- Capitalism and Alternatives -

They sold out the communist system to be sure.

Posted by: DonS ( USA ) on August 03, 1999 at 12:32:32:

In Reply to: No it's not posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on August 02, 1999 at 11:58:03:

: : Don: USSR was communist. "State capitalist" is an oxymoron.

: SDF: No it's not. Red Deathy has already explained that the state capitalist systems use state ownership of the economy to turn a profit for the nomenklatura.

Don: The "state capitalist" system never turned a profit, and couldn't even support itself. And it was communist, not "state capitalist". The wealth of the few at the top was not based on a profit, but on the fact that the rulling elite was able to allocate adittional resources for themselves. They sold out the communist system to be sure. As anyone would . . .

:SDF: The fact that economics in the Soviet Union or the PRC was less an ideal picture of capitalism than is described in the glowingly attractive brochures of Adam Smith or Ludwig Von Mises did not make it any less capitalist.

Don: You have it backwards. Just because they didn't achieve your ideal does not mean they were not communist.

:SDF: Furthermore, the system of nomenklatura wasn't really changed in eastern Europe by the Great Bourgeois Cultural Revolution -- afterward, they had the same elites, the same mass poverty, only this time they called the "capitalism," when it was in fact the same economy deteriorating under different ownership, even more rapidly under capitalism than under "communism" in fact.

Don: The mismanagement of the communist past continues to haunt Eastern Europe . . .

:SDF: I tire quickly of explaining things over and over again for the ideologically obtuse.

Don: I can envision you setting up ideological "training centers".

: The reason I am so reluctant to call state capitalism "communism" or "socialism" is simple -- it provides ballast for your blanket arguments that "socialism will never work" (see below). Whereas in one paragraph you are willing to distinguish between RD's utopia and the Soviet Union, in another they are conflated in terms of "socialism will never work." By calling it socialism, I would be encouraging your habits of sloppy thinking about the present and former regimes of state capitalism, and about societies based upon the sharing of goods and services.

Don: I am quite willing to discuss any of your ideas on socialism on their merits, but I am not willing to redefine the USSR and PRC into something other than a form of socialism. I have not heard your vision of socialism yet, and RD has not given me sufficient answers.

: : Don: The transition to a society with more freedom can be quite scary. Furthermore, it takes time to establish a free market, and places such as Russia which maintain state control of most industry inhibit the evolution of a free market. No doubt many people in Eastern Europe yearn for the stability of communism, even if this stability was only an illusion.

: SDF: You missed my quotes in the post at the top. "It takes time to establish a free market," say the more rational procapitalists of eastern Europe, so in that sense you would agree with the people Andor and Summers support. Yet the Market Maoists (the Thatcherists, basically) in charge of the systems (with fierce prodding from the IMF and other enforcers of the "free market") have established a depressed wasteland full of structural nightmares, through the notion that "capitalism" (i.e. fire-sale privatization) can be imposed on a country in a day or two.

Don: I agree it takes a while to get a healthy market working. I tend to think that "cold turkey" is the best way to get off of socialism . . .

: : Don: The market will always exist.

: SDF: Under "socialism," which we aren't supposed to call "state capitalism"?

Don: A black market always existed in the USSR, and some form of market will always exist. Someone will always provide a supply if a demand exists. Even in the absense of money. People will barter, to get what they want. A socialist society will have to provide for everyone's wants in order to prevent this, and I don't see how it can do that.

: : Socialism will never work. The black market always existed in the USSR. They simply ligitimized part of it, and encouraged it to expand to make up for the failures of communism.

: SDF: Since, meaning AFTER, the end of the "failures of communism," the Russian economy has undergone a depression that makes the US phenomenon of 1929-1932 seem like extremely small potatoes. Yeah, sure, capitalism saved Russia. Methinks it was only democracy that did Russia any good, and they're still learning that.

Don: Clearly, the Russians have much to learn. They have never adopted a free market, for one thing. Too much government control of factories remains. My company tried to do buisness in Russia about two years ago, but at that time it simply wasn't possible for us to do buisness with them.

: As Andor and Summers point out, with reference to procapitalist research, marketization in no way indicates superior economic performance. The authors point to the on-again, off-again successes of the (not thoroughly marketized) Japanese and German economies as counterevidence. They further argue that

it is true that privatized firms are often more profitable than when under public ownership. This does not however imply that public firms have been mismanaged. It is more commonly the case that public firms simply have lower regulated profits, to the benefit of consumers.
p. 89

Don: Hmm. The post office raises the cost of stamps, and then you have to go buy 1 cent stamps in order to use the 32 cent ones you bought just before the price raise. Can you imagine a private company that treats it's customers that way?

: : : : Don: Draw even the thinest parallel between Maoism and the Western policies in Eastern Europe . . .

: : : SDF: Go ahead and read MARKET FAILURE, since they do so over the space of 200+ meticulously-researched pages. Or go back and read my post. I've already explained the crux of their argument for why Thatcherists are "Market Maoists". How is it so, DonS, that whenever someone presents an explanation you don't like, you dismiss it out of hand? Are explanations true only if they present themselves as pleasing to you beforehand? Or does there exist something called evidence?

: : Don: I read your post. That is what my point is based on. In your post a thin parallel was drawn, and your argument was based upon that. Your castle has no foundation.

: SDF: More out-of-hand dismissal.

Don: No. You drew a thin parallel (which can always be done), which you then used in an ad-hominism argument.

: : Don: I do not claim the parallel is not true, since I lack the evidence to judge that. I am simply pointing out that it is a thin and specious argument even if it is true. It works with those like you who have bought the argument in advance, and those who lack critical thought. In effect, it is a good propaganda argument, but little more.

: SDF: Everything said three times is true. "It's bad!" "It's bad! "It's bad!" says the above paragraph.

Don: So far all I've seen is a thin parallel leading to an ad-hominism.

: : Don: What other explanations did I dismiss out of hand?

: : Don: As for the book, it is rather expensive. I think the topic is interesting, but I'm not ready to spend that much for (what appears to be) a piece of bare propaganda. Perhaps I can find it in a library . .

: SDF: You never bothered to think about, or even ask me for more information about, what MARKET FAILURE was supposedly propaganda FOR. Andor and Summers are plainly a species of procapitalist -- they do at one point endorse the idea of the "mixed economy." (Before you reach for your keyboard, THINK! Did I say I endorsed every facet of Andor and Summers' point of view? NO, I DIDN'T. It should be obvious by now that what I endorse is their attack upon "Market Maoists," those who would impose their purist vision of capitalism upon every country as a sort of cheap scam, regardless of the enormous costs thus borne by the great majority of the people in such countries.)

Don: My comments on the book were based upon what you wrote.

: Perhaps the above comment is just another example of your egocentric thinking -- if you don't like it, it must be "bare propaganda."

Don: The "Market Maoist" argument is basically an ad-hominism based upon a thin parallel.

: : Don: "State capitalism" is an oxymoron. If you ever manage to create your socialist system, you will end up with an elite and money, too. If you expect it to last more than a week or two.

: SDF: Prophecy!

Don: Well, prove it wrong. How does your socialist system work? What do you propose?

: : Don: The ideological zeal for capitalism is based on the knowledge that it is the system that works best, and provides optimal benifits for the majority.

: SDF: The ideological zeal for marketization, say Andor and Summers, is not based on any knowledge as such, nor is it intended to benefit any majority, since great majorities of the people of eastern Europe and elsewhere have been dispossessed and demobilized by "market-based" reforms.

: Look, I tire quickly of debate with people who reject evidence out of hand without presenting any of their own. Why don't you just respond below with another ideological flag-salute, and we can end this?

Don: The "evidence" you presented was a thin parallel, which was used to create an ad-hominism.

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