- Capitalism and Alternatives -

a collectivist sounding like a collectivist

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on September 17, 1999 at 20:35:49:

In Reply to: an anarchist that sounds like a socialist...? posted by Frenchy on September 15, 1999 at 22:55:59:

: : :
: : : Darcy, you don't understand. Your dealing here with socialists who insist that real socialism has yet to be implemented. Castro's brand of socialism was flawed, so was Mao's, so was Stalin's, so was Ortega's, ad infinitum.

None of them were perfect, obviously, but to lump these people togethr is ridiculous. The Sandinistas implemented a brand of grasroots socialist democracy, influenced by communism, American liberalism and Catholicism, which was more democratic as well as more progressive than what esitss in the US. There was a far broader range of political choice; in the US, an election is effectively a choice between Republican and Democrat (gettinbg increasingly similar by the day) and sometimes, as in my district, not even that; we had a one-party election last year. In Communist Nicaragua, there was a choice between seven different parties, three of them left-wing and four right-wing or centrist. Everyone except the fascist Somozizsts could participate; every party, regardless of size, got government funding, which allowed smaller parties to have more of a fair chance at getting elected.

Besides this, of course, the Sandinistas achieved large advances in health care, social equality and education. They registered the fastest economic growth rate in Latin America, faster than free-market Chile, except for Panama which had an artificially aid-boosted economy. Salman Rushdie, in "The Jaguar Smile", points out that the Sandinistas were the only central Amerivcan counrty with enough faith in the people to arm them.

The Sandinsitas, shwoing their popularity, were electe dto pwoer in the 1984 multi-party elections with 64% of the vote. They lost six years later, because the Nicaraguan people had been forced into submission by US -backed terrorists. If an election in which the conditions are "If you vote for tyhe right wing, tehn we'll give you lots of aid; if you vote left, then we'll send more terrroists to kill your family" sounds fair to you, then be my guest and endorse Reagan's foreign policy. if not, you will ahve to conmclude that the US was severely in the wrong in Nicaragua.

So if you ask me, "Were Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot (hardly a socialist, more of a racist, romanticist agrarian), Mengistu, all flawed in their brands iof socialism," I woudl say unquestionably yes. If you aks teh same about Ortega, or Namboodiripad in Kerala, or the Italian Communists, or Nujoma, or Mugabe, or Sankara, or Maurice Bishop, or teh swedish Socialists, or the communes in Copenhagen, then I would say 'Not very." these were examples of successful socialism, which i have yet to see refuted.

: : : On the other hand present day socialists, especially those who are scholars, do have the solution to bring the worlds miseries to an end.

Do I sense a strain of anti-intellectualism here.

: : No they don't. No-one has a perfect solution. The socialist view is that utility is maximised by equality as far as is possible; especially in the division of resources.

: Well, I can agree with you that no one has a perfect solution. The solution that calls for equality of resources is what the political economy of the Soviet Union was based on though and uhh, look what happened there.

Not really. The Soviet Union was far from allocating resourecs absed on need, and China was even farther. The operative principle in both these places was "to each according to his work". If they had democratic socialism, the Aral Sea debacle would never ahve occurred.

: And Cuba, et al. And N. Korea.

An 'equal distribution of resources' (whatever that means) is also the ideal that Kerala, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe strove for, and I ahven't seen you refute tehse examples of successful socialism / communism.
: : After all, there is nothing per se that makes a U.S. citizen 33 times as valuable as an Indian, or 10 times as valuable as a Chinese person; so why does the U.S. citizen consume 33 times as many of the world's resources as the average Indian? It's not fair and it's not sustainable.

: It's the result of a viable system that makes our standard of living 33 times better then an Indian's standard of living. Wouldn't it be a good idea for Indians to imitate our way of life as closely as possible, if they want what we have?

HAve you looked into the possibility that they don't want to? Indians don't want our excessive individualism, Africans don't want our lack of family ties, Swedes don'tr want our callousness towards the poor, Cubans don't want our inequality, and Danes don't want our violent popular culture. Not everyone wants to eb an american, you know.

:It worked in Japan after all following WWII. And S.Korea. Capitalism/Democracy seems to get better results. At least that's what I see.

Democracy is incompatible with capitalism, for one thing; it's predicated on huamn equality, while capiatlism is predicated on human inequality. Economic democracy, after all, is another name for communism. South korea, by the way, was never a free-trade capitalist paradise; it was state capitalism. And if you think their historically dictatorial, illiberal, regime, fiercely repressive of students, unions and Communists, and lacking any social welfare system was a shining success, you've lost me. Is it a coincidence that South korea has teh world's highest rate of alcoholism?

: Not only one my friend, many. Collectivism on a large scale has to lead to disaster. You can point to Sweden and Germany to show that Socialism works well there, but I would only say "imagine how much higher the standard of living could be by decreasing socialism whereever possible. This would include any area where the individual could reasonably be expected to provide for himself." Decreased taxes is always a nice place to start, don't you think?

Do you have any exmaple of where this worked at ensuring a better standrd of living for the majority of epopel. even one?

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