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Something I don't understand about socialism

  1. innersmiff profile image79
    innersmiffposted 3 years ago

    Bob, Peter and Lucy all own land of an equal size, and respect each other's right to it. Bob grows apples on his land, Peter breeds cows on his land, and Lucy grows wheat.

    1. - Bob trades a basket of apples with Peter for a pale of milk.

    2.- Bob trades a basket of apples with Peter for a pale of milk, who in turn trades half of the apples with Lucy for a sprig of wheat.

    3. - All three agree to use a common medium of exchange for all of their trading (money).

    4.- Bob pays Peter to pick apples for him.

    In which scenario is it acceptable to use aggressive force to prevent the actors from participating in the transaction?

    The only coherent answer is either 1, or none. By choosing 1, you're rejecting the premise, i.e. you don't believe in property and property rights. If your answer is 'none', you're a capitalist.

    Any other answer doesn't make sense. What about these scenarios is significantly different from scenario 1 that it justifies violence?

    1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
      Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      You are saying aggressive force will be used to prevent Bob from trading a basket of apples with Peter for some of his cow's milk in a socialistic system? Why and how?  This is completely over my head.... or I have not been paying attention.

      1. innersmiff profile image79
        innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Well this is what I'm trying to find out. Marx suggests that scenario 4 is an authoritarian one, and the proletariat is justified in using violence to prevent it from happening, or at least significantly change the relationship. But I do not find it a sufficiently different scenario than any of the others to agree.

    2. John Holden profile image61
      John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Answering none does not make you a capitalist, it's that simple.

      Actually it's the capitalist system that stops Bob trading with Peter and Lucy. Think about companies like Monsanto, thoroughbred capitalists and plenty of violence..

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
        Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        - what form does the aggressive force and violence take in either case? (I'm feeling so mentally inferior right now.)  I trust you are right innersmiff... but could you please make it more clear?

        1. John Holden profile image61
          John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          I presume, probably incorrectly, that when Innersmiff talks of violence and aggression he doesn't mean visits from guys with baseball bats, rather aggressive use of laws and regulations, pretty much as used by capitalists.

          1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
            Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            probably correctly. thank you.

            1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
              Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              BTW I would be for socialism if it worked, John. Based on human nature it cannot work, but you STILL think it could work!  You think human nature is good and flawless?   You think Mary would want to share her sprigs of wheat with Jane over there who now has so many children she doesn't know what to do? No. So, Mary decides Jane doesn't deserve any more of her sprigs.  Mary feels that Jane and her brood can just reap the consequences of her over-indulgence in making love to her way handsome husband! (who, alas, is a musician and refuses to get his hands dirty.) In a socialistic system Mary would indeed be forced to go against her better judgement. She would be forced to help Jane and her lazy musician husband. Mary would not be at all happy being forced to share her sprigs with such an irresponsible couple. She would be steeped in resentment. She would become depressed. She would start taking anti-depressants and Zoloft. Then she would start taking Zanex and smoking Pot. Then she would become a burden to the health care system. Her kids would find themselves in an unhappy home and become teenage hoodlums, drop out of school and be forced into lives of crime. (Because the dole just doesn't provide enough. And the dole takes away their pride and sense of dignity.) No. Socialism is not for humans.  So stop already!

              1. John Holden profile image61
                John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Oh no she wouldn't!
                Remember, socialism says that if you don't work, you don't eat. It is capitalism that pays people not to work.

                1. 84
                  Education Answerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Denmark a socialist country?  People who do not work in Denmark still eat.  Here's what the New York Times had to say about Denmark:

                  "Denmark has long held the title of the best place on earth to be laid off. With an expensive, generous welfare state, and the world’s most lavish unemployment insurance scheme, virtually no one falls through the cracks upon losing a job."  I guess unemployed people do eat in some socialist countries.

                  http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/ … afety-net/

                  In another article, the New York Times reports about Denmark again:

                  ". . .It turned out, however, that life on welfare was not so hard (in Denmark). The 36-year-old single mother, given the pseudonym 'Carina' in the news media, had more money to spend than many of the country’s full-time workers. All told, she was getting about $2,700 a month, and she had been on welfare since she was 16."

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/world … wanted=all

                  Again, I guess some people in socialist nations do eat when they do not work.

                  1. John Holden profile image61
                    John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    OK, I'll correct you. Denmark is not a socialist country. It is a mixed economy with strong socialist elements.

              2. jackclee lm profile image79
                jackclee lmposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                You've hit the nail on its head. Let's hope everyone gets it before we turn into Venezula or Greece.

                1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
                  Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                  Yet today others think that Bernie Sanders is so wonderful!
                  He wants to raise taxes.


                  Don't raise taxes.

                2. colorfulone profile image86
                  colorfuloneposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                  Yes, and the same looting is happening to Portugal, and is underway in Spain and in Italy, EU-style.  Ireland and Latvia have been devoured along with a number of Latin American countries.  The same is underway in the Ukraine. 

                  Germany thinks the IMF should lend money to Greece to be repaid to the privet banks.  Then, the IMF is supposed to be repaid by forcing Greece to abolish their old age pensions, reduce employment and public services, and take the insufficient revenue funds saved to repay the IMF.  Greece would have to sell their national assets to foreign investors who are the banks themselves and their big players.

                  The Globalist plan: loot America.

                  1. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
                    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                    How can they be stopped in your view, colorfulone?

          2. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Is there any real difference, in the end result, between thugs with baseball bats and cops with guns?  The one breaks your bones and closes your "business", the other puts you in jail and closes your "business".  Either way, the business is closed and Bob cannot trade apples with Peter as they mutually wish to.

            1. innersmiff profile image79
              innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Exactly.

            2. John Holden profile image61
              John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              No difference at all in the short term, in the long term I'd rather face the thugs with baseball bats than the cops with guns.

              1. wilderness profile image96
                wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                No difference in the long term, either, as thugs with bats graduate to thugs with tommy guns to thugs with planes and bombs.  Whether you term them "thugs" or "cops" when power is abused (by interfering in private dealings between two consenting adults for instance) they both become de facto governments.

        2. innersmiff profile image79
          innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          I'm referring to any kind of aggressive violence, whether you literally go to them and threaten them with baseball bats, or whether you vote for someone to hire a police force to do it instead. They're the same.

      2. innersmiff profile image79
        innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Capitalism requires, by definition, widespread respect for private property rights. To prevent the three parties from trading with each other would therefore be anti-capitalistic.

        Monsanto uses the very public entity of the state to grant it special privilege and regulate the rest of the competition out - a very anti-capitalistic thing to do.

        1. John Holden profile image61
          John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          But widespread respect for property does not define capitalism. You try owning a piece of land that the capitalists want to exploit!
          Preventing the three parties from trading with each other is very capitalist.



          Since when has the elimination of the competition been an anti-capitalist thing? I rather thought it was right at the core of capitalism.

          1. innersmiff profile image79
            innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            You're conflating the actual definition of capitalism with the state-corporatism you have decided to label as capitalism. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of what capitalism is, it is: private property rights and free trade. Anything antithesis to that is not capitalism.

            I know people like to label what we have now: this incestuous relationship between corporations and government, as capitalism, but it is mis-labelled. But since it is ingrained so hard into people's minds, I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to abandon the word. If you really don't believe aggressive violence is justified in preventing any of the above scenarios, we have nothing to argue about other than semantics.

            1. John Holden profile image61
              John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              The definition and purpose of capitalism is primarily the accumulation of capital. Anything else is just flim flam.

              It is not a relationship between government and corporations, well no more of a relationship than between a man and his head lice. It is capitalism doing what it is intended to do, and that's to accumulate capital by any means fair or foul.

              1. innersmiff profile image79
                innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                In order to have a debate about anything there needs to be come common ground, and if you're going to displace dictionary definitions with your own personal judgment of what words mean we're not going to get anywhere.

                For example, feminism has a dictionary definition, and it would be unfair of anybody to argue "the definition of feminism is treading on men". That would be that person's judgment of what feminism entails, its ultimate outcome or whatever, but not its definition. This is what you're doing with capitalism. No where in the dictionary does it say: "Capitalism: noun, to accumulate capital by any means necessary, including violence, exploitation, sweat-shops and child-labour" and there's a good reason for that.

                1. John Holden profile image61
                  John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  Yes, a very good reason. The dictionary compilers and publishers are usually capitalists and don't really want to tell the truth.
                  A little historical research will confirm my reasoning.

                  1. innersmiff profile image79
                    innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Oh my goodness. You know, I actually imagined you might say that, and disregarded it because I thought that would be a perfect parody of what a socialist might say!!

                    Well, in that case, all the more reason to abandon the words 'capitalism' and 'socialism' altogether, because we're not going to find common ground that way.

  2. innersmiff profile image79
    innersmiffposted 3 years ago

    Thought experiment: let's not use any label.

    If you don't believe aggressive violence is justifiable in any of these scenarios, you agree with me. So what are we arguing about exactly?

    1. John Holden profile image61
      John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Your understanding of capitalism, which is just about as wrong as  your understanding of socialism

  3. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago

    I have no idea why socialism is being used as an antonym for capitalism, why socialism is being equated to a barter system, or what the use of force has to do with any of this.

    Socialism is any system where those in need are subsidized by those with excess capacity.  As such, America is pretty socialist right now and I am all for it.

    1. innersmiff profile image79
      innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Do you see what I mean? tongue Applying labels to this is kind of a folly, because I'm not trying to do any of that. As far as your definition of socialism is concerned: there are any numbers of ways that could be applied, some that violate the above scenarios and some that do not.

      1. psycheskinner profile image81
        psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        No I don't see what you mean.  Calling a cat a dog doesn't mean species labels are pointless.  Just that you need to get them right.

        1. innersmiff profile image79
          innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Everyone knows what a cat and a dog are. The problem lies when people start mixing the definition with their judgment or idea about what they are, like saying a cat literally is laziness.

          1. John Holden profile image61
            John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Or like saying socialism is violence and total economic control?

            1. innersmiff profile image79
              innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              I go by the dictionary definition: collective ownership of the means of production. Depending on your application of it, it could violate some, none or all of the above scenarios.

              1. John Holden profile image61
                John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Doesn't collective imply "the people"?

                1. innersmiff profile image79
                  innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  "The people" are equally capable of violence or peace.

                  1. John Holden profile image61
                    John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Who said that they weren't?

          2. psycheskinner profile image81
            psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Indeed.  But the solution is not to give up using words to describe ideologies.  But to call people on their crap.

            1. innersmiff profile image79
              innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              But then you start to debate with people like John, who refuse to use dictionary definitions so adamantly that you can't get anywhere.

              1. John Holden profile image61
                John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Says the man who keeps harking back to Marx, who died 120 years ago!

                1. innersmiff profile image79
                  innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  So you want to have a discussion about Socialism without mentioning Marx?  . . . OK

                  1. John Holden profile image61
                    John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    OK, if you want to claim that Marx is relevant to modern socialism!
                    But wait! I'm only allowed to refer to 21st century ideas of capitalism and not the actual roots and meaning!

    2. John Holden profile image61
      John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      No, wrong, socialism is any system where there are none in need of charity.

      1. wilderness profile image96
        wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        lol  So now we define the perfect society as "socialism" and then declare that any specific facets you would like to see are socialistic. Talk about circular reasoning!

        1. innersmiff profile image79
          innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Hilariously Orwellian reasoning too! lol

          "What is good is Socialism and Socialism is good, good = Socialism. Just as bad is Capitalism and Capitalism is bad. Capitalism is not just bad, it equals bad. Anything bad that happens is Capitalism and anything good that happens is Socialism"

          1. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Yep!  And with such a definition, I'd want socialism, too!  I just wouldn't want all the bad things that other people define as socialistic - the near total control over anything economic to start with.

            1. John Holden profile image61
              John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Near total control over everything economic!  Surely that's capitalism?

              1. wilderness profile image96
                wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Nope.  Capitalism = control by any individual that can accomplish it.  Socialism = control by the government, headed by individuals that make the rules to suit themselves.

                Not a whole lot of difference, except that capitalism allows individuals to climb slowly up the economic ladder, socialism does not.  I realize that you put the accumulation of wealth and variable pay scales as socialistic, but few others do.

                1. John Holden profile image61
                  John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  "I realize that you put the accumulation of wealth and variable pay scales as socialistic," ???

                  So banks aren't capitalist!

                  1. wilderness profile image96
                    wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Don't quite follow the connection here.  Banks have little to do with pay scales (outside of what they pay their own employees) OR the accumulation of wealth.  Large wealth is not put into a bank, after all, only small amounts required for quick liquidity.  Unless you refer to ownership, or part ownership, of the business we term "bank"?

                2. psycheskinner profile image81
                  psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  I can live with your definitions, although they are skewed, but not you conclusions.

                  Highly socialist countries are clearly socially mobile.  Arguably more so than more free market countries that lack true public education.

                  1. wilderness profile image96
                    wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    There ARE no truly socialistic countries, any more than there are any truly capitalistic ones.  About all that can be said is that some are socialistic or capitalistic leaning.  Neither one, it it's pure form, works at all, with the result that all are a mix of both.

                    One could as easily say that "highly capitalistic countries are clearly socially mobile.  Arguably more so than more socialistic countries that lack incentive to improve oneself."  To pick and choose the best from one side against a few with known strong deficiencies in specific areas is hardly reasonable.

                    And while those definitions are partially tongue in cheek, there is truth there as well.  Understand that while a socialistic country can have a good government composed of honest people, just as a capitalistic one can, that is not the norm but only a temporary aberration in the more normal greed of mankind.  While the majority may be pretty much (pretty much!) satisfied with what they have, there will always be a handful that are not satisfied no matter what they have, and it is that handful that works towards power and the ability to control others in order that they will gain more.

          2. John Holden profile image61
            John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            If that's what you think . . .

        2. John Holden profile image61
          John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Not perfect, but a lot closer than capitalism.
          And what specific aspects did you have in mind?

  4. wilderness profile image96
    wildernessposted 3 years ago

    "Where have I ever said that all businesses would be owned by the state?"

    John - you did not.  It is a commonly accepted definition, however.

    From Mirriam-Webster:

    so·cial·ism
    noun \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\
    Definition of SOCIALISM
    1
    : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
    2
    a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
    b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

    (Bolding added)

    1. John Holden profile image61
      John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      "collective or governmental ownership"

      1. wilderness profile image96
        wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        "Collective" as in stock ownership or as in governmental ownership?  While stock could be replaced with contract (written or verbal) I'm not sure there is much else.  The sugar beet factory near me, for instance, is owned by its employees and while I don't know of any actual stock shares the effect is the same. 

        If stock, that would mean that giant corporations are socialistic - something that seems the antithesis of socialism.  If not, does a collective refer to as few as two people?  Maybe husband and wife or parent and child?  I think not...

        1. John Holden profile image61
          John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Not stock ownership as you know it. Though each worker owns a share of the company it is not transferable to anybody outside the company so nobody can acquire a disproportionate share.

          1. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            I confess I'm not real familiar with such corporations in the real world.  I do note that they are not that uncommon, that there is a major manufacturer 5 miles from me (co-owned by the primary vendors - sugar beet farmers).

            Sounds like capitalism to me, and is in a (mostly) capitalistic country.  A small group of people own a company, and set wages and prices pretty much as they choose.  It is certainly not owned by either government OR the collective people in the local geographical area.

            1. John Holden profile image61
              John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Again you miss the point and describe a capitalist concept.

              Shares are owned equally by everybody involved in the company.

              1. wilderness profile image96
                wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                But I didn't say they were owned unequally - I said that a small group of people owned them.  Not the national or regional government, not ANY collective of people from ANY geographical area.  Just a small group of people that want some ownership in it and are willing to pay for it through their labor.

                Are you claiming the employee owned company does NOT have the right to set wages or prices?  Because that's all I said...

                1. John Holden profile image61
                  John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  I'm sorry, I thought you meant a small group of people as a sub set of the whole.

                  1. wilderness profile image96
                    wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Well, yes.  A small subset of the larger local geographical group or the superset of the national group.

                    Somehow, I don't think we are communicating well... big_smile

  5. Jorge Krzyz profile image60
    Jorge Krzyzposted 3 years ago

    I believe Marx suggests violence to overthrow the standing bourgeois to make way for a completely different kind of system than you have listed here.  I see the conundrum though and you pose a great point.  What we have seen historically has been authoritarian regimes that use Marx's ideas as a crutch to further their own personal gains.  We have not ever seen a true Marxist utopia.  In Marx's vision, once the corrupt bourgeois is cast off, Bob, Peter and Lucy do not have any interest in "owning" the land really but instead are happy to each do the work upon universally owned land according to their own strengths.  Then they happily give wheat and the apples and the milk to one another knowing that each benefits from the labor of themselves and the other and can only flourish as such.  Of course this is rife with problems of its own as regimes that have put actual socialism into practice have been.  But...if we are to strip any form governance down to such bare bones simplification, we will see all kinds of terrible problems with each.  Just wanted to stress that we have yet to see Marx's utopia made manifest....now for delving into it in discussion I must run from the goons.  Thanks.

 
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