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Socialism is a meaningless term
in Economy

By Happy_KillbotHappy_Killbot 1126 Pts edited December 2019
There are over 100 different types of Socialism, ranging from the energy co-ops that exist in 47 US states to what is going down in modern day Venezuela.

A lot of young people like to talk about socialism without really defining what type they are talking about, and this frequently leads to miscommunication both between neo-liberals and other people who support or are curious about socialism.

Just like with capitalism, the overwhelming majority don't have the slightest clue what they are talking about, and getting that information is like pulling teeth.

Most of the time they will bring up the success of the Nordic countries as evidence that "socialism works" only to be reminded that they still have a free market, and are classified as a social democracy not socialist. The Primary difference is that they all pay into social welfare programs such that everyone's misfortune is effectively hedged. In other words, Your success is on you. Your misfortune is on everyone.

A lot of the detractors of socialism will bring up the Cuba, USSR, Nazi Germany, and Venezuela and show that the collapse is evidence that socialism doesn't work, however many socialist will either declare that the circumstances leading to their collapse was caused by external forces, or that they were socialist in name only and economically were actually state capitalist or fascist ( Nazi's were not really socialist after Hitler took control of the party )

If a group of hard-core economic-right entrepreneurs got sick of their jobs and invested in their own business that they all shared a near equal stock in, this would meet the definition of socialism laid out by Marx and Engels in their infamous work, but if you talked to them they wouldn't see the similarity. Same as if you own stock in a company you presently work at. But almost no one would call or recognize this as being socialist.

So in conclusion, the term is so deluded and meaningless that meaningful conversation about it is effectively useless without an in depth discussion about what those discussing it are talking about.

*There should be no discussion of Religion in this thread. This is economic not religious. That is why it is under economy and not Religion.*
At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
All of that so we can argue about nothing.



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  • Socialism has a very precise definition: "Economical system based on public ownership of means of production". What it means in essence is that every piece of property that is used by workers becomes shared between them.
    That many people try to redefine the term nowadays to fit their narrative does not change what the term really stands for.

    Socialism is an abysmal economical system that does not and cannot work, for many reasons, but mainly because of the perverse incentives it creates for people to do as little work as they can, because they cannot claim much reward for working hard. When everyone is trying to cut corners and work as little as possible, while getting as much out of the system as possible - then unsustainability of the economy is obvious.

    Capitalism also has a pretty clear definition: "Economical system based on voluntary exchanges between individuals", or equivalently "Economical system based on private ownership of property". People own property and can exchange it, or trade it for services, based on mutual consent.

    Capitalism is an amazing system responsible for an unprecedented increase in global living standards over the last 200 years. It creates incentives for people to give it their best, as they get immediate and obvious rewards for working hard.
    The reason people are not working as hard today as they did, say, 200 years ago is mainly because of the perverse incentives governmental intervention creates. People are punished for their success in many different ways and experience diminished returns for extra effort put - and extensive bureaucratisation, in turn, makes it hard for people to even be able to put effort in legally in the first place.

    The core difference between socialism and capitalism is that the former is based on coercion, and the latter is based on consent. All other differences derive from that. Socialism is not sharing of resources, and capitalism is not lack of sharing of resources. It is not at all about how people choose to organise their interaction, but about what choice they have in the matter in the first place.
  • @MayCaesar Let's say you get a job at a hip new silicon valley startup that develops some software.

    This company is small with only 9 employees and a CEO. When you are hired you are offered stock options, (same with all your co-workers) and the company starts to make a profit. As a stock owner, you are a partial owner of that company same with your co-workers.

    In other words, this is collective ownership of the means of production.

    This isn't socialism, but when actual socialists talk about it, this is what they are often talking about and it does work, if you have ever read about the "pay-pal mafia" you will know that this is effectively how they came into power.

    It isn't cut and dry at all, same as how there are 100's of ways to achieve a capitalist society, a socialistic one is no different.
    Plaffelvohfen
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot ; There is ONLY one-form of true socialism and it has failed at every juncture and culminated in the death of 100-million people in the last 100-years. American's pursuing socialism are foolish traitors and derelicts and historically ignorant.


  • @RickeyD But what type of socialism?

    Do you own any stock?
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot

    Not at all. Stock ownership is a purely private economical relationship, and you can buy or sell stocks to any other private entity whenever you like. In the case you described the only difference is that I do not have to buy the initial stock portfolio myself, as it is already included in the contract.

    It is not collective ownership of the means of production; it is decentralised private ownership of them. We are all private individuals; there is no collective as a legal entity that owns anything and can deny its members their share of the profit.

    Socialists like seeing socialism in every instance of human cooperation, but only a small minority of them actually are. We have folks here in the city telling us how Lime bikes are an example of working socialism... Completely missing the point: that it only works because people pay for using the bikes, and it is a pure individual profit-based system.
    And also forgetting that Lime recently left the city, frustrated with growing regulations - but that is beside the point.
  • @MayCaesar Yes, but this is where things start to get murky. Suppose instead of the government repossessing all stock for the collective good of the people, instead they made 1 law-

    All companies are required to give their employees a portion of the ownership of the company they work at, and that if the employees were fired or laid off they would be required to sell that stock back to the company. This partial ownership of the company should be distributed such that the maximum ownership is no more than 10 times the minimum ownership.

    This isn't socialism as Marx envisioned it in his first books, but near the end he comes around and starts describing it more like this scenario, and this is similar to what currently happens in China.

    Can we call this socialism then, even though it is totally different from anything actual socialist countries have done?

    I don't know if we can even call this capitalism, it is as if we removed the authoritarian aspects from capitalism and replaced them with democratic ones- the common criticism of socialism, that the employees don't care about what happens to the value is reversed, everyone has incentive to see their company succeed and will therefore work harder for additional profit.

    This is another thing actual socialists talk about.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot ; True socialism does not permit "stocks"...the government provides you with what the government has deemed through the bureaucracy as necessary. It's not your choice, it's the government's choice. You surrender your rights to "choose" when you bow to the god of socialism.


  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 2803 Pts
    edited December 2019
    @Happy_Killbot

    Whenever the government is involved, you can no longer talk about pure capitalism, because capitalism, again, implies full voluntary consent of all parties. If the parties are coerced into the terms with the threat of violence (which is how the government does it, in essence), then this is not capitalism. Whether this is socialism or not is up to debate, but it has something in common with socialism fundamentally: use of force.

    Nothing prohibits people from cooperating and sharing property in capitalism. What matters is where it comes from. The example I like to give to illustrate this difference is this (we will assume for specificity that there are no internal rules in the company handling cases such as this):
    • You come to the office, put a bag of chips on the table and say, "I bought this bag of chips for everyone, guys. Help yourselves." - this is capitalism.
    • You come to the office, put a bag of chips on the table, and someone walks up and takes it and starts eating chips. You say, "Hey, I was going to share it with you guys, but could you not, at least, ask for permission?" And get a response, "What permission? You brought it to our office, so it is ours." - this is socialism.
    The difference is not in who ends up owning what. The difference is in how it came to be this way. It is in what choice the participants of the exchange had in the matter.

    I do not know if a company organised according to socialist principles can be effective in a capitalist economy. My guess is not, but I might be wrong. What I know cannot work, however, is a socialist economy in the first place.

    I also should mention that owning stocks, strictly speaking, does not equal owning a part of the company, despite how it is usually represented. In some companies you can own 100% of the company stocks and still have no say in how the company operates.
    Stocks are better represented as investments one makes into a company. You put some money into the company which it uses to grow and expand, and you get the fraction of the resulting profit. It is like an elaborate private loan, more than anything.
  • @RickeyD This is not always true, which is why it is socialism is such a diluted and useless term, in case you missed that point.
    Plaffelvohfen
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot ; Socialism is death just as Communism is death...you have been duped by professors who are mindless, godless, communists. Show me a socialist success....




  • @RickeyD

    I think you picked the wrong person to quote, my friend, as Ayn Rand was about as vocal against religion, including Christianity, as she was against socialism/communism. You will love this quote:
    I want to fight religion as the root of all human lying and the only excuse for suffering...I want to prove that religion breaks a character before it's formed, in childhood, by teaching a child lies before he knows what a lie is, by breaking him of the habit of thinking before he has begun to think, by making him a hypocrite before he knows any other possible attitude toward life. Religion is also the first enemy of the ability to think. That ability is not used by men to one-tenth of its possibility, yet before they learn to think they are discouraged by being ordered to take things on faith. Faith is the worst curse of mankind, as the exact antithesis and enemy of thought.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • @MayCaesar If government coercion is what makes something not capitalist, then capitalism has never existed.

    No, government is still required to protect the assets of the individuals and companies living in that country, no one owns anything unless there is an entity to protect those assets.

    Modern capitalism doesn't have anything to do with how goods are exchanged, it has more to do with how banks work and distribute wealth.

    In a capitalist system, the central banks print currency which is loaned out to individual banks. These banks then loan out this money to capitalists, who are wealthy individuals who have proven themselves to be keen investors and competent with handling money based on their credit scores. These capitalists will then invest that money and try to make a return on that investment by starting companies and employing individuals with that wealth loaned out to them.

    In a traditional socialist system, the capitalist middlemen are removed and the banks give the loans to the individual employees who are expected to turn a collective profit. The reason it doesn't work is because a capitalist investor will be able to tell through experience which companies are likely to succeed and which are likely to fail, and without this critical aspect the system quickly uses up resources that could have been spent more wisely.

    The alternative co-op model I describe is viable. Many companies already operate on this type of alternate system, or do to some degree, for example many energy co-op's exist throughout the country and function just fine. The main concern I would have with it is education. Most people don't receive an economic education and grow up to be mindless consumers, in order for something like this to be a sizable portion of the economy, we would have to teach people how to business.

    That being said, I honestly think this is a more viable solution to problems such as wealth inequality and displacement by automation, but putting more resources back into the hands of individuals we may enable them to gain from automation rather than get left behind.

    When I talk about stock I'm not talking about futures. If the company makes profit, you get some of that profit from owning that stock which is what is important here.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @RickeyD Tell me, what is socialism, in your own words? Please define it for me in accordance with your own perceptions of this economic system. Please be as descriptive as possible.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot ; Socialism is a government/economic system where the those in power in the Government-elites have overwhelming control over the production-distribution of all goods and services. The individual surrenders personal rights and property and equity for the community, the good of the whole. Socialism, like communism, places no emphasis on the individual but the community and said communities communal efforts for the sustenance/benefits of the State. The ideology says that fairness is the goal, economic equality is the promise but the reality is greed and ultimately the bourgeoisie' lust for more is insatiable and the proletariat suffer and their individualism, their rights as free men and women are stymied and forfeited for and by the powerful...this is the ultimate end of tyranny in the name of socialism-Leninism-Marxism-communism. Entrepreneurial initiatives in a free market - discovery - self reliance - motivation to succeed and prosper are forfeited by oppressive taxes and working conditions surrendered to the government who redistributes the wealth earned on the backs of the proletariat thereby stymieing productivity, invention, dedication, a desire to better oneself and life is simply lacking and wanting.

       


  • @MayCaesar I did not pick Ayn for her religious views but her relevant-experiential views on government. We're talking socialism-communism, not religion or faith in God...we're talking the Hell promoted by godless, mindless, perverted, atheists.




  • @Happy_Killbot

    I think you are employing the nirvana fallacy here. It is true that there have never been an economical model involving exclusively voluntary exchanges - but it does not mean that capitalism has never existed. Capitalism is a model, an idea; a system does not have to match it perfectly to be considered overall capitalist. It is also a relative term: compared to something that will exist 200 years from now, perhaps, say, the Hong Kong economical system is not capitalist - but compared to virtually anything we have on Earth today, or have had in human history, it certainly is.

    Capitalism is also not really attached to any particular economical entity. Capitalism does not require anyone to defend it; it can defend itself through market mechanisms. Capitalism does not require centralised currency, and it even, I would say, is antithetic to it; it does not require any currency at all, for that matter, and can be purely bartering-based, or can involve many decentralised currencies (which, I believe, will be the case a few decades from now). Capitalism does not require companies, it does not require banks, it does not require marketing, it does not require any of that - however, all of these naturally arise in a capitalist system, as there is a demand for them on the market, and they make economical exchanges between individuals much more convenient and efficient.

    As Milton Friedman explained on multiple occasions, the real reason for the difference between efficiencies of capitalist and non-capitalist systems is the incentives. Capitalism naturally promotes hard and honest work, as the worker gets to enjoy obvious benefits of such. Socialism promotes the exact opposite: slacking, cutting corners, lying, trying to get benefits for free, etc. The free rider problem, which arises sometimes as a market failure, is pretty much a way of living for virtually all participants of a socialist system, and it makes the whole economy completely unsustainable.
    Which is why formerly socialist countries that were on the brink of collapse at some point due to failed policies - had to allow some capitalisation of the market. We have seen it in China, we saw it recently in Cuba, and it seems to be happening currently in North Korea. Allowing people to trade their skills and property is the only way to get them to produce effectively and consistently; the only viable alternative is forcing them to work at a gunpoint, but that has too many downsides to be efficient.

    Coops have the scaling problem: the bigger the company becomes, the more needed a hierarchical organisation becomes, and without it the growth stagnates. That said, nothing in principle prohibits a coop from being effective with the right organisation and people - and it can perfectly exist on the capitalist free market.

    I am not talking about futures either. This is how stocks work in essence: you invest your money and you gain benefits from the company using your money to grow. You do not necessarily own a part of the company in a very strict sense, albeit that, again, depends on the business model the company uses. 
    For all intents and purposes on the buyer's side, in general a stock is just a high interest rate / high risk bank account. And even in the companies that make it a point to give their shareholders a lot of decision-making power, one only gains any amount of real power once they have purchased a very high volume of stocks - and a person wealthy enough to afford that is not likely to profit much from it in the first place.
    RickeyD
  • @RickeyD What you describe sounds a lot more like fascism than true socialism, which souldn't be surprising since you added a picture of Hitler. The differences are subtle, because like all ideologies they share a lot of common ground.

    There are key differences between socialism and fascism. In particular, fascism is culturally right-wing and very authoritarian. Socialism, in theory is not authoritarian, but in practice it is because the state has imposed socialism on the people and then continued to maintain it through force. It is authoritarian by necessity.

    The most obvious outward difference is the way they handle diplomacy, fascists focus on internal purity and socialists focus on international affairs. The second most obvious difference is that socialism is economic ideology first, and fascism is government first.

    So this kind of suggests what I am trying to point out here, that the term "socialism" is ambiguous. The Nazi party was short for "national socialist party" but they were fascists, not socialists. The these two terms can, in the right context, be easily confused.
    Plaffelvohfen
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.

  • 1) What I described is true Socialism...
    2) Socialism is the purist form of authoritarianism and tyranny...you've been duped.
    3) Socialism is fascism from the top down. Nazi - National Socialist.
    4) Again, Stalin-Hitler were socialists...this is what your advocating...not some pipe dream that levitates in a communist professors classroom.

    You defecate on the grave of every American serviceman who fought and died to keep Socialism at bay and away from America and our Constitutional Republic.


  • @MayCaesar The reason I would like to focus on the modern incantation of capitalism is out of pragmatism, because while a barter based system is technically capitalist, there isn't any need to talk about it, especially if we can agree that barter based system that uses a single common asset as a means of resource allocation. I only seek to find potential solutions to emerging problems and perhaps even find superior systems.

    Co-ops do have a lot of problems that are not present in a traditional business model, but traditional business models have problems we often don't think about because we are accustomed to them. Take the Peter principal for example. On the business end of things, the function of the company could be no better or worse, just different. If a hierarchical structure is required, the company could take a form similar to what a republic is to a country. This could effectively solve the scale problem, with the employees "electing" the CEO and chair members.

    What I mean by stock is ownership of that company, where each stock is a portion of that ownership. In the alternate business model, the stock serves as placeholder for the value of the company and a recurring secondary source of wealth, that would either supplement or outright replace the employee's salary. If the company makes profit, then everyone gets a fat check. If the company loses value, they would get a smaller portion of that value. Everyone carries the risk, everyone gets some of the reward. Internally, the company works about the same (or maybe better in certain ways) Outwardly, there is less wealth inequality, corruption would be more difficult to achieve because you have to go through more people to do something many would consider immoral, and everyone would find a deeper purpose in what they do.

    But is this system socialism?

    I don't think so, and I think the people who say it is have done a real disservice to their cause by doing so.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 2803 Pts
    edited December 2019
    @Happy_Killbot

    But it is important to separate inherent aspects of the system from the details of the exact implementation of it. Implementation can change over time, as society evolves, or as new technology becomes available; the inherent aspects, the core principles, however, do not change and define the system.
    A lot of the things we have today (centralised government-issued currency, for example) will likely be history in 50-100 years from now. Yet the core principle of capitalism - voluntary exchanges between individuals, as opposed to third-party controlled ones - will always remain.

    With stocks, every individual makes their own decision on stock purchases. Companies that offer stock options to their employees are fairly uncommon, and only the most successful companies can afford to do such a thing - and to become successful in the first place, they have to sell stocks to outside investors. And even those that in the end do end up offering stock options to their employees, generally sell far more stocks to third party investors. It is a way to attract high quality employees, rather than a way to directly increase profit of the company.
    Reducing inequality is not at all the goal of this system. Inequality is harmful to a company in many ways. Rather, it gives the employer an additional advantage in the employment contract negotiations, plus adds an extra incentive for the employees to give it their best. One may glorify it however they want, but in the end there is nothing more to it than pure individual profit considerations.
    Granted, there are probably some companies out there that do it out of the goodness of their heart - but acting on the goodness of one's heart at the expense of profit tends to lead to quick bankruptcies on a free market.

    I am sceptical that any resemblance of a democratic system can work effectively on a free market. Free market is heavily competitive, and meritocratic considerations should be put first in order to succeed on it - and meritocracy is incompatible with democracy. Market competition pressures company leadership to appoint individuals who they believe will do a good job, and there is no room for altruistic considerations. Employees get what they have agreed on in their contract, and the way for them to uplift themselves is to work on their skills, so they can negotiate better contracts - not to group together and extort better working conditions from their employers with sheer numbers.
    Ideally the government should work in a similar way. However, the government does not face any serious competition (aside from the competition with other governments, but nothing in that competition resembles a free market competition, due to the perverse incentives a fundamentally coercive institution such as government creates).

    There is this notion in virtually all human societies that people by default deserve something. This leads to people advocating for reduction of inequality, for worker rights, etc. I believe that this is one of the most harmful ideas humanity has ever conceived. It should not be about giving people what they "deserve"; it should be about giving people something in exchange for something of higher value. The way for one to prosper is not to appeal to what they allegedly deserve, but to offer a higher value to others.
    There is nothing wrong with people sharing resources, as long as they are getting a higher value out of it than they otherwise would. Sharing resources out of some ethical considerations, on the other hand, in a way that does not necessarily benefits all members, is generally wrong.

    Nothing against charity - but charity can only exist on top of an already functioning economical system. Charity as a basis for economical organisation can never work. And "forced charity" - even more so.
    People like Bill Gates can afford to do serious charity, because they have been building their capital for decades through solely capitalist means. One cannot give away something that they do not have, and for people to have something, the system must reward producers. And the system rewarding producers, in turn, results in inequality. And there is nothing wrong with inequality; nothing that needs to be addressed through redistribution. Natural inequality empowers people and incentivises them to work hard. Artificial equality does the opposite.
  • @MayCaesar I'm really sorry but I'm going to have to ruin your childhood because you have a very common misconception about how our economic system works: The US government does not print and distribute it's own currency. It is printed and distributed by the Federal Reserve, which is (despite it's name) not part of the treasury or the US government. This has been history for over 100 years.
    https://www.frbsf.org/education/publications/doctor-econ/2003/september/private-public-corporation/

    I am perfectly aware that reducing income inequality is not the purpose of the system, which is why I would recommend changes, which is a benefit of this system that wealth would be more evenly distributed to the employees without negatively effecting the organization.

    our current system is anything but meritocratic, if you have ever heard of terms like "the glass ceiling" or "the peter principal" or just had an incompetent boss (which is everyone) you know that the system only promotes meritocracy in a superficial way. What gets individuals to the top is usually being shrewd or just being a likable kind of person. It has so much more to do with who you are rather than what skills you have. It's why IQ is a good indicator of job performance, but completely meaningless for long term career success.

    This isn't about creating a system that gives people what they deserve, that is a hollow man fallacy, one that no one is arguing for. It is about creating a system that doesn't unfairly advantage some people over others. For example rent seekers and con men do very little for society but gain massive wealth that does little or nothing for society. It is about creating a system that actually incentives hard work rather than predatory lending, cronyism, etc.

    Our current political situation makes it impossible for people from opposite sides of the political spectrum to communicate effectively because both sides believes the false narrative claimed by their information sources. What makes it worse is some people actually do believe in the straw men created by their opponents just to be against the other party, which doesn't help much. (the people I like to call anti-liberals and anti-conservatives)

    Take something like social welfare, some people will claim this is "charity" but it really isn't, it's hedging misfortune. Some people will suffer misfortune that is no fault of their own, so why should we punish that misfortune?

    Consider this story: there is a pair of twins raised in the same house, got the same college education, and eventually start similar businesses in different but identical towns. One day, one of the twins is hit by a drunk driver and ends up in the hospital for several weeks. During this time, this twin can not run his business and must close it. Finally once he gets out of the hospital he finds he can not pay the bills and has to sell his business to make ends meet. The other twin runs a successful business and becomes much wealthier than his twin.

    So we are, in effect punishing the twin economically for getting in an accident that was no fault of his own. If his business failed due to his incompetence or not being viable as a business model, the free-market takes charge and that is fine. In the real world, it doesn't always happen like that. If everyone payed a flat sum which was the average of the cost of all misfortune not caused by the individual, then both would take a slight business hit but overall they would both succeed, making this a superior utilitarian option.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot

    I am aware of how the currency system in the US works. I am not sure what misconception you are referring to; Federal Reserve was created by a governmental act, and even if it is not formally a part of the US government, it is still its child, one it controls very directly.

    I do not see how you can redistribute wealth in a way that deviates from the natural market arrangement, without negatively effecting the company. The way to enrich the workers is to maximise the company performance, not to redistribute the fruits of its current performance.

    I am not talking about public people promoting their products on TV; I am talking about the internal company organisation. Managers, for example, do have to be elected on the meritocratic principles, at least to a large extent. The CEO of the company may be a charismatic guy who does not know much and does not have any special skills, but this is not the case for the vast majority of the company's employees.

    Rent seekers exist directly because of the governmental intervention on the market. As for conmen, I see them as an essential correctory mechanism of the market, punishing people for being naive and gullible and forcing the market players to try to be more informed and careful about the deals they are taking part in.

    For the last few paragraphs, I think you are chasing an unfeasible ideal. It is impossible in principle to create a system in which people are protected from consequences of events outside their control, and any attempt to do so will drastically impair the economical opportunities people have.
    The way to achieve success is not to be sheltered from events outside one's control, but to learn to adapt to them. It is true that one person is born in a mansion in a billionaire family, while another is born in the slums in a family of drug addicts, and the former person is very strongly advantaged at the beginning; it is not true that the former person is destined to be rich, and the latter person is destined to be a wreck, and each of them can do a lot to either improve or worsen their situation.
    I am absolutely fine with being disadvantaged compared to some other people, say, due to having been born in Soviet Union, one of the worse places on Earth to be born in. Just give me freedom to pursue my own self-interest, and I will make the best out of what I have. What I am not fine with is some people putting claws into my life for the sake of the utopian idea of equality of the outcome. I do not want the outcome to be equal; I want the outcome to be what I make it to be.
    Yes, some people will never make it, despite their best efforts. Someone may get hit by a truck when crossing a road and become paralysed for the rest of their life; it is possible. It does not mean someone owes that person what they would otherwise be able to achieve in life. In such cases, let people with kind heart step in and help them out, and do the best they can to make them into a happy member of the society. But this help should not be an inherent part of the economical system.

    One professional boxer once said, "You are not strong if you do not fall. You are strong if you fall and get up." This is a good philosophy in life to have. You may experience a lot of unfortunate events outside your control, but as long as you keep going and adapting to your circumstances, there is no limit to what you can achieve. There are no guarantees either, but I have never met a person in my life who would do everything they can to achieve success and still forever remain a wreck. There have been outstanding cases of paralysed people, or people without limbs, achieving more success than 99.999% of the human population. There probably are people so unlucky that nothing they can do can possibly put them on a high economical position, but I doubt their numbers are high.
  • There are over 100 different types of Socialism, ranging from the energy co-ops that exist in 47 US states to what is going down in modern day Venezuela.

    A lot of young people like to talk about socialism without really defining what type they are talking about, and this frequently leads to miscommunication both between neo-liberals and other people who support or are curious about socialism.

    Just like with capitalism, the overwhelming majority don't have the slightest clue what they are talking about, and getting that information is like pulling teeth.

    Most of the time they will bring up the success of the Nordic countries as evidence that "socialism works" only to be reminded that they still have a free market, and are classified as a social democracy not socialist. The Primary difference is that they all pay into social welfare programs such that everyone's misfortune is effectively hedged. In other words, Your success is on you. Your misfortune is on everyone.

    A lot of the detractors of socialism will bring up the Cuba, USSR, Nazi Germany, and Venezuela and show that the collapse is evidence that socialism doesn't work, however many socialist will either declare that the circumstances leading to their collapse was caused by external forces, or that they were socialist in name only and economically were actually state capitalist or fascist ( Nazi's were not really socialist after Hitler took control of the party )

    If a group of hard-core economic-right entrepreneurs got sick of their jobs and invested in their own business that they all shared a near equal stock in, this would meet the definition of socialism laid out by Marx and Engels in their infamous work, but if you talked to them they wouldn't see the similarity. Same as if you own stock in a company you presently work at. But almost no one would call or recognize this as being socialist.

    So in conclusion, the term is so deluded and meaningless that meaningful conversation about it is effectively useless without an in depth discussion about what those discussing it are talking about.

    *There should be no discussion of Religion in this thread. This is economic not religious. That is why it is under economy and not Religion.*
    Awesome. I am a progressive, which type am I?
  • @MayCaesar The US government doesn't have direct control of the Federal reserve, If they want to do something without the consent of the government they can, but because they interact so closely they seem to be the same.

    The idea is not to redistribute positive wealth, it is to redistribute negative wealth, ( I don't mean debt) 

    "Rent seekers exist directly because of the governmental intervention on the market. As for conmen, I see them as an essential correctory mechanism of the market, punishing people for being naive and gullible and forcing the market players to try to be more informed and careful about the deals they are taking part in."

    You are going to have to explain this, because I can see no reason that lack of restrictions would prohibit such activities from taking place. A feudal or slave economy is basically 100% rent seeking, but because we have made these things illegal or "restricted" them through market regulations, they are not a problem.

    What I have described is an oversimplified version of what the Nordic countries already do successfully. They pool together how much everyone is losing, and let what everyone is gaining be free. It is the perfect compromise between the free market and and social systems. It doesn't greatly inhibit wealth creation, in fact it does the opposite, it enables it and it isn't hard to see why.

    If you have a value which is increasing exponentially, but something is routinely keeping it low by taking a set amount from that value, it will be level over time. If you want things to continue exponentially, you have to remove the lowering amount. This turns society as a whole into a positive sum game.

    In fact, if done correctly it creates a system where losing is impossible.

    When we are dealing with those few people who have achieved great success despite physical disability, we have to remember that survivor ship bias is at play. For every successful disabled person, how many unsuccessful are there? Medical bills are expensive, and at the end of the day if someone can be successful despite disadvantage, we should expect them to have greater success if there misfortune is covered.

    The idea is to have everyone capable of taking a fall in the ring, and not to be worried about being unable to get back up. The idea is to have everyone be a capable boxer, not just a strong few. We want everyone to be strong.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot when people say socialism people generally dont know what they are talking about, see when people say socialism thay are actually talking about is liberalism and in that context there is classical, social, egalitarian, economic, welfare state, ethical, humanist, deontological, perfectionist, democratic and institutional liberalisum just to name a few.
    Now socialism is mixed up with the meaning of communism do to squeed western politics that demonized the USSR and the mening of both socialism and communism, now the true meaning of communism is a society without the nead of money or government control and socialism is what the Soviet union actually was, thats why people call it the USSR/the Union of Soviet Socalist Republics and not communist republics because literally to have communisum is to literally change how the human brain works wuch is impossible.
    Happy_KillbotPlaffelvohfen
  • @Tylerjirkovsky_ That's more or less what I'm getting at here, the term used to have meaning but now it is an umbrella term that has no consequence.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • Socialism is a word that has different meanings for different people. It has become the mainstream of EU countries that have adopted it as "Social Democracy". Which in intended to differentiate it from past versions (in Eastern European) countries that were not that "democratic" in nature.

    Regardless of what you call it, as a functional political-characteristic Social Democracies in the EU are required to adopt two particular offerings that are fully government subsidised. They are free (or nearly free) National Healthcare and Post-secondary education. Which is why a good portion of the populations living in the EU are highly educated individuals. (And why their lifespan is typically 3/4 years longer than their American counterparts.)

    Which attributes are key in a world that is changing radically. The Agricultural Age came to an end in the mid-to-late 19th century having been replaced by the Industrial Age. Which in turn at the end of the 20th century also kick-started its revision (with the advent of the Internet) into the Information Age. This profound change is still in formation, but the direction is clearly indicated. Industry in the US presently occupies barely 12% of the entire working population, whilst in the world at large the percentage is around 22.5%. (See here.)

    It is unclear where that percentage will go worldwide. After all, in the US, the bulk of industrial-work shipped off to points east (and particularly China). Which surely increased the percentage in the far-east countries of those working in manufacturing whilst diminishing the US-percentage. Which means what for developed countries?

    My suggestion:
    *That a tertiary-level degree becomes an essential asset to obtaining a decent standard-of-living. And, as such, it should be as least costly as possible. Which traditionally means it must be supported by national-funding. And,
    *That national healthcare should be also subsidised  to assure an extended span of our life-style ...
  • Yes, there are many definitions of socialism. But, let's not forget the textbook definition:
    "a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."
    In fact, the fact that the government owns all the means of production exists nowhere in the world except perhaps North Korea. Yes, even China has privatised companies though they can be shut down by its government ...
  • @RickeyD

    In your rant about socialism, you call socialists godless, then you quote Ayn Rand. You are missing a chromosome my friend.    
    Plaffelvohfen
  • The means of the production of goods, distribution, and exchange must be publicly owned or regulated by the public for it to truly be a socialism. Socialism was originally designed as a transitional government/economic theory to overthrow capitalism and implement communism. Socialism has since been embraced as a viable permanent economic "standard". The nazis were most certainly socialists even after hitler took control of the party which is demonstrated by the 25 point nazi party program which hitler coauthored. There aren't really many different forms of socialism as an economic system, but since it can be used in conjunction with pretty much any kind of governmental systems, it often seems that there are many different forms of socialism, but if the public doesn't either own or regulate businesses, then it's not truly socialist. I fail to see what's so meaningless about the term socialism, but I do see why its supposed ideals are.             
  • @piloteer The problem is that the word has been misused, demonized, and made abstract enough that as a political theory it is so deluded to the point of being completely and utterly meaningless.

    Nazi's were definitely socialist, but not in the way Marx imagined, and certainly not in the way that the USSR was or Venezuela is. Some people call bank bailouts a form of socialism, despite having nothing to do with the means of production or collective ownership. I have had conversations with people advocating for socialism where half way through I find out that they think what Marx suggested is dumb and instead they are just focusing on alternate business models and co-ops in particular.

    At first one would suppose that maybe the individuals don't know what they are saying, but when it is consistent and almost completely universal, then we are forced to accept the more likely scenario, which is nobody knows what they are talking about because the words used to discuss it are themselves not universally understood.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • @Happy_Killbot

    Misuse of the term socialism doesn't murk the fundamental principles of socialism on my part. I understand that the public needs to have some sort of investment in all business matters for it to truly be a socialism. Whether it's public ownership, or public regulated business policies, that needs to be in place for it to be a socialism.

    Cooperatives are not socialist in my interpretation of socialism because that is a policy that can be implemented in a fully capitalist system, and co-ops aren't necessarily needed in a socialist economy for it to be socialism. Although there's a discrepancy between public ownership, and publicly regulated businesses because the nazi system and the soviet system did have public ownership of businesses, but they certainly didn't have publicly regulated businesses. There can obviously be a world of difference between those two policies. The US policy is geared toward public regulation rather than ownership. 

    Bank bailouts can easily be considered a socialist policy because it's a policy of public ownership of exchange which falls under the precedent of public ownership of business, and it is clearly stated that way in the definition of socialism.     

    It actually should come as no surprise that advocates for socialism would think Marxist ideas are dumb because Marx never really intended socialism to be a permanent form of government, but obviously socialist advocates do.

    The nazis thought the soviet system was not socialist enough, and they wanted to socialize every aspect of German society, including social standards and social orders, and even cultural aspects of German society were socialized. They had a pedantic devotion to collectivism in every manner possible, even going so far as making it law that your life's only value is for the common good of the country, even if you are unhappy because of it. They set the standard for meritocratic ideals. They implemented a caste economic and social order and solidified those hierarchies in law.            
  • @piloteer

    I do not agree with this assessment. Soviet system was more socialist than the German system. For one, Germany still had some quasi-private enterprise existing up until roughly 1942, when the war spending went out of control - sure, enterpreneurs were fully in the Party's pocket and were allowed a very limited room for action outside the Party's directives, but they still could make some deals with each other independently, purchase raw materials from overseas, etc.
    In Soviet Union, private market was outlawed completely at the time. And while in practice people would sometimes still partake in small-scale private trade (such as village grandmas selling homemade bread to other villagers), they had to pay large bribes to be allowed to do so, and still had to do so sneakily so Party inspectors would not catch them.

    Nazis arguably went further than Soviets in the social aspect, forcing a monolithic culture on everyone (Soviets were more or less open to the idea of internationalistic culture, albeit with many caveats), but economically their system was far less socialist, albeit it was certainly socialist overall as per definition of the term.

    Japanese system was a more interesting beast. It featured a strange compromise between capitalism and socialism: private market existed and was actually private, as opposed to the Nazi perversion of it - however, a strong public sector coexisted with it, and laws were put in place making private companies unable to compete with that public sector in many different fields. In addition, private market participants had to have friends in the government in order to keep their business, and those friends, in turn, would often extort bribes from them. Assassinations of market participants were very common as well.
    It was very similar to what economy on mafia-controlled territories in Mexico is like today.
  • @MayCaesar

    What I said about the nazis believing the soviet system was not socialist enough is what you have helped to affirm. The nazis true gripe with communism, or the soviet system was that they were hopelessly caught up in economic matters only, but they failed to address social policies. The nazis wanted to make collectivism the law, and force everybody to live within the confines of their respective socioeconomic group. They implemented a socioeconomic caste system that was written in law. Their vision of social hierarchies was based on "rank", and what kind of education you received was based on your socioeconomic rank. There education system was not geared toward enlightenment or diversity in knowledge, it was based in "practicality" and was used to teach the basic skills one would need to fulfil the duties asked of them in regards to their socioeconomic rank. The nazis also wanted collectivism to be ensconced into German culture. The nazis wanted every single aspect of everybody's lives to be about working and thinking and living for the sake of Germany. They wanted every part of everyday life in Germany to be their socialist ideal.  

     Albeit, the soviets easily achieved that goal because they only had two classes. The workers, and the government. They just took everything away from the workers so they had no chance for economic empowerment, and all else easily fell in line from there.     
  • @piloteer

    I think you are underestimating the degree to which people's social life was controlled in the USSR. Raising a "new man" was one of the main goals of Lenin and, later, Stalin, for which every aspect of people's lives was subjected to harsh regulations, to the point where in some regions people could not partake in sexual intercourse without getting a permission from the local authorities. People were forced to attend regular local party events, on which they had to demonstrate extreme devotion to the communist ideals. Everything was streamlined, and individual freedoms were virtually non-existent. I would gather that the system was far more totalitarian in terms of the average person's life than the Nazi regime.

    Where Nazis went further than Soviets is in strictness of the doctrine. Soviet doctrine did allow for some room for diversity, where, say, African exceptionalism was, to a large extent, accepted; Nazis, on the other hand, pushed through a monolithic culture, with no regard to the local traditions. They wanted to force literally every human being on Earth into the exact same strict world view. Whilst Soviets wanted to adapt everything to their system by forceful means, Nazis wanted to eliminate all elements of old cultures and build their system everywhere from scratch. Soviets saw approach of communism as gradual, even if very rapid, evolution, while Nazis saw approach of Nazism as a brutal, instant process, where everything old was decimated.

    All other things equal, I would certainly prefer to live in Nazi Germany over Soviet Union of that time (unless I were Jewish, in which case I would prefer otherwise); that said, both systems were absolutely awful, and I would try to escape from either place at the first opportunity.
  • @MayCaesar

    I do not deny the soviets had a social initiative, or that it was either just as pronounced as the nazi system, or perhaps more so. But in the end, my argument is still that the nazis and the soviets had a brutal social initiative alongside their economic system.

    The point I was really trying to make is that a socialist system is really only an economic system, but the governmental policies will shape the functionality of said socialist system. The US socialist system allows for free enterprise, diverse cultures, freedom of speech, and the possibility to rise up the economic ladder.

     All that has to happen for a socialist system to exist is for the public to have the power to regulate business policies, or they have a collective ownership in all businesses, or both. The only expressed governmental policy that is within the definition of socialism is to uphold the doctrine of socialism, but whether that government wants to be a totalitarianism, or a socialist anarchy, it is does not conflict with the doctrine of socialism.          
  • @Happy_Killbot ; There is one-form of true socialism and it has failed at every juncture. It is the historically ignorant and deceived that suggests socialism is a workable and sustainable economic system for the United States. When you do, you defecate on the graves of the many thousands of young American boys who have suffered, died, fighting the evils of Socialism-Marxism around the World. What a lost and naive generation of traitorous "American's" who seek suffering - loss - death for America's posterity through their advocacy for Leninism-Marxism...this is the epitome of ignorance.

     
    Happy_Killbot
  • Happy_KillbotHappy_Killbot 1126 Pts
    edited February 13
    @RickeyD This post is not about the viability of socialism, it is about the change in the meaning of socialism.

    For example, Venezuela is a modern day socialist country, but they are not Nazi's. This alone is sufficient evidence to make my claim that the meaning of socialism, like every other word and political theory, it changes.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesar said:
    Socialism has a very precise definition: "Economical system based on public ownership of means of production". What it means in essence is that every piece of property that is used by workers becomes shared between them.
    That many people try to redefine the term nowadays to fit their narrative does not change what the term really stands for.

    ....

    The core difference between socialism and capitalism is that the former is based on coercion, and the latter is based on consent. All other differences derive from that. Socialism is not sharing of resources, and capitalism is not lack of sharing of resources. It is not at all about how people choose to organise their interaction, but about what choice they have in the matter in the first place.
    LOL

    Literally points out that socialism is  "Economical system based on public ownership of means of production" and that calling it something else doesn't change that... then by the end of his post starts defining it differently to try and change what the term really stands for in complete contradiction to what he just said.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • Tell that to the Jews 
  • At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
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