- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I suspect someone 'cooked' your statistics

Posted by: DonS ( USA ) on July 20, 1999 at 10:45:06:

In Reply to: Capitalism, the real failed system posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on July 19, 1999 at 19:45:23:

: : DonS: Socialism is the common ownership of the means of production. It is a social-economic system, and by no means has to be democratic.

: Well, since democracy means "rule by the people", if there is common ownership ( = popular ownership) of the means of production this means that the economy, at least, is democratically run. I agree that this need not NECESSARILY imply democracy in the political realm. But in practice, the most successful examples of socoialism have taken place in participatory democratic societies. If political democracy is absent, it is unlikely that true socialism can be achieved, because it will be possible for an unrepresentative elite to seize power over the means ofproduction, ionstead of teh people. As happened in China and other countries.

(Don): In capitalism, production mirrors demand. The consumers determine production, in other words. This to me seems like the optimum system.

(Don): How, in your system, is production determined? Do we vote to determine what the factories produce? How many bushals of corn should we vote to produce this year?

: : : Market socialism is what they had in Yugoslavia, to some extent, or what they're tryoing to build in Eritrea. A significant part of teh economy is owned by teh people, but these industries are expected to make a profit. It's not perfect because it still forces companies to obey the dictates of teh market (possibly to lay off workers, etc.) but it is at leats better than market capitalism.

: : DonS: Sounds kinda like fascism to me. In fact, IT IS FASCISM, if these private companies are government controlled! "Market socialism" is an oxymoron. The correct term is "fascism", it's just that modern socialists have a bad impression of fascism due to the '30s brand of nationalistic fascism, that they refuse to see the close relationship between fascism and socialism.

: I could be wrong, but I believe you're misusing the term fascism. "fascism" derives from the Latin "fasces", a bundle of sticks and an axe taht was intended to symbolize the power to inflict corporal and capital punishment. As such, power and authoritarianism are connoted by the term fascism. Fascism, when invented by Mussolini, was defined in opposition to communism.

(Don): Fascism was also defined in opposition to capitalism. Fascism was supposed to aviod the pitfalls of the free market while offering more freedom than socialism. Fascists rail against capitalists as well as communists.

: : DonS: A good example of the closeness of fascism and socialism is FDR's New Deal. It was supported by the American Communist Party, but it can also be seen as being fascist in nature. The New Deal was a step towards socialism--but it was also a step towards fascism.
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: As I said, you can define fascism any way you like, but thsi definition is not one I've seen before. Whatever you say.

(Don): There is a proper definition, of course. I know that there is a common loose definition of fascism which includes "jack boots" and "brown shirts" and similar emotional images, and that this definition is usefull in political debate, but I believe the correct, technical definition of fascism is that it is an economic system in which the means of production is privetly owned but publicaly controlled, and that historically it was a system designed to split the difference between socialism and capitalism. It was the "middle path".

: : : A regulated mixed economy is fascism? Are you joking? fascism refers toa specific political system, in which a conservative dictatorship is run with the broad support of the business class and on the basis of nationalism. As such, "socialist fascism" is an oxymoron. A regulated moixed ecvonomy siu what they have in india, teh world's largest democracy.

: : DonS: Fascism is a social-economic system, just as socialism is. In socialism, the means of production is owned by the government. In fascism, it is mostly privitly owned, but publicly controlled. Fascism is the "middle path" between capitalism and socialism.

: No, the West didn';t see it taht way, nor did teh Germans. They saw themselve sin opposition tgo communism. Also, "market socialism" is not the same as what you define as fascism. Under market socialism, the means of production are publicly opwned, but are expected to make a profit and follow the vagaries of teh market.

Don: The Nazis saw themselves as opposed to both capitalism and communism.

Don: Based upon your definition of "market socialism", I have to agree that it is not fascism.

: :Fascism does not define the political system explicitly any more than socialism or capitalism does. In principle, any one can be democratic, republican, monarchist, or dictorial. Nazism is a specific form of fascism which is highly nationalistic and dictorial, just as communism is a specific form of socialism which is internationalist and highly centralized.

: 1) communism is not centralized, necessarily; Marxism, in fact, calls for teh abo;lition of the state.

Don: OK. But it is still a specific form of socialism.

: 2)if that is your defition of fascism, then I guess most of us here are somewhat fascist, biut as I said, I'm not buying it.

Don: Sorry, but fascism was designed to split the difference between capitalism and communism, and it was opposed to both systems.

: : DonS: India is not a true democracy, but rather a republic.
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: Actually, it's a "Sovereign Secular Socialist Democratic Republic". What country IS a true democracy, then?

Don: There are none.

: : : So you are not a supporter of economic democracy? Do you not like political democracy either/ or do you like having no control over your labor power, seeing the fruits of your work go to line the pockets of your boss?

: : DonS: Above all else, I support individual freedom. I live in a nation that was intended to be a constitutional republic with strict limits on federal power--the US. Most of the limits on federal power have eroded, and while the US remains a republic it is no longer a *constitutional republic*. The federal government is clearly the greatest threat to my rights.

: Well, I disagree, I think that the business class is the greatest threat to all our freedoms. Long live the Federals!

Don: The Feds have massive military power, and they use it on citizens and forign refugees alike. They require a significant portion of my paycheck, which they then use to regulate my life (the portion they don't use to blow people up). And you think GM, McDonald's, and Microsoft are somehow a bigger threat!

: : DonS: I think the term "economic democracy" is nonsense. Democracy is a political system, not an economic one.

: But you can extend teh same idea analogously to teh economic realm.

Don: If you do that, the most "democratic" economic system in existance is capitalism. We all get to "vote" as consumers. In fact, my acts as a consumer probably have more effect than my voting in political elections does. When I buy something (or don't buy something) I have at least a minute impact on the company that produced the item. My activities as a consumer have consequences. My influence as a voter is insignificant, unless I swing the vote (this ignores any impact I might have in pols, letter writing, etc.).

: :Democracy means everyone votes on every issue.

: "Participates" as well as "votes".

Don: Does being assaulted by the feds count as "participating"?

Don: Your definition of democracy is so loose, it could be applied to just about any system. In the USSR, you could vote. You could vote for the Communist Party official, or you could not vote for him. That is a form of participation as well.

: :No modern nation state is a true democracy. No large nation state could operate as a democracy. The most democratic way to run an economic system is the free-market, where each individual consumer makes his own, personal decisions.

: Yes, and where 90% of people lack the resources to be able to make any choices or free decisions worth making. "Shall I sell my daughter to a brothel or let my family starve", wow, what a great choice./ "Shall I take the night shift and ruin my health or ruin my family's income payying for daycare", another brilliant choice.

Don: I have never met anyone who had to make those decisions. The people I know are all working class. They have excellenct living standards, good jobs, and personal and economic freedom.

: : I know this is not what you mean whan you say "economic democracy". You mean some sort of socialist system, which means government control of the economy. Which leads to a failing system and a loss of personal freedom.

: I still await any demonstration that socialist systems lead to teh los of any freedom. As far as I can see, to make choices you need resources to be able to actualize those choices, and capitalism denies people these resources. For example, a worker under capitalism may make the choice to travel somewhere, but teh choice is vacuous because he hasn't got the money.

Don: Under capitalism, the worker can find some way of obtaining the money. He can save money, or he can use credit and borrow against his future, or he can take a second job or make moeny on the side.

: As for "failure", consider this. Invariably, the highest levels of social indicators in Third World countries are in those countries that have gone socialist. Kerala, run by Communists on and off since '57, has 95% literacy, a life expectancy of 70 years, a birth rate lower than America's, an infant mortality rate of about 18/1000, the most social, economic anf gender equality in India, total religious tolerance....First World indicators in one of india's poorest states, all thanks to communism. Cuba has a life expectanmcy longer than America's and the most accessible, best health care system in teh hemisphere- it has also the lowest birth rate and the highets literacy rate, buch better than America's. Invariably, the most progress in education, health care, and standard of living for the population as a whole have come in states like Kerala, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, and Vietnam which went socialist or communist. If you wnat more statistics, just ask. In contrast, the only states which ahve seen a long-term erosion in standard of living (with teh exception of Nigeria and a few otehr highly corrupt states) are Jamaica and teh Eastern Ueropean countries- all of which wnet from socialism to capitalism. The inference seems plain. Capitalism is teh system taht has manifestly failed at ensuring a good life for the majority of teh world's population, and wherever socilism has been adopted it has doen much better.

Don: I disagree. Socialism has failed in Eastern Europe, the USSR, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. I suspect your statistics--I remember a few years ago when the US "poverty" rate was considered too high: but people living in "poverty" in the US had a better standard of living than the average level in France. I suspect someone "cooked" your statistics, like the USSR used to do when they claimed to have eliminated violent crime.

Don: Please give me more statistics, and a source if possible. I would like to look into this more.

: : DonS: As far as having "no control over my labor power", I do in fact have control. I can leave my job and go someplace else if I decide I don't like my current job.

: Control is a relative term. many people would not consider you to have control, because you, me, and all otehr non-capiatlists must sell our labor power in order to survive, and are thsiu sperarted from the fruits of our labor.

Don: I think you have it backwards. I will most definitly be seperated from the fruits of my labor in a socialist system. In a capitalist system, my labor commands market value. In a socialist system, it will command whatever value the government places on it. I can not go to another company to get a better value--I'm stuck.

: :The "fruits of my labor lining the pockets of my boss"? The fruits of my labor also line my pocket.

: Not enough, though. The boss's input of capital is useless, it is not objectively relevant to the production of the good, it is extraneous. Therefore, he isn't entitled to any share of the production value, since his input of capital does not conrtibute in any way to the production of teh good. You ought to get 100% of the value of teh good, if you don't then you're being fleeced, as are we all.

Don: Excuse me, but my boss has contributed greatly to the company I work for. He has mentored me, teaching me a considerable amount about electrical engineering. He does a good job managing me and the other engineers and techs under him. He is a great engineer, who has an excellent overview of the systems we work on. He makes mistakes, like anyone else, but he makes great contributions.

: :The fruits of my boss's labor also line my pocket. The relationship between my boss and me is mutually beneficial. It it fails to be so in the future, either one of us can sever the relationship.

: yes, but then you'll be forced to work for anotehr boss, same old story.

Don: There are good bosses, and bad ones. There are good jobs, and bad ones. And I can cut out on my own like some of my friends did, and become a consultant. Or start some other buisness . . .

: : DonS: What I resent are the fruits of my labor lining the government's pockets. What I resent are those people on welfare who are fit to work but who would rather stay at home and collect the fruits of *my* labor. My boss works for his money; he also helps to make my job, and the company I work for, possible. If he is paid too much (more than his market value), the company will pay in the end. The "capitalist pig" investors will pay for the mistake. Not me. I can find another job.

: : :

: I have no problem with welfare., I fidn it coercive and offensive to tell people on welfare HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES. THEY ARE ENTITLED TO OUR HELP SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY'RE HUMAN.

Don: I don't want to tell people on welfare how to run their lives. I just don't want the IRS forcing me to hand over money I worked for so they can turn it over to other government workers, who will keep about half, then turn the rest over to people who are young and fit and stay in bed all day doing drugs.

Don: If you want to help people on welfare, fine. The government should not take money from working Americans to hand over to those who refuse to work.

Don: Further, you miss a big point here: if someone is giving you money, and they don't like the way you spend it, they have EVERY right to stop giving you money. Likewise with money from the government. If the government is giving you welfare money, it has every right to cut it off if you don't spend per the governments requirments. This is the other problem with welfare: people on the public dole have given up their rights.

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