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Tags capitalism , socialism

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Old 13th May 2021, 10:50 AM   #121
Francesca R
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Well yes, and assorted versions of: "If I owe the bank a thousand dollars, it's my problem, but if I owe them two hundred million, it's theirs"
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Old 13th May 2021, 11:29 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by Francesca R View Post
This would be a bit easier if people spent less time insisting certain things are "not socialism" because socialist is presumably a dirty word and we can't embrace that.

More to the point, an obvious false demarcation is made when one rattles off a list of things they think a state should do via compulsion which are absolutely fine because they're "not socialism", only to halt at the end of their preferred list and declare that any further state encroachment into society's affairs is obviously off-limits because for some weird reason everything from there on suddenly is socialist.

If socialism was placed on the banned words list then folks would have to use another descriptor and maybe have to be a bit more articulate about why one thing is justified and another is not
"Socialism" is primarily used as a pejorative by large segment of population in the US. This group almost always defines "socialism" as government programs they oppose while government programs they support are defined as "not socialism". It's essentially a useless word for real discussions at this point, it's just a generic insult for just about anything they oppose.


Nonetheless it's still possible to go back to the original meaning, which was social ownership of capital goods and use that to filter out actual socialism from things people call "socialist". Government ownership of the means of production is usually a net negative, so when someone proposes it it's fair to ask them why it would work in this case when its usually more likely to fail. OTOH its not fair paint social programs with that same brush when they have little to do with the problems associated with command style economies.
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Old 13th May 2021, 11:55 AM   #123
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I'm fine with calling state-provided military defence of a border socialism. Also streets, police, prisons, mandatory income redistribution via tax and transfer, universal health insurance . . . . as well as nationalised cinemas, government run chocolate shops and state farms.

Then one could have a rational debate about which of these are good ideas and which are bad.

"Because that one is socialism and that one is not" isn't a proper reason if it appeals in circular motion to a fairly arbitrary demarcation.

Robert Nozick was at least fairly consistent about this in Anarchy State and Utopia (Warning--the review is ten years old!) IIRC, and did not attempt to wave a "not socialism" magic wand at police/military in order to justify their state funded existence (which he supports). However he did have to make up some weird other intellectual work-around along the lines of people who want private armies are a nuisance so they owe compensation to everyone else which can be legitimately raised as tax. Or something.
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Old 13th May 2021, 12:36 PM   #124
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Originally Posted by Francesca R View Post
I'm fine with calling state-provided military defence of a border socialism. Also streets, police, prisons, mandatory income redistribution via tax and transfer, universal health insurance . . . . as well as nationalised cinemas, government run chocolate shops and state farms.

Then one could have a rational debate about which of these are good ideas and which are bad.

"Because that one is socialism and that one is not" isn't a proper reason if it appeals in circular motion to a fairly arbitrary demarcation.

Robert Nozick was at least fairly consistent about this in Anarchy State and Utopia (Warning--the review is ten years old!) IIRC, and did not attempt to wave a "not socialism" magic wand at police/military in order to justify their state funded existence (which he supports). However he did have to make up some weird other intellectual work-around along the lines of people who want private armies are a nuisance so they owe compensation to everyone else which can be legitimately raised as tax. Or something.
IMO that just waters the term down so far that you don't need it at all. Vague catch-all terms that could mean just about anything are open to abuse very much like we see in the US where it's used to mean "everything government related that my party opposes". (Again take note of the somewhat newish trend for US Republicans to view globalism and free trade as "socialist")

I'd be happy with ditching the term altogether or getting everyone to a definition similar to it's original meaning.
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Old 13th May 2021, 12:51 PM   #125
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The term isn't "needed" to declare good from bad, because it rather fails to do this.

It's useful to describe a mode of production is all. The police service supplies (produces output of) protection of citizens. It does this whether they choose it or not. The state owns the means of production (the resource that generates the output). Not qualitatively different from any socialist endeavour. May have differing merit from many others though.

And it is qualitatively different from self-policing or some kind of voluntary opt-in policing market

Last edited by Francesca R; 13th May 2021 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 13th May 2021, 01:30 PM   #126
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Originally Posted by Francesca R View Post
This would be a bit easier if people spent less time insisting certain things are "not socialism" because socialist is presumably a dirty word and we can't embrace that.

More to the point, an obvious false demarcation is made when one rattles off a list of things they think a state should do via compulsion which are absolutely fine because they're "not socialism", only to halt at the end of their preferred list and declare that any further state encroachment into society's affairs is obviously off-limits because for some weird reason everything from there on suddenly is socialist.

If socialism was placed on the banned words list then folks would have to use another descriptor and maybe have to be a bit more articulate about why one thing is justified and another is not
The way I see it, the state doing things by force is never socialism in and of itself. Statism or totalitarianism, maybe, but not socialism.

Socialism, to me, denotes specific policies that the state implements, either in large chunks or by gradual incremental changes. Things like abolishing free markets and private property. Collectivizing the means of production under state control and dictating the production goals. Substitution of the collective for the family. Pro-collective thought control through an intentional program of propaganda, informants, and secret police. Etc.

So to me, a "socialist backbone" is totally unnecessary to capitalism, and is in fact anti-capitalist.

What I'd say is that capitalism cannot thrive without a statist backbone. Things like a social safety net, contract enforcement, and protection of the commons aren't things that laissez-faire capitalism is very good at. Similarly common infrastructure, national defense, and foreign affairs. And obviously taxes (which are basically membership fees in a mandatory uber-HOA) need to be raised for these purposes. But this is not socialism.

tl;dr - the answer to the OP is probably "yes", but I'd use different terminology to say the same thing.

---

My biggest concern is crypto-communists equivocating on the meaning of "socialism" so that they can alternate between reassuring you that their program is not a communist program, and insisting that the state programs you like are actually socialism and therefore you should stop worrying and learn to love the collective.

Last edited by theprestige; 13th May 2021 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 13th May 2021, 01:36 PM   #127
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Well having railed against pseudo divisions between what socialism is and isn't, I don't plan to spend further time on this.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Collectivizing the means of production under state control and dictating the production goals.
. . . . But I did just describe the police in these terms and I don't think the attribution was faulty in any sense
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Old 14th May 2021, 08:13 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Francesca R View Post
The term isn't "needed" to declare good from bad, because it rather fails to do this.

It's useful to describe a mode of production is all. The police service supplies (produces output of) protection of citizens. It does this whether they choose it or not. The state owns the means of production (the resource that generates the output). Not qualitatively different from any socialist endeavour. May have differing merit from many others though.

And it is qualitatively different from self-policing or some kind of voluntary opt-in policing market
Everything government does aims to provide a service of some sort. If socialism is just means "government" why not just call it the latter and avoid confusion. Originally the term Socialism was more specific and dealt with social and\or government ownership of capital goods. To me this seems different enough to warrant a specific term.
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Old 14th May 2021, 10:15 PM   #129
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Capital goods like police stations, police cars, police equipment, and everything except the police employees themselves (because that's serfdom)
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Old 3rd August 2021, 01:15 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Everything government does aims to provide a service of some sort. If socialism is just means "government" why not just call it the latter and avoid confusion. Originally the term Socialism was more specific and dealt with social and\or government ownership of capital goods. To me this seems different enough to warrant a specific term.
Hmmm, well, "Capitalism," makes sense in that the control and orientation of the economic ideology revolves around capital investments. Socialism, however isn't as specific and seems to wander astray when you apply the same logic and call it social/public control and orientation of the economy. Socialism, as I'm most familiar with it seems much more of an economic orientation recognizing worker administration and control of production and would seem to be more appropriate to call it something like "Laborism" (which is defined as: "the dominance of the working classes").
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Old 4th August 2021, 07:46 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
Hmmm, well, "Capitalism," makes sense in that the control and orientation of the economic ideology revolves around capital investments. Socialism, however isn't as specific and seems to wander astray when you apply the same logic and call it social/public control and orientation of the economy. Socialism, as I'm most familiar with it seems much more of an economic orientation recognizing worker administration and control of production and would seem to be more appropriate to call it something like "Laborism" (which is defined as: "the dominance of the working classes").
The private ownership criteria for Capitalism is satisfied by both direct ownership and indirect ownership through a publically traded company. Since there are multiple ways private ownership can be accomplished I don't think it's less specific for there to be multiple ways to achieve public\social ownership.
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Old 4th August 2021, 07:51 AM   #132
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I've said it before.

The problem is we're using terms that were created/solidified at a very different point in history and still acting as if they are "locked" in and some pure, meaningful definitions of things when they most certainly are not.

Capitalism, socialism... these don't mean what they do in a global, information age, interconnected 2021 that they did in Napoleonic Europe when the terms took on the meanings they have.
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Old 10th August 2021, 10:21 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post

Capitalism, socialism... these don't mean what they do in a global, information age, interconnected 2021 that they did in Napoleonic Europe when the terms took on the meanings they have.
That's fine if we also throw away any pre-existing understanding of whether the systems are good or bad, but that's not what's happening.

With socialism in particular the "new meaning" is pure equivocation. It's a blatant attempt to take the negatives associated with government ownership of the means of productions and apply it to social programs without ever questioning whether similar criticism apply. (hint, they don't)
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