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  1. #61
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    ...when you refer to "capitalism," might not have anything to do with what actual capitalists advocate, or believe in, or fight for.
    And there are different strands of capitalism just as there are different strands of socialism. Not all capitalists are libertarians.

    Anyway I am trying to explain what Marxism is not capitalism. Basically there are 2 main strands, Trotskyism and Stalinism. The Stalinists tended to be in the CPs and are basically supporting the USSR etc. The Trotskyists said the USSR was not proper socialism obviously. Its a huge distinction. Like supporting the bailouts or not, only as I say, a bloodbath separated the two strands in Russia. Stalin had Trotsky himself murdered in Mexico, and most of his family as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?)
    Well for a kick off most people would be better off with socialism, so its hardly a disincentive. And most of the very rich in capitalism do bugger all except leech huge amounts of wealth out of the system, representing real work other people have done. The billionaire Waltons do not work. They just extract. Where is the incentive when you are one of their employees on the minimum wage? Anyway, socialism would bring a new culture based on new conditions, and your prestige, incentive and enjoyment would come from how much use you can be. Socialism would exist when society could provide everything people needed. Things would gradually be made free, starting with the health service and then probably public transport. You could still have luxuries of course. Capitalism can't even feed half the world properly let alone provide incentive. Why do you think kids do badly at school in poor areas? Because they know upward mobility is largely a myth.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Don't we already look up to those who do useful things selflessly?
    To some degree, but not much. People look up to highly selfish people who have ludicrous amounts of wealth, and when rich people give to charity they assume its just a promotional exercise.

    As I say, there would be incentives initially. A wage ratio of 4 to 1 or 6 to 1, but not for elected managers. I mean for deep sea divers or surgeons or whoever we had to pay extra to incentivise. Maybe they could work less hours.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    Hard to say. A lot have given up, or at least dropped out of activity, pending better circumstances. I think its worth keeping the ideas alive. I have to admit that I do get pessimistic about whether socialism will ever happen. The alternative is a corporate nightmare and the destruction of the planet. No kind of anarchy, left or right seems likely in my opinion. Maybe we will have progressive social democracy, but really this is just a cover for capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    I have no idea. Its hypothetical. There isn't much chance of religious persecution increasing in a socialist society. But a socialist government would not be populist. If the masses wanted to persecute Jews or whoever, that wouldnt be allowed. How could it? It would go against everything the revolution stood for. Its too hypothetical anyway.

    How do you propose to get around the masses wanting to do something terrible? Education is the only way, but that would have to be done to GET to socialism, it would already have been done.

    There are no religions that would work against socialism specifically. Not that I can think of. But anyway, socialists would not have anything to do with persecuting people for their religious beliefs, and would try to stop it if it happened.

    Trotsky even allowed people to be exempt from the army if their religion opposed fighting, even though he knew thousands were joining a sect to get out of the war.

  2. #62
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    ...when you refer to "capitalism," might not have anything to do with what actual capitalists advocate, or believe in, or fight for.
    And there are different strands of capitalism just as there are different strands of socialism. Not all capitalists are libertarians.

    Anyway I am trying to explain what Marxism is not capitalism. Basically there are 2 main strands, Trotskyism and Stalinism. The Stalinists tended to be in the CPs and are basically supporting the USSR etc. The Trotskyists said the USSR was not proper socialism obviously. Its a huge distinction. Like supporting the bailouts or not, only as I say, a bloodbath separated the two strands in Russia. Stalin had Trotsky himself murdered in Mexico, and most of his family as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?)
    Well for a kick off most people would be better off with socialism, so its hardly a disincentive. And most of the very rich in capitalism do bugger all except leech huge amounts of wealth out of the system, representing real work other people have done. The billionaire Waltons do not work. They just extract. Where is the incentive when you are one of their employees on the minimum wage? Anyway, socialism would bring a new culture based on new conditions, and your prestige, incentive and enjoyment would come from how much use you can be. Socialism would exist when society could provide everything people needed. Things would gradually be made free, starting with the health service and then probably public transport. You could still have luxuries of course. Capitalism can't even feed half the world properly let alone provide incentive. Why do you think kids do badly at school in poor areas? Because they know upward mobility is largely a myth.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Don't we already look up to those who do useful things selflessly?
    To some degree, but not much. People look up to highly selfish people who have ludicrous amounts of wealth, and when rich people give to charity they assume its just a promotional exercise.

    As I say, there would be incentives initially. A wage ratio of 4 to 1 or 6 to 1, but not for elected managers. I mean for deep sea divers or surgeons or whoever we had to pay extra to incentivise. Maybe they could work less hours.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    Hard to say. A lot have given up, or at least dropped out of activity, pending better circumstances. I think its worth keeping the ideas alive. I have to admit that I do get pessimistic about whether socialism will ever happen. The alternative is a corporate nightmare and the destruction of the planet. No kind of anarchy, left or right seems likely in my opinion. Maybe we will have progressive social democracy, but really this is just a cover for capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    I have no idea. Its hypothetical. There isn't much chance of religious persecution increasing in a socialist society. But a socialist government would not be populist. If the masses wanted to persecute Jews or whoever, that wouldnt be allowed. How could it? It would go against everything the revolution stood for. Its too hypothetical anyway.

    How do you propose to get around the masses wanting to do something terrible? Education is the only way, but that would have to be done to GET to socialism, it would already have been done.

    There are no religions that would work against socialism specifically. Not that I can think of. But anyway, socialists would not have anything to do with persecuting people for their religious beliefs, and would try to stop it if it happened.

    Trotsky even allowed people to be exempt from the army if their religion opposed fighting, even though he knew thousands were joining a sect to get out of the war

  3. #63
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    ...when you refer to "capitalism," might not have anything to do with what actual capitalists advocate, or believe in, or fight for.
    And there are different strands of capitalism just as there are different strands of socialism. Not all capitalists are libertarians.

    Anyway I am trying to explain what Marxism is not capitalism. Basically there are 2 main strands, Trotskyism and Stalinism. The Stalinists tended to be in the CPs and are basically supporting the USSR etc. The Trotskyists said the USSR was not proper socialism obviously. Its a huge distinction. Like supporting the bailouts or not, only as I say, a bloodbath separated the two strands in Russia. Stalin had Trotsky himself murdered in Mexico, and most of his family as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?)
    Well for a kick off most people would be better off with socialism, so its hardly a disincentive. And most of the very rich in capitalism do bugger all except leech huge amounts of wealth out of the system, representing real work other people have done. The billionaire Waltons do not work. They just extract. Where is the incentive when you are one of their employees on the minimum wage? Anyway, socialism would bring a new culture based on new conditions, and your prestige, incentive and enjoyment would come from how much use you can be. Socialism would exist when society could provide everything people needed. Things would gradually be made free, starting with the health service and then probably public transport. You could still have luxuries of course. Capitalism can't even feed half the world properly let alone provide incentive. Why do you think kids do badly at school in poor areas? Because they know upward mobility is largely a myth.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Don't we already look up to those who do useful things selflessly?
    To some degree, but not much. People look up to highly selfish people who have ludicrous amounts of wealth, and when rich people give to charity they assume its just a promotional exercise.

    As I say, there would be incentives initially. A wage ratio of 4 to 1 or 6 to 1, but not for elected managers. I mean for deep sea divers or surgeons or whoever we had to pay extra to incentivise. Maybe they could work less hours.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    Hard to say. A lot have given up, or at least dropped out of activity, pending better circumstances. I think its worth keeping the ideas alive. I have to admit that I do get pessimistic about whether socialism will ever happen. The alternative is a corporate nightmare and the destruction of the planet. No kind of anarchy, left or right seems likely in my opinion. Maybe we will have progressive social democracy, but really this is just a cover for capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    I have no idea. Its hypothetical. There isn't much chance of religious persecution increasing in a socialist society. But a socialist government would not be populist. If the masses wanted to persecute Jews or whoever, that wouldnt be allowed. How could it? It would go against everything the revolution stood for. Its too hypothetical anyway.

    How do you propose to get around the masses wanting to do something terrible? Education is the only way, but that would have to be done to GET to socialism, it would already have been done.

    There are no religions that would work against socialism specifically. Not that I can think of. But anyway, socialists would not have anything to do with persecuting people for their religious beliefs, and would try to stop it if it happened.

    Trotsky even allowed people to be exempt from the army if their religion opposed fighting, even though he knew thousands were joining a sect to get out of the war

  4. #64
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    ...when you refer to "capitalism," might not have anything to do with what actual capitalists advocate, or believe in, or fight for.
    And there are different strands of capitalism just as there are different strands of socialism. Not all capitalists are libertarians.

    Anyway I am trying to explain what Marxism is not capitalism. Basically there are 2 main strands, Trotskyism and Stalinism. The Stalinists tended to be in the CPs and are basically supporting the USSR etc. The Trotskyists said the USSR was not proper socialism obviously. Its a huge distinction. Like supporting the bailouts or not, only as I say, a bloodbath separated the two strands in Russia. Stalin had Trotsky himself murdered in Mexico, and most of his family as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?)
    Well for a kick off most people would be better off with socialism, so its hardly a disincentive. And most of the very rich in capitalism do bugger all except leech huge amounts of wealth out of the system, representing real work other people have done. The billionaire Waltons do not work. They just extract. Where is the incentive when you are one of their employees on the minimum wage? Anyway, socialism would bring a new culture based on new conditions, and your prestige, incentive and enjoyment would come from how much use you can be. Socialism would exist when society could provide everything people needed. Things would gradually be made free, starting with the health service and then probably public transport. You could still have luxuries of course. Capitalism can't even feed half the world properly let alone provide incentive. Why do you think kids do badly at school in poor areas? Because they know upward mobility is largely a myth.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Don't we already look up to those who do useful things selflessly?
    To some degree, but not much. People look up to highly selfish people who have ludicrous amounts of wealth, and when rich people give to charity they assume its just a promotional exercise.

    As I say, there would be incentives initially. A wage ratio of 4 to 1 or 6 to 1, but not for elected managers. I mean for deep sea divers or surgeons or whoever we had to pay extra to incentivise. Maybe they could work less hours.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    Hard to say. A lot have given up, or at least dropped out of activity, pending better circumstances. I think its worth keeping the ideas alive. I have to admit that I do get pessimistic about whether socialism will ever happen. The alternative is a corporate nightmare and the destruction of the planet. No kind of anarchy, left or right seems likely in my opinion. Maybe we will have progressive social democracy, but really this is just a cover for capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    I have no idea. Its hypothetical. There isn't much chance of religious persecution increasing in a socialist society. But a socialist government would not be populist. If the masses wanted to persecute Jews or whoever, that wouldnt be allowed. How could it? It would go against everything the revolution stood for. Its too hypothetical anyway.

    How do you propose to get around the masses wanting to do something terrible? Education is the only way, but that would have to be done to GET to socialism, it would already have been done.

    There are no religions that would work against socialism specifically. Not that I can think of. But anyway, socialists would not have anything to do with persecuting people for their religious beliefs, and would try to stop it if it happened.

    Trotsky even allowed people to be exempt from the army if their religion opposed fighting, even though he knew thousands were joining a sect to get out of the war

  5. #65
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    why cant I post a reply on this thread?

  6. #66
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    any chance someone from admin can delete the duplicates, 62 to 65 and this one?

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    And there are different strands of capitalism just as there are different strands of socialism. Not all capitalists are libertarians.
    While that may be true, and is debatable, there are some things that stand outside of what "capitalist" could sensibly mean. Just as there are many strains of "Christianity," it is still necessary for a person to believe in the divinity of Christ to sensibly be described as "Christian." Where capitalism is concerned, the central and defining principle is the advocacy of the "free market." If you take that away--if you remove the free market--then you no longer have anything "capitalist" about what you're discussing.

    People may use different terminology to describe the free market, but the principles remain largely the same. Adam Smith's phrase (for instance) to describe the workings of capitalism was "the invisible hand." But government bailouts (again for instance) are not invisible at all--that's a very visible hand, and is not, therefore, capitalist in nature.

    Where socialism is concerned, I take it that the core (like the 'divinity of Christ' is to 'Christianity') is: the nationalization of industry (and then other private property?); the abolition of the free market and the institution of a planned economy. Given that, there are probably many different strands of socialism and approaches to it... but I wouldn't call "socialist" anything that didn't employ such nationalization, would you?

    By that token, there may well be different strands of capitalism, but there are also some things called "capitalist" which simply have nothing to do with it, and actually are antithetical to it. Anything that is not free market is not capitalist.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Anyway I am trying to explain what Marxism is not capitalism.
    That's fair. But on the other hand, if you misrepresent capitalism while explaining Marxism, I think that it is equally fair to challenge you on it. We largely wound up here when I replied to a post in which you said (among other things): "[Exploitation is] not abuse of capitalism, thats the definition of capitalism, thats what profit is. Profit = exploitation."

    Suppose we were in a thread where I was trying to explain capitalism, and I said something like, "Marxists, you know, worship Satan. And they eat Christian babies!" You would cry foul, and tell me I was completely wrong about Marxism. Right?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Basically there are 2 main strands, Trotskyism and Stalinism. The Stalinists tended to be in the CPs and are basically supporting the USSR etc. The Trotskyists said the USSR was not proper socialism obviously. Its a huge distinction. Like supporting the bailouts or not, only as I say, a bloodbath separated the two strands in Russia. Stalin had Trotsky himself murdered in Mexico, and most of his family as well.
    Now I'm confused. Now you're saying that Stalinism *is* a strand of Marxism? That must be what you mean, when you say that there are "2 main strands." Please clarify. Was the Soviet Union "Marxist/socialist/communist," or wasn't it?

    Is the difference between Stalinism and "Trotskyism" (Leninism, Marxism, Maoism... too many -isms for my taste. ) simply democratic rule? Or are there other salient differences as well? I understand that socialism is meant to be international, not national, but in terms of economic policy, nationalization, etc., can you say that Trotsky would have run the USSR far differently than Stalin ("bloodbaths" aside)? When international socialism failed to develop--when the revolution in Germany failed--should the USSR have abandoned its efforts to develop socialism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well for a kick off most people would be better off with socialism, so its hardly a disincentive.
    I'm sorry, but that doesn't get a free pass. You're begging the question! My contention is that 1) People would not be better off with socialism, because 2) socialism would eliminate those incentives which grow the economy, and 3) with said incentives eliminated, the "cake" would shrink, making people worse off--poorer--than they had been previously.

    I'm asking you how we would keep the cake the same size, or make it continue to grow (as you assert it would do; you claim it would grow even faster) without those incentives to growing the cake, specifically the profit motive/personal gain.

    You can't simply say that people would be better off with socialism--that's what's at issue. You need to demonstrate how people would be better off. And the challenge I'm mounting here is that it is the profit motive that drives people to work harder, to do more, to grow the cake. I'm saying that if you take the profit motive away, you're going to shrink the cake; that people will not work as hard for an abstract goal like "the good of the nation" as they will for themselves, and for their loved ones.

    Do you really think I'm wrong about that? If so, do you have any reason or evidence for believing that the profit motive can be stripped without damaging productivity/efficiency/and all the et ceteras that go into making the cake larger?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    And most of the very rich in capitalism do bugger all except leech huge amounts of wealth out of the system, representing real work other people have done.
    I disagree. I know you'd like to concentrate on socialism rather than capitalism, so I'll try to keep this brief, but... Remember when earlier we observed that it's not *labor* that grows wealth so much as it is the intelligent use of labor? E.g. that having people pick their noses all day long may well be "work," but it won't make us rich? What the very rich do--and how they make their riches--is in guiding labor towards those ends that better create value, or make things useful to men. What "the system" is rewarding them for is putting labor towards those useful and valuable ends.

    In addition, many of the wealthy do *work* also in more traditional senses--often they work in highly-stressful and demanding positions requiring a great deal of either academic or experiential knowledge, or both--and further still, their wealth is also active in the economy, in terms of investments, loans, etc.

    If you'd like to challenge me on any or all of this, you're welcome to do it, but weigh it against the desire you have to remain focused on socialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The billionaire Waltons do not work. They just extract. Where is the incentive when you are one of their employees on the minimum wage?
    The incentive is to make the minimum wage, of course. Many people do far more than work at Wal-Mart, for far less. Consider those "illegal" immigrants who risk life and limb, often to work at *sub* minimum wage jobs, which are far more unpleasant than working at Wal-Mart.

    In all cases, the incentive is to make one's own life better (which is, incidentally, the very incentive I believe that your socialism would eliminate or make impossible). For some people, making their life better will involve working for a minimum wage. I've certainly worked for a minimum wage before, and the reason why I did it was because it was in my best interest to do so; I had an incentive.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Anyway, socialism would bring a new culture based on new conditions, and your prestige, incentive and enjoyment would come from how much use you can be.
    Forgive me, and I recognize that we might be talking in ideal circumstances all around, but how could you guarantee this? It's one thing to advocate nationalization of industry, or collectivising the farms, or whatever other economic policy, but how would you propose to revamp people's cultural attitudes? What law would you pass that could mandate what people find enjoyable?

    What people find prestigious has not, traditionally, come about by decree. Do you have any reason for believing that this radical cultural transformation would actually take place?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism would exist when society could provide everything people needed. Things would gradually be made free, starting with the health service and then probably public transport. You could still have luxuries of course. Capitalism can't even feed half the world properly let alone provide incentive. Why do you think kids do badly at school in poor areas? Because they know upward mobility is largely a myth.
    What capitalism exists in the United States feeds the people of the United States brilliantly. I think that just about every place that has gotten close to capitalism has been well fed, accordingly. The reason why so much of the world struggles so isn't because of capitalism, but because they aren't capitalist.

    As to why kids do badly in school in poor areas, having taught in a poor area, I'll tell you that I think the answer is rather complicated. But it's certainly not that "they know upward mobility is largely a myth." That, my friend, is the myth. Upward mobility certainly exists, and is available for almost anyone who tries hard enough. No, the bigger problem is those kids are told (often by their own family or community) that they cannot get ahead... and they buy into it, and therefore stop trying.

    I sincerely believe that the child in America who believes in himself and works hard (and smart) without giving up *will* succeed. Not that it's an easy thing to do, and not that there can't be uncontrollable external circumstances in a given instance, but that this is the general case.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    To some degree, but not much. People look up to highly selfish people who have ludicrous amounts of wealth, and when rich people give to charity they assume its just a promotional exercise.
    Eh, people (at least in the States) do both: they look up to the "selfish" rich and also to the selfless. They value Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in some senses, but Mother Teresa in others.

    I've known many, many people who've volunteered their time or their wealth to a variety of charities. My own mother is founder of a non-profit organization. Cuturally, I think that there's already prestige available for those who do things "for society."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As I say, there would be incentives initially. A wage ratio of 4 to 1 or 6 to 1, but not for elected managers. I mean for deep sea divers or surgeons or whoever we had to pay extra to incentivise. Maybe they could work less hours.
    I know you say that there would be these incentives "initially," but what about ultimately? If we're talking about Marxism/socialism/communism, let's go all the way with it. I'd like to know about the end goal, and how society is supposed to function when the deep sea diver, the surgeon, and the store clerk all make the same wage.

    Proposing "less hours" *is* a proposal at least, but I think that's likely to be problematic. We can't have surgeons work less hours, can we? Not without having a shortage of vital surgery?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Hard to say. A lot have given up, or at least dropped out of activity, pending better circumstances. I think its worth keeping the ideas alive.
    C'mon. I know that, as a Marxist, you have a good deal of respect for "science." (At least it's my understanding that Marx, himself, considered himself something of a "scientist" with respect to historic principles.) In asking you whether or not Marxism is "falsifiable," it's a bit of a test as to its scientific bona fides.

    If Marxism can never be shown wrong, despite its failure to manifest, then what does that say about it as a theory?

    And, purely out of curiousity, if Marx himself were confronted with the fact that in the year 2010 we'd be apparently as far away from socialism as we were when he was writing the Communist Manifesto (or possibly farther), do you suppose he would've been encouraged or discouraged? Do you think he might potentially conclude that he had been in error?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I have to admit that I do get pessimistic about whether socialism will ever happen. The alternative is a corporate nightmare and the destruction of the planet.
    Well, I guess we'll have to save it for "the capitalism thread," but the good news is that I don't anticipate either a "corporate nightmare" or the destruction of the planet. Taking a long view of history, I see nothing but general progress for mankind, and (nuclear holocausts, etc., notwithstanding) I see no reason to anticipate anything fundamentally different going forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    No kind of anarchy, left or right seems likely in my opinion. Maybe we will have progressive social democracy, but really this is just a cover for capitalism.
    If you say so. If we're talking about the present US system, I think that we continue to have enough capitalist elements to be successful, just not so successful as we might otherwise be, were we yet more capitalist.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    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?
    I have no idea. Its hypothetical.
    Not. Good. Enough!

    You asked for a hypothetical, and I gave you one. The least you can do is give me a hypothetical explanation of how the masses would be prevented from doing such a thing in the society that you are currently advocating.

    This is crucial; this is key. We're discussing radically remaking society, but if you don't take into account the possibility of tyranny... well, I fear we'd be inviting a number of the horrors of the past to come again.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    There isn't much chance of religious persecution increasing in a socialist society.
    Maybe that's true, but who could say? You've had (possibly) two stances over the course of this thread: 1) there never has been a socialist society; and 2) there have been socialist societies, like the USSR, but they haven't been the right kind of socialist society.

    Taking case 1, then how would we know what's likely to happen in a socialist society? If there's never been one on earth, then it's all a crap shoot, isn't it? Maybe there'd be no religious (or other) persecutions--maybe we'd all wind up farting rainbows--but, on the other hand.... Maybe there would be "dodgy decisions," too. After all, how would you rate mankind, historically, in terms of "dodgy decision making"? Do you really think that'll just go away when we parcel out Bill Gates' fortune? Racism, prejudice of every stripe, angers, jealousies, stupidity... they'll all simply vanish?

    Taking case 2, we have direct evidence that socialism, per se, does not make people better, as people. If anything, the USSR and others might be construed as evidence that socialist societies bring out the very worst.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But a socialist government would not be populist. If the masses wanted to persecute Jews or whoever, that wouldnt be allowed. How could it? It would go against everything the revolution stood for.
    Fine, I'm on board with you, but how, practically, would you stop them? You're advocating absolute democracy... aren't you?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its too hypothetical anyway.
    Unless we want to get into the particulars of the nearest approximations to socialist government we have--and I'm not sure they'd do well for your position--then "hypothetical" is all we have. My initial example to you was a hypothetical based on an historical example: the democratic execution of Socrates. I think it's simple enough to ask you how, specifically, your proposed society would prevent that kind of thing from happening.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    How do you propose to get around the masses wanting to do something terrible? Education is the only way, but that would have to be done to GET to socialism, it would already have been done.
    Well, as a matter of policy I don't myself simply rely on "education." There are barriers to "the masses wanting to do something terrible" in terms of representative democracy (that the people must work through an intermediary, who is thus empowered to temper their desires), and legal/constitutional protection. The "freedom of speech" is ultimately a bulwark against what the people want to do in their democratic capacity (as well as the representatives in their capacity); it is a limit on the power of governmental action, as such.

    While ultimately those are not permanent barriers to any concievable insanity, they are, at least, barriers. But if you look to enshrine democracy unlimited, then you completely pull the barriers down. I believe it is dangerous to do so, and I'd like to know how you would combat that danger.

    "Education" isn't enough. Plenty of educated people have done awful things.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    There are no religions that would work against socialism specifically. Not that I can think of.
    I suppose that's a matter of interpretation. We have enough on our plates w/o trying to determine how every religion in the world could possibly perceive socialist government.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But anyway, socialists would not have anything to do with persecuting people for their religious beliefs, and would try to stop it if it happened.
    Good to hear, but the important question is: "how would they stop it?" You see, my fear is that socialism such as you advocate will necessarily lead to totalitarian/Stalinist-type rule. I believe that the democracy you propose is bound to collapse into a system of "leaders" who feel compelled to "educate" the masses "for their own good." That a "dictatorship of the proletariat" is ultimately going to devolve into simple "dictatorship." And so far, nothing you've said has dissuaded me from that view.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Trotsky even allowed people to be exempt from the army if their religion opposed fighting, even though he knew thousands were joining a sect to get out of the war
    That sounds perfectly noble, and who knows, if I learned more about him I might well come to respect Trotsky. After all, I loved Snowball in Animal Farm. And yet, Snowball lost out to Napoleon, and it seems that all non-fiction "socialist experiments" conducted thus far have also fallen to the worst possible conclusions.

    Isn't it possible that, in attempting to wield all of the vast amounts of power available in a planned economy, or in being one of those socialist leaders who "educates" the masses that they might avoid "dodgy decisions" (i.e. being a demagogue), that a Stalin (who won't be adverse to lying/cheating/murdering/other shortcuts) will always succeed over a Trotsky?
    Last edited by DonAthos; August 10th, 2010 at 01:54 PM.
    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 DonAthos View Post
    While that may be true, and is debatable, there are some things that stand outside of what "capitalist" could sensibly mean. Just as there are many strains of "Christianity," it is still necessary for a person to believe in the divinity of Christ to sensibly be described as "Christian." Where capitalism is concerned, the central and defining principle is the advocacy of the "free market." If you take that away--if you remove the free market--then you no longer have anything "capitalist" about what you're discussing.

    People may use different terminology to describe the free market, but the principles remain largely the same. Adam Smith's phrase (for instance) to describe the workings of capitalism was "the invisible hand." But government bailouts (again for instance) are not invisible at all--that's a very visible hand, and is not, therefore, capitalist in nature.
    So what if you have an economy which is capitalist, and then the government bails out a company? Is the economy not still basically a capitalist one? And that company which got a bailout. Privately owned and operating in a market. Is it suddenly not capitalist? Surely according to your definition, if a company pays tax it is not capitalist, there are no capitalist enterprises, capitalism is impossible and there is no such thing as capitalism. Personally I would say what defines capitalism is that the means of production is principally in private ownership, regardless of bailouts or subsidies. And this is the way the FT would also use it. The FT is the world's top financial newspaper (more highly regarded than the WSJ.) Just because you get a subsidy doesn't mean you suddenly stop operating the the market or are privately owned.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Where socialism is concerned, I take it that the core (like the 'divinity of Christ' is to 'Christianity') is: the nationalization of industry (and then other private property?); the abolition of the free market and the institution of a planned economy. Given that, there are probably many different strands of socialism and approaches to it... but I wouldn't call "socialist" anything that didn't employ such nationalization, would you?
    There are TWO cores to socialism, public ownership and workers control (democracy). Nationalisation on its own means nothing, The Tories in Britain nationalised vital industries that were failing, and the Tories are a pro-big business party. Capitalists nationalise out of necessity sometimes.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    By that token, there may well be different strands of capitalism, but there are also some things called "capitalist" which simply have nothing to do with it, and actually are antithetical to it. Anything that is not free market is not capitalist.
    As I say, in that case there is no such thing as capitalism by the looks of it, it you wanna push the distinction to its limits. Even capitalists pay taxes. And they don't usually mind some protectionism or whatever when it suits them.

    You miss the point. Our governments are not undermining capitalism. They represent the capitalists, and look after their interests, especially the big players, the big companies. They don't give a toss about the distinction you are making.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    "manc said in this post:
    Anyway I am trying to explain what Marxism is not capitalism."


    That's fair. But on the other hand, if you misrepresent capitalism while explaining Marxism, I think that it is equally fair to challenge you on it. We largely wound up here when I replied to a post in which you said (among other things): "[Exploitation is] not abuse of capitalism, thats the definition of capitalism, thats what profit is. Profit = exploitation."

    Suppose we were in a thread where I was trying to explain capitalism, and I said something like, "Marxists, you know, worship Satan. And they eat Christian babies!" You would cry foul, and tell me I was completely wrong about Marxism. Right?

    Well I haven't accused capitalists of eating babies, though I have heard that they do. ;0 I am saying that your distinction is technically correct, everyone knows that our capitalist countries are not 'pure' capitalism, but there is no such thing, and that our countries are probably as close to actual pure capitalism as you are likely to get. Anyway, the FT has 4,500 results for capitalism if you wanna search it. It has 103 results for corporatism.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Now I'm confused. Now you're saying that Stalinism *is* a strand of Marxism? That must be what you mean, when you say that there are "2 main strands." Please clarify. Was the Soviet Union "Marxist/socialist/communist," or wasn't it?

    Is the difference between Stalinism and "Trotskyism" (Leninism, Marxism, Maoism... too many -isms for my taste. ) simply democratic rule? Or are there other salient differences as well? I understand that socialism is meant to be international, not national, but in terms of economic policy, nationalization, etc., can you say that Trotsky would have run the USSR far differently than Stalin ("bloodbaths" aside)? When international socialism failed to develop--when the revolution in Germany failed--should the USSR have abandoned its efforts to develop socialism?
    Stalinism is a perversion of Marxism, a misinterpretation, a distortion. When I say 2 strands, I don't mean on some sort of equal footing as far as theory goes. I just mean that around the world, a lot of socialist were Trotskyists, and a lot of unfortunate, misinformed ones got hoodwinked into supporting the Stalinist regimes. The CPs around the world are what I am on about. They were a significant force on the left. No the USSR was not socialist communist or Marxist.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I'm sorry, but that doesn't get a free pass. You're begging the question! My contention is that 1) People would not be better off with socialism, because 2) socialism would eliminate those incentives which grow the economy, and 3) with said incentives eliminated, the "cake" would shrink, making people worse off--poorer--than they had been previously.

    I'm asking you how we would keep the cake the same size, or make it continue to grow (as you assert it would do; you claim it would grow even faster) without those incentives to growing the cake, specifically the profit motive/personal gain.

    You can't simply say that people would be better off with socialism--that's what's at issue. You need to demonstrate how people would be better off. And the challenge I'm mounting here is that it is the profit motive that drives people to work harder, to do more, to grow the cake. I'm saying that if you take the profit motive away, you're going to shrink the cake; that people will not work as hard for an abstract goal like "the good of the nation" as they will for themselves, and for their loved ones.

    Do you really think I'm wrong about that? If so, do you have any reason or evidence for believing that the profit motive can be stripped without damaging productivity/efficiency/and all the et ceteras that go into making the cake larger?
    I thought I had explained. To be honest I cant remember what I said on what thread. For one thing, you couldn't get socialism unless you could offer a better life to most people. If you couldn't give them that, they would be wanting to scrap the system and go back to capitalism, so socialism would have to give them a better life. As to how, well I thought I mentioned all the waste that you get in capitalism, the unemployment, the idle industrial capacity, the recessions, all the people doing jobs like marketing, all the countries being held back from developing, billions of people who cant even read or write, all the useless crap made, the products which fall apart in 5 minutes. Do you know I bought a bath panel that got wrecked by getting wet a couple of times? Do you know that when they build a house they make bits of it which have a life of 5-10 years? Competition forces corner cutting, producing cheap rubbish. You want to make some money? Don't go to the bank for money for new technology, just get some poor Chinese or Indonesians to make it. Or just speculate on the exchange, don't worry if it drives up food prices causing people to starve. Don't bother producing things, just do something like a vampire does, sucking wealth out of the system. America and Britain together make weapons for the rest of the world. How is that improving the quality of my life? My mate does it. I tell him he will be out of a job after the revolution. Except he wont be, we would swap his factory to useful production.

    will answer the rest of you post later

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    IWhat the very rich do--and how they make their riches--is in guiding labor towards those ends that better create value, or make things useful to men. What "the system" is rewarding them for is putting labor towards those useful and valuable ends.
    Some rich people like Paris Hilton don't seem to do much. What do the Waltons do for their billions? They get cheap stuff made in sweatshops and then sell it to Americans. Big deal. You dont think we could do better? Thats the peak of human achievement? How come Wal Mart faces thousand of lawsuits from employees for unpaid wages? How can it be that they are the biggest company in the world and still break child labour laws?




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    The incentive is to make the minimum wage, of course. Many people do far more than work at Wal-Mart, for far less. Consider those "illegal" immigrants who risk life and limb, often to work at *sub* minimum wage jobs, which are far more unpleasant than working at Wal-Mart.

    In all cases, the incentive is to make one's own life better (which is, incidentally, the very incentive I believe that your socialism would eliminate or make impossible). For some people, making their life better will involve working for a minimum wage. I've certainly worked for a minimum wage before, and the reason why I did it was because it was in my best interest to do so; I had an incentive.
    So, thats the best capitalism has to offer. Be glad to be on the minimum wage. Well thats great news. You could be starving, rather than just struggling.

    Its not very inspiring.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this post:
    Anyway, socialism would bring a new culture based on new conditions, and your prestige, incentive and enjoyment would come from how much use you can be.

    Forgive me, and I recognize that we might be talking in ideal circumstances all around, but how could you guarantee this? It's one thing to advocate nationalization of industry, or collectivising the farms, or whatever other economic policy, but how would you propose to revamp people's cultural attitudes? What law would you pass that could mandate what people find enjoyable?

    What people find prestigious has not, traditionally, come about by decree. Do you have any reason for believing that this radical cultural transformation would actually take place?
    Yeah, funnily enough I was just reading about the re-emergence of evolutionary psychology. Those guys are idiots. This is where Marxism comes in. Marxism seems to be just about the only science which has noticed that much of the way people think is related to the society they live in. Personally I would have thought it was pretty obvious, but Marxism battled the earlier materialists first, for nu understanding the human interaction, and later after Darwin, those who sought to reduce everything to genetics. Anyway, there would have to be a shift in order to achieve socialism, so there is no reason to suppose that shift wouldnt be reinforced by actually changing society to a completely new form. We currently live in a society where greed is encouraged, material wealth is the goal. Doesnt matter how much really, as long as its more than most other people. Socialism would not be putting this message across.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    What capitalism exists in the United States feeds the people of the United States brilliantly. I think that just about every place that has gotten close to capitalism has been well fed, accordingly. The reason why so much of the world struggles so isn't because of capitalism, but because they aren't capitalist.
    Well I have to take issue with this on a number of points:
    According to you capitalism feeds the people of America. But according to you, companies which receive subsidies are not capitalist. But most of American agriculture on a big scale receives big subsidies. $20 billion a year to be precise. But these products then go abroad and because they are subsidised, they destroy the farming in those countries who cannot afford to subside their farmers, and therefore cannot compete. And most countries in the world are capitalist. What poor countries are you thinking of who arent capitalist? Most hunger is in Africa and India which are basically mostly capitalist. And both of course were colonised, and colonisation left a legacy. Now of course we just have neo-colonialism.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    As to why kids do badly in school in poor areas, having taught in a poor area, I'll tell you that I think the answer is rather complicated. But it's certainly not that "they know upward mobility is largely a myth." That, my friend, is the myth. Upward mobility certainly exists, and is available for almost anyone who tries hard enough. No, the bigger problem is those kids are told (often by their own family or community) that they cannot get ahead... and they buy into it, and therefore stop trying.

    I sincerely believe that the child in America who believes in himself and works hard (and smart) without giving up *will* succeed. Not that it's an easy thing to do, and not that there can't be uncontrollable external circumstances in a given instance, but that this is the general case.
    Overall, upward mobility hardly happens. A few move up and a few sink down. Inequality has been increasing not decreasing.

    Yes, poor children do badly partly because of parental expectations. The parent has low expectations, and as you say the child buys into it. But these low expectations do have a fair amount of reason behind them. If you lived in an area where nobody ever became a professional, you would not bother trying.

    Ok, suppose every poor person in the USA managed to become a doctor or a lawyer, who would work in the factories, clean the hotels, dig the roads, work in Burger King?



    more later

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Cuturally, I think that there's already prestige available for those who do things "for society."
    So its not an idea thats totally foreign to everybody then, is a concept that could become more popular maybe?



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I know you say that there would be these incentives "initially," but what about ultimately? If we're talking about Marxism/socialism/communism, let's go all the way with it. I'd like to know about the end goal, and how society is supposed to function when the deep sea diver, the surgeon, and the store clerk all make the same wage.

    Proposing "less hours" *is* a proposal at least, but I think that's likely to be problematic. We can't have surgeons work less hours, can we? Not without having a shortage of vital surgery?
    The ultimate goal is the abolition of classes, inequality, the state, money, want and so on.

    So what would happen if not enough people wanted to be surgeons? Well I think we are talking several generations into a global socialist society. Most people would go to uni. Most people would be potential surgeons. There would be a lot more people capable at least form the point of view of having a good education and not believing they are inferior.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    C'mon. I know that, as a Marxist, you have a good deal of respect for "science." (At least it's my understanding that Marx, himself, considered himself something of a "scientist" with respect to historic principles.) In asking you whether or not Marxism is "falsifiable," it's a bit of a test as to its scientific bona fides.

    If Marxism can never be shown wrong, despite its failure to manifest, then what does that say about it as a theory?

    And, purely out of curiousity, if Marx himself were confronted with the fact that in the year 2010 we'd be apparently as far away from socialism as we were when he was writing the Communist Manifesto (or possibly farther), do you suppose he would've been encouraged or discouraged? Do you think he might potentially conclude that he had been in error?
    Marx expected socialism to start in advanced countries. So did Lenin actually. Trotsky thought it might be possible for one to start in a backward country if it spread to advanced ones.

    In Feb 1917 a revolution kicked off in Russia, the Tsar abdicated and some blokes declared themselves to be a provisional government. It was time for Lenin and Trotsky to come out of exile. The masses wanted them to take power, so they did. All along they said socialism depended on the revolution spreading to germany. The German workers movement didn't have good enough leaders, basically the SPD leaders sold out to capitalism. The Russian revolution inevitably decayed and collapsed back to capitalism, via a longish and partly unforeseen bureaucratic degeneration of the workers state. Trotsky did foresee that actually. Marx didn't have a crystal ball and he never made any promises. Marxism is a science, but its not an exact science like maths. Even maths has its dodgy areas. Most science does. Has physics explained everything yet? No. Marxism can predict certain trends, certain factors, it cant say a revolution will deffo lead to socialism sometime soon. Marx mainly wrote about capitalism, explaining recessions etc. He predicted globalisation, and huge economic crashes. He predicted revolutions and mass workers movements. I don't think you could say he was wrong or there are any fundamental faults in the theory, not that I've noticed. I studied geology as well, and there are many areas of uncertainty. What we do know is evolution happened, and still is, as everything is constantly changing, an idea which Marxism has as a fundamental (dialectics). So we also know that society evolved, and will evolve. Whether society will 'speciate' in the near future is hard to say.


    more later

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Not. Good. Enough!

    You asked for a hypothetical, and I gave you one. The least you can do is give me a hypothetical explanation of how the masses would be prevented from doing such a thing in the society that you are currently advocating.

    This is crucial; this is key. We're discussing radically remaking society, but if you don't take into account the possibility of tyranny... well, I fear we'd be inviting a number of the horrors of the past to come again.
    How would we prevent the masses from voting for nasty things? I have said - education. Besides which, not everything is done on a referendum, most decisions would be representative, and hopefully it would be the best elements who got elected, the most progressive people.

    You seem to forget that socialism is a progressive system. It doesn't contain racism, inequality, greed etc. Its not like the masses are likely to suddenly decide to persecute a section of the population. It just doesn't fit in with socialist mentality. Persecuting people is something that fits with capitalism not socialism.

    After the Russian revolution, all the persecuted minorities were relieved of that persecution. Ethnic languages started to be used again for instance. They gave women the vote, made gays equal, banned racism. Divorce was allowed. Gays could marry. All mention of sexual practices was removed from the law. Muslims could choose to use a Sharia system. People were liberated, not oppressed. They couldnt of course stamp out all prejudice overnight, but with a lead like this, the masses follow.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this post:
    There isn't much chance of religious persecution increasing in a socialist society.Maybe that's true, but who could say? You've had (possibly) two stances over the course of this thread: 1) there never has been a socialist society; and 2) there have been socialist societies, like the USSR, but they haven't been the right kind of socialist society.
    It's not correct to say I have had two stances. The USSR was not socialist. I described it as bureucratically deformed socialism. Socialism is public ownership with workers control. Russia had the planned economy but no workers control, it was a dictatorship. That is not socialism. I dont like the phrase 'not the right kind of socialism', it sounds like I am just being picky, wanting my personal preference or something. Deformed socialism is not socialism. If you get all the metal parts for a bridge and build the towers but leave the span on the ground, you do not have a bridge. It doesnt matter if its half a bridge, its not gonna half work.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Taking case 1, then how would we know what's likely to happen in a socialist society? If there's never been one on earth, then it's all a crap shoot, isn't it? Maybe there'd be no religious (or other) persecutions--maybe we'd all wind up farting rainbows--but, on the other hand.... Maybe there would be "dodgy decisions," too. After all, how would you rate mankind, historically, in terms of "dodgy decision making"? Do you really think that'll just go away when we parcel out Bill Gates' fortune? Racism, prejudice of every stripe, angers, jealousies, stupidity... they'll all simply vanish?

    Taking case 2, we have direct evidence that socialism, per se, does not make people better, as people. If anything, the USSR and others might be construed as evidence that socialist societies bring out the very worst.
    See above. In 1917, Russia passed all the progressive laws which minorities have been fighting for in Britain and America since the and STILL HAVEN'T ACHIEVED fully.

    The Russian revolution failed because it was isolated. The ~Bolsheviks counted on it spreading, especially to advanced countries. This was not an unreasonable assumption. In 1919, the British Prime Minister Lloyd George said “The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution.” Unfortunately the spirit failed to break through.

    The revolution, isolated, got derailed by a political counter revolution by the middle class bureaucracy, or at least the people at the top of it. Stalin took power and what you had was not socialism, not any kind of socialism, it was Stalinism. Ok, I take back saying it was deformed socialism. Perhaps I should had said a deformed workers state, meaning a deformed publicly owned, planned economy.

    Anyway, suffice to say, Stalinism reversed these progressive laws and attitudes.

    After the civil war the Bolsheviks were forced to reintroduce the market into agriculture. This was a retreat, a bid to hold on until more countries joined the side of socialism. They knew it carried dangers of reaction. Gradually the old ways started to creep back. It was in this context that Stalin came to power.

    ---------- Post added at 10:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:05 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    Fine, I'm on board with you, but how, practically, would you stop them? You're advocating absolute democracy... aren't you?
    see above



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Unless we want to get into the particulars of the nearest approximations to socialist government we have--and I'm not sure they'd do well for your position--then "hypothetical" is all we have. My initial example to you was a hypothetical based on an historical example: the democratic execution of Socrates. I think it's simple enough to ask you how, specifically, your proposed society would prevent that kind of thing from happening.
    You give me an example from 2,000 years age in an age of slavery. It just wouldn't be like that. Persecution of religions wouldn't be something people could vote for, it would be unthinkable, out of the question. Its like saying Nazis might vote for special privileges for Jews and communists.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, as a matter of policy I don't myself simply rely on "education." There are barriers to "the masses wanting to do something terrible" in terms of representative democracy (that the people must work through an intermediary, who is thus empowered to temper their desires), and legal/constitutional protection. The "freedom of speech" is ultimately a bulwark against what the people want to do in their democratic capacity (as well as the representatives in their capacity); it is a limit on the power of governmental action, as such.

    While ultimately those are not permanent barriers to any concievable insanity, they are, at least, barriers. But if you look to enshrine democracy unlimited, then you completely pull the barriers down. I believe it is dangerous to do so, and I'd like to know how you would combat that danger.

    "Education" isn't enough. Plenty of educated people have done awful things.
    Well yeah, I don't know much about constitutions and laws, but like I said, the Bolsheviks banned racism, so it would be against the law, so you couldn't vote for it. Of course people would have a right to free speech, as long as it didn't harm others (you couldn't incite racial violence of counter-revolutionary violence, just as America now would lock up people who advocated terrorism of course, or child molesting). So in that respect it would be illegal to campaign for this persecution in the first place.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Good to hear, but the important question is: "how would they stop it?" You see, my fear is that socialism such as you advocate will necessarily lead to totalitarian/Stalinist-type rule. I believe that the democracy you propose is bound to collapse into a system of "leaders" who feel compelled to "educate" the masses "for their own good." That a "dictatorship of the proletariat" is ultimately going to devolve into simple "dictatorship." And so far, nothing you've said has dissuaded me from that view.
    Well we would have laws that complied with socialist philosophy. It would be illegal to incite racial violence, or violence against people based on their religion. In fact we have the same sort of laws now. Dont forget that people would have to shift in their thinking in order for us to even get as far as the start of a transition to socialism, the revolution.





    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Isn't it possible that, in attempting to wield all of the vast amounts of power available in a planned economy, or in being one of those socialist leaders who "educates" the masses that they might avoid "dodgy decisions" (i.e. being a demagogue), that a Stalin (who won't be adverse to lying/cheating/murdering/other shortcuts) will always succeed over a Trotsky?
    Stalinism arose because of the degeneration of the revolution because conditions were impossible for socialism. You would normally expect a simple collapse back to capitalism, but there was this long period of collapse basically - Stalinism.

    Of course once Stalinism was established in the USSR it was no surprise that the revolutions in places like China got contaminated with it, especially as they were also backward countries, and especially because they used guerilla warfare instead of urban working class taking power.

    Its not socialism itself which leads to people like Stalin. Socialism never even existed. But in a revolution, you do need a revolutionary party with a very strong leadership, and naturally many people tend to defer to these revolutionary experts. During a revolutionary period that is necessary. The problem in Russia again comes down to the fact that it was a backward country though. Most people couldnt read or write. The party got flooded with new people, but not all workers, a lot were the middle class bureaucrats who I think rose to positions of power because they had various skills. After 1921 they should have extended party democracy (the opposition parties had more or less ceased to exist, rendering themselves illegal by supporting the Whites etc. )

    In 1923 Trotsky wrote the New Course in which he spelled out the dangers that growing bureaucratism would pose...

    "
    The chief danger of the old course, a result of general historical causes as well as of our own mistakes, is that the apparatus manifests a growing tendency to counterpose a few thousand comrades, who form the leading cadres, to the rest of the mass whom they look upon only as an object of action. If this rˇgime should persist, it would threaten to provoke, in the long run, a degeneration of the party at both its poles, that is, among the party youth and among the leading cadres. "

    "The chief danger of the old course, a result of general historical causes as well as of our own mistakes, is that the apparatus manifests a growing tendency to counterpose a few thousand comrades, who form the leading cadres, to the rest of the mass whom they look upon only as an object of action. If this rˇgime should persist, it would threaten to provoke, in the long run, a degeneration of the party at both its poles, that is, among the party youth and among the leading cadres. As to the proletarian basis of the party, the factory cells, the students, etc., the character of the peril is clear. Not feeling that they are participating actively in the general work of the party and not getting a timely answer to their questions to the party, numerous communists start looking for a substitute for independent party activity in the form of groupings and factions of all sorts. It is in this sense precisely that we speak of the symptomatic importance of groupings like the “Workers’ Group.” [2]

    But no less great is the danger, at the other pole, of the rˇgime that has lasted too long and become synonymous in the party with bureaucratism. It would be ridiculous, and unworthy ostrich politics, not to understand, or not to want to see, that the accusation of bureaucratism formulated in the resolution of the Central Committee is directed precisely against the cadres of the party. It is not a question of isolated deviations in practice from the ideal line, but precisely of the general policy of the apparatus, of its bureaucratic tendency. Does bureaucratism bear within it a danger of degeneration, or doesn’t it? He would be blind who denied. "

    Also remember that the Socialist Party have a strict policy that all leaders must be on the average wage, so its not possible that they will turn into careerists interested in privileges.

  13. #73
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    So what if you have an economy which is capitalist, and then the government bails out a company? Is the economy not still basically a capitalist one?
    "Basically"? Yes, I'd say so. If we postulated a capitalist economy which then participated in a single market intervention, I'm sure we could still describe that economy as "basically" capitalist, or "essentially" capitalist, or "almost-completely" capitalist... (with maybe the rider "except for this one instance...") In such a scenario, I doubt anyone would see any real need to start calling that economy "mixed," or "corporatist," or anything other than "capitalist." One lie does not a liar make.

    However, this scenario certainly isn't applicable to the current US system, is it? While the market operates "freely" within certain parameters (enough so that I can agree with you that the US is at least partially "capitalist," if not "mainly"), there is a *lot* of governmental intervention into the US economy. Indeed, so much intervention that simply to call the US capitalist is incorrect. It is a mixed system. And within that mixed system there are elements that are "capitalist" in nature--things that a capitalist would advocate--and there are also things that are not-capitalist, and that a capitalist would argue against. Just as simply calling the US capitalist is incorrect, it is also incorrect (and seemingly a related error) to ascribe all US policy to capitalism or capitalist ideology.

    The bailouts are interventions into the market--they are anti-free market, and therefore anti-capitalist--and therefore are things that a capitalist would argue against.

    (I've been trying to think of an appropriate natural metaphor to try to express this better... here's what I've come up with so far: picture a zebra. Is it a black animal with white stripes? Or a white animal with black stripes? Either way, it's not really sensible to describe the zebra as being either "black" or "white," is it? It's *both* black and white. The US is like a zebra. It isn't capitalist. And it's not socialist, or any other "pure" system. It is a mutt, and various American policies have their origins in differing ideologies.)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    And that company which got a bailout. Privately owned and operating in a market. Is it suddenly not capitalist?
    Capitalism is an ideology. Companies, themselves, don't really have an ideology (though the people who run them and work for them do). Capitalism, as applied, is a system of economics/governance; as such, companies don't really effect capitalism--a company within a capitalist system can be run according to any number of personal ideologies (for instance, like-minded socialists could certainly construct a co-op within a capitalist society, or a commune, or any other number of mutually agreed upon organizations). What I'm trying to say is that the question you're asking isn't really sensible.

    The company isn't "suddenly not capitalist"; the company was never capitalist to begin with, though the owner might be, and the laws of the country in which the company does business might be (the proposed bailout notwithstanding).

    As to the owner, who knows what the owner is...? For all we know, the owner might be a fascist, or he might yearn for some older aristocratic society, or he might not be given to any recognizable ideology at all.

    Perhaps the question really is this: if the owner of the company is capitalist, and he takes a bailout, is that hypocritical of him, or does that compromise his stance as a "capitalist"? And that's a really intriguing question. Some self-proclaimed capitalists certainly think so. There are cases where people have refused things like bailout money on principle. Personally, I think there's no conflict between being a capitalist and receiving a bailout; we argue for the world as it ought to be, but live in the world as it is. Currently the system is a mixture of capitalism and other, and if a person were only to participate in those aspects of society that are purely capitalist... well, there'd be nothing left. The alternative to taking the bailout--eschewing bailouts that one's competitors are likely to take--would be nothing but an exercise in martyrdom, and a pointless one, I'd say (and increasingly unfair, as we must presume that it is said capitalist's tax contributions that, in part, fund his own bailout). It would be as sensible to avoid walking on pubicly funded sidewalks or refusing to eat any food produced through farmer subsidies.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Surely according to your definition, if a company pays tax it is not capitalist, there are no capitalist enterprises, capitalism is impossible and there is no such thing as capitalism.
    Nonsense. According to my definition, the income tax (as currently structured) is not capitalist. That doesn't mean that anyone who pays taxes is therefore not capitalist.

    In a socialist society, I would still be a capitalist; I would still believe in capitalism, and argue for it (to the extent that your laws would allow). Just as in whatever you believe the current economic system in the UK to be, you are still a Marxist. If you take a job for wages, that doesn't make you not a Marxist, or not a socialist. That just means that you recognize that it's necessary to abide by the rules and realities of your current society, even as you envision and work towards something you believe to be better. You may even use your wages to help your efforts to end the wage system altogther. That's not hypocrisy, that's necessity.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Personally I would say what defines capitalism is that the means of production is principally in private ownership, regardless of bailouts or subsidies. And this is the way the FT would also use it. The FT is the world's top financial newspaper (more highly regarded than the WSJ.) Just because you get a subsidy doesn't mean you suddenly stop operating the the market or are privately owned.
    Yes, but the way you would define capitalism would be at odds with what capitalism actually is, for which your definition somewhat suffers. Honestly, I've tried to explain this as best as I can, and I'm not sure I can do any better. You're welcome to use the language any way you'd like, it won't change the reality of things (though it may turn your arguments against "capitalism" into straw men).

    Capitalism is: the free market; the "invisible hand"; laissez-faire; and "freedom from coercion."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    There are TWO cores to socialism, public ownership and workers control (democracy). Nationalisation on its own means nothing, The Tories in Britain nationalised vital industries that were failing, and the Tories are a pro-big business party. Capitalists nationalise out of necessity sometimes.
    Er, no. *People* may nationalize out of (what they percieve to be) necessity sometimes. Capitalists are those folks who argue against those people who are doing the nationalizing, on the grounds that it's a violation of the free market.

    But where socialism is concerned, I recognize that you believe that democracy and public ownership are both necessary.

    I have a some questions about each: 1) Is it fair to simply refer to that "public ownership" as a "planned economy"? Or is there a distinction between the nationalizations you'd like to see, from socialism through communism, and a fully planned economy? 2) Since you've phrased it as "workers control (democracy)," it leads me to wonder whether there's a distinction between what *I* think of when I think of "democracy," and what you actually mean. Is that the case? Is this democracy other than "one man, one vote," somehow? How would the democracy you propose look different than the kind of democracy currently employed in the States?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well I haven't accused capitalists of eating babies, though I have heard that they do. ;0
    Well, yeah. Goes well with tartar sauce.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I am saying that your distinction is technically correct...
    And I think that's a fairly meaningful thing, being "technically correct." I think it's what we generally should strive to be. I mean, the difference between "2+2=4" and "2+2=5" is that only one of them is "technically correct." As to what the other should be termed--as to what your definition of capitalism is--I'll leave for you to decide.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Stalinism is a perversion of Marxism, a misinterpretation, a distortion. When I say 2 strands, I don't mean on some sort of equal footing as far as theory goes. I just mean that around the world, a lot of socialist were Trotskyists, and a lot of unfortunate, misinformed ones got hoodwinked into supporting the Stalinist regimes. The CPs around the world are what I am on about. They were a significant force on the left. No the USSR was not socialist communist or Marxist.
    Okay, look, I don't honestly feel the need to try to pin Stalinism on you. You seem a decent fellow; I'm sure you don't approve of Stalin, and I'm sure that you see important distinctions between Marxism and "what Stalin did." My fear is that Marxism (as I understand it) is prone to become Stalinism. But I'm willing to accept it from you that the USSR was not Marxist-socialist.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I thought I had explained. To be honest I cant remember what I said on what thread. For one thing, you couldn't get socialism unless you could offer a better life to most people.
    Well, at the least you'd have to get them to think that you were offering them a better life.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    If you couldn't give them that, they would be wanting to scrap the system and go back to capitalism, so socialism would have to give them a better life.
    That's perhaps true, so long as they're free to "go back." From my point of view, this might help to explain some of the stricter laws in the states that have tried "socialism" (or "Stalinism" or whatever term we need to use). They needed to clamp down, because if the people were free they would have ditched the system and "gone back" to capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As to how, well I thought I mentioned all the waste that you get in capitalism, the unemployment, the idle industrial capacity, the recessions, all the people doing jobs like marketing, all the countries being held back from developing, billions of people who cant even read or write, all the useless crap made, the products which fall apart in 5 minutes. Do you know I bought a bath panel that got wrecked by getting wet a couple of times? Do you know that when they build a house they make bits of it which have a life of 5-10 years? Competition forces corner cutting, producing cheap rubbish. You want to make some money? Don't go to the bank for money for new technology, just get some poor Chinese or Indonesians to make it. Or just speculate on the exchange, don't worry if it drives up food prices causing people to starve. Don't bother producing things, just do something like a vampire does, sucking wealth out of the system. America and Britain together make weapons for the rest of the world. How is that improving the quality of my life? My mate does it. I tell him he will be out of a job after the revolution. Except he wont be, we would swap his factory to useful production.
    No, but see, there's a difference between pointing out what you believe to be "capitalism's flaws" and showing that socialism would do any better. You say capitalism does all of this wrong? I say that socialism would do even worse. And I'd like to know why you think that isn't true. If there's never been a "true socialist society," then you have no evidence to show that socialism can out-perform capitalism, right? It's just Marx's speculations, that we can strip out the profit motive w/o damaging productivity? Because... people will want to do what's best for society...? That sounds contrary to what I believe to be true about human nature, and therefore wrong, and therefore dangerous to try to implement.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Some rich people like Paris Hilton don't seem to do much. What do the Waltons do for their billions? They get cheap stuff made in sweatshops and then sell it to Americans. Big deal.
    Paris Hilton and her "role" in the economy might well be its own thread (possibly with pics ), but let me just quickly say that we can regard her as something of a "byproduct of the system"--she's kind of like the lazy cousin who lives with you and your parents rent free because, hey, he's family. Anyways, what one or two rich people are or do doesn't take away from my contention as to how the wealthy earn their wealth--through directing labor to useful ends.

    And about Wal-Mart... it is kind of a big deal. Providing low cost goods to low income people ain't such a bad thing, really, though I know that there are lots of potential arguments against Wal-Mart specifically, but this thread is already bloated enough without taking on another huge subject like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You dont think we could do better? Thats the peak of human achievement? How come Wal Mart faces thousand of lawsuits from employees for unpaid wages? How can it be that they are the biggest company in the world and still break child labour laws?
    Who ever said that Wal-Mart was "the peak of human achievement"?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    So, thats the best capitalism has to offer. Be glad to be on the minimum wage. Well thats great news. You could be starving, rather than just struggling.

    Its not very inspiring.
    Who ever said tha the minimum wage was "the best capitalism has to offer"?

    The peak of human achievement, where capitalism is concerned, is not yet reached, in my opinion. Neither is the best it has to offer. Just as the minimum wage was not the best it had to offer me, in my life--it was a stepping stone to bigger and better--I regard the current state of the world as one more rung on the ladder for society. The point is that we have made progress, and continue to do so.

    I'm not saying it's wrong for you to point out present day miseries (in America or around the world), but these are not the fault of capitalism; these are what capitalism will one day overcome. Poverty, starvation and their brethern are timeless; capitalism inherited them. Rather, capitalism, economically, results in an accumulation of wealth. You would say that the bulk of wealth accumulates to the hands of a few, and you'd not be wrong, but the truth is also that everyone ultimately gets richer in a capitalist system. As I've said before, the poorest of today are richer than the poorest of a hundred years ago, and the poorest of a hundred years from now will be far richer still.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Yeah, funnily enough I was just reading about the re-emergence of evolutionary psychology. Those guys are idiots. This is where Marxism comes in. Marxism seems to be just about the only science which has noticed that much of the way people think is related to the society they live in. Personally I would have thought it was pretty obvious, but Marxism battled the earlier materialists first, for nu understanding the human interaction, and later after Darwin, those who sought to reduce everything to genetics. Anyway, there would have to be a shift in order to achieve socialism, so there is no reason to suppose that shift wouldnt be reinforced by actually changing society to a completely new form. We currently live in a society where greed is encouraged, material wealth is the goal. Doesnt matter how much really, as long as its more than most other people. Socialism would not be putting this message across.
    I get what you're saying, but again we're talking about the eradication of the profit motive. To insist that everything will be just fine without it (no, not just "just fine" but "even better!") just because socialists would encourage people to do "for the good of society"... just because "people would be educated; things would be different"...

    Maybe Marx understood people better than other psychologists--I'm not a huge fan of many psychological schools myself--maybe he did. But we're talking about risking the ALL of economy and wealth on how, specifically, he thinks people would respond in a hypothetical society. And we have no proof that they would respond that way, do we? You say that Marxism is a "science." Well, science relies on testing, doesn't it? Where are the studies? (And please let's not propose global revolution as our first double-blind.)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well I have to take issue with this on a number of points:
    According to you capitalism feeds the people of America. But according to you, companies which receive subsidies are not capitalist. But most of American agriculture on a big scale receives big subsidies. $20 billion a year to be precise. But these products then go abroad and because they are subsidised, they destroy the farming in those countries who cannot afford to subside their farmers, and therefore cannot compete. And most countries in the world are capitalist. What poor countries are you thinking of who arent capitalist? Most hunger is in Africa and India which are basically mostly capitalist. And both of course were colonised, and colonisation left a legacy. Now of course we just have neo-colonialism.
    There's too much here to respond to it all, but let me just say that I'm not in favor of subsidies for agriculture... and if those subsidies harm the poor in other countries, I consider that awful, but it's not the fault of "capitalism."

    I'm also not in favor of colonialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Overall, upward mobility hardly happens. A few move up and a few sink down. Inequality has been increasing not decreasing.

    Yes, poor children do badly partly because of parental expectations. The parent has low expectations, and as you say the child buys into it. But these low expectations do have a fair amount of reason behind them. If you lived in an area where nobody ever became a professional, you would not bother trying.
    Well, hopefully you would. "Trying," it's true, is requisite for success in capitalism. And I understand that you might insist that "trying" wouldn't be necessary under socialism, but I rather doubt that would be true. The person who doesn't try on planet earth is rather screwed, system of government regardless, and also without regard to the psychological reasons behind the lack of effort. I'm not sure that's a bad thing, as we do need people trying if we're to succeed at all.

    What defines "upward mobility" in the US is that those who try have good chance to succeed. That doesn't mean that "those who don't try" will also succeed. Why should it? Mobility is the ability to move, not the motion itself, and if people don't avail themselves of it, I'm not sure that's a critique of the system so much as it a critique of the culture that preaches "giving up" and the individual who accedes to it.

    Yes, in order to "move up" in the US, a person must try. Really, has anyone credible ever preached anything different?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Ok, suppose every poor person in the USA managed to become a doctor or a lawyer, who would work in the factories, clean the hotels, dig the roads, work in Burger King?
    I think that's a better question for your socialism, as you seem to insist below that you'll train everyone to surgeon level!

    For capitalism, let's say this: if the factories suddenly started feeling a shortage of workers, they would be forced to either cut back production or improve pay/perqs/conditions to entice more workers to come to them. Frankly, I'm not concerned for Burger King. They can succeed or fail, and it doesn't worry me. And if the lot of US workers improved such that nobody wanted to work at Burger King anymore, because a host of better gigs were available, then we might be a lot closer to paradise.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    So [selfless behavior is] not an idea thats totally foreign to everybody then, is a concept that could become more popular maybe?
    Absolutely. Only not by decree. And the reason why that worries me is that the system your proposing would *require* this sort of selfless charitable work to motivate people to do all of the work they currently do for their personal gain.

    Suppose you get the politician you'd like in office and you manage to implement your socialism... but people's hearts and minds remain rooted in wanting to do for themselves, rather than "for the good of the people"? What then?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The ultimate goal is the abolition of classes, inequality, the state, money, want and so on.

    So what would happen if not enough people wanted to be surgeons? Well I think we are talking several generations into a global socialist society. Most people would go to uni. Most people would be potential surgeons. There would be a lot more people capable at least form the point of view of having a good education and not believing they are inferior.
    We're not debating whether people would be *able* to be surgeons... (though come to that, I'm pretty darned educated, but I'm not close to being a surgeon) instead, we're debating whether people would *want* to be surgeons. And what if too many people decided that they want to be rock stars, or stay at home parents, or centerfold photographers, and not enough decided that they want to be surgeons? What if nobody decided that they want to be a garbage collector?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Marx expected socialism to start in advanced countries. So did Lenin actually. Trotsky thought it might be possible for one to start in a backward country if it spread to advanced ones.

    In Feb 1917 a revolution kicked off in Russia, the Tsar abdicated and some blokes declared themselves to be a provisional government. It was time for Lenin and Trotsky to come out of exile. The masses wanted them to take power, so they did. All along they said socialism depended on the revolution spreading to germany. The German workers movement didn't have good enough leaders, basically the SPD leaders sold out to capitalism. The Russian revolution inevitably decayed and collapsed back to capitalism, via a longish and partly unforeseen bureaucratic degeneration of the workers state. Trotsky did foresee that actually. Marx didn't have a crystal ball and he never made any promises. Marxism is a science, but its not an exact science like maths. Even maths has its dodgy areas. Most science does. Has physics explained everything yet? No. Marxism can predict certain trends, certain factors, it cant say a revolution will deffo lead to socialism sometime soon. Marx mainly wrote about capitalism, explaining recessions etc. He predicted globalisation, and huge economic crashes. He predicted revolutions and mass workers movements. I don't think you could say he was wrong or there are any fundamental faults in the theory, not that I've noticed. I studied geology as well, and there are many areas of uncertainty. What we do know is evolution happened, and still is, as everything is constantly changing, an idea which Marxism has as a fundamental (dialectics). So we also know that society evolved, and will evolve. Whether society will 'speciate' in the near future is hard to say.
    Math and physics make certain concrete (and testable) "predictions." The theories and theorems within those disciplines are ultimately verifiable... and ultimately falsifiable. You can't reduce Marxism to "society evolves." That's so vague as to say nearly nothing. And it can't just be that "capitalism will have problems." I can say that California will have earthquakes in the future, but that doesn't make me a prophet or a scientist. If Marx was a scientist, and if he predicted that socialism would come from capitalism on the basis of his "scientific theories," then there has to be something specific to test about that--some point at which we can say "well, Marx was obviously wrong."

    If there's not, then it's no science.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    How would we prevent the masses from voting for nasty things? I have said - education. Besides which, not everything is done on a referendum, most decisions would be representative, and hopefully it would be the best elements who got elected, the most progressive people.

    You seem to forget that socialism is a progressive system. It doesn't contain racism, inequality, greed etc. Its not like the masses are likely to suddenly decide to persecute a section of the population. It just doesn't fit in with socialist mentality. Persecuting people is something that fits with capitalism not socialism.

    After the Russian revolution, all the persecuted minorities were relieved of that persecution. Ethnic languages started to be used again for instance. They gave women the vote, made gays equal, banned racism. Divorce was allowed. Gays could marry. All mention of sexual practices was removed from the law. Muslims could choose to use a Sharia system. People were liberated, not oppressed. They couldnt of course stamp out all prejudice overnight, but with a lead like this, the masses follow.
    Ah, so a socialist society wouldn't have problems with racism because socialism "doesn't contain racism." I suppose that makes sense in kind of a roundish sort of way.

    Just for the record, I'm in favor of virtually all of the specifics of your last paragraph: an end to persecution; unrestricted use of ethnic language; universal voting; universal equality; equal marriage (and divorce) rights; a universal right to privacy; etc., etc., etc. (Though the use of the Sharia... that might have to be a separate topic for discussion.) Unfortunately, I live in a country that embraces democracy. And even though it's representative democracy, and though we do attempt to elect the "best elements," we do apparently make "dodgy decisions" from time to time.

    Unlike socialism, we have no guarantee of being inherently perfect. Sadly, our system is comprised of very flawed, very falliable human beings. If you could abolish flaw, I'd be all for it... though I'm not so sure that's on the table.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    It's not correct to say I have had two stances. The USSR was not socialist. I described it as bureucratically deformed socialism. Socialism is public ownership with workers control. Russia had the planned economy but no workers control, it was a dictatorship. That is not socialism. I dont like the phrase 'not the right kind of socialism', it sounds like I am just being picky, wanting my personal preference or something. Deformed socialism is not socialism. If you get all the metal parts for a bridge and build the towers but leave the span on the ground, you do not have a bridge. It doesnt matter if its half a bridge, its not gonna half work.
    Okay. You've clarified that earlier, and I accept your clarification; point conceded.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    See above. In 1917, Russia passed all the progressive laws which minorities have been fighting for in Britain and America since the and STILL HAVEN'T ACHIEVED fully.
    Oh, I agree that there's work to be done in Britain and America. Just not that capitalism is the problem. (Or that socialism is the solution.)

    Earlier, you defined socialism as being 1) nationalization and 2) democratization. I don't see how either of those require the abolition of racism (for instance), or the institution of other progressive measures outside of nationalization and democratization themselves. Just because the Soviet Union tried (and failed) to be progressive in those ways doesn't guarantee that any given socialism will, does it?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The Russian revolution failed because it was isolated. The ~Bolsheviks counted on it spreading, especially to advanced countries. This was not an unreasonable assumption. In 1919, the British Prime Minister Lloyd George said “The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution.” Unfortunately the spirit failed to break through.

    The revolution, isolated, got derailed by a political counter revolution by the middle class bureaucracy, or at least the people at the top of it. Stalin took power and what you had was not socialism, not any kind of socialism, it was Stalinism. Ok, I take back saying it was deformed socialism. Perhaps I should had said a deformed workers state, meaning a deformed publicly owned, planned economy.

    Anyway, suffice to say, Stalinism reversed these progressive laws and attitudes.
    So, suppose that you, personally, got to create your ideal socialist state tomorrow. How would you ensure that a Stalin wouldn't take your place as leader, after your passing? How would you make it so that your socialism wouldn't "deform" into Stalinism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You give me an example from 2,000 years age in an age of slavery. It just wouldn't be like that. Persecution of religions wouldn't be something people could vote for, it would be unthinkable, out of the question. Its like saying Nazis might vote for special privileges for Jews and communists.
    I don't want to bet things such as these on "unthinkable." I don't want such injustices to be "unthinkable." I want them to be illegal.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well yeah, I don't know much about constitutions and laws, but like I said, the Bolsheviks banned racism, so it would be against the law, so you couldn't vote for it. Of course people would have a right to free speech, as long as it didn't harm others (you couldn't incite racial violence of counter-revolutionary violence, just as America now would lock up people who advocated terrorism of course, or child molesting). So in that respect it would be illegal to campaign for this persecution in the first place.
    Well, okay. That's (finally ) a good start! More than that, it's a place here we can agree--common ground! We both believe in a right to free speech. I'm running out of energy for this post, so I might have to pick that up again in the future...

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its not socialism itself which leads to people like Stalin. Socialism never even existed. But in a revolution, you do need a revolutionary party with a very strong leadership, and naturally many people tend to defer to these revolutionary experts. During a revolutionary period that is necessary.
    You see no danger in that?
    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.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    However, this scenario certainly isn't applicable to the current US system, is it? While the market operates "freely" within certain parameters (enough so that I can agree with you that the US is at least partially "capitalist," if not "mainly"), there is a *lot* of governmental intervention into the US economy. Indeed, so much intervention that simply to call the US capitalist is incorrect. It is a mixed system. And within that mixed system there are elements that are "capitalist" in nature--things that a capitalist would advocate--and there are also things that are not-capitalist, and that a capitalist would argue against. Just as simply calling the US capitalist is incorrect, it is also incorrect (and seemingly a related error) to ascribe all US policy to capitalism or capitalist ideology.

    The bailouts are interventions into the market--they are anti-free market, and therefore anti-capitalist--and therefore are things that a capitalist would argue against.
    Well maybe we're just gonna have to agree to differ. The bailouts were not capitalist, but they were done to save the capitalist system from economic meltdown. Pure capitalism obviously doesnt work.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    manc said in this post:
    And that company which got a bailout. Privately owned and operating in a market. Is it suddenly not capitalist?

    Capitalism is an ideology. Companies, themselves, don't really have an ideology (though the people who run them and work for them do). Capitalism, as applied, is a system of economics/governance; as such, companies don't really effect capitalism--a company within a capitalist system can be run according to any number of personal ideologies (for instance, like-minded socialists could certainly construct a co-op within a capitalist society, or a commune, or any other number of mutually agreed upon organizations). What I'm trying to say is that the question you're asking isn't really sensible.

    The company isn't "suddenly not capitalist"; the company was never capitalist to begin with, though the owner might be, and the laws of the country in which the company does business might be (the proposed bailout notwithstanding).

    As to the owner, who knows what the owner is...? For all we know, the owner might be a fascist, or he might yearn for some older aristocratic society, or he might not be given to any recognizable ideology at all.

    Perhaps the question really is this: if the owner of the company is capitalist, and he takes a bailout, is that hypocritical of him, or does that compromise his stance as a "capitalist"? And that's a really intriguing question. Some self-proclaimed capitalists certainly think so. There are cases where people have refused things like bailout money on principle. Personally, I think there's no conflict between being a capitalist and receiving a bailout; we argue for the world as it ought to be, but live in the world as it is. Currently the system is a mixture of capitalism and other, and if a person were only to participate in those aspects of society that are purely capitalist... well, there'd be nothing left. The alternative to taking the bailout--eschewing bailouts that one's competitors are likely to take--would be nothing but an exercise in martyrdom, and a pointless one, I'd say (and increasingly unfair, as we must presume that it is said capitalist's tax contributions that, in part, fund his own bailout). It would be as sensible to avoid walking on pubicly funded sidewalks or refusing to eat any food produced through farmer subsidies.
    I'm not particularly interest in what the owner of the company thinks. I was talking about a privately owned company which pays employees a wage, and operates in the market with a view to making a profit on the capital invested by the owners. And it gets a tax break, a subsidy or whatever to help it compete with the Germans or whatever. Is it not a company which is operating as a capitalist one, whether or not it gets this 'non capitalist' state intervention? The owner is a capitalist. He is still a capitalist if he takes the subsidy.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    "manc said in this post:
    Surely according to your definition, if a company pays tax it is not capitalist, there are no capitalist enterprises, capitalism is impossible and there is no such thing as capitalism."

    Nonsense. According to my definition, the income tax (as currently structured) is not capitalist. That doesn't mean that anyone who pays taxes is therefore not capitalist.

    In a socialist society, I would still be a capitalist; I would still believe in capitalism, and argue for it (to the extent that your laws would allow). Just as in whatever you believe the current economic system in the UK to be, you are still a Marxist. If you take a job for wages, that doesn't make you not a Marxist, or not a socialist. That just means that you recognize that it's necessary to abide by the rules and realities of your current society, even as you envision and work towards something you believe to be better. You may even use your wages to help your efforts to end the wage system altogther. That's not hypocrisy, that's necessity.
    Im talking about capitalism as an economic system, not an ideology. It means private ownership of the means of production, employing people, paying them a wage, and making a profit on capital invested.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    "manc said in this post:
    Personally I would say what defines capitalism is that the means of production is principally in private ownership, regardless of bailouts or subsidies. And this is the way the FT would also use it. The FT is the world's top financial newspaper (more highly regarded than the WSJ.) Just because you get a subsidy doesn't mean you suddenly stop operating the the market or are privately owned."


    Yes, but the way you would define capitalism would be at odds with what capitalism actually is, for which your definition somewhat suffers. Honestly, I've tried to explain this as best as I can, and I'm not sure I can do any better. You're welcome to use the language any way you'd like, it won't change the reality of things (though it may turn your arguments against "capitalism" into straw men).

    Capitalism is: the free market; the "invisible hand"; laissez-faire; and "freedom from coercion."
    So the world's top capitalist newspaper doesn't know how to define capitalism?

    "
    Capitalism is not the “free market” or laisser faire – a system of zero government “plus the constable”. Capitalist systems function less well without state protection of investors, lenders and companies against monopoly, deception and fraud. These systems may lack the requisite political support and cause social stresses without subsidies to stimulate inclusion of the less advantaged in society’s formal business economy. Last, a huge social insurance system, with resulting high taxes, low take-home pay and low wealth, may not hurt capitalism."

    Edmund Phelps, writing in the FT as part of the Future of Capitalism series.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a0bc4628-2...077b07658.html


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Er, no. *People* may nationalize out of (what they percieve to be) necessity sometimes. Capitalists are those folks who argue against those people who are doing the nationalizing, on the grounds that it's a violation of the free market.
    I doubt most of the UKs ruling class (capitalists) argued against these state takeovers of failing but vital industries. Anyway, a Tory party nationalised some of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    But where socialism is concerned, I recognize that you believe that democracy and public ownership are both necessary.

    I have a some questions about each: 1) Is it fair to simply refer to that "public ownership" as a "planned economy"? Or is there a distinction between the nationalizations you'd like to see, from socialism through communism, and a fully planned economy? 2) Since you've phrased it as "workers control (democracy)," it leads me to wonder whether there's a distinction between what *I* think of when I think of "democracy," and what you actually mean. Is that the case? Is this democracy other than "one man, one vote," somehow? How would the democracy you propose look different than the kind of democracy currently employed in the States?
    1. Essentially public ownership on a widespread scale would imply a planned economy. But it was not a planned economy in the UK even though qite a few big utilities got nationalised. Do you see the difference? In a workers state the nature of the planned economy would obviously change as it made the transition to socialism and finally to communism. In communism there would be no state for example.
    2. Well the Russians had a soviet system plus a constituent assembly, then they went over to just a soviet system. Later, because of the civil war, power was really in the hands of the CP. You can google soviets but basically they are committees of people in factories of localities, bodies where you can vote for delegate who go to government. Its not like ticking a box every 5 years, the soviets were more or less local government and national government, and running the factories etc.

    The idea of socialism is that the mass of the people play an active part in the decision making, in the running of the economy. The company you work for is run democratically, industry is, the economy is. To give a taste, from the past (obviously it would be different)...

    "Soviets

    Meaning "council" in Russian, soviets were elected local, municipal, and regional councils in Russia and later the Soviet Union. Before the October Revolution of 1917, an estimated 900 soviets were in existence.

    The Soviet was the axis of all events, every thread ran towards it, every call to action emanated from it.

    1905, by Leon Trotsky

    Soviets were representatives of workers, peasants and soldiers in a given locale (rural soviets were a mix of peasants and soldiers, while urban soviets were a mix of workers and soldiers). "

    http://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/s/o.htm#soviets

    ---------- Post added at 06:55 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:26 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Okay, look, I don't honestly feel the need to try to pin Stalinism on you. You seem a decent fellow; I'm sure you don't approve of Stalin, and I'm sure that you see important distinctions between Marxism and "what Stalin did." My fear is that Marxism (as I understand it) is prone to become Stalinism. But I'm willing to accept it from you that the USSR was not Marxist-socialist.
    Like I say, different circumstances, different outcomes. The USA today is not Russia 100 years a go.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this post:
    I thought I had explained. To be honest I cant remember what I said on what thread. For one thing, you couldn't get socialism unless you could offer a better life to most people.
    Well, at the least you'd have to get them to think that you were offering them a better life.
    No, you miss the point, and this is crucial. The Russian revolution failed because the masses stopped playing an active role, allowed the bureaucracy to take over. They stopped playing an active role because they were burned out after WW1 and then the revolution and the civil war. But basically enthusiasm waned because Russia, a BACKWARD, ISOLATED country in a transition towards socialism, couldnt offer people a better life. So Stalin was able to take power.


    Ok, lets say Britain went socialist, and it started spreading to other countries. If everyone was worse of for a protracted period, people would want to scrap the whole project.

    will finish reply to that post in a couple of days, off camping....
    Last edited by Aspoestertjie; August 15th, 2010 at 11:03 PM.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    That's perhaps true, so long as they're free to "go back." From my point of view, this might help to explain some of the stricter laws in the states that have tried "socialism" (or "Stalinism" or whatever term we need to use). They needed to clamp down, because if the people were free they would have ditched the system and "gone back" to capitalism.
    The people Stalin persecuted didnt want to go back to capitalism, they were socialists.

    The Bolsheviks had to clamp down on the opposition, no because they wanted to 'go back', but because they exressed that wish by launching wars.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    No, but see, there's a difference between pointing out what you believe to be "capitalism's flaws" and showing that socialism would do any better. You say capitalism does all of this wrong? I say that socialism would do even worse. And I'd like to know why you think that isn't true. If there's never been a "true socialist society," then you have no evidence to show that socialism can out-perform capitalism, right? It's just Marx's speculations, that we can strip out the profit motive w/o damaging productivity? Because... people will want to do what's best for society...? That sounds contrary to what I believe to be true about human nature, and therefore wrong, and therefore dangerous to try to implement.

    Well i have to point out capitalism's flaws to explain how socialism would do better. Socialism wouldn't have all those flaws. My evidence is logic. socialism couldn't have the flaws associated with the unplanned free market of supply and 'demand' with production for profit rater than need. Its like explaining the benefits of giving up smoking. Think of all the side effects of smoking, and how much better things would be without them. The negative side of capitalism and the positive side of socialism are linked because they are two sides of the same thing, everything is relative. If I give an example that capitalism builds rubbish which doesnt last, well just think of the opposite, building quality stuff to last. The advantages are obvious - less waste of time, less waste of the planets resources - more efficiency.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Who ever said that Wal-Mart was "the peak of human achievement"?
    It was an example, I mean capitalism, or what you might call this mixed economy. No doubt you will agree with me and say we need more of the capitalism.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Who ever said tha the minimum wage was "the best capitalism has to offer"?
    You said it was an incentive to people even poorer than that. I'm saying big deal. It may be an incentive if you put it like that, like swimming in sh1t is better than drowning in it.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    The peak of human achievement, where capitalism is concerned, is not yet reached, in my opinion. Neither is the best it has to offer. Just as the minimum wage was not the best it had to offer me, in my life--it was a stepping stone to bigger and better--I regard the current state of the world as one more rung on the ladder for society. The point is that we have made progress, and continue to do so.

    I'm not saying it's wrong for you to point out present day miseries (in America or around the world), but these are not the fault of capitalism; these are what capitalism will one day overcome. Poverty, starvation and their brethern are timeless; capitalism inherited them. Rather, capitalism, economically, results in an accumulation of wealth. You would say that the bulk of wealth accumulates to the hands of a few, and you'd not be wrong, but the truth is also that everyone ultimately gets richer in a capitalist system. As I've said before, the poorest of today are richer than the poorest of a hundred years ago, and the poorest of a hundred years from now will be far richer still.
    Im not convinced there is any such effect really. Ok we have new technology so that makes life a bit easier, for some. But inequality is increasing. Million starve even though there is enough food for them. Capitalism is destroying the planet. Capitalism is failing most people. Yeah the working class in the advanced countries are materially better off than they were 100 years ago. Thats because certain inventions happened. Its just progress, like man invented the wheel or whatever. Capitalism is PREVENTING most people from getting a decent life. Half the world cant even eat properly.


    Heres what is needed. America needs to stop relying so much on imported cheap stuff, either materials or stuff made from cheap labour. America needs to learn to stand on its own two feet. Americans use something like 12 times their fair share of the planet's resources. This is grotesque. Its not sustainable. To correct that whats needed is a complete change in the way of doing things. No more of the worst aspects of the system.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I get what you're saying, but again we're talking about the eradication of the profit motive. To insist that everything will be just fine without it (no, not just "just fine" but "even better!") just because socialists would encourage people to do "for the good of society"... just because "people would be educated; things would be different"...

    Maybe Marx understood people better than other psychologists--I'm not a huge fan of many psychological schools myself--maybe he did. But we're talking about risking the ALL of economy and wealth on how, specifically, he thinks people would respond in a hypothetical society. And we have no proof that they would respond that way, do we? You say that Marxism is a "science." Well, science relies on testing, doesn't it? Where are the studies? (And please let's not propose global revolution as our first double-blind.)

    First the psychology bit. marxism says that our ways of thinking are a product of our society and environment as well of course as evolution, and also that we can use our thinking to change society. For instance at various times its been considered normal for a woman to go to work, and at others its been considered abnormal.

    For most of human evolution there was NO CLASS SOCIETY, and no 'profit'. We just hunted and gathered, communally. Profit and class are therefore not 'human nature', they are what became the norm as expresses by ruling classes over the last 10,000 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    There's too much here to respond to it all, but let me just say that I'm not in favor of subsidies for agriculture... and if those subsidies harm the poor in other countries, I consider that awful, but it's not the fault of "capitalism."
    oh yes it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I'm also not in favor of colonialism.
    Colonialism was an inevitable phase of capitalism, and is now practiced as neo-colonialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, hopefully you would. "Trying," it's true, is requisite for success in capitalism. And I understand that you might insist that "trying" wouldn't be necessary under socialism, but I rather doubt that would be true. The person who doesn't try on planet earth is rather screwed, system of government regardless, and also without regard to the psychological reasons behind the lack of effort. I'm not sure that's a bad thing, as we do need people trying if we're to succeed at all.

    What defines "upward mobility" in the US is that those who try have good chance to succeed. That doesn't mean that "those who don't try" will also succeed. Why should it? Mobility is the ability to move, not the motion itself, and if people don't avail themselves of it, I'm not sure that's a critique of the system so much as it a critique of the culture that preaches "giving up" and the individual who accedes to it.

    Yes, in order to "move up" in the US, a person must try. Really, has anyone credible ever preached anything different?
    But for all the people who move up by trying, there are people who move down despite trying. And there are lots of people who dont move up despite trying. I ask again, if we all tried and moved up, who would work in factories, who would do all the work capitalism requires? Capitalism could not allow masses of people to move up. Its impossible. Unless loads also move down.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I think that's a better question for your socialism, as you seem to insist below that you'll train everyone to surgeon level!

    Who would do the rubbish jobs? Mostly these jobs would be done away with or shared out. Maybe everyone could spend 2 weeks a year doing a menial job. The working week would be reduced enormously anyway, so it would be easy to sort. A lot of capitalists rely on cheap labour for jobs that should be done by machines, so we would build robots. Maybe there would be no hotel cleaners, you would be expected to clean you own room and change the sheets. Its not hard. Jobs like builders could be better trained and qualified so that A their job was not so lower class, and B so the buildings lasted longer.






    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Suppose you get the politician you'd like in office and you manage to implement your socialism... but people's hearts and minds remain rooted in wanting to do for themselves, rather than "for the good of the people"? What then?
    I'm not really sure what you mean exactly. I think people would still expect extra reward for exceptional hard work, but we are not talking about abolishing that overnight.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    We're not debating whether people would be *able* to be surgeons... (though come to that, I'm pretty darned educated, but I'm not close to being a surgeon) instead, we're debating whether people would *want* to be surgeons. And what if too many people decided that they want to be rock stars, or stay at home parents, or centerfold photographers, and not enough decided that they want to be surgeons? What if nobody decided that they want to be a garbage collector?
    A lot of what ifs. I cant give to a blueprint. Socialism has to be something worked out by the people, by trial and error. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. But as a guess, if someone was good enough at music that millions wanted to hear them, I'm sure society would say they could spend most of their time doing it and get their instruments paid for etc. If not enough people wanted to be surgeons we would have a drive to recruit them, maybe offer better wages if necessary, or shorter hours. But as you can see, Cuba has no shortage of doctors, it has more than America, per capita.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Math and physics make certain concrete (and testable) "predictions." The theories and theorems within those disciplines are ultimately verifiable... and ultimately falsifiable. You can't reduce Marxism to "society evolves." That's so vague as to say nearly nothing. And it can't just be that "capitalism will have problems." I can say that California will have earthquakes in the future, but that doesn't make me a prophet or a scientist. If Marx was a scientist, and if he predicted that socialism would come from capitalism on the basis of his "scientific theories," then there has to be something specific to test about that--some point at which we can say "well, Marx was obviously wrong."

    If there's not, then it's no science.
    Marxism is a branch of sociology which is regarded as a social science. I was trained as a geologist, and I can tell you that there will be earthquakes in California, I can tell you why, I cant say when they will be or how big or how much damage they will cause. Marxism will tell you that capitalism will have class war, it will have recessions, and it might be overthrown, like the capitalists overthrew feudalism. Geology will tell you what sort of places might have oil. They cant predict whether your drilling will be successful.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Ah, so a socialist society wouldn't have problems with racism because socialism "doesn't contain racism." I suppose that makes sense in kind of a roundish sort of way.

    Just for the record, I'm in favor of virtually all of the specifics of your last paragraph: an end to persecution; unrestricted use of ethnic language; universal voting; universal equality; equal marriage (and divorce) rights; a universal right to privacy; etc., etc., etc. (Though the use of the Sharia... that might have to be a separate topic for discussion.) Unfortunately, I live in a country that embraces democracy. And even though it's representative democracy, and though we do attempt to elect the "best elements," we do apparently make "dodgy decisions" from time to time.

    Unlike socialism, we have no guarantee of being inherently perfect. Sadly, our system is comprised of very flawed, very falliable human beings. If you could abolish flaw, I'd be all for it... though I'm not so sure that's on the table.
    Capitalist governments dont and cant do very well on these things, for very specific reasons. Capitalism encouraged homophobia, it encouraged sexism, not randomly, it had reasons. Ditto racism. I could spend hours explaining this. By the way, on Sharia, the Bolsheviks didnt allow stoning etc and for parties to use a Sharia court, both had to agree. The idea was to wean people off it by offering a better alternative, not force them and create division. Division is a job for capitalism, not socialism. Socialism thrives on unity, capitalism thrives on division. Divide and rule. One day I will spend a few hours typing out examples. Try googling Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Iraq.





    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Earlier, you defined socialism as being 1) nationalization and 2) democratization. I don't see how either of those require the abolition of racism (for instance), or the institution of other progressive measures outside of nationalization and democratization themselves. Just because the Soviet Union tried (and failed) to be progressive in those ways doesn't guarantee that any given socialism will, does it?
    Racism is to socialism what workers unity is to capitalism. A danger. Something bad. Socialism HAS TO BE INTERNATIONAL. Internationalism means anti - racism. Socialism explains to the disgruntled white worker that his problems are not caused by immigrants, they are caused by the rich, their system, and their government. This is the truth and this is why capitalism cannot and will not defeat racism. The truth is, racism is a TOOL of capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    So, suppose that you, personally, got to create your ideal socialist state tomorrow. How would you ensure that a Stalin wouldn't take your place as leader, after your passing? How would you make it so that your socialism wouldn't "deform" into Stalinism?

    Firstly, the main problem was that it was isolated in a backward country. So avoid that scenario. Second, all leaders on the average wage - avoid careerism. Third, build the workers movement at the base, meetings in every factory, every shop floor, get everyone active. Get real working democracy going with things bottom up as much as possible. The revolutionary leadership is mainly needed just for the actual critical point when you dispense with capitalism as your system.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I don't want to bet things such as these on "unthinkable." I don't want such injustices to be "unthinkable." I want them to be illegal.
    Of course racism and religious persecution would be illegal.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    manc said in this post:
    Its not socialism itself which leads to people like Stalin. Socialism never even existed. But in a revolution, you do need a revolutionary party with a very strong leadership, and naturally many people tend to defer to these revolutionary experts. During a revolutionary period that is necessary.
    You see no danger in that?

    Of course there is a danger, but it shouldn't be too much of a danger with a decent party in a modern country. Obviously the Bolsheviks had no way of knowing it could collapse into Stalinism. We have the benefit of hindsight though.

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well maybe we're just gonna have to agree to differ. The bailouts were not capitalist, but they were done to save the capitalist system from economic meltdown. Pure capitalism obviously doesnt work.
    We can agree to differ on whether or not "pure capitalism obviously doesn't work," but you have to believe me that capitalists were not in favor of the bailouts.

    Or, hell, you don't have to agree with me on anything, but if you don't understand what capitalism actually is (and incorporate that understanding into your arguments) then you'll wind up arguing against straw men, and not actually against capitalism (see below).

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Im talking about capitalism as an economic system, not an ideology. It means private ownership of the means of production, employing people, paying them a wage, and making a profit on capital invested.
    But see, capitalism as an ideology relates to capitalism as an economic system, like this: a capitalist (in the ideological sense) would like to see capitalism (in an economic sense) enacted. Capitalism in an economic sense relates to law, not the operations of specific businesses under that law. Therefore, a capitalist does not necessarily run a for-profit business. Observe:

    I am a capitalist (ideologically); I would like the USA to be (fully) capitalist. If the US were capitalist, I might well decide to join a commune, or help establish a co-op, or organize a trade union, or manage a charity, or etc. None of these would make me less of a capitalist or the USA less of a capitalist country.

    Your questions about whether or not a "company" changes from capitalist to not-capitalist when it receives a subsidy don't really make any sense. A company is neither capitalist, nor socialist, nor anything at all, because it doesn't have a brain and so therefore cannot have an ideology... and it's also not a government, and so it does not have the features of a government, like the ability to set economic policy.

    A person can be a capitalist (i.e. believes in capitalism, ideologically) and a country can be capitalist (in that its laws are capitalist; it has a capitalist economy), but a company cannot be capitalist in any meaningful sense (outside of a simple reflection of its owner's ideology, or the fact that it operates within a particular economic/legal system).

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    So the world's top capitalist newspaper doesn't know how to define capitalism?
    Perhaps not, but I can't really say. A newspaper is comprised of the people who write for it, and as for the people behind the newspaper in question, I'd really have to discuss it with them to give you a good answer. In any event, the quality of a definition is unrelated to its source. Capitalism is what it is, whether Newspaper X says so or otherwise, and what you're doing here is "appealing to authority," which is a logical fallacy.

    To address the specific quote you've provided, the "constable" means a certain amount of "state protection. . .against [at least] deception and fraud"; laissez-faire doesn't mean lawlessness, and libertarians are not anarchists. And so the quote doesn't start well in that it appears to be conceptually confused in its implication that capitalism is, at heart, synonymous with anarchy. There's nothing further from the truth. Capitalism relies on law and order (so much so that sometimes people can even confuse it with fascism, right? ).

    It then goes on to say that capitalism may require "subsidies to stimulate inclusion of the less advantaged," "a huge social insurance system," and that it "may not [be] hurt" by "high taxes, low take-home pay and low wealth"? Apart from the nebulousness of what would constitute "harm" in this context, I'd say that this is absurd to the point of robbing "capitalism" of all meaning. I might as well say that capitalism wouldn't be hurt by tariffs and trade embargos (or outright mercantilism), or nationalizations and "proletarian dictatorship." A thing is what it is, and isn't what it's not. It is debatable whether there are any advantages to a mixed economy, such as the US employs--it's up for discussion whether the bailouts help or hinder American society--but socialism, mercantilism, communism, capitalism, these are all concepts with specific meanings, and we do ourselves no good in pretending that there are no distinctions, or in blurring the lines until we can no longer make them out. Capitalism is a philosophy that is directly opposed to high taxation and a government-directed "redistribution of the wealth" (and as a socialist who critiques capitalism, you well understand that). For this Phelps character to pretend otherwise is more a game of politics than anything else, and is essentially disingenuous.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    1. Essentially public ownership on a widespread scale would imply a planned economy. But it was not a planned economy in the UK even though qite a few big utilities got nationalised. Do you see the difference?
    Yes, I do. I just didn't want to put "planned economy" on socialism without your agreement first. Would you agree, though, that every nationalization is a step (however small) towards a planned economy? Or at least that nationalization puts a country closer to a planned economy?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    2. Well the Russians had a soviet system plus a constituent assembly, then they went over to just a soviet system....
    Just out of curiosity, do we have any (reliable) indication as to how well the soviets performed prior to the Civil War?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Like I say, different circumstances, different outcomes. The USA today is not Russia 100 years a go.
    That's fine. But listen, it's not as though I haven't paid attention when you've said that Russia failed because it was "backwards." What we're still missing, however, is the evidence that the US (or X other modern state) would do any better than Russia did. Just saying "things are different now" is not proof that Marx's socialism would work, and it doesn't show that we wouldn't devolve into Stalinism.

    While the USA today isn't Russia 100 years ago, many things remain constant, including the fact that human beings, by nature, have many things in common. My critique of socialism rests on the idea that humans, by nature, are predisposed to work for themselves and their loved ones... and not for "the good of society." And that a system which requires people to work for the good of society in order to persist will ultimately need to force those people to do it, or the society will collapse completely.

    You say in response that people's psychology is dependant on their society, and I'm willing to agree with that... to a point. I remain unconvinced that, however we reshape society, "the good of society" will ever be as powerful a human motivator as "working for oneself and our loved ones." Do we have any reason to believe that's so?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well i have to point out capitalism's flaws to explain how socialism would do better.
    I agree that showing the flaws in the present system is necessary, I'm only observing that it isn't sufficient. Suppose I recommend that the way to deal with the hangnail on your finger is to chop off your arm. Yes, it's necessary to demonstrate the pain of the hangnail in order for my recommendation to make sense... but it leaves out the other (equally necessary) part: a demonstration that my solution would be better than the current situation (or other proposed solutions).

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism wouldn't have all those flaws.
    But it might have other flaws altogether. A couple of the flaws I'm worried about are: 1) that the removal of the profit motive and other personal incentive will result in a dramatic reduction in productivity (a shrinking of the cake); and 2) that, in order to address this productivity decline, and also to implement other aspects of a planned economy, it will be necessary for liberty to be restricted more and more to the point of authortarian rule.

    And so, it's not enough to say that "capitalism is bad" (whether that's true or not), we must be able to say that "socialism would be better." If capitalism "fails" to feed people (which I disagree is true), would socialism better feed people? Is there any evidence that this would be so? Did the USSR feed its people better than the US during the same span of time? (And while we've argued and agreed that the USSR was "Stalinist" and not socialist, I don't know what historical example would be better suited for comparison. At the very least, the USSR attempted to collectivize its farms and distribute its grain in the manner of a planned economy, did it not? How did that work out for them?)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    My evidence is logic. socialism couldn't have the flaws associated with the unplanned free market of supply and 'demand' with production for profit rater than need.
    It's true that socialism couldn't have the flaws associated with the free market. However, it also wouldn't have the strengths of the free market (whether or not you're willing to admit that there are any ), and it would necessarily have the flaws associated with a planned economy. That's logic as well.

    The evidence I'm asking for is to demonstrate that socialism would outperform capitalism (which is what you've claimed would happen). I think that such evidence is necessary because you're advocating eliminating capitalism in favor of socialism. I say: let's not do that, unless we have evidence that it is a smart thing to do.

    And showing that capitalism has certain flaws is not a demonstration that socialism would outperform capitalism, not even if socialism *is designed* to remedy those flaws. Sometimes things are designed to accomplish a task and fail utterly. I'm asking you whether we have any reason to believe that socialism would do anything other than fail utterly, apart from "Marx said it would be so." Any real life examples of socialist success? Anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Its like explaining the benefits of giving up smoking. Think of all the side effects of smoking, and how much better things would be without them.
    Except! Smoking has testable, observable results associated with it--the benefits of giving up smoking are not solely theoretical, but have been demonstrated to be so. I'm asking for the same sorts of evidence for your claims about socialism's effectiveness at growing the cake.

    And anyways, this isn't even right, is it? My point would still stand: it's not merely a matter of demonstrating that "smoking is bad"; we also need to show that the alternative is better. Smoking marijuana, a person might argue with some justice, is generally "bad" in that it is basically unhealthy. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that an explanation of whatever adverse effects come from smoking marijuana is a full argument that "marijuana ought not be smoked." Whether or not "marijuana is bad," it might be true in a given case that smoking marijuana is still *better* than the alternative. Hence, medical marijuana. (And lest this descend into a debate over marijuana, or any other form of smoking, that's not at all my purpose; it might also be the case that smoking marijuana is warranted outside of medical purposes, despite whatever health risks it may or may not pose.)

    That is to say, capitalism might be "bad" (though I don't agree that it is) and simultaneously better than socialism. Arguing that "capitalism is bad" is only making half the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    The negative side of capitalism and the positive side of socialism are linked because they are two sides of the same thing...
    This isn't true. There are many non-capitalist alternatives, such as fascism, mercantilism, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    ...everything is relative.
    And neither is this.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    If I give an example that capitalism builds rubbish which doesnt last, well just think of the opposite, building quality stuff to last. The advantages are obvious - less waste of time, less waste of the planets resources - more efficiency.
    But you haven't demonstrated that socialism would result in "building quality stuff to last." You haven't even shown that it wouldn't build *worse* rubbish than that which is built under capitalism. Can you do that?

    Further, there might be a case to be made in favor of the so-called "rubbish" built under capitalism. You might not be interested in hearing it, but if you are, let me know and I'll give it a go.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    You said [the minimum wage] was an incentive to people even poorer than that. I'm saying big deal. It may be an incentive if you put it like that, like swimming in sh1t is better than drowning in it.
    Well, that's right. Swimming in sh1t is better than drowning in it. Right now, many people in the world are drowning (in whatever); capitalism, at first, allows them the opportunity to swim, and survive. Then, as wealth eventually accumulates, they can get out of the... uh... pool.

    It's an evolutionary process, the accumulation of wealth. Not the flip of a switch. This is true on both small and large levels--that of individuals and societies. In my life, again, I started out with minimum wage but I did not remain there. The country that adopts capitalism will not instantly become wealthy, but over time their wealth will grow.

    And yes, it is a big deal that people are motivated to try to make their lives better--to move from drowning to swimming. Your socialism would eliminate such motivation; if a person judged that he was drowning, what could he do about it? Nothing. So why bother trying to swim? (You say that "no one would drown"? I say prove it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Im not convinced there is any such effect really. Ok we have new technology so that makes life a bit easier, for some. But inequality is increasing.
    Again, this concentration on "inequality" is completely missing what's important. Consider: if everyone were completely starving--no food at all--then one person goes and kills a deer for its meat... we have moved from "complete equality" to 100% inequality.

    The inequality doesn't matter. What *matters* is the fact of starvation. In truth, the fact that one person now has food to eat is a good thing, not a bad thing, despite the "growing inequality." It means that one less person is starving, which isn't our end goal but is at least a start.

    If it wound up that everyone on the planet had enough to survive, but a handful of people wound up astoundingly wealthy, we might have more and more "inequality"... while at the same time, starvation may have been solved, etc. I'd argue that this would be for the good. "Equality" versus "inequality" doesn't matter: if everyone has $1, then we're all equally poor, and that would suck. If, instead, one person had $1,000,000 and everyone else had $1,000, that would be much much much more unequal... and yet preferable.

    And I think that the historical trends are clear: we are getting richer.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Million starve even though there is enough food for them.
    I agree, and that's an absolute tragedy. But I disagree that this is "capitalism's fault."

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Capitalism is destroying the planet.
    Environmentalism and et cetera would be too much for this thread, but again, I completely disagree.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Capitalism is failing most people. Yeah the working class in the advanced countries are materially better off than they were 100 years ago. Thats because certain inventions happened.
    That's part of the reason. It's about more than technology, however; it's also about the accumulation of wealth. That's why, although all countries stand to benefit from technological advances, etc., not all of them do.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    oh yes it is.
    You recognize that this isn't an argument, right? The context is "subsidy": you've argued that capitalism has destroyed third world economies through domestic subsidy of agriculture, and I've said that while I despise subsidy, and lament the damage it's caused, that's not capitalism's fault. This is why it's crucial that you not misuse terminology--that you need to understand what capitalism actually is, so that you can argue against it properly, and not rather argue against strawmen.

    Subsidy is direct market intervention. Market intervention is (not just "capitalism-lite" but) antithetical to capitalism. If you need to continue to argue against some Marxist "redefinition" of capitalism, rather than what it actually is, I can only take that as a sign that your position is weak, and cannot be argued on its own merits.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Colonialism was an inevitable phase of capitalism, and is now practiced as neo-colonialism.
    Again, this is merely assertion, not argument. And it's also a mischaracterization of capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    But for all the people who move up by trying, there are people who move down despite trying. And there are lots of people who dont move up despite trying.
    Well, sure! My point was that trying is necessary, not that it's sufficient. While I believe that anyone who tries hard enough, long enough *will* succeed, that's not to say that the effort, itself, is a guarantee of success. Other things are requisite, such as intelligence, skill, and sometimes a bit of luck. But a broader understanding of effort will involve things like gaining knowledge, course correction, an increase of skill, and continuing to put one's self in the position "to be lucky." It doesn't mean that all effort will, of itself, lead to automatic success.

    Look, it's well understood among salesmen (for instance) that most attempts to sell will result in refusal/rejection/failure. The sales philosophy that develops, therefore, is "persistence in the face of adversity"; that every "no" is a step on the path to an eventual "yes." While they "try," they might face an awful lot of flat-out failure. Also, it's well known that businessmen quite often go out of business, or bankrupt, or otherwise fail, and sometimes many times, before hitting upon a successful strategy.

    Whether we see that "successful strategy" as being independent from effort, or as being part and parcel to it, the point is that the effort is certainly required. Edison said that genius was "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." I'm not discounting the "inspiration" bit, but I am stressing the importance (as Edison did) of the perspiration.

    The person who tries and keeps trying in the US will not succeed at everything they do, and perhaps never to the extent that they'd like... but can they "move up"? Can they succeed in the sense of bettering their conditions/is the society "upwardly mobile" in that way? Absolutely.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I ask again, if we all tried and moved up, who would work in factories, who would do all the work capitalism requires? Capitalism could not allow masses of people to move up. Its impossible. Unless loads also move down.
    But I did answer you. If Burger King or Factory X were short on employees, it would need to offer better compensation.

    The mobility within capitalism--moving up and down--is relative to the system as a whole. Certainly businesses will go out of business, for instance, and people will be fired. There's that fluxuation within the system. At the same time, the baseline moves up. As for the individual whose business has failed, or who has been fired from his job, it remains to him not to give up and to reapply himself--to treat his failure as temporary and a step on the path to a larger success. He fails truly if/when he gives up or buys into the mentality that he cannot ultimately succeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Who would do the rubbish jobs? Mostly these jobs would be done away with or shared out. Maybe everyone could spend 2 weeks a year doing a menial job. The working week would be reduced enormously anyway, so it would be easy to sort. A lot of capitalists rely on cheap labour for jobs that should be done by machines, so we would build robots. Maybe there would be no hotel cleaners, you would be expected to clean you own room and change the sheets. Its not hard. Jobs like builders could be better trained and qualified so that A their job was not so lower class, and B so the buildings lasted longer.
    Suppose the highly educated masses didn't wish to spend two weeks a year working in the sewers? Or change their own hotel sheets? How would you enforce these things? And am I to understand that, not only would people all be trained to surgeon-level, but that we'd all be expert in... well... all menial tasks, etc.? Don't you think that some of these "rubbish jobs" take a bit of expertise in their own right?

    And incidentally, now you're suggesting reducing the working week "enormously"? Yet you continue to believe that the cake will grow even larger than under capitalism...?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I'm not really sure what you mean exactly. I think people would still expect extra reward for exceptional hard work, but we are not talking about abolishing that overnight.
    You're not talking about abolishing that "overnight," but you are talking about abolishing it. And I think people would still expect extra reward for exceptional hard work. And if they weren't going to get that extra reward, then you wouldn't receive exceptional hard work from them.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    A lot of what ifs.
    Yes, that's right. Socialism is an untested theory that you're advocating. All that we have to work with is "what ifs." Unless we have real life examples... but you seek to define all would-be real life examples out of the purview of "socialism."

    You're saying that you have no answer for my "what ifs"? If you have no answer, then how can we take what you're advocating seriously, or accept your recommendation for it? Why would we ever scrap our current system for some other system while we can't explain how it would work, exactly, except with a shrug and "somehow!"

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    I cant give to a blueprint.
    But this is precisely what's needed in a thread like this. I don't think socialism is a good idea as explained, but it's doubly ridiculous if we're not even allowed to question the particulars as to, well, how it would actually work!

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism has to be something worked out by the people, by trial and error. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
    Just as a note on that phrase: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" tends to mean that there is no logic that can justify the pudding, but that you know when you eat the pudding whether it's "good" or not. That this is the only real test appropriate for a pudding, and that no argument will convince a person that a pudding is good outside of its eating.

    Okay.

    So how does this relate to socialism..? You're saying that the only way we'd know whether socialism is a good system... is to live under it? But if we can't know whether it's good or not beforehand--if the proof of the pudding is in the eating--then why would we ever adopt it to begin with?

    If you believe that there's never been a socialist country on Earth, then why should you be a socialist if "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"? You've never eaten the pudding; it's never been proven to you; color me a bit confused.

    The *only* proof that we have that seems partially-related is that we know that Stalinism doesn't work. We know that, not only does it not work, but it is a horrorshow. That's the only even tangentally related pudding we've had to socialism, and it seems to me that it was poisonous.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    If not enough people wanted to be surgeons we would have a drive to recruit them, maybe offer better wages if necessary, or shorter hours.
    But wouldn't this be unequal? I thought that the point to all of this was to end inequality? We certainly wouldn't be equal if surgeons made more money than store clerks, or worked fewer hours. Wouldn't that create classism, and reintroduce all of the other ills that you're looking to eliminate?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Marxism is a branch of sociology which is regarded as a social science.
    I can write about about what I believe as regards society, too, but that wouldn't qualify my views as "scientific." Again, words have specific meanings.

    Science is related to the study of phenomena and their prediction. A scientific hypothesis or theory must be related to both of those aspects--it must be based on what we know of the past, and help us to understand what's to come. It must be, in some sense, "testable"... and if it's to have any value at all, there must be conditions under which it can theoretically be tested and fail. That is, it must be falsifiable.

    For Marxism to be "scientific," there must be some theoretical test (or chain of events) which would lead us to conclude that it is mistaken. I've asked you to provide something--anything--that could concievably happen which would lead you to decide that Marx had been in error. Absent that, I maintain: Marxism is no science.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Capitalist governments dont and cant do very well on these things, for very specific reasons. Capitalism encouraged homophobia, it encouraged sexism, not randomly, it had reasons.
    If we're discussing "capitalism," then we're discussing the free market. Please demonstrate how the free market encouraged homophobia. (Note: governmental interventions into the market do not count as capitalism; rather, they are the opposite of capitalism, and precisely what capitalists work against.)

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Division is a job for capitalism, not socialism.
    Don't you feel even a touch of irony in writing such a divisive sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Racism is to socialism what workers unity is to capitalism. A danger. Something bad.
    Q: What has two thumbs, is a capitalist, and finds nothing wrong with "workers unity"?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism HAS TO BE INTERNATIONAL. Internationalism means anti - racism.
    Er, not quite. Right? Nationality isn't synonymous with race (or ethnicity, or phenotype, or etc).

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Socialism explains to the disgruntled white worker that his problems are not caused by immigrants, they are caused by the rich, their system, and their government. This is the truth and this is why capitalism cannot and will not defeat racism. The truth is, racism is a TOOL of capitalism.
    Capitalists also explain to the disgruntled white worker that his problems are not caused by immigrants. For instance, I'm in favor of an open border. Also, I don't at all believe in racism.

    Is there anything at all that you believe to be true about capitalism that is actually true about capitalism, I wonder?

    And more than that, have you shown at all yet how, exactly, socialism will manage to wipe out racism? You've suggested giving people something new to hate (classism rather than racism, which incidentally, I find pretty dang divisive), but I don't know that people can only hate one category of folks at a time. Some people are quite adept at hating.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Firstly, the main problem was that it was isolated in a backward country. So avoid that scenario. Second, all leaders on the average wage - avoid careerism. Third, build the workers movement at the base, meetings in every factory, every shop floor, get everyone active. Get real working democracy going with things bottom up as much as possible. The revolutionary leadership is mainly needed just for the actual critical point when you dispense with capitalism as your system.
    Well, but at some point you'll need some actual human being, somewhere, to coordinate all of this effort... let alone execute it. Presumably some kind of bureaucratic framework will be necessary, someone to tabulate votes, someone to decide on how much spam everyone will be rationed, someone to direct the military/police on which dissidents to arrest, etc.

    All of that is power. While people may be on the average wage (so long as that policy is maintained), people still enjoy the psychological appeal of power, along with all of its other perqs. After all "power corrupts" is not an observation original to me. So how long would it take before some bureaucrat somewhere decided to try to change the system to allow himself even more power? Or for some general to decide that, while a vote is a powerful thing, a rifle is more powerful still?

    If we're talking about a framework for a completely new society, I want some protections against that kind of thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Of course racism and religious persecution would be illegal.
    Okay, well, excellent. It seems as though we might be able to agree on certain protections that people, as individuals, ought to have by law.

    We're already agreed on the freedom of speech, right? Does that extend to the press? How do you feel about things like freedom of association and the right to privacy, etc.? What other kinds of rights/freedoms do you believe ought to be untouchable by government?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Of course there is a danger, but it shouldn't be too much of a danger with a decent party in a modern country. Obviously the Bolsheviks had no way of knowing it could collapse into Stalinism. We have the benefit of hindsight though.
    I don't know. Revolutions are always dangerous times, and it seems as though they often go wrong. Turning things over to "very strong leadership," even if the intention is "only for a limited time" just seems like it's a bad idea. Not enough guarantee that the very strong leader will give power back, and too many reasons for him not to.
    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 DonAthos View Post
    We can agree to differ on whether or not "pure capitalism obviously doesn't work," but you have to believe me that capitalists were not in favor of the bailouts.

    Or, hell, you don't have to agree with me on anything, but if you don't understand what capitalism actually is (and incorporate that understanding into your arguments) then you'll wind up arguing against straw men, and not actually against capitalism (see below).
    SOME capitalists opposed the bailouts, most supported them. They were done to save the economic system America has, which is essentially capitalist.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    But see, capitalism as an ideology relates to capitalism as an economic system, like this: a capitalist (in the ideological sense) would like to see capitalism (in an economic sense) enacted. Capitalism in an economic sense relates to law, not the operations of specific businesses under that law. Therefore, a capitalist does not necessarily run a for-profit business. Observe:

    I am a capitalist (ideologically); I would like the USA to be (fully) capitalist. If the US were capitalist, I might well decide to join a commune, or help establish a co-op, or organize a trade union, or manage a charity, or etc. None of these would make me less of a capitalist or the USA less of a capitalist country.

    Your questions about whether or not a "company" changes from capitalist to not-capitalist when it receives a subsidy don't really make any sense. A company is neither capitalist, nor socialist, nor anything at all, because it doesn't have a brain and so therefore cannot have an ideology... and it's also not a government, and so it does not have the features of a government, like the ability to set economic policy.

    A person can be a capitalist (i.e. believes in capitalism, ideologically) and a country can be capitalist (in that its laws are capitalist; it has a capitalist economy), but a company cannot be capitalist in any meaningful sense (outside of a simple reflection of its owner's ideology, or the fact that it operates within a particular economic/legal system).
    Nah, I think you have this a bit mixed up. A capitalist is someone who has capital, and uses it to make a profit, by employing, directly or indirectly, workers. Capitalism is more a practice than an ideology. I guess you could also describe someone who supports it as an ideology as a capitalist. Its also an economic system, I agree, the system in most countries. A company is run as a capitalist enterprise. Capitalism basically means private ownership of the means of production.

    wikipedia:

    "The term capitalist refers to an owner of capital...."

    "The initial usage of the term capitalism in its modern sense has been attributed to Louis Blanc in 1850 and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1861.[25] Marx and Engels referred to the capitalistic system (kapitalistisches System)[26][27] and to the capitalist mode of production (kapitalistische Produktionsform) in Das Kapital (1867).[28] The use of the word "capitalism" in reference to an economic system appears twice in Volume I of Das Kapital, p. 124 (German edition), and in Theories of Surplus Value, tome II, p. 493 (German edition). Marx did not extensively use the form capitalism, but instead those of capitalist and capitalist mode of production, which appear more than 2600 times in the trilogy Das Kapital."


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Perhaps not, but I can't really say. A newspaper is comprised of the people who write for it, and as for the people behind the newspaper in question, I'd really have to discuss it with them to give you a good answer. In any event, the quality of a definition is unrelated to its source. Capitalism is what it is, whether Newspaper X says so or otherwise, and what you're doing here is "appealing to authority," which is a logical fallacy.

    To address the specific quote you've provided, the "constable" means a certain amount of "state protection. . .against [at least] deception and fraud"; laissez-faire doesn't mean lawlessness, and libertarians are not anarchists. And so the quote doesn't start well in that it appears to be conceptually confused in its implication that capitalism is, at heart, synonymous with anarchy. There's nothing further from the truth. Capitalism relies on law and order (so much so that sometimes people can even confuse it with fascism, right? ).

    It then goes on to say that capitalism may require "subsidies to stimulate inclusion of the less advantaged," "a huge social insurance system," and that it "may not [be] hurt" by "high taxes, low take-home pay and low wealth"? Apart from the nebulousness of what would constitute "harm" in this context, I'd say that this is absurd to the point of robbing "capitalism" of all meaning. I might as well say that capitalism wouldn't be hurt by tariffs and trade embargos (or outright mercantilism), or nationalizations and "proletarian dictatorship." A thing is what it is, and isn't what it's not. It is debatable whether there are any advantages to a mixed economy, such as the US employs--it's up for discussion whether the bailouts help or hinder American society--but socialism, mercantilism, communism, capitalism, these are all concepts with specific meanings, and we do ourselves no good in pretending that there are no distinctions, or in blurring the lines until we can no longer make them out. Capitalism is a philosophy that is directly opposed to high taxation and a government-directed "redistribution of the wealth" (and as a socialist who critiques capitalism, you well understand that). For this Phelps character to pretend otherwise is more a game of politics than anything else, and is essentially disingenuous.
    Well, thats the FT told. Who is this Phelps geezer? Oh, just a Nobel Prize winner, quick appeal to authority. Founder of the Centre on Capitalism and Society at Columbia no less. Never mind him anyway. But the FT is the worlds foremost capitalist newspaper, so I think they should know what the word capitalism means. And they use it loosely like me, for good reason. Ever wondered why the Marxists and the FT agree on this? Its because the system is basically capitalist, and more importantly, is run mainly for the benefit of the capitalist class. Even they admit it (sort of). Personally I opposed the bailouts. Not because I am a capitalist, because I am opposed to capitalism. Work that one out. As for disingenuous, well I haven't really read enough of his stuff. Many capitalists do see advantages to the welfare state, taxes on the rich etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Yes, I do. I just didn't want to put "planned economy" on socialism without your agreement first. Would you agree, though, that every nationalization is a step (however small) towards a planned economy? Or at least that nationalization puts a country closer to a planned economy?
    Not sure, not really. The Tories nationalised stuff in Britain because vital industries were failing. Later they privatised them again. The last thing the Tories would want to do is to take a step towards socialism. Socialist nationalisation is different from capitalist nationalisation, the latter usually being a temporary thing to keep everything working in troubled times, and I expect those Tories bailed out their rich chums with big compensation packages at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Just out of curiosity, do we have any (reliable) indication as to how well the soviets performed prior to the Civil War?
    Not off the op of my head, but I do know that in the summer of 1917 it was described as a situation of 'dual power' between the Duma and the soviets. What we do know it that they appeared in the 1905 revolution, which was crushed, and then reappeared after the February revolution, under the control of the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks were tiny at the time, and Lenin and Trotsky were in exile. But during the summer the support went over to the Bolsheviks who proposed a peace deal with Germany and land to the peasants. Lenin put forward the slogan 'all power to the soviets'. This would be direct rule, by the people, with the people involved in all day to day events. Each soviet could send delegates to the national soviet, the rural areas had a lower ratio of delegates, it was weighted to the cities. There were 900 soviets before October. At the second congress, in October, there were 649 delegates elected representing 318 provincial/local soviets, 390 were Bolshevik, 160 Socialist-Revolutionaries (about 100 were Left SRs), 72 Mensheviks, 14 Menshevik Internationalists, and 13 of various groups.The Winter Palace was stormed during this meeting.

    The soviets started like this. The Russian workers had no trade unions and in 1905 they knew that if they elected a strike committee, the leaders would all get arrested. Hence they realised, in a stroke of genius, that the trick was to get ALL the workers involved.

    tbc...

    ---------- Post added at 06:57 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:28 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    That's fine. But listen, it's not as though I haven't paid attention when you've said that Russia failed because it was "backwards." What we're still missing, however, is the evidence that the US (or X other modern state) would do any better than Russia did. Just saying "things are different now" is not proof that Marx's socialism would work, and it doesn't show that we wouldn't devolve into Stalinism.

    While the USA today isn't Russia 100 years ago, many things remain constant, including the fact that human beings, by nature, have many things in common. My critique of socialism rests on the idea that humans, by nature, are predisposed to work for themselves and their loved ones... and not for "the good of society." And that a system which requires people to work for the good of society in order to persist will ultimately need to force those people to do it, or the society will collapse completely.

    You say in response that people's psychology is dependant on their society, and I'm willing to agree with that... to a point. I remain unconvinced that, however we reshape society, "the good of society" will ever be as powerful a human motivator as "working for oneself and our loved ones." Do we have any reason to believe that's so?
    Ok few points. The main reason why the Russian revolution failed was beacuse it was isolated. It was also made much less likely to succeed because it was backward.

    There are some other reasons, Russia had been in WW1, it had a famine etc. It is also the case that the centralised party you need to lead a revolution in a country with no democracy has a potential for carrying that through to bureaucratisation. Life can be ironic like that.

    Human nature hardly exists. Most of our thinking is a reflection of the circumstances, the type of society we live in. There was an egalitarian society throughout southern Europe from about 10,000 years ago, which lasted 3000 years, longer than feudalism and capitalism put together. In that society it would be unthinkable to want to be richer than your neighbour. In fact through the whole paleolithic there was no class structure. At the start of the Neolithic a class structure did emerge, and was overthrown by the people, and replaced with the one I just mentioned. In this society everyone was equal. It was not imposed on them, and it was very successful. Google Catalhouk. For detailed story..
    http://www.urkommunismus.de/catalhueyuek_en.html

    From Ēayönü to Ēatalhöyük

    Emergence and development of an egalitarian society

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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I agree that showing the flaws in the present system is necessary, I'm only observing that it isn't sufficient. Suppose I recommend that the way to deal with the hangnail on your finger is to chop off your arm. Yes, it's necessary to demonstrate the pain of the hangnail in order for my recommendation to make sense... but it leaves out the other (equally necessary) part: a demonstration that my solution would be better than the current situation (or other proposed solutions).
    Ok let me give a few examples.

    1. Co-operation instead of competition. Go back to the stone age for a sec, in your mind, how do we kill that mammoth? A group of people get together, organise, plan, co-operate, and kill the mammoth. They then share out the meat etc with the whole group, including the elderly and children. Thats how man survived and evolved. Its natural, its logical, its efficient, its human. It involves treating other people like humans, it involves human relationships. Nobody has money or owns or employs anyone else. People are equal. Ok they all have different talents maybe, but they pool their resources. Now think of a modern pharmaceutical company. It doesn't concentrate on the medicines which will save the most lives in the world, it concentrates on what might make a profit. The researchers don't own their discoveries, nor does society, they are patented by the company owners. The research isn't shared with researchers in other companies, its kept secret. The drugs are priced way too high, huge amounts are wasted on marketing and profit.

    2. Socialism would not spend $1.5 trillion on arms each year. We would not have wars. Ultimately there would be little or no need for police, judges, courts, prisons. There are 9 million people in jails in the world, nearly 2 million just in the USA! China has another 1.5 million. Socialism would not have unemployment. America now has 17% unemployed, nearly 1 in 5 people on the scrap heap.The number of jobs available is one sixth of that. Capitalist countries can never utilise all industrial capacity. During boom years they operate at 80% at best, not its 70% or less. Socialism would not have that problem which Marx predicted and explained, and was explained in the 'money trick'.

    3. Socialism is production for need not profit. Supply and demand does not work because hungry people with no money do not count as demand and therefore do not get fed. We would distribute food to everyone, not to just half the world. An we would not feed half the world too much, with garbage labelled McDonalds etc, we would not brainwash children to want junk food, causing an obesity crisis which in the future will cripple America.

    4. The NHS in Britain is as good as America's health system, and costs half as much, even though ours has a lot of semi-private elements which are being sneaked it. Just an indicator of how a public system works better. Cuba has more doctors per person than America, longer life expectancy, lower child mortality, and better literacy.

    5. Capitalism is causing global destruction. It cannot and will not do anything to stop it. My friend is an expert, a professional on this subject, was an organiser for Greenpeace, and while not a socialist, she agrees that the governments are incapable, and that the market 'remedy' does more harm than good.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    But it might have other flaws altogether. A couple of the flaws I'm worried about are: 1) that the removal of the profit motive and other personal incentive will result in a dramatic reduction in productivity (a shrinking of the cake); and 2) that, in order to address this productivity decline, and also to implement other aspects of a planned economy, it will be necessary for liberty to be restricted more and more to the point of authortarian rule.

    And so, it's not enough to say that "capitalism is bad" (whether that's true or not), we must be able to say that "socialism would be better." If capitalism "fails" to feed people (which I disagree is true), would socialism better feed people? Is there any evidence that this would be so? Did the USSR feed its people better than the US during the same span of time? (And while we've argued and agreed that the USSR was "Stalinist" and not socialist, I don't know what historical example would be better suited for comparison. At the very least, the USSR attempted to collectivize its farms and distribute its grain in the manner of a planned economy, did it not? How did that work out for them?)
    Profit is part of the problem not the solution. Profit causes millions to go hungry, it causes wars, unemployment , waste. In terms of personal incentives, I think I have covered that already. What about thinking of the whole and not just the parts, society is not just a collection of individuals. A car will not work if you take it to pieces. You cant understand the world by just looking at each part separately, neither society nor nature.

    There would not BE a productivity decline. Socialism is about INCREASING production. Thats the whole point. We would immediately create jobs for the millions of Americans who dont have them. Then they could produce stuff people need.

    The USSR as you know was not socialist. However it did manage to go from a backward semi-feudal country with 95% illiteracy to the second superpower, the first man in space etc. It ended up with a better educated population than America. People at least had a house and a job, and healthcare. Many now wish they had stuck with the old system, which was far from socialism. After the end of the USSR, life expectancy tumbled in Russia, with many drinking themselves to death in despair.

    WRT collectivising land, it was done too early (Russia was a backward country). The civil war forced requisitioning from rich peasants who were hoarding food. The agriculture had already been devastated by the first world war. The civil war made it worse and then there was a drought, so a famine ensued. After the civil war the Bolsheviks reversed the collectivisation, but bear in mind ding that created dangers and did help in the end to finish off real socialism and establish Stalinism.

    During Stalin's era he zig-zagged various policies including collectivisation, but it was not socialism.

    The Bolsheviks plan was to give land to the peasants. Before the revolution there was a feudal system which got abolished, but the peasants - ex-sefs - got lumbered with huge debts so were worse off than before, a massive mortgage basically to but a bit of land off some aristocrat or other. The Bolsheviks gave the peasants land.

    However agriculture had been destroyed in the first world war. There were not enough horses left to pull ploughs, the ploughs probably got made into weapons etc, and the men were all fighting.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    It's true that socialism couldn't have the flaws associated with the free market. However, it also wouldn't have the strengths of the free market (whether or not you're willing to admit that there are any ), and it would necessarily have the flaws associated with a planned economy. That's logic as well.

    The evidence I'm asking for is to demonstrate that socialism would outperform capitalism (which is what you've claimed would happen). I think that such evidence is necessary because you're advocating eliminating capitalism in favor of socialism. I say: let's not do that, unless we have evidence that it is a smart thing to do.

    And showing that capitalism has certain flaws is not a demonstration that socialism would outperform capitalism, not even if socialism *is designed* to remedy those flaws. Sometimes things are designed to accomplish a task and fail utterly. I'm asking you whether we have any reason to believe that socialism would do anything other than fail utterly, apart from "Marx said it would be so." Any real life examples of socialist success? Anything?
    well hopefully I have given some examples above.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    But you haven't demonstrated that socialism would result in "building quality stuff to last." You haven't even shown that it wouldn't build *worse* rubbish than that which is built under capitalism. Can you do that?

    Further, there might be a case to be made in favor of the so-called "rubbish" built under capitalism. You might not be interested in hearing it, but if you are, let me know and I'll give it a go.

    Why would we want to build stuff that doesn't last? Its a waste of human labour and a wast of the planets resources. Of course we would build stuff to last. I work in the building game and I see all the time corners cut and shoody goods and workmanship to make your quick profit, but soon the building needs repairing. What a waste. Dont tell me you think thats a good thing!



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, that's right. Swimming in sh1t is better than drowning in it. Right now, many people in the world are drowning (in whatever); capitalism, at first, allows them the opportunity to swim, and survive. Then, as wealth eventually accumulates, they can get out of the... uh... pool.

    It's an evolutionary process, the accumulation of wealth. Not the flip of a switch. This is true on both small and large levels--that of individuals and societies. In my life, again, I started out with minimum wage but I did not remain there. The country that adopts capitalism will not instantly become wealthy, but over time their wealth will grow.

    And yes, it is a big deal that people are motivated to try to make their lives better--to move from drowning to swimming. Your socialism would eliminate such motivation; if a person judged that he was drowning, what could he do about it? Nothing. So why bother trying to swim? (You say that "no one would drown"? I say prove it.)
    We would eliminate the sh!t. That doesnt mean you still cant learn to swim, swimming is enjoyable when you can do it as a hobby, not so enjoyable when you are drowning in a sea of shyte. Its funny how if capitalism is such a great motivator, most of the people in poor areas dont feel motivate innit?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Again, this concentration on "inequality" is completely missing what's important. Consider: if everyone were completely starving--no food at all--then one person goes and kills a deer for its meat... we have moved from "complete equality" to 100% inequality.

    The inequality doesn't matter. What *matters* is the fact of starvation. In truth, the fact that one person now has food to eat is a good thing, not a bad thing, despite the "growing inequality." It means that one less person is starving, which isn't our end goal but is at least a start.

    If it wound up that everyone on the planet had enough to survive, but a handful of people wound up astoundingly wealthy, we might have more and more "inequality"... while at the same time, starvation may have been solved, etc. I'd argue that this would be for the good. "Equality" versus "inequality" doesn't matter: if everyone has $1, then we're all equally poor, and that would suck. If, instead, one person had $1,000,000 and everyone else had $1,000, that would be much much much more unequal... and yet preferable.

    And I think that the historical trends are clear: we are getting richer.
    Consider this: we are starving, one person kills a deer, and shares it out. Next time that person is hungry, chances are someone will feed him. Thats the reality of a hunter gatherer society. Egalitarianism is usually chosen because it works.

    As for are we getting richer, well there are millions starving, despite enough food. The person with the deer is refusing to share it, even though its the hungry people who actually killed the deer. I say, take it off him. Distribute it. SOCIALISE DISTRIBUTION. There IS enough food. Whats the problem? Share it out! I would like to see you walk past a child dying of starvation, with a big basket of shopping in your hand. Would be interesting anyway. According to you, feeding it would not be doing it any favours?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    "manc said in this post:
    Million starve even though there is enough food for them."

    I agree, and that's an absolute tragedy. But I disagree that this is "capitalism's fault."
    Not much of an answer. Its a capitalist world, a global capitalist economy run by a capitalist class, it has been for 350 years, who else is at fault?


    tbc'd....

  19. #79
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Environmentalism and et cetera would be too much for this thread, but again, I completely disagree.
    maybe so but its a good enough reason to scrap capitalism on its own. I might do a separate thread on it. Actually I tried but I got no replies.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    You recognize that this isn't an argument, right? The context is "subsidy": you've argued that capitalism has destroyed third world economies through domestic subsidy of agriculture, and I've said that while I despise subsidy, and lament the damage it's caused, that's not capitalism's fault. This is why it's crucial that you not misuse terminology--that you need to understand what capitalism actually is, so that you can argue against it properly, and not rather argue against strawmen.

    Subsidy is direct market intervention. Market intervention is (not just "capitalism-lite" but) antithetical to capitalism. If you need to continue to argue against some Marxist "redefinition" of capitalism, rather than what it actually is, I can only take that as a sign that your position is weak, and cannot be argued on its own merits.
    sorry but you are living in a self made dictionary, not the real world. In the real world capitalists are people who own businesses. If they get offered subsidies from the government to help them against the other countries, they take it, they don't give a toss that its not 'proper' capitalism. They just want to make money.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    "manc said in this post:
    Colonialism was an inevitable phase of capitalism, and is now practiced as neo-colonialism."
    Again, this is merely assertion, not argument. And it's also a mischaracterization of capitalism.
    Well you just have to ask, if you want answers.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    The person who tries and keeps trying in the US will not succeed at everything they do, and perhaps never to the extent that they'd like... but can they "move up"? Can they succeed in the sense of bettering their conditions/is the society "upwardly mobile" in that way? Absolutely.
    Fraid not. As I say, the facts are that some individuals make it up and at the same time others slide down. The actual class system and income inequality is growing if anything. There isnt any real mobility.

    wikipedia:

    "Class mobility

    Class ascendancy—namely that each successive generation will have a higher standard of living than its predecessor—is a central theme in American literature and culture and plays a key role in the American dream. While social class in the United States is thought to be largely based on achievement, climbing the social ladder is more difficult for those born into less advantageous positions.[5][13]
    Occupation (perhaps the most important class component), educational attainment, and income can be increased through a lifetime. However, factors such as wealth inheritance and local education system—which often provides lower quality education to those in poor school districts[37]—may make rising out of poverty a challenge. Class mobility in the United States decreased between the 1970s and the 1990s.[38] Recently a number of works have denied the existence of upward mobility. The New York Times in 2005, in a series of articles called "Class Matters" shed doubt on upward mobility and in 2010 Jerry Carrier in his book The Making of the Slave Class stated flatly there is no upward mobility in America and that the reason for this is culture which limits opportunity and income."




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Suppose the highly educated masses didn't wish to spend two weeks a year working in the sewers? Or change their own hotel sheets? How would you enforce these things? And am I to understand that, not only would people all be trained to surgeon-level, but that we'd all be expert in... well... all menial tasks, etc.? Don't you think that some of these "rubbish jobs" take a bit of expertise in their own right?

    And incidentally, now you're suggesting reducing the working week "enormously"? Yet you continue to believe that the cake will grow even larger than under capitalism...?
    There is no reason why the cake cant grow and the working week be reduced. Of course not everyone would be a surgeon. Yes some menial jobs have a skill to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    You're not talking about abolishing that "overnight," but you are talking about abolishing it. And I think people would still expect extra reward for exceptional hard work. And if they weren't going to get that extra reward, then you wouldn't receive exceptional hard work from them.
    We are talking generations into a completely new type of society. You are just looking at it from the confines of your own understanding of our present system, and in our present system people think in one way, in different societies people think differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Yes, that's right. Socialism is an untested theory that you're advocating. All that we have to work with is "what ifs." Unless we have real life examples... but you seek to define all would-be real life examples out of the purview of "socialism."

    You're saying that you have no answer for my "what ifs"? If you have no answer, then how can we take what you're advocating seriously, or accept your recommendation for it? Why would we ever scrap our current system for some other system while we can't explain how it would work, exactly, except with a shrug and "somehow!"
    I just gave you an example, job sharing. And maybe a surgeon would be exempt for the sharing of more menial jobs. By the way, on the skills thing. Maybe you could do a year of menial work before you went to uni. One year out of your life. Its just an idea. I doubt many would want to be a garbage collector all their life. Some might, you never know. A surgeon might get burned out and become a garbage collector, who knows?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    But this is precisely what's needed in a thread like this. I don't think socialism is a good idea as explained, but it's doubly ridiculous if we're not even allowed to question the particulars as to, well, how it would actually work!
    Impossible. Before the English civil war (the capitalist revolution) do you think they sat down and worked out a blueprint? I doubt it. They had some general ideas.

    Marxism is based on the idea that a theory has to be tested and refined in practice. So we wont know exactly until it happens.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    So how does this relate to socialism..? You're saying that the only way we'd know whether socialism is a good system... is to live under it? But if we can't know whether it's good or not beforehand--if the proof of the pudding is in the eating--then why would we ever adopt it to begin with?

    If you believe that there's never been a socialist country on Earth, then why should you be a socialist if "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"? You've never eaten the pudding; it's never been proven to you; color me a bit confused.

    The *only* proof that we have that seems partially-related is that we know that Stalinism doesn't work. We know that, not only does it not work, but it is a horrorshow. That's the only even tangentally related pudding we've had to socialism, and it seems to me that it was poisonous.
    I never said we cant know if it would be a better system, I said the exact working would be worked out in practice. We know the system we have now is a horror show, and the capitalist system was as much a cause of Stalinism as anything.

    I have offered a fairly straightforward solution to most of the pressing problems humanity faces, and which capitalism cannot tackle. You main concern seems to be motivating people and people continuing to want inequality in a socialist society. I don't think these concerns rate against mass hunger, war and global destruction. People would work in a more selfless way because that would be the logic of the system, just as selfishness is inherent in this one.

    You need to understand the basics. The way people think is largely a product of the society they live in.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    "manc said in this post:
    If not enough people wanted to be surgeons we would have a drive to recruit them, maybe offer better wages if necessary, or shorter hours."

    But wouldn't this be unequal? I thought that the point to all of this was to end inequality? We certainly wouldn't be equal if surgeons made more money than store clerks, or worked fewer hours. Wouldn't that create classism, and reintroduce all of the other ills that you're looking to eliminate?
    Yeah, and it could carry dangers. It would be a temporary measure. As I say, socialism cant be achieved overnight. So you would leave surgeons on whatever money they are on and concentrate on paying the low paid more.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I can write about about what I believe as regards society, too, but that wouldn't qualify my views as "scientific." Again, words have specific meanings.

    Science is related to the study of phenomena and their prediction. A scientific hypothesis or theory must be related to both of those aspects--it must be based on what we know of the past, and help us to understand what's to come. It must be, in some sense, "testable"... and if it's to have any value at all, there must be conditions under which it can theoretically be tested and fail. That is, it must be falsifiable.

    For Marxism to be "scientific," there must be some theoretical test (or chain of events) which would lead us to conclude that it is mistaken. I've asked you to provide something--anything--that could concievably happen which would lead you to decide that Marx had been in error. Absent that, I maintain: Marxism is no science.
    Of course its testable. If socialism was achieved, and it was rubbish after all, it would eventually be scrapped.

    But Marxist ideas are tested and proved right all the time, even the degeneration of the Russian revolution was proof that Marx was right.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    If we're discussing "capitalism," then we're discussing the free market. Please demonstrate how the free market encouraged homophobia. (Note: governmental interventions into the market do not count as capitalism; rather, they are the opposite of capitalism, and precisely what capitalists work against.)
    I have a separate thread on this topic.

    manc said in this post:
    Division is a job for capitalism, not socialism.
    manc said in this post:
    Division is a job for capitalism, not socialism.


    Don't you feel even a touch of irony in writing such a divisive sentence? [/QUOTE]
    No. Why should I? I aint got time to type out 1000 examples, you are gonna have to google Rwanda or Sri Lanka or Sudan and read up on divide and rule, or ponder on why fascism grows when capitalism is struggling.

    Socialism relies on the working class internationally uniting. Racism has no part in that obviously.

    Why do you think black people are poorer than whites in America?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Q: What has two thumbs, is a capitalist, and finds nothing wrong with "workers unity"?
    I have no idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Er, not quite. Right? Nationality isn't synonymous with race (or ethnicity, or phenotype, or etc).
    No, obviously. But surely you get the gist. Socialism requires international unity of the working class. Racism is hardly gonna help is it? Its ****in useful for capitalism though, as a thousand examples would show if I had the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Capitalists also explain to the disgruntled white worker that his problems are not caused by immigrants. For instance, I'm in favor of an open border. Also, I don't at all believe in racism.
    You are a libertarian and this strange breed only really occurs in the USA as far as I know. Anyway, of course not all conservatives are racist, but the capitalist system itself created racism, and still has its uses for it. Tell me, why do you thing the right wing scream about immigration form morning 'til night? Don't you realise that the libertarians are closely related to the fascists, they are both offshoots of capitalist ideology. Their prime hate is socialism. You could say libertarians are you more liberal fascists. Non racist right wing extremists.


    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Is there anything at all that you believe to be true about capitalism that is actually true about capitalism, I wonder?
    Very funny. Coming from someone who understands capitalism better than all the FT writers and nobel economics prize winners put together. Is it not strange do you think, that the capitalists themselves tend to mainly agree with Marxists, their sworn enemies, than Libertarian thinking?




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    And more than that, have you shown at all yet how, exactly, socialism will manage to wipe out racism? You've suggested giving people something new to hate (classism rather than racism, which incidentally, I find pretty dang divisive), but I don't know that people can only hate one category of folks at a time. Some people are quite adept at hating.
    Well replacing race hatred with class hatred is a damn fine idea, lets go with that. But of course there is a lot more to it than just that. Just remember socialism thrives on class unity, racism is opposed to socialism, and obviously vice versa. Of course socialism would eradicate racism. Its like saying would a kid born on a boat learn to swim?

    Really, a lot of these topics clearly need a thread on their own.




    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Well, but at some point you'll need some actual human being, somewhere, to coordinate all of this effort... let alone execute it. Presumably some kind of bureaucratic framework will be necessary, someone to tabulate votes, someone to decide on how much spam everyone will be rationed, someone to direct the military/police on which dissidents to arrest, etc.

    All of that is power. While people may be on the average wage (so long as that policy is maintained), people still enjoy the psychological appeal of power, along with all of its other perqs. After all "power corrupts" is not an observation original to me. So how long would it take before some bureaucrat somewhere decided to try to change the system to allow himself even more power? Or for some general to decide that, while a vote is a powerful thing, a rifle is more powerful still?

    If we're talking about a framework for a completely new society, I want some protections against that kind of thing.
    The safeguard is to involve the whole of the working class. Mass democracy in action on a day to day basis.



    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Okay, well, excellent. It seems as though we might be able to agree on certain protections that people, as individuals, ought to have by law.

    We're already agreed on the freedom of speech, right? Does that extend to the press? How do you feel about things like freedom of association and the right to privacy, etc.? What other kinds of rights/freedoms do you believe ought to be untouchable by government?
    The press would have freedom as long as there was no economic sabotage or civil war etc and they were advocating stuff like that. Capitalist newspapers would be free to call for a return to inequality, racism and sexism, as long as they didnt advocate racial attacks etc.

    I support the right of fascists to free speech to an extent, but to be honest, I expect we would be a bit hypocritical there and ban them. I dunno, maybe not, maybe give them loads of publicity and publicly humiliate them every day.

    What else? Well the Bolsheviks removed all references to sexual practices from the law. Women would have the right to abortion and divorce on demand, and not only that they would get a home and financial support.

    What else? You tell me.







    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I don't know. Revolutions are always dangerous times, and it seems as though they often go wrong. Turning things over to "very strong leadership," even if the intention is "only for a limited time" just seems like it's a bad idea. Not enough guarantee that the very strong leader will give power back, and too many reasons for him not to.
    They went wrong for specific historical reasons. America is not 95% illiterate. Its people do not live in rural peasant conditions, recently 'freed' from serfdom.

    Oh, btw. You go on about pure capitalism. That HAS has a chance to prove itself. Every time it fails.

  20. #80
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    Re: What is Marxism / socialism / communism?

    manc, on what set of values are you declaring socialism's superiority over capitalism?

    If I have a skill and you tell me one or more of the following:
    a. I am not entitled to use my skill
    b. I am not entitled to benefit from my skill
    c. I do not own my skill

    If I am a slave and you tell me one or more of the following:
    a. I am not entitled to use my skill
    b. I am not entitled to benefit from my skill.
    c. I do not own my skill

    How does socialism fundamentally differ from slavery?


    It is true, some people do not benefit from capitalism. It is also true, that socialism may offer benefits to some. In socialism, unlike capitalism, those who benefit only do as so as a slave benefits from a kind master. After all in a Marxist society, one's "success" and "failure" aren't do to skill or hard work, but upon the needs and wants of others. So, if your masters decide you should succeed, then you're the lucky one.
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

 

 
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