Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I really enjoy talking about socialism, economics, public policy, resource allocation, etc. The masters program I am doing touches on this a little bit and my experience working for local government — I hope — leads to a long career applying these issues.

That said: I don't think it would be much fun to have this discussion with you, Mr Nice. You are unable to grasp anything but the most elementary concepts and cling to a set of rigid and contradictory ideologies.

Besides, most people who are into socialism these days only understand it from a purely philosophical or theoretical framework. They don't understand that while economics isn't a "science" like biology, capital moves and wealth is created in a manner fairly easily explained and predicted based on human behavior and the free market.

I have a massive hate-on for the economic philosophy of Hayek and other freshwater thinkers, but I feel like the only way to have a sensible conversation about economics is adopt their language.

Which is to say I have no interest whatsoever in a radical reworking of the economy and would aim to accomplish socialist goals of a greater distribution of wealth through domestic and foreign policy tweaks that create market incentives for a natural or organic flow of capital to a greater number rather than adopting Communist or other command economy approaches that put the government in charge of the economy and capital distribution.

This certainly puts me at odds with those who advocate for a more "philosophically" pure socialism, where "the workers" own the means of production and everyone gets two rolls of toilet paper per week. I trust the market — but only to a point. And while I want wealth to be more equally distributed, I don't think it is desirous to strive for an economy where every single person makes the same amount of money. I think it is OK for there to be poor people and I think it is OK for there to be rich people. The problem right now is that healthy economies — the way I envision them — need a big and strong middle class, and the current global system has concentrated so much of the wealth into the hands of so few.

So I guess while I have a humanist ideology, I also concede some ugly truths about human nature and incentives that classic free market economists have been citing for centuries. I'm open to being wrong about human nature, especially since I consider myself an anarcho-socialist. But it is hard to argue against the classic understanding of capital and wealth.

I've long since passed tl;dr territory and I didn't even have a chance to tie in economic reform with environmental and social justice. But perhaps I can do that next week. :flowers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get the impression that "socialism" is a pretty loaded and generally unhelpful term in most circles, as it is often used to refer to the governments of Stalinist Russia and contemporary Sweden within the same discussion.  When Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist it's probably good with his support base but frightens a lot of people of a certain age who remember the Cold War.

ban ad hominems likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, but people who are scared away by the word or use it as an insult ("Obama is a socialist!") are idiots and have no place in these conversations.

I'm being dismissive and maybe a touch elitist, but I have zero sympathy for people who refuse to consider ideas outside their own world view.

I certainly think it is almost so broadly defined that it can be meaningless. There is certainly a wide gulf between the sensible, incrementalist policy reforms I advocate and the revolutionary stuff that Ethan is on about half the time.

But the crux of socialism — for me at least — is distributing wealth more equally; having an economy that reflects our supposed democratic ideals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that it's easier to understand and talk to people dispassionately about more specific things, like: should some public utilities be nationalised, and if so which ones; what kinds of union security agreements should be permissible; what standards of incompetence should a tenant/employee meet before their landlord/employer can evict/fire them.  Among many others.  Talking about "socialism" or "capitalism" too often creates cognitive dissonance.

ban ad hominems likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are unable to grasp anything but the most elementary concepts and cling to a set of rigid and contradictory ideologies.

I wouldn't be too sure of that. My father taught macro economics at the most prestigious business school in the country. Sure, I might not have gotten his 'brilliance gene', and I might have had brain rot from bad ventilation and infections and so on, but still I wouldn't be too sure of it.

 

I find that it's easier to understand and talk to people dispassionately about more specific things, like: should some public utilities be nationalised, and if so which ones; what kinds of union security agreements should be permissible; what standards of incompetence should a tenant/employee meet before their landlord/employer can evict/fire them.  Among many others.  Talking about "socialism" or "capitalism" too often creates cognitive dissonance.

This is a clever post. I wanted to make a silly comparison to Xbox vs Playstation fanboys, but honestly, who needs that? Who wants that?

I don't think you want to analyse video gamers. It's not even funny. I'm trying to stop myself here. Must. Stop. Failed. Joke.

 

But the crux of socialism — for me at least — is distributing wealth more equally; having an economy that reflects our supposed democratic ideals.

Here's a more elegant definition: An adopted compromise against individualistic private property, a recognition that values are to some extent common.

Your definition was insufficient since distribution doesn't need socialism: I can go pay 50% to my community in a really considerate manner and it wouldn't be socialism per se, it would just be one guy doing something social.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are unable to grasp anything but the most elementary concepts and cling to a set of rigid and contradictory ideologies.

I wouldn't be too sure of that. My father taught macro economics at the most prestigious business school in the country. Sure, I might not have gotten his 'brilliance gene', and I might have had brain rot from bad ventilation and infections and so on, but still I wouldn't be too sure of it.

fuck :lol: 

ban ad hominems, ocean and psycho like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plus I went to a super noisy, super liberal public school. My 'best mate' in school insisted on lots of outdoors stuff, my mom did too, so I didn't touch books. I was extremely, abundantly stupid as a kid. I tried to catch up for a few years but it's been exhaustingly overwhelming honestly.

 

Oh and that public school? Checkmate, socialists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Besides, most people who are into socialism these days only understand it from a purely philosophical or theoretical framework. They don't understand that while economics isn't a "science" like biology, capital moves and wealth is created in a manner fairly easily explained and predicted based on human behavior and the free market.

 

Most capitalist economists only understand it from a purely philosophical or theoretical framework.  It's approached, even among ivy league economists, as though it's a powerful beast that they're examining in the wild.  The assumptions it requires, and engenders, are never seriously examined. It's like some kind of volcano god that occasionally lashes out, except instead of spewing lava and burning down a few villages it wrecks ecosystems, and keeps half the world in abject poverty, and occasionally spasms and wipes out the savings of a big chunk of the working class of the first world. There are models that sort of explain sometimes what maybe might happen, but it's mostly unpredictable and destructive. Meanwhile, at the core of modern life, the only freedom we really have over how we live is the freedom to sell our labor power to the modern equivalent of a feudal lord, or starve. I find "Into the Wild" notions of a third way to be extremely idealistic.

 

The rest of your post is obviously a bunch of ass-pulling.  Shit about the government controlling production on behalf of the people and toilet paper rationing, making it pretty clear you haven't actually given much thought to the alternatives to capitalism.  You did name drop the Austrian school and say we should adopt their language though, that was pretty funny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plus I went to a super noisy, super liberal public school. My 'best mate' in school insisted on lots of outdoors stuff, my mom did too, so I didn't touch books. I was extremely, abundantly stupid as a kid.

so not much has changed huh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 honestly, who needs that? Who wants that?

do you think you could apply this logic to all your boarding from now on? Thanks.

If all disabled people applied it to their life and their boarding legacy,

 

there would be no civilization left for all you rich white males to suck off like parasites.

 

- Dank, "A short essay on the nature of personal philosophy of white males", 2015, creative commons license with permission to sell with proper attribution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No but think about it one sec. You have all these video game stores that employ young socialist males unqualified for competitive labour. Their source of distribution and #equality is not a state government power but Mario. Since they sell Mario and take a cut. Isn't that essentially socialism? Culture = distribution via shared values, shared Marios?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Idealism!?  Read some goddamn Marx!  You're about to give me an aneurysm :facepalm:  "We just need, like, welfare capitalism, cuz America, and human nature, and good on paper, you know?"

I've read Marx. And Bakunin. And let's not forget Kropotkin.

:|

 

Besides, most people who are into socialism these days only understand it from a purely philosophical or theoretical framework. They don't understand that while economics isn't a "science" like biology, capital moves and wealth is created in a manner fairly easily explained and predicted based on human behavior and the free market.

 

Most capitalist economists only understand it from a purely philosophical or theoretical framework.  It's approached, even among ivy league economists, as though it's a powerful beast that they're examining in the wild.  The assumptions it requires, and engenders, are never seriously examined. It's like some kind of volcano god that occasionally lashes out, except instead of spewing lava and burning down a few villages it wrecks ecosystems, and keeps half the world in abject poverty, and occasionally spasms and wipes out the savings of a big chunk of the working class of the first world. There are models that sort of explain sometimes what maybe might happen, but it's mostly unpredictable and destructive. Meanwhile, at the core of modern life, the only freedom we really have over how we live is the freedom to sell our labor power to the modern equivalent of a feudal lord, or starve. I find "Into the Wild" notions of a third way to be extremely idealistic.

 

The rest of your post is obviously a bunch of ass-pulling.  Shit about the government controlling production on behalf of the people and toilet paper rationing, making it pretty clear you haven't actually given much thought to the alternatives to capitalism.  You did name drop the Austrian school and say we should adopt their language though, that was pretty funny.

 

I'm shocked by the hostility of this post. I've felt like we've talked past each other a few times but that we largely agree on this subject. I always appreciate your rebuttals and in the past you've made some excellent points. With that post I went into detail with my point of view precisely to help give you an understanding of where I come from, not ratchet your blood pressure.

My history of political activism, university studies in philosophy, economics, etc. — I think — should indicate that I can and have given alternatives to free-market capitalism serious thought. I was once very much an idealistic socialist hippie who lived in the woods in Canada and debated the merits of eco-terrorism with crazy people.

I don't deny that I've lost my edge a bit as I've gotten older. But I feel like the only difference between the socialism you advocate and the one I advocate is that I do not think we need to throw away the current model of how wealth is created and how capital moves. I think the free market is a wild, untamed beast in a lot of ways. But I also think sensible policy can do wonders to distribute wealth. You can make fun of welfare capitalism, but it has a nice track record in many countries that score high in metrics in quality of life.

I guess I'm less a revolutionary these days than a sensible reformer. That I'm treated like some enemy to the cause because I pursue more pragmatic and incrementalist approach just makes me sad. But I do think talk about a massive overhaul of how the economy functions is Very Bad For Everyone, and, as such think shifting the tax burden to the wealthiest 1% is a much more feasible option than a proletariat uprising that has an endgame of some sort of command economy.

Like I said earlier, this is an exciting thread and I look forward to discussing it here. I don't mean any malice to suggest that there are better ways to accomplish the ends I suspect we both seek.

Have a happy birthday, Ethan. :flowers:

ban ad hominems likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×