Socialism

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Socialism

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1PaulFoley
Editat: feb. 25, 2010, 8:48am

On a thread about Most hated concepts in science fiction, I listed "socialism that works", provoking a discussion with Ian Sales. As it's off-topic there, this is a continuation of that thread.

You're not making a point. You say "many socialists claim...", but no socialist would ever confuse profit and taxes.

Again, I didn't say any socialist would confuse profit and taxes! What I said is that the socialist argument that "profit" is exploitation applies equally (actually, moreso) to taxes.

You also claim people are not exploited under capitalism, but that's patently untrue... Sweatshops. Child slavery. The equity gap. Poverty.

I didn't say that, either...though it's true (for the correct definition of "capitalism", which is probably not what you mean by it). Child slavery (or any kind of slavery) is no part of capitalism.

2iansales
feb. 25, 2010, 9:04am

If you redefine "exploitation" to include taxes, and then claim that puts it on a par with profit, then all you're doing is redefining terms for your own end. It doesn't work that way.

3PaulFoley
feb. 25, 2010, 9:10am

I'm not redefining it, I'm using your definition (assuming you do in fact buy into it...a definition commonly given by socialists, anyway), as best I understand it: exploitation is when the worker doesn't keep the entire value of his labour. How does that not apply to taxation.

4LucasTrask
feb. 25, 2010, 9:31am

Ian,

On the other thread you stated "The free education part used to work better until grants were abolished. And entry standards lowered."

I would like to understand why grants were given if the education is free. Also, why lowered entry standards are an issue? I would think that you would wnat as many people to be able to obtain the free education as possible. Could you explain this further? Thank you very much.

5iansales
feb. 25, 2010, 9:35am

Wait. You're using "a definition commonly given by socialists" as best you understand it? So you're not actually using the common definition of it, then.

6iansales
Editat: feb. 25, 2010, 9:45am

Under the old UK grant system, anyone who attained the entry requirements set by a university could apply for a grant to cover their living expenses while at college. These were provided by a Local Education Authority, which was funded by local taxation and central government. University fees were always paid by the LEA, but the grant itself was determined by a means test.

This meant that no one could not afford to go to university. Providing they had requisite A Level grades, then the LEA would fund them through their education.

The grants were abolished in favour of loans. In effect, these are the same but the students have to pay them back. I believe students now also have to pay their fees.

7PaulFoley
feb. 25, 2010, 10:08am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation good enough for you? Are you actually going to try to answer the question, or just keep avoiding it?

8iansales
feb. 25, 2010, 10:14am

As I have said before...

exploitation = "the subjection of producers (the proletariat) to work for passive owners (bourgeoisie) for less compensation than is equivalent to the actual amount of work done".

Note: no mention of taxes. Only less compensation than is "equivalent to the actual amount of work done".

Socialists support higher taxes because they're used to fund social policies. Such as the welfare state.

9PaulFoley
feb. 25, 2010, 10:39am

You haven't said it before to me...am I supposed to go hunting through everything you've ever written?

exploitation = "the subjection of producers (the proletariat) to work for passive owners (bourgeoisie) for less compensation than is equivalent to the actual amount of work done".

And how does that not apply to taxation?

And another, unrelated question: how do you determine what compensation is equivalent to the actual amount of work done?

Socialists support higher taxes

Not all socialists do, surely...some claim to be anarchists; some don't want to allow money, etc.

10iansales
feb. 25, 2010, 10:49am

It's clear from the definition. The owners of the means of production don't themselves tax their workers. Ergo, any exploitation of the workers by the owners does not include taxation.

An anarchist is not a socialist. We are discussing socialism.

11geneg
feb. 25, 2010, 3:32pm

I always thought the whole purpose of capitalism was to buy the fruits of the labor of others where necessary and to buy the laborers themselves when possible.

12PaulFoley
feb. 25, 2010, 4:58pm

10> Even if we're only discussing your particular definition of socialism, since you won't tell me what you mean by it, I have no way to guess which among all the people who call themselves socialist (such as non-capitalist anarchists) you're willing to consider socialist.

Yes, yes, the owners of the means of production don't themselves tax "their" workers; that somebody taxes them is the only concern. They're exploited by the person/group/whatever that taxes them. (Seriously, am I being unclear somehow?)

13PaulFoley
feb. 25, 2010, 5:26pm

11> what do you mean by capitalism? If you mean something like the prevailing system in, say, the US, that's not what pro-capitalists mean by it (that's more like "fascism-lite", and fascism is a form of socialism!). And what does "buy the labourers themselves" mean? How do you "buy" people?

14Carnophile
feb. 25, 2010, 9:27pm

Chiming in to ask iansales to list the countries where socialism has worked very well.

If nothing else, this should help to clarify how he's using the word "socialism."

Ian?

15iansales
feb. 26, 2010, 3:31am

The UK, the Scandinavian countries, the Low countries... a great deal of Europe, in fact.

#12 Anarchists are not socialists. I've no idea why you insist they are.

The dictionary definition of exploit is "to use selfishly for one's own ends". Capitalists exploit workers for their own ends. Governments tax workers and in return provide services - health, education, law and order, defence, etc. - in return. If you pay and receive a service in return, you're not being exploited. Admittedly, government services are and can be horribly inefficient, but that doesn't invalidate the point.

Fascism is not a form of socialism. I suggest you read up on the topic. You might then be able to field a reasonable argument.

16john257hopper
feb. 26, 2010, 8:41am

#15 - but these countries are mixed economy social democracies. They do not conform to a classic textbook definition of either cpaitalism or socialism. Does or has any society in the world conform(ed) to it?

The problem as I see it with this discussion is that iansales and PaulFoley are both trading ideological hammerblows based on theoretical constructs with little application to the much more messy reality that prevails in any country.

17iansales
feb. 26, 2010, 9:11am

Well, no. I recognise that textbook socialism doesn't exist, and that many of the policies I recognise as socialist are more social than economic.

But.

That doesn't mean that socialism is both a form of fascism and a form of anarchism. And there's nothing idealogical about claiming it is - it's just plain ignorance.

18Carnophile
Editat: feb. 26, 2010, 9:23am

>15 iansales:
Ian - What you just mentioned are market economies with a lot of welfare state. They're not centrally planned economies. E.g., most production in the UK is undertaken by private firms for profit, not by the Ministry of Heavy Industry according to a Five-Year Plan.

Now you might say "Socialism doesn't necessarily mean central planning." I won't get into a terminological dispute.

However, two items:

1) In the SF thread that started this, did PaulFoley object to depictions of welfare states like the UK working? Or was he objecting to centrally planned economies being depicted as working? He clear up a lot of this by specifying what he meant. (I suspect the latter.)

2) Whenever a libertarian or conservative objects to a new expansion of the welfare state on the grounds that it's socialistic, we get derisive howls of laughter from the Left: "That's not socialism," they say, "that's just capitalism with a little more welfare state." ("Don't you dare call ObamaCare socialistic!")
But it seems that such policies are socialism when that is rhetorically convenient. This is not the first time I have noticed this rather fluid use of the word “socialism.” Indeed, on another LT thread lefties once informed me that Canada is socialist and North Korea is not!
(See messages 35-36 and 52 in that thread.)

19iansales
Editat: feb. 26, 2010, 10:07am

The UK used to be a mixed economy - as did many other European nations - and many of the welfare state institutions here date from those days. Yes, the last few decades have seen a move towards a more capitalist economy. New Labour is actually centrist, rather than left-wing.

As for PaulFoley, I objected to his initial categorisation of socialism as "morally repugnant", followed by his absurd claim that socialism was a subset of fascism.

As for conservatives (the US kind) and libertarians, they're a bit too fond of believing their own propaganda.

Interestingly, I see those who are arguing against socialism on that other thread are using the same tricks as they are here...

20john257hopper
feb. 26, 2010, 10:43am

#17 - it is not part of my argument that socialism is a kind of fascism, which I agree is a logical absurdity on a theoretical level. Of course, that does not mean that some societies that call themselves socialist do not have features in common with fascist ones, Stalin's USSR and Nazi Germany being the obvious example.

21iansales
feb. 26, 2010, 10:52am

#20 - it wasn't you who claimed it was. As for the Nazis - I suspect the name was a hangover from the days of the DAP. After the NSDAP was rabidly anti-communist, which not something you would expect of socialists...

22Carnophile
feb. 26, 2010, 10:56am

the NSDAP was rabidly anti-communist, which not something you would expect of socialists...

Irrelevant. Socialists Brand A can have furious conflict with Socialists Brand B.

Cf. Sino-Soviet "tension" in the 20th century.

23DBeers
feb. 26, 2010, 2:36pm

>22 Carnophile:

Trotsky and Lenin very much come to mind...

24PaulFoley
feb. 26, 2010, 5:00pm

19> I'm obviously not talking about economies with a little bit of socialism around the edges, like the UK (or the US, for that matter; though for you to say socialism "has worked" in the UK, you must have some definition of "worked"...I asked you about that before; how about telling us what you mean by it?). And I also didn't say socialism is a subset of fascism; I explained why I said fascism is a subset of socialism -- that's a completely different thing: "you and I are a subset of all people who use LibraryThing" is a true statement. "All people who use LibraryThing are a subset of you and I" is not. Similarly for anarchism (though not all anarchists are socialists).

25PaulFoley
feb. 26, 2010, 7:44pm

From Making Economic Sense:

One time I asked Professor von Mises, the great expert on the economics of socialism, at what point on this spectrum of statism would he designate a country as "socialist" or not. At that time, I wasn't sure that any definite criterion existed to make that sort of clear-cut judgment.

And so I was pleasantly surprised at the clarity and decisiveness of Mises's answer. "A stock market," he answered promptly. "A stock market is crucial to the existence of capitalism and private property. For it means that there is a functioning market in the exchange of private titles to the means of production. There can be no genuine private ownership of capital without a stock market: there can be no true socialism if such a market is allowed to exist."

26lawecon
feb. 27, 2010, 5:33pm

So, there were no capitalist economies before, oh, about 1810? Inteesting. Do you believe that?

27PaulFoley
feb. 27, 2010, 6:53pm

Try 1600...sounds like as good a guess as any.