaigns both during the Clinton and Obama administrations under the 'guise' of the "American government takeover of health-care". We all remember that propaganda by right-wing elements falsely accusing the government of trying to monopolize the health-care industry by rooting out private health-insurance with a government option and creating a bureaucratic panel of health judges that will decide whether grandma gets treatment, or gets to die. And yet, the fact that certain corporations hold a monopoly on the health-industry in certain cities which means health insurance has skyrocketed is kept completely silent by those same people. Not to mention all the people that were denied coverage, denied treatment or were dropped because of preexisting conditions and ended up losing their lives as a result.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Yeah but how many are mass workers parties? Most are either small Marxist Parties of various types, or are larger reformist / social democratic parties which are no longer real workers parties. They might be called Socialist Party but they have no interest in socialism, certainly not the leaders. Most of these, like New Labour, are beyond hope.
    If the people really desired Marxism-Socialism, we'd probably see more Marxists-Socialists being elected in democratic states, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Rather than seeing a desire for revolution as a result of the global recession, we're seeing more Keynesian policies being implemented. It's the desire for reforms that are being expressed; not revolutions.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You are confusing Stalinism / Maoism with socialism.
    Stalinism/Maoism are branches (interpretations) of (Marxist) socialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism is democracy. Not just ticking a box every 5 years, participating in running the country. Democracy is essential for socialism, its not a luxury you can dispense with.
    Marxist-Socialist's concept of democracy is much different than the preconceived liberal democracy that most are familiar with in the western world. It's misleading to assume both socialist democracy (theorized by Marx) and liberal democracy are one and the same. Liberal democracy focuses on every citizen being given the chance to voice their opinions through political institutions. Socialist democracy is more focused on workers, rather than citizens in general, and it's fixated on the workers being able to decide the executive and managerial structures of the workforce, and puts the day-to-day handling of the company in the worker's hands. Much like direct democracy where average citizens are elected (rather than politicians) and decide the policies of region in which they're elected, I think workers having to focus both on labour and the executive decisions is problematic. Workers are just not suited to decide executive planning. They're not capital accumulators.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    With a bureaucratic dictatorship, yeah things get very top heavy and slow as a decision has to go through umpteen self interested committees full of careerists.
    The implications of asking you why things were run the way they were in the USSR and China was to show you that Marxism seems to inevitably lead to a tight authoritative grip on power. Rather than blaming the socialist experiments for why socialism failed, I think it's better to examine the impracticability of Marxism (socialism) itself as an answer. I just don't think the world is ready for such a system, which is why this experiment seems to inevitably fail.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Also, as I said before, you cannot have socialism in a backward country, or an isolated one.
    So why hasn't Marxism been successful in modernized, educated and open countries? Why has Marxism attracted "backward...isolated" countries?

    Do you think it was merely a coincidence that the hotspots of rising Marxist-socialist elements happened to emerge in poorer, and less educated countries?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism does not need a violent revolution. In Chile the government was not only elected, but was greeted by a staggering 10% of the country's population outside the Presidential Palace!
    A peaceful transition (through force or democratic election) to socialism is sometimes an exception to the Marxist theory. Marx suggested that peaceful transitions would be possible only in strong democratic countries (like Britain, United States etc.) but that in strong centralized societies (like in France and Germany) he suggested: [the] lever of our revolution must be force. Marx understood that the transition from capitalism to socialism would be met with fierce resistance by the capitalist forces in power, even admitting that capitalism was the most revolutionary force in history because it was able to continually improve the means of production.

    It would've been interesting to see how far Allende's policies would stretch and how far Chile would progress through socialism. It's unfortunate that the United States has historically meddled in state's internal affairs as soon as they nationalized their industries, especially regimes that were democratically elected (see: Iran's Mossadegh in 1953, Chile's Allende in 1973, Venezuela's Chavez in 2002).

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    In Russia the revolution was peaceful. The storming of the Winter Palace was agreed on democratically and about 2 people got killed. Dont forget that there was no democratic process in Russia at the time. The Tsar abdicated after the February revolution and for a time there was a period of dual power, on the one hand the soviets, on the other a self appointed Provisional Government. As far as I know there was no electoral process.
    Does this mean you acknowledge that socialism took hold in Russia? Otherwise, claiming that socialism doesn't need a revolution whilst using the 1917 Russian Revolution as an example would be contradictory.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As for pessimism, Marxists believe in ordinary people being capable and willing of running the country, the economy, on an egalitarian basis, hardly a pessimistic belief.
    So then why has such a theory historically failed in practice? Is it because it is not practical, or because it does not attract more educated, and advanced societies that see capitalist forces as the most innovative and competitive available.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    So-called socialist states became military or bureaucratic dictatorships for a number of reasons, some of which I have gone into.
    Again, they've become dictatorial regimes because that's part of the theory of the transition to socialism. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the necessary part of transitioning to socialism. And this obviously means that the new revolutionaries in power will hold a grip on power to ensure that the previous forces (capitalists) cannot reclaim power, and also to ensure that many of the Marxist theories (collectivization of property, nationalization of private industries, redistribution of wealth etc.) are put into practice without any opposition.

    Furthermore, the Soviet Union is a much rarer example of this shift in socio-economic stage, because the transition was supposed to be Feudalism--> Capitalism---> Socialism... The Russian socialist experiment skipped capitalism altogether and transition from feudalism which was somewhat unexpected.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I will concede that the nature of a revolutionary party does play a part in that, Trotsky wrote about that in 1923 in The New Course where he warned of the growing danger of bureaucratism. But the main reason is that these revolutions happened in backward countries where socialism is impossible if they are isolated. Even an advanced country couldnt do it if isolated.
    In other words, socialist states' success need to necessarily rely on other socialist states as a means of being successful. In this day and age, that's hard to imagine because we're seeing less and less socialist-Marxist states, and even then, the neoliberal world of globalization allows for trade mainly between free-market states. Countries where industries are heavily nationalized (like Iran and North Korea) are much more isolated. Historically, you'll remember that many states relied on the USSR for subsistence through trade especially for resources like oil. When the USSR collapsed in '91, many socialist states in and around the region were forced to change some of their policies and introduce more free-market policies to cope with the effects of limited trade partners. So I can agree in that regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As for people deciding they no longer want socialism, well they would have that choice.
    Explain how they have that choice. Will a socialist regime take into account the needs of the entire people? Will it hold a referendum and ask whether citizens are content with the current economic/political system?

    Marxism claims that the eventual end goal of communism is what's the most desirable. Class consciousness is a must; it's a not a maybe or maybe not. It's not an issue of whether capitalism might or might not exploit workers. It's stated as fact in the Marxist's manual. Thus workers must come together and unite to overthrow the capitalist ruling class, and transition the state from a capitalist into a socialist state.

    If socialism is to be defeated, then it will be done by force, just like the previous capitalist system was defeated by force. There's no consensus by the people on whether or not they want to live in such a system any longer.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its not like you get given a badge saying you are a worker.
    Actually, you most likely would receive a membership card by the Marxist/Socialist/Communist party indicating that you are a member (and thus part of the workers movement).

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Everyone would have a say. Its just that in advanced countries, the majority are workers. Half the people think they are workers in the UK, and of the rest, many actually are technically. In theory as a self employed person I am not a worker, but I wouldnt like to think a socialist government would discriminate against me. Maybe they did a bit in Russia, but there was a civil war.
    The Russian Civil War ended in 1921. The discrimination and oppression of peoples persisted.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well, they do not meet the criteria of socialism according to Marx, Engels, Lenin , Trotsky and Luxembourg etc, who all said that democracy was a VITAL element.
    So if a state known for having a capitalist economic system also has social policies (like unemployment benefits), does that mean it's no longer considered a capitalist economy simply because it incorporates a few social policies? If it's not a laizzez-faire capitalism, does that mean it's not considered capitalism at all? In other words, does every socialist policy (purported by socialists like Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky) have to implemented before that state can actually be recognized as 'socialist'?

    Moreover, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky did not all have a single consensus on what socialism is. Some had differing interpretation of what a socialist state entailed. So...who's interpretation should be considered when analyzing whether a state is socialist in nature or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Yeah they fell out bet essentially the system in China was Stalinist.
    Nope, the system in China was Maoist--another interpretation of Marxism-Leninism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    There was a ruling caste which was the bureaucracy, which occurred as explained above.
    Perhaps the transition to socialism necessarily entails a bureaucracy to form which is why the underlying theme of many of these socialist experiments involved both a firm consolidation of power and an expansive bureaucratic system.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    This is just completely untrue. As I say, there were various factors that caused the deaths in the famine. The Bolsheviks collectivising was just one factor maybe, but they were forced to do that to get food to the urban workers and the troops fighting the war inflicted on them by capitalism. Rich peasants were hiding all the food to raise the prices, the Bolsheviks were forced to take it.

    As for killing millions of dissidents, this is just not the case. They executed a few thousand, they felt forced to. Not only did they have the problem of a lot of people trying to sabotage the peace deal with Germany, they had the civil war and all the food hoarding to contend with.
    This is absolutely untrue. You're grossly understating the death toll of individuals killed for being political dissidents. After the Soviet Union collapsed, archives of mass killing contained official records of the execution of 800,000 prisoners for political or criminal offenses, including another 1.7 million deaths in the Gulags (the institution that operated the forced labour camps) and also the hundreds of thousands killed in the Great Purge. Your gross underestimate of 'a few thousand' political dissidents killed probably refers to the Red Terror campaigns which executed 'enemies of the people'--anyone accused of conducting counter-revolutionary activities, and in any case, the estimate is more in the range of a tens of thousands.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Marx didnt envision socialism starting in backward countries precisely because it would not be possible,
    While Karl Marx probably did not foresee his theories reaching the shores of Cuba, and the lands of Russia and China, he probably didn't limit his theories to only a handful of states.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    which is precisely why their revolutions never lead to socialism.
    This is the argument in contention which you have made and which I believe you have not adequately supported.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Re Russia being socialist by the way, Lenin and Trotsky never once claimed to have got any where near achieving socialism, they were in a transition period which got overthrown by Stalinism, the rule of the bureaucracy.
    Marx's stages of history relative to the USSR are feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. So which stage was the USSR in? They certainly abolished the system of feudalism, and they hadn't even transitioned into capitalism, plus they were far from communism. The only remaining stage which fits in with the Soviet Union's policies of nationalization, collectivization, redistribution of wealth etc. was socialism.
    Last edited by KingOfTheEast; August 1st, 2010 at 10:57 AM.
    "Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY."--Pennsylvania Assembly

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    I thought we were talking about a slower, more gradual transition to socialism. As you yourself said: "...you can't nationalise every fish and chip shop overnight." Thus the wealth would come from the pockets of the private industry, and this doesn't necessarily mean the richest citizens, but anyone that pays taxes.
    Extra jobs would be created and their wages would be paid by taxes, but taxes on the rich. Take wealth off the rich, they have far more than they need, end the wars in Iraq etc. Let me give you an example. Half the cost of drugs is marketing and profit, half is manufacturing and research. So if we nationalise the pharmaceutical industry, drugs will cost half as much. All those people taken off the dole will of course be paying taxes, whereas before they were receiving benefits. Putting work in, and putting money back.


    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Your implication is that eventually you envision all the raw materials from nature will be shared by the entire population. But what about the fact that certain countries have more natural resources and others have less? Essentially, you'd have to argue for global communism to be implemented. Similar to free-market forces of globalization, this will erode national sovereignty and essentially mean the end of borders which define the sovereignty of a state.
    Of course, countries wouldn't cease to exist overnight, but socialism is internationalist and international, it has to be, thats why commies sing the 'Internationale'.

    In the short term counties would unite in federations etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    The production and use of resources (such as oil into fuel and natural gas, and the deforestation of billions of trees) has been rapid within the past two centuries. Clearly, the driving forces of capitalism conflict with ethical use of our environment and natural resources. Capitalism is driven by the profit motive, and if that means the oceans will be void of oil, seas will be void of fish, the forest will be void of trees, and the lakes will be void of fresh water, then that's certainly the cost that capitalism will take. And I think that's a problem that we both can agree on.
    Definitely. Capitalist government know about the problems, but they have done precisely nothing, because they cant. I know someone who used to work for Greenpeace and she agreed with me that carbon trading does no good at all, if anything it makes things worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    From the most recent statistics, (at the end of 2001) the richest 1% of the population owned 38% of the wealth, which is still significantly high and disproportionate but nowhere near the 70% mark that you've claimed.
    It was 70% of financial assets.
    Here is the source
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/17

    according to the Socialist Alternative person in the radio debate with the Tea Party (see my other thread) in Business Week in 2004 it reported that the income of the richest 1% in America is greater than 90% of the population.


    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Globally, the richest 1% own 40% of the world's wealth (interestingly this statistic nearly parallels exactly that of the United States).

    I agree that the United States has grown to become a society with increasing inequality, but if we are to debate this issue, let's get our numbers straight.
    Yeah, wealth, income, financial assets, all different things. And some measures of wealth include or exclude homes.

    The gap is massive and its increased a lot in the last 15 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    I personally think the Wall Street bonuses were a crock. They were an insult to the American people that helped to bailout those same banks, and many of those American individuals have financially suffered without anyone bailing them out (they've suffered through home foreclosures and lay offs). But let's remember that as unethical as the bonuses seem, the banks that paid them out paid back all of the TARP money, with interest. And it's also important to remember that while the bonuses were inconsiderate, they were not illegal.
    According to wiki the TARP gave banks $245 billion and so far got $169 billion back. But according to the watchdog overseeing the bailout programme, total exposure is $ 23.7 TRILLION .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trouble...Relief_Program

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.p...t=va&aid=14466

    will come back to this post later...

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    My personal definition would be a broad left capable of uniting somehow the unions, the Marxist parties, the left social democrats, the left in parties like the Democrats, people who dont really agree with the democrats / New Labour, but vote for them as 'lesser evil' and so on. Its aim would be explicitly socialist, but it would include Marxists and reformists.
    Uninterested. The goals of communism and my goals are not one in the same.


    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    A better question would be suppose the mass workers party got elected and was gonna nationalise all the big stuff. This is probably a revolutionary situation. In this kind of instance you can only take two sides - revolution or counter-revolution. On the counter revolution side you have such lovely people as Pinochet, Suharto, Hitler and so on.
    Precisely, which why I don't want a revolution nor do I see one as feasible; this "it's either us or them" mentality is what causes messes like the Iraq "war", the Cold War, etc. If I were forced, I'd likely move out of the nation.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    Who said anything about not paying the people? What do you mean destroying livelihoods? I dont know what you mean, you will have to clarify. Who are the people getting dumped on? Socialism isnt gonna happen if we alienate half the population, obviously.
    You.

    "We would not be paying compensation to shareholders unless they could prove need, by the way."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    Why is the nationalisation of the top 500 monopolies destined to fail? What are the implications you refer to?
    Because to suppose that it would succeed and go smoothly is optimistic to the point of foolishness.

    It'd be little difference between this and the French Revolution. You get a group of uneducated working class people, creating a revolution, cutting the head off of the power structure in one fell swoop (which is tantamount to taking over the top 500 companies in America), and what do you expect? That this would work properly? All you need its one charismatic person (like Napoleon) and the entire effort is futile. But worse than that, could you imagine trying to "re-head" these five hundred companies? Because all of the top 500 companies are at a national scale (if not international), you'd need a leader or leaders to step in and manage the company while people figure out what they're going to do. This invites bureaucracy and corruption.


    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    Dont know what you mean about Trotsky there, he was one of the two main leaders of the Russian Revolution. Yeah, in a revolution leadership is critical. There is not getting around that. Its unfortunate, but such is life. You either have a revolution or you dont. If you do, you take over the 'commanding heights' of the economy, effectively disabling the capitalist class as much as possible, or you do in in slower and give them time to rip you to pieces. You are fighting a tiger, give it a death blow or just stick pins in it and see what happens.
    But this is one large difference between your goals and mine; my interest is not destroying Capitalism as quickly as possible. My interest is in educating the masses as quickly as possible, and to then, once we have a smarter class of citizens, we should decide how our society should proceed. Not before.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    Which bit of 'progress' am I supposed to be writing home about? The bombing of Hiroshima? The coups and dictators supported by the American establishment? The wars? The trillions spent on weaponry, and the weapons shipped round the globe? The destruction of the environment? The sabotage of the economies of poor countries? The world recession? The rising inequality both in the USA and globally?
    A healthcare system which looks like a cruel joke when compared to lowly Cuba next door? The $ billions spent marketing junk food to kids?
    And the result of a massive revolution is anything, itself, to write home about? It's already been brought up many times that these revolutions invite starvation, bureaucracy, and despotism. And because the project of Russia just went so cracker-f***ing-jack well?

    Yes, inequality exists. But the standard of living has, without question, increased over the last 100 years. Civil liberties and rights have all increased, and bigotry has decreased. It's not nearly as quickly as I'd like, but you can't force change down societies throats and hope for it to succeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    Of course we have some nifty new technology, like the internet which if you notice costs nothing because it was given away royalty free as a service to humanity by its inventor.
    What's your point?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    The economy is already half planned, huge multinationals plan their production. But the markets dictate and the markets are a casino. America is run by gamblers. You dont think the workers could do better?
    As a point of fact, I do not agree. We need unbiased people of intelligence to run a country. The common worker is not a person of tremendous intelligence, nor probably has any interest in engaging in the finer points of economics. At least, at the moment they do not.




    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    But the world isnt getting more egalitarian. America has a Gini figure of about 45, 0 = total equality, 100 = total inequality (one person owns everything in the whole country). America was about 35 in the 1960s, it has steadily crept up. The UK has crept up from 25 in the 60s to 38 today.

    Yes its true world poverty rates have fallen. And China accounts for nearly all that.

    0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s assets in 2004
    The wealthiest 20% of the world’s population consumes 76.6% of the world’s goods while 80% of humanity gets the remainder
    I'm unfamiliar with the gini system, so I can't really comment on that. The main reason that China has risen up, however, is not due to Communism (indeed, to call China a communist state would be more or less a lie), but instead due to them selling so much crap to America, in true capitalist fashion.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." --Voltaire

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Government takeovers (nationalization) of industries are no better than unregulated, corporate monopolies.
    Well this is a very broad statement with no evidence. But in any case, you are comparing with government takeovers done within a capitalist economy, usually to rescue important but uneconomic industries. In Britain, many nationalisations were actually done by the Tories, for this reason. This has little in common with socialism.



    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Unfortunately, the health-care industry lobby has profound influence on several members of Congress .......people that were denied coverage, denied treatment or were dropped because of preexisting conditions and ended up losing their lives as a result.
    Exactly



    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    If the people really desired Marxism-Socialism, we'd probably see more Marxists-Socialists being elected in democratic states, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Rather than seeing a desire for revolution as a result of the global recession, we're seeing more Keynesian policies being implemented. It's the desire for reforms that are being expressed; not revolutions.
    This is a big subject you have opened up here. I can only touch on the basics. Why don't people vote socialist?
    1. After the fall of the USSR, although not real communist, it was seen as an alternative by millions around the world, and its fall was seen as the end of socialism.
    2. Stalinism and Social Democracy both gave socialism a bad name.
    3.Lesser Evil factor - vote Democrat (with gritted teeth) to keep the Republicans out
    4. Lack of socialists to actually vote for
    5. Capitalist ideology is highly ingrained. People are fed a mind numbing diet of rubbish and advertising to encourage sales but also to encourage faithfulness to the system. The propaganda is constant and is everywhere. To have self worth in America is measured by how much money you have and how many things you can buy. Its a big hurdle. The recession will push people to the left in some ways, but class consciousness in America has always been low, and globally it has waned in recent years.




    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Stalinism/Maoism are branches (interpretations) of (Marxist) socialism.
    Lol! Stalinism represented a POLITICAL COUNTER -REVOLUTION against Bolshevism. Maoism was influenced by that, and by misunderstanding Marxism, applying it wrongly. Having said that, the revolution in China was a great event, it just could have been a lot better.


    Compare just one aspect

    Engels:
    "Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?

    No."

    Stalin: Socialism in One Country
    Socialism in One Country was a thesis put forth by Joseph Stalin in 1924, elaborated by Nikolai Bukharin in 1925 and finally adopted as state policy by Stalin.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_in_One_Country




    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Marxist-Socialist's concept of democracy is much different than the preconceived liberal democracy that most are familiar with in the western world. It's misleading to assume both socialist democracy (theorized by Marx) and liberal democracy are one and the same. Liberal democracy focuses on every citizen being given the chance to voice their opinions through political institutions. Socialist democracy is more focused on workers, rather than citizens in general, and it's fixated on the workers being able to decide the executive and managerial structures of the workforce, and puts the day-to-day handling of the company in the worker's hands. Much like direct democracy where average citizens are elected (rather than politicians) and decide the policies of region in which they're elected, I think workers having to focus both on labour and the executive decisions is problematic. Workers are just not suited to decide executive planning. They're not capital accumulators.
    Well I agree with that except for the last bit. You are trying to imagine workers taking over a capitalist company, you even mentioned capital. Let me give you a glimpse of the possibilities. In the UK a big Aerospace company was going to make some workers redundant. The workers came up with ideas of some useful things they could make. Not more weapons, but some really useful things like kidney dialysis machines and other stuff. They even invented a sort of cart for kids with spina bifida to get about, even got buyers lined up. The company said no, these things were not in keeping with the companys image (of making thing which cause death presumably).

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    The implications of asking you why things were run the way they were in the USSR and China was to show you that Marxism seems to inevitably lead to a tight authoritative grip on power. Rather than blaming the socialist experiments for why socialism failed, I think it's better to examine the impracticability of Marxism (socialism) itself as an answer. I just don't think the world is ready for such a system, which is why this experiment seems to inevitably fail.
    No, socialism failed in Russia because it was a backward country an isolated. It could work in a backward country but only if it spread to advanced ones. The Russian revolution depended on that. Trotsky knew it, Lenin knew it. Marx and Engels predicted it. The Bolsheviks were let down by Germany.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    So why hasn't Marxism been successful in modernized, educated and open countries? Why has Marxism attracted "backward...isolated" countries?
    These backward countries were semi-feudal. Capitalism was so weak it hadn't even completed what Marxists call the tasks of the bourgeois revolution, establishing a bourgeois democracy and a unified nation state. Asa Lenin put it, capitalism simply broke at its weakest link. Yeah its an ironic twist of history that socialist revolutions happened in the places where it was least likely to survive. Marxist theory was proved correct by their failure in fact. Why didnt it happen in advanced countries? Well, poor leadership mainly. The Germans lost their two best leaders, Karl Liebnecht and Rosa Luxembourg, who were murdered on the orders of the leaders of the SPD (itself originally a Marxist Party but had turned into a what we now call a social democratic one - Social Democracy originally meant Marxism)

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Do you think it was merely a coincidence that the hotspots of rising Marxist-socialist elements happened to emerge in poorer, and less educated countries?
    Not at all

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    A peaceful transition (through force or democratic election) to socialism is sometimes an exception to the Marxist theory. Marx suggested that peaceful transitions would be possible only in strong democratic countries (like Britain, United States etc.) but that in strong centralized societies (like in France and Germany) he suggested: [the] lever of our revolution must be force. Marx understood that the transition from capitalism to socialism would be met with fierce resistance by the capitalist forces in power, even admitting that capitalism was the most revolutionary force in history because it was able to continually improve the means of production.
    Im not sure you have that quite right. And remember he was writing 150 years ago. Peaceful transition is what we want, obviously. In a 'democracy' that should be possible. The capitalists might well want to fight back. So we have to win over the armed forces and police.



    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    It would've been interesting to see how far Allende's policies would stretch and how far Chile would progress through socialism. It's unfortunate that the United States has historically meddled in state's internal affairs as soon as they nationalized their industries, especially regimes that were democratically elected (see: Iran's Mossadegh in 1953, Chile's Allende in 1973, Venezuela's Chavez in 2002).
    Very true. This I think is mainly to defend profits directly, but also an underlying fear that democratic socialism could spread like wildfire if it ever took root.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post

    "manc said in this post:
    In Russia the revolution was peaceful. The storming of the Winter Palace was agreed on democratically and about 2 people got killed. Dont forget that there was no democratic process in Russia at the time. The Tsar abdicated after the February revolution and for a time there was a period of dual power, on the one hand the soviets, on the other a self appointed Provisional Government. As far as I know there was no electoral process."


    Does this mean you acknowledge that socialism took hold in Russia? Otherwise, claiming that socialism doesn't need a revolution whilst using the 1917 Russian Revolution as an example would be contradictory.

    No, socialism never existed anywhere. Sorry I'm a bit confused here. The Russian revolution was done by socialists with the aim of achieving socialism, if it spread internationally to more advanced countries, in particular germany and England etc. It got derailed in 1924. They never achieved socialism, they said that themselves. They achieved a planned economy, but not workers democracy. If Lenin had survived, maybe they could have held on to a sort of embryo socialism until it spread, or maybe it would have collapsed anyway. Also Trotsky was ill and Stalin stuck the knife in.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    So then why has such a theory historically failed in practice? Is it because it is not practical, or because it does not attract more educated, and advanced societies that see capitalist forces as the most innovative and competitive available.
    In a nutshell, socialism failed in russia because it did not spread, and because it was a backward country. Socialism is impossible in these conditions.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Again, they've become dictatorial regimes because that's part of the theory of the transition to socialism. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the necessary part of transitioning to socialism. And this obviously means that the new revolutionaries in power will hold a grip on power to ensure that the previous forces (capitalists) cannot reclaim power, and also to ensure that many of the Marxist theories (collectivization of property, nationalization of private industries, redistribution of wealth etc.) are put into practice without any opposition.
    Dictatorship of the proletariat simply means democracy. It means the end of the rule of the capitalist class. It means 90% govern instead of 1%.
    There is nothing in the theory of socialism about dictatorial regimes. However in a situation of war and civil war thing dont always work so smoothly.In Russia, all the opposition parties were joining in the opposing armies, and trying to sabotage the peace deal with Germany, so the Bolsheviks didnt have much choice but to gradually ban them. At first, if anything, they were too lenient. You have to remember this was a backward country which was ruled by a Tsar up to February, and which was in the middle of an imperialist world war. Its a totally different situation.






    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Furthermore, the Soviet Union is a much rarer example of this shift in socio-economic stage, because the transition was supposed to be Feudalism--> Capitalism---> Socialism... The Russian socialist experiment skipped capitalism altogether and transition from feudalism which was somewhat unexpected.
    Russia was semi-feudal. As I say, capitalism broke at its weakest link. It could have been ok if it had spread to advanced countries quick enough. The main stumbling block was the failure of the German revolutions from 1918 to 1923.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    In other words, socialist states' success need to necessarily rely on other socialist states as a means of being successful. In this day and age, that's hard to imagine because we're seeing less and less socialist-Marxist states, and even then, the neoliberal world of globalization allows for trade mainly between free-market states. Countries where industries are heavily nationalized (like Iran and North Korea) are much more isolated. Historically, you'll remember that many states relied on the USSR for subsistence through trade especially for resources like oil. When the USSR collapsed in '91, many socialist states in and around the region were forced to change some of their policies and introduce more free-market policies to cope with the effects of limited trade partners. So I can agree in that regard.
    There are NO socialist - Marxist states. There has never been a socialist country, ever, anywhere. Russia was Stalinist. China was and still partly is. North Korea is. Cuba is. But yeah, its a sort of example, eg Cuba after 1989 was literally going hungry.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Explain how they have that choice. Will a socialist regime take into account the needs of the entire people? Will it hold a referendum and ask whether citizens are content with the current economic/political system?
    I have no idea. Going back to capitalism would be a bad idea. The thing is, for socialism to work, it needs to be able to offer people a better living standard than any capitalist country can, which is one reason why it wont work in a backward country. If people are living better, they arent gonna want to go back.



    will come back to the rest later...

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Marxism claims that the eventual end goal of communism is what's the most desirable. Class consciousness is a must; it's a not a maybe or maybe not. It's not an issue of whether capitalism might or might not exploit workers. It's stated as fact in the Marxist's manual. Thus workers must come together and unite to overthrow the capitalist ruling class, and transition the state from a capitalist into a socialist state.

    If socialism is to be defeated, then it will be done by force, just like the previous capitalist system was defeated by force. There's no consensus by the people on whether or not they want to live in such a system any longer.

    What do you mean 'the previous capitalist system was defeated by force'?

    Capitalism will try to defeat socialism, and it might try force.



    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Actually, you most likely would receive a membership card by the Marxist/Socialist/Communist party indicating that you are a member (and thus part of the workers movement).
    Forgotten the context. Anyway, not all the population are gonna join are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    The Russian Civil War ended in 1921. The discrimination and oppression of peoples persisted.
    Like what? There was no opposition parties left by then, because the opposition either joined the CP or fought with the Whites and so became ineligible for the right to organise.

    It is true that the bureaucracy was growing, and in 1923 Trotsky wrote the New Course in which he warned about it. Partly he blamed the party itself, which had to be centralised during the revolution, but needed to get more open to ideas from the lower ranks. The problem I think was that tens of thousands joined it as a career move, people who werent really socialists. The party had to take power by force (not violence though) as there were no elections, and the time was ripe, so it had to be centralised initially to do that. But even then it was democratic. They even voted (with other parties there) on the revolution itself!


    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    So if a state known for having a capitalist economic system also has social policies (like unemployment benefits), does that mean it's no longer considered a capitalist economy simply because it incorporates a few social policies? If it's not a laizzez-faire capitalism, does that mean it's not considered capitalism at all? In other words, does every socialist policy (purported by socialists like Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky) have to implemented before that state can actually be recognized as 'socialist'?
    A capitalist state which has social policies is still a capitalist state. A socialist government would make the break from capitalism by nationalising the top 150 companies (in the UK, 500 in the USA). That would be the decisive break, a workers party in power with the top companies taken over. But it would not be socialism, it would be on a transition to socialism. There is not magic point at which socialism would exist, but it would have to be a lot closer to pure communism that just nationalising some companies. You would need a workers democracy, with workers participating in running a planned economy, on a democratic basis. It would have to be existing in many advanced countries before you could really call it socialism. Capitalism would have to be a thing of the past, and workers living standards would have to be raised.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Moreover, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky did not all have a single consensus on what socialism is. Some had differing interpretation of what a socialist state entailed. So...who's interpretation should be considered when analyzing whether a state is socialist in nature or not?
    I dont think thats true, I think they all more or less agreed on all the key points.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Nope, the system in China was Maoist--another interpretation of Marxism-Leninism.
    Maoism was more based on Stalinism. They are not interpretations of Marxism, they are gross distortions of it. Its like saying Hitler was a different interpretation of Adam Smith.



    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Perhaps the transition to socialism necessarily entails a bureaucracy to form which is why the underlying theme of many of these socialist experiments involved both a firm consolidation of power and an expansive bureaucratic system.
    No, its not inevitable. What is inevitable is that socialism will fail if isolated in a backward country.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    This is absolutely untrue. You're grossly understating the death toll of individuals killed for being political dissidents. After the Soviet Union collapsed, archives of mass killing contained official records of the execution of 800,000 prisoners for political or criminal offenses, including another 1.7 million deaths in the Gulags (the institution that operated the forced labour camps) and also the hundreds of thousands killed in the Great Purge. Your gross underestimate of 'a few thousand' political dissidents killed probably refers to the Red Terror campaigns which executed 'enemies of the people'--anyone accused of conducting counter-revolutionary activities, and in any case, the estimate is more in the range of a tens of thousands.
    Your first link is about Stalin which is not what I was talking about. I was talking about the Bolskeviks.

    Yeah, the Bolsheviks executed a few thousand in the civil war, they felt they had to, it was touch and go. They had to build an army from scratch. They were trying to pull out of the first world war. They had White armies fighting them, plus 21 capitalist armies from the UK etc, they had rich peasants hiding all the food, times were pretty desperate. It depends what you call an execution. Wiki is including repression of rebellions such as Kronstadt. That was an act of war, the mutineers took over battleships at a strategic location and time. Trotsky warned them, put down your weapons or we will fight you. In fact some of the people killed there were killed from within Kronstadt, not everyone there wanted to mutiny.

    In the first half of 1918, just 22 people were executed by the Bolsheviks, less than the number in Texas under George W Bush.

    Thousands of American, British, Japanese and other troops were sent to fight the Bolsheviks. This was a war started by the capitalists.

    The 'red terror' was public, agreed by a democratic government, and was simply part of survival in a war.

    Not only was the counter-revolution anti- communist it was highly anti-semitic, murdering 150,000 Jews. Of course the Bolsheviks executed some of these people.

    According to Victor serge, 6000 were executed in the second half of 1918 as the war raged.

    You might wanna read this short article...

    Lenin - the original dictator?

    http://socialistworld.net/eng/2004/02/07lenin.html


    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    While Karl Marx probably did not foresee his theories reaching the shores of Cuba, and the lands of Russia and China, he probably didn't limit his theories to only a handful of states.
    He expected it to start in advanced countries, because that was where socialism was possible. There was revolutions in Germany but they failed. There was a general strike in Britain, but unfortunately it didn't go as far as socialism.


    This is the argument in contention which you have made and which I believe you have not adequately supported.


    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheEast View Post
    Marx's stages of history relative to the USSR are feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. So which stage was the USSR in? They certainly abolished the system of feudalism, and they hadn't even transitioned into capitalism, plus they were far from communism. The only remaining stage which fits in with the Soviet Union's policies of nationalization, collectivization, redistribution of wealth etc. was socialism.
    Marx never wrote about what might happen if socialism was attempted in a backward country (as far as I know) and it remained isolated. He probably would have imagined it would collapse back to capitalism, which it did eventually.

    Russia was semi feudal before the revolution. After 1917 it was in transition to socialism. After 1923 there was a political counter revolution and it became a bureaucratically deformed workers state. A workers state because it had a planned economy, but not socialism because socialism has to be democratic.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Precisely, which why I don't want a revolution nor do I see one as feasible; this "it's either us or them" mentality is what causes messes like the Iraq "war", the Cold War, etc. If I were forced, I'd likely move out of the nation.
    Lenin and Trotsky werent even in Russia when the revolution kicked off in February. These things happen. If you do have a revolutionary situation, and there is no decent leadership, only bad things happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    You.

    "We would not be paying compensation to shareholders unless they could prove need, by the way."
    So whats the problem with that?




    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    Because to suppose that it would succeed and go smoothly is optimistic to the point of foolishness.

    It'd be little difference between this and the French Revolution. You get a group of uneducated working class people, creating a revolution, cutting the head off of the power structure in one fell swoop (which is tantamount to taking over the top 500 companies in America), and what do you expect? That this would work properly? All you need its one charismatic person (like Napoleon) and the entire effort is futile. But worse than that, could you imagine trying to "re-head" these five hundred companies? Because all of the top 500 companies are at a national scale (if not international), you'd need a leader or leaders to step in and manage the company while people figure out what they're going to do. This invites bureaucracy and corruption.
    I wouldnt expect it to go smoothly. Why do you think its so hard to take ove the top 500 companies? Dont you realise they would still function if the board of directors was replaced with elected people? Nationalisation has been done before, many times. In Britain, half the economy was nationalised after the war, mostly because it it wasnt it would not happen. Industries like coal and rail were not profitable so governments had to take them over. The board would be elected, a third from the government, a third from the workforce in that industry, and a third from the general population. They would link with the boards of other industries, so energy and transport could all get integrated.




    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    But this is one large difference between your goals and mine; my interest is not destroying Capitalism as quickly as possible. My interest is in educating the masses as quickly as possible, and to then, once we have a smarter class of citizens, we should decide how our society should proceed. Not before.
    Well thats true which is why we dont have a mass workers part or socialism. People need to have their levels of knowledge and awareness raised. Who is gonn educate them? Certainly not the capitalist class who want them to know just enough to do their jobs and buy into the system. The bosses 'education' consists of selling the idea that capitalism is natural, inevitable, and there is no point in fighting it. So far, in America, the bosses have obviously largely won the ideological battle.


    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    And the result of a massive revolution is anything, itself, to write home about? It's already been brought up many times that these revolutions invite starvation, bureaucracy, and despotism. And because the project of Russia just went so cracker-f***ing-jack well?
    Well we dont know the results of an advanced country getting a socialist government. The closest was probably Chile, and the CIA put a stop to that, along with Pinochet of course.


    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    As a point of fact, I do not agree. We need unbiased people of intelligence to run a country. The common worker is not a person of tremendous intelligence, nor probably has any interest in engaging in the finer points of economics. At least, at the moment they do not.
    Yes, and thats what the capitalist system produces. I was reading recently a theory put forward by a person who was brought up in the Soviet block, but now lives in America. He was saying that he thought one reason the USSR collapsed was because the people there were much more educated than the average American, and educated people are hard to control like the bureaucracy was doing.

    Its also maybe worth mentioning that a leading British politician once said that the only people who did any educating politically were the Marxists.




    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    I'm unfamiliar with the gini system, so I can't really comment on that. The main reason that China has risen up, however, is not due to Communism (indeed, to call China a communist state would be more or less a lie), but instead due to them selling so much crap to America, in true capitalist fashion.
    Its a mix of both. Again, 'communism' brought the people to a much higher level than they were before, education was hugely important.

    If you look at a list of the most literate countries the top ones are all 'communist' or ex 'communist'.

    China is a bit lower because it always had a huge rural peasantry.

    In fact in China now it is going more capitalist, things like education are now going backwards.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well I am using the term [capitalism] like all Marxists do, to describe the general economic system in places like Britain and America (and most countries). To us, capitalists are employers (not really including people who run small businesses though) and people who live off investments - unearned income.
    Yes, but you're using the term incorrectly! My conclusion must be that "all Marxists" do likewise, but that shouldn't prevent you from being the brave Marxist who chooses to use "capitalism" correctly.

    I could say to you that "socialists are people who support totalitarian dictatorships," and then, if you question me about that, I could reply that I'm just "using the term like all capitalists do." But what would that prove? (And what would it say about me, and my willingness to honestly engage with you?) Neither you nor I get to redefine terms just because it might make our arguments a little easier. Again, just like socialism, capitalism is a specific thing--a specific way of organizing--and it's not a catch-all for everything that you think is wrong with the world. If Marx thought differently, then Marx was wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Because in a socialist society people's contributions would probably be more equal. But a billionaire does not do a billion times more work than a poor person in a slum trying to feed his family.
    Czahar demonstrated the problem with this statement very well, but because I have logorrhea, I'll expand on this, too:

    One's "contribution" is not limited to how much he sweats in his labor. When you say "in a socialist society people's contributions would probably be more equal," I completely disagree--or, I challenge you to show how this would be the case. How would the societal contributions of the video store clerk ever match that of the doctor? Or match the contributions of the man who comes up with a radically new (and better) way of doing something/the inventor whose invention makes life on earth better for thousands or millions? (Or billions?)

    A billionaire might not do "a billion times more work" than the average Joe trying to feed his family, if we limit "work" simply to time spent at the office, but the billionaire may well improve the lives of a billion more people, or provide a billion times more happiness to others, or etc., in comparison to how the average Joe improves others lives, or makes them happy.

    If the work that I do improves the world a billion times more than the work you do, then I'd say that *justice* demands that I be rewarded for my efforts more than you're rewarded for yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Of course it matters. Even the capitalists admit that sometimes. America's inequality is 45%. In other words nearly half way to total inequality. If it was 100%, one person would have all the income and wealth in America. Everyone else would have nothing, and presumably die of hunger very quickly. Assuming they lived, they would have no money to buy anything. How would the economy function? Sounds crazy? You are almost half way there.

    The cake is not a fixed size of course, but the fact is that the rich have been getting a bigger and bigger share of the cake, and the workers have been getting less. Thats what caused the financial crisis.
    At least we can agree on this: the cake is not a fixed size. Doomsday (and so unrealistic as to be virtually useless, even hypothetically) scenarios of one person owning everything notwithstanding, I'd say that, historically, the size of the cake has mattered much more than the apparent distribution of it. The American poor of today appear to be far wealthier than the American poor of 100 years ago. I feel confident in predicting that the American poor of 100 years from now will be far wealtiher still.

    Would I rather have 10% of $100 or 1% of $1,000,000? I'm sure you'd say that ideally we'd all have 10% of $1,000,000 (or whatever percentage you believe we "should" get), and sure, that sounds nice. Unfortunately, for reasons that will take us further into the make up and differences between capitalism and socialism, I don't believe that 10% of $1,000,000 is available.

    I see it as this: socialism = 10% of $100; capitalism = 1% of $1,000,000, and growing. The former might be more "equitable" by your estimation, but life will be better with the latter. In short, capitalism makes the cake bigger and bigger.

    Anyways, I've challenged you more than once to demonstrate how Bill Gates' growing fortune hurts me--to show how it adversely affects my quality of life. I maintain that it does not, that Bill Gates can get richer still, and I will continue on as happy as ever. The "wealth gap" is a red herring. What matters is a person's absolute wealth, not how much wealth he has in relationship to his neighbor.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    It matters to us because we think its obscene that someone can spend $1 billion on a yacht when millions are starving.
    I don't find it obscene. Let me tell you why: I view "the yacht" as a symbol of man's wanting to enjoy life, which is something I find completely reasonable and sympathetic. It is the drive to enjoy life (which for some of us will mean yachts, but other things for other people) that motivates a person to do work. I believe that, if there is to be any solution for the starving of the world, it will be found in work. Therefore, I find "the yacht" to be emblematic of the system that will ultimately solve the problem of world starvation (if anything is ever to work at all).

    In more practical terms, people build the yacht that the billionaire purchases, and others provide the raw materials that go into the yacht's construction. The purchase of the yacht, then, is directly feeding people (who presumably are not billionaires themselves). Getting angry at the yacht-buyer, or harming him in some way, will not end world starvation; instead, I think that it will serve directly to harm those whose livelihoods depend on yacht construction, and also it will work in a more abstract fashion against the general pursuit of enjoying life, which thus acts as a disincentive to labor, in general.

    In short, the key to ending starvation (which is something we all want, btw) is *more yachts*, not less.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But the key thing is that the profit system means that rich countries hold back poor ones, so poor countries never get a chance to develop.
    Nah. Lol. I appreciate the wide net approach, here--I expect that capitalism will next be responsible for the bubonic plague, and then those jerks who take cellphone calls in the cinema, too--but I can't properly debate huge swaths of history and geo-politics in little one line soundbytes. If you want to say that "rich countries hold back poor ones," you'll have to develop and demonstrate it.

    Suffice it to say that poor countries have every chance to develop; the main problem is nailing down stable governance and order so that their citizenry are free to pursue their own ends peacefully. Wealth will thereafter accumulate, and standards-of-life will improve. Warlords and corruption and the like are barriers to this.

    Please believe me: "capitalist" (in the sense that you'd employ) companies would love for the rest of the world to be wealthy--they want the markets--and as a capitalist (in the actual sense), I want the poor countries to be wealthy, too. That's why I advocate capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well a good idea is not good if it wont ever happen. Hypothetical is not gonna feed anyone.
    Oh, capitalism "happens," more or less (and feeds plenty). Remember: most of the world employs "mixed" economic systems--what I would contend is a mixture of capitalism and, well, socialist policy. What probably won't happen (at least for a good long while) is a "pure" capitalist state, but that doesn't make it a bad idea. Capitalists like myself don't only argue for "pure" capitalism--we also argue for adopting what capitalist measures we can, because every step taken is for the better.

    Interestingly, it appears to be your stance that only a pure socialism could work, and that supposedly "socialist" measures that an Obama might suggest, for instance, are essentially worthless, and not socialist at all. If you're waiting on the One True Marxist Socialism, and if "a good idea is not good if it wont ever happen," then how should we evaluate your Marxism?

    Is the world getting closer or further away from your ideal? Do you think "the revolution" is like to happen soon? Because, I'll be honest: I think the world is growing wealthier. And I believe that the wealthier the world grows, the less likely we are to have socialist revolution. I know that Marx predicted that socialism would grow, dialectically, from capitalism (or at least that's my fairly ignorant understanding of his theory; please correct if I'm wrong). But does that seem to be the case, according to what's actually taking place in the world? Or does Marxism seem more and more an artifact of the last century...?

    In other words, if Marx had been correct, then shouldn't Marxism be noticably on the rise in "capitalist" countries by now?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The depression and the war happened because of capitalism, not because of any specific policy, but that is why they didnt do the same thing this time round. Well they did let Lehmans go under, and then they all panicked and rushed to Keynesian rescue policies.
    Well, again, I can't really argue these huge claims like this--this is more "assertion" than argument. But the important part is: we disagree as to how to interpret this history. You say it was "capitalism's fault," and I say it wasn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well if you wont read the link I will paste a bit.
    It's not a question of whether or not I'll read links you provide. In point of fact, I did read your link prior to my response. But linking is not arguing, and in here I count on your making... well... your own arguments.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Basically a capitalist starts out with his capital. He employs some workers to make things. He then sells these things. The money he gets from selling them he divides, some he gives to the workers as wages, some he keeps for himself, profit. Profit is the unpaid work done by others.
    Well, this isn't quite correct. The employer doesn't get workers, then make money, then "give some" to the workers. He employs workers at an agreed-upon wage, and *then* he attempts to make money. The money the employer makes does not necessarily exceed the employees' wage. If it does, then sure, he "profits." Profit is not "the unpaid work done by others," but is the difference between the resources he receives and the resources he has spent (assuming that he has received more money than spent; it can, and often does, go the other way).

    Saying that "profit is the unpaid work done by others" is mere rhetoric; it doesn't actually mean anything. In our example, the workers' work is paid (even when you initially offered the example--"some he gives to the workers as wages"); there is no "unpaid work."

    This takes nothing away from what profit actually is, and it does nothing to counter my explanation of why a worker profits, too. Anytime a person recieves more value than they expend, they profit. A worker works because, in so doing, he receives more value (his compensation) than he expends (his labor). Workers profit.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You invest $1million on the markets. You make $1.5 million. Where does the 0.5 million profit come from? It doesnt grow out of thin air. It is unpaid labour, extracted from workers. This is the only place it can come from. Money represents labour.
    No, money does not represent labor. It represents wealth. Where does the increase in wealth come from? (I.e. how does $1 million become $1.5? How does the cake grow in size?) It comes from an application of labor--making things better suit man's ends. The smarter the application of labor, the greater the increase in wealth.

    We can "employ" labor to do a million mind-numbing, pointless tasks: we can pay people to pick their noses all day long, should we like. But there will be no increase in wealth for doing so; our $1 million will not transform into $1.5 million (unless we suddnly discover some important use for boogers ). Wealth only increases if we employ labor wisely. And that's how and why an investment can grow, and that's what the $.5 million dollars is rewarding--the wise application of labor.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    In the meantime, allow me to paste a classic explanation of how money causes poverty....
    It's not that I didn't enjoy reading this, or appreciate your posting it, but I'm not going to treat it as an argument to be argued against. When I debate Christianity, for instance, my arguments aren't with Christ's parables, many of which are money, but with the question as to whether or not Christ was the son of God.

    Similarly, I don't debate that "capitalism" can be made to look bad with bread cube manipulation... only that, in actuality, capitalism works, socialism doesn't, and that there are logical reasons why this is so. If you'd like to turn this "parable" into an argument--a real-world explanation of how money causes poverty--I would welcome it, and will argue against it at that time.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well obviously its unjust.
    Wonderful! We agree. And so my point (which I expect you'd agree to; correct if wrong) is: that "democracy" can be as unjust as any other form of governance. I made this point because your earlier posts in this thread stressed the importance of democracy, whereas I have concerns about unfettered democracy.

    An unrestricted democracy can be just as tyrannical as a monarchy. And so I wonder: how would you, as a Marxist/socialist, safeguard society from tyrannical democratic action?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Im not sure what dodgy decisions you think the masses might come to. This is not ancient Greece, where socialism would have been impossible. This would be a modern, progressive society based on equality for all. What sort of dodgy decisions are they likely to make, en masse?
    "Likely to make"? I'm not sure. I trust in people's ability to surprise.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    If the socialist leaders thought the masses might get something wrong, they would have to explain the issue to them.
    A-ha! So this seems to be your main response, though you can certainly elaborate, if you'd like...

    The safeguard against "tyranny of the majority" is for "socialist leaders" to "explain" to "the masses" what they might get wrong.

    Forgive me, but some of your responses in this thread, in microcosm, seem to suggest to me some of the more unpalatable features of "socialist" experiments in the 20th century. Consider that you say this: "This would be a modern, progressive society based on equality for all." And then, but two sentences later, you introduce the concept of "socialist leaders," whose positions apparently enable them to "explain" things to "the masses" in such a way as to sway them.

    That doesn't sound good.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its possible it could happen, I dunno. A better example might be who would do the dangerous, dirty jobs, the extremely difficult ones etc. These are things nobody could answer, it has to be done through trial and error, practice. But the managers at the top, the board of directors, they would only get the average wage.
    You're talking about eliminating the incentives that people have to perform difficult tasks. How it would all come together--the "dangerous, dirty, difficult jobs" like, I would guess, working in mines, sewers, fixing electrical lines, fishing, medical work, advanced science, high-level management, and basically keeping everything going, etc.--are "things nobody could answer"...? That doesn't sound very well thought out, honestly.

    I'd say, rather, that if you eliminate the incentives that people have to perform difficult tasks, that people will not (of their own free will) choose to perform difficult tasks. It seems clear to me how this might lead to our forcing people to do those tasks; if an economy ultimately comes down to the decisions made by millions (or billions) of people in their daily lives, then how can we "control" the economy in any sensible way if we do not control what people do? How can an economy be planned sans the removal of individual liberties?

    I know that you like to say that none of this would be overnight, and that you're proposing a "gradual transition." But I say: a "gradual transition" to what? If we cannot figure out how this socialism is ultimately meant to work, or even if indeed it could, then why should we "transition" there at all? I think that if you make doctors and store clerks' wages the same, then you will get *far fewer* doctors. Because society "needs" doctors, this will be unacceptable. You'd then be forced to either make their compensations unequal (seemingly in violation of the ethic that led us down the path to begin with)... or you'd have to force people to become doctors. In other words, socialism will lead to tyranny.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    A bit. Its too black and white. There would be a gradual transition to socialism which could take years, generations even. In the end, everything would be free, there would be no money, no countries, no state, no classes. It would not occur to people to say 'I want more', because they would look like a twat.
    The section to which you're apparently responding here is my question about whether or not I could choose to give Tom an extra dollar of my wages/per hour, to convince him to become manager. You don't answer that question, nor do you touch on the issues I've raised surrounding it (like that people, being unique and individual, are better suited for different tasks; and that a good manager makes a worker's life better).

    But as to what you *do* say, allow me this: for your society to function, you apparently need a radical transformation of what I would otherwise say is "human nature." You want people to cease saying "I want more."

    Not only do I find this the height of implausibility... but I don't even find it desirable. Actually, it's a horrific thought. It is the desire for "more" that impels us to move forward. It is desire that is at the root of innovation, of wealth creation, and it is enabling people to work for their desires that makes capitalism so darned effective at making peoples' lives better. I think that if it no longer would "occur to people to say 'I want more'," then we'd all be in deep, deep trouble.
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The latter. Capitalism inevitably leads to some getting far more than they should and some far less. I'm not an economist, and I haven't even read the 3 volumes of Capital let alone am I able to paraphrase the gist easily. But capitalism clearly leads to a concentration of capital and extremes of inequality that are barely imaginable and as far as I'm concerned are a blatant crime against humanity.
    Ok, good to know where you come from there.

    For me, capitalism at its heart, the idea of equitable exchange is a very fundamental notion of justice. The idea that you get what you give. I think that is a very essential notion of cooperation. I find that the notion of justice behind socialism lacks this ideal. The notion that give all you can, and get only what we allow is fundamentally unjust and discourages anyone from being more than a cog in the machine and is very dehumanizing. I'll get to more of that in a bit....(I know you will say that capitalism does this same or more so so hold on to that thought)

    Personally I don't care about extremes of inequity in material wealth so long as folks have a basic standard of living that is survivable and reasonably comfortable. Some people simply don't want a jet set super wealthy life style. They like simple living. Others are never satisfied no matter how much material wealth they have. Some folks are even so destructive that no matter what you provide them, they will ruin it. You can't make them equal no matter what you do. Other people will take trash and make it into something wonderful and productive. They will always shine above those who cannot or will not do so. They deserve the fruits of their labor and invention.

    Anyway, as far as Marxism is concerned, employing anyone to make a profit is really exploitation, no matter how equitable you tyr to make it, the employer takes some of the value created by the employee. Its not abuse of capitalism, thats the definition of capitalism, thats what profit is. Profit = exploitation.
    You may not know this but capitalism != profit. In fact, in a pure market no one should ever be able to make a profit. Anyone making a profit will find a competitor will lower their price denying them market share until everyone is selling at the true cost of the good.

    Some of what we often call profit is actually just income. If I make cookies for 10 cents a cookie and sell them for 1 dollar, the 90 cents may not be profit so much as income to pay for my labor and skill in making cookies. After all, nothing stops others from making 10 cent cookies for themselves so they are indicating my skill and effort is worth X amount of money to them which they invested their time and skill in earning. Its just an indirect trade.

    An employer does not always take value created by the employee. Only if they do so without compensation are they making profit. Now a worker can make less than what they deserve, but generally only in one of two situations.
    1. They lack the knowledge of how much their services are worth or choose not to act on that knowledge
    2. There is an artificial barrier that is preventing them from realizing their worth. (say they are told they will be shot if they ask for more money or try to quit)

    Not all labor is equal. Some folks may need to be paid more to do the same work because the value of that work is not just in what you can produce, but the cost of opportunity of the labor. If you found a rocket scientist and asked him to dig a ditch, you not only have to pay what the value of the ditch is, but also to compensate him for the money lost by him not using his time to make rockets.

    The problem with markets is they almost never work perfectly. People often don't know their own worth and make bad economic decisions. Enlightened self interest only works well when you are enlightened to what is truly in your own interest. Your version of capitalism is just people who take advantage of the marketplace to exploit the flaws in peoples knowledge. Those aren't true capitalists in the traditional sense. They are opportunists exploiting the system as much as they are exploiting workers.

    To me, the heart of both arguments and both systems here is fairness/justice. Both of you think your side has it and the other side don't. In truth you both seek it and fail to attain it. In truth pure and true justice and fairness can only be as perfect as our thinking and emotions allow us to be. The political systems we device are run and designed by the same folks that brought you the ones you oppose. And chances are good they won't be fundamentally superior.

    The only way to get better is to hold true to the principle we seek, that is that people are compensated fairly for their labor and industry, and to always re-examine our actions to see that they are pursuing those goals to the best of our ability.

    I like capitalism for practical reasons. The people closest to the decisions are the ones making the decisions. You know much better how much your labor is worth to you than anyone else does. I do think that our current system has systemic problems where there is a great deal of profit taking that leads to many people failing to realize their potential or get their fare share of the fruits of their labor. There are many active efforts to suppress labor value and they should be stopped. There are also great inequities in consumer information and understanding and those to should be stopped. We need to destroy the many barriers to competition that companies erect to defend themselves against it.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Yes, but you're using the term incorrectly! My conclusion must be that "all Marxists" do likewise, but that shouldn't prevent you from being the brave Marxist who chooses to use "capitalism" correctly.

    I could say to you that "socialists are people who support totalitarian dictatorships," and then, if you question me about that, I could reply that I'm just "using the term like all capitalists do." But what would that prove? (And what would it say about me, and my willingness to honestly engage with you?) Neither you nor I get to redefine terms just because it might make our arguments a little easier. Again, just like socialism, capitalism is a specific thing--a specific way of organizing--and it's not a catch-all for everything that you think is wrong with the world. If Marx thought differently, then Marx was wrong.
    Lot to reply to here so I'm gonna have to do it in chunks. Anyway, this first point. Ok so the system in America is a mix of free market, state subsidised market etc. State subsidised capitalism isnt pure capitalism. But its still capitalism, even if you wanna call it corporatism.

    We have to have a word which sums up what the system is. That word is capitalism. I wouldnt just call China capitalist obviously. And I would differentiate between neo-liberal systems and Keyesian approaches. Pure free markets never worked, so capitalism needed some state intervention. The word capitalism is used in this general sense by most people, by the financial papers and so on.

    If you want to read the Marxists Encyclopedia definition its here...
    http://www.marxists.org/glossary/ter...htm#capitalism

    The simplest definition is that in capitalism the means of production are mostly privately owned. Socialists would socialise the ownership, it take the big stuff into public ownership.

    Snippet from wiki...in Karl Marx's Capital, the word capitalist appears 2,600 times!

    ---------- Post added at 11:00 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:58 AM ----------

    capitalism

    an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state

    Oxford English Dictionary

    ---------- Post added at 11:11 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:00 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    "manc said in this post:
    Because in a socialist society people's contributions would probably be more equal. But a billionaire does not do a billion times more work than a poor person in a slum trying to feed his family"

    Czahar demonstrated the problem with this statement very well, but because I have logorrhea, I'll expand on this, too:

    One's "contribution" is not limited to how much he sweats in his labor. When you say "in a socialist society people's contributions would probably be more equal," I completely disagree--or, I challenge you to show how this would be the case. How would the societal contributions of the video store clerk ever match that of the doctor? Or match the contributions of the man who comes up with a radically new (and better) way of doing something/the inventor whose invention makes life on earth better for thousands or millions? (Or billions?)

    A billionaire might not do "a billion times more work" than the average Joe trying to feed his family, if we limit "work" simply to time spent at the office, but the billionaire may well improve the lives of a billion more people, or provide a billion times more happiness to others, or etc., in comparison to how the average Joe improves others lives, or makes them happy.

    If the work that I do improves the world a billion times more than the work you do, then I'd say that *justice* demands that I be rewarded for my efforts more than you're rewarded for yours.
    Not really. We probably would have to in the early stages, to a degree, but I would limit the maximum to maybe 6 times the minimum. But people would be more equal because there would be more education. Most people could study to degree level if they wanted. So there would be a lot more people capable of inventing things (something I don't think Bill Gates actually ever did on his own anyway). Some of the best discoveries have been handed to the world free. Nobody ever got royalties for inventing the wheel, electricity, or the internet. People like discovering stuff.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Marxism, Socialism, and Communism? Three distinctly different entities.

    Marxism: The economic, social, political, pseudo-scientific philosophy, theory, belief, or system based on the works of Karl Marx of Germany. The theory seeks the elimination of the notion of private property in order to gain control of the economic "means of production" by taking it from the bourgeois (the wealthy or propertied class) for the benefit of the proletariat (working class.) His philosophy of history was called "historical materialism" in which his goal was to bring about the end of history, by means of an eventual perfect, classless, utopian society he called Communism (mind you he called it Communism, but Communism as it is widely interpreted and referred to today is a different system).

    Communism: A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (what we see here is that it is party based, and essentially that there is still a proletariat and bourgeois).

    Socialism:
    1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

    2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.

    3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

    In all reality the term Socialism is an ineffective blanket term that isn't specific enough to really identify a movement. Underlying this term are two very different governments, Fascism, and Socialism. Furthermore, this blanket term can even underlie a monarchy or dictatorship of many different kinds.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; August 3rd, 2010 at 12:40 PM.
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I see it as this: socialism = 10% of $100; capitalism = 1% of $1,000,000
    There would be no point in socialism for many people if this was the case. We believe that socialism would lead to a more efficient, more productive economy, so the cake would be bigger. This is a big topic in itself so I can only mention a few things just now. Capitalism only operates at 80% capacity in good years and 70% in recessions, as a rough figure. It tends to have 10-20% real unemployment at least. In fact full employment is bad for capitalism, they hate that. Unemployment is a huge was, as are idle machines. Then there are all the people getting paid a lot of money for doing nothing productive. For instance the private healthcare system in the USA costs twice as much as the British one, and has huge admin costs. The British and American economies are now 40% finance, and finance creates nothing of any real use. About 10% of what we spend on stuff goes towards marketing, another huge, useless sector of the economy. We don't need half the population doing useless sales jobs, admin, insurance, finance. When stuff does get produced in Britain and America its probably weapons, another huge waste. Or we send our money on wars. Manufacturing is done by cheap labour overseas, and cheap labour is used instead of modern machines. Pharmaceuticals cost twice what they need to, half the cost is profit and marketing. We make cheap products, not designed to last. Cheap rubbish, for a quick sale and profit. And all the time the planet is being destroyed as its mined and ruined in unsustainable production. Do you know America uses more energy on its air conditioning than Africa uses for all its energy? And America has for years resisted even admitting the global warming problem. It wont be long before the planet is ruined. This is not sensible.
    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    The "wealth gap" is a red herring. What matters is a person's absolute wealth, not how much wealth he has in relationship to his neighbor.
    This is completely false. You tell your daughter she cant have new clothes, she is one of the 50% of American girls who get bullied over looks, you tell her she cant go on the school trip because you cant afford it.

    Why does Bill Gates $50 billion hurt you? Well apart form all the things that could be done with that money, it hurts you because it's part of the system we live in which creates wars, recessions, and allows millions to be unemployed or have no medical care or even no food.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I don't find it obscene. Let me tell you why: I view "the yacht" as a symbol of man's wanting to enjoy life, which is something I find completely reasonable and sympathetic. It is the drive to enjoy life (which for some of us will mean yachts, but other things for other people) that motivates a person to do work. I believe that, if there is to be any solution for the starving of the world, it will be found in work. Therefore, I find "the yacht" to be emblematic of the system that will ultimately solve the problem of world starvation (if anything is ever to work at all).

    In more practical terms, people build the yacht that the billionaire purchases, and others provide the raw materials that go into the yacht's construction. The purchase of the yacht, then, is directly feeding people (who presumably are not billionaires themselves). Getting angry at the yacht-buyer, or harming him in some way, will not end world starvation; instead, I think that it will serve directly to harm those whose livelihoods depend on yacht construction, and also it will work in a more abstract fashion against the general pursuit of enjoying life, which thus acts as a disincentive to labor, in general.

    In short, the key to ending starvation (which is something we all want, btw) is *more yachts*, not less.
    This makes no sense. All that effort, $1 billion worth, to produce a boat for one man. All those resources, its ridiculous. Just think what could be done instead with all that effort and money. How about building some affordable housing, or some wind turbines, or a hospital. You think we could get to a situation where we all have $1 billion yachts? Who would be building them? How many million planet earths do you think we would need?

    ---------- Post added at 10:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:34 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    If you want to say that "rich countries hold back poor ones," you'll have to develop and demonstrate it.

    Suffice it to say that poor countries have every chance to develop; the main problem is nailing down stable governance and order so that their citizenry are free to pursue their own ends peacefully. Wealth will thereafter accumulate, and standards-of-life will improve. Warlords and corruption and the like are barriers to this.

    Please believe me: "capitalist" (in the sense that you'd employ) companies would love for the rest of the world to be wealthy--they want the markets--and as a capitalist (in the actual sense), I want the poor countries to be wealthy, too. That's why I advocate capitalism.
    well just take a look over the water at how America deliberately destroyed the economy of Haiti for an example. Haiti was mainly self sufficient on food. America was responsible for propping up the dictator, and subsidised American rice destroyed local production. Now Haiti relies on America for food, a situation America engineered.

    What you have to understand is that 'free trade' does not mean fair trade, or even free trade, it means more exports for rich countries and more dependency by poor ones.

    Look at Zimbabwe. Everyone hates Mugabe now. The British gave him a knighthood! This bloke was our friend in Africa. His economy mainly went tits up after he did what the IMP told him to do.

    In fact the Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, who used to be chief economist at the world bank, has written a book about how the IMF does poor countries no favours.

    You expect these countries to catch up, like your local pub football team is gonna be able to compete with Manchester United, with its £multi-million international players. You complain about corruption but most of these dictators were installed or supported by the west.

    Read up on Suharto in Indonesian, how he killed a million socialists while the CIA laughed and the west kept quiet or rubbed their hands with glee at the prospect of such a huge pool of cheap labour to make our training shoes etc.

    Europe wrecked Africa and Latin America, later America joined in the exploitation big time, crushing any democracy in Latin America. And you cast all the blame on those poor people who got shot with CIA bullets?

 

 
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