Genuine question & one I haven't had time to read up on to find out. Sounds good in theory - why did it fail? Could it ever work?
One reason is that it's staggeringly inefficient. In a free market, prices adjust themselves automatically to how much demand there is for a particular product. Distribution networks arise automatically (or existing distribution networks are used) to serve people's needs according to how much demand there is for a commodity and how much people are willing to pay.
Under communism, there is no price mechanism - central government decides how much of a particular type of goods should be produced and how it should be distributed. Hence you get shortages or gluts. (That's why the EU's common agricultural policy was so bloody awful and resulted in butter mountains/wine lakes - it relied on central planning rather than supply and demand. I gather the CAP has been reformed to get rid of the worst excesses but IMO it should be abolished. Give member countries their borders back* and let them sort it out amongst themselves.)
Another reason for communism's ultimate failure IMO is the massive bulwark of ideology underpinning it, and the fact that not everyone is going to buy into said ideology - which is not surprising, since it involves people having to give up much of what makes life worth living. Hence the "need" for State oppression, surveillance and thought control. I think that in the end, people saw through most of the bogusness (is that a word?) of communism and it became increasingly hard for Eastern Bloc governments to indoctrinate everyone. Hence the drive for escape to the West.
An example of what I mean by indoctrination is the name given by East Germany to the wall dividing it from West Germany. They called it something like "The Anti-Fascist Penetration Barrier", the implication being that there were all these hordes of Westerners who were dying to come to the East and experience all the joys that communism had to offer. Yeah, right. There is a limit to how much doublethink a human being can do, and in the end I think that people just got fed up.
*I'm thinking particularly of the EU fisheries policy here.
I believe communism failed in Russia because it tried to impose a single culture on a population of diverse ethnic groups..not because 'prices adjust themselves?' Since when did prices operate without the hand of a human? Real people make decisions that prices. And those decisions are not always rational. One exception to humans adjusting prices are stock-market that employ computer program to make the decision; however, those decisions are preformed by human.
And, nor do 'distribution networks arise automatically', unless you posit the existence of God as an economic factor. Distribution networks arise as a result of people making decisions...
And if ideology is reason for the failure of communism - why has not the capitalist ideology brought the West to its knees? Ideology exists in any society including the Western societies...
So I am sorry but I cannot agree with any of your reasons for the failure of communism...
"And if ideology is reason for the failure of communism - why has not the capitalist ideology brought the West to its knees?"
Because the capitalist ideology is in accord with human nature and communism is in opposition to human nature
So what you're saying is that if a country has a homogeneous ethnic make-up, then communism would work in that country? Somehow I doubt it...
Of course I'm not suggesting that prices and distribution adjust without human agency - whatever gave you that idea? It's human decisions (not all of them rational by any means, I agree) that drive the adjustment.
What do you mean by "capitalist ideology"? "Capitalism" just means private ownership of capital (money, possessions & property) - pure and simple.
I think capitalism is underpinned by very strong ideologies - it's just harder to see when you're in the midst of it.
Can you elaborate on what these ideologies are? Because in discussions of this kind (and this isn't aimed at you personally), people often find that they're using different definitions of the same word. For example, the dictionary definition of capitalism is "an economic system characterised by private ownership of goods..."*. But what a lot of people mean when they talk about capitalism is things like government bail-outs of banks, or private finance initiatives, or government defence spending. All of which have a private enterprise component it's true, but none of which are examples of capitalism in its truest sense.
Now, if you want to get into a discussion of what life would be like under "pure" capitalism... well, such a society has never been tried so it would be a rich field for speculation LOL. My personal feeling (and I know Evan would disagree with me here) is that pure capitalism might mean quite a tough life for many of us. It would require a much greater sense of personal responsibility, since there would be no government safety net. I actually think it would ultimately result in a more socially conservative society (no welfare/benefits, hence greater reliance on one's family) - possibly even quite a feudalistic one.
Ideology is sometimes a hard thing to stick a label on. We're guided by our society's ideologies and discourses all the the time and we don't even realise it's happening.
The example I was given when taught about the concept of ideology initially was going into a shop and all the clothing is ridiculously expensive. The symbols and structures we understand tell us that it's not going to be appropriate to show shock at the price. It's not the done thing.
It's a stupid example really, but I could find a neater definition if I went searching (too tired, is late here). If you grow up in a world where people go to work to make money to buy things, so that somone else receives that money and can buy things etc .. it frames the way you view life. There's an ideological outlook created by the way the world works in your reality. That doesn't mean it has to always be that way, but it all becomes so normalised that you feel anything else is very odd, doesn't make sense etc.
Ideologies are like icebergs really, the most dangerous stuff is underneath, not the explicitly explained part.
There are well articulated explanations of what ideologies are - but it's to do with shared cultural understandings and concepts becoming so normalised that we son't even recognise them as a choice anymore. The deliberately persuasive stuff is more along the lines of propaganda (using underlying ideological leanings).
Sorry if that reads as waffle. It's late...
You've got me thinking now Felicity. You always have such on point comments. I'm leaning toward pburger's view - capitalism has problems too and yet it thrives.
I've just been watching that Edwardian House series that was made in the UK a while ago, where people take on the roles of an Edwardian Country House (very upstairs / downstairs). It's amazing how the hierarchy and division of wealth is still with us but is less obvious.
Amazing to think that in the early 1900s Communism hadn't been tried or failed yet.
My personal view is that you can never get rid of hierarchy in human society. All Communist countries had/have their hierarchies - the Party bigwigs in - say - the Soviet Union had their dachas in the country, they ate better food and had all sorts of other privileges denied to the ordinary worker.
Because of a fallacy in Communism; Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883 – 1950) was an economist and political scientist who said that Russia was the biggest Capitalist to own all the factors of production; it will fail because of the Economic cycles; the same he predicted for the America; due to the formation of big cartels; market economy will not work efficiently and hence it will also fail. The adventure of America; can she afford?
Half of the prediction is done.
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim
There were many many & many more reasons behind its failure. Among them: Massive corruption of top level politicians, economic instability, reluctance for foreign trade are considered the major reasons. Another reason was that its giant technological industries were falling apart due to lack of competition (since they had restricted foreign products from japan & other countries, their giant corporations faced less competition & came up with substandard products). Except of the military & space sector they were way behind in other potential business sectors. In short, after the failure in Soviet Russia, Communism has been considered as an Utopian Concept. Either its not achievable or we are not ready for it!
"Communism has been considered as an Utopian Concept. Either its not achievable or we are not ready for it!"
Or it is an inherently flawed concept from the get-go.
Well theres not a single concept which is above flaws...
Opportunists have a tendency to take the side of the winners & blame it all on the losers! I understand ur point.
Depending on one's ideology, capitalism is 'an inherently flawed concept from the get-go'. Capitalism produces great wealth for a few people and great misery for the majority of people. Many people in the West who now write about the aftermath of the latest depression argue that the free-market system is an inherently flawed concept from the get-go'. In light of the great misery produced by the last downturn in the global economy, I think we must conclude that capitalism is 'an inherently flawed concept from the get-go'.
I do not think any concept of a society is prefect 'from the get-go'. So, I do not agree the flaw in the concept of communism suffices to explain the failure of the social experiment executed in Soviet Russia. According to my reading of the history of communism, communism never took place. Stalin did not produce communism, he produced state dictatorship. As did Mao, and Castro.
"Capitalism produces great wealth for a few people and great misery for the majority of people."
No, it does not.
" Many people in the West who now write about the aftermath of the latest depression"
We haven't had a depression in a long time.
" I think we must conclude that capitalism is 'an inherently flawed concept from the get-go'. "
You are welcome to your opinion.
" I do not agree the flaw in the concept of communism suffices to explain the failure of the social experiment executed in Soviet Russia"
You are welcome to your opinion, all evidence to the contrary.
" According to my reading of the history of communism, communism never took place."
And no terrorist was ever a Muslim, right?
" According to my reading of the history of communism, communism never took place."
actually thats correct.. Communism according to marx never was actually implemented.. the Party even acknowled this, stating that it took time to move into the final stage. where there were no bosses, and every one shared equally.
Communism as it was called in the USSR. failed simply becuase of Human nature. and pure communism would fail for the same reason.
High capitalism seems fairly flawed as well though. It is rife with iniquity and it also forces you to accept an ideological position. As soon as someone finds themselves unemployed or in debt or whatever, they realise that it's not exactly free.
Also - the financial crisis we're currently going through came at least partly out of unfettered free market activity.
NB - I'm not a closet Commie really, just thinking out loud.
You know what else bothers me about capitalism? It's the aspects of life which can be monetised or are inherently money-making activities which get all the focus. Some things are so worthwhile and there's no real financial return - nurses and teachers or even the people that keep the streets clean and collect garbage.
"You know what else bothers me about capitalism? It's the aspects of life which can be monetised or are inherently money-making activities which get all the focus. Some things are so worthwhile and there's no real financial return - nurses and teachers or even the people that keep the streets clean and collect garbage."
All those people get paid for what they do.
They do, but the system has an inherent bias toward some activities over others and level of financial return is the decider. That seems wrong to me.
Why should a banker have a better standard of living than someone who comforts and cares for people as they slowly die of an incurable illness?
Because all things are not valued equally. If hospice care workers can negotiate their skills for a higher wage they should be free to do so, but not every job is going to pay the same whether you like it or not. The alternative is to have everyone paid the same crappy salary, at which point YOU would see quite clearly why some work is paid more than others.
But doesn't that sound wrong to you? The roles people play in our society are only worth what they can get someone to pay?
No, it's not wrong. Do you value a bus driver's services the same as a brain surgeon's? Now if she's the only bus driver in town she can demand a lot of money, but it isn't as hard to replace her skills as those of the brain surgeon, is it?
I see what you're saying, but I'd want my brain surgeon to be doing his job because he loves it and is committed to being a kickarse brain surgeon. I'd hate to have someone doing that job b/c he heard medicine is where the money is.
Of course, that doesn't entirely work out as an argument b/c the bus driver probably didn't spend her whole life dreaming of being a bus driver one day - and someone has to dig the trenches and shovel animal droppings - there's no utopia to be found b/c the crappy jobs still need doing.
A lot of people in our society get rewarded handsomely for being complete (insert preferred expletive).
" I'd want my brain surgeon to be doing his job because he loves it and is committed to being a kickarse brain surgeon. I'd hate to have someone doing that job b/c he heard medicine is where the money is. "
Not me. I'd want my brain surgeon to be the most ambitious, aggressive SOB around who is determined to prove he is the best damn brain surgeon in the country and will land a fat contract with a bigger hospital after he performs beautifully on my case. I prefer to depend on human nature rather than warm and fuzzy 'ideals.'
I'm not sure I believe in (or at least can identify) "human nature" outside of ideology.
We do all kinds of things in all kinds of ways just because it's the 'normal' thing to do in our view of the world. If we lived 300 years from now or 300 years in the past, there would be a whole raft of views / ways of looking at things which conflict with what seems normal today.
And for thousands of years there have been inequities in occupations such as you describe, and for thousands of years it is the private or religious sector that has stepped in to help. The government has tried to take the place of religious aid, in its earliest form of usurping societal roles we have the days of monks and abbeys in England that assisted the poor in every way for hundreds of years, then were raided and burned and monks slaughtered, so that the government could then take charge, and the people were left without local help from life's distresses.
I don't think providing government aid to the poor was uppermost in Henry VIII's mind when he dissolved the monasteries. It was really more to do with destroying Catholicism in England. Oh, and the land and money he got as a result was a nice bonus.
He both wanted to shut down the church and fill his coffers, he was bankrupt.
And the issue of which was the greater motivator, destroying the church or filling his coffers, that is actually a matter still debated.
Regardless, it destroyed a long-standing support structure for the poor that did not cost the government a nickel.
I have a question here. How much did their invasion of Afghanistan contribute to the fall? Did it just hasten the fall, or was it one of the defining factors?
I read somewhere that it cost the soviets tons of money to run that war. Would love to hear any answers to these!!
Yes it did - along with the repercussions at home of the inability to actually win conclusively, as we are finding out now to our cost in our turn, and as the British found at the height of their power when we tried to run the place.
One of the reasons for Russian Communism's failure was the tremendous financial pressure of the arks race and the need to maintain a huge army in the face of the west. Right or wrong this bled their economy dry while companies in the US made as much from arms sales as it cost the country - transferring money from the public pocket to the pockets of individuals, but hey, this is Capitalism right.
What is not ever discussed is whether Communism, as a feature of a country's history, makes for a better 'next' society. In China there is a huge change underway - the streets and companies are trading at a level that increases visibly year by year. What is apparent is the vast range of businesses from huge to tiny, the smallest niche is filled by some entrepeneur.
The newspapers are full of discussion about fair treatment of people, social issues, and examples of exposed corruption from local officials to judges. The company heads that sold melamine laced additive tothe milk companies were shot recently. This seems a better way of operating than the system where the banks bankrupt the country and then get bailed out by taxpayers money and tehn give themselves big raises, or Union Carbide who were responsible for so many deaths in India and still have not paid compensation with no penalty.
Maybe a bit of communism in our history may have made a less aggressive and more socially responsible people than we seem to be at the moment.
"Yes it did - along with the repercussions at home of the inability to actually win conclusively"
No, it did not. Correct for all of the financial troubles and housing collapse that precipitated the current recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have caused the current financial crisis.
There was never any misconception about a 'signing of the surrender aboard the Missouri' moment to this conflict. Don't project your historical angst on us.
"What is not ever discussed is whether Communism, as a feature of a country's history, makes for a better 'next' society. In China there is a huge change underway - the streets and companies are trading at a level that increases visibly year by year. What is apparent is the vast range of businesses from huge to tiny, the smallest niche is filled by some entrepeneur."
This is beyond absurd. "Communism is great because when it fails and you go back to Capitalism people start businesses!" You are such a starry-eyed waigouren it's scary.
I completely disagree with you on this measure. He is right. They do have a Capitalist foundation to fall back on. He is absolutely right in thinking that China's business adventures feeds the pipelines of communism. With the two so delicately intertwined, how can you state otherwise? What is dreaming, is that they were able to embrace the two, take over our dollar and apply themselves as a new world order of bankers- right under our American noses. Thats the dreaming part.
I think you underestimate their creativity TK. That is typical of most Americans.
I most certainly do not underestimate our brothers and sisters in China. The reality is that China has been 'Communist' in name only for a long time. When they tried to be more Communist tens of millions of people died.
What was your impression when you were in China?
Now all of this I concur, but yet your statement to Chinaman was polar opposite of this. What gives??? You wrote words of being dreamy eyed. Dare it be said, that you changed your opinion or that you were just being dreamy yourself and miswrote something. Must have been.
"Never fight a land war in Asia." We don't ever seem to learn.
I don't think the arms race helped but I think Russian Communism would have gone belly up regardless, arms race or no arms race.
No, it's not capitalism. There are a number of things you could call it (corporate socialism or even fascism), but it's not capitalism. Capitalism is private property/private enterprise - what you're describing is a transaction between government and business (the government gives contracts to arms companies to make weapons), and hence it's not capitalism.
This is capitalism.
I wouldn't have gone as far as shooting the milk company owners LOL, but basically I agree with you.
In order for such a model to "work" though, you need accountability - which means that the buck should stop with a specific company owner or owners.
You were doing great, until this sentence A bit of communism in our history would have been a disaster.
actually, there was Communism in the history of North America -- when the colonies were originally being created, they were done under the mantle of a socialist / communist system. The people who were sent there were sent to make money for the benefit of the company (of course it was largely subsidized by government). The owners of the companies didn't want the people making money off the land that the company owned, so they prevented the people from directly benefiting from their labor.
Chaos ensued, people starved, and that's why we have Thanksgiving.
Ah... interesting stuff. After reading this article:
...I'm a bit confused LOL. Presumably the "company" you're referring to is the South Virginia Company in the article? (Which must originally have been founded by and granted special privileges by the British government, along the lines of the East India Company.)
I wonder why the company insisted on the communist experiment - for it surely must have been an experiment. Why didn't they go down the more obvious route of allowing the settlers to profit from their activities, but also pay a tithe or tax?
Your take on Communism is one of the most amusing pieces of political origami I have seen on here so far.
Actually, Evan has drawn an analogy that is pretty workable. Certainly as valid as many of the liberal summations of history where they pick and choose what events promote their agenda.
I have yet to see one person give a viable definition of socialism that is self consistent.
Please to be explaining teh definition?
can we cut the crap?
Socialism CAN'T WORK. It just can't. Deal with it. Move on. Let's, for the love of god, start discussing something else - this god damned Socialism bullsh!t has been on the table for FAR too long. It will only work when humans can meet every single one of our whims without any work involved whatsoever - and that's a long ways off (nano-fusion would solve this... but, like i said, it's a ways off).
Mises showed us all upwards of 90 years ago that Socialism was pointless and impossible. Here's the document he used to do it, free online, for you to read. http://mises.org/books/socialism/contents.aspx
Until you can ACTUALLY destroy his arguments (not just say, "blah, he's wrong"), then let's, for the love of god, realize that socialism will NOT work.
Humans are humans, and we hate laziness, sloth, and every economic system that rewards these attributes. Socialism not only rewards them, it encourages them.
The USSR forgot to peer on the historical might and will of the Russian, Polish, and Rhineland peoples. They also simply forgot to appreciate, the determination of the Russian people. Look to China to witness a well oiled communist machine. They allow a lot more business and individual freedoms, in one way or another. The USSR didn't.
That's because China is Communist in little more than name now and has been for a long time.
thats one hell of statement Sab....
A hell of a true one. Just ask Deng "To be rich is glorious" Xiaoping.
Your statement may be true,... to a 90 year old china-men.
Even more so to a 19 year old 'Chinese' man. (could we please avoid the whole "Chinaman" thing? What is this, a movie from the 1930s?)
I do concur. They are a well oiled communist machine.
To digress a bit, what do you think about the future of China? Do you think the Chinese model can be sustainable in the long term?
Definately, because it is not the monolithic totalitarian state that some would have you believe.
It is changing rapidly and adapting to a new environment at an unbelievable speed.
The new China that emerges will be something else again. Living here I personally have high hopes that it will improve the world situation, the type of capitalism that they indulge in at the trading level is better for people and societies than the deal we get in the west from the few multinational giants controlling every aspect of their won supply, production and market.
Most definitely. I see them in communist power for a very long time. It fits the culture of that society. China's people are used to rules, laws and some form of suppression. They have adapted as a community to that way of life, and have evolved as a group to survive in that way of life. While not questioning the suppressors. This is for the most part. I'm sure there are the occasional break out from the norm. However, when you consider their history,(all the way back over 10,000yrs.)Chinamen do well under suppression and poverty. For those who don't, China's government has employed a different governmental body- a more capitalist means to life. That is real genius on their part. I see China surviving, and living well in communism for a very long, long, long, time.
" I see them in communist power for a very long time. It fits the culture of that society. China's people are used to rules, laws and some form of suppression. They have adapted as a community to that way of life, and have evolved as a group to survive in that way of life. While not questioning the suppressors. Chinamen do well under suppression and poverty. "
Wow. That is an ubelievably offensive statement. I am literally disgusted by that statement. Disgraceful.
Say something even remotely similar to that about African Americans being "adapted" to farm work and how they work real hard under the threat of a whip and how that is just natural to them and how would you feel? Offended I would hope. I was offended just typing the example.
Think before you essentialize billions of people, please.
As soon as the world defaults, china sinks with all of us.
Because you cannot enslave your population to a godless government.
When did you ask me that question? Wasn't aware that question was brought to the table. Whereas I feel it is of little relevance, I do feel that we are agreeing for the most part. So, I do not understand this attempt to entangle me, in YOUR miswritten words to China man.
Fuss up. You miss wrote something. No big deal.
It is ironic that we agree over this measure, and yet you want to question my credentials. Therefore I question- why would it be necessary for me to have been there or not??? Hm? You been there?
Yes, very interesting TK. I feel you might have just discredited yourself, especially since I concur with your argument on China's aggressiveness, creativity, and communist power.
"It is ironic that we agree over this measure"
Let me make sure I'm not misjudging you. On what exactly do we agree? (and you'd better be prepared to answer for the outrage referenced four posts above).
I never recognized China's "Communist power" because they have not really been anything close to Communist for a long time now.
Not anything close to Communist??? Tell that to the victims of Tieneman Square, crushed by the tanks of the Communist government and do explain the purges that followed to suppress democracy - and the brutal methods that the Chinse government STILL uses to prevent any attempt by workers in China to get fair wages or safe working conditions. We have combined the worst elements of Communism and the worst elements of Capitalism to forge the geopolitcal marriage from HELL.
Tiananmen was more than two decades ago, and totalitarianism is not the same thing as Communism, though the two always seem to go hand in hand.
Workers and rural farmers are protesting almost every day somewhere in China.
Does China have many, many problems? Of course. But they are hardly anything you could call 'Communist' anymore.
The western media would like to paint it like this, I have seen a few protests up close - most of them are to do with re-location due to infrastructure building - like any people getting moved in any country, invariably it is about the level of compensation which varies from place to place.
So this is capitlaistic totalitarianism which is OK - compared to Communistic totalitarianism which is bad.
Well actually Doug - no they haven't.
I live here and travel extensively all around and I see a wide spectrum of life - and most of it works on a day to basis in a reasonable and balanced way. Balanced of course is relative, in the most rapid and large development in history things are moving very quickly.
No every 'worker' is not in a great position, although these things seem to be generally improving. I visited a friend who is the general manager of construction sites building some of the thousands of road improvements (my previous life was in civil engineering) and safety is a high priority, the wages are reasonable when compared to western workers in the same position, within this society. The site safety was also a high priority.
Is China communist, well the local party here is still controlling everything locally. They gather in smoky rooms and make secret plans for road lighting improvements, parking arrangements, sort out disputes in the local market, just as any local council would do. The city council (party) does much the same, and the acquaintance I have in the Province comittee talks about dark political issues like how to clean up the pollution around the place, the rapid increase in traffic and the problems this causes. Which University in the west his son should go to, how to control corruption - you know normal stuff. I guess he either doesn't talk to me about all that other nasty stuff like crushing the people, restricting freedom etc etc, or maybe they are too busy changing China into the next super-power ?
easy question to answer.
Ludwig Von Mises showed that Socialism can't work becasue economic calculations are impossible for three major reasons which all directly result from a lack of Property Rights.
It abolishes private property; True prices can't exist if people aren't responsible for their own property. For example, in the recent BP spill, the true price of the crash is unknown because there is no true owner of the Gulf of Mexico: how can we know the true damage of the explosion if there is no one organization to take care of the water? Also, how do we know the true cost of off-shore drilling when the "price" is just 'which company bids the highest' instead of 'paying a person to drill on their land AND whichever company bids the highest'. It's simply impossible to fully develop a price.
Without true prices, then the world's scarce resources can't be distributed to their true best use.
There could be no free exchange; how can people freely exchange their property when they can't have property in the first place? Trade becomes impossible!
And, also, because there is no free exchange, a true money can not develop. True money develops from market trading, and thus a lack of exchange prevents true money from being created. Also, if the state (any monopoly, really) controls the money, then they have too much incentive to inflate it.
But, not only can true money not DEVELOP, money was outlawed throughout the land: why have money if you can't trade? Lenin actually tried to outlaw money.
REASON NUMBER ONE: Efficient use of resources can not be achieved because prices are impossible to know because private property is abolished.
REASON NUMBER TWO: Efficient use of resources can not be achieved because it is impossible to measure value in a large complex economy without money.
REASON NUMBER THREE: Trade can't exist, so there needs to be some bozo trying to decide EVERY SINGLE USE of EVERY SINGLE RESOURCE!!! (How do we know what resource to use to build a railroad? should the wood be made of pine? maple? balsa?... who knows!)
There are also many other reasons, but these can't be attributed to Mises. I'll just drop the biggest reason:
REASON NUMBER FOUR: There is no incentive! If everyone else were doing everything for you... why the hell should you work? Why would anyone take out the garbage? Why would anyone bother to work in a coal mine? why would any one bother to study to be a doctor? why would anyone slave in front of the giant forges to make steel?
These are the reasons that Socialism can't work.
It's actually quite hilarious that people still talk about socialism and how awesome it would be... no it wouldn't, sorry.
Before anyone points out that socialism is in operation today somewhere in the world... no it isn't. There is no truly socialist economy in the world; every single economy uses money, uses private property, and uses capitalist markets to know what prices are.
Some people call socialism "the workers own and control the company" ... but i fail to see how this means anything more than just letting people buy stock in the company...
Either way, just about EVERY SINGLE definition of socialism destroys private property rights over (at least) some major areas of the economy, and this severely restricts market efficiency.
Please read Mises' Socialism. He and his students don't believe in Intellectual Property, so the text is online for free:
Simple answer and conclusion would be; suppression. As stated earlier.
Suppression is indeed the correct answer. But I feel as though it doesn't answer the question.
After all, aren't all governments a form of suppression? Why can't homosexuals get married -- suppression. Why can't I turn left on red when no one is around -- suppression.
Suppression is the reason we don't need government, but if we're asking a more detailed question about why socialism failed, then we need a bit more detailed of a response.
That's well thought out - still digesting. I can see what you mean about incentive (though it would free people to contriibute in ways that might not be financially attractive under C21st capitalism) but some of the economic side seems to still be a very capitalistic way of viewing socialism.
MIsha's right - I need to read the Manifesto and get a better idea of what their ideals were.
I'm not saying we should be Communist or Socialist - just that in many ways capitalism sucks as well.
you seem to think that non-financially attractive things might be good. I am here to dispel this myth.
What generates a price? Is it labor? is it capital? is it random?
No, of course not. When someone WANTS something, they use their means to acquire it. If something is desired, it suddenly becomes valuable. This means that if it is valuable, then there will be a price - someone can become specialized in acquiring and providing the thing, and they can be rewarded for their efforts by being able to use the money in the society to acquire other things.
If the profits of that industry -- whatever it may be:in the 70's, or so i hear, there was a pet-rock industry -- are high, then that just simply means that people are VERY eager to get said product. The profits serve as a beacon to attract other entrepreneurs to provide the good.
Thus, if it's valuable, it has a price. If it has a price, and that price generates profits, then that mean it is something that is needed (like food and water after Hurricane Katrina), and the high profits will attract people to provide the good.
For, it's not benevolence that the butcher baker and candlestick maker get together to share their goods, it's through greed. This is Adam Smith's invisible hand of the market. It's a good thing.
That which does not have a price is not desired by people. (leisure time DOES have a price, opportunity costs).
For more arguments about all of this and more, check out my hubs: Evan's Easy Economics - it's long and enjoyable and easy to read.
*Side note: most of what Marx talks about in his writings is about how Capitalism is evil (Marx was actually the person who coined the term Capitalism). He doesn't ever clearly describe how a Socialist world would operate... some of his followers do. Some bozo declared that, under socialism, Fully cooked chickens would fly into the mouths of the hungry, and the seas would be full of lemonade, and that lions would bend down and allow the people to ride them.
Most socialists are nuts, and it's disgusting that people still subscribe to this ideal that has been responsible for the deaths of over 75 million people. (and the countless Unseen people that could have been born)
I do think that there are things which are valuable in a society but which no-one really wants to pay for. There are social goods that the government pays for, with no financial return, just as a public good.
Newspapers traditionally struggle between what people want to read and what is solid, ethical reporting - of the public interest (i.e. there's a market) and 'in the public interest' (stories which are seen by trained news people to be worthwhile and important to print).
There have been outspoken people over the years with messages that went against the grain, but which turned out to be important. Slavery was abolished, even though it cost slave owners their workforce.
I'm no economist, but I do believe that some things are above money.
Actually, slave labor was subsidized by the government. If the cost of finding and preventing slaves from leaving their from wasn't socialized (the fugitive slave act, etc etc) slavery probably wouldn't have been profitable.
Newspapers are being torn apart by the internet: a much more efficient and stable and DECENTRALIZED way of spreading information. As are news shows.
And, once again, i fail to see any social good that is provided by the government that could NOT be done better by a private entity. If the US post office didn't have a monopoly on delivering first class envelopes, and on the use of mailboxes, they'd be chewed alive by FedEx and UPS. It's a disgrace that the government prevents the free-market from working.
You're right about the newpapers, but their future wasn't really my point. It was just to give an example where popularity and demand is weighed against other ideals. That's all. It is becoming something very different now through internet technology - it's really a new world.
Why would you trust private entities to deliver social goods? They'll only do it if there's a vested interest. Aren't there things worth doing that don't benefit a commercial entity in some way?
"they'll only do it if there's a vested interest"
I only go to work because I have vested interest in my survival - I enjoy not being hungry, and thus study, get educated, invest capital, find jobs, and work. Who doesn't have a vested interest?
You act like a government isn't a "commercial entity" - propaganda is a great way to convince people to spend money on a less efficient entity who has no real purpose.
Government gets its money through violence (try not paying taxes... it's violent). Businesses get their money by convincing you to pay for it.
Governments don't have any sort of competition mechanism. The free-market weeds out inefficiency.
Governments encourage racism (recent Arizona law, for a mere single example), whereas the free-market weeds it out (if you can hire a black person for half the price because other people are racist, then the non-racist person wins).
I truly, honestly, and completely fail to see a single service that could be performed better by government.
Didn't we all just bail out Europe? And go into debt to do it? I mean, for f*ck's sake, this is ludicrous.
i wanted to add a bit to this, after brewing it over a bit more.
The simple fact that a government gets involved into an industry, whatever it may be, even if it's just to add "some competition" is nonsense.
Government competition means taking cash from the taxpayers (at gunpoint -- once again, try not paying taxes), and then using the stolen property to subsidize the government-intrusion on the industry.
When the government fails more and more at the industry (which they inevitably will do: no one is risking their own resources; no one is truly in charge; and even the boss has to take orders from multiple sources; and there is no genuine price structure available if everything is paid for through stolen property; choices aren't made by the bosses based 100% off of business logic, the decisions are heavily influenced by political aspirations), they then proceed to allocate MORE resources (the stolen taxpayer money) to the failed business venture. No government business can go bankrupt -- just ask AIG (amongst others).
Oh, and if you want to quote GM as "the bailout that succeeded", remember - they paid their Bailout back WITH GOVERNMENT MONEY. It was brilliant - they got a government bailout, then proceeded to pay it back with government money, then told everyone that they paid it back.
Government can't work.
Yes - love, friendship - that kind of things. I just fail to see what it has to do with capitalism or socialism.
benevolence can only get mankind so far...
how much have you donated this year?
If it's less than your net income, then surely your a capitalist -- under socialism, said "donations" would be a bit more... mandatory...
Communism was not failed in Russia, world leaders including Russian leaders make it failed.
How do you figure? With an argument like this one you are trying to make, one should really leave an explanation. Do tell us, how do you figure that to be so?
perestroika and glasnost were just the face lift of reforming and converting Russia into a democratic state(USSR), introduced by Gorbachev. Why do you need two super powers when one is capable of controlling the world-it was just the part of the world order one.
"denied to the ordinary worker" is that not suppression? Was the question, "Why did communism fail in Russia," aka USSR under communist rule.
The difference between the privileged people in communist societies and those in the West is that in the West, at least you have a *chance* of acquiring wealth through your own hard work and merit (although I admit it's not easy). Whereas in communist societies, getting to the top of the tree depends on being able to parrot the correct ideology and sing from the communist hymn sheet, so to speak.
In China now, people *can* become wealthy through hard work - as you yourself said on page 1 of this discussion. So despite China's lack of political freedoms, I imagine that this sweetens the pill somewhat. That's really why Russia failed, IMO - not only did you have political suppression, you also had no routes to wealth (or other forms of personal fulfilment) other than via Party ideology. No wonder all those writers and musicians kept wanting to defect.
communism failed, at its core simply because it tried to institute the state as omniscient as opposed to "God" (or what some would prefer to acknowledge as their "Highest Conscience")
it failed cause it sucked. Plain and simple, people.
I am tired of pretty'n it up for the faint of heart.
Communism failed in Russia because the inherent ideological makeup of the Russia people does not accept the concept of communism. It was a concept forced upon them by their earliest leaders who eventually made their way of thinking into the law of the land. It's the same reason why communism will not succeed in the U.S.. Americans do not think along those lines. The Russian people spent centuries under the rule of the Tsars and were accustomed to that type of rule. You might just as well ask: why DOES communism work in Viet Nam. This system is perfectly suited to the people of Viet Nam - a subject I did my masters thesis about. The people here have always been accepting of the communal lifestyle and do quite well under it. So, to conclude, the national character of the Russian people was simply not suited to the communist agenda which was forced upon them by the men who took power.
That makes a lot of sense, Dylan. Throw that in with some of the other points made above and we're probably getting close to the reason.
I think also the apparent consumer freedoms of the West would have been galling if your were being forced to live a very simple life.
The discusssion so far has been dominated by anti-capitalists vs anti-communists slugging it out over ideological theories. Both sides are wrong. I have been to Moscow & Saint Petersburg. My wife is Russian. I don't claim to be an expert, but I have done some reading and study on the subject.
The biggest clue to why communism failed in the USSR is found in the fact that the CIA never had a clue the failure was imminent. We had highly placed sources all the way to the Kremlin - and that gives us a hint in retrospect. Because our spies had access to the best info in the Kremlin, we (and they) never realized that by the time of the fall, the 'best numbers' were pure fiction.
For decades the USSR had promoted and rewarded the party members and managers who would produce the NUMBERS that the central committee decreed were the objective. People who were critical were demoted. This formula produced the biggest 'bubble' economy that ever existed. Production was ideal. The Party was meeting objectives everywhere. Everyone was content. On paper.
What the CIA didn't know also never reached the ears of the bosses in the Kremlin. Factories were NOT producing goods as they claimed. In one case, to meet the production goals in square feet, glass was produced - paper thin and completely useless, too fragile to even be loaded onto trucks. (But they met Party goals.)
The failure of Communism in the USSR was not a failure of Communism. It was a failure of leadership over a period of decades. The bubble burst when the institutional fraud could not be sustained. The problem is NOT confined to a Communist system. If you look at the current recession or the Great Depression, you find the same problem with a bubble economy built on fraud and falsehood.
Okay, so the failue of Russian communism lies with the American CIA?
Sounds a bit like the beginning of the track we are on now......
So Communism is still a valid alternative for you, it's just that the leadership couldn't contain their personal greed and capitalistic tendencies at an institutional level?
Institutional Fraud.....My, that does sound familiar, distinct echoes of today, makes one think of Fannie and Freddie, and the other Porkies of Congress, the UN even, let's make it global.
I'm sorry, but I can't quite grasp what you are arguing for or against, or perhaps don't wish to, although it would appear to be for Communism, with perhaps inhuman robots at the helm, and then perhaps appropriately executed for the humans benefit.
Allow me to explain, Captain America. The failure of the CIA to identify the impending colapse ws not a cause - it was a symptom. Our intellgence experts were sucked in by the phony numbers being produced by party bosses fot their bosses - right up to the Kremlin.
Nobody would say 'The Emperor has no clothes."
Bernie Madoff ring a bell? How about Enron? The obscene profits of the oil compnaies a few years back? How about the situation that Congress is trying to regulate now? The banks produce financial instuments whose value to prospective investors is rated by companies hired by the same banks. But the rating system is corrupt and fraudulent.
Wake up. The 'bubble' that brought down the USSR showed up here recently - a little smaller and a different cause, but it came too close to bringing US down.
Well, Comrade Anti-America, are you investing some competence in an arm of the federal government at some stage in our history? Somehow the failure of the CIA to identify the collapse of Russia is pertinent to the Failure of Communism in Russia?....ouch, my head hurts.
So you don't wish to comment on the greedy institutional powers such as Freddie and Fannie that contributed to our financial mess as being akin to what you describe in Russia.
Not sure at all what sent you on a rant about Madoff and Enron and obscene profits unless it is to illustrate the governmental reg. entities turning the other eyeball -- and I agree that our government regulatory agencies do a lousy job, and that more regs won't necessarily make them get off their duffs and do their jobs, but jail time surely would.
So capitalism didn't cause our bubble, communism didn't cause Russia's bubble...... governmental institutions gone wild and blind did --that would appear to be what you are actually saying.
Captain America -
My point about Madoff and Enron was to point out how purely capitalistic entittes can produce substantial economic 'bubbles'. In the case of the USSR, the entire system conributed to the creation of a super-bubble because the centralized system created a powerful disincentive for speaking truth. In the case of the USA, Wall Street wants to prohibit any referee on the field. The GOP is facilitating the attempts by Wall Street to prevent updated regulation which will preserve the integrity of the markets.
What happened to the USSR can happen to the USA. The process would be similar - just substitute fat cats on Wall Street for the Party Bosses in Moscow and remove the regulatory function of government. As long as the government is too small and weak to stand up against corruption - the result is identical.
I'm sorry if I used words too big for you, the concepts don't lend themselves to monosylables. I realize that either you are struggling to understand what I'm saying - or working vey hard to distort what I'm saying.
"Wake up" = liberal-speak for "agree with me because I feel so strongly!"
perhaps because of the global pressures of defined capital & democratic/autocratic systems. The communal concept in itself is sustainable in its original context. Unfortunately, there are greedy folk out there who turned it as well as democracy into slavery.
I also think it collapsed due to the rise of socio-capitalism, which seems to be the UE & US goal at the moment.
I suspect I agree with this (but I need to read a lot more)>
Basically both systems are open to abuse, right?
All systems are open to abuse, but Communism is inherently flawed and untenable.
Hi friend Sab Oh
I agree with you; on the top of it uses compulsion as a tool and does not allow freedom of faith.
It is an unnatural system; but it could be improved.
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim
Stop it... just get a damn hold on yourselves.
It sucks.... just admit it... you know it.... please.... it has gone on long enough my friends.
I am beginning to worry about you two.
Explain what sucks?....
I thought that was what you two were talking about. I know Sab doesn't seem to think China is a communist nation.
It is, and that does.
Hi friend TMMason
China was a die-hard communist country in times of Mao and Chou En-Lai; now it is improved and economically very sound. Is it no good?
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim
" I know Sab doesn't seem to think China is a communist nation.
It is, and that does."
Communism certainly does suck, but China has not really been a Communist country for a long while now.
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