Socialism, What is so good about people?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by iCantwait, May 24, 2009.

  1. iCantwait macrumors 65816

    iCantwait

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    #1
    Why? really? What makes people pro socialist.
    Unless you're a really good existentialist all you want to do is kill or be better than other people, so why should we all pretend to be equal under a socialist gov't?

    I'm not talking center left vs center right. I'm talking FAR left vs anyone slightly right of them.
     
  2. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

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    #2
    what do you see as socialism? socialism is not far left. maybe you re thinking of some more radical communist variant?

    and why would you want to kill people?????
     
  3. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    #3
    I'd like a nice mix. Extreme ANYTHING doesn't work.
     
  4. iCantwait thread starter macrumors 65816

    iCantwait

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    #4
    I'm sure its suppressed somewhere in all of us.
     
  5. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #5
    Just playing a hunch here, but do read, like, a whole lot of shonen manga?
     
  6. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #6
    Read :confused:?
     
  7. iCantwait thread starter macrumors 65816

    iCantwait

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    #7
    human nature, goes back to us killing each other as apes
     
  8. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #8
    How far back does being melodramatic go?
     
  9. iCantwait thread starter macrumors 65816

    iCantwait

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    #9
    the bible;)
     
  10. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #10
    Any evidence of internecine warfare among apes?
     
  11. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #11
    What is this human nature of which you speak?
     
  12. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #12
    Apes do in fact go to war with each other, and it can be extremely brutal, predicated on irrationality, and to the mutual detriment of both groups. One must however note that the scale is absolutely incomparable.

    Edit: although your point still stands; pinnacle of evolution indeed.
     
  13. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #13
    I completely agree. Extremes only work for very few people. The middle is what generally works for the majority.
     
  14. Thanatoast macrumors 6502a

    Thanatoast

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    #14
    On the surface, I think seeing bankers destroy the economy and then walk away with tens of millions of dollars, that is when they're not sopping the government for billions, is what makes people "socialist".

    The idea that if we all worked together for the common good instead of a few asshats screwing everybody else over has a certain appeal even in good times. In times like these the idea gains a certain luster.
     
  15. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #15
    From Wikipedia, if this definition is acceptable:

    "Socialism refers to any one of various economic theories of economic organization advocating state or cooperative ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation."

    IMO, this fundamental idea is fine, but good old human nature jumps in and messes up the deal. Some people are gonna do the absolute minimum that they can get away with, and that creates resentment among those who are more inherently more motivated to work harder. Many and many a story coming out of East Germany and Soviet Russia in the post-WW II period exemplified this problem.

    IMO, it stultifies a natural ambition to create enough wealth that one can accumulate a surplus for personal pleasures and some level of luxury. People inherently like bright shiny things, whether jewelry or bass boats. As well, it impinges against the idea of leaving an estate to one's heirs.

    If carried too far, it can lead to a situation like that in the shipyards of Gdansk in Poland in 1981, where the workers were not allowed to strike. After all, they were part of the means of production. Lech Walensa et al resented this...

    In this country, the ever increasing degree of Socialism since the 1930s* has led to more and more power of the central government over our daily lives. During my lifetime I've seen a rise in divisiveness among us which bodes ill. Because of the impact on business at all levels, there has been a tremendous increase in lobbying Congress for some sort of benefit of one sort or another: Exceptions from rules, tax benefits, that sort of thing.

    The original thought that went into our Constitution was slanted heavily toward the rights and perogatives of private property. This idea is nowhere near a new thing: "What is common to many is least taken care of, for all men have greater regard for what is their own than for what they possess in common with others." -- Aristotle.

    It helps to do a little reading about "The Tragedy of the Commons".

    For me as an individual, I absolutely deny that anybody in government knows what's better for me than I know. I extend that view toward all other people, as to their own right to be left alone.

    I dunno. As near as I can tell, the only way any form of collectivism can work is for all people to be square pegs to fit into a world of square holes. That has never happened, and I seriously doubt it ever will happen.

    'Rat

    * The 1932 platform of the Socialist Party has all been enacted into law.
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #16
    Nothing wrong with a bit of mix'n'match. Doesn't have to be 100% capitalist or 100% socialist.
     
  17. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #17
    Ok, using this definition of socialism, just what makes anyone really think we have creeping socialism in the US? What we have is temporary federal involvement to shore up a few companies in danger of going under and threatening the rest of the economy. We have NO ONE of serious political consequence advocating "state or cooperative ownership" of the means of production. All the GOP talking points nonsense to the contrary.

    And btw, the reforms of capitalism to lessen the effects of unregulated capitalism on the working class, meaning a social safety net, while advocated by socialists the world over, have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a country is socialist. They are only reforms that make life a little easier for most of us.
     
  18. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #18
    skunk, insofar as governmental controls create a reasonably even playing field among competing interests, I have no objection. A good example is the EPA. As long as across the nation the requirements for paper mill effluents are equally applied, a mill in a state which might be extremely strict in its tolerance would be competitive with a mill in a state with lesser strictness.

    But it seems to me that with federal ownership/control of investment banks and car companies, we're headed into terrible inefficiencies in decision making in finance and production. The absence of a normal profit motive always leads to inefficiency in the use of money and materiel.

    Sayhey, "creeping"? When the 1932 SP platform is now law? And, per their presidential candidate Norman Thomas, had become so by 1964? In 1944 he stated that it was fundamental to the Democratic Party platform.

    'Rat
     
  19. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #19
    P'raps you could post a link to the 1932 SP party platform?
     
  20. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #20
    As you must know, 'Rat, political platforms have a great many planks. The Socialist Party, and the US Left in general, advocated a great many things in 1932, not all of which had anything to do with the transformation of the US from capitalism to socialism. For instance, social security, minimum wage laws, the right to organize a union, etc. etc. were all major demands of the US Left. All were won after 1932 during the Roosevelt era through a combination of very large movements (trade unions and others) along with an administration that actually gave a damn about working people. NONE of these things transformed the US into a socialist country - in fact, the enactment of these reforms may have well saved capitalism during that period. So, 'Rat, unless you can show me, using the definition YOU posted, that the control of the means of production in the US was transformed in this period to one of government or cooperative control, then you really don't have much of a point. I repeat, a social safety net DOES NOT equal socialism. It is a question of ownership and control of the economy.

    Now, today we have what some folks like to call "lemon socialism," which again has nothing to do with real socialism. Under lemon socialism, the government props up failing corporations with bailouts, but nothing really changes in the character of who owns and controls the economy. What happens is the government gets the "lemons," or the screwed up corporations, and then only for so long as either they are fixed and again totally controlled by private money, they are torn apart and the assets sold off, or they go under. Nothing in this scenario gives working people any real power over the corporations they work for, either through cooperative or government control.
     
  21. Agathon macrumors 6502a

    Agathon

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    #21
    If you are talking about socialists, then you are actually talking about a wide range of views from those who are Euro style social democrats all the way to full on communists. There are even "market socialists" who believe that markets can be organized so as to serve socialist goals. Socialism as a theory is like capitalism as a theory - something that is unlikely to be perfectly instantiated in reality.

    As someone else said, Socialism generally means public ownership of the means of production. It's not a complete negation of private property. You still own personal goods, which may even include your home. But you can't own factories, roads, productive land, etc.

    There are many reasons people endorse socialism. Some are radical egalitarians. Some are anti-statist and argue for co-operative forms of socialism in which the state withers away. Some endorse socialism for economic reasons.

    The "human nature" argument is not one that most socialists are going to buy into for a couple of reasons.

    The first is that those who endorse some form of Marxism are going to argue that what we assume is "human nature" is mostly a result of the type of economic environment we find ourselves in. If you change the environment, human behaviour and expectations change along with it. This is actually quite plausible if you look at historical and cultural differences. For example, the idea of owning land is not a universal human norm as encounters with tribal societies have demonstrated, and sexual mores change all the time. People find this very hard to grasp unless they have lived in a radically different culture than their own and suffered from culture shock.

    The second reason is that even if there is some core human nature, it does not automatically follow that socialism is incompatible with humanity. It may be that the current level of technology we enjoy is not sufficient to allow a socialist society to come into being. Hence the view that attempts to speed things up via revolutions may not turn out to be very productive.

    So there's a variety of interesting arguments to be contested around these points.

    The economic case is much easier to make. Here the claim is that markets are doomed to fail, sometimes catastrophically. From the socialist viewpoint capitalism exists as a means of organizing production. It's simply a decentralized way of working out what needs to be produced and getting it to the people who want it. So, for example, if people don't buy as many hats, the price comes down and production drops until an equilibrium is reached. If we could somehow know beforehand how many hats were needed, then we wouldn't really need a market to organize their production.

    This is essentially the reason why socialism had so much appeal in the 20th century, even in capitalist countries, since many people thought we were getting close to the stage where it was possible to plan an economy (the telephone is probably the key invention that made people think it is possible, because it allows information to be transported instantly, and having the right information is what is supposed to make markets superfluous).

    The problem is that socialists vastly underestimated the amount of information that would be needed to dispense with the market and organize production efficiently (if you want to have a laugh, read about the travails of the Soviet state planning agency). The communist countries were always really good at the things markets were really bad at providing, like healthcare and education and space programs and the military and so on, but they sucked at things that markets tend to do better, like consumer goods and so on.

    Another problem the communist countries faced is that they didn't have enough information to adequately oversee the running of the economy, so corruption was rampant. In order to deter corruption communist governments had to enforce extremely draconian rules, which accounts in part for their more unpleasant aspects.

    Contemporary socialists tend to be of two sorts. The first are more or less social democrats. They accept that markets are better at running certain areas of the economy, but see a role for the state in producing goods that the market cannot (like welfare, health, education, etc.). The others tend to think that this is a temporary phenomenon and that we are not too far from developing the technology that will allow for a planned economy. A good example of this, strangely enough, is Wal Mart. Wal Mart is efficient due to its excellent inventory management system (they have their own satellites, I am told), so it is possible for the bosses of Wal Mart to know just what to buy and when to stock it and so on. The massive success of Wal Mart is evidence that the prospects for a planned economy are improving (because a corporation is more or less a planned economy internally). Socialists think that at some point a corporation like Wal Mart will become so efficient, that it will have to be nationalized on account of ending up as a monopoly and eating up all its rivals. But if that ever happens it won't be soon.

    So that's about it. There's plenty to argue about, but that's an outline of an answer to your question.
     
  22. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #22
    "It is a question of ownership and control of the economy." -- Sayhey

    So let's look at control: Forced donation to FICA. OSHA. EPA. USDA. Regardless of the good/bad/indifferent, these are government controls over what people do, how businesses are allowed to operate.

    And now we have such things as "Cap & Trade" coming along, as well as the ownership of the "lemons" as Sayhey called it. These are more central government decisions about how businesses can operate.

    My real gripe with all this? Aside from the direct increases in the costs of daily living, the decisions are made by the same people who have also given us the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration. Same quality of talent and thought.

    'Rat
     
  23. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #23
    So, now, any taxation or regulation of capitalism means socialism? How ludicrous is this? Nothing changes in who owns or controls corporations, but limiting their ability to do anything or forcing them to contribute to the general welfare means socialism? It's total nonsense. When we begin to talk about government nationalization of the Fortune 500, not the rescue of dying companies but to change the character of who owns the means of production - in short to change from private ownership to social ownership, then, and only then, we can start to talk about socialism in the US.

    All of this is nothing but a smoke screen in a long fought battle between those who will settle for nothing but a libertarian dream world of unfettered capitalism and those who think capitalism must be well regulated. The libertarian nuts think they can win this debate by red-baiting anyone who wants sensible regulation and taxation of capitalism. It doesn't makes sense to anyone who doesn't wear a tin-foil hat or believe in libertarian magic dust.
     
  24. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #24
    And let's not forget the pages and pages of debate in this forum whenever someone would suggest that Bush was a fascist, or that America was becoming a fascist state. Righties would insist that it was completely unfair to look at incremental moves toward a fascist state as representative of any fascist policy on their part. Condemnations were swift and vociferous whenever anyone would even suggest that Bush or the GOP was taking steps toward a fascist state.

    Yet, as we've seen, conservatives have not hesitated to do to Obama that which they condemned when it was done to Bush. The label "socialist" is thrown about with reckless abandon. It's a regular line of attack from everyone from the fringe extremists to mainstream elected officials. Any hint of proposed regulation or taxation is immediately -- and completely illogically -- labeled "socialism".

    The hypocrisy is so thick a knife won't suffice; a chainsaw is necessary.

    And, of course, this extends well beyond the word 'socialism'. I'm sure we all recall how savagely Jimmy Carter was attacked for speaking out against GWB's war agenda -- an agenda that has since been proven to be a complete and utter failure. Carter was accused of working for "the other side", called a traitor, etc.; yet Dick Cheney gets a pass from these same "with us or against us" folks when he criticizes Obama. In fact, not only do they not call him a traitor, he's lauded as a patriot. When did dissent become patriotic to the right? That's easy to pinpoint. It happened Jan. 21st. Prior to that it was "you need to watch what you say". After that date, it became acceptable to publicly wish for the failure of the president.
     
  25. Shivetya macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Because they never had to live under the system.
     

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