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Sat Jul 26, 2014, 08:51 PM

 

Dumb question: what's a Socialist?

I'm trying to wrap my brain around the concept of Socialism, and I have some questions...

1. Is there a *best* definition of Socialism? I've always vaguely understood that it has to do with government ownership of things that could be owned privately, but every country has some degree of that except perhaps the Libertarian paradise of Somalia. Based on the name, I'd think that Socialism might mean "a focus on Society"?

2. Is there a good measure for determining which countries are Socialist and which aren't, or the degree of Socialism in each country? Some measure of wealth redistribution perhaps?

The reason I ask... I heard Bernie Sanders being interviewed the other day, and he spoke of the differences between the "Socialist" countries in Europe and the US, and he was dead on: those "socialist" countries are doing well, and their 99% lead good lives without the garbage we face here. I'm also impressed by Kshama Sawant's efforts in Seattle, getting a living minimum wage enacted. So maybe *I* should fly the Socialist flag... but I'm trying to figure out what it is!

Any help in sorting this out is appreciated!

65 replies, 12414 views

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Arrow 65 replies Author Time Post
Reply Dumb question: what's a Socialist? (Original post)
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 OP
Scuba Jul 2014 #1
Xipe Totec Jul 2014 #2
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #3
Xipe Totec Jul 2014 #5
redruddyred Oct 2014 #60
Xipe Totec Oct 2014 #62
redruddyred Oct 2014 #63
Xipe Totec Oct 2014 #64
redruddyred Oct 2014 #65
Enthusiast Jul 2014 #27
Jackpine Radical Jul 2014 #4
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #11
Jackpine Radical Jul 2014 #13
Enthusiast Jul 2014 #28
TBF Jul 2014 #19
redruddyred Oct 2014 #61
delrem Jul 2014 #6
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #8
delrem Jul 2014 #10
TBF Jul 2014 #57
TexasTowelie Jul 2014 #7
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #9
BainsBane Jul 2014 #12
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #14
TBF Jul 2014 #18
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #20
Jim Lane Jul 2014 #33
TBF Jul 2014 #34
Jim Lane Jul 2014 #36
TBF Jul 2014 #37
Jim Lane Jul 2014 #39
TBF Jul 2014 #43
TBF Jul 2014 #54
rogerashton Jul 2014 #59
Scootaloo Jul 2014 #51
TBF Jul 2014 #56
delrem Jul 2014 #15
TexasTowelie Jul 2014 #16
TexasTowelie Jul 2014 #17
PETRUS Jul 2014 #21
easychoice Jul 2014 #22
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #23
Jim Lane Jul 2014 #38
socialist_n_TN Jul 2014 #40
NRaleighLiberal Jul 2014 #24
villager Jul 2014 #25
Enthusiast Jul 2014 #26
TBF Jul 2014 #31
Enthusiast Jul 2014 #42
TBF Jul 2014 #44
Kablooie Jul 2014 #29
rogerashton Jul 2014 #30
ctsnowman Jul 2014 #32
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #46
TBF Jul 2014 #35
MannyGoldstein Jul 2014 #47
TBF Jul 2014 #48
socialist_n_TN Jul 2014 #41
Starry Messenger Jul 2014 #45
joshcryer Jul 2014 #49
TBF Jul 2014 #55
joshcryer Jul 2014 #58
octoberlib Jul 2014 #50
Oakenshield Jul 2014 #52
TBF Jul 2014 #53

Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 08:52 PM

1. Black guy from Kenya?

 

Public library member?

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 08:55 PM

2. One who believes society is the greatest good. nt

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #2)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:13 PM

3. But... wouldn't a Capitalist say that Capitalism is about the greatest good for Society?

 

I'm not agreeing with that, just trying to differentiate.

Or maybe the differentiation is that Socialism focuses directly on Society, rather than focusing on something else and *claiming* that it happens to be best for society.

There's also a question of how we measure societal goodness - are there any generally-accepted methods?

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #3)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:16 PM

5. Capitalism is the philosophy that asserts:

The Nastiest of Men for the Nastiest of Motives Will Somehow Work for the Benefit of All

The actual quote:

"the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds".

- J. M. Keynes

(ETA to answer your question directly)

It's not about means but about objectives. What one believes to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.


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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 04:17 AM

60. I had no idea that Keynes was a fan of Voltaire.

 

what a clever man!

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Response to redruddyred (Reply #60)

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 05:47 AM

62. And evidently, you are a fan of sarcasm. nt

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #62)

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 03:42 PM

63. no for reals.

 

they both strike me as very clever (and correct) men.

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Response to redruddyred (Reply #63)

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 04:28 PM

64. You have me at a disadvantege, then. Please explain the Voltaire connection

Thanks in advance.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #64)

Sun Oct 12, 2014, 01:36 AM

65. "the best of all possible worlds"

 

that's a famous line from candide!

(you can pretend to have read great literature too!)

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 02:03 AM

27. Socialism has the focus on the General Welfare.

Rather than the rewarding the greediest and most foul of the society.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:15 PM

4. It's whatever Rush Limbaugh doesn't like.

Pronounced with a snarl, and synonymous with "fascist," "Nazi," "Commie," "totalitarian," and whatever similar vaguely pejorative political descriptors the wingnuts can be counted on to loathe without having a clue as to the actual meaning of.

Beyond that, it's kinda deep water. Most around here would preface the word "socialist" with "democratic." You will probably get about as many definitions as there are socialists.

Maybe it's something like what the Berger court said about porn--they can't define it, but they know it when they see it.

Personally, I find myself about as drawn to certain forms of anarchism and communitarianism as I am to what I understand to be socialism, because I have a healthy distrust of government in general and suspect that they are all eminently corruptible. I favor ideas such as worker ownership, of non-hierarchical, networked models of social organization, and distributed decision-making.

Sorry, I'm getting off into a free-associating ramble and not actually answering your question, but there are certain others around here who are more fully schooled in these matters than a simple old shrink like me, and I'm sure they will gladly share their wisdom with us.

Thanks for the question.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:34 PM

11. Then I am a PROUD Socialist, damn, you bet!

 

Sounds like you're a "Small is Beautiful" person? The E.F. Schumacher book? (At least as I remember it, 30 years later.)

I'm drawn to many of those same ideals.

A "simple shrink"? Is that like a "jumbo shrimp"?

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #11)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:42 PM

13. Well, the term "oxy-moron"

has already been co-opted by Limbaugh…

Welcome to this little hidey-hole in the vast DU universe, Manny.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #13)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 02:08 AM

28. This is hidey-hole?

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:18 PM

19. I'm more of an anarchist as well -

or libertarian communist. I believe Marx ultimately had that in mind as well - as an end goal. That people would be self-ruling as opposed to have strong state control. It is getting from point A to that end goal that is the difficulty. One group that tried it was the participants of the Paris Commune.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Commune

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 04:19 AM

61. I love how morons on the right conflate socialists with Nazis

 

when the two were bitter enemies.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:19 PM

6. Rather than "socialist person" or "socialist country", I think "socialist program".

A universal "single payer" national health plan is, by definition, socialist. Countries which have such plans aren't necessarily 100% socialist in everything. For example, most don't set up a plan where there's a single payer national pizza pie delivery service where the contents and price of each pie is pre-determined.

I honestly don't think USians understand things like a NHS. They don't understand how a NHS automatically regulates the delivery of pharmaceuticals (so countries with a NHS promote generic alternatives to brand name drugs, etc), and promotes healthy life styles in programs which include nurse practitioners, experts, etc., working with community clinics to educate and support the population. As in "an ounce of prevention...." USians don't understand that an NHS is in essence holistic.

I also consider national ownership of natural resources to be an axiomatic socialist program. It *is* just a program because such a program can be changed at a whim, or at a military coup. After which all is lost. This doesn't mean that countries that build such socialist programs can't and don't farm or lease out actual extraction/commercial_exploitation of their natural resources to private companies. It does mean that such countries retain the power to regulate such extraction and to retain market control.

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Response to delrem (Reply #6)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:25 PM

8. I like the concept

 

So would you say that, at any given time, countries are "socialistic" in proportion to the influence of socialist programs in their resident's lives?

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #8)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:33 PM

10. Something like that.

I'm not suggesting that all socialist programs (or implementations) are good!
On the contrary, I believe that there's no such thing as perfection. There always will be plenty of room for criticism and revision, for making the implementation better. This gives a "right-wing" room to base essentially destructive operations (they NEVER cease trying to destroy any socialist foundations built!), to base a simplistic and emotionally laden propaganda in the service of ending the entire thing. And the right-wing is very very strong, esp. in the USA and in all that the USA wants to be client states. And when words don't work, they do use the MIC.

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Response to delrem (Reply #10)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 12:01 PM

57. OK, EarlG debunks your "right-wing is very strong"

on the front page today: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017205489

We have a democratic president and the people of this country are overwhelmingly progressive if you simply go through issue by issue. The words communist and socialist may have acquired negative PR connotations, but the ideas themselves are sound.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:23 PM

7. I don't know if this will answer all of your questions,

but I think it is a good start for those in item #2 of your thread:

http://blog.peerform.com/top-ten-most-socialist-countries-in-the-world/

Good luck first-way, or is that third-way, Manny.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #7)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:26 PM

9. LOL, this is the First-Way persona

 

Thanks for the link!

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:36 PM

12. Read the Communist Manifesto

There are no socialist countries in Europe. There are capitalist countries with socialist parties, and sometimes the ruling government comes from that party. They have more extensive social welfare programs than the US, but the economies continue to revolve around profit and exploitation of labor. Therefore they are not socialist.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #12)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:46 PM

14. I'll give it a whirl.

 

Thanks!

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:13 PM

18. Here is the link -

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/

A socialist economic system is the workers owning the means of production. It doesn't have to be centralized control by a state necessarily, it could be coop style as well. But the point is that everyone shares in ownership. The Manifesto isn't that long but it can be dense reading. Please feel free to ask questions and we'll try to answer.

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Response to TBF (Reply #18)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:22 PM

20. Thanks, much appreciated!

 

I see an audiobook of it, but after reading a few paragraphs I'm suspecting it's a little dense for that format!

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Response to TBF (Reply #18)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 08:26 AM

33. That doesn't seem to reflect the contemporary understanding of the term.

 

Your definition includes a system in the state owns all productive enterprises, but that wouldn’t equate to worker ownership, if the infirm, the elderly, and the lazy all have equal votes with the workers.

Your definition also seems to include a system in which every company is owned (separately) by its workers as a co-op. Nevertheless, the government is run by Libertarians – no unemployment insurance, no Medicare, no Social Security, no food stamps, no public education at any level, etc. Furthermore, whether those worker-owned companies generate enough net revenue to pay the workers, let alone provide for their retirement, will depend on market forces. I wouldn’t call that socialism.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #33)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 08:57 AM

34. What part of "workers owning the means of production"

do you not understand?

The terms have not changed in 100 years and I defy you to find anything Marx was wrong about. Note I said Marx - not your interpretation, Stalin's interpretation etc.

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Response to TBF (Reply #34)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:11 AM

36. What part of "the contemporary understanding of the term" do you not understand?

 

If your view is that Marx gets to define a term and thereafter it means exactly what he said and terms do not change even in 100 years, then you and I are addressing different subjects. It's been many years since I read Marx so I'll defer to you on the historical question.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #36)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:12 AM

37. Your "contemporary understanding" of the term

is cloaked red-baiting afaic.

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Response to TBF (Reply #37)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:28 AM

39. OK, now you've completely lost me.

 

I really don't understand how what I wrote was red-baiting, cloaked or not. Just to be clear, when I described a libertarian society with "no unemployment insurance, no Medicare, no Social Security, no food stamps, no public education at any level, etc.," I wasn't praising it, I was condemning it.

Our current system has been described as a mixed economy, because it's fundamentally capitalist but has a significant component of programs like the ones I mentioned, which many people consider socialist. When Republicans who actually are engaged in red-baiting rail against "socialism" (as they so often do), I think it's worth asking if they want to abolish those programs. I know that both Social Security and Medicare, when proposed, were denounced as socialism by Republicans.

I don't know whether Marx would consider them to be socialism. I do know that they enjoy overwhelming public support in the United States today, so that characterizing them as socialism serves to counter, not further, the demonization of the term.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #39)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 12:28 PM

43. You took my very basic definitions

And I believe turned them into something they are not. "Workers control the means of production" means collective ownership. That's it. Then we define what that would mean to us.

I used the word coop in an attempt to let folks know I see the collective in the purest form potentially possible - direct democracy. I do believe Marx wanted to get to that point as well as evidenced by his comments re the Paris Commune. I'm on my phone right now and can't open multiple links, but I will try to remember to come back to this later and add the cites.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #39)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 06:41 AM

54. More on the Commune -

I've found the Marx paper for you that discussed the Paris Commune. It only lasted 2-3 months but the interesting thing is that Marx was thought to be one of the organizers behind the commune (he was in England at the time) so we see his direct work and writings about it (if you look closely at paragraph 3 I think you can read in that he might've favored "term limits" as some of you have spoke about within this thread!):

The direct antithesis to the empire was the Commune. The cry of “social republic,” with which the February Revolution was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supercede the monarchical form of class rule, but class rule itself. The Commune was the positive form of that republic.

Paris, the central seat of the old governmental power, and, at the same time, the social stronghold of the French working class, had risen in arms against the attempt of Thiers and the Rurals to restore and perpetuate that old governmental power bequeathed to them by the empire. Paris could resist only because, in consequence of the siege, it had got rid of the army, and replaced it by a National Guard, the bulk of which consisted of working men. This fact was now to be transformed into an institution. The first decree of the Commune, therefore, was the suppression of the standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people.

The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.

Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch05.htm


Marx quote on the commune -

But Marx celebrated the rising. For the International Workingmen's association (the First International) he wrote:

Workingmen's Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class

http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/karl_marx1871.htm


Some commentary on the importance of the Commune: The Paris Commune of 1871

Written by Greg Oxley Wednesday, 16 May 2001

The Paris Commune of 1871 was one of the greatest and most inspiring episodes in the history of the working class. In a tremendous revolutionary movement, the working people of Paris replaced the capitalist state with their own organs of government and held political power until their downfall in the last week of May. The Parisian workers strove, in extremely difficult circumstances, to put an end to exploitation and oppression, and to reorganise society on an entirely new foundation. 130 years later the lessons of these events are of fundamental importance for socialists today.

The Paris Commune of 1871 was one of the greatest and most inspiring episodes in the history of the working class. In a tremendous revolutionary movement, the working people of Paris replaced the capitalist state with their own organs of government and held political power until their downfall in the last week of May. The Parisian workers strove, in extremely difficult circumstances, to put an end to exploitation and oppression, and to reorganise society on an entirely new foundation. The lessons of these events are of fundamental importance for socialists today.

Source: http://www.marxist.com/paris-commune-of-1871.htm

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Response to TBF (Reply #34)

Tue Jul 29, 2014, 06:26 AM

59. wrong about

Engel wrote (in the 1890's) that he and Marx expected the worker's revolution to be a minority revolution, like previous class revolutions, but that by the 1890's it became apparent that it could be a majority revolution.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #33)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 01:15 AM

51. It's groundwork

 

Think of it as socialism's version of Shakespeare - yes, Shakespeare is dated, heavy-handed, and surprisingly inelegant (even for his time) but it is still foundational stuff in understanding English literature and even in great part, the language itself.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #51)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 09:12 AM

56. Sigh. nt

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #12)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:50 PM

15. IMO the total elimination of capitalism is neither possible, nor a goal worth pursuing. nt

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Response to delrem (Reply #15)


Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:06 PM

17. This was posted on DU before, but it contains some aspects of both socialism and communism in it.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:43 PM

21. You know the old saying:

"Two socialists, three opinions."

Okay, maybe that's not how it goes, but I'm sure you get the point.

1. I think the tidiest pocket definition is worker control. So government ownership is not socialism, unless the government is democratically responsive, in which case it's a decent approximation. Which brings me to #2.

2. How closely does policy align with the will of the people? (As an aside, I will assert that capitalism is wealth redistribution and tantamount to taxation without representation.)

I shall continue to ponder...

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:53 PM

22. Wiki did your hard work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

good luck! don't reply ,I won't.

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Response to easychoice (Reply #22)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 10:58 PM

23. I did read that before I posted

 

But I can't figure out what it means. I'm not the sharpest tool in the woodshed, so things like:

"A socialist economic system is based on the organisational precept of production for use, meaning the production of goods and services to directly satisfy economic demand and human needs where objects are valued based on their use-value or utility, as opposed to being structured upon the accumulation of capital and production for profit."

zing past my head. I need the Reader's Digest version!

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #23)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:16 AM

38. That graf looks good to me.

 

Imagine a bicycle factory. The factory can be set up to mass-produce inexpensive but durable bikes that a lot of people can use. Alternatively, it can manufacture a smaller quantity of very high-end bikes, with carbon frames, top-of-the-line components, etc. (I just checked at nashbar.com, the online cycling supplier I use. They’ll sell you their house brand road bike at $300 or a specialty manufacturer’s road bike at $3,000, with, of course, options in between.) Which will a particular factory make?

In a capitalist society like ours, the decision is made by individual owners who generally seek to maximize profits. The Mekk company could make more and cheaper bikes, but it’s making $3,000 bikes because someone will buy them. In general, although some companies do go the “low markup, high volume” route, some productive capacity is devoted to goods and services that may produce less overall benefit to society but that make a profit for the producer.

I take your quoted paragraph to mean that, under socialism, decisions about the allocation of resources are based instead on consideration of what’s best for the entire society. That might mean making more and cheaper bikes. It might mean putting a grocery store in a low-income neighborhood, so that those folks don’t have to travel as much, even if there would be more profit in using those same resources to put yet another store in a high-income neighborhood.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #23)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:33 AM

40. All that means AFAIC, is that.....

the overall economy is planned around the needs of the people before the profit of a small clique of "owners".

A possible example to illustrate would be ethanol made from corn, a food product. If there's only enough corn grown to feed people, then ALL the corn would be grown to feed people and NONE would be used to make ethanol. But that is just a gross example. You'd also have to factor in transportation means and costs into that equation too. IOW, if you need to make some ethanol from corn in order to transport the food corn to the cities where the people live, you'd have to plan for it. However, who "owns" that corn wouldn't factor into the equation because, the people as a whole would own that corn.

This would apply to ALL of the "necessities". The basics of course, food, clothing, housing would be planned for and then whatever else the majority would CONSIDER necessities. Most would add in health care, education, transportation, ???. And in a works' council style democracy, the people would decide what those necessities were.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sat Jul 26, 2014, 11:38 PM

24. perhaps easier to say what it's not? And that is what we are living through/in.

I am as confounded by it as you...but then again, maybe it is the spectacular tanking of the Red Sox that has me flustered...or too much fresh produce!

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 12:16 AM

25. Anyone barely left center-right now

 

n/t

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 01:59 AM

26. I have sorted it out.

I'm with you, brother.

Most of us like the Western European version of socialism. I believe. A democratic socialism kind of institution that is controlled by the will of the people.


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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #26)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 07:18 AM

31. Not exactly -

the Scandanavian "socialism" is really capitalism with a very thick safety net. I know that is what many people on this site prefer, but it is not socialism.

You're a "democratic socialist" which puts in you in pretty good company here

Some of us in here (Socialist Progressives group) are further left and feel that the capitalism piece of it isn't needed at all.

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Response to TBF (Reply #31)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 11:58 AM

42. Many of us would be satisfied with some reasonable oversight and regulation.

A more progressive tax structure would help.

The too much government regulation crowd really wrecked the nation.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #42)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 12:29 PM

44. I know what you're saying -

Ideally I'd like it to go further but at this point even that would be a vast improvement.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 03:21 AM

29. That's easy, a socialist is ...

someone who is well-known in fashionable society and is often seen at parties and other social events for wealthy people.

Conservatives are deathly afraid of becoming one of these.







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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 06:23 AM

30. Authorities

Let me cite two writers who might be said to have authority (of very different kinds!) on the subject. Engels wrote, "But of late, since Bismarck went in for State-ownership of industrial establishments, a kind of spurious Socialism has arisen, ..., that without more ado declares all State-ownership, even of the Bismarkian sort, to be socialistic." (Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Ch. III, note 4.) But, to cite another great socialist, the Fabian and Nobel Laureate economist Sir Arthur Lewis, (Principles of Economic Planning) government management of the economy is not an objective of socialism but rather the means to the objective of socialism. The objective, as Lewis says and Engels would surely agree, is a classless society -- the liberation of the working class from its colony-like dependence on the rich.

Rand Paul said, a few years back, that opposition to the rich is irrational. After all, he said, we all are either working for them or selling something to them. Right, that's exactly what socialists oppose. But it also is biased and deceptive. For the most part, working people produce goods for the use of other working people, not for the rich. But we produce them under conditions of "alienated labor," which means that the goods we produce are the property of the rich employers -- who then sell them back to the working class at a profit. The meaning of "production for use" is that the capitalist middlemen should be cut out of the exchange.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 08:23 AM

32. I always like your posts.

I suspect you are a socialist.

Look up Dr. Richard Wolff on youtube if you have the time he lays out some very modern socialist ideas.

Peace.

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Response to ctsnowman (Reply #32)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 06:19 PM

46. Awww... Shucks...

 

You lie real purty...



Thanks for the pointer, Wolff's site is a treasure trove. I'll try one of his video courses, see if I can make it through!

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:03 AM

35. Since this thread has made it to the greatest page

we seem to have acquired some visitors -

Welcome to socialist progressives - please read our SOP BEFORE posting:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10245634


Welcome Comrades! *** Updated July 22, 2014 ***
This discussion thread is pinned and locked. It is closed to new replies.
Socialist Progressives Group - SOP


Welcome to the Socialist Progressives Group. Posts in this group should generally be supportive of socialism and socialists. We are largely anti-capitalist and will not tolerate red-baiting. We welcome leftists of all persuasion as allowed per the admin's TOS. Democratic (ballot box) socialism, revolutionary socialism, Syndicalists and autonomists are all ok. Pure black flag (as opposed to red/black) anarchists who would rather organize with any anarchist than socialists, including anarcho-capitalists and libertarians, will not be welcome. If you don't know what kind of anarchist you are, cool, so long as you don't hijack and red-bait. This includes no "you're a dictator-lover" if you support the Russian Revolution. CPUSA members, please chime in.

Social Democrats are welcome with the explanation that if someone believes in "regulated" capitalism and social programs, they're a Keynesian, not a socialist. We welcome your questions as long as you're pleasant and don't red bait or shift the discussion away from socialism. You'll find many of us support Obama and his re-election given our two-party system, but this is not the forum to talk about the intricacies of elections - see the Politics forum for those conversations. We are more concerned with safe-guarding the working class gains we've made in this country thus far and encouraging the peaceful transition to socialism. Please no Trotsky or Stalin baiting, we've all seen it fracture groups and do not want to fight that battle again.

*** Updated 7/21/2014: We've been in this group for a couple of years now and we are excited to see the growth in readership. Please be aware, however, that this is a protected group. Our purpose is to view issues through a working class lens. As capitalism has become a global force we are in solidarity with workers worldwide. Expect that we will discuss the effects of capitalism on the working class in all areas - whether it agrees with the view of the current administration or not. Sometimes visitors to our group seem determined to contribute only because they feel the need to protect certain politicians or viewpoints. If you care to add a substantive and productive comment on the OPs here, in the spirit of our SOP, that kind of contribution is welcomed. Throw-away comments from newcomers who haven't posted in here before, especially of the "snark" variety, are not welcome and will not be tolerated. Either contribute in a positive way or you will be banned on either a temporary or permanent basis.

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Response to TBF (Reply #35)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 06:20 PM

47. Sorry for the trouble! nt

 

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #47)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 08:58 PM

48. No worries -

I like to remind folks where they are when they come in through the greatest page. I wander into groups unknowingly sometimes too. You've generated good discussion here!

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 09:47 AM

41. That's not really a dumb question, but it IS a very complex question...

I always HATE to try and boil down a concept like "socialism" in an internet post because something is guaranteed to be wrong with it.

My definition of socialism is a works council type of bottom-up democracy where decisions are made by the people DIRECTLY if at all possible and by representatives of the people where necessary. When representatives are necessary, they are paid only the average of the income of the people they represent and are immediately recallable if they DON'T vote the way a majority of their constituencies want them to. The workers directly control the places they work in all areas. In areas of general welfare, the workers work WITH representatives of the people in order to get the necessities made and delivered to the people. The main focus is not who makes the money, but getting the necessities out to the people in the most efficient way possible. Resources are allocate to that end.

As others have stated, it's a flexible concept. The best thing to do would probably to research different types of socialism and find what they have to say about their politics. In an earlier post, you mentioned Kshama Sawant in Seattle. She belongs to a ostensibly Trotskyist group called Socialist Alternative which is affiliated with an international organization called the Committee for a Worker's International or CWI. See what you think about their politics then check out some alternatives to SAlt. The group I belong to is called Worker's Power (or WP-US) and we're affiliated internationally with the League for a Fifth International and we're a little to the left of SAlt. There are also the old line Communist Parties all over, including some members represented on here. And of course as others have mentioned, there are even some Democratic Socialist parties. Do a little study of these groups and figure out what suits your politics best (if any) and then join.

I think at this point, it's about getting organized SOMEWHERE and SOMEHOW more than it is about what particular group you organize with.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 05:03 PM

45. Not a dumb question.

I think many on DU are closer to socialists than liberals and have for a long time. Broadly speaking, socialism is socializing the common goods for the use of the public and working people.

1) There is no really "best" definition of socialism. Every country is different and is a product of diverse social and historical backgrounds. Coming up with what works best for your country is part of the process. Some people get dogmatically pulled toward one menu of items or another, but the system I work within (CPUSA) has a theory of stages in removing capitalist harm and broadening democracy in the United States. From there, we can reassess when we have cleared away the damage caused by our system.

2) Is a country's socialist system supported by the broad majority of its people? Are their living standards rising as best as they can, and better than they were under capitalism? Do they adjust with planning when needed?

In the US, we work under capitalism, so it is important to not feel paralysis as a socialist, that there isn't anything to be done unless the revolution is right on the horizon. Doing things like defeating Republicans, supporting labor-friendly politicians, and working to pass legislation that helps the working class and the nationally oppressed are all still key to weakening capitalism.

Being a socialist and developing self-education in socialist theory gives a person a deepened political awareness, and also sharpens the focus of political work.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Sun Jul 27, 2014, 11:33 PM

49. I reduce it to "one who wants to eliminate private property."

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #49)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 08:32 AM

55. As long as you explain the difference between private and personal

property that is not bad. People have the mistaken notion that someone is going to kick them out of their home and take all their Pez dispensers or something.

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Response to TBF (Reply #55)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 05:50 PM

58. I don't initially.

Because it opens up an opportunity to discuss further.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 01:07 AM

50. Im a member of Socialist Alternative

Check out the party platform. http://www.socialistalternative.org/about/

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 01:52 AM

52. The best understanding of Socialism comes from reading Marx and Engels.

The further you go from those two political philosophers, the more varied the answer becomes to your question. Since you typically can't mention Karl Marx in the public discourse here in America without ignorant people thinking you've become Stalin, I tend to avoid the word socialism altogether unless I'm conversing with others already familiar with the topic.

A less controversial word I like to use is collectivism, which like the word Socialism represents shared responsibility and ownership. At the end of the day that's what socialism is all about. It's about giving the vast majority of workers direct control of their labor. Instead of forming unions in an effort to negotiate with the elite few who control the means of production, in a socialist society the workers collectively own the businesses in which they work....which means fair wages and working conditions.

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Response to Oakenshield (Reply #52)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 06:27 AM

53. ...

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