Marxism/Socialism/Communism

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Indon » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:19 pm UTC

Kachi wrote:But as technology continues to reduce the burden of work, communism will become increasingly feasible, as humans will no longer have to quarrel over resources that come equally easy to most everyone, at the push of a button.


I don't see the ability to satisfy every human need as rendering capitalism obsolete. I see it as rendering capitalism trivial, and I think that's an important distinction to make.

We can see examples of trivial economies in things like online video games. There, people trade exclusively in terms of want - nobody needs a +5 Sword of Awesome to slay a dragon in a video game. In a trivial economy, the process of economics is simply a form of recreation.

Even now, there's some spillover between our non-trivial economy and smaller, trivial economies - there's an exchange rate between money for the games Second Life and EvE, and real dollars, for instance. I envision this sort of thing expanding as we as a species become increasingly capable of fulfilling economic needs.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby segmentation fault » Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:00 pm UTC

i believe the people have needs and these needs cannot be manufactured by a private corporation (eg. healthcare). we pay taxes which the government uses to provide for its people. we currently have things like roads, police, fire protection...why cant we go further? i guess im not proposing complete socialism, but rather socialize needs.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:53 pm UTC

Socialism and libertarianism are really just different points on the same axis, if you think about it. No modern day socialist wants to put every industry under government control, and no modern day libertarian wants to put every industry up to market forces.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:08 pm UTC

Note: This post is a reply to the "Questions about Obama" thread.

Absolute wrote:No matter what terminology you use, states founded on Marxist principles have the common features of economic disaster, starvation and brutality.


You ignored the example of China and brushed off Cuba by referring to its state-run economy. When you say that all states founded on Marxism have economic disaster as a common feature, do you mean that Marxism is an economic disaster by definition? I can also cite examples of starvation and brutality in a host of capitalist states. Do you really mean to say that a political theory must never experience failure to be feasible?

Absolute wrote:But every time you tell a Marxist that their philosophy has led to horrors 100% of the time, they start in with the whole "pure" Communism vs. Marxism-SomeGuyism bromide.


What about rejection of your statement that Marxist philosophy has led to "horrors" 100% of the time? And 100% of what time, exactly? What about the horrors that occur under capitalism? And, although you dismiss the argument as a bromide, you have not actually addressed the claim that the commonly-cited examples of communist states have deviated in a number of ways from Marx's ideals.

Absolute wrote:I don't see any point in elaborating, as Marxism is a secular faith which cannot be disputed with reason, but requires a personal epiphany to overcome. I did it, you can too.


How can you accuse Marxists of rejecting reason when you yourself refuse to reason against them?

Absolute wrote:I think we've reached a total impasse on this issue, I believe in Individual Rights, which are best served by simply banning the use of force from human interactions.


What force would be used to enforce this ban?

Absolute wrote:This is the foudation of Capitalism, which isn't really an "-ism", so much as "what people do when you leave them alone". There can be no reconciliation between my beliefs and your own.


What if I decide to steal your car, or if a group of workers decides to take over its factory? Would you leave us to our own devices?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:57 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:You ignored the example of China and brushed off Cuba by referring to its state-run economy. When you say that all states founded on Marxism have economic disaster as a common feature, do you mean that Marxism is an economic disaster by definition? I can also cite examples of starvation and brutality in a host of capitalist states. Do you really mean to say that a political theory must never experience failure to be feasible?


China's economic success can be tied directly to it's adoption of Capitalistic principals, and Cuba is not exactly a model of First World prosperity. While Capitalism is not without it's imperfections its success rate is far beyond that of Marxism.

What about rejection of your statement that Marxist philosophy has led to "horrors" 100% of the time? And 100% of what time, exactly? What about the horrors that occur under capitalism? And, although you dismiss the argument as a bromide, you have not actually addressed the claim that the commonly-cited examples of communist states have deviated in a number of ways from Marx's ideals.


Every attempt at a large scale implementation of Marxism-X has either ended poorly or very poorly. Isn't it prudent to ask what any new Marxism-X is going to do differently from all those other Marxism-X?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:32 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:Isn't it prudent to ask what any new Marxism-X is going to do differently from all those other Marxism-X?


Sure, but I think that, if those differences are given, it would be a flawed argument to say that Marxism-X is bound to turn out like Marxism-Y simply because they are both forms of Marxism.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Vellyr » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:09 am UTC

i believe the people have needs and these needs cannot be manufactured by a private corporation (eg. healthcare). we pay taxes which the government uses to provide for its people. we currently have things like roads, police, fire protection...why cant we go further? i guess im not proposing complete socialism, but rather socialize needs.


Because if you go further you begin to intrude on the realm of personal choice. The more you socialize, the less choice people have. What do you do if the government-provided health care is not that great? It's more of an issue of not putting all of your eggs in one basket. I would argue that precisely because these things are so important, they shouldn't be trusted to a single source.

I also feel like socialism and especially communism stifle innovation. They don't necessarily stifle scientific achievement, as evidenced by the USSR's success in the space race, but when the government allocates all of the funding, you again have homogenization simply by virtue of having fewer people making decisions. If millions of years of evolution have taught us anything, it's that competition is a powerful motivator. Rather than "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door", it's "Build a better mousetrap and the government will pat you on the back" under communism.

This is a huge [citation needed] too, but from anecdotal evidence it seems like the two most powerful capitalist economies in the world, the US and Japan, have been responsible for the majority of scientific breakthroughs in the past few decades.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:39 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
TheStranger wrote:Isn't it prudent to ask what any new Marxism-X is going to do differently from all those other Marxism-X?


Sure, but I think that, if those differences are given, it would be a flawed argument to say that Marxism-X is bound to turn out like Marxism-Y simply because they are both forms of Marxism.


How many variations of Marxism should we go through before we call the basic premise into question? After Marxism-A, Marxism-B, Marxism-C, and Marxism-D wouldn't it be reasonable to raise questions about Marxism-E?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby segmentation fault » Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:27 pm UTC

Vellyr wrote:Because if you go further you begin to intrude on the realm of personal choice. The more you socialize, the less choice people have. What do you do if the government-provided health care is not that great?


vote out the current administration and elect one that will make it better. you cant do that with private healthcare.

Vellyr wrote:It's more of an issue of not putting all of your eggs in one basket. I would argue that precisely because these things are so important, they shouldn't be trusted to a single source.


but they definitely cant be trusted to a company who solely cares about profits.

Vellyr wrote:I also feel like socialism and especially communism stifle innovation. They don't necessarily stifle scientific achievement, as evidenced by the USSR's success in the space race, but when the government allocates all of the funding, you again have homogenization simply by virtue of having fewer people making decisions. If millions of years of evolution have taught us anything, it's that competition is a powerful motivator. Rather than "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door", it's "Build a better mousetrap and the government will pat you on the back" under communism.


but as said before noone really wants to socialize all markets. the science and technology sector can remain free. i personally said needs should be socialized.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:44 pm UTC

Y'know, like food and water and shelter and clothing. We shouldn't be relying on profit motivated industries to run our farms, reservoires (to be fair, they so rarely do now...), construction efforts, or textiles.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby segmentation fault » Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:38 pm UTC

well, thats not exactly where i was going.

people need protection and we are not going to get that from a private company.

for example, look at the FDA. the govt cut funding for the FDA, and they can barely test food and drugs. so the result is that we rely on the private corporations to do so themselves. but wait, this costs money. so they either dont test or half ass it, and as a result we have a shitload of meat recalls and fiascos like vioxx.

there are roles of the government that i do not believe should be in the hands of corporations, and the protection of the people is one of them.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:46 pm UTC

I can follow that line of reasoning as far as "the government should regulate industry to prevent abuse", but i don't see how that brings you to socializing healthcare.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby segmentation fault » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:14 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:I can follow that line of reasoning as far as "the government should regulate industry to prevent abuse", but i don't see how that brings you to socializing healthcare.


because theres plenty of abuse when it comes to healthcare as well?

take police for example. they are funded by taxes and accessible to everyone. you call the police, they show up. no bullshit paperwork, no loopholes like "oh sorry we dont cover robbery," no fear of being denied (as far as i know at least) or dropped completely. why is "socialism" okay for that but not healthcare?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:24 pm UTC

Well i won't say one is okay and the other isn't. It's all opinion based. I believe military/police are the only things that should be socialized because they are necessary for rights to exist. Competition and free market are, in those cases, contrary to rights and liberties. Industries like farms and healthcare merely require regulation. Socialising them is not necessary.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:57 pm UTC

Vellyr wrote:Because if you go further you begin to intrude on the realm of personal choice. The more you socialize, the less choice people have. What do you do if the government-provided health care is not that great? It's more of an issue of not putting all of your eggs in one basket. I would argue that precisely because these things are so important, they shouldn't be trusted to a single source.

Side point: although putting it in the governments hands in one way of socializing something, it is not the only way (though it is the most familiar way).
If millions of years of evolution have taught us anything, it's that competition is a powerful motivator.

Side note: It has also taught us that cooperation is a very powerful tool, and that both generally have their own place.
This is a huge [citation needed] too, but from anecdotal evidence it seems like the two most powerful capitalist economies in the world, the US and Japan, have been responsible for the majority of scientific breakthroughs in the past few decades.

In the US at least, there has been a lot of innovation/breakthroughs that came about as the result of the government. (Beating them at their game?)

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:28 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:How many variations of Marxism should we go through before we call the basic premise into question? After Marxism-A, Marxism-B, Marxism-C, and Marxism-D wouldn't it be reasonable to raise questions about Marxism-E?


If you can show that Marxism-E shares the features that caused Marxisms A through D to fail. Simply arguing that all philosophies with Marxism in their name will be equally successful would be much weaker if it can be shown that these philosophies deviate from Marx's original theories.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:48 am UTC

But at some point, it is no longer worth the blood and pain of the failed experiments, right?
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Random Precision » Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:33 am UTC

But at some point, it is no longer worth the blood and pain of the failed experiments, right?


"Socialism or barbarism". Marx has often been criticized for that saying, but I think it's essentially true. Either the underlying conflict in capitalist society between the producers and their exploiters will be resolved and the society will progress, or else those who wish to prevent that progress will win out, and the conflict will find ways of expressing itself that will make the world regress to who knows what.

Now you might correctly say that it has been a century and a half since Marx wrote that and we have seen the victory of neither socialism nor of barbarism. Whatever the governments of the USSR and the glacis states and China and half a dozen other states represented, their collapse or peaceful merger into the capitalist market proves that they weren't socialist. But we have seen the first signs of barbarism, from the world wars to the modern wars in Africa and the Middle East. Warfare right now is much more destructive than it was in Marx's day. Even localized conflicts like the one in Iraq nowadays kill thousands of civilians, cause massive displacement and the destruction of whole cities. That's increasing barbarism.

Unless we undertake the mission of creating a different kind of society, I think we'll tear each other apart in a very bloody conflict.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:39 am UTC

I don't see the ability to satisfy every human need as rendering capitalism obsolete. I see it as rendering capitalism trivial, and I think that's an important distinction to make.

We can see examples of trivial economies in things like online video games. There, people trade exclusively in terms of want - nobody needs a +5 Sword of Awesome to slay a dragon in a video game. In a trivial economy, the process of economics is simply a form of recreation.


Uh, perhaps I'm a bit late responding, but I am only talking about socializing needs specifically. That doesn't mean that the entertainment industry would never be socialized though. You're on the internet-- look around. There are no end to the people who create means of entertainment simply for their own enjoyment, with no profit at all. Some kind of government stipend would actually be completely viable, and capitalism is not in any way necessary. Most people who generate creative works do so with money as an afterthought.

I see no real need to socialize the entertainment industry though, and I might even oppose it. The government and people have plenty of interest in socializing needs and resources. Thoughts and ideas, I think, should be fully at the disposal of the people.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Indon » Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:43 am UTC

Random Precision wrote:"Socialism or barbarism". Marx has often been criticized for that saying, but I think it's essentially true. Either the underlying conflict in capitalist society between the producers and their exploiters will be resolved and the society will progress, or else those who wish to prevent that progress will win out, and the conflict will find ways of expressing itself that will make the world regress to who knows what.

I would say that capitalism, as an ideal, is a form of 'barbarism'. The thought is that conflict generates innovation, and the ideal state of that conflict involves as little cooperation (or collusion, if you will) as possible. The ideal free market is everyone at war with everyone else (with allowances for negotiated cease-fires) to the point just short of murdering each other.

Clearly, that can't work. Some degree of collusion is better, even if you're a corrupt member of the over-class. :P

I think any superior solution to our present economic understanding will require a recognition of both our predatory and cooperative natures, myself, and that as our technological development expands, we will continually need to develop ways to restrict that predation in optimally constructive ways (for instance, competing for promotions... within a rigid corporate heirarchy).

Random Precision wrote:But we have seen the first signs of barbarism, from the world wars to the modern wars in Africa and the Middle East.

There have always been wars and rumors of wars.

Er, sorry. Instinctive reply from back when I frequented a religious chatroom. Still, there always seems to be 'more wars going on nowadays'.

Edit: Kachi, I still pretty much think that as our producing power increases, our basic needs will be rendered trivial. Sure, the state could produce food for everyone - but once food gets cheap enough, I think so could the market, and there wouldn't be much difference either way.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:00 am UTC

Random Precision wrote:
But at some point, it is no longer worth the blood and pain of the failed experiments, right?


"Socialism or barbarism". Marx has often been criticized for that saying, but I think it's essentially true. Either the underlying conflict in capitalist society between the producers and their exploiters will be resolved and the society will progress, or else those who wish to prevent that progress will win out, and the conflict will find ways of expressing itself that will make the world regress to who knows what.
So the answer for you is "no, I take marx's theories to be axioms, and no amount of evidence will convince me that they are misguided". I will thus treat you like a dangerous fundamentalist fanatic, who should not even be attempted to be reasoned with.
Now you might correctly say that it has been a century and a half since Marx wrote that and we have seen the victory of neither socialism nor of barbarism. Whatever the governments of the USSR and the glacis states and China and half a dozen other states represented, their collapse or peaceful merger into the capitalist market proves that they weren't socialist.

See, maybe they where socialist. But that socialist model failed so miserably that they died or had to change? Why are you ruling out that possibility?

That presumption is what I find scary and dangerous, and gives me reason to oppose rather than compromise.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:51 am UTC

Kachi, I still pretty much think that as our producing power increases, our basic needs will be rendered trivial. Sure, the state could produce food for everyone - but once food gets cheap enough, I think so could the market, and there wouldn't be much difference either way.


Well, "food" is a pretty broad category, and varies every day between each person wildly. Socializing food businesses but allowing free market endeavors for non-socialized foods would make more sense than just saying "free food for everyone" in the first place. Food is in many ways split between an industry of needs and entertainment.

But to address your overall point, the issue is whether or not -everyone- can afford it. If people are unemployed or have insufficient income, they have no guarantees for their needs without a system of socialization.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:58 pm UTC

A system of socialization cannot guarantee needs.

It can, for example, promise to use force if you are hungry and take it away from someone else (who may or may not be hungry -- typically it is framed in the terms of envy, so the person being taken away from is not at all hungry, but a system of socialization cannot guarantee (or even generate) the food-rich person to take the food away from).

The problem is that the socialization (or at least the approximations that have actually been implemented on any reasonably large scale on this planet) actually causes a reduction in food production. The further you go down the "no market for food" path, the worse it seems to get, until you end up with mass starvation -- and this even happens in countries that don't have a massive population increase, and used to (under more traditional food models) be net food exporters.

Yes, food is a good that has a near infinite demand curve as you run out. So yes, we should set up systems to deal with a food collapse situation. But banning all food markets is not a good solution in practice, because it seems to reduce food production empirically. And the problem with saying "all of those empirical experiments where flawed and where not true scotsmen" is that the failure of these systems causes megadeath, so experimentation is really expensive.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:46 pm UTC

A system of socialization cannot guarantee needs.


Realistically, it can as long as the demand for workers is met, and the resources are available. Particularly in the scenario that I began with.

It can, for example, promise to use force if you are hungry and take it away from someone else (who may or may not be hungry -- typically it is framed in the terms of envy, so the person being taken away from is not at all hungry, but a system of socialization cannot guarantee (or even generate) the food-rich person to take the food away from).


It won't need to take it from anyone if it comes from a government crop.

The problem is that the socialization (or at least the approximations that have actually been implemented on any reasonably large scale on this planet) actually causes a reduction in food production. The further you go down the "no market for food" path, the worse it seems to get, until you end up with mass starvation -- and this even happens in countries that don't have a massive population increase, and used to (under more traditional food models) be net food exporters.


I take it from this that you either ignored or forgot the premises which I framed my argument on.

Yes, food is a good that has a near infinite demand curve as you run out. So yes, we should set up systems to deal with a food collapse situation. But banning all food markets is not a good solution in practice,


Did I not JUST say that food was as much an entertainment industry as a need industry, and that the government should not socialize the entertainment industry? So what on earth makes you think that I was proposing banning all food markets?

And the problem with saying "all of those empirical experiments where flawed and where not true scotsmen" is that the failure of these systems causes megadeath, so experimentation is really expensive.


I have to assume that this wasn't even directed towards me, as I've said nothing like this.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Random Precision » Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

Indon wrote:I would say that capitalism, as an ideal, is a form of 'barbarism'. The thought is that conflict generates innovation, and the ideal state of that conflict involves as little cooperation (or collusion, if you will) as possible.

The ideal free market is everyone at war with everyone else (with allowances for negotiated cease-fires) to the point just short of murdering each other.

Clearly, that can't work. Some degree of collusion is better, even if you're a corrupt member of the over-class. :P

I think any superior solution to our present economic understanding will require a recognition of both our predatory and cooperative natures, myself, and that as our technological development expands, we will continually need to develop ways to restrict that predation in optimally constructive ways (for instance, competing for promotions... within a rigid corporate heirarchy).


First, what kind of conflict are you talking about. Second, innovation (assuming you're talking about technology, modes of production and distribution, etc.) happens just fine without conflict.

There have always been wars and rumors of wars.

Er, sorry. Instinctive reply from back when I frequented a religious chatroom. Still, there always seems to be 'more wars going on nowadays'.


But they have never been so destructive as they are now.

So the answer for you is "no, I take marx's theories to be axioms, and no amount of evidence will convince me that they are misguided". I will thus treat you like a dangerous fundamentalist fanatic, who should not even be attempted to be reasoned with.


Wonderful. That's a fantastic way to start out a discussion.

I don't take Marx's theories to be axioms, and neither did he. My post starts out from the realities of conflict in the imperialist epoch of capitalism, namely the past 130 or so years.

See, maybe they where socialist. But that socialist model failed so miserably that they died or had to change? Why are you ruling out that possibility?

That presumption is what I find scary and dangerous, and gives me reason to oppose rather than compromise.


They weren't socialist because they all were dictatorships of a professional party over the working class rather than societies run by the working class. Some have argued, and I tend to agree with them, that this is essentially "state" capitalism.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Rippy » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:26 pm UTC

I've read about the first half-page of this thread, and I'd just like to jump in and ask this: Does anyone know of any good books/websites that teach basic economics? I'm really interested in this, but I have very little knowledge about how the economy actually works. A search of my local library site lists a few different ones, but you never know what the quality of these 20 to 30-year-old books are.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qbg » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:10 pm UTC

Rippy wrote:I've read about the first half-page of this thread, and I'd just like to jump in and ask this: Does anyone know of any good books/websites that teach basic economics? I'm really interested in this, but I have very little knowledge about how the economy actually works. A search of my local library site lists a few different ones, but you never know what the quality of these 20 to 30-year-old books are.

There may be an issue with that there are a number of different economic schools of thought.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qinwamascot » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:19 am UTC

Rippy wrote:I've read about the first half-page of this thread, and I'd just like to jump in and ask this: Does anyone know of any good books/websites that teach basic economics? I'm really interested in this, but I have very little knowledge about how the economy actually works. A search of my local library site lists a few different ones, but you never know what the quality of these 20 to 30-year-old books are.


Try MIT OpenCourseware. Usually I use it for math and physics, but the econ material doesn't look too bad.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby diamonds » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:28 am UTC

qbg wrote:
Rippy wrote:I've read about the first half-page of this thread, and I'd just like to jump in and ask this: Does anyone know of any good books/websites that teach basic economics? I'm really interested in this, but I have very little knowledge about how the economy actually works. A search of my local library site lists a few different ones, but you never know what the quality of these 20 to 30-year-old books are.

There may be an issue with that there are a number of different economic schools of thought.

Way ahead of you
http://mises.org don't go anywhere else. Specifically, http://mises.org/books/econforrealpeople.pdf
;)
Seriously though, there is a wealth of information there to last anyone a lifetime, all for free. They usually post 1-3 nice articles per day, those are great sources of information too, typically relating to a current event too. Again, Economics for Real People is the book that changed my views on economics, perhaps forever, at least until better views come forward (if not from me ;) ). Highly recommended.

segmentation fault wrote:
Vellyr wrote:Because if you go further you begin to intrude on the realm of personal choice. The more you socialize, the less choice people have. What do you do if the government-provided health care is not that great?

vote out the current administration and elect one that will make it better. you cant do that with private healthcare.


Yes you can, they are all public companies, look up what that means.

Additionally, you think purchasing power isn't voting? People vote with their dollars every day on the open market. Those companies that don't give quality care don't get chosen, those that don't provide what they say they are get penalized through law, preferably the court system (that is what it is there for!). Yes, it isn't "fair", people have different amounts of money, but realise that the people with lots of money are the winners of previous "elections", those who conducted good business. You cannot become rich if you don't offer a service that the people believe in - trade only occurs when BOTH sides believe they are profiting (assuming you don't scam people, thus violating their rights, but again, that is what the court system is there for). Plus, you can only re-elect people every few years. Bad business methods die when they run out of money, usually a year if not a few months, and a better alternative usually pops up even sooner. Really bad politicians can be impeached in months. Really bad companies die in days (Ask AIG). Not to mention that the common beliefs of people are not always correct, but the perpetually correcting fractal known as the free market is. You wouldn't conduct an election to decide how to perform brain surgery, so how do you expect the correct decisions to be made about regulating an economy, just as complex as human body (more or less)? ...Maybe a bad example, but I think I made a point.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Random Precision » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:50 am UTC

I've read about the first half-page of this thread, and I'd just like to jump in and ask this: Does anyone know of any good books/websites that teach basic economics? I'm really interested in this, but I have very little knowledge about how the economy actually works. A search of my local library site lists a few different ones, but you never know what the quality of these 20 to 30-year-old books are.


If you're interested in the Marxist perspective at all, I'd suggest Wage Labor and Capital:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/wo ... /index.htm

and also Value, Price and Profit:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/wo ... ice-profit

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Indon » Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:07 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:A system of socialization cannot guarantee needs.

It can, for example, promise to use force if you are hungry and take it away from someone else (who may or may not be hungry -- typically it is framed in the terms of envy, so the person being taken away from is not at all hungry, but a system of socialization cannot guarantee (or even generate) the food-rich person to take the food away from).

The problem is that the socialization (or at least the approximations that have actually been implemented on any reasonably large scale on this planet) actually causes a reduction in food production. The further you go down the "no market for food" path, the worse it seems to get, until you end up with mass starvation -- and this even happens in countries that don't have a massive population increase, and used to (under more traditional food models) be net food exporters.

Yes, food is a good that has a near infinite demand curve as you run out. So yes, we should set up systems to deal with a food collapse situation. But banning all food markets is not a good solution in practice, because it seems to reduce food production empirically. And the problem with saying "all of those empirical experiments where flawed and where not true scotsmen" is that the failure of these systems causes megadeath, so experimentation is really expensive.


Isn't it feasible to socialize a good or service without getting rid of the market? Health care in Canada comes to mind.

If a government gave everyone a food budget but let individuals buy what food they chose (out of a government-regulated list of stuff that qualifies as 'food', even), then it seems to me that there's still a market, though it changes significantly in response to that government measure.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:14 pm UTC

Absolutely. The government could easily socialize the majority of the crops (I think we may even have some, but primarily for reserves), but like I said before, the food industry is still very much an entertainment industry. Cooking is considered by many an art form. No matter how much you socialize food, there will always be room for capitalism in the market.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby segmentation fault » Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:47 pm UTC

diamonds wrote:Yes you can, they are all public companies, look up what that means.


oh so i have to spend most of my savings to buy into a company far enough that my say means anything? oh okay. id rather vote thanks.

diamonds wrote:Additionally, you think purchasing power isn't voting? People vote with their dollars every day on the open market.


how many people pay for their own healthcare? and if they could, im sure with every provider comes an affordable policy that might not be very comprehensive. the choice really comes down to "how much are you willing to sacrifice?"

theres really nothing you can do short of buying the company to make healthcare better for yourself.

Kachi wrote:No matter how much you socialize food, there will always be room for capitalism in the market.


which is fine, as long as starving people can eat food. maybe the luxury stuff will be available to the people who have enough money. but the basic need of eating should be available to all.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:59 pm UTC

Well, yeah. That's what I've been saying.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:05 am UTC

Yakk wrote:But at some point, it is no longer worth the blood and pain of the failed experiments, right?


What is no longer worth it? The word "Marxism," or the ideas associated with it? The former would be linguistic reasoning; the latter, to me, just hides the assumption that any ideology supposedly descended from Marxism will not vary significantly from the actual ideas expressed in his writings.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:16 am UTC

Kachi wrote:
A system of socialization cannot guarantee needs.


Realistically, it can as long as the demand for workers is met, and the resources are available. Particularly in the scenario that I began with.


Only in ideal cases. In practical considerations no system can "guarantee" it's success.

It won't need to take it from anyone if it comes from a government crop.


Where would the government get the land to farm with (except from farmers). There is also the question about the cost of setting up and mainlining such a system, costs that would have to be paid for through taxes.

We can also look to other attempts at government crops to see how those systems have failed.

It is also important to note that the US government buys a large portion of the crops produced in the US (either directly or through crop subsidies).

Indon wrote:If a government gave everyone a food budget but let individuals buy what food they chose (out of a government-regulated list of stuff that qualifies as 'food', even), then it seems to me that there's still a market, though it changes significantly in response to that government measure.


Like food stamps?

The real question is why should the government take away my money (taxes) then give it back to me as a food allowance when they can just let me keep the money in the first place (and spend it as I see fit).
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:21 pm UTC

Only in ideal cases. In practical considerations no system can "guarantee" it's success.


We're talking about fairly ideal cases, but not unrealistic by future means. So I'm going to have to completely disagree with you, because it's actually really easy to imagine a system in which it could guarantee success.

They can take "your" land because it's really our land, and they can take "your" money because it's really their money, is the short answer. Since it's clear that you have an ideological reason to reject the notion rather than a practical one, I'm not going to humor you with more than that.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:17 pm UTC

Kachi wrote:Realistically, it can as long as the demand for workers is met, and the resources are available. Particularly in the scenario that I began with.

Yes, presuming that. But resources are not a given -- they are a product of an economic system. All socialization can guarantee is that everyone starves together (or the socialization fails, which in practice seems to be what happens).

It won't need to take it from anyone if it comes from a government crop.
That presumes the government can guarantee that it produces sufficient food. In practice, no organization can make that guarantee.

I take it from this that you either ignored or forgot the premises which I framed my argument on.

I'm arguing from a premise of attempting to implement it in the real world. I don't care if you can build a model that works elsewhere. So excluding real world problems with premises is evidence of a model failure in my eyes -- thus, bringing up real world problems is valid regardless of your stated premises.

Random Precision wrote:But they have never been so destructive as they are now.

Citation. As far as I know, the per-capita death rate due to murder/war/conflict is far lower today than ... in pretty much any decent historical period in the past, at a global level. And possibly (based on what slim evidence we have) including pre-historical periods.

If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it.

Wonderful. That's a fantastic way to start out a discussion.
That isn't how I started it. I first asked if there was any empirical evidence that would convince the other party that Marx's ideology was not practical. The answer seemed to be 'no'. Then I presumed the other party was not worth reasoning with on that subject.

Indon wrote:Isn't it feasible to socialize a good or service without getting rid of the market? Health care in Canada comes to mind.

*nod* -- single payer health care pulls off a huge efficiency via eliminating the lemon effect. Then you piggyback it on a market system (which you get innovation and expected efficiencies from), and use a market system for overflow.

It is that lemon effect that really makes it effective, however. Note that the socialization of health care doesn't guarantee the health care.
If a government gave everyone a food budget but let individuals buy what food they chose (out of a government-regulated list of stuff that qualifies as 'food', even), then it seems to me that there's still a market, though it changes significantly in response to that government measure.


Sure, but that doesn't guarantee food.

A food guarantee requires two things: <1> sufficient food is produced, and <2> sufficient is distributed to you.

The problem of producing sufficient food is a hard one. The problem of getting sufficient food to each person ... well, in a wealthy western semi-closed immigration system, people can get sufficient food by literally eating out of garbage bins. It isn't high quality food in comparison to what the rest of that society eats: but it is more and better food than (say) the typical north korean peasant eats (and remember: north korea was a bread-basket food exporting state before it went pear-shaped).

With sufficient food production efficiency, the price of crappy cheap food falls very low -- next to zero price. Without sufficient food production efficiency, no 'food rationing' system can feed everyone. I'm in favor of high food production efficiencies, as they solve the problem, and once solved the only remaining problem is relative food poverty as opposed to absolute food poverty.

segmentation fault wrote:oh so i have to spend most of my savings to buy into a company far enough that my say means anything?

Yes. You have to put your money -- surplus, unconsumed wealth allocated to you -- where your mouth is.

Kachi wrote:We're talking about fairly ideal cases, but not unrealistic by future means. So I'm going to have to completely disagree with you, because it's actually really easy to imagine a system in which it could guarantee success.
It is very easy to imagine, but in practice ... it always seems to fuck up.

Hence the test against reality requirement, and the requirement that variations of an existing system that have already caused catastrophy should require higher and higher standards before we attempt to burn resources testing them.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:51 pm UTC

I don't know why I have to restate this. :|

I'm talking about in the future, when technology makes the entire proletariat class virtually obsolete.

Circumstances will have to be different to yield different results. That's obvious.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Random Precision » Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:03 am UTC

Citation. As far as I know, the per-capita death rate due to murder/war/conflict is far lower today than ... in pretty much any decent historical period in the past, at a global level. And possibly (based on what slim evidence we have) including pre-historical periods.

If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it.


You can see the increasing casualties of warfare over the past 130 years quite easily. Consider World War 1, World War 2, the Congo's Civil War (the only comparable conflict to the first two), etc. And also the number of casualties and other resulting human misery in localized conflicts such as the war in Iraq, which has caused as many as 1 million Iraqi deaths over the past five years, plus the destruction of entire cities like Fallujah and human displacement, etc.

Now I'd like to know where you get that the "per capita death rate due to war/murder/conflict is far lower" than in any decent historical epoch (what the hell does that mean?) Good luck proving that.

That isn't how I started it. I first asked if there was any empirical evidence that would convince the other party that Marx's ideology was not practical. The answer seemed to be 'no'. Then I presumed the other party was not worth reasoning with on that subject.


Bullshit. You quoted my statement, then assumed that I "took Marx's theories as axioms" and proceeded to call me a "fundamentalist fanatic" because of that misconception on your part. Maybe I'm a new poster here, but that's not regarded on any forum I've posted at in the past as a productive way to engage someone in discussion.

In any case, it depends on what you mean by "ideology" and what empirical evidence you're talking about. Marxism isn't so much about the conclusions of Marx as it is about the dialectical method he used to get them. So even if hypothetically all your "empirical evidence" that you claim is out there were to come to light, we would still have his method to find others.


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