- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Plenty of countries have socialized their economies in the past

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 21, 19100 at 11:55:06:

In Reply to: Here's a scenario posted by David on January 20, 19100 at 22:33:42:

: : Henry Ford started his system in the ;30s. Correct me if I'm wrong, but cars didn't become widely available till the '50s.

: You also need to keep in mind that there was a depression in the 30s and the war effort during the 40s had most resources tied up (factories included).

Actually, the '50s ecconomic boom stememd from the war expednitures in the '30s and the New Deal. Of course, the much touted '50s boom left behind many areas like Appalachia, but that;s another story.

: Sorry NJ, I am going to have to strongly disagree with you on that point. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the entire economic structure of this country would collapse and you would see nation-wide (if not world wide,

Not at all. Plenty of countries have socialized their economies in the past, and (as long as it was done in a marginally rational and humanitarian way) saw an INCREASE in standard of living and general well-being, not a decrease. Think about this: Between 1980 and 1984, Socialist Nicaragua had the second highest growth rate in teh Western Hemisphere. That means higher than rapidly developing Brazil, higher than 'stable' Costa Rica, higher than that free-market paradise, Chile. The only country with a higher growth rate was Panama, and they don';t count becasue their economy was propped up by American expenditures in the Canal Zone. All this in spite of teh fact that between '81 and '84, the Sandinistas were being targeted by the world's most powerful administration in a duel to the death that took teh form of economic sabotage, resource destruction, trade embargoes, random terrorism and sowing of instablilty.

If communism / socialism are such bad ideas, then how do you explain the growth rate in early-'80s Nicaragua? or for that matter, the fact that Zaimbabwe managed to remain a socialist, semiindustrialized, democracy on a continent which at the time had little industry, little democracy, and even less socialism?

:[think about how much the U.S. drives the world economy])

Actually, America produces products taht mainly feed elites in the third world, not teh people. Cubans seem to be doing pretty well, on average, in spite of teh fact that our 40-year embargo has attempted to make them scream. I doubt your average Nepali farmer is too greatly impacted by the meaningless fluctuations of paper profits on Wall Street.

:famines, chaos, and general disorder. The stock market would crash, causing all the other worlds stock markets to crash, and you would end up with a depression that made the 1930s seem like a golden age.

Again, let me ask; how come none of this happened when country after country socialized their economy?

Famines, by teh way, aren't caused by a lack of food, but by choosing the wrong criteria for distribution. Famiens will ocuur whenever food is distributed on teh basis of money (as in America) or ideological loyalty (as in China) or ethnicity (Rwanda) or any criterion other than need. Your beloved capitalist system seems to be doing quite a good job at perpetuating famines as we speak. There are an estimated 1.2 billion hungry people in the world right now, up from 850 million a couple of years ago. So much for teh 'economic boom'.

: Even if the workers were able to "take back" the capital (factories, machines, etc.) it would be like a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off, running a company is exceptionally complex and requires a lot of learned skills.

Yeah, right. First of all, while a small groupd of capiatlists (corporate boards, etc.) run teh show now, under a liberated economy all the people would be running it together. That means that the total level of competence would be higher, even if the average was lower (which, by the way, it wouldn't be; they're not called the idle rich for nothing). Do you mean to tell me that ten capitalists are smarter than ten thousand workers? Think about that for a moment, and its implications. If you DON"T agree with that piece of elite-aristorcartic wisdom, then the logical conclusion is that workers, collectively, can do a better job of running things than a couple of capitalists.

: However, I would say that this scenario is unlikely, you would not see this kind of AD HOC congealing of labor. No, what you would see is a lot of looting and violence.

The same thing the German Kaiser said to his fermenting labor unrest in the early part of this century. Ironically, at very the same moment, his army was engaged in the conquest of Namibia- bringing about an orgy of 'looting' and 'violence' that rivals anything the world has ever seen. The Junker-capitalist genocide in Namibia killed a greater fraction of the population than the Jewish Holocaust.

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