1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Capitalism, What are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Joij21, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    12,059
    Of course. But calling a society capitalist, socialist or whatever else is just shorthand for "a society in which (insert ism) is the dominant/core ideology".
     
  2. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Messages:
    32,542
    Location:
    Scotland
    That's a bit like saying "pure spiders" don't exist. "Capitalism" is not an abstract model to which really-existing things exist in greater or less proximity, it's a category into which really-existing things are placed.

    Concepts like "capitalism" and "socialism" aren't expected to imply an exhaustive description of what a society looks like, they're supposed to identify the basic economic logic on which that society operates. It should be expected that we will see significant differences between capitalist societies, or any other kind of society, because human beings in different circumstances will inevitably build different things on top of that basic economic logic.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2020
  3. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    44,504
    Location:
    Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
    You're right, I meant "failed to thrive" or "successfully adopted". But your disagreement doesn't matter, since there WERE powerful outside forces arrayed to prevent the success. After that, it's just unpacking the relative contribution towards the failure.

    I'm not disagreeing that it's probably infeasible. I'm disagreeing that we have sufficient evidence from history to have a definitive opinion.
     
    Birdjaguar likes this.
  4. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Messages:
    11,077
    Location:
    北京皇城
    Something I’ve noticed when people bring up socialist experiments and gauge them as such is they don’t tend to look at how countries which transitioned away from socialism are doing. Supposedly, if capitalism is so much more robust than socialism, we’d expect to see these countries “bounce back” into something investment bankers could approve of.

    But you take the case of Russia and what you have instead of a robust industrial economy is a totally depressed petrostate, as illiberal as it is possible to be, fully cartelized by robber barons who actually literally pillaged the public coffers - all in the name of liberalization, of course, but with the effect Russia is now ruled by wealthy pharaohs whose power cannot be ventured in any way the same capacity that the communists’ was. They traded an opaque bureaucratic despotism for a cannibal buffet.

    Now I acknowledge we can split hairs on whether the Soviets were “true socialists.” Perhaps they weren’t, perhaps they were truly no different from any anti-imperialist collectivist bureaucratic state that has been, capitalist or no - but, the privatization of the Soviet state seems to have obliterated any of the benign influences it may have had.

    Maybe all this means is we are describing Russia’s transition from a radical anti-western bureaucratic despotism to a vaguely westernized and free market capitalist liberal-style democracy, and what we observe is the liberal became illiberal and the free markets became monopolies.

    If capitalism couldn’t retrieve Russia, what else can’t it retrieve?
     
    El_Machinae, Gorbles and Traitorfish like this.
  5. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    39,327
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Russia's transition away from Sovietism was high jacked by the desire for power and money by a few people who saw and opportunity. P-u-t-i-n
     
  6. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    12,059
    Counterpoint: China. They may still call themselves communist, but they have fully embraced capitalism and went from being a large, but backwards nation to a serious threat to the current world order. As much as I dislike the current Chinese government, I will still point to them as another capitalist success story.
     
  7. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    13,050
    FTFY
     
    Birdjaguar likes this.
  8. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Messages:
    11,077
    Location:
    北京皇城
    Well that really is the point I was making. Bear with me. What if the Soviets had transitioned to a free market economy slowly and not quickly and suddenly as per Gorbachev’s plan? What if they had executed a Dengist reform scheme that gradually opened the country up and elaborately laid the foundations of that growth?

    The Soviets moved too quickly and hit too many road bumps to recover. It sent the Soviet system into a death spiral with the effect of overthrowing that system of government and ending the Soviet control of the economy. The resulting capitalist smorgasbord was no-holds barred and instituted among the sudden imposition of liberal-style democracy.

    My proposal is it is exactly because they lost that strong bureaucratic despotism and became a liberal free-for-all that Russia transformed into the miserable state it is today.

    In China nothing similar occurred. The Dengist reforms were ultimately sweeping, but the Communist Party was meticulously careful to maintain control of all the levels of state. There was capitalist reform but thoroughly without any kind of western democracy and without even a great deal of economic freedom beyond what was allowed. The state retained control of major industries and endeavored to “raise up” a business class under its watchful eye. The effect of this was not only a capitalist boom, but the Communist Party keeping control. The man who rules China now did not battle for the crown in a howling slog, like Putin did, he navigated the complex politics of a disciplined clique of rulers.

    We observe two things:

    1. Liberalism is not remotely necessary for capitalism to proceed with development.

    2. Liberal democracy gave way to illiberal democracy at the pleasure of a newly wealthy capitalist ruling class.

    It would seem that capitalism is plenty illiberal of its own. There are liberal capitalist democracies but what is the greatest threat to liberalism in those countries? Nothing other than the outsized influence of the wealthy on politics - the creation of political inequality between the wealthy and the poor, in a system that to “work” relies on all people being politically equal. It is a self-defeating prospect. It is a prospect we have already seen come to pass in the world’s oldest liberal capitalist democracy.
     
  9. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    39,327
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    I think that China used capitalism to speed up the development and increase the size of it middle class and consumer growth.
     
  10. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Messages:
    16,650
    Location:
    Tir ná Lia
    I don't even think the market itself is the mechanism that moves production in a private enterprise. Perceived market conditions at a particular point in time merely act as a signalling mechanism for supply and pricing decisions. At best, executives are responding to a simulacrum of the market, and different groups can have different simulacra at the same time. It's just the usual decision-making based on incomplete available data that are often not real - not too different from a committee not made up of people with inflated MBAs.

    Any halfway intimate knowledge of microeconomics and business management would tell people this. Which brings me back to the point that it's impossible to discuss Marxism, socialism or even any critique of capitalism with people who don't have a decent grasp of economics.
     
  11. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    13,050
    Gorbachov reforms were step in right direction IMO - introducing regulated market economy and keeping socialism. But they were too late, poorly executed and failed to prevent country's collapse. After "geopolitical catastrophe" of 90-s, Putin was actually one of the best outcomes what we could realistically expect. His methods deserve criticism, but he has done a lot for the country. Ended war in Chechnya, doubled GDP in first decade, dramatically improved living standards. If he manages to do the next great thing - leave before turning into Brezhnev 2.0, he will be remembered as one of the greatest Russian rulers.
     
  12. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    39,327
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    You are clueless about how business actually works. All data is incomplete but that does not mean it is wrong. I would say in reply that is difficult to discuss socialism or capitalism without a basic knowledge of how business and society actually interact in the real world on a day to day basis. :p
     
  13. Denkt

    Denkt Left permamently

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    3,654
    Well China have still a quite long way to go. China in 1990 seems to have had similar GDP per capita as South Korea in 1960, China today have similar GDP per capita as South Korea in 1990 or about the same as Japan in 1960.
    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.KD?locations=CN-KR-JP-US

    The issue is maybe not growth early on but to maintain the momentum, Japan had strong growth but that did not last while US growth rate seems to have been more stable. South Korea growth don't seems to be any faster than US growth at the same gdp per capita. However China unlike Japan or South Korea maybe have the political power to advance beyond being just a trailing economy and eventually reach the GDP per capita of USA.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2020
    El_Machinae and Birdjaguar like this.
  14. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    39,327
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    The US has about 350 million people. China moved 400 million out of poverty in the past decade. They have another 400 million to go.
     
  15. schlaufuchs

    schlaufuchs La Femme Moderne

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    15,735
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    And again, we've gone off on these bizarro tangents in terms of definition which belies a complete lack of familiarity with Marx, and so it seems utterly pointless to talk about this. Socialism != government interference in stuff, and capitalism != free exchange, market exchange, or even necessarily private business. Like, Marx expounded thousands of pages very carefully describing and detailing the basis for his analysis and what these terms mean within his framework.

    I'm not saying that everyone needs to go read the full 1000 pages of Capital before a productive conversation can be had, but as I said way back in the early pages of this thread, I think it would behoove people to at least read Engels' pamphlet: "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific," which is a fairly quick read (about 30 pages) and hashes out all of the basics of what is meant by: dialectics, historical materialism, capitalism (incl. how it developed historically), socialism, and why and how socialism will emerge as a natural consequence of the contradictions inherent to capitalism, which is the whole thing. It's basically the sparknotes version of Marxism.

    You can read the whole thing here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/index.htm, but if you don't, I'd say the most salient point in the present moment is what Marx meant by capitalism (not market exchange, not individual buyers and sellers, not even necessarily the presence of private property), and the best way to understand that is to look at how Capitalism emerged:

    In other words, capitalism isn't free exchange, it isn't open markets, and it isn't competition - indeed the concentration of wealth and monopolization of industry is an intrinsic aspect of capitalism as envisioned by Marx and Engels. Rather, capitalism is, broadly speaking, 3 things:

    1) the socialization of productive forces; i.e. a system whereby rather than each individual producing personally according to their own need and acting in effective self-sufficiency, many people are brought together in one area to collectively produce one thing.

    2) the emergence of the commodity form. I.e. the transformation of a good from something which is produced in order to be used, into something which is produced in order to be exchanged.

    3) M-C-M', i.e. the process of taking money, exchanging that money for a commodity, and then exchanging that commodity for a greater sum of money than the original amount. Capitalism is the process of utilizing developments 1) and 2) in order to achieve 3). And those who are able to to perform M-C-M' transformations are capitalists, while those who aren't - those who instead need to perform C-M-C' exchanges (wherein they sell their body/time as a commodity in exchange for money which they then exchange for a different commodity which they consume) are the proletariat.

    As I said, Marx's fundamental theory is that society is driven by material social relations to the means of production. This is, for Marx, the real foundation of any given society. Everything else - religion, government, culture, language, etc., emerges as a consequence of, and in relationship to, that real foundation. Therefore, when Marx talks about Capitalism, he is describing a society which has been arranged to facilitate that M-C-M' transformation. So relating capitalism and socialism to some sort of spectrum wherein government involvement and regulation render a society "less capitalistic" and by consequence "more socialistic," is just false on its face. Irrespective of the level of government involvement, you still have the commodity form. You still have the marshaling of socialized labor power for the purpose of producing for exchange, rather than for use. You still have an entire society built around the facilitation of the M-C-M' transformation. Maybe government regulation can mitigate some degree of the "anarchy" which Engels described, But unless and until the orientation around M-C-M' transformations changes at the foundational level, it's still all capitalism. There is no more or less "capitalistic." It's all the same one thing.

    There are a lot of other really interesting aspects of Marxism which emerge as a natural consequence of this original observation, things like alienation, atomization, how other classes relate to this social arrangement, why Marx believed that revolution necessarily had to come from the proletariat, colonialism, etc. And I would love to talk about those things, but it doesn't seem like any of that is possible until we come to an understanding of what Marx - and Marxists - actually mean when they talk about capitalism.
     
  16. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Messages:
    24,338
    Location:
    Sovereign State of the Have-Nots
    It was mismanaged from the start by neoliberal ideologues. That is, you can blame Putin all you want, but the environment that enabled him to take over was baked into the political and economic terms of the transition.

    The post-Soviet transition combined with the trajectory of China since the 1990s should really put paid to the idea that "free markets" will necessarily lead to a democratic or even liberal political system.

    What in the post you quote indicates this cluelessness?
     
    Crezth and Birdjaguar like this.
  17. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    39,327
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    @Owen Glyndwr Thanks, I liked your post and read the big quote too! I see no value in quibbling over bits and pieces of what you said and what Engels said because I think both are accurate in what what you want from your post. One sentence from Engels though did jump out at me:
    This sounds pretty nostalgic for the the good old days. :)
     
    El_Machinae likes this.
  18. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Messages:
    24,338
    Location:
    Sovereign State of the Have-Nots
    We've had this same conversation before about Karl Polanyi, and in Engels' case even more than Polanyi's this is a willful misreading of the text. Marx and Engels certainly believed that the destruction of the "old, peaceful, stable condition" was a progressive, or positive, development. And a translation for "old, peaceful, stable" might be "stagnant" or even "regressive."
     
    El_Machinae and Birdjaguar like this.
  19. Denkt

    Denkt Left permamently

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    3,654
    We don't know how sustainable the western economies really are, it may be they only really work due to access to cheap labor from the rest of the world. If somebody in a poor country need to work 10 times the amount of time but produce goods of same quality as the rich country it may not be sustainable because eventually the poor country will demand the same price for the same product.

    I suspect much of the gdp per capita difference between west and china is that made in china is seen as a weaker brand than made in a western country, even if the product is of equal quality.
     
    El_Machinae likes this.
  20. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Messages:
    24,338
    Location:
    Sovereign State of the Have-Nots
    I'd say ignoring/externalizing the costs of carbon pollution is probably the biggest one
     

Share This Page