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  1. #41
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    'Pure' socialism is communism, and would not happen for several generations. A socialist society would have some small scale private enterprise.

    Its hard to say if the world is getting closer or further away. The ideology was stronger 90 years ago, but in other ways the conditions are actually much better now. As I have said many times, socialism is impossible in a backward country in isolation, but nowadays most countries are more or less advanced ones.

    Marx was not a psychic. He analysed the workings of capitalism, explained its faults (as well as pointing out that initially it was a progressive system), and proposed a planned economy instead. And indeed millions of people wanted socialism. Unfortunately on the one hand Stalinism, and on the other the soft 'socialists' who were really centrists who ended up as custodians of capitalism, both gave socialism a bad name for a long time.

    But now socialism seems to be maybe making a bit of a revival in terms of polls.

    Will it ever happen? I have no idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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.
    Its pretty obvious capitalism is prone to recessions. All sorts of policies have been tried. You still get recessions. Marx explained them 150 years ago. Reading the communist manifesto in places is like reading a description of the last couple of years. Whatever the capitalists try to do to cure one recession ends up contributing to the next. The Money Trick explains it very clearly.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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).
    This is just splitting hairs and losing sight of the essence of the matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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.
    Workers do not profit, capitalists do. Workers get paid a wage, which is not profit.

    wiki:

    "In neoclassical economics, economic profit, or profit, is the difference between a firm's total revenue and its opportunity costs."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profit_(economics)

    In economics and finance, the profit rate is the relative profitability of an investment project, of a capitalist enterprise, or of the capitalist economy as a whole. It is similar to the concept of the rate of return on investment.
    In Marxian political economy, the rate of profit (r) would be measured as
    r = (surplus-value)/(capital invested).
    where surplus-value corresponds to unpaid labor in the production process or to profits, interest, and rent (property income).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rate_of_profit

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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.
    Yeah, the cake grows because of useful labour, money represents labour. Ok, useless labour is not counted. So all the accountants, finance people, sales people, sponging billionaire Waltons and so on, they do not do useful labour so their labour is meaningless. Shame its them that gets most of the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    Give me an example of the sort of tyrannical action you think could arise in a socialist democracy, something with a real possibility that you could envisage.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this 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.
    Its you thats saying the masses might come to some dodgy decisions. Suppose YOU lived in a socialist democracy and the people came to a dodgy decision. Would you want the leaders to try to enlighten the masses or bend to the dodgy populist will?

    You are criticising socialism for some hypothetical situation you haven't even defined.

    Would you want Plato to get hanged or not?
    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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.
    And I disagree. Cuba isnt proper socialism obviously, but they have more doctors per person than America, and they arent forced to become doctors, and they arent paid well. In Cuba a doctor is paid 1.5 times the national average. Cuban doctors wages are pathetic, yet they have no shortage of volunteers.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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.
    Well for a kick off most of the worlds best inventions werent done for money. I dont mind people wanting more FOR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, just not for themself at the expense of everyone else.

  2. #42
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Yeah, the cake grows because of useful labour, money represents labour. Ok, useless labour is not counted. So all the accountants, finance people, sales people, sponging billionaire Waltons and so on, they do not do useful labour so their labour is meaningless. Shame its them that gets most of the money.
    And yet, amazingly enough, I find the labor of finance people, accountants, and sales people quite valuable. Just because YOU don't find them valuable doesn't mean they (and their services) aren't "valuable" to others. I fail to see how this is at all convincing of these people being undeserving of what I'm willing to pay them.
    "And that, my lord, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped." ~ Monty Python


  3. #43
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    For me, capitalism at its heart, the idea of equitable exchange is a very fundamental notion of justice.

    etc. Interesting post but I'm not really sure how to reply, except to say I obviously disagree as its at the extreme opposite end of the political spectrum.

    You want to reform capitalism to its pure state, I want to scrap it. I dont think you will ever get pure capitalism, we have had capitalism for 350 years and its never been very 'pure'.

    Far from dehumanising people socialism would allow them to be fully human for the first time.

    If you go to work for someone, you dont own the means of production, you dont own what you produce, the fruits of your work, you get told what to do, you dont have any say in the company probably. You depend on that job, but that capitalist employer can get rid of you at the drop of a hat, and maybe threatens to every now and then to keep you on your toes ( and stressed and worried and insecure).

    When you are not at work, work is nothing to do with you. You do it simply to pay the bills.

    That work you do, the capitalist owns that. He will pay you some money, not enough to buy it back of course. You can make cars in a factory but it doesnt mean you will be able to afford a new car.

    Money represents labour, and replaces personal relationships. Money becomes something to chase and want to accumulate. Great hoards of it if possible. In fact you can be a capitalist these days without ever leaving the sofa, just speculating on the markets. The system is a casino. Greed is the mantra. Money is the god. Human relationships are defined by the power structure. Capitalism is defined as competition, and in a competition there are winners and losers, and in capitalism, most people are losers. How exactly is it humanising?

    ---------- Post added at 04:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:45 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Marxism, Socialism, and Communism? Three distinctly different entities.
    I wouldnt get too bogged down with definitions. Words change their meanings. Marxists dont use the words exactly the same these days because you have to talk in a language people understand.

    The USSR etc was not communism, but most people think it was, so Marxists shy away from using the word communism these days.

    Socialism is a transition to communism, but they are just words. Marx actually never used the word socialism, he referred to higher and lower stages of communism.

    Today, Marxists tend to use the word socialism to describe a classless society.

    ---------- Post added at 04:57 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:51 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ladyphoenix View Post
    And yet, amazingly enough, I find the labor of finance people, accountants, and sales people quite valuable. Just because YOU don't find them valuable doesn't mean they (and their services) aren't "valuable" to others. I fail to see how this is at all convincing of these people being undeserving of what I'm willing to pay them.
    Yeah, you find them useful because they are needed in a capitalist economy. You wouldnt have advertising etc in a socialist one. Hence its a waste of manpower compared to the socialist version. There are 3 people in my house. Two are tradespeople, fixing up houses etc. One sells stuff which used to be a nationalised industry, but got broken up. She phones people to try to get them to swap providers. Which one does the job thats essentially nonproductive? The state industry didn't need sales reps.

  4. #44
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    etc. Interesting post but I'm not really sure how to reply, except to say I obviously disagree as its at the extreme opposite end of the political spectrum.
    Political... sure, but I think at the heart of things we want something very similar and I'm trying to work towards that in this discussion.

    You want to reform capitalism to its pure state, I want to scrap it. I dont think you will ever get pure capitalism, we have had capitalism for 350 years and its never been very 'pure'.
    Pure might not be the right word. Honest is closer I think. I want honest capitalism. To get that, I think you need restrictions on what people can do in the marketplace and most capitalists would say that is not pure capitalism. The objective is to be fair in trade.

    Far from dehumanising people socialism would allow them to be fully human for the first time.
    You will have to demonstrate that to me. I've not noticed any great sense of humanity in any truly socialist country. I find humanity in many of the european mixed economies and in the US. (And I have been both poor and rich in the US, making from 7K a year to 150K)

    If you go to work for someone, you dont own the means of production, you dont own what you produce, the fruits of your work, you get told what to do, you dont have any say in the company probably. You depend on that job, but that capitalist employer can get rid of you at the drop of a hat, and maybe threatens to every now and then to keep you on your toes ( and stressed and worried and insecure).
    But that is your own fault. You do not belong to the company and you only depend on them because you choose to. I don't see my employers as owning me or controlling me. We have a mutual relationship. They pay me, I do as they ask. If they ask for more than what the pay is worth, I leave. If I work less than they feel I am worth, they fire me.

    Yes, I see others who somehow feel their life is in their bosses hands, but that attitude is what makes that true. I say what I feel and I often piss on the boss's parade when I feel its the honest thing to do. Folks look at me like I came from Mars sometimes but I'm just being honest and true to myself.

    I actually do own a small part of the company I work for and as a stockholder I have some measure of influence (although not as much as I might want), but most employees declined to do the same for whatever reason. Many people simply don't try to own the fruits of their labor. If I really wanted to do so, I'd run my own business. Nothing is stopping me but my own aversion to risk and hard work.

    The bottom line is many people want to be sheep and feel secure in return for doing what they are told. What they don't want is to be taken advantage of, but if you don't stand up for yourself and say no from time to time, that is exactly what will happen to you. And it happens in socialist countries just as much as in capitalist ones because people can be greedy and corrupt no matter what type of government you create.

    When you are not at work, work is nothing to do with you. You do it simply to pay the bills.
    That is only true for people that settle for jobs they don't like or jobs that are not very involving. Personally I like leaving work at the office most of the time but that doesn't mean I hate the work. Other folks do what they truly love for a living or they come to love what they do. True, sometimes you will settle for a job that is less than awesome, but in a free market you are free to change your work whenever you like.

    That work you do, the capitalist owns that. He will pay you some money, not enough to buy it back of course. You can make cars in a factory but it doesnt mean you will be able to afford a new car.
    You can afford a new car flipping burgers if you spend your money wisely. It just depends on the make and model. I could buy my companies software but I really have no need of it. Unless the thing you do is a solo effort, that stuff you make is actually made not by you, but by 1000 people like you. If you can imagine all the people that go into making a car, and then try to imagine the money you would need to personally hire them all to make it for you... well there is no way you could do it. It just doesn't work like that. Many people work collaboratively to make something and if you do it well enough then the thing you make is affordable enough that most of you can consider getting it.

    Money represents labour, and replaces personal relationships.
    ********. Money is a medium of exchange and nothing more. Personal relationships can involve money but the two things are not the same. I've more than once told my boss that I like him as a person and respect him as a person, but I think his latest scheme is a terrible idea and he's not thinking it through. Money only gets in the way of personal feelings if you allow it to.

    Money becomes something to chase and want to accumulate. Great hoards of it if possible.
    Folks that do that are just out for a sense of self worth and for them, making money is a way to feel good about themselves. Sure, some folks just enjoy the luxury (thats me) but others are using it to keep score of their hard work and cleverness. But its not really the money that they want, that is just the medium for the human objective, to feel good about yourself with respect to others. That stems from the human drive to compete and thrive which stems from basic evolutionary principles that drive life itself. The strong win the breeding game and beget yet more fit organisms.

    That is not to say its all eat or be eaten. Cooperation is a powerful mechanism that makes us more fit. Those who cooperate well will prosper greatly and those who crush anyone and everyone will find themselves without allies facing cooperating groups and they will loose out.

    In fact you can be a capitalist these days without ever leaving the sofa, just speculating on the markets. The system is a casino.
    Indeed and I would work for a system where you can't simply making a living betting on the outcome of other peoples work. Some of these folks are useful. They help discover the value of things and work to provide money where money is needed, but there are many who are simply manipulating prices to make unwarranted profit on the margins. They would be less able to do this if more information was available and accurate and companies couldn't keep so many secrets.

    Greed is the mantra.
    Not really. Ambition is the mantra. Progress is the mantra. And yes, I think sometimes its a bad mantra. Humans need to relax as much as they need to achieve. Balance is important in our psyche.

    Money is the god.
    Money is just a medium. It is a mens to an end which is to live and grow and feel safe.

    Human relationships are defined by the power structure. Capitalism is defined as competition, and in a competition there are winners and losers, and in capitalism, most people are losers. How exactly is it humanising?
    Its humanizing because winning and loosing are human endeavors. No human is free of error and no human is without some positive value. Trying to pretend some people are not more able than others to do good works is turning a blind eye to our individuality. Not all of us wish to be the best, and not all of us can be content to be average. Some folks want to blend in, some want to stand out. What we all want is to be treated fairly and to receive what we deserve at the very least.

    Human relationships are defined by power structure, so is life itself. If I am not strong enough to find food I will die. If I am not strong enough to protect my children they too will die. If mankind is not strong enough all of us will die and be no more. Life requires power.

    Human power structures exist in socialism just as they do in capitalism. Someone must make decisions and some will be far better at it than others. The good decision makers will naturally accumulate power and trust of others. But good decision makers are not always altruistic so you will always have abuse of that power. No political system is safe from human nature.

    Both socialism and capitalism are flawed by human nature and both represent one of the dual natures of our survival. Capitalism embraces our competitive ambition and the thrust for ever improving excellence. Socialism embraces the most powerful survival tool in the human arsenal, cooperation and the compassion that drives it.

    The best system is one that embraces all of humanities virtues, both its drive for improvement and individual achievement, and also cooperation and compassion. And the proper mix is not always the same. Some trying times call for greater cooperation, and some times call for great advancement and individuality.

    ---------- Post added at 09:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:43 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Yeah, you find them useful because they are needed in a capitalist economy. You wouldnt have advertising etc in a socialist one. Hence its a waste of manpower compared to the socialist version. There are 3 people in my house. Two are tradespeople, fixing up houses etc. One sells stuff which used to be a nationalised industry, but got broken up. She phones people to try to get them to swap providers. Which one does the job thats essentially nonproductive? The state industry didn't need sales reps.
    All of them are productive and here is why...

    Fixing up houses provides directly to those who's houses are fixed providing greater security.

    The person in advertising is alerting consumers to what may be a better value for their money. This competition between the providers drives each provider to work harder at making a better service at a more affordable price. Without this competition there is little reason to every improve or strive for a more effective industry. Advertising is needed to inform consumers of what options are available so they can make good choices.

    In the end, we are far better at making things that ever before. Most of the work most people do is not necessary for life. We are awash in luxury of one kind or another relative to our ancient ancestors. All the seemingly frivolous jobs exist because people need things to do and need to trade for the things other people do. The mime in the part seems like a waste compared to the farmer, but the two are in many ways dependent on one another for their quality of life.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

  5. #45
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    You will have to demonstrate that to me.
    Half the world is hungry, the planet is being destroyed, we have stupid wars, we get fed a diet of trash food and trash on tv, nearly a million suicide attempts in America each year, black people are still second class, you think humanity has reached its maximum potential?

    ---------- Post added at 03:41 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:34 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I've not noticed any great sense of humanity in any truly socialist country.
    well there has never been a socialist country for you to notice it in.

    But at least the Bolsheviks managed to introduce the vote for women, ban racism (150,000 Jews were slaughtered in pogroms in the civil war by the White armies), and introduce soviet democracy, for a while at any rate.

    Socialism would bring in cooperation between people. That is more human than exploitation. In fact we cooperated in the early stages of human evolution, through most of our history in fact. Its pretty obvious that we did. There were no classes until production reached a level of producing surplus. Ie around the start of the neolithic.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    But at least the Bolsheviks managed to introduce the vote for women, ban racism (150,000 Jews were slaughtered in pogroms in the civil war by the White armies), and introduce soviet democracy, for a while at any rate.
    They also managed to introduce the gulag to anyone who dared think differently.
    Yeah, you find them useful because they are needed in a capitalist economy. You wouldnt have advertising etc in a socialist one. Hence its a waste of manpower compared to the socialist version. There are 3 people in my house. Two are tradespeople, fixing up houses etc. One sells stuff which used to be a nationalised industry, but got broken up. She phones people to try to get them to swap providers. Which one does the job thats essentially nonproductive? The state industry didn't need sales reps.
    Of course they didn't need sales reps. Advertisement is pointless when the people have no CHOICE in what they can buy.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    sigfried, good attempt at trying to prove that nonproductive people increase efficiency, but it wont wash. I mean yeah, you would need managers and planner, buy sales reps? I find it highly unlikely. The pharmaceutical spends about 25% of the $ billions it makes on marketing? You really thing that a socialist world would be poorer for losing them? So how come your private American health costs twice waht the British pay? Its no better? The Cuban healthcare system is better than yours, for a fraction of the cost (ok, Cuban doctors should get more of course). But British doctors are on pretty decent money. My mate is a doctor and she earns not far short of what the Prime Minister does. Yours costs twice as much because its private, you pay money towards all the profits, and to the extra admin of sorting all the insurance claims. Basically your healthcare system is a total joke. Because its run on a capitalist basis.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    You really thing that a socialist world would be poorer for losing them?
    Compare the economies of every single communist country to that of any country with a capitalist system. (I would include the more socialist European nations, but their industries are largely private and hire sales reps as well, so a valid comparison can't be made in this instance)

    Now consider the economic growth and standard of living in China, which has grown by double digits ever since they liberalized their economy, becoming increasingly capitalist.

    Now consider that when Russia and Ukraine (historically a bread basket in that part of the world) were part of the Soviet Union, they still managed to have food shortages. Whereas the US has consistently exported food for centuries.

    If you are right, then the US, which has millions who work in Sales, should economically be a third world country and the Soviet Union, old economically communist China, North Korea, Cuba, etc should all be first world economic power houses. Only one in that list is now a power house, China, and it got that way by making its economy Capitalist.

    So how come your private American health costs twice waht the British pay?
    Because the British ration their health care.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/251988.stm

    Its no better?
    It is if you have cancer and need newer or experimental drugs that the UK health system doesn't want to pay for.

    The Cuban healthcare system is better than yours, for a fraction of the cost (ok, Cuban doctors should get more of course).
    Not true. If your part of the elite, you get good treatment equivalent to what one can get in the US, but if your a common Cuban, your pretty screwed.

    To be sure, there is excellent health care on Cuba — just not for ordinary Cubans. Dr. Jaime Suchlicki of the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies explains that there is not just one system, or even two: There are three. The first is for foreigners who come to Cuba specifically for medical care. This is known as “medical tourism.” The tourists pay in hard currency, which provides oxygen to the regime. And the facilities in which they are treated are First World: clean, well supplied, state-of-the-art.

    The foreigners-only facilities do a big business in what you might call vanity treatments: Botox, liposuction, and breast implants. Remember, too, that there are many separate, or segregated, facilities on Cuba. People speak of “tourism apartheid.” For example, there are separate hotels, separate beaches, separate restaurants — separate everything. As you can well imagine, this causes widespread resentment in the general population.

    The second health-care system is for Cuban elites — the Party, the military, official artists and writers, and so on. In the Soviet Union, these people were called the “nomenklatura.” And their system, like the one for medical tourists, is top-notch.

    Then there is the real Cuban system, the one that ordinary people must use — and it is wretched. Testimony and documentation on the subject are vast. Hospitals and clinics are crumbling. Conditions are so unsanitary, patients may be better off at home, whatever home is. If they do have to go to the hospital, they must bring their own bedsheets, soap, towels, food, light bulbs — even toilet paper. And basic medications are scarce. In Sicko, even sophisticated medications are plentiful and cheap. In the real Cuba, finding an aspirin can be a chore. And an antibiotic will fetch a fortune on the black market.

    A nurse spoke to Isabel Vincent of Canada’s National Post. “We have nothing,” said the nurse. “I haven’t seen aspirin in a Cuban store here for more than a year. If you have any pills in your purse, I’ll take them. Even if they have passed their expiry date.”

    The equipment that doctors have to work with is either antiquated or nonexistent. Doctors have been known to reuse latex gloves — there is no choice. When they travel to the island, on errands of mercy, American doctors make sure to take as much equipment and as many supplies as they can carry. One told the Associated Press, “The [Cuban] doctors are pretty well trained, but they have nothing to work with. It’s like operating with knives and spoons.”

    And doctors are not necessarily privileged citizens in Cuba. A doctor in exile told the Miami Herald that, in 2003, he earned what most doctors did: 575 pesos a month, or about 25 dollars. He had to sell pork out of his home to get by. And the chief of medical services for the whole of the Cuban military had to rent out his car as a taxi on weekends. “Everyone tries to survive,” he explained. (Of course, you can call a Cuban with a car privileged, whatever he does with it.)

    So deplorable is the state of health care in Cuba that old-fashioned diseases are back with a vengeance. These include tuberculosis, leprosy, and typhoid fever. And dengue, another fever, is a particular menace. Indeed, an exiled doctor named Dessy Mendoza Rivero — a former political prisoner and a spectacularly brave man — wrote a book called ¡Dengue! La Epidemia Secreta de Fidel Castro.


    http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/...ealth-myth.htm

    Basically your healthcare system is a total joke. Because its run on a capitalist basis.
    Hell, I'll take my joke of a capitalist healthcare system any day. At least I can walk into a hospital or get an appointment the next day. Far better than not even being able to by aspirin like common cubans or having my health care decisions dictated and rationed out to me by the federal government.

  9. #49
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But at least the Bolsheviks managed to introduce the vote for women, ban racism (150,000 Jews were slaughtered in pogroms in the civil war by the White armies), and introduce soviet democracy, for a while at any rate.
    Stalin, apparently, did not get the message about banning racism:

    The Doctors' plot (Russian language: дело врачей [doctors' affair], врачи-вредители [doctors-saboteurs] or врачи-убийцы [doctors-killers]) was a most dramatic anti-Jewish episode in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin's regime, involving the "unmasking" of a group of prominent Moscow doctors, predominantly Jews, as conspiratorial assassins of Soviet leaders [1]. This was accompanied by show trials and anti-Semitic propaganda in state-run mass media. Scores of Soviet Jews were promptly dismissed from their jobs, arrested, sent to GULAG or executed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctors'_plot

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Ok so the system in America is a mix of free market, state subsidised market etc.
    Yes, precisely. It is a "mixed economy." The American system has some aspects that are capitalist in nature, and some that are antithetical to capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    State subsidised capitalism isnt pure capitalism.
    Not only that, but "state subsidised capitalism" is an oxymoronic expression. It's like saying "free market socialism." Capitalism is the absence of "state subsidy" (and other market interventions). So, not only is "state subsidised capitalism" not "pure capitalism," it's not even a coherent idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But its still capitalism, even if you wanna call it corporatism.
    Er, no. A mixed economy is a mixed economy. If we want to call it "corporatism" (which I could take or leave; "mixed" works well enough for my purposes), then our reason for doing it is because it *isn't* "still capitalism."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    We have to have a word which sums up what the system is.
    What we want to avoid is using an inaccurate word, especially in the context of intellectual discussion/debate. "Corporatism" might better "sum up" the American system (if such "summing up" is really our goal), or "mixed economy" captures a bit of the actual complexity involved. Reducing it all to "capitalist," and then using that to imply that all which is done in America is thereby "capitalist policy" (like bank bailouts) isn't only dangerously reductive, but it approaches dishonesty.

    We should strive to be as accurate and honest as we can in the words we use; these issues are hard enough as it is!

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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!

    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
    Bleargh. Okay, fine. We'll call the American system "capitalist," and, by that same token, "Marxism/socialism/communism" inherits the Soviet Union.

    What's that you say--the Soviet Union was "Stalinist" for most of its history, or something like it? Not really communist? Never was? But... "its still communism, even if you wanna call it Stalinist. We have to have a word which sums up what the system is. That word is communist. I wouldnt just call China communist obviously. And I would differentiate between neo-Marxist systems and Maoist approaches. Pure planned economies never worked, so communism needed some authortarian, totalitarian dictatorships and bloody purges. The word communism is used in this general sense by most people, by the financial papers and so on.

    If you want to read a capitalist website's definition of collectivism its here...
    http://capitalism.org/faq/collectivism.htm

    The simplest definition is that in communism the means of production are mostly state owned. Capitalists would privatize the ownership.

    Snippet from wiki..."The Soviet Union had a single-party political system dominated by the Communist Party."

    communism

    a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. See also Marxism

    The most familiar form of communism is that established by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution of 1917, and it has generally been understood in terms of the system practiced by the former Soviet Union and its allies in eastern Europe, in China since 1949, and in some developing countries...


    Oxford Dictionary Online"

    So, I hope that's settled now. Since you insist that the United States is capitalist, we'll agree that's the case. By the same rationale (we need to use a term to "sum up," after all), we'll agree that the Soviet Union was communist.

    Or, uh, should we revisit this?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    The "not really" presumably applies to my saying that "[i]f 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." Really, not really? You don't think that, say, the man who winds up curing AIDS wouldn't deserve to receive anything more for doing that than, say... a pedicurist? Their "contributions" are equal?

    And as to your "early stage minimum," is there anything other than arbitrary fiat behind your "6 times" limit? Or has that been scientifically arrived at, somehow?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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).
    Most people can study to degree level now, if they want. There's plenty of education available in the US. That doesn't mean that all-of-a-sudden everyone is a genius inventor, and I doubt that the system you'd implement could achieve anything like that. Geniuses are and always will be rare, and people's contributions to society will always vary; a pedicurist will simply be limited in how much they change the world (professionally, at least) but a doctor will affect many more people, much more profoundly.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    Perhaps that's true of some of the best discoveries. Others, however, came with a price tag... and it's possible that some of those were motivated by the lure of personal wealth. It's possible that in your socialist society, we would continue to have some discoveries--those that would exist regardless of the possibility of personal wealth--but I anticipate that we would have those along with those motivated by personal wealth in my capitalist society.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    I contend that capitalism will outperform socialism in "growing the cake." Am I to understand that you disagree--that you think that socialism would be better at creating wealth (because: "more efficient, more productive economy") than capitalism?

    Do you have any data that supports this, or clear historical example? Because, I'll tell you the way it looks: capitalist countries seem to have done much better than socialist countries, in terms of "efficiency," "productivity" and all-around economic performance. When Germany was split into East and West, didn't the "capitalist" side outperform its "socialist" counterpart? What about North versus South Korea? Communist China versus Taiwan/Hong Kong? (Note: I understand that all historical examples are bound to be messy in that they're fraught with individual circumstances that might be argued are mitigating. However, are there any cases at all that at least *appear* to argue that socialism could outperform its capitalist equivalent?)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    It would take a whole lot to go into depth on all of the many subjects you raise. But note that, with something like unemployment, it's one thing to observe that some people are unemployed and that, therefore, there's some sort of "inefficiency." It's another to propose a solution that would actually "make things better." The economy is a subtle and complicated thing, and "make work" projects, for instance, often have unintended consequences that wind up doing more damage to overall productivity than the intended improvement. Further, a lot of what you term "useless" jobs actually do have a function. When you think that a real (meaning: people actually want it and pay for it) job is a "waste," it might just be that you don't personally understand its function yet. People don't tend to freely pay for things that are actually useless.

    That said, is the American system (or that of any other country) perfect? Nope! And I wouldn't claim it was. But pointing out the problems of the American system doesn't establish that a socialist system would do any better.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Or we send our money on wars.
    Just want to say that war isn't particular to capitalism, and presumably wouldn't be absent under socialism. Seems to be a human thing, really.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    You forgot to mention old age. People grow older, their backs start to ache, and it sucks! Really, again, we just can't dip our toes into every single topic under the sun. Can I really treat on the relationship of capitalism and socialism to, say, global warming, right now? How many pages would I need to write to deal with it all? Suffice it to say, then, that I summarily disagree with what you believe to be problems with capitalism: I disagree that capitalism "causes" these problems, and in some cases that they are "problems" at all. Moreover, I disagree that you've made any case that would show (apart from arbitrary assertion) how socialism would do a better job. All those countries that have approximated socialism, it seems to me, have been known for their shoddy products and their unsustainable and eco-destroying industry.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    Of course I could tell my daughter she can't have new clothes, or that she can't go on the school trip. Being capitalist doesn't mean not having a spine, or being an ineffective parent. If I had to raise my daughter in poverty, I'd simply have to communicate to her the (true) lessons of perspective--to be grateful for what we have, rather than upset about what we do not--and that money and possessions neither define her character, nor her worth.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Why does Bill Gates $50 billion hurt you? Well apart form all the things that could be done with that money...
    Oh, let's pause there. Currently, plenty of things *are being done* with his money. They might not be the things that manc would choose to do with it, but his money is participating in the economy. As to what's the "best use" of Bill Gates' money, well, it would be quite the discussion to try to tease all of that out.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    ...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.
    Nope, I'm sorry, but I'm not about to hold Bill Gates responsible for any of that unless you can show me how. So far as I can tell, in creating Microsoft, Gates directly addressed the "unemployment problem," along with the recessions, medical care and food issues that go with it. And I don't quite follow from one man having a lot of money to "therefore, war exists."

    And the idea that he and his fortune are responsible for all of these things because "it's part of the system we live in"...? Well, for that matter, so are you! And so are whatever Marxist organizations and etc., so I guess that makes you and they responsible, too. I don't buy it. You haven't shown how Bill Gates has hurt me anymore than you've shown me how you, potentially, have hurt me, by "being part of the system." You also haven't shown me how the system has hurt me at all. Am I hurt? Or, compared with most human beings on the planet, and over the entire course of human history... do I actually live pretty well?

    If I *do* live pretty well, on average, for a human, and if we hold Bill Gates (as avatar for "society") responsible for that, then shouldn't I be thankful for him?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    This makes no sense. All that effort, $1 billion worth, to produce a boat for one man.
    I know, it's pretty awesome that so many people can get work because one guy wants a boat. If he wanted two, twice as many people would get paid. Crazy.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    As soon as people want to pay for those, they can. The yacht-buyer won't stop them. There's nothing about building a yacht that means we can't have a hospital, too: the cake grows; it's not zero sum.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You think we could get to a situation where we all have $1 billion yachts?
    Yes, absolutely.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Who would be building them? How many million planet earths do you think we would need?
    Oh, probably just the one earth. As to who would be building them, I don't know, but I guess they'd be gainfully employed, so that doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

    You know, as far as it goes, I haven't been on the earth all that long. But even in my short lifespan, I distinctly remember computers being way costly and rare. The idea, back then, that computers would be so ubiquitous... well, it would've seemed bound to happen eventually, due to computers intrinsic utility, but it still would've seemed like quite the feat.

    And I'm talking about *early* computers, not today's technological marvels that weren't even producable back then. Given what those old computers were worth brand new, what might a cutting edge computer of today have cost (if it had been possible to make) back then? Hundreds of thousands of dollars? A million, or more? Perhaps... though it's wild speculation, for sure.

    Uh, I'm rambling. To again answer your question (though I know you won't be satisfied by it): yes, I believe that someday we could all be in the position to have a yacht if we chose to have one. Won't be for a good, long while, but we're trending upward.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    Just so we're clear, being capitalist doesn't mean supporting every aspect of American foreign (or domestic) policy. I don't know the particulars of Haiti, but you'll have to show something about what capitalism does to these countries apart from simply "what America did."

    My contention is that what's holding these countries back is their governance. I don't believe in dictatorship, here or elsewhere... and for that matter, I don't believe in subsidizing American rice. Capitalism isn't going to hurt Haiti; capitalism is, imo, the way for Haiti to get out of its poverty.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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.
    Well, "free trade" does mean "free trade," I think. Doesn't it?

    But maybe you're right... maybe I really am confused....

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    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?
    Well, I know almost as many details on Suharto and the like as I do about English soccer (or football, if you'd prefer)... but again, "capitalist" is *not* synonymous with American foreign policy. Again, this is why I keep stressing about using the language accurately. Capitalism has nothing to do with overturning third world country elections, or installing dictators, or CIA black ops. It's as much to do with those things as socialism is to do with gulags and nefarious plots to kill "moose and squirrel."

    I'd *really* like to discuss the actual matter of capitalism with you, and how it works and why, but it seems as though you might not want to discuss the actual system of economics called "capitalism." Instead, you keep relating it to this host of ancillary issues that have nothing to do with it, except as historical accident and ideological talking points.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    'Pure' socialism is communism, and would not happen for several generations. A socialist society would have some small scale private enterprise.

    Its hard to say if the world is getting closer or further away. The ideology was stronger 90 years ago, but in other ways the conditions are actually much better now. As I have said many times, socialism is impossible in a backward country in isolation, but nowadays most countries are more or less advanced ones.
    When you say that "conditions are actually much better now," you mean that the world is wealthier, more advanced, yeah? Do you think that, as people get wealthier, they become more or less discontented with the status quo? More or less inclined to "revolution"?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Marx was not a psychic. He analysed the workings of capitalism, explained its faults (as well as pointing out that initially it was a progressive system), and proposed a planned economy instead. And indeed millions of people wanted socialism. Unfortunately on the one hand Stalinism, and on the other the soft 'socialists' who were really centrists who ended up as custodians of capitalism, both gave socialism a bad name for a long time.
    Well, I understand, but didn't Marx put all of his theories under the guise of "science." Isn't capitalism supposed to lead to socialism kinda... whether we want it to or not, like, inexorably?

    I'm just asking whether, if Marx was right, we shouldn't be moving closer to socialism *all the time*?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But now socialism seems to be maybe making a bit of a revival in terms of polls.
    Not that I'm disputing this--I have no grounds on which to do so--but do you have any sources you could cite?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Will it ever happen? I have no idea.
    Well, this I find surprising. Again, I thought that Marx considered it bound to happen. That it was a natural process, every bit as automatic as leaves falling to the ground in autumn.

    But perhaps the, uh, world's economic forest is evergreen?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its pretty obvious capitalism is prone to recessions. All sorts of policies have been tried.
    Saying that "capitalism is prone to recessions" (which is pretty vague) is not the equivalent to showing that "capitalism caused the Great Depression." If I wanted to prove that you murdered Col. Mustard (in the Conservatory, with the hammer and sickle), I'd have to say something more than "well, people kill each other all the time."

    To prove that capitalism caused the Great Depression you'd have to, you know, prove that capitalism caused the Great Depression. Though really, you might consider holding that for a thread more about the Great Depression. Again, the salient point here is: we disagree as to how to interpret the history.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You still get recessions. Marx explained them 150 years ago. Reading the communist manifesto in places is like reading a description of the last couple of years. Whatever the capitalists try to do to cure one recession ends up contributing to the next.
    Curiously, I happen to agree with that last sentence. Although I'd dispute that it's "capitalists" who are trying to cure recessions. We're rather like the Christian Scientists of economics; we don't like medicine and want to let God sort it all out.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    This [an explanation as to what profit actually is versus manc's mischaracterization of profit] is just splitting hairs and losing sight of the essence of the matter.
    Obviously, I disagree with you. If we're going to discuss profit, I think it is to the very "essence of the matter" to use the term correctly.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Workers do not profit, capitalists do. Workers get paid a wage, which is not profit.

    wiki:

    "In neoclassical economics, economic profit, or profit, is the difference between a firm's total revenue and its opportunity costs."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profit_(economics)

    In economics and finance, the profit rate is the relative profitability of an investment project, of a capitalist enterprise, or of the capitalist economy as a whole. It is similar to the concept of the rate of return on investment.
    In Marxian political economy, the rate of profit (r) would be measured as
    r = (surplus-value)/(capital invested).
    where surplus-value corresponds to unpaid labor in the production process or to profits, interest, and rent (property income).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rate_of_profit
    None of this argues at all with what I've had to say on the matter, except when you say that "workers do not profit, capitalists do," but that's just a bare assertion. As for dictionary/encyclopedia entries, etc., 1) it's all "argument from authority," and 2) as is the case with all authorities, I can find one that suits me, too:

    profit (http://education.yahoo.com/reference...y/entry/profit)

    1. An advantageous gain or return; benefit.
    2. The return received on a business undertaking after all operating expenses have been met.

    Both of these can apply to workers. Workers profit. If you'd like to disagree, I invite it, but I'd ask that you actually contend with the rationale that I've presented in the thread: profit is when a person trades something of lesser value for something of greater value; specifically, the profit is the difference between them--it is the increase of wealth. Workers trade their labor for compensation that they value more greatly, and in so doing, they profit.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Yeah, the cake grows because of useful labour, money represents labour. Ok, useless labour is not counted. So all the accountants, finance people, sales people, sponging billionaire Waltons and so on, they do not do useful labour so their labour is meaningless. Shame its them that gets most of the money.
    Of course their labor is useful. If their labor wasn't useful, it's unlikely that people would pay them for it. (Fatcat bourgeoisie aren't likely to hire people solely out of charity, are they?)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Give me an example of the sort of tyrannical action you think could arise in a socialist democracy, something with a real possibility that you could envisage.
    Well, I think the possibilities are limitless. But okay, I'll throw something or two out there and see what you think about it. Suppose that the masses decide that some minority is more inclined to pursue personal wealth (let's say that their religion encourages it, or somesuch), and they want to put a stop to that, by: what? Curbing free speech? Or imprisoning the minority members? Or putting them to death? Or I don't know, but what can't they do, if they have the voting numbers to do it, and how would their limits operate?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its you thats saying the masses might come to some dodgy decisions. Suppose YOU lived in a socialist democracy and the people came to a dodgy decision. Would you want the leaders to try to enlighten the masses or bend to the dodgy populist will?
    I guess I'm confused as to where these "leaders" came from. I thought that we're all equal in this socialist democracy. Who are these leaders, and how is it they're able to "enlighten" anyone? Aren't we all supposedly equally enlightened?

    Animal Farm, for instance, was meant as a fictionalized retelling of awful events, or as a cautionary tale... it wasn't meant as a road map. But in suggesting that there are these leaders who are somehow set apart from the masses, such that they should be "enlightening" them, it immediately suggests to my mind that "all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You are criticising socialism for some hypothetical situation you haven't even defined.
    No, I never was. I was only ever asking you what your plan was to steer clear of the dangers of majority-rule tyranny.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Would you want Plato to get hanged or not?
    The example was Socrates (who died via poison), and: of course not! But then, I'm not in favor of unlimited governmental power in anyone's hands. You're the one advocating for a "dictatorship of the proletariat," right? I don't trust any kind of dictatorship. Instead, I argue for Constitutional limits on power... and maybe you do, too? But if so, I'd really like to hear it. I'd like to know specifically what kinds of things the "masses" can or can't do, in terms of governance.

    And I think it's, uh, kind of fitting I should ask you about that sort of thing since this is a thread where we're discussing Marxism/socialism/communism. I think it's appropriate I'd ask "so, how would it work, exactly?" Isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    And I disagree. Cuba isnt proper socialism obviously, but they have more doctors per person than America, and they arent forced to become doctors, and they arent paid well. In Cuba a doctor is paid 1.5 times the national average. Cuban doctors wages are pathetic, yet they have no shortage of volunteers.
    Others far more knowlegable on the subject of Cuba than I have already sought to address this point, so I'll defer to them and watch the ensuing conversation about it with interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well for a kick off most of the worlds best inventions werent done for money. I dont mind people wanting more FOR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, just not for themself at the expense of everyone else.
    I'm also not in favor of people wanting more "at the expense of everyone else." Fortuantely, that's not what I'm advocating. I'm in favor of people wanting more for themselves. Since the cake is not a fixed size, I can want more for myself without that being at anyone else's expense. That's actually the genius of capitalism. It means that I don't have to be upset when my neighbor does well; I know his success doesn't hurt me. The cake continues to grow, and we can all eat more of it.
    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 chadn737 View Post
    Compare the economies of every single communist country to that of any country with a capitalist system. (I would include the more socialist European nations, but their industries are largely private and hire sales reps as well, so a valid comparison can't be made in this instance)

    Now consider the economic growth and standard of living in China, which has grown by double digits ever since they liberalized their economy, becoming increasingly capitalist.

    Now consider that when Russia and Ukraine (historically a bread basket in that part of the world) were part of the Soviet Union, they still managed to have food shortages. Whereas the US has consistently exported food for centuries.

    If you are right, then the US, which has millions who work in Sales, should economically be a third world country and the Soviet Union, old economically communist China, North Korea, Cuba, etc should all be first world economic power houses. Only one in that list is now a power house, China, and it got that way by making its economy Capitalist.
    Ok, first thing, there is no socialist or communist country in the world not has there ever been. The Stalinist countries have a planned economy but not the vital ingredient to make the economy work - workers democracy.

    Secondly you argument about sales in the USA, well you cant just take one aspect in isolation. America is a rich country. It has a huge chunk of the worlds money. It gets all its production done in China for next to nothing. And also it borrows a lot of money from China.


    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Because the British ration their health care.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/251988.stm

    It is if you have cancer and need newer or experimental drugs that the UK health system doesn't want to pay for.
    Well sure there is that, but its no worse than in America, and it costs half as much. You are always gonna get new treatments which arent immediately available to everyone straight away. But you are arguing my case for me. The drugs are too expensive. Why? Because the pharmaceutical companies are private, and the cost of drugs is pushed up. They need to be nationalised. Overall you can maybe compare countries healthcare to some extent by how long people live. People live longer in the UK than in America. Infant mortality is higher in America than in the UK.

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Not true. If your part of the elite, you get good treatment equivalent to what one can get in the US, but if your a common Cuban, your pretty screwed.
    Ok lets check this out. The article was from National Review which describes itself as a magazine for conservative views. How surprising.

    Now lets check those vitals...well Cubans live slightly longer than Americans, despite it being a very poor country. Even infant mortality is lower in Cuba than America.

    Yeah, some stuff like Aspirin is hard to get. I take it you realise Cuba is short of stuff because of the trade Embargo with the USA? The embargo was condemned by the British Medical Association.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Cuba#Embargo


    Oh, and America spends TWENTY times as much on healthcare per person as Cuba does.

    Of course its not perfect, Cuba is not a socialist country, its a very poor one, and it gets screwed by the embargo.

    But Cuba still has far more doctors per person than in America.

    As for how much of a two tier system Cuba has, well its hard to verify. However its not as isolated as one might think, Cuba has had over 100,000 international medical collaborations, 25,000 in 2005. Yes they are short of equipment and some drugs.

    They have a different approach to America, with a lot of emphasis on prevention.

    Aids and infectious diseases are virtually nonexistent there. Most people die from cancer of heart disease.

    Yes tourists can buy posh treatment. Its a vital source of foreign revenue as far as the government is concerned.
    http://www.who.int/countryfocus/coop...ief_cub_en.pdf
    http://www.who.int/countries/usa/en/
    http://www.who.int/countries/gbr/en/
    http://www.who.int/countries/cub/en/

    ---------- Post added at 08:30 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:01 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by czahar View Post
    Stalin, apparently, did not get the message about banning racism:

    The Doctors' plot (Russian language: дело врачей [doctors' affair], врачи-вредители [doctors-saboteurs] or врачи-убийцы [doctors-killers]) was a most dramatic anti-Jewish episode in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin's regime, involving the "unmasking" of a group of prominent Moscow doctors, predominantly Jews, as conspiratorial assassins of Soviet leaders [1]. This was accompanied by show trials and anti-Semitic propaganda in state-run mass media. Scores of Soviet Jews were promptly dismissed from their jobs, arrested, sent to GULAG or executed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctors'_plot
    I know. But Stalinist USSR wasn't socialist. He killed the socialists.He killed Trotsky. In fact the reason anti-Semitism was craftily encouraged was because Trotsky and many of the original Bolshevik leaders were Jews. I say crafty because it wasn't encouraged openly, in fact Stalin pretended to oppose anti-Semitism while really encouraging it.

    Just a loosely related but important aside..

    The Nazis came to power largely because of the criminal stupidity of the leaders of the two nominally Marxist parties, the Social Democrats and the Communists (social democracy originally meant Marxism). Trotsky urged these two parties to unite. If they had done, we probably would never have had Nazis in power, WW2 and the holocaust.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Ok, first thing, there is no socialist or communist country in the world not has there ever been. The Stalinist countries have a planned economy but not the vital ingredient to make the economy work - workers democracy.
    How very convenient for your argument. I would disagree, but I think it would be more amusing and just assume you are right, because that then begs several questions.

    1) Assuming a "true communist" state has never existed, then why is this so? There have been numerous attempts (Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Cuba, most of South and Central America, etc). Why have all failed to produce a "true communist" state? Hmmm? Perhaps because communism is an inherently flawed theory/ideal that does not work in reality and attempts to make it a reality inevitably lead to some form of Stalinism/Maoism/Kim Il Sungsim/Castroism/(insert tyrannical homicidal regime here).

    2) Why should a "workers democracy" make a planned economy work any better? Please explain this one to me, because why democracy is necessary to the success of planned economies is beyond me. Its understandable why democracy successfully works with capitalism, as both are premised on freedom of choice and as capitalistic economies change rapidly in accordance to market demand thus adapting easily to the changing desires of a free people.

    3) Isn't democracy in any form antagonistic to planned economies? Democratic governments are about choice and the freedom of the people to exercise their will. Planned economies are about denying choice and the exercise of will. Planned economies dictate what and how much you can buy or sell. They determine and limit the career paths you can take in life. They stifle innovation because there is little incentive to create. Planned economies are about controlling and harnessing the will of the people, as such they require stable and authoritative governments who are of one mind to implement. That is not the sort of governments that naturally result in Democracies. The general populace is never of one mind of what should be done or how best to implement what should be done. As a result, neither are the officials it elects. That is why Capitalism works with democracy. Since there is at least some separation between the economy and the state, the economy can freely adapt to the needs and desires of the people and market place, even when the government is split/clueless/inept/etc.


    Secondly you argument about sales in the USA, well you cant just take one aspect in isolation. America is a rich country. It has a huge chunk of the worlds money. It gets all its production done in China for next to nothing. And also it borrows a lot of money from China.
    What is your point?

    Also, why is the US so rich that it is able to farm out its production to countries like China and still consume? Probably because American Capitalism has made it the richest country in the world.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    I wouldnt get too bogged down with definitions. Words change their meanings. Marxists dont use the words exactly the same these days because you have to talk in a language people understand.

    The USSR etc was not communism, but most people think it was, so Marxists shy away from using the word communism these days.

    Socialism is a transition to communism, but they are just words. Marx actually never used the word socialism, he referred to higher and lower stages of communism.

    Today, Marxists tend to use the word socialism to describe a classless society.
    Now, a Challenge to support a claim. towards socialism: What end are you working towards, and why would you even favor socialism at all, if it is so apparent that a classless society has never been successfully made, and any earnest attempts to do so have turned into so called "communist" countries who victimize the Bourgeoise? Can classless society be made? Or were Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Carl Marx idealizing something that couldn't possibly work? How can it possibly be successful? How can lower levels of it be successful, when it is apparent that for some time now an "evil capitalist" country had been supporting them all, for example- The presidency of Harry Truman, in which his foreign policy was a substantial part of the rebuilding of Western Europe? And how about the numerous countries who import and export with capitalist America, chiefly because of the amount of consumerism in America?
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Yes, precisely. It is a "mixed economy." .........

    Or, uh, should we revisit this?

    Call it a mixed economy if you want, but I will call America capitalist because

    A. Thats what Marxists call it. Maybe in America they will start using the word corporatist a bit more. I did notice the word a few times in one of the articles in the American site Socialist Alternative.

    B. Thats also what the financial journals like the FT do.

    Its only a few Americans who find it a problem.

    In America you can be a capitalist one day, happily making a profit from your work force. One day your industry takes a knock and the government lends a few dollars or taxes imports or whatever. Suddenly it's not capitalism. Capitalists and non capitalists are running around swapping hats.

    In Russia, starting round about 1924, Stalin took the helm of the bureaucracy which was grown as the attempt at socialism failed due to its isolation in a backward country. He then drowned the revolution in a sea of blood, launching a bloody political counter revolution, killing all the genuine original Bolsheviks, save for a few who saved their lives by swapping sides. The revolution had no chance, isolated in a backward country. You would have expected it to collapse back to capitalism. Well it did, it just went through a weird stage of being a sort of deformed version of socialism. A bureaucratically deformed workers state.

    These are the facts. Socialism and Stalinism are so different that Stalinism then went on to sabotage attempts at socialism around the world.

    Corporatism does not try to drown capitalism in a sea of blood. There isnt that much difference between corporatists and capitalists, one gets a subsidy from his government chums, thats why he backed the campaign of course. No capitalists are gonna stick an ice pick through Obamas head.

    ---------- Post added at 11:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:13 AM ----------

    to be continued.....!

    Ok, I'm off to get a few whiskys down me

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc
    Ok, I'm off to get a few whiskys down me
    Sorry, but you are only allowed one, that way we have enough whiskey to equally distribute to each and every individual.

    Its the socialist way and Party regulation Don't make me question your loyalty to the Revolution and the Party, because so help me if I even suspect you of questioning the Revolution as manifested through over consumption of Whiskey I will turn you in and they don't have Whiskey in the Gulags.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I know. But Stalinist USSR wasn't socialist.
    1) That's irrelevant. Your argument was that the Bolsheviks banned racism. If Stalin was a Bolshevik, this was clearly not the case.

    2) Support your claim that Stalinist Russia was any less "socialist" than any other era in Soviet history.

    3) You seem to imply that Soviet anti-semitism was limited to Stalin. If this is true, I would ask that you support this, as history does not seem to support such a claim. Khrushchev, for instance, excluded Jews from higher education and the professions and under the guise of so called "economic crimes" imprisoned and executed a number of Soviet Jews.

    http://www.ncsj.org/AuxPages/history.shtml#THE%20CREATION
    [QUOTE]
    He killed the socialists.
    That does not prove he was not a socialist. It does not even suggest it. People frequently kill members of their own group. Street gangs such as the Bloods and Crips frequently kill members of their own gangs.

    He killed Trotsky. In fact the reason anti-Semitism was craftily encouraged was because Trotsky and many of the original Bolshevik leaders were Jews. I say crafty because it wasn't encouraged openly, in fact Stalin pretended to oppose anti-Semitism while really encouraging it.
    So what exactly are you crediting Soviet Russia with - banning openly anti-semetic expressions while practicing them in secret? That is not exactly something to brag about?

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    You don't think that, say, the man who winds up curing AIDS wouldn't deserve to receive anything more for doing that than, say... a pedicurist? Their "contributions" are equal?
    Of course their contributions are not equal. But socialism is not about rewarding people based on how much they contribute, its about rewarding everyone the same. Thats the long term goal. In the short term I would increase the income of the poor and cap the income of the rich, as I said.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    And as to your "early stage minimum," is there anything other than arbitrary fiat behind your "6 times" limit? Or has that been scientifically arrived at, somehow?
    No, I just made it up. Maybe it would only be 5 times. Or 4.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Most people can study to degree level now, if they want. There's plenty of education available in the US. That doesn't mean that all-of-a-sudden everyone is a genius inventor, and I doubt that the system you'd implement could achieve anything like that. Geniuses are and always will be rare, and people's contributions to society will always vary; a pedicurist will simply be limited in how much they change the world (professionally, at least) but a doctor will affect many more people, much more profoundly.
    Kids born in poor families are less likely to go to uni and less likely to become a doctor. Unless they live in Cuba.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Perhaps that's true of some of the best discoveries. Others, however, came with a price tag... and it's possible that some of those were motivated by the lure of personal wealth. It's possible that in your socialist society, we would continue to have some discoveries--those that would exist regardless of the possibility of personal wealth--but I anticipate that we would have those along with those motivated by personal wealth in my capitalist society.
    Ok, lets explore this one. Why a socialist system would be better.
    Firstly, you come up with two reasons for people discovering stuff, financial reward and the one I gave, just enjoying the activity of research or inventing. We need to take into account another one, which would become much more common in a socialist society - wanting to help humanity. This would be where you got your status, and personal gratification. People would look up to people who did useful things, not because they have a stupid massive car or a pathetic private jet.


    Secondly, in capitalism, research tends to be kept secret. In socialism it would all be out in the open. So something you found out, I could develop. Instead of just having different drug companies duplicating research more or less in secret, the knowledge would get pooled, and would thus expand.

    You are missing the point that having everyone on the same wage would take generations. Is 6 times the minimum not enough to encourage research? How much do you think an average researcher gets? In capitalism, most of the profits dont go to the researchers, they just get a wage and get no special reward for discovering something, so your argument is invalid.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I contend that capitalism will outperform socialism in "growing the cake." Am I to understand that you disagree--that you think that socialism would be better at creating wealth (because: "more efficient, more productive economy") than capitalism?

    Do you have any data that supports this, or clear historical example? Because, I'll tell you the way it looks: capitalist countries seem to have done much better than socialist countries, in terms of "efficiency," "productivity" and all-around economic performance. When Germany was split into East and West, didn't the "capitalist" side outperform its "socialist" counterpart? What about North versus South Korea? Communist China versus Taiwan/Hong Kong? (Note: I understand that all historical examples are bound to be messy in that they're fraught with individual circumstances that might be argued are mitigating. However, are there any cases at all that at least *appear* to argue that socialism could outperform its capitalist equivalent?)
    I repeat, none of those countries were socialist. Yes of course I think socialism would create more wealth than capitalism, thats the whole point of it. Having said that, a planned economy did shift Russia form a backward, semi-feudal country with 90% illiteracy, to the second superpower. The bureaucracy however was a relative fetter, which over time became an absolute one. Socialists in the west hoped that the Stalinist political counter-revolution would get reversed, and genuine socialism would be established. Unfortunately the bureaucracy just decided to become capitalists. Of course there are many achievements that the Stalinist countries did manage. The most educated people in the world are in Stalinist or ex Stalinist countries. Again if we compare America and Cuba by the ratings of the Happiness Index Life Satisfaction score, despite its poverty Cuba only lags America by a small margin, scoring 6.7 to America's 7.8. However in the overall rating, Cuba gets 65.7 to America's 30.7. The overall index takes into account your ecological footprint as well.

    America's ecological footprint is way too high and on a global scale would be impossible. We would need about 6 to 30 planet earths to have everyone living like an average American. For this reason alone America cannot possibly be a model economy. Its literally impossible, on a global scale. America can only exist as it does because it uses more than its fair share of the worlds resources. To have everyone living at a comparable standard would require radical change, ie a socialist system, where waste could be eliminated.
    http://www.happyplanetindex.org/explore/global/

    ---------- Post added at 11:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:41 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    People don't tend to freely pay for things that are actually useless.
    Useless in a socialist economy, eg marketing, speculators, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Just want to say that war isn't particular to capitalism, and presumably wouldn't be absent under socialism. Seems to be a human thing, really.
    Socialism is internationalist, capitalism is based on the nation state.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Or, compared with most human beings on the planet, and over the entire course of human history... do I actually live pretty well?
    Exactly, global capitalism doesn't mean most people living pretty well, most people live on less that $5 per day.






    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I know, it's pretty awesome that so many people can get work because one guy wants a boat. If he wanted two, twice as many people would get paid. Crazy.
    How about the government took that $1 billion, and instead of making one yacht for one man, built 10 million wind turbines, or 1 million affordable homes.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this post:
    You think we could get to a situation where we all have $1 billion yachts?Yes, absolutely.

    manc said in this post:
    Who would be building them? How many million planet earths do you think we would need?

    Oh, probably just the one earth. As to who would be building them, I don't know, but I guess they'd be gainfully employed, so that doesn't seem like such a bad thing.
    This is just silly. That would effectively mean each person on the planet building a $1 billion yacht, in terms of the overall amount of labour. You would have no crew. How many man hours do you think goes into one? Would we have enough time in a lifetime, if we did nothing else? You could maybe do it with some serious robot technology, but would the planet have enough resources? Where would they all get harboured? I dont think you have thought this one through. The planet doesnt have enough resources for everyone to live like an average American, not nearly enough, in a capitalist system, let alone for everyone to have a $1 billion yacht. Do you know how big a $1 billion yacht is?


    As for computers, well they are not $1 billion yachts are they. A $1 billion yacht is a huge ship. It would need a substantial crew just to operate it.

    In fact it has a crew of 70 people.

    ---------- Post added at 11:51 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:13 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Just so we're clear, being capitalist doesn't mean supporting every aspect of American foreign (or domestic) policy. I don't know the particulars of Haiti, but you'll have to show something about what capitalism does to these countries apart from simply "what America did."
    Well what America did there was it subsidised its rice growers, so they could out-comete Haitis own growers, so their agriculture got destroyed. America propped up the dictatorship there as well. Its just an example, but it happens all the time, Europe does it, all the rich countries do. And not just with subsidies. The rich countries control everything - exchange rates, interest rates, capital, import controls.

    Tell you what, you name me a poor country, not a Stalinist one obviously, and I will tell you why it is poor.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    My contention is that what's holding these countries back is their governance. I don't believe in dictatorship, here or elsewhere... and for that matter, I don't believe in subsidizing American rice. Capitalism isn't going to hurt Haiti; capitalism is, imo, the way for Haiti to get out of its poverty.
    Rich countries are rich partly at the expense of the poor ones. America propped up the dictator there. America has been involved in Haiti since 1804. The Haitians rebelled against the French slave owners and won freedom but for about 100 years had to pay a big chunk of their economy in compensation to the French, to compensate them for loss of slaves!

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, "free trade" does mean "free trade," I think. Doesn't it?
    It means trade which suits rich countries, like in the Haiti example.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Capitalism has nothing to do with overturning third world country elections, or installing dictators, or CIA black ops. It's as much to do with those things as socialism is to do with gulags and nefarious plots to kill "moose and squirrel."

    I'd *really* like to discuss the actual matter of capitalism with you, and how it works and why, but it seems as though you might not want to discuss the actual system of economics called "capitalism." Instead, you keep relating it to this host of ancillary issues that have nothing to do with it, except as historical accident and ideological talking points.
    We have to start with the real world as it exists. This is what we have. The dominant economy is what most people call capitalism. A few right wing Americans have a problem with this 'loose' definition. Technically you are probably right, but I have to stick with the general terms everyone uses.

    I can debate your vision of pure capitalism, maybe on a separate thread, I dunno, but to me its just a fanciful idea, a hypothetical one really.

    Just remember that deregulation led to the economic crash.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    When you say that "conditions are actually much better now," you mean that the world is wealthier, more advanced, yeah? Do you think that, as people get wealthier, they become more or less discontented with the status quo? More or less inclined to "revolution"?
    Socialism can only be achieved in advanced countries by educated urban working class. Over the last 90 years most countries have become more industrialised, soon we will be at a point where half of the world lives in cities. It could start in a backward country, but it would only survive if it spread to advanced ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, I understand, but didn't Marx put all of his theories under the guise of "science." Isn't capitalism supposed to lead to socialism kinda... whether we want it to or not, like, inexorably?

    I'm just asking whether, if Marx was right, we shouldn't be moving closer to socialism *all the time*?
    Marx never talked about straight lines. Marxism is based on dialectics, and dialectics is the study of movement or change, and it happens in a complicated interconnected way, where change happens in spirals. Its like saying evolution should lead to perfect species, but of course it doesn't. Marx said capitalism had created the conditions for socialism - advanced manufacturing, and an urban working class. But it takes leadership and thats not always been there. There have been many near misses, many close shaves. Socialism would exist across the globe now, but counter-revolution just managed to defeat it one way or another. I mentioned Suharto killing a million socialists, while the CIA and the western bankers rubbed their hands in glee. America even gave him a list of socialists to kill. Shortly after, David Rockefeller led a conference of multinationals and Suhartos economists, in which the western companies divide up Indonesia between them in a huge corporate takeover.

    ---------- Post added August 7th, 2010 at 12:51 AM ---------- Previous post was August 6th, 2010 at 11:51 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    When you say that "conditions are actually much better now," you mean that the world is wealthier, more advanced, yeah? Do you think that, as people get wealthier, they become more or less discontented with the status quo? More or less inclined to "revolution"?
    Bit more on that. Its a complicated one. Workers gat more confident to organise and go on strike etc in good times actually, when there is less unemployment. But of course also austerity measures can push them into action. Obviously the first steps are unions and a workers party.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this post:
    But now socialism seems to be maybe making a bit of a revival in terms of polls.


    Not that I'm disputing this--I have no grounds on which to do so--but do you have any sources you could cite?
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/publ...than_socialism

    "Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided."


    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pi...radera/644.php

    "Wide Dissatisfaction with Capitalism -- Twenty Years after Fall of Berlin Wall

    Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new BBC World Service global poll finds that dissatisfaction with free market capitalism is widespread, with an average of only 11% across 27 countries saying that it works well and that greater regulation is not a good idea."

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, this I find surprising. Again, I thought that Marx considered it bound to happen. That it was a natural process, every bit as automatic as leaves falling to the ground in autumn.

    Well, he did say in the Communist Manifesto that it was inevitable, but I think that was just a bit of optimistic wording, trying to whip up enthusiasm. Its like a football team manager saying 'we are gonna beat them'. I dont think he thought it was literally inevitable. He said change would have to be made by socialists, it wouldnt just happen. Anyway, maybe it will happen and who are we to say it wont?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    But perhaps the, uh, world's economic forest is evergreen?
    Capitalism has only been in place as a system for 350 years. Before that it was a feudal system.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Saying that "capitalism is prone to recessions" (which is pretty vague) is not the equivalent to showing that "capitalism caused the Great Depression." If I wanted to prove that you murdered Col. Mustard (in the Conservatory, with the hammer and sickle), I'd have to say something more than "well, people kill each other all the time."

    To prove that capitalism caused the Great Depression you'd have to, you know, prove that capitalism caused the Great Depression. Though really, you might consider holding that for a thread more about the Great Depression. Again, the salient point here is: we disagree as to how to interpret the history.
    Im not an economist. Marx wrote the three volume Capital, which has over 1000 pages in just the first volume. But we all know that capitalism has recessions every few years. Sometimes it has really big ones. Sometimes policies etc make them worse. Sometimes they are worse because they are preceded by bubbles.

    In these recessions the ruling class are forced to start actually destroying chunks of the economy.

    Marx:

    It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

    ---------- Post added at 01:28 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:51 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    Curiously, I happen to agree with that last sentence. Although I'd dispute that it's "capitalists" who are trying to cure recessions. We're rather like the Christian Scientists of economics; we don't like medicine and want to let God sort it all out.
    Thats what they did in the Great Depression and it didn't work, which is why they avoided it this time.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Obviously, I disagree with you. If we're going to discuss profit, I think it is to the very "essence of the matter" to use the term correctly.
    I can give you the Marxist definition, I am trying to explain Marxism. I can also give you standard business ones. In none of those are the wages paid to a worker defined as profit.

    http://www.businessdictionary.com/de...on/profit.html

    "Best known measure of the success of an enterprise, it is the surplus remaining after total costs are deducted from total revenue, and the basis on which tax is computed and dividend is paid. Profit is reflected in reduction in liabilities, increase in assets, and/or increase in owners' equity."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profit_(economics)
    "..profit, is the difference between a firm's total revenue and its opportunity costs"

    http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/p/r.htm#profit
    "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."

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    None of this argues at all with what I've had to say on the matter, except when you say that "workers do not profit, capitalists do," but that's just a bare assertion. As for dictionary/encyclopedia entries, etc., 1) it's all "argument from authority," and 2) as is the case with all authorities, I can find one that suits me, too:

    profit (http://education.yahoo.com/reference...y/entry/profit)

    1. An advantageous gain or return; benefit.
    2. The return received on a business undertaking after all operating expenses have been met.

    Both of these can apply to workers. Workers profit. If you'd like to disagree, I invite it, but I'd ask that you actually contend with the rationale that I've presented in the thread: profit is when a person trades something of lesser value for something of greater value; specifically, the profit is the difference between them--it is the increase of wealth. Workers trade their labor for compensation that they value more greatly, and in so doing, they profit.

    Again you are trying to get me to debate using your definitions, which are not ones many people use. Yeah you can use the word profit is a looser way sometimes, but thats not an economic definition. In fact you second one IS a business's profit, AFTER wages have been paid etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Of course their labor is useful. If their labor wasn't useful, it's unlikely that people would pay them for it. (Fatcat bourgeoisie aren't likely to hire people solely out of charity, are they?)
    I have answered this before, they are useful in a capitalist system only. Socialism would not need sales reps.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, I think the possibilities are limitless. But okay, I'll throw something or two out there and see what you think about it. Suppose that the masses decide that some minority is more inclined to pursue personal wealth (let's say that their religion encourages it, or somesuch), and they want to put a stop to that, by: what? Curbing free speech? Or imprisoning the minority members? Or putting them to death? Or I don't know, but what can't they do, if they have the voting numbers to do it, and how would their limits operate?
    If the masses wanted to persecute a religion that would not be allowed. But its hardly likely.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I guess I'm confused as to where these "leaders" came from. I thought that we're all equal in this socialist democracy. Who are these leaders, and how is it they're able to "enlighten" anyone? Aren't we all supposedly equally enlightened?
    In the long run everyone would be a leader. In the short term they would be elected. Its up to socialists to put themselves up for election. They have to be able to convince people.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Animal Farm, for instance, was meant as a fictionalized retelling of awful events, or as a cautionary tale... it wasn't meant as a road map. But in suggesting that there are these leaders who are somehow set apart from the masses, such that they should be "enlightening" them, it immediately suggests to my mind that "all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others."
    It was a description of Stalinism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    No, I never was. I was only ever asking you what your plan was to steer clear of the dangers of majority-rule tyranny.
    Education.


    The example was Socrates (who died via poison), and: of course not! But then, I'm not in favor of unlimited governmental power in anyone's hands. You're the one advocating for a "dictatorship of the proletariat," right? I don't trust any kind of dictatorship. Instead, I argue for Constitutional limits on power... and maybe you do, too? But if so, I'd really like to hear it. I'd like to know specifically what kinds of things the "masses" can or can't do, in terms of governance.

    And I think it's, uh, kind of fitting I should ask you about that sort of thing since this is a thread where we're discussing Marxism/socialism/communism. I think it's appropriate I'd ask "so, how would it work, exactly?" Isn't it?
    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post


    It would be worked in practice by trial and error. There are no blueprints. In my view, off the top of my head, the masses would make the right decisions based on education and information. We live in an age of communication. You explain to the masses that this is a bad or a good idea, make a case, and hopefully they will agree.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I'm also not in favor of people wanting more "at the expense of everyone else." Fortuantely, that's not what I'm advocating. I'm in favor of people wanting more for themselves. Since the cake is not a fixed size, I can want more for myself without that being at anyone else's expense. That's actually the genius of capitalism. It means that I don't have to be upset when my neighbor does well; I know his success doesn't hurt me. The cake continues to grow, and we can all eat more of it.
    The cake ain't growing much for half the world who live on less than $3 per day, and the world does have finite resources which are ALREADY over reached and unsustainable.

    In 2006 we were using what equates to the resources of 1.4 plant earths.

    world average ecological footprint in 2006 was 2.6 global hectares per person world average biocapacity of 1.8 global hectares per person
    ecological deficit of 0.8 global hectares per person

    USA footprint 9.0
    UK 6.1
    China 1.8
    Bangladesh 0.5

    ---------- Post added at 01:56 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:28 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post

    manc said
    "Ok, first thing, there is no socialist or communist country in the world not has there ever been. The Stalinist countries have a planned economy but not the vital ingredient to make the economy work - workers democracy."

    How very convenient for your argument. I would disagree, but I think it would be more amusing and just assume you are right, because that then begs several questions.

    1) Assuming a "true communist" state has never existed, then why is this so? There have been numerous attempts (Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Cuba, most of South and Central America, etc). Why have all failed to produce a "true communist" state? Hmmm? Perhaps because communism is an inherently flawed theory/ideal that does not work in reality and attempts to make it a reality inevitably lead to some form of Stalinism/Maoism/Kim Il Sungsim/Castroism/(insert tyrannical homicidal regime here).
    Well, you have started another thread on this so I will try to answer it on there.

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    2) Why should a "workers democracy" make a planned economy work any better? Please explain this one to me, because why democracy is necessary to the success of planned economies is beyond me. Its understandable why democracy successfully works with capitalism, as both are premised on freedom of choice and as capitalistic economies change rapidly in accordance to market demand thus adapting easily to the changing desires of a free people.
    Because without democracy you have what you had in Russia, a bureaucracy. Every decision has to go up to the self interested bureaucrats and through their committees. Everything took too long. The people on the ground who knew what was needed were not allowed to make decisions to get things done. Often the decision makers had no clue about what they were deciding. And nobody dared argue with them. The planned economy needs democracy like a body needs oxygen.

    "What will be the course of this revolution?

    Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution..."
    Frederick Engels 1847

    The Principles of Communism
    Written: October-November 1847;
    Source: Selected Works, Volume One, p. 81-97, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969;
    First Published: 1914, Eduard Bernstein in the German Social Democratic Party’s Vorwärts!;

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    3) Isn't democracy in any form antagonistic to planned economies?
    No
    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Democratic governments are about choice and the freedom of the people to exercise their will.
    Like half the world choose to be hungry or countless Americans choose to get their homes repossessed.


    QUOTE=chadn737;441572]Planned economies are about denying choice and the exercise of will. Planned economies dictate what and how much you can buy or sell. They determine and limit the career paths you can take in life. They stifle innovation because there is little incentive to create. Planned economies are about controlling and harnessing the will of the people, as such they require stable and authoritative governments who are of one mind to implement.
    Not true. You are thinking of the Stalinist countries.



    QUOTE=chadn737;441572]Also, why is the US so rich that it is able to farm out its production to countries like China and still consume? Probably because American Capitalism has made it the richest country in the world.[/QUOTE]

    Most countries are capitalist. The USA is about the 6th richest. The CIA rank it 8th. Per capita that is.

    Why is America rich? Well thats a complicated one. First off you have a big country with a lot of good fertile land occupied by a few Indians. The place gets invaded by the British and the French. They bring a load of slaves from Africa. They take over the country, get a load of Chinese over to build a railway (invented in Britain) across the continent. Yeah capitalism helped the economy. Thats why Marx said capitalism was a progressive and necessary stage in history, and why he supported the North in the American Civil War. He used to write for the New York Tribune.

    ---------- Post added at 02:28 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:56 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    What end are you working towards, and why would you even favor socialism at all, if it is so apparent that a classless society has never been successfully made, and any earnest attempts to do so have turned into so called "communist" countries who victimize the Bourgeoise? Can classless society be made? Or were Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Carl Marx idealizing something that couldn't possibly work? How can it possibly be successful? How can lower levels of it be successful, when it is apparent that for some time now an "evil capitalist" country had been supporting them all, for example- The presidency of Harry Truman, in which his foreign policy was a substantial part of the rebuilding of Western Europe? And how about the numerous countries who import and export with capitalist America, chiefly because of the amount of consumerism in America?
    Too many questions, too wide ranging to answer. A lot of it has been covered, I think, maybe in replies I put up after this was posted, also there is another thread now. Yeah I think socialism is possible, but its not certain it will ever happen.

    The end is a classless society.

    What do you mean about a capitalist country supporting lower level of socialism?

    ---------- Post added at 02:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:28 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by czahar View Post
    1) That's irrelevant. Your argument was that the Bolsheviks banned racism. If Stalin was a Bolshevik, this was clearly not the case.
    2) Support your claim that Stalinist Russia was any less "socialist" than any other era in Soviet history.

    3) You seem to imply that Soviet anti-semitism was limited to Stalin. If this is true, I would ask that you support this, as history does not seem to support such a claim. Khrushchev, for instance, excluded Jews from higher education and the professions and under the guise of so called "economic crimes" imprisoned and executed a number of Soviet Jews.

    http://www.ncsj.org/AuxPages/history.shtml#THE%20CREATION

    That does not prove he was not a socialist. It does not even suggest it. People frequently kill members of their own group. Street gangs such as the Bloods and Crips frequently kill members of their own gangs.



    So what exactly are you crediting Soviet Russia with - banning openly anti-semetic expressions while practicing them in secret? That is not exactly something to brag about?
    Ok lets start from scratch. The Bolsheviks banned racism. They fought wars against White armies who were killing thousands of Jews, about 150,000 maybe. Many of the Bolshevik leaders were Jews by the way.

    Stalin carried out a political counter revolution. The bureaucracy usurped power from socialists. During this my understanding is that he sort of said something like 'all these traitors just happen to be Jews, but don't let me influence any conclusion drawing', something along those lines maybe. He was basically trying to use anti-semitism against Trotsky and the Left Opposition, but he couldn't do it openly of course. Why do you think I would want to brag about it? I did use the word cunning, which from his point of view it was.

    When I talk about Stalinist USSR I mean after about 1924, til 1989. It was still a Stalinist system after Stalin died. Cuba is Stalinist, N.Korea is, China was and still half is.

    The only time Russia was remotely socialist was the first y years, and it was trying to achieve socialism, it never got there. Stalin derailed the whole thing.

    There were so many Jews in the Bolshevik Party by the way, that these days some of the fascists try to portray communism as a Jewish plot. Of course Marx himself came from a line of Rabbis, Trotsky was a Jew, and Lenin was part Jewish. At the key committee meeting in October 1917 where revolution was agreed, 6 of the 13 members were Jewish.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_...ish_Bolsheviks

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...onary_movement

    "In March 1919, Lenin delivered a speech "On Anti-Jewish Pogroms"[18] on a gramophone disc. Lenin sought to explain the phenomenon of antisemitism in Marxist terms. According to Lenin, antisemitism was an "attempt to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants from the exploiters toward the Jews." Linking antisemitism to class struggle, he argued that it was merely a political technique used by the tsar to exploit religious fanaticism, popularize the despotic, unpopular regime, and divert popular anger toward a scapegoat."

    "Jews comprised a majority in the Communist Central Committee, outnumbering even ethnic Russians"

    Lenin:
    "The Tsarist police, in alliance with the landowners and the capitalists, organized pogroms against the Jews. The landowners and capitalists tried to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants who were tortured by want against the Jews. … Only the most ignorant and downtrodden people can believe the lies and slander that are spread about the Jews. … It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people. The enemies of the workers are the capitalists of all countries. Among the Jews there are working people, and they form the majority. They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism. Among the Jews there are kulaks, exploiters and capitalists, just as there are among the Russians, and among people of all nations… Rich Jews, like rich Russians, and the rich in all countries, are in alliance to oppress, crush, rob and disunite the workers… Shame on accursed Tsarism which tortured and persecuted the Jews. Shame on those who foment hatred towards the Jews, who foment hatred towards other nations."

  18. #58
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Ok lets start from scratch. The Bolsheviks banned racism. They fought wars against White armies who were killing thousands of Jews, about 150,000 maybe. Many of the Bolshevik leaders were Jews by the way.

    Stalin carried out a political counter revolution. The bureaucracy usurped power from socialists. During this my understanding is that he sort of said something like 'all these traitors just happen to be Jews, but don't let me influence any conclusion drawing', something along those lines maybe. He was basically trying to use anti-semitism against Trotsky and the Left Opposition, but he couldn't do it openly of course. Why do you think I would want to brag about it? I did use the word cunning, which from his point of view it was.

    When I talk about Stalinist USSR I mean after about 1924, til 1989. It was still a Stalinist system after Stalin died. Cuba is Stalinist, N.Korea is, China was and still half is.

    The only time Russia was remotely socialist was the first y years, and it was trying to achieve socialism, it never got there. Stalin derailed the whole thing.

    There were so many Jews in the Bolshevik Party by the way, that these days some of the fascists try to portray communism as a Jewish plot. Of course Marx himself came from a line of Rabbis, Trotsky was a Jew, and Lenin was part Jewish. At the key committee meeting in October 1917 where revolution was agreed, 6 of the 13 members were Jewish.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_...ish_Bolsheviks

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...onary_movement

    "In March 1919, Lenin delivered a speech "On Anti-Jewish Pogroms"[18] on a gramophone disc. Lenin sought to explain the phenomenon of antisemitism in Marxist terms. According to Lenin, antisemitism was an "attempt to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants from the exploiters toward the Jews." Linking antisemitism to class struggle, he argued that it was merely a political technique used by the tsar to exploit religious fanaticism, popularize the despotic, unpopular regime, and divert popular anger toward a scapegoat."

    "Jews comprised a majority in the Communist Central Committee, outnumbering even ethnic Russians"

    Lenin:
    "The Tsarist police, in alliance with the landowners and the capitalists, organized pogroms against the Jews. The landowners and capitalists tried to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants who were tortured by want against the Jews. … Only the most ignorant and downtrodden people can believe the lies and slander that are spread about the Jews. … It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people. The enemies of the workers are the capitalists of all countries. Among the Jews there are working people, and they form the majority. They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism. Among the Jews there are kulaks, exploiters and capitalists, just as there are among the Russians, and among people of all nations… Rich Jews, like rich Russians, and the rich in all countries, are in alliance to oppress, crush, rob and disunite the workers… Shame on accursed Tsarism which tortured and persecuted the Jews. Shame on those who foment hatred towards the Jews, who foment hatred towards other nations."
    1) I do not see why you are arguing that Stalin was not a socialist. That claim is completely irrelevant to our argument as to whether or not the Bolsheviks banned racism.

    2) The Soviet Communist party grew out of the Bolshevik party, so it is not as if we are talking about two different parties. Lenin, from what I can see, was indeed an opponent of anti-semetism, and there were certainly many Jews in the Bolshevik movement he governed. But this anti-racism did not go very far past Lenin's rule of the Bolshevik party, and for the rest of Russia's Soviet history, the Communists (i.e., the Bolshevik party) had very racist policies; therefore, they cannot be credited with banning racism.

    Well, just to make everything clear, I am aware that Lenin was against anti-semitism, that czarist Russia was heavily anti-semetic, and that there were many Jews in the Bolshevik party. With that being said, crediting the Bolsheviks with banning racism.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by czahar View Post
    1) I do not see why you are arguing that Stalin was not a socialist. That claim is completely irrelevant to our argument as to whether or not the Bolsheviks banned racism.

    2) The Soviet Communist party grew out of the Bolshevik party, so it is not as if we are talking about two different parties. Lenin, from what I can see, was indeed an opponent of anti-semetism, and there were certainly many Jews in the Bolshevik movement he governed. But this anti-racism did not go very far past Lenin's rule of the Bolshevik party, and for the rest of Russia's Soviet history, the Communists (i.e., the Bolshevik party) had very racist policies; therefore, they cannot be credited with banning racism.

    Well, just to make everything clear, I am aware that Lenin was against anti-semitism, that czarist Russia was heavily anti-semetic, and that there were many Jews in the Bolshevik party. With that being said, crediting the Bolsheviks with banning racism.
    Stalin carried out a bloody political counter revolution. That is a big difference.
    I cant remember exactly when, but the Bolsheviks changed their name to the Communist Party. But that is hugely different to the Stalinist era. Stalin killed the original socialists. Why is that irrelevant?


    The Communist Party had a Jewish section.

    Muslims too had suffered under the Tsar. The Bolsheviks changed all that. They even allowed Muslims to have their own laws and courts and schools if they wanted. They didn't allow some stuff like stoning of course, and you could only use a Sharia court if both parties agreed. In fact they operated a sort of positive discrimination, to help Muslims catch up and to make up for the repression the suffered under the Tsar.

    government statement in 1917:
    "Muslims of Russia…all you whose mosques and prayer houses have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled upon by the tsars and oppressors of Russia: your beliefs and practices, your national and cultural institutions are forever free and inviolate. Know that your rights, like those of all the peoples of Russia, are under the mighty protection of the revolution"

    Later, Trotsky noted that in some of the southern republics, as many as 15% of CP members were Muslims.

    I'm not sure why you say the Bolsheviks didn't extend their ban on racism, they fought wars against people who carried out pogroms, and probably executed people for it. As I say, 150,000 Jews were killed in the civil war.

    They banned racism. Thats not to say that they managed to eliminate it completely of course.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Hey, manc,

    Our back and forth has (understandably) grown to be a bit unwieldy. I'm going to try to pare my response down a touch, to better concentrate on a few of the essentials; if I skip over anything crucial, please come back to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Call it a mixed economy if you want, but I will call America capitalist because

    [...]

    These are the facts. Socialism and Stalinism are so different that Stalinism then went on to sabotage attempts at socialism around the world.
    You're being unfair. I've given as much reason to call the USSR communist (or Marxist, or socialist) as you've given to call the US capitalist. I, too, could simply say that we need a word to "sum up," couldn't I?

    But honestly, I'm willing to allow for the distinctions between Stalinism and communism, because I'm more interested in finding what's true than trying to score points off of you. So, I'm going to drop this subject now--you call the US system anything you'd like--but just remember that what you refer to, when you refer to "capitalism," might not have anything to do with what actual capitalists advocate, or believe in, or fight for.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But socialism is not about rewarding people based on how much they contribute, its about rewarding everyone the same.
    Yes, I understand. Apart from finding this approach unjust (because I think that greater contributions deserve greater reward), I also worry about removing such incentives to contribution.

    I believe that, when incentives are attached to greater contribution, then contribution will generally rise. And that if you eliminate those incentives, overall contribution will decline. It appeals to what I consider "common sense" that this should be so, and I think it is borne out generally (we "know," for instance, that if you offer a tax incentive to do X, the rate of doing X will increase).

    But you seem to believe that you can remove such incentives while maintaining (or increasing) ideal rates of contribution... why? Because people will feel obligated, socially, to contribute more? (Or do you suggest some sort of punishment for failing to contribute sufficiently?)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Ok, lets explore this one. Why a socialist system would be better.
    Firstly, you come up with two reasons for people discovering stuff, financial reward and the one I gave, just enjoying the activity of research or inventing. We need to take into account another one, which would become much more common in a socialist society - wanting to help humanity. This would be where you got your status, and personal gratification. People would look up to people who did useful things, not because they have a stupid massive car or a pathetic private jet.
    Don't we already look up to those who do useful things selflessly? Perhaps this would be more common in a socialist system--though I'm not sure how we'd prove that--but would it make up for the whole category necessarily lost of "those who do for personal gain"?

    I neither need nor desire a "massive car," nor a private jet for that matter, but there are aspects of personal gain that drive me to work harder than I believe I would otherwise. For instance, providing a better life for my wife, and in anticipation of having a family. If you made it impossible for me to improve my lot in that way through extra work, or smarter work, etc.,... I don't know that I would try as hard as I do. And perhaps you think that, in the context of a socialist society, I would choose to try as hard as I do (or harder) anyways, because I'd want to help "society" out. But honestly, I can't imagine that "the good of society" would ever call to me so loudly as "the good of my actual friends and family," or drive me to do as much.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Marx never talked about straight lines. Marxism is based on dialectics, and dialectics is the study of movement or change, and it happens in a complicated interconnected way, where change happens in spirals.

    [...]

    Bit more on that. Its a complicated one. Workers gat more confident to organise and go on strike etc in good times actually, when there is less unemployment. But of course also austerity measures can push them into action. Obviously the first steps are unions and a workers party.
    Okay, I'll take it from you that it's "complicated" to see whether we're getting closer to Marx's predictions or not. But can I ask you this: is there any point where we would be able to assess things and pronounce Marx wrong? In other words, is his theory falsifiable? Is there anything that could happen--any achievable state of society--where Marxists would be forced to conclude that Marxism is in error? If so, what would that condition be?

    Or will Marxists always be able to say that "Marxism is coming," no matter what happens in the meantime?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    If the masses wanted to persecute a religion that would not be allowed. But its hardly likely.
    All right, this I'm very interested in: what do you mean "not be allowed"? How would the masses be stopped from doing it, by who, and on what grounds?
    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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