The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

How should society be organised, if at all?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

User avatar
henry quirk
Posts: 9991
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:07 pm

Post by henry quirk »

Rich,

Leavin' aside all the jargon and strains and politics and theory, it seems to me, the heart of communitarianism (the umbrella under which socialism shelters) is: from each, according to ability; to each, according to need.

Agree? Disagree?
User avatar
Conde Lucanor
Posts: 674
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:59 am

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by Conde Lucanor »

There are many things called socialism and not all of them agree. If someone wants to start a critique of socialism, why not consider first Marx's own critique of different types of socialism. It's not hidden in an obscure unpublished manuscript, it's right there in a well known document: The Communist Manifesto.

Most of contemporary's political projects which call themselves socialism are strains of social democracy ideology or movements that advocate for state intervention, regulation and reformism, all within the framework of capitalist societies. They have not much to do with socialism as Mark and Engels envisioned, which sought for the disappearance of the state in the long term.
mickthinks
Posts: 802
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:10 am
Location: Augsburg

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by mickthinks »

Conde Lucanor wrote:[Socialism] sought for the disappearance of the state in the long term.
So it's just libertarianism by another name eh? I wonder what Henry has against libertarianism ...
User avatar
henry quirk
Posts: 9991
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:07 pm

Post by henry quirk »

"I wonder what Henry has against libertarianism ..."

Mebbe that it's communitarianism...benign, mebbe, but still communitarianism.

What you got against the individual that you'd see him or her so readily consumed by 'the people'?
User avatar
richardtod
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:51 pm

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by richardtod »

This debate seems to go round in circles. I'm not going to waste time going through recent posts as they are based on ideas written back in the 1800s. Times have changed, the Philosophy, as Marx predicted has changed. Socialists today are of many different colours but I repeat the are NOT Communists. They are not 'Communitarians'. Unless you understand that, you are arguing with the ghosts of the past.
User avatar
Hobbes' Choice
Posts: 8364
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:45 am

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by Hobbes' Choice »

The bonuses paid to the financial sector, not the salaries, not the profits, just the bonuses is a greater amount than the entire amount paid to ALL workers in the USA on minimum wage.

Add to that the more than half the working population are on less than $15 per hours is why socialism for the rich and free trade for the poor is destroying the domestic economy.

Paying higher minimum is way to move money to the base economy. Bonuses do not do this as much of that cash leaves the country in offshore accounts and is used to buy BMWs, junkets to Monaco, and invested in Chinese industry.

Socialism, real socialism is a means by which the poor are enriched, and the domestic economy is flushed with cash. Bottom up works! Trickle down never did. Trickle down never worked because an employer has no obligation to raise wages, and every reason to continue a downwards pressure on wages. Thats why there are thousands on zero hour contracts and paid well below even the minimum wage, strangling off the baseline economy.

We've had 40 years where the governments have had three responses; 1) reduce regulation, 2) reduce taxation, 3) de-unionise. The result is stagnation poverty and inequality. This harms the economy and the hope of millions.

There has never been a greater need for socialism than right now.
User avatar
henry quirk
Posts: 9991
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:07 pm

Post by henry quirk »

Mick, Rich, Hobbes,

Apparently, the way I define socialism isn't in keeping with how any of you do, so, can you each define it?
User avatar
Hobbes' Choice
Posts: 8364
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:45 am

Re:

Post by Hobbes' Choice »

henry quirk wrote:Mick, Rich, Hobbes,

Apparently, the way I define socialism isn't in keeping with how any of you do, so, can you each define it?
First socialism is not just a dirty word, it is a valuable political ideology which recognises the damage that unfettered capitalism does by lowering wages, maximising profits, and creating an ever economically damaging inequality which snuffs off low end demand. It was born out of Victorian Europe, especially Britain where people worked 12 - 16 hours a day in dirty dangerous work, yet barely had enough food to live on, at the mercy of high rents, and careless employers living in luxury. When it came to finding conscripts for the Boar War Britain was not able to find enough healthy men to fight that war. Socialism was born out of christian capitalist, emancipationists, and a growing intellectual left. Companies like Cadbury providing the whole package; homes, good wages, clean factories. But for the majority life was short and painful.

Today it fights for workers rights, fair wages, safety at work, and helping to readjust the natural tendency to inequality. Where possible it demands that bosses recognise that workers create the wealth and are worth a share in the profits. This is achieved with union bargaining where possible, but also by taxation which ensures a healthy, educated population, with roads, defence, and essential services. In those jobs it recognises the duty of the state to fair pay, as this provides a constant competition to the private sector do match those wages.

Pushing money down the wealth scale has benefits, as without low end demand, goods and services cannot be bought even by the people making them. Excessive inequality is harmful to the economy as well as being morally untenable.
These basic rights to a safe working environment, education, healthy homes, decent contracts, and some guarantee of sick pay have been achieved with a great deal of struggle - stuff that people now take for granted without knowing where this stuff comes from. Stuff that can be wiped out in one year when some idiotic Presidential candidate saids "DEGREGULATE".

When Trumps says deregulate, he means abandon minimum wage; safety at work; building regs that means decent housing. When Trump says "red tape" he's talking about jerry building shit homes; people queueing up for a hour's work; it means McDonald workers sitting round in their uniforms waiting for the shop to get busy before they start earning. It means you are scum, take it or leave it. It means working people are feckless and stupid and do not deserve a good life.

It's what free people do in a democracy. It means making Trump, and people like him, pay Federal Taxes.

That's why I'm a socialist.
User avatar
Conde Lucanor
Posts: 674
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:59 am

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by Conde Lucanor »

mickthinks wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:[Socialism] sought for the disappearance of the state in the long term.
So it's just libertarianism by another name eh? I wonder what Henry has against libertarianism ...
For Chomsky, who calls himself a libertarian socialist (and I sympathize with his position), the definition of the term "libertarian" is also problematic:

"Libertarian in the United States has a meaning which is almost the opposite of what it has in the rest of the world traditionally. Here, libertarian means ultra right-wing capitalist. In the European tradition, libertarian meant socialist. So, anarchism was sometimes called libertarian socialism, a large wing of anarchism..."
mickthinks
Posts: 802
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:10 am
Location: Augsburg

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by mickthinks »

Thanks CL. I admire Chomsky and endorse everything I've read or heard him say. Perhaps he would count me among his kind of anarchists; I've never identified myself as an anarchist of any flavour.

I think "Socialism" is too widely and loosely used to submit to even a consistent set of definitions let alone a single all-embracing one, and each of us probably has their own. Mine looks something like this;-

Someone is a socialist if a) they believe the competition that is life in Western civilisation is not fair but has been so rigged in the past by earlier winners* that the elite to which those winners and their descendants belong holds a monopoly on success at the expense of the vast majority; and b) they are on the side of society's undeserving losers.

I've not tried to articulate such a definition before, so this is a crude first attempt. I am happy to take constructive criticism and corrections. And if Henry can show that improving the standard of living and chances of success for the undeserving losers leads inevitably to the kind of injustice he complains of here, I shall, of course, apologise for any rudeness and concede that he was right all along. :-)


*winners by merit, luck or perfidy, it makes no difference. The right to fix the rules cannot be earned fairly.
Last edited by mickthinks on Thu Sep 29, 2016 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
henry quirk
Posts: 9991
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:07 pm

Post by henry quirk »

Hobbes, Mick,

You've both done a fine job explaining why each of you is a socialist, but neither of you has offered a definition for socialism.

I'm not lookin' for "a single all-embracing" definition, just yours.
User avatar
Conde Lucanor
Posts: 674
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:59 am

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by Conde Lucanor »

mickthinks wrote:Thanks CL. I admire Chomsky and endorse everything I've read or heard him say. Perhaps he would count me among his kind of anarchists; I've never identified myself as an anarchist of any flavour.
I admire Chomsky, too, as he seems to be the closest to represent now what good old classical marxism once represented, which the left has completely moved away from. Although I somehow sympathized with Bakunin, never considered myself an anarchist, but if that's what it means to be a libertarian socialist, then anarchist I'll be.
mickthinks wrote:I think "Socialism" is too widely and loosely used to submit to even a consistent set of definitions let alone a single all-embracing one, and each of us probably has their own.
As most political labels. I think the labels can be useful in a general sense, giving a hint of your location in the political spectrum, but you cannot expect them to represent a precise and consistent universal set of ideas, with the same goals, programs, methods, etc. It is alright as a general category, in which you can even put dissenting parties. What will that general category be? For me, it has to do with advocating policies of cooperation and solidarity as the most practical means of achieving human progress and happiness for a majority of people, whereas individuality and self-interest can achieve much less.
mickthinks wrote:Mine looks something like this;-

Someone is a socialist if a) they believe the competition that is life in Western civilisation is not fair but has been so rigged in the past by earlier winners* that the elite to which those winners and their descendants belong holds a monopoly on success at the expense of the vast majority; and b) they are on the side of society's undeserving losers.

I've not tried to articulate such a definition before, so thins is a crude first attempt. I am happy to take constructive criticism and corrections. And if Henry can show that improving the standard of living and chances of success for the undeserving losers leads inevitably to the kind of injustice he complains of here, I shall, of course, apologise for any rudeness and concede that he was right all along. :-)


*winners by merit, luck or perfidy, it makes no difference. The right to fix the rules cannot be earned fairly.
I'm happy to accept as socialist anyone who fits into the general category, whether that person shares or not the same goals, programs, methods, organizational principles, notions about power and authority, etc., with other socialists.
mickthinks
Posts: 802
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:10 am
Location: Augsburg

Re:

Post by mickthinks »

You've both done a fine job explaining why each of you is a socialist, but neither of you has offered a definition for socialism.

I think I have, Henry. Granted, I've chosen to couch it as a definition of "a socialist" , but I am taking it for granted that someone with your intelligence can derive the one from the other. Let me know if you do still need my help.
User avatar
henry quirk
Posts: 9991
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:07 pm

Post by henry quirk »

"I think I have, Henry. Granted, I've chosen to couch it as a definition of "a socialist"..."

Someone is a socialist if a) they believe the competition that is life in Western civilisation is not fair but has been so rigged in the past by earlier winners* that the elite to which those winners and their descendants belong holds a monopoly on success at the expense of the vast majority; and b) they are on the side of society's undeserving losers.

Mick, I know republicans and libertarians who say the same thing, so, as far as definitions go, it ain't one.

#

...I am taking it for granted that someone with your intelligence can derive the one from the other.

As Hobbes would tell you, I'm thick as a brick so any definition for 'socialism' I tease out of your (non)definition for 'socialist' is liable to be wrong (which, I'm thinkin' [with my simple mind] is the whole reason you don't just gimme a straight forward definition).

#

"Let me know if you do still need my help."

Nah, that's okay. I got no time for, or interest in, dancin' for around for pages , dickin' around with gettin' to a definition. You have one (in which case you're just screwin' with me) or you don't (in which case you're like a catholic who never read the catechism).
User avatar
Terrapin Station
Posts: 2008
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:18 pm
Location: NYC Man

Re: The Fundamental Problem of Socialism

Post by Terrapin Station »

bobevenson wrote:The fundamental problem of socialism is the government forcibly taking money from one person to give to somebody else, an act a citizen would be thrown in jail for doing.
On the other hand, I'd have difficulty supporting the imprisonment of Robin Hoods. If people are robbing wealthier folks and using what they rob as a means of ensuring that folks who were previously deprived now have food, shelter, health care, etc., I'd be against arresting and imprisoning those Robin Hoods.
Post Reply