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Forums - Politics Discussion - What is "socialism"? - An attempt to clear up myths/misconceptions

sc94597 said:
vivster said:

I know that capitalism is not about competition. Pure capitalism seeks to dominate everything. The competition and stability is made by the regulation of the state.

My employer does make a profit from me. For that I do get compensated in a fair enough way. You say it yourself, exploitation doesn't have to be evil and is done by good people, sometimes with the best intentions. So why are you talking about it as if it was evil? Maybe it's a necessary evil to keep things going?

I had a very similar discussion with a hardcore neoliberal who would love nothing more than pure capitalism in all sectors. The truth is, you cannot slap a perfect system onto inherently flawed individuals. It doesn't work and will become unstable very quickly. You will have to have compromises to appease the most amount of people in the most moderate way. I think Germany found a very stable compromise. A compromise not everyone will agree with, but a compromise that will keep things running with a maximum amount of stability.

Changing sociopolitical conditions are not an argument for anything. Every single social and economic system is vulnerable to changing situations. It's about to be as robust as possible. And neither full capitalism nor full socialism are as robust as the compromise we have here.

I don't talk about exploitation "as if it is evil", in fact I am a moral skeptic and don't necessarily believe in a universal "good" and "evil." Something doesn't have to be evil for it to not be in your interests to accept though. It's in my interests to have full autonomy over my work-life and to reap as much of my labor-product as possible. That the employer is making profits off of my  labor and not merely his/hers implies that they have disproportionate bargaining power, that they can take what would typically be mine because they were given more economic privilege than me by the state. Why do they have that disproportionate bargaining power? Because the state protects and subsidizes them. Sure the state might also give me welfare, but is that welfare sufficient to cover my loss labor-product? Furthermore, employment agreements reduce my autonomy in how I work, how much I work, and under which conditions I work in a way without me directly being party to the deliberations. That the state might bargain for what it thinks are my interests is not the same thing as me bargaining for my interests. Additionally, many people exploit others not because they wish to, but because that is what pays in a capitalist society. In an alternative society exploitation wouldn't pay though, and people would live at their own costs. 

Something doesn't have to be evil for me to oppose it. 

Socialism isn't a perfect system. There is no such thing. But it is sure better than capitalism, in the same way capitalism was better than feudalism. Certainly you wouldn't argue in the 17th century that we need a mix of capitalism and feudalism. To say that one should compromise between socialism and capitalism is just as absurd as saying one should've compromised between capitalism and feudalism. Why not systematically eliminate the privilege and inequality? Why stop half way? 

"And neither full capitalism nor full socialism are as robust as the compromise we have here." 

1. There is no such thing as "full capitalism" and "full socialism." There is merely capitalism (which takes different characteristics) and socialism. What you are holding sacred is a variety of capitalism. It's not a "mix of capitalism and socialism." 

2. How do you know its the most robust? It has not yet been tested. Social democracy is a pretty new thing, and Europe has only been at peace for a little more than half a century. That is a very small blimp in a history of turbulence. Now I am not saying that one need empirical evidence to argue the case that their sacred system is stable, but I am suggesting that social democracy is more rigid and hierarchical than actual socialism would be, and consequently under conditions of crisis those at the bottom of the hierarchy would be the most harmed. 

Millions of immigrants over decades, safe pensions and ever increasing economic power is not being tested? We haven't had any civil wars or are even close to it. I think that nothing has happened to truly test it is actually the result of the test.

But of course we don't know what the future holds. No system is completely safe, but I feel that we have put so many safeguards against collapse into place that I can sleep well at night and that's the most important thing.

Completely eliminating privilege is bound to spark bad things. Yes, it would be awesome if everyone had the same stuff but that is not how human brains work. You cannot go completely against human nature because human nature will rebel and bring everything down with it. To be stable does not mean to give everyone the same privilege. Because people don't operate that way. Some people will always feel more privileged. So a robust system would take measures to appease both sides so they will not rebel. It's not perfect at all because both sides will be disadvantaged at some point but that is needed to go on with society.



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Most of all, Socialism is an idea that works really well in the minds of people who like to theorise an awful lot. It sounds so great on paper, doesn't it? Justice for all, no oppression of the working class... but it doesn't really work that well in real life. (Had so many discussions about "Utopia" and robots doing all the work with a friend of mine. He now invests in real estate xD)



vivster said:

Millions of immigrants over decades, safe pensions and ever increasing economic power is not being tested? We haven't had any civil wars or are even close to it. I think that nothing has happened to truly test it is actually the result of the test.

But of course we don't know what the future holds. No system is completely safe, but I feel that we have put so many safeguards against collapse into place that I can sleep well at night and that's the most important thing.

Completely eliminating privilege is bound to spark bad things. Yes, it would be awesome if everyone had the same stuff but that is not how human brains work. You cannot go completely against human nature because human nature will rebel and bring everything down with it. To be stable does not mean to give everyone the same privilege. Because people don't operate that way. Some people will always feel more privileged. So a robust system would take measures to appease both sides so they will not rebel. It's not perfect at all because both sides will be disadvantaged at some point but that is needed to go on with society.

The demographic crisis is just starting. China and Europe are both going to be hit hard in the coming decades because of the replacement rates and aging populations. If anything, mass immigration might be Europe's only option. 

Completely eliminating privilege is not the same thing as everybody having the same thing. It's the same thing as everyone playing on a fair field where all costs and decisions are internalized by those who make them and not put onto others without their consent. Human nature is a spook, and doesn't actually exist. There is no universal "nature" which can be ascribed to the 7 billion persons on this planet. Each individual has different wants, interests, goals, abilities, and disabilities. When we speak of "human nature" we gloss over that. 



Rogerioandrade said:
The idea the workers being the owners of the "system" but, at the same time, being forbidden to have private property are just uncompatible. Socialism is basically an idea that never works.

Private property is different from personal property.



sc94597 said:

Mar1217 said: 

Social-Democracy all the way baby !!

Yuck. I am not big on Marx, but I think he gets a lot right in his Critique of the Gotha Programme. Social democracy is more right-wing than the liberalism it purports to replace. Its intention is to maintain capitalist norms by bribing the poor with their own labor-product and using the capitalist state as the mediator, rather than giving them control over the natural wealth they are due. 

It is not even all that clear that social democracy is stable. It seems especially sensitive to rapid demographic changes (aging population, too low immigration, too high immigration, etc.) 

Rather than put band-aids on the fundamental inequalities in society, we should focus on the root of these inequalities in the first place. The class monopolies that states produce through the granting of privilege via its monopoly on the legitimization of violence are where we should look first. Why exactly does the capitalist class have such disproportionate bargaining power which allows it to exploit the working classes? Because the state used violence to give it these monopolies on resources, intellectual property, the movement of labor, and social institutions relating to finance. What happens when the state no longer gives them these monopolies? What happens when the capitalists must join the workers because their position and privileges have been degraded? That's a more interesting question! 

In my opinion capitalism is in some way necessary because people don't want take risks if there is no reward. So if everyone would own everything society wouldn't progress because no one would pay more taxes than others because no one would start up new companies and earn more money. That's why social democratism is the best possible social system.



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Matsku said:

In my opinion capitalism is in some way necessary because people don't want take risks if there is no reward. So if everyone would own everything society wouldn't progress because no one would pay more taxes than others because no one would start up new companies and earn more money. That's why social democratism is the best possible social system.

Who mentioned that everybody would own everything under socialism? Socialism merely is the premise that the workers in associated labor should control the productive capital which they use to perform that labor. People could and would still take planned risks because there are still rewards achieved by reducing the costs of production. It just so happens that you can only profit under socialism by actually reducing costs rather than externalizing them on to others. 

There are also many ways people can be motivated to achieve something without financial profit. 



vivster said:
DonFerrari said:

If you think German legal system protects the worker come look at Brazil for the absurd of trying to kill the companies off to benefit the workers and all the vilification of the entrepreneurs.

That doesn't seem to be the right way though. Oppressing companies too much will hurt the workers in the long term and that is not very social at all. It seems more like a misguided attempt at reactionary governing than actual socialist policy.

Of course it isn't the right way, but the left wing in Brazil want to increase the labor laws and oppress companies even more (of course the most oppressed ones are the small companies where the owner have very little financial power to withhold all the changes and pressures) so the bankruptcy statistic in Brazil are quite big.

People really don't understand that the government doesn't give anything that it didn't first took from someone else and that it is usually from the very people they say they are giving. In such a way that for you to pay 1k/month to an employee you end up paying another 1k to the government and aditional 250-500 as benefits to the employee.. so it will cost you 2,5k to employ while the employee will only see 1k and all will accuse the employer of exploiting the employee...

But in reality government take from 40 to 50% of everyone income as taxes.

Socialism policy is indeed suffocate capitalism until everything becomes socialism.

vivster said:
sc94597 said:

Because its capitalism, and does not systematically oppose absolutist institutions in the economy. Socialism isn't merely about being "social" it's about having full compensation for all workers for the work they've completed. It's about destroying fundamental inequalities built into the norms of the system which make people dependent on welfare and the capitalist state in the first place. It's about obtaining as much autonomy, power, and control over your work-life and conditions as is possible. It's always been about these things. Capitalism =|= competition nor does it equal stability. It is a system based on monopoly, hierarchy, and power. Some forms of capitalism are more stable than others, but at the end of the day there is still tons of instability. 

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/exploited

to utilize, especially for profit; turn to practical account:

One does not have to feel exploited to be exploited. The existence of exploitation is an objective observation, not a whim. Your employer reaps profits off your work which could've gone to you and your peers instead. The only thing your employer brings into the equation which can't be brought by you and your peers is capital, and the employer earns disproportionate profits because of it. Do you deny that capitalists make profits off their laborers? Exploitation isn't the same thing as being an asshole. Perfectly good people exploit others. 

Your trust in the finality of the state seems like a misplaced fixed idea. How spooky. States can change very rapidly as sociopolitical conditions change, and when they do, they likely won't have your "back at all times." The world isn't some static entity with fixed social dynamics, and there are strong pressures on the stability of states. For example, demographic problems are hitting Europe and Asia pretty hard, and we're only now seeing how flexible the social institutions found in these countries are to these pressures. All states eventually come to an end, and when they do who is going to foot the costs? Definitely not those at the top of the hierarchy. 

I know that capitalism is not about competition. Pure capitalism seeks to dominate everything. The competition and stability is made by the regulation of the state.

My employer does make a profit from me. For that I do get compensated in a fair enough way. You say it yourself, exploitation doesn't have to be evil and is done by good people, sometimes with the best intentions. So why are you talking about it as if it was evil? Maybe it's a necessary evil to keep things going?

I had a very similar discussion with a hardcore neoliberal who would love nothing more than pure capitalism in all sectors. The truth is, you cannot slap a perfect system onto inherently flawed individuals. It doesn't work and will become unstable very quickly. You will have to have compromises to appease the most amount of people in the most moderate way. I think Germany found a very stable compromise. A compromise not everyone will agree with, but a compromise that will keep things running with a maximum amount of stability.

Changing sociopolitical conditions are not an argument for anything. Every single social and economic system is vulnerable to changing situations. It's about to be as robust as possible. And neither full capitalism nor full socialism are as robust as the compromise we have here.

It isn't the government that regulate and create competition (government usually creates oligopolies) what end up creating competition is the powers of the market... like if a company is to greedy and put a high price on a product it will open itself to someone seeing an opportunity to self similar product cheaper. If a company rely to strongly on what it already achieved and stagnate it will open a spot for someone to offer something newer and better, etc.

Your employer profit from you and you profit from him. After all he will risk some Million/Billions on a product or factory and if everyone do their best he will get like 5% profit, while employees take no risk, don't put their money and receive paycheck it is a good compromise that anyone that think is not being paid well enough can either look for another company or open his own... because since it is such an exploitation it must be easy to make money out of other people work and certainly doesn't show off on how many companies go under.

About the liberalism... it is a system that works because it bet on people imperfections themselves... it knows people are egoistic and look out for what is best to themselves, and when everyone do what is best for him they collectively end up doing what is better for all. 

sc94597 said:
vivster said:

Millions of immigrants over decades, safe pensions and ever increasing economic power is not being tested? We haven't had any civil wars or are even close to it. I think that nothing has happened to truly test it is actually the result of the test.

But of course we don't know what the future holds. No system is completely safe, but I feel that we have put so many safeguards against collapse into place that I can sleep well at night and that's the most important thing.

Completely eliminating privilege is bound to spark bad things. Yes, it would be awesome if everyone had the same stuff but that is not how human brains work. You cannot go completely against human nature because human nature will rebel and bring everything down with it. To be stable does not mean to give everyone the same privilege. Because people don't operate that way. Some people will always feel more privileged. So a robust system would take measures to appease both sides so they will not rebel. It's not perfect at all because both sides will be disadvantaged at some point but that is needed to go on with society.

The demographic crisis is just starting. China and Europe are both going to be hit hard in the coming decades because of the replacement rates and aging populations. If anything, mass immigration might be Europe's only option. 

Completely eliminating privilege is not the same thing as everybody having the same thing. It's the same thing as everyone playing on a fair field where all costs and decisions are internalized by those who make them and not put onto others without their consent. Human nature is a spook, and doesn't actually exist. There is no universal "nature" which can be ascribed to the 7 billion persons on this planet. Each individual has different wants, interests, goals, abilities, and disabilities. When we speak of "human nature" we gloss over that. 

There is no leveled play field since people have different capabilities... and although everyone likes to paint human as the most evil creatures on the world, you won't find species that take good care of the elderly to the point human does, won't find the level of empathy for the disabled, etc.



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Louie said:
Most of all, Socialism is an idea that works really well in the minds of people who like to theorise an awful lot. It sounds so great on paper, doesn't it? Justice for all, no oppression of the working class... but it doesn't really work that well in real life. (Had so many discussions about "Utopia" and robots doing all the work with a friend of mine. He now invests in real estate xD)

Yep...in the end, everything ends at government controlling almost every single aspect of social, economic, and individual life. It never works.



DonFerrari said:

sc94597 said:

The demographic crisis is just starting. China and Europe are both going to be hit hard in the coming decades because of the replacement rates and aging populations. If anything, mass immigration might be Europe's only option. 

Completely eliminating privilege is not the same thing as everybody having the same thing. It's the same thing as everyone playing on a fair field where all costs and decisions are internalized by those who make them and not put onto others without their consent. Human nature is a spook, and doesn't actually exist. There is no universal "nature" which can be ascribed to the 7 billion persons on this planet. Each individual has different wants, interests, goals, abilities, and disabilities. When we speak of "human nature" we gloss over that. 

There is no leveled play field since people have different capabilities... and although everyone likes to paint human as the most evil creatures on the world, you won't find species that take good care of the elderly to the point human does, won't find the level of empathy for the disabled, etc.

Leveled playing field =|= equality in outcome, so I don't know why you're speaking about capabilities. 



slab_of_bacon said:
First thing I ask people is: Do you like your roads, schools, and hospitals?........................ Some words are used to fuel an agenda and there are so many other things at play.

Yes, all things built under the violence of taxation.