The Administration's "Socialism"

#1
The history of the development of socialist ideology as being focused around the collective ownership and management is conveyed through the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of "socialism" as "a social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community." With that in mind, where lies the basis for description of the liberal democratic capitalist administration as "socialist" in nature?

Liberalism and socialism are in fact antithetical because of the role of the welfare state in maintaining macroeconomic stabilization in general and sustaining the physical efficiency and employment of the working class, the latter constituting a sustainment of static efficiency. This role occurs in the context of the capitalist economy, which means that the welfare state is supporting the existence of the prevailing arrangement of the private ownership of the means of production. It's therefore ironically economic rightists who are greater allies of socialists, as their favored policies will destabilize capitalism.
 
Sep 2009
15
0
Glasgow, Scotland - Sex: Male - Age: 16
#2
Socialism works very well in Scotland.

Scotland has her National health service which is of a high standard where no one is left behind. It would be good although almost impossible to see an American National health service where healthcare is free to all who need it. I really hope that Obama delivers on his manifesto promises on healthcare, if he doesn't I will be very dissapointed indeed!

I want to see the change!
 
#3
The exact premise of this thread was that state programs inaccurately described as "socialist" are in fact not so. Socialism necessitates the collective ownership and management of the means of production.
 
Jan 2009
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#4
The history of the development of socialist ideology as being focused around the collective ownership and management is conveyed through the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of "socialism" as "a social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community." With that in mind, where lies the basis for description of the liberal democratic capitalist administration as "socialist" in nature?
Using that very definition, how can you say that some of their policies are NOT socialism or atleast leaning towards socialism? Policies such as welfare do exactly what the American Heritage Dictionary defines socialism as- they take the goods through taxation, which can be seen as having control (atleast to an extent) over the means of productions and then redistribute them. The "collective ownership" is through the state and the government is technically supposed to be for the people isn't it? I don't see how that definition and programs such as welfare in modern America contradict each other. Furthermore, instead of going by American Heritage's definition of socialism, I would much rather go by Marx's, since it was really him and Engels that brought the theory into mainstream existence in the first place. According to them socialism was the step towards communism in which there was collective ownership and distribution through one entity- presumably the state.

Liberalism and socialism are in fact antithetical because of the role of the welfare state in maintaining macroeconomic stabilization in general and sustaining the physical efficiency and employment of the working class, the latter constituting a sustainment of static efficiency.
Who says that welfare stabilizes the market? It is a known fact, even among pro-socialists that welfare creates deadweight losses. It clearly distorts markets and hence favors one side or another, which in fact destabilizes markets.


This role occurs in the context of the capitalist economy, which means that the welfare state is supporting the existence of the prevailing arrangement of the private ownership of the means of production. It's therefore ironically economic rightists who are greater allies of socialists, as their favored policies will destabilize capitalism.
My explanation above applies again. TRUE free marketers are not for any such government interference (things like TARP included) because we believe that the market can self-correct itself through the natural laws of economics- supply and demand primarily. It is when the government has gotten involved that bubbles and massive recessions have formed as the current economic crisis, the Great Depression, etc. prove.
 
#5
Using that very definition, how can you say that some of their policies are NOT socialism or atleast leaning towards socialism? Policies such as welfare do exactly what the American Heritage Dictionary defines socialism as- they take the goods through taxation, which can be seen as having control (atleast to an extent) over the means of productions and then redistribute them. The "collective ownership" is through the state and the government is technically supposed to be for the people isn't it? I don't see how that definition and programs such as welfare in modern America contradict each other. Furthermore, instead of going by American Heritage's definition of socialism, I would much rather go by Marx's, since it was really him and Engels that brought the theory into mainstream existence in the first place. According to them socialism was the step towards communism in which there was collective ownership and distribution through one entity- presumably the state.
The American Heritage Dictionary's definition is intended to be relatively inclusive, and does not refer to "state ownership" presumably because of the exclusion of socialists such as the anarchists of the Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin et al. variety that this would cause. The most explicit point of objection would be to the alleged ability of the state or the government to be legitimately "for the people," as that would be considered wrong and the inability a deficiency of republicanism as opposed to direct democracy. Reference to common ownership hardly does this. Moreover, tax is merely another device used to stabilize capitalism, as the diminishing rate of marginal utility ensures that progressive taxation is able to provide for integral state programs that provide economic sustainment while not harming the financial class to any significant degree.

Incidentally, Marx and Engels primarily focused on the development of anti-capitalist theory rather than socialist theory per se, which had been developed earlier by the likes of Owen, Saint-Simon, Warren, Blanc, Proudhon, etc. And more than that, their conception of the "socialist state" differed dramatically from the liberal democratic capitalist state, to say nothing of the Leninist state that falsely proclaimed itself Marxist.

Who says that welfare stabilizes the market? It is a known fact, even among pro-socialists that welfare creates deadweight losses. It clearly distorts markets and hence favors one side or another, which in fact destabilizes markets.
That's most certainly not true, and I'd refer to Headey et al.'s Is There a Trade-Off Between Economic Efficiency and a Generous Welfare State? A Comparison of Best Cases of `The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism? as an empirical source obviously contrary to that claim. Consider especially the social democratic state's focus on the reduction of unemployment, as that constitutes a reduction of static inefficiency.

A crucial debate in policy-making as well as academic circles is whether there is a trade-off between economic efficiency and the size/generosity of the welfare state. One way to contribute to this debate is to compare the performance of best cases of different types of state. Arguably, in the decade 1985-94, the US, West Germany and the Netherlands were best cases - best economic performers - in what G. Esping-Andersen calls the three worlds of welfare capitalism. The US is a liberal welfare-capitalist state, West Germany a corporatist state, and the Netherlands is social democratic in its tax-transfer system, although not its labor market policies. These three countries had rates of economic growth per capita as high or higher than other rich countries of their type, and the lowest rates of unemployment. At a normative or ideological level the three types of state have the same goals but prioritise them differently. The liberal state prioritises economic growth and efficiency, avoids work disincentives, and targets welfare benefits only to those in greatest need. The corporatist state aims to give priority to social stability, especially household income stability, and social integration. The social democratic welfare state claims high priority for minimising poverty, inequality and unemployment. Using ten years of panel data for each country, we assess indicators of their short (one year), medium (five year) and longer term (ten year) performance in achieving economic and welfare goals. Overall, in this time period, the Netherlands achieved the best performance on the welfare goals to which it gave priority, and equalled the other two states on most of the goals to which they gave priority. This result supports the view that there is no necessary trade-off between economic efficiency and a generous welfare state.
That said, I'd still refer to the failures of social democracy to eliminate the inefficiencies spawned by a capitalist economy. Only a legitimately socialist economy and the radical re-organization of property rights that it entails could ensure that.

My explanation above applies again. TRUE free marketers are not for any such government interference (things like TARP included) because we believe that the market can self-correct itself through the natural laws of economics- supply and demand primarily. It is when the government has gotten involved that bubbles and massive recessions have formed as the current economic crisis, the Great Depression, etc. prove.
"True free marketers" merely support a theoretical abstraction with no history of successful implementation that would be burdened by the likes of negative externalities, market power, and asymmetric information to a far greater extent than exist presently.
 
Mar 2009
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#6
The exact premise of this thread was that state programs inaccurately described as "socialist" are in fact not so. Socialism necessitates the collective ownership and management of the means of production.
Dirk is going to love this statement. I think he may be an anarchist :D (or maybe not?) but he also said exactly the same thing. Are you a cousin of his?

PS: I really like your Avatar, does it have a special meaning?
 
Apr 2009
1,943
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Disunited Queendom
#7
Socialism works very well in Scotland.

Scotland has her National health service which is of a high standard where no one is left behind. It would be good although almost impossible to see an American National health service where healthcare is free to all who need it. I really hope that Obama delivers on his manifesto promises on healthcare, if he doesn't I will be very dissapointed indeed!

I want to see the change!
Social democracy is far different from socialism. That's precisely what he's saying.

Dirk is going to love this statement.
Indeed i do.

I think he may be an anarchist :D (or maybe not?) but he also said exactly the same thing.
I prefer the term "libertarian socialist" but yes.

Are you a cousin of his?
I'm pretty sure they're not related to me. :p

I have three cousins in Germany.

PS: I really like your Avatar, does it have a special meaning?
If you look closely, you'll find it consists of a star and two flags. the star is similar to the one in my avatar and the flags are that of anarcho-syndicalism. The colours of the star also represent the same ideology.
 
Mar 2009
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#13
If you look closely, you'll find it consists of a star and two flags. the star is similar to the one in my avatar and the flags are that of anarcho-syndicalism. The colours of the star also represent the same ideology.
I noticed that too. Must be wonderful to discover your own perfect twin online .... :D

About the left taking over. Where? I thought in the UK political sentiment was moving to the right? Or am I mistaken?
 
Apr 2009
1,943
5
Disunited Queendom
#14
I noticed that too. Must be wonderful to discover your own perfect twin online .... :D

About the left taking over. Where? I thought in the UK political sentiment was moving to the right? Or am I mistaken?
Actually, it's nothing to do with society itself.

There are two main parties in the UK. The Labour Party were to the left, but have been moving rapidly into the authoritarian right. This makes the right wing party, The Conservative Party, look as if they are for freedom. Economics has nothing to do with it, since there appears at the moment to be no difference between the two parties. Both capitalist.

You'll also find, with research, that the centrist party, the Liberal Democrats, are actually garnering quite a lot support. They are now actually further left than the other parties and "liberal" is in the real definition - not the American one. So, they are for greater freedom. A lot of disenchanted Labour supporters are supporting the Lib Dems.

In conclusion, it is not society that is moving to the right, but the previously left main political party.

The Labour Party used to be on the left but are moving to the authoritarian right.

The Conservative Party is the traditional party of the right. But the leader, David Cameron, tries to appear on the libertarian right. But in reality, he too is on the authoritarian right.

The Liberal Democrats are the centrist party. they're not moving anywhere. But while they are the third largest party and almost everyone on the left's second choice, it's generally accepted that they probably won't get into power - due to being a minor party.
 
#15
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/09/top-u-s-socialist-says-barack-obama-is-not-one-of-them/

So if the United States has elected a socialist president, the socialists must be pretty excited, right? Claiming just a single U.S. Senator (Vermonter Bernie Sanders) and exactly zero members of the House of Representatives as their own, putting a socialist in the White House would represent the greatest achievement of any socialist alive today.

But there's just one problem. The socialists won't claim Obama as their own. They won't even call him a socialist.

Frank Llewellyn, the National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America, the country's largest socialist organization, said Obama is most definitely not one of them. "He's not any kind of socialist at all," Llewellyn told me this week. He called the president "a market guy," which is hardly a compliment coming from a man with serious reservations about market capitalism.

"He's not challenging the power of the corporations," Llewellyn added. "The banking reforms that have been suggested are not particularly far reaching. He says we must have room for innovation, but we had innovation -- look where it got us. So I just...I can't..I mean it's laugh out loud, really."

Llewellyn offered his belief that Republicans have historically called opponents "socialists" in order to stop moderate reforms, and that the new stickiness of the Obama/socialist association is one part misinformation, one part ignorance. "The Republicans are doing the same thing they did when Roosevelt was president -- confusing somebody who is trying to save capitalism from itself with somebody who is trying to destroy it. (Obama) is not trying to destroy capitalism."

Llewellyn did, however, have kind words for GOP Chairman Michael Steele, to whom he suggested -- and it sounded only half-in-jest -- he owes a thank you note. "We have more media attention as a result of this stuff than anything else in the last 10 years," he said.
I as a socialist can't help but laugh either. ;)
 
Mar 2009
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#16
The Conservative Party is the traditional party of the right. But the leader, David Cameron, tries to appear on the libertarian right. But in reality, he too is on the authoritarian right.
Thanks for the explanation. Sort of makes good sense, except does David Cameron really have any policies, looks as though he is just maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat and just saying what is polite? :)
 
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Jan 2009
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#18
Incidentally, Marx and Engels primarily focused on the development of anti-capitalist theory rather than socialist theory per se, which had been developed earlier by the likes of Owen, Saint-Simon, Warren, Blanc, Proudhon, etc. And more than that, their conception of the "socialist state" differed dramatically from the liberal democratic capitalist state, to say nothing of the Leninist state that falsely proclaimed itself Marxist.
At the same time though you CAN NOT call the economy during the Bush years capitalist either. You CAN NOT call what you seem to think are state-sponsored "stabilizing" programs as capitalism.



That's most certainly not true, and I'd refer to Headey et al.'s Is There a Trade-Off Between Economic Efficiency and a Generous Welfare State? A Comparison of Best Cases of `The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism? as an empirical source obviously contrary to that claim. Consider especially the social democratic state's focus on the reduction of unemployment, as that constitutes a reduction of static inefficiency.
States are not effective in reducing unemployment or inefficiency- in fact they breed it. Taxes and such create market distortions and deadweight losses and that is inefficient. As for the article you linked to it really depends on the economic theory to which you adhere- people of the Austrian school will completely disagree with that piece. You really can't pass it as fact and if you actually look at the numbers over world history you will find that the state does create inefficiency. It is also important to remember that with every tax, successful parts of the market are suppressed and with welfare unsuccessful parts are boosted. If these programs did not exist the market would still survive- you may see more bankruptcy, but that is not a bad thing because you would also see more growth in those firms who are successful and good assets would always stay afloat. In the end, without the bureaucracy and price restraints, this would also mean a more productive and prosperous market for both the consumer and the producer.


"True free marketers" merely support a theoretical abstraction with no history of successful implementation that would be burdened by the likes of negative externalities, market power, and asymmetric information to a far greater extent than exist presently.
It is because there have been very little if any chances given to true free markets. Now on the other hand, I want you to tell me when the interventionist theories have created prosperity over the long run that a free market would not have been able to beat. On top of all of that there are also the moral standards, but that is for another conversation.
 
Mar 2009
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#19
States are not effective in reducing unemployment or inefficiency- in fact they breed it. Taxes and such create market distortions and deadweight losses and that is inefficient. As for the article you linked to it really depends on the economic theory to which you adhere- people of the Austrian school will completely disagree with that piece. You really can't pass it as fact and if you actually look at the numbers over world history you will find that the state does create inefficiency. It is also important to remember that with every tax, successful parts of the market are suppressed and with welfare unsuccessful parts are boosted. If these programs did not exist the market would still survive- you may see more bankruptcy, but that is not a bad thing because you would also see more growth in those firms who are successful and good assets would always stay afloat. In the end, without the bureaucracy and price restraints, this would also mean a more productive and prosperous market for both the consumer and the producer.
I agree with this. I also agree with Agnapostate in the negative, i.e. I see socialist governments encouraging unemployment by creating helpless victims who are so pampered that they cannot get out to help themselves. Some socialist Governments like in Germany enforce early retirement, so that in many cases people who could have contributed to the economy are forced to retire earlier. Also, if you do have so many socialist benefits, it is quite easy for young people to get on them, stay on them, or abuse them, and more difficult for them to get out of them.
 
Apr 2009
1,943
5
Disunited Queendom
#20
Thanks for the explanation. Sort of makes good sense, except does David Cameron really have any policies, looks as though he is just maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat and just saying what is polite? :)
Well, if you look at the www.conservatives.com]Conservative Party website[/url], you'll find stated policies. However, he's become a part of the exact same effect he described as "punch and judy" politics - argument for argument's sake.

He basically has to say certain things, for example, keeping the NHS, because otherwise he has no chance being voted in.

In 2005, he wrote the Conservative Party manifesto. Which they loved. But, er, nobody else did. And it lost them the election. He realised that saying what the Conservatives really stood for was never going to win them the election. So he basically tells everyone what they want to hear.

"I am the heir to Blair." ~ David Cameron

(Tony Blair was a popular Labour leader and former Prime Minister)

"I'm a liberal Conservative" ~ David cameron

(A reference to the Liberal Democrats, the centrist party)

"I'm a Conservative to the very heart of my being" ~ David Cameron

(Quoted in The Telegraph - a corporately owned newspaper supporting the Conservative Party)

I thought someone pointed out there is no real socialism either in the US or the UK. They don't know what the meaning of the word is? Refer many good postings on this by Dirk.
Glad you liked them. There is a socialist movement, but there is a misrepresentation of socialism in society.

In fact, there are two socialist movements.

There is an authoritarian socialist movement - this is essentially the idea of democracy throughout society with decentralised democratic control over the means of production, public services and social security.

Then there is libertarian socialism. This is a movement that aims to bring down the state and, by association, capitalism. It is a free market movement that aims to abolish the scourge of capitalism by removing its source. It gives the individual personal responsibility and abolishes all illegitemate authority. I am a libertarian socialist.

Authoritarian socialism is so-called because it exists in conjunction with the state, not because it's dictatorial, i'd like to point out. All properly socialist political parties are authoritarian socialists. Libertarian socialists see voting as a charade and a waste of time.

As you can see from this, the American "Liberalism", is in no way socialist. In fact, it is better represented by the "third way" ideal. The "third way" is the economic system adopted by the Nazi party in Germany, with that very terminology. That is why David accuses the democrats of being neo-nazis.

myp is at least partially correct. There is much discussion over the exact requirements and limitations for a capitalist system. I have no idea which model he is using, so he may well be correct, in his own way, in that the US and UK do not have capitalism. However, personally, i perceived his point to be centred on that America or Britain do not have free market capitalism. And never literally have had it completely. Now, there have been instances where it has been close in both countries, but he is correct. However, seeing as absolute free market capitalism is a physical legal impossibility, that's hardly surprising.
 

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