Socialism

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Machead III, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Machead III macrumors 6502

    Machead III

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    #1
    Two questions:

    1) Why do you guys thing that the big socialist parties of Europe dropped the road to the commune in favour of libertarian social democracy during the late 20th Century? Was the shortlived economic boom it brought worth abandoning the momentum that had been built up against profit-orientated and exploitational capitalism?

    2) Why is it almost all Americans consider free market (imperalist) capitalism the sole valid option for economics in the world today, and refuse to even consider any other theories? Is it because they are economically ineducated or they are satisfied with widespread poverty and labour injustice outside of the own country, or outside of the rich areas of their country?

    Just interested. I mean, capitalism is like the internal combustion engine; it's bean around too long, it's inefficient and it's ****s up the environment. It's got to go.
     
  2. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #2
    A few questions for you:
    1) Don't you mean "liberal" as opposed to "libertarian"? They are rather different things.
    2) What is your alternative?
    3) Is the environmental record or efficiency of communist or socialist systems any better? Look at the god-awful mess in eastern Europe, China and Russia.

    Presumably they dropped the "road to the commune" because it wasn't actually going anywhere except downhill.
     
  3. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #3
    Well, I'm not smart enough to answer the first question, but I'll take a stab at the second.

    The industrial revolution in the United States was undeniably what made it the most powerful country in the world, and a lot of that came from the free market. What free market economists choose not to recognize is that, like any system that is not policed, huge inequities and corruption inevitably follow. It matters not to the free economist that some people are hideously, impossibly wealthy while others lose their homes. "Life is unfair," they will tell you, as if it were beyond the reach of human power to make it fairer.

    We saw, of course, that the rise of unions combined with government regulation such as antitrust laws gave rise, in the mid-20th century, to the hugest middle class the United States had ever seen. More people with more money to buy things meant a booming economy...and it was assumed that that would be a self-sustaining process. That, naturally, didn't happen, as greedy capitalists figured out they could make even more money by sending their work overseas...and we've been on an inexorable downward path ever since, with smaller wages chasing fewer jobs (or is it the other way around?).

    I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but the fact that the free market (even regulated) made the United States so rich and powerful in the first place gave capitalism the exalted status it holds today. Once rich capitalists figured they could use their money to buy their way around those regulations, the deified position of capitalism was cemented in place.

    As to why Americans are "satisfied" with this situation...it's partly lack of education, partly political/economic propaganda that keeps telling us that capitalism is "the only way", and partly the fact that people have been hammer-stunned into thinking that the system is so powerful that they are helpless to change it. Look at companies who fire employees for attempting to unionize. They've got us so scared of losing the jobs we have, unremunerative as they may be, that we're afraid to complain. And we can't vote for federal officeholders who will stand up for us, because, well, they're pretty much all bought.
     
  4. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #4
    I agree with all of the above but I would add that in the 50s Socialism was equated with Communism, many Americans still don't understand the distinction.

    Europeans have just as much of a chance of socio-economic advancement as Americans but the perception is that in America, at least, socialism doesn't allow it.
     
  5. Machead III thread starter macrumors 6502

    Machead III

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    #5
    1) I'm talking about the philosophies libertarian parties of the 50's in Europe and the US settled for left wing social policies within a moderated capitalist market.

    2) My alternative is irrelevent. The fact is that politics is a science, and so improvements can be made as understanding increases, so a more efficient system should have replaced imperalist capitalism by now, providing the public at large was in support of egalitarianism rather than the consolidation of power amongst the few (fascism).

    3) Any idiot with even a passing knowlege of Communism and Socialism can tell you that the USSR and China, not to mention Cuba, are anything but (particularly socially).

    Skunks misunderstanding in point 3 seem to illustrate the lack of education/understanding of left wing politics in the US that you guys are talking about.

    Here in Europe we have our problems with federalism and conservatism, but I think our understanding of left wing, and right wing ideologies for that matter, is a fair bit better because of our history.

    Also, we are forced to confrotn the reality of Stalinism and it's complete contrast to socialism given the huge political variation (both at present and historically) in the EU.

    Saying that, Americans at large seem much more concerned about politics and the actions of the state than the average European. Over here, you get a lot of people would probably give you very progressive opinions if pressed but would never even think of acting upon them.

    Regarding my first point, over here in Europe, a huge majority of nations have left, left leaning or historically elft wing parties, and one of the biggest EU blocs is the http://www.socialistinternational.org/. However, given that the SI contains both the SDP and the British Labour Party, you can see that it's not particularly dedicated to reaching the commune any time soon :/
     
  6. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #6
    You do realize that Skunk is pretty damn close to Europe... don't you? I somehow doubt he's a product of the American brainwashing you seem to have bestowed upon us all.
     
  7. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #7
    What's your point here? You came in asking questions and then when they weren't answered to your satisfaction you start taking potshots. I'd guess you're a student who has just finished some course and are out to prove your knowledge?!

    Skunk, by the way as should be obvious from his location, is a brit and probably won't take kindly to your erroneous assumption that he is an American.
     
  8. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #8
    No skin off my nose. :)
    Some of my best friends are from "over there". They can't help it....
     
  9. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #9
    I'll take issue with the "anything but" sentiment.

    They may not be shining examples of pure communism (especially China today), but they did run a functioning communist economy for quite some time.

    Besides, any idiot with a passing knowledge of communism knows that it's only an economic system that (so far in history) usually resides within the government of a dictatorship.
     
  10. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #10
    With some trepidation I'll try and express some of my views.Communisn is a societal system with no state,therefore has never been tried on a large scale.The societies of USSR China et al are best described as state capitalism and indeed were or are dictatorships by the ruling parties.As to Socialism it too has been perverted by its involvement with the idea of the nation state,its the entire nation state idea that has to go before any change in how society is organised can be put into practice.The only place I see socialistic(I don't think that is an english word but Americans seem to use it) ideas put into practice is amongs the top multinationals.This whole thread seems a bit skewed to me,what with immoderate language and all(just practising my USean).:D
    Whoops forgot this link to a reasonably accurate Wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism
     
  11. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #11
    Nice to see the universal brotherhood of socialism alive and well.
     
  12. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #12
    Quick somebody post a Latin saying so we can translate it.:)
     
  13. Machead III thread starter macrumors 6502

    Machead III

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    #13
    Well you see we got a lot of persnickety little e-revolutionaries around these days, so hung up on semantics they don't have any time to read up on any real literature.

    Not that it matters, this place stinks of suburbia, and didn't Trotsky say the revolution would come from the developing world? Let's hope so, so long as skunk has his Financial Times and Kenyan coffee I doubt he'd get off his ass anytime soon that's for sure.

    (It is entirely possible I decided to start trolling a few posts back)
     
  14. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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  15. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #15
    Sorry, this made me laugh. From what I've read of Skunk's posts here for over the past year, the idea of him lounging around with an FT and Kenyan coffee is slightly incongruous. ;)
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #16
    Faciunt desertam et vocant istam aequationem.
    With apologies to Tacitus.
     
  17. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #17
    I live in a city.

    I suppose you're living the ghettoes of West Africa, then, yes? Little e-revolutionary indeed.
     
  18. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #18
    Damned straight! It's the Indy and the coffee comes from Harrogate.
    :D
     
  19. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #19
    Late to the thread, but the original questions are interesting (even if the personal attacks aren't,) and after I get back from my bourgeois exercise of taking my kids to see Jackson's "King Kong" I'll try to give my two cents. Right now let me just say I think that in most socialist societies, and in the view of them from capitalists, there is a confusion between socialism vs. the market, instead of socialism vs. private ownership of the means of production or services. Well regulated markets work to promote certain types of efficiencies (profit accumulation, innovation of products, etc.) However, there is no inherent contradiction between market mechanisms and socialism. As long as socialists think there is, they will never be able to compete with Capitalism in these critical areas. Whether, politically, winning people to the idea of doing away with private ownership of production is possible is a whole other question. More later after Hollywood schlock.
     
  20. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #20
    This thread gets my 2006 "what the hell?" award.

    In answer to the original questions:

    1) because politics evolve. No political party or ideoligy maintains the exact same stance for centuries for the simple reason that circumstances change with time.

    2) "Almost all" Americans do not consider "free market 'imperialist' Capitalism the sole valid option for economics in the world today". Many have not even given the subject any thought. Many are opposed to it. Many recognize that archaic labling systems don't really recognize present reality.

    And since you brought it up, what do you suggest to replace the internal combustion engine?
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    The external combustion engine?

    (Buh dump CHING)
     
  22. Lazyhound macrumors regular

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    #22
    YOU'RE WRONG BUT I CAN'T TELL YOU WHY.

    What if it is the most efficient system?

    First define "egalitarianism".

    Anyone who has taken an intro-level psychology class can tell you why Communism will never, ever work.

    Socialism:Stalinism::velvet glove:iron fist.

    Ahahahahahahaha people still use that non-ironically?
     
  23. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #23
    Yeah, it's a nice idea on paper, but never works in the real world. Is it me, or does it always seem to turn into some sort of totalitarian militocracy? (what, that's a word... kinda)

    Democratic capitalism is the worst possible system of government... except for all the other types of government.
     
  24. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #24
    First, let's define our terms. Socialism is defined by Marx as the first stage of post-capitalist society in which the means of production, including in a modern economy the service sector, is owned socially. Whether that means ownership by the workers in a given enterprise, industry, or by the state, is not clearly forecast as part of the blueprint. It would also be governed by the principle ,"from each according to their abilities, to each according to their work." Communism, is the stage after that when there has developed a "new man" who would be governed by the principle of "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." This latter utopian vision is not one that any Socialist or Communist politician would claim to have existed on this earth. In my humble opinion, it is a relic of 19th century utopian visions and is hardly worth the trouble to debate. Socialism is another question all together.

    As I stated in my first post, Socialism, is not inherently in opposition to market mechanisms used in capitalist societies. However, in the attempts to build Socialism in countries that lacked the basic modern capitalist infrastructures (i.e. Tsarist Russia, China, Cuba, etc.) this lack of development has meant a reliance on command economies that try to ignore the power of markets. While effective in the build up of infrastructure, these economies found themselves attempting to control every decision and consequence of almost ever sector of their economy. As they grew this became impossible and horribly inefficient. The fact these attempts were combined with political methods and structures that attempted to monopolize power in the hands of one party, or one new elite, only doomed whatever small chance they had to failure.

    All of which brings us back to the first of Machead's questions. "Why ... the big socialist parties of Europe dropped the road to the commune..." is the heart of the question and it can only be viewed in the rather spectacular collapse of the "Socialist World" in Europe in the late 1980s and 90s. For better, or in this case worse, the idea of Socialism was associated in the minds of almost everyone with the old Soviet Union and, to a lesser degree, the other Warsaw Pact nations. Ideas that have shown their bankruptcy are hard to revise and win new adherents. This effected not only the old Communist Parties, but also any who advocated Socialism, no matter if they had a different vision of what that meant or how it was achieved. This led to many Socialist Parties becoming little more than advocates of a Capitalism with a more "humane face." The British Labour Party is the best example of this trend.

    More later.
     
  25. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #25
    Sahey I agree with a lot you say and you do have a grasp of what communism and socialism are.I would disagree that communism is Utopian there have existed for short periods post social revolution societies the most well known is Catalonia during the Civil war.My view is the State Capitalist system in the USSR collapsed because of its own internal contradictions,the odd thing is its probably sown the seeds of the collapse of Capitalism in general.Lets remember the recent period of full blooded capitalism has only been here a very short time,in history merely a blink things will change again quite soon.
     

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