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

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

  1. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    Occasionally found a video about "Antarctic cruisers" - another product of Soviet engineering, designed in 50s-60s, but reliable enough to still be in use.
    Along with "Soyuzes". It's sad to see these technologies, once best in the world, now basically forgotten and not being developed any longer.


    (The author's spelling of the vehicle's name is horribly wrong, btw :))
     
  2. stinkubus

    stinkubus Emperor

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    It's an impossible question to answer because if socialism were to be implemented workers would decide, not aelf, not stinkubus, or any other person or small group. The fine grain details aren't up to any of us (as individuals) under socialism anymore than they would be under capitalism. Workers would have a say in both policy and strategy. There are also multiple models of socialism: nationalization, worker co-op, democratic (legislation), etc., To put into successful practice we'd probably need to use multiple models. No one can tell you quite what it would look like just as no one can really tell you what our capitalist system is actually going to look like in another 10, 20, 30, etc. years.

    Marx comes out of the Classical Liberal tradition. Anything that distributes wealth downward or increases the political power of individual citizens over institutions is a worthwhile political goal for anyone who fancies themselves a socialist even if the goal itself does not neatly fit under the heading of socialism.
     
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  3. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    @aelf has refused to engage in conversation other than to make brash statements and assert his superior knowledge. A big part of actually knowing things is experience and since aelf's response to my side of the conversation has been less forth coming with a side of insults, it seemed appropriate to support what I've said with a bit of self aggrandizement. My position on the issues is not pulled out of my butt as aelf's appears to be.

    I certainly didn't demand anything: "BTW, what makes you particularly expert in these matters? Why should I or anyone else take your opinion seriously? You certainly are quick to poo poo actual experience, but have not yet explained the source of your wisdom." I raised some questions. After all he is the one who joined the conversation with [paraphrasing] " I don't talk with those beneath my level of economic understanding." It seems perfectly fair to ask him exactly what that level of knowledge is. Would he lie? Who knows.

    Experience is a qualification; it may not complete but it is a place to start. If you have 6 years as a software developer and I have read two books on it have worked for 6 months, do you think experience makes a difference? Even if you were a jerk and difficult to work with, who would be the better hire for development work? If here was a software development thread here and I jumped in making sweeping pronouncements about it, would you want to know a bit about how I came to those conclusions and what kind of development I had done? And if I responded to that request and said that your 6 years of experience was irrelevant, might you shake your head in dismay?

    I've spent too many posts and too much time trying to draw aelf into an actual conversation. He refuses, as he said, because I'm ignorant and beneath his level of sophistication. Oh well.

    I do appreciate both you and @Lexicus for stepping in to salvage something, but I think I'm done with him.
     
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  4. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    @Birdjaguar I have to say I still don't fundamentally understand what you believe is false about aelf's words. "The market" is an abstraction, but it is in this case simply functioning as a shorthand for whichever market a given businessperson is concerned with. There is nothing in the statement that claims businesspeople make decisions exclusively based on their analysis of their market and not other concerns.

    aelf has more or less confirmed my interpretation of his statement, so does that change your response to it at all? Do you believe that classical economic theory is wrong about "market forces" channeling business activity into socially-useful endeavors?
     
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  5. stinkubus

    stinkubus Emperor

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    Market forces channel investment into vehicles that are useful for the capitalist class only! They have incentive to destroy everything else that benefits you!

    Being able to democratize investment decisions is the #1 reason to be a socialist, from an economic perspective, imo.
     
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  6. Denkt

    Denkt Left permamently

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    That sounds like something that could have been taken straight out of a novel. A simple narrativ to explain why a side is evil by saying little more than they want to destroy or enslave you.

    I suspect in reality stuff is not as simple and trying to come up with simple solutions to not so simple problems may not be the way to go.
     
  7. stinkubus

    stinkubus Emperor

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    The problem of investment is why state capitalist systems become unstable when the capitalist side of the spectrum gets too strong. When capital gets pessimistic about the future investment expenditures are cut. This cuts GDP in the current year and lessens potential for the next year. If capital remains pessimistic in year 2 they cut investment again. There is no mechanism that requires this process to stop.

    There exists the very real possibility that the pessimism and resulting cuts to investment become a vicious circle from which a national economy cannot recover on its own. This particular feedback loop is known as the "Liquidity Trap". This is the foundational concept of Keynesian macroeconomics and re-distribution policy.

    The massive wealth inequality that results when wealth and income are so unequal upset the balance of power in the political sphere to the point

    For humanitarian and infrastructure reasons some investments (public education, public transit, access to health care for the poor) need to be made even though they cannot turn a profit and only serve to loosen capital's grip on the rest of society. Obviously capital will never make these investments on its own. Making these services more robust builds a better world AND stimulates the economy.

    US Corporations have trillions in cash stashed in tax havens while our infrastructure crumbles and public services are being gutted. It's madness. Capital controls far too much of our investment decisions in the US.
     
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  8. stinkubus

    stinkubus Emperor

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    @Denkt If you find my narrative simple please provide an alternate analysis of the political economy of the US from Nixon to today. The global neoliberal project has proved itself incredibly effective. They jumped the shark to fascism a little faster than I thought they would, but when you own and run everything why not?
     
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  9. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    I just wanna communist party.

     
  10. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    I don't mean this as an insult. I genuinely believe that it's beyond his ability to understand. I don't believe it's because he's not intelligent enough or anything like that, but at this point, his perspective is so clouded by something that he simply can't do it. That thing could be emotion, ideology or even the weight of life experience.

    I'm not as patient as some others here to discuss something again and again only for the discourse to reset to zero at the tip of the hat. I've also observed a pattern of behaviour where the argument, when it does proceed from something, often becomes about an odd or selective interpretation of what has been said (e.g. the term "the market" being interpreted as referring only to one market for a country or a good or service). Another related tactic is purposefully not picking up on meanings unless very explicitly stated, and when the elucidation does come, it's time to switch to the former tactic. And then, after a while, it's back to making simplistic assertions about Marx or socialism.

    I don't know how anyone has the fortitude for such a discussion. Just reading, I've been impatient enough to want to point it out, even though I have had no desire to engage in it since some time ago.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
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  11. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    I really liked your first sentence. I mean, it's obviously true. And then after seeing it, I couldn't think of a defense against it. I'll give what might be the defense, even if I am not actually defending it myself.
    Market forces channel capital into areas that are good for the capitalist. And then, somehow, it's supposed to concomitantly produce goods and services that people want. I've yet to unpack that for myself, but that's where my instinct lies.

    I think that some people are viscerally offended at the idea of compounding capital wealth, but it doesn't bother me so much except insofar as it preventing compounding improvement for people who work (and people who cannot).
     
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  12. stinkubus

    stinkubus Emperor

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    I'm not viscerally offended by the idea of compounding wealth. I have a 401k. I'm viscerally offended at what the results are if wealth is allowed to compound without limit. Its a vicious cycle, so societies need institutional limits on wealth accumulation because it is impossible to prevent that power from being carried over into the political sphere.

    The fact that capital and wealth accumulation are vicious cycles is the principle insight of Marx. He's the man more or less because he was the first to publish this idea and gain a large audience. He also breaks down the narratives which were used by the ruling classes to justify this state of affairs with a heavy emphasis on the fact that these narratives have been in use since the beginning of society and none of them stand up to historical or even logical scrutiny.

    If you think history is too politicized/fake news, and your sensibilities prefer a more modern (as in current) and empirical approach check out the work of Thomas Piketty.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Piketty

    Most relevant would be Capital in the 21st Century.
     
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  13. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Yeah, Piketty has been super-useful. "It's overwhelmingly better to inherit than work" should just resonate with everyone. I don't think that many people have a problem with the fact that our savings can generate compounding returns. But learning that there's a level of breakout wealth, where the elite's ownership of the economy grows faster than it is even growing, is easily understandable for people.
     
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  14. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    But governments do not even need those trillions to spend on infrastructure. Under the current conditions they can just print debt and spend, that is being shown now. And it had been shown by the japanese 20 years ago. Basically the MMT people were right: under monopoly capitalism conditions supported by central banks (modern capitalism), governments are not economically constrained in their spending.Only politically. And that constraint goes out the window when the regime feels threatened.

    Corporations piling money, or rather owners of corporations piling on money, capturing an increasingly large slice of the wealth produced, is a problem different from the ability of governments to invest. It's a real social problem but does not negatively impact a governments capacity to spend. In fact it tends to keep "inflation" (quotes because numbers are shamelessly manipulated), the bogeyman of government spending, low.
     
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  15. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Hey Bird! I'm Morose & Lugubrious

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    Is that my boy Baudrillards, or another definition of Simulacrum? Either way, I agree
     
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  16. stinkubus

    stinkubus Emperor

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    Corporations keep the government from investing by capturing it. They can capture it because the people who control them are some of the wealthiest on Earth. You can't level the playing field by fiat because doing so would require such large injections that you would set off hyperinflation.

    Wealth must be confiscated at some point of accumulation. The US had the right idea when top marginal rates were 90% and the reason isn't purely economic theory.

    I'm very leary of MMT. I think it would be a big mistake to assume that the US will be able to perpetually raise funds at near zero interest rates.
     
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  17. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    It's the bosses wishing high unemployment so as to keep their employees feeling dependent and, thus, subservient. Investment by the state would lower unemployment and reduce the social power of bosses versus employees.

    They only change tack when unemployment gets so high that people might rebel instead of being scared and more subservient. Then bosses demand that government "support the economy". As we're seeing.

    I dislike MMT because it doesn't fix the real problem, only papers over the worst of it. But technically they're right: governments that control the national currency in countries that don't depend on imports can spend as much as they wish.

    One interesting thing is that MMT done as proposed leads to financial repression, meaning it will end up devaluing the accumulated wealth by denying any interest on it. Ultimately if governments do MMT for a long time they may (depending on how it's done) come into possession of the means of production. Again, see Japan, how its central bank has been increasing the stake it has on corporations. The problem with this approach is that it takes decades of successive crisis and intervention, generations of people living in avoidable poverty. It's a bad path.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
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  18. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    This idea of the US being constrained by the interest rate the bondholders will accept is completely false - the USA does not "raise funds" from anywhere. Every single dollar used to buy a US Treasury instrument was already created by federal deficit spending at some point in the past. This is not only true of the US, of course, but of any government that issues its currency.

    MMT is simply an accurate description of a monetary system under modern conditions. On its own it does not purport to fix anything. But an understanding of MMT is needed to fix things. You cannot fix a monetary economy if you do not know how it works. And neoclassical economists do not know how it works. They hardly need to spend another twelve years proving that.

    Things that are good for the capitalist are fairly often good for everyone else too. The history of the last 250 years would not be what it is if that weren't true. The problem comes in when the neoclassicals start waving around their general-equilibrium models and babbling about the "invisible hand" and assume that what's good for the capitalist is always and inherently good for everyone else.

    I also happen to think that social and technological progress over the last 150 years has...I'm not sure how to put this...widened the gulf between the interests of the capitalists and the interests of the rest. It's as Marx (and, in a certain reading, Adam Smith) said: as Marx put it the increase of productive forces in society would increasingly render capitalist relations a fetter on (or hindrance to) further progress, while the basic thrust of Smith's argument is that as capital becomes more and more common (ie, as society moves from labor-intensive to capital-intensive production) its price should fall, leading capitalists to engage in all sorts of trickery (basically boiling down to monopoly power) in order to artificially keep the price high and to preserve their social position.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  19. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    The same can be said for many other things, including corporate business practices. :)
     
  20. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    It's worth also considering part of the reason the rates were so high back then was because the elites were consciously investing in something. The Great Depression did a number on them but did not wipe them out. The US government needed every penny to raise the forces they were looking for, especially once WW2 was underway and the post-war expansion kicked in. They retreated to the safety of the state and tried to smooth the edges for people. In a way it's odd this attitude completely gave way, but in another way it makes sense: once you have grown up in and become accustomed to what you have, you start to think you're entitled to it, and you don't have to pay if you don't want to, in fact it's tyranny, and effectively gutting the state and leaving its once vital low-level infrastructure in tatters. Then, because you are an entitled fool, not seeing the wave of retribution until it's too late.
     

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