Marxism/Socialism/Communism

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Gunfingers
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:03 am UTC

A quick look at wikipedia shows 22 million military deaths and approximately 40 million civilian deaths resultant from WW2, which falls well within the 130 years criteria. Pretty much every conflict since then has measured deaths in hundreds of thousands. The-War-to-End-All-Wars-No-Really-This-Time is the deadliest war in human history, and isn't likely to be topped any time in the near future.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:16 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
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.


I think Yakk has you on this one. Yakk asked if the repeated failure of experiments would eventually lead to people accepting it will not work, and you respond by saying that no matter what, "progress" will win out.

btw, upper end estimates of Iraq dead are more in the 200,000 range last I checked, and the accepted estimate is between 65,000-95,000.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:21 am UTC

Depends on the metric. If you go with the literal "People the US has accidentally bombed or shot" then you'll get low numbers.

But...

"All Iraqi violent deaths, Opinion Research Business – August 2007: 1,033,000 (946,000-1,120,000) (gunshots 48%, car bombs 20%, aerial bombing 9%, accidents 6%, other blast/ordnance 6%)[26]"

That's an estimate, not an actual count, but it's better than anything i could come up with.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:25 am UTC

Can I have the source? I remember seeing 655,000 a couple of years back, but the study was largely ignored because there means of calculating extra deaths (that is, deaths beyond the mortality rate under Saddam) were pretty bad, they just interviewed a bunch of random households on how many people they knew died and multiplied by the total number of households (I think the study was a little better than this, but still ignored). I'm just going off iraqbodycount.org, since they generally seem opposed to the war yet come up with a reasonable number I've seen referenced as true in other media.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:22 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?

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote: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.

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

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.

Yakk wrote: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.

That is the thread of communication I was following.

I asked, explicitly, if there was any empirical evidence that would make one say "oh wait a second, it looks like Marx was wrong", from someone who stated "previous failed incarnations of Marxism isn't strong evidence that new kinds of Marxism will also fail". I got a negative answer (from Random Precision), and took that to mean ... the negation of my claim.

You responded to my request "is there any point that you'd give up on Marx" with what looks like a statement of faith. I took that to mean "no, there isn't such a point", as you explicitly responded to a request to produce such a point ... with a statement of faith that Marx isn't wrong.

When I say "can I have an apple", and get the response "get off of my property", even though the answer doesn't explicitly state I cannot have an apple, it is rather implied.

Similarly, when I ask for "is there a point at which your faith would fail", and the response is not a description of that point or a acknowledgement that it exists, but rather an affirmation of faith -- I take that to mean "no, there isn't". It isn't stated explicitly, but...

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.

You answered a question of "could enough bloodshed and failed experiments cause you to give up on marx?" with a skreed about marx theory, and how it is right.

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.

And if the method itself produces failure? The conclusions it produces lead to more failed systems, which result in blood and death?

What is the level of proof required to conclude "marx was a crackpot"? Is there such a level?

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.


Here is a start. Paleolithic death rate estimates:
http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/lif ... ality.html
Estimated German murder rates:
http://andrewhammel.typepad.com/german_ ... der_r.html
includes references to general European rates.

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.

Remember, this is also a period over which we've had HUGE increases in absolute population as well.

From what I know, the post-Berlin wall period has had a reduction in the death by warfare rate that was reasonably well known. Yes, many people still die in war -- but that doesn't mean that more didn't die before, especially as a percentatge of the world population.

I'm saying _the past really fucking sucked_, on a per-capita basis.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:32 am UTC

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.


Unless you consider it realistic that we are going to develop replicator technology at some point in the future, and have access to near unlimited amounts of energy without any significant cost then I'm going to have to ask what your talking about.

No system can guarantee success because no system has complete control over the physical side of things. Food cannot be guaranteed because you cannot control the weather (a drought or a blight does not care about what type of government people are using). You cannot guarantee the supply of goods because the supply of raw materials has already been set. You cannot control supply and demand because you cannot mandate what every individual wants / needs.

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.


How is it "our land" if I'm the one who spends years clearing it and planting it?

How is it "their money" if I'm the one who works to earn it?

We do seem to have some deep ideological differences over private ownership. The historical record seems to show that government run farms do not perform as well as privately owned ones (see the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, etc...)
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:15 pm UTC

I'd just like to put it out there that Marx's philosophies really haven't been tested in an undiluted form. If people want explanation of this, I can give it, but I'd suggest reading his writings and comparing with all the modern examples of "Marxism".

We in the west may not realize it, but Socialism and Marxism (not so much Communism though) are often thought of as "good words" like democracy. You'll notice that the Nazis, some of the most anti-socialistic people ever, used socialism in their name. "Marxism" has been tested, but it wasn't the same as what Marx envisioned. It was someone else's take on it.

All that being said, I'm not actually in favor of communism, but I do think that discounting it because other things that have called themselves communist were all bad is not a good idea. But we should let governments follow the natural course, which has been toward more liberal (left) economic policy, whether people call it socialism or not.

So what we call it is sort of semantics--we have to look at the actual philosophies.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:23 pm UTC

qinwamascot wrote:I'd just like to put it out there that Marx's philosophies really haven't been tested in an undiluted form. If people want explanation of this, I can give it, but I'd suggest reading his writings and comparing with all the modern examples of "Marxism".


No political theory ever has been (or ever will be in my opinion) be applied in it's undiluted form. It's just not possible to move from the theory to the application without making some adjustments for real world considerations.

And I have read Marx, and I see his ideas as more of a criticism of capitalism in the 1800s rather then the foundation for a practical political / economic philosophy.

We in the west may not realize it, but Socialism and Marxism (not so much Communism though) are often thought of as "good words" like democracy. You'll notice that the Nazis, some of the most anti-socialistic people ever, used socialism in their name. "Marxism" has been tested, but it wasn't the same as what Marx envisioned. It was someone else's take on it.


Just because some people think that it is a good idea does not make it so. Every attempt at a valid application of his theories has either fizzled or ended badly.

All that being said, I'm not actually in favor of communism, but I do think that discounting it because other things that have called themselves communist were all bad is not a good idea. But we should let governments follow the natural course, which has been toward more liberal (left) economic policy, whether people call it socialism or not.


I do not subscribe to that idea, but then I'm very much a fiscal conservative.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:03 pm UTC

Look, I am not going to go over this shit again. Read the discussion.

Unless you consider it realistic that we are going to develop replicator technology at some point in the future, and have access to near unlimited amounts of energy without any significant cost then I'm going to have to ask what your talking about.


We probably will eventually replace the majority of laborers with automated units. It's already happening, and the technology that we don't already have is rapidly approaching. It's pretty well just a matter of time. Odds are good that in the future you'll either work for the government or you'll make your own product (as an artist of sorts), but you won't have to work.

No system can guarantee success because no system has complete control over the physical side of things. Food cannot be guaranteed because you cannot control the weather (a drought or a blight does not care about what type of government people are using).


This does not apply any differently to capitalism or socialism. It's entirely irrelevant to the discussion.

You cannot guarantee the supply of goods because the supply of raw materials has already been set.


And therefor you can guarantee a certain amount per person.
You cannot control supply and demand because you cannot mandate what every individual wants / needs.


Most needs can be mandated (some already are). Supply and demand doesn't need to be mandated to the extent that it can be predicted. I've already discussed wants. If you can't glean what I mean from things I've already said on the subject, I'm just going to have to assume that you're being intentionally obtuse.

How is it "our land" if I'm the one who spends years clearing it and planting it?

How is it "their money" if I'm the one who works to earn it?


Like I said, I'm not going to humor that discussion. It's an ideological one, and I don't think you want to be convinced so much as you want to convince me that I'm wrong. I'm not up for having this argument for the thousandth time. Short story-- give unto Caesar, land belongs to everyone. Really, not going to talk about this here.

The historical record seems to show that government run farms do not perform as well as privately owned ones


Irrelevant for the situation we're discussing, but I've already said that. Different circumstances altogether.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:37 pm UTC

To understand Marxism there needs to be a basic understanding of his views on the output and capacity of mass production. He basically thought that if mass production continued on an ever expanding scale, that eventually we would have fantastical machines that could basically just produce what ever you wanted, if you merely added the raw ingrediants.

Want a ferrari? Throw some metal, leather, aluminum, plastic, rubber, copper, etc into the
Ferrari-o-matic and BAM out comes a ferrari. Provided the machine was constantly fed with raw materials, it could rapidly produce ferraris, and enough to meet the 'demand' of everyone.

As a result of this view of the production possibilities of automation and mass production, he concluded that eventually man would demand that we just turn all the machines up to maximum output, and stop limiting the supplies. At which point, there is no need for the capitalist and means of production. Just take the Ferrari-O-Matic and make it accessable to anyone who wanted to use it, rather than just at the benefit and whim of the capitalist who made it.

So Marx's predictions about how communism have failed substantially, because no nation has the output capacity to just produce what everyone wants.

The real test of Marx, and what will confirm his theories or disprove them, is the day when we basically have Star Trek replicators. When we have the actual technology to just produce what we want, without any over complications of limited units or raw materials.

If we get to that point that we just go to the industrial size replicator and input "Ferrari" we will quickly find out of human greed is more powerful than Marxist communism, or we will find out if our wants do actually have limits, and we no longer about money and who has what, provided we get out wants met.


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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:36 pm UTC

We won't really have to have that fictitious level of technology to be able to socialize needs, though. My personal opinion is that luxury will always be capitalized.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:01 pm UTC

Kachi wrote:We won't really have to have that fictitious level of technology to be able to socialize needs, though. My personal opinion is that luxury will always be capitalized.


Maslows (i mispelled it im sure) heirarchy of needs or just the vary basic ones?
I think food/shelter/clothing needs are easy to acquire, but the basic need of healthcare will require some serious technology to meet the basic needs of all humans.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:12 pm UTC

I may have mentioned, or I may have struck it out, that there would always be a demand for some professions. Specifically, doctors and policemen, for example.

But there will almost always be people willing to provide these services, particularly if we offer some capitalistic incentives, which I have always supported. Generally though, and historically, people have filled these positions even when they were not highly paid, or even paid at all.

For almost every need, there is want. People need shelter. They want a nice apartment, house, or mansion. People need food. They want good tasting, nutritious, easy and fast food. People need clothing. They want clothes that are comfortable and attractive.

And as long as there is a want, people will capitalize the industry outside of the government, unless forbidden from doing so (which there is no reason for). But that does not mean that we can't provide people with what they need (at least, in the future).

But who knows. In the future, we may have diagnostic machines that can diagnose far beyond the means of humans, mass produce the drugs and equipment, and even perform surgeries. Probably and hopefully not, because if something new were to come up, it'd likely leave us with few educated enough to defend us.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Maddo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:56 pm UTC

However easy it becomes to produce what we want now, there will always be something else we want, and if we get that, we will want something else.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:15 pm UTC

Kachi wrote:For almost every need, there is want. People need shelter. They want a nice apartment, house, or mansion. People need food. They want good tasting, nutritious, easy and fast food. People need clothing. They want clothes that are comfortable and attractive.


Yet what meets a persons need for shelter varies from individual to individual. Some people are perfectly content with a tiny compartment in the middle of a city while others (like myself) cannot stand the thought of living in a city.

What constitutes good tasting, nutritious, easy and fast food is another bit that can vary widely. Good tasting is highly subjective. Nutritious depends on the conditions of the individual. Easy and fast are again subjective... what's easy for one person isn't easy for another (and the amount of time people are willing to spend is highly variable).

And as long as there is a want, people will capitalize the industry outside of the government, unless forbidden from doing so (which there is no reason for). But that does not mean that we can't provide people with what they need (at least, in the future).


The problem is determining exactly what a given individual 'needs' far enough ahead of time to get it to them.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Kachi » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:34 am UTC

Yet what meets a persons need for shelter varies from individual to individual. Some people are perfectly content with a tiny compartment in the middle of a city while others (like myself) cannot stand the thought of living in a city.

What constitutes good tasting, nutritious, easy and fast food is another bit that can vary widely. Good tasting is highly subjective. Nutritious depends on the conditions of the individual. Easy and fast are again subjective... what's easy for one person isn't easy for another (and the amount of time people are willing to spend is highly variable).


See, nothing you just said refutes a thing that I said. You're talking about what people want, not what they need. No one needs to live where they want. No one needs good tasting, easy/fast food, and arguably even nutritious. Nutrition is to an extent a need, but some nutrition is a luxury (and for the most part, nutrition is NOT subjective... if it's to the point that it varies heavily for a person, then it's already a medical issue).

What people need is far from subjective. It's almost as objective as it gets.

The problem is determining exactly what a given individual 'needs' far enough ahead of time to get it to them.


There was this clever gent named Maslow. I think everyone who took Psych 101 knows of him. He's a bit famous for this hierarchy of needs, which pretty well solves the problem completely and fully.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Liet Kynes » Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:20 am UTC

There are many different forms of communism/socialism/marxism so it is kind of hard to generalize but, I see socialism as a viable form of government. There is some equality, with less restrictions as communism. The big problem with socialismis you have to be either a small country with moderate wealth, a rich moderate sized country, or an EXTREMELY wealthy big countries, if you want decent standards of life.

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby TheStranger » Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:31 am UTC

Kachi wrote:See, nothing you just said refutes a thing that I said. You're talking about what people want, not what they need. No one needs to live where they want.


How do you determine the exact needed living space for a given individual, or where where they live? Do we issue everyone a slot in a government barracks?

There are already programs in place to help people who do not have homes (charities and low income housing).

No one needs good tasting, easy/fast food, and arguably even nutritious. Nutrition is to an extent a need, but some nutrition is a luxury (and for the most part, nutrition is NOT subjective... if it's to the point that it varies heavily for a person, then it's already a medical issue).


If you are going to be source of supply for every individuals needs then you are going to have to take into account their specific nutritional requirements. Rather difficult to do since it can be hard to get experts to agree on what those needs are.

What people need is far from subjective. It's almost as objective as it gets.


Speaking broadly that is true, but how effectively can it be done on a daily basis?

There was this clever gent named Maslow. I think everyone who took Psych 101 knows of him. He's a bit famous for this hierarchy of needs, which pretty well solves the problem completely and fully.


Maslow paints human needs in broad strokes... but all he says is that people need shelter, not an exact definition of what constitutes shelter (square footage, temperature, etc)... people need food, but not an exact definition of caloric intake or needed nutrition.

That's not to say that Maslow's hierarchy is useless, but rather to state that it is not useful as a day to day guide.
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby phonon266737 » Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:24 am UTC

On the relationship between anarchy versus socialism / communism...
Could it not be said, that socialism and communism are in some ways an "in-between" stage of government. It is all but impossible for anarchy to exist when a small number of peole control a large portion of the resources: they will naturally come to be the new governing body. The resources must be evenly distributed, such that no group of people has a leg up on the others, before an anarchistic revolution could really take hold.

Then again, once you had "total anarchy", the most cunning and intelligent would work together and combine resources, so I am in full agreeance that anarchy can never exist as long as we have a means of communication. But I can't put the idea to rest in ym head that communism is just a step along the way to "everyone fend for yourselves" . The only difference, is in communism, there is a policeman who can arrest those trying to advance. Without the police, you have anarchy. With the police, you have a potential governing body who channel resources to themselves, and maintain the wealth gap. to get rid of the wealth gap is to get rid of the governing body, and then you have anarchy!

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Maddo » Thu Jan 01, 2009 1:44 am UTC

There is one difference between the Capitalists and the Socialists/Communists on this thread.
The effective difference is that the Socialists/Communists don't believe Profit is legitimate.

Communist: Owners don't produce, they don't deserve profits!
Capitalist: Ahhh, but owners produced in the first place to get money to buy the property - profit is just redeeming them for their "unspent" production.
Communist: But then how come they can make infinity profit from that original, finite, work? (After infinity years of getting profit)
Capitalist: Ahhh, that's because people would rather have stuff now than later. That means that stuff in the past is worth more than stuff today - so the value of this "stored" service must always be rising.
So, by the time infinity years is up, that "stored" service is worth infinity - and so they deserve to have redeemed it for infinity!
Communist: But doesn't that mean they're 'spending' this 'stored stuff' more than once? Over and over again?
Capitalist: Nope, they're only spending the increase. Say if 10 beers today can be swapped 11 beers tomorrow, they'd only be spending that extra beer - not the original ten. After all, would you buy a beer now for the promise of infinity beers in year infinity?
Communist: Yeah, but what about inheritance? The original owners just stole stuff (prehistoric, imperialism, war, take your pick) from each other (or the land the raw materials are on/under) so the current owner is illegitimate.
Capitalist: One of your ancestors was only kept alive by stealing. Therefore, YOUR EXISTENCE is the result of stealing in the far past.
Capitalist: One of your ancestors probably did a crime which means they deserved killing/enough jail time to stop them from ever having you. So, if there was perfect justice, you wouldn't exist.
Capitalist: Basically, somewhere along the line of your ancestors, some injustice allowed them to have a child - who was your next ancestor. Be thankful about imperfect justice in the far past, because even if it means a tiny proportion of property is distributed wrongly (let's face it, it would have changed hands and the purchasing money lost so many times before now it wouldn't really matter) it means you exist. Saying there shouldn't have been all this injustice going on back then is saying you shouldn't exist. And if you think you shouldn't exist, why not pretend?
hint: People who don't exist don't argue about Communism. Sorry.

As I made some quite large jumps in the above dialogue, in the spoiler are my ideas and my general thought path - which while isn't coherently presented may help with your own thought path.
Of course, if you aren't left confused by the above dialogue, then there is no need to read it as it adds nothing.
Spoiler:
Capitalists acknowledge ownership, Communists see that since the owner "isn't doing anything" they have no right to it.

Effectively:
Basically, the theory is that Management is considered a service, and deserves compensation. Ownership is not.


HOWEVER:
Are people allowed to decide "I can live on less, and I have an interesting project I want to work on with some of the resources society wanted to give me"? Are people allowed to bargain and trade the resources they have allocated to them, if they decide "I prefer chocolate cake, and I was assigned strawberry cake"? (Or, I was assigned X consumption per year, when I want to consume less, and have more later on)? <snip>
(Question by a Capitalist)

Yes. <snip in relation to last comment>
(Communist View)


However, the owners did do a service to own their property - BECAUSE THEY DID A SERVICE TO GET THE MONEY TO BUY IT. Therefore, profit is just their original service (that they did to get money to buy the property) which they haven't redeemed yet.

But, stuff now is worth more than stuff in the future. (If you could swap 10 bottles of beer now, for 10 bottles of beer in twenty years time. Especially not when there will be more beer production in twenty years time).

Therefore, their past service, that stuff they produced to buy the property, is worth more and more stuff every year.

"But then how can they swap this past service for infinity profit, which they'll get in infinity years?"
In infinity years, their past service will be worth infinity - and so they'll deserve infinity redemption for it!

Communists; your only possible argument is that inherited property is wrong, either because:
(a) They don't have the RIGHT to give it away for free. (Libertarians, take aim!)
(b) Giving free stuff to one person and not everyone else is discrimination against everyone else. (D*mn biology that makes us feel love for our children!)

Of course, they could take the cheap option and say that originally, people just took land, and so the current owner is illegitimate. But this isn't an argument for Communism/Socialism - it is only an argument FOR a one time "re-set" of all property.

But,
One of your ancestors probably did something bad enough to be killed or imprisoned for long enough not to have your ancestor, which means under PERFECT JUSTICE YOU WOULDN'T EXIST. So don't complain about injustices in the far past, else I'll take this cheap shot, not just below the belt, but below your entire existence.


1. Rather than start off a post in SB warning about rambling, you should collect your thoughts and present them coherently.

2. Condescend much?

~CM


My apologies,
I have reorganized my post to make it more coherent, and removed some of the more condescending phrases.

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Dangermouse
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Dangermouse » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:00 pm UTC

See, I don't think you're qualified to make a statement about the entire contents of this thread. I say this because if you'd read the entire thread, you'd have read the *most recent post* in the thread and you'd have refrained from making the same mistakes.

-Az

Unfortunately nothing described in this thread can be called 'Marxism', or 'Communism' for that matter. The ambiguity of Marx's seminal work, "The Communist Manifesto", lent itself to being twisted and manipulated to serve an end other than what Karl Marx envisioned. Marx was famous for reading communist literature (out of France, I believe) and saying "If this is what it means to be a Marxist or a Communist, then I am neither". If we're going to speak meaningfully about this school of political thought, we need to keep Karl Marx separate from Lennin, Mao, and countless other iterations of the 'communist' politik.

Likewise, to attribute the atrocities of Stalin or Mao to Karl Marx is to commit intellectual fraud of the highest degree. If you want to know what real communism looks like (to the extent that we can, Marx was silent on the issue of how the communist state would come about and what it would LOOK like; i.e. what branches of government exist, who participates etc) then you need to look no further than the end of the Communist Manifesto, where Marx gives 10 central 'pillars' of Communism:

"These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.

Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc."

The astute observer will notice that 7 of the 10 exist as commonly accepted and institutionalized policies in the US. You could certainly argue that our lack of a social services network constitutes a defacto obligation to work, which brings the total to 8 of 10. True communism is neither fringe-left or radical, it's commonplace. You could even argue that the recent nationalization of the US financial industry, coupled with our addiction to the capital of foreign governments means that the abolition of property has been achieved.

A note---Marx does not think that your car, or your house, or your toothbrush is 'property'. Property is the means to production; i.e. capital. And financial capital is by and large controlled by a state in some form (be it the Fed or the Chinese).

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Yakk
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Yakk » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:30 pm UTC

You could certainly argue that our lack of a social services network constitutes a defacto obligation to work, which brings the total to 8 of 10.

The obligation to work isn't an objection against feeding people via charity. :p

It is an objection to anyone being able to live off of capital.

Industrialized armies for farming, and abolition of the ability for individuals to own land... has been tried many times, and universally in actual real world conditions leads to mass starvation on any decent scale. Because unlike private organizations, when the government screws up with some wonkey experiment, there isn't competition that didn't screw up.

Other industrialized armies, extension of the industrial production owned by the state, etc -- that isn't that common.

The concentration of production in cities is continuing, not halting -- unless you are talking about the spread of cities? In well off nations, the percent of the population engaged in agriculture has plummeted since Marx's day.

Heavy progressive/graduated income taxes where tried, and they didn't work that well in most areas. Few nations still have it, and many nations have clawed it back to a large extent. There are a few first-flight nations (the nordic countires) which still have a heavily progressive tax.

Credit is not monopolized in the hands of the government. I own shares in private banks. Yes, it is regulated -- but even in that case, there are unregulated providors of credit.

The means of communication is not centralized in the hands of the state where I am living. There are a half-dozen communication networks, owned by private enterprise, with various properties. Transportation, similarly, is often either private or mostly private. The state does provide for cheap roads as a medium on which some of this transportation takes place.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Charlie!
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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby Charlie! » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:23 am UTC

Yakk wrote:universally in actual real world conditions leads to mass starvation on any decent scale.

What about, to quote the first example I could think of, the later years (1960 on) of the Hungarian Peoples' Republic? They seem to have done decently, at least in the feeding-people department.

Remember, all generalizations are false :D Communism on average sucks (or has sucked, I suppose, to be nice), but that doesn't mean it's impossible for a government (even a dictatorship under the stern eye of the USSR) to run collective farms.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

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Re: Marxism/Socialism/Communism

Postby IntoxicatedPirate » Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:42 pm UTC

How does Marxism protect the individual from the oppressive majority? If, as is proposed, land ownership and application of all rents of land to public purposes was abolished, where does the grip of the "public good" end? Ultimately, when the public takes presidence over the individual, the individual will be slowly marginalized into nothing. Though I shy away from "slippery slope" arguments, they tent to hold weight in matters of over-arching institutions impugning themselves upon the masses:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax ... ted_States
The failure of Marxism doesn't necessary fall on the power of the government, but on the citizenry's ability to influence the government. A true democracy does not work because it has no way stymieing personal prejudice; give an orthodox Islam citizenry the ability to vote on their laws and they will almost assuredly strip themselves of those rights almost immediately and instill Sharia law.
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho!


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