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This is an attempt to provide a rigorous explanation of socialism to kind people without specialized training. My belief is that we are all better off when we have clear conversations because we can shed the veils of ignorance and prejudice. Please feel free to chime in and let me know what you think and how I can improve my explanation.

Recent world history is a history of conflict between two theories of political economy, viz. communism and capitalism, put into practice. The extent to which the actual practice of political economy exhibits fealty to the political economic theory whose name may be borne by the system of practitioners is often questionable. But let us begin with theory and see how the theory might fail in practice, even when applied rigorously.

Communism is a system of political economy developed by Karl Marx. The formal definition of communism might be stated as follows,

Communism iff Yt = W(L)t.

Where iff stands for “if and only if” and means material equivalence or in this instance a definitional relation between the concepts, Yt is the production in an economy in time period t as measured by the final value of all goods and services, and W(L)t is the wages paid to the labor class in time period t. Y can be measured by, say, GDP. So when over a given year, if all of GDP is paid in the form of remuneration to labor as a class, then the society is a communist society.

Marx observed that there exists two important social classes, the capitalists and the proletariat. Capitalists supply capital, which we might represent with the letter K, and laborers supply labor, which we can represent with the letter L. According to Marx’s theory, actual value is created when laborers use their biological power with the implements of capital to fashion the materials of nature’s bounty into useable form to satisfy human wants. Thus value is created by supplying L to the economy.

However, in a capitalist society some of that value is returned to the suppliers of K, the capitalists, even though they did not create value by laboring. This Marx called class exploitation. A communist society is a society without class exploitation. Such a society, stated formally, exists when the value of productive output is returned to the class of laborers, the proletariat, in full. This does not presuppose that the returned value will be distributed amongst the proletariat equally. Only that it will be distributed to laborers as a class.

Communism may fail in practice because there is an insufficient supply of K to improve the condition of human beings because there are insufficient returns to the well-coordinated supply of K when only labor is rewarded with a flow of value going exclusively to the labor class.

On to capitalism, a system which emerged in practice after the legal structure of private property which developed in Tudor England and which was theoretically articulated by Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Capitalism is a system, whose formal definition could be stated as follows,

Capitalism iff Y = K + L + N.

Production is equivalent to the sum of capital, labor, and land or N (N is often supplied by the well-to-do middle class bourgeoisie, who are the privileged members of their own little communities as the primary owners of property in those communities). In well-functioning capitalism, all the value of final goods is returned in exchange. Returns to K are provided in the form of interest and profit, returns to L are provided in the form of wages, and returns to N are provided in the form of land rents.

Capitalism is a system of exchange value, where value of commodities is measured by prices in terms of the exchange value in private markets. Types of commodities which are unlike other types of commodities can be rendered equivalent in the medium of exchange value, which is an abstraction which underlies capitalist exchange, which typically occurs in the form of money. While households may supply commodified labor to acquire money to be surrendered for the purchase of other commodities, businesses supply financial capital in order to purchase commodities in order to operate and acquire more financial capital. Capitalism as a system produces the effect of an insatiable appetite for economic growth. If flows of financial capital are blocked by, say, a loss of investor confidence, then it produces an economic catastrophe. This is one of the reasons capitalism may fail in practice.

In capitalism, resources do not just flow between households and businesses. The medium of abstract exchange, money, must be supplied by banks. Banks have to do a good job of supplying the right amount of money in order to stabilize the economy. If banks do not do a good job of supplying the right amount of money, the economy can collapse. The more advanced capitalist societies become the more complex their economies become and as a result the more difficult it becomes for banks to supply the right amount of money.

In reality, when organized collections of states share a common form of money and a common bank, if there is a crisis of sovereign defaults (which is a fancy way of saying a state cannot pay its debts to the whole), then they placed in a sort of catch-22. When the European Union was faced with this situation, they had to face a choice between surrendering democracy and allowing unelected bureaucrats at the level of Europe to impose tough decisions on the people, or face the break-up of the monetary union by allowing the people to choose to exit the union to avoid accepting difficult economic conditions.

Capitalism struggles with the problem of needing more an more flows of financial capital, which is facilitated by banks and capital markets, which—as we have seen—have their own endemic weaknesses as components of capitalism which threaten system stability. This focus on capital tends to create greater and greater returns to K, which leads to a concentration of wealth in the hands of suppliers of K and takes wealth away from suppliers of L and N. Over time, this creates a great degree of social inequality, and overcoming this severe inequality is the fundamental problem of liberal capitalism. There is also a system between communism and capitalism. That system is socialism.

Unlike communism, socialism allows returns to capital. But under socialism, the government owns some of the means of production, and thus can rationally plan the allocation of returns to production to the various social classes. Socialism can look at lot like capitalism, but with an additional constraint enforced by a rational government which ensures fairness in the returns to value added and ensures social stability. It may look something like this,

Socialism iff Y = K + L + N s.t. K = L = N.

Where s.t. stands for “subject to” and can be read as “subject to the constraint of”. Socialism is about groups of people helping each other. K, L, and N need not be absolutely equivalent, but they can be driven close to a fair approximation by reasonable social planning. In this equation, we could replace K with a G, if government owns all the means of production, so that the equation would look something like,

Y = G + L + N.

In a mixed socialist economy—a mix of socialism and capitalism, we could use reuse G to differentiate what capital is contributed to production by the government and what capital is contributed by private suppliers capital, denoted with a K, so we get,

Y = G + K + L + N.

We could then describe the extent of socialism practice by comparing the amount of capital supplied by the government, and the amount of capital supplied by the government, which (from more socialism to less socialism) could be described by,

1.    G > K,

2.    G = K, &

3.    G < K.

Present day American may be described by condition 3, because the government does own some means of production, including high-technology production in the defense-industrial sector and for a time the government owned some shares of automotive producers and banks. However, the vast majority of capital is supplied by the private sector.

The goal of socialism is to supply sufficient amounts of the elements of production, and distribute the value of that production in a fair and sustainable way. It makes one wonder how anyone can argue against such a system. But socialism has a weakness, and that weakness is hatred. Hateful groups of people who hate one another struggle to get over their hatred for each other so that they can help each other instead. People whose vision is clouded by hatred fail to see how they are really interdependent. This hatred can come from both the oppressed and their oppressors, or from similarly-situated groups who feel they are in competition. It can even be manifested as hatred for a government which helps the other disadvantaged groups in a country. But it does cause people to fail to have a sense of their shared commitment to prosperity for all social classes.

Socialism works in theory and it has worked in practice. Socialism is a general system of political economy that can be applied regardless of context. If people get over their fear and hatred of others, and embrace their natural empathetic instincts, then socialism can work for anyone, anywhere in the world.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

    by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 02:53:53 PM PDT

  •  Prepare for the influx of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Nathan Jaco

    the Apologists for Capitalism. In 3...2....1

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat equalitymaine.org

    by commonmass on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 02:59:14 PM PDT

  •  Capitalism is not natural. (3+ / 0-)

    Nature does not produce on the one side owners of money or commodities, and on the other men possessing nothing but their labor power. This relation has no natural basis, neither is it's social basis one that is common to all historical periods. It is clearly the result of past historical development, the product of many economic revolutions, of the extinction of a whole series of older forms of social production.

    -Marx, Das Kapital

    There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

    by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:06:09 PM PDT

    •  And given that Das Kapital (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries, MKSinSA

      remains in many ways the most comprehensive and still relevant study of the nature of Capitalism...

      Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat equalitymaine.org

      by commonmass on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:09:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  very little that human beings do is "natural" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nathan Jaco, Frank Knarf, IreGyre

      For that matter, "nature" is a very problematic concept. There is no "state of nature" that is ideal, no preexisting natural harmony towards which we ought to strive.

      What we call "nature" is chaotic and haphazard, not systematic and orderly. It does not offer us a teleology. It does not offer us a morality.

      A harmonious, steady-state equilibrium is not what one finds in nature; instead one finds vast inequalities, volcanic upheavals, and constant wild fluctuations. It is just that we can't often perceive them within our brief human lifespan. If we lived in geological time, we would see it very clearly.

      There is no line of demarcation between us and the rest of nature; we are just apes with oversized brains. We came from nature; our DNA and proteins and cellular structures are those used by all life on earth. So if we are unnatural, then so too is the rest of "nature."

      It seems that Marx too falls into the age-old trap of looking to "nature" to justify what we do--or in his case, to condemn something of which he disapproves.

      We cannot look to nature for such justification, so we must look elsewhere.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:52:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Marx failed as a proper scientist. But he was a (0+ / 0-)

        good scholar who exposed categories of concepts which are useful for understanding society. The categories of the critique, and much of the conclusions of the critique itself remain relevant.

        But I agree that the work of making sense of the world, at creating and ordering our lives and the meaning of them, and of developing a system of morality to which we can look to and govern ourselves accordingly is a very human endeavor which is not written on the slab of the natural world.

        There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

        by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 04:58:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism is only "natural" for a minority (5+ / 0-)

      of human beings. What one might call alphas, and of course, predators.

      It's natural for them, and heightens their powers over others, which they love.

      They then try to convince the rest of the population that what is natural for that small minority is natural for everyone, when it isn't.

      Most of us, actually, are natural communists. I mean that in the non-political sense.

      We do not want to rule others, and do not want to be ruled. If we have a family, we structure that along communist lines. We share food, shelter, clothing, chores. We don't grant access to things like college to one child while withholding it from others. We try, as best we can, to equalize access and resources.

      Humans do that without thinking.

      We also share food with our neighbors, naturally. When we invite them over for dinner, we don't charge them entrance fees or make them pay for the fare.

      And even at work, within the confines of a capitalist corporation, we often share our knowledge with our coworkers, without seeking a penny in remuneration.

      Most of us are natural communists.

  •  Don't confuse economics & politics (5+ / 0-)

    Socialism, simply, is the idea that civilization was invented for a reason: to make life better for most people.

    To pay for services like paved roads, armies and navies, governments collect taxes. Scandinavian countries, e.g. are heavily taxed, but citizens are the most satisfied in the world.

    You get what you pay for. The alternative is clubbing marauding bandits with dinosaur bones.

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:09:18 PM PDT

    •  I did not. I am talking about political economy. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leo in NJ, commonmass, for 6 too

      Politics is the system of choice for the production and distribution of social rules and norms. Economics is the production and allocation of scare resources. Political economy analyzes the relationship between the two. However, what you have to say is quite reasonable.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:16:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, your last sentence summarizes why socialism (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, MKSinSA, EdMass, FG, erush1345

    is utopian and will always fail: human nature is driven by competition and Consumerism.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:18:39 PM PDT

    •  As Well As By Cooperation. We Are a Social Species (6+ / 0-)

      not an individualistic one. All the social species cooperate and engage in altruism. It's every bit as natural in social species as is competition. And in various circumstances of crisis, humans like many or maybe all other social species completely abandon competition for periods of time.

      Scientific American has an article just now about the evolution of cooperation.

      This would seem to suggest that organizing systems for humans ought to exploit both cooperation and competition.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:29:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Our common interlocutor obviously has not read (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        for 6 too

        E.O. Wilson's new book.

        There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

        by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:36:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is a preview to the SA article available... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crose, IreGyre

        on-line:
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/...

        Also, this, which is interesting to ponder:


        I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

        by The Angry Architect on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:06:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •   In major transitions, society becomes more indivi (0+ / 0-)

        dualistic. Inclusive fitness theory, boy o boy those ants.  Andrew Bourke is bunk.

        "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

        by Kvetchnrelease on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 08:31:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It would make sense that during societal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          northsylvania

          dislocations, individuality might prevail as a mechanism of fitness selection. I am going to have to study your reference to A. Bourke for more perspective.

          Seems to me, though, that the human species may be wired to respond differently to varying degrees of social order.... Perhaps by the variation in available personality types.

          Fascinating...


          I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

          by The Angry Architect on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 08:48:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Spoken like a cynical liberal collaborator who has (0+ / 0-)

      abandoned the vision of an Utopian world in favor of the empty nonsense of liberal capitalism.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:33:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Consumerism is invented by capitalists. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nathan Jaco, tripodisblack

      Madison Avenue creates "wants". We don't naturally come by them.

      As for competition. The only reason human beings competed as we evolved was because of scarce resources. More often than not, we worked together, lived communally, pooled our resources, shared the hunt, etc.

      Solve the scarce resources and there is no reason to compete at all and humans generally won't -- if they act naturally and aren't brainwashed otherwise.

      Madison Avenue realizes this, too. Which is why they create absurd "competition" over wants, as opposed to needs. Normally, humans won't fight over temporary, unnecessary garbage, unless we've been propagandized into believing our very status is dependent upon those wants.

      It's a croc.  

    •  Socialism isn't failing though (4+ / 0-)

      Nowhere in the world has Socialism ever failed.

      Corrupt, totalitarian regimes have fallen, yet the "socialist" policies remain the firm favourites of the people, even in America.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:45:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And that is why it remains so attractive to the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg

        Power grabbing totalitarians...

        "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

        by Kvetchnrelease on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 08:35:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe ... but what they impose (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          diomedes77, IreGyre, northsylvania

          isn't Socialism.

          The New Deal was Socialism.

          Interstate Highways are Socialist policy.

          Comprehensive and well-resourced Public Schools are Socialist.

          Private ownership of very large Corporations is not, and neither is any incentive that raises the pay of one worker many thousands of time the level of another.

          Socialism can allow for incentives, it does not allow greed and excess.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:09:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hegelian BS n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EdMass

    γνωθι σεαυτόν

    by halef on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:31:32 PM PDT

    •  I made no appeals the the world spirit or the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      watercarrier4diogenes

      inevitable history of world stages based on the revolutionary potential of the proletariat in a class struggle. This is sensible analysis that you are quick to dismiss because you do not like the conclusions reached.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 03:35:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hegal provides a useful tool to examine (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKSinSA, EdMass, Nathan Jaco, twigg

      the world with. Marx refines that tool and uses it to describe social reality. Socialism is not a one size fits all monolithic social Utopian vision. Socialism represents a variety of problem solving methods that vary from situation to situation. Pure socialism is like pure capitalism in exists only in a thought experiment.

      One of the major weaknesses of socialism as I see it is the tendency in the past to be ideologically rigid. As a socialist I understand that socialism's focus is on the working people and the consumer, not the ownership class. But different societies need to adapt socialism to their unique situation. Simply throwing up some equations and saying this is socialism makes the same mistake that market economists make, which is to lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with people here, not subatomic particles

      People do not rally behind equations. mathematics does not inspire non mathematicians. The people need to see economic issues in human terms. And those of us on the left havenot done a good job of explaining why we believe what we believe. I hope we can do better in the future.

      •  I am just trying to clarify what we are thinking. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        for 6 too

        I am using equations to illustrate and hopefully illuminate. But what lies ahead is the difficult task to communicating the vision of socialism in very human terms, that is in terms of socially constructed meaning and ultimately a logic for deriving practical therefores.

        There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

        by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 05:10:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I got that from the Diary (0+ / 0-)

          I thought it fundamentally flawed pretty much for the reasons kmackle gave.

          Equations reduce the description to something below the level of civilisation. Politics is not about labeling a system "socialist" or "capitalist", and assigning categories, it has a basic humanity that isn't so easily quantified.

          Besides .... If a system of shared responsibility is described as a "Utopian Ideal", in pretty sneering terms .... Why should we not be striving for that instead of being pushed into settling for second best; systems that suit some more than others?

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:52:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  L=Liberty is somehow not a factor? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Marx didn't invent communism (7+ / 0-)

    He didn't claim to, either. He discussed its history, but he never said he invented it. Communists and communist leagues existed long before he was born, in fact. Not to mention ur-communism, which basically means traditional cultures like Native American.

    Also, true socialism means that workers own the means of production, and control them, not the government. True socialism is democratic, so a democratic government can hold proxy for that ownership. But in the real deal, there is no difference between government and the governed.

    Mixed economies, with socialism of "the heights", like the Scandinavian countries, is a different matter, of course . . .

    Communism follows true socialism, and is the withering away of the state and all classes. If the theory is applied correctly, there can be no state in communism. So there has never been such a thing as a true communist nation-state.

    The Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea were never even socialist, much less communism, as they had no democracy. They really were State Capitalist nations.

    •  Insightful contributions and very true. Communism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      diomedes77, twigg

      as a phenomenon predates Marx and any other known theorist. But the very particular theory of communism that I appeal to was developed by Marx. Let's not downplay his contributions. In true socialism, the government can be a substitute for the people as an owner of the means of production. This condition is sufficient for achieving socialism, but is not necessary. The presentation above is a terse simplification of a complex theory, and the history of socialism in practice is even more complex. It warrants volumes of scholarship in any given instance.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 05:15:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent comment nt (0+ / 0-)

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:53:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the beginning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happy camper, twigg

    humans ate meat, on the plains, which swelled their brains, which caused them to argue, which led them to war...

    Its meat, meat, I say...

    One successful communist/marxist society?  Not arguing about principles..results?

    Maybe this?

    W+T + F + R + U + T + A = ?

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 04:28:29 PM PDT

  •  you talk of hate as if it's a natural by-product (0+ / 0-)

    of socialism b/c of envy & greed.  do you think the same thing where capitalism is concerned -- is hate natural to capitalism, too, & for the same reasons?

    •  You misunderstand. Hate is not natural to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      for 6 too

      nor a by-product of socialism. Hate is a condition in society which prevents the realization or expansion of socialism. Hate may indeed by natural to capitalism.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 05:19:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  in your next to last paragraph you state (0+ / 0-)

        that socialism has a weakness: hatred, & it is b/c groups hate each other & then you list the reasons for that hatred, one of which you say is caused by competition & oppression by government which requires everyone be treated the same -- i'm paraphrasing, of course, but that's my takeaway.

        i didn't see where you factored that into your discussion of communism or capitalism & was curious why not.

        •  Oh, I see the confusion. The weaknesses of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          for 6 too

          communism and capitalism that I highlighted were immanent to the respective systems, whereas the weakness of socialism was not. I could have made that clearer.

          But some social welfare states do seem to engender hatred. The social welfare state apparatus in Europe was well-supported before the arrival of Turks in Germany and the arrival of Muslims in Scandinavian countries. People tend to like mutual aid when it is mutual aid for people who look like them. But when it is mutual aid for "the other", the alien force in society, they clam up. That is a problem with socialism itself.

          There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

          by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 05:44:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i see. that sounds a lot like the mindset of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nathan Jaco

            states in the deep south -- where i grew up.  

            public swimming pools were ok, as long as blacks were prohibited from using them, & it was the same thing for schools, & movie theaters, & drinking fountains, & restaurants, etc., & now that's the main complaint i'm hearing from rw-ers & conservatives about healthcare & funding public schools & hospitals -- it's ok to spend public money on those things as long as minorities don't get the benefits.

            is that the hatred thing you're talking about, as being inherent in socialism?

  •  Holly sh*t, I've got a lot to learn... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, Nathan Jaco, for 6 too

    Teleology, capitalism, socialism, Marxism, capitalism, Hegelian BS, Marx's metaphysical commitment to materialism....

    Some of these things I thought I had an idea of...But really, NOT!

    So much to know, so little time...

    Thanks for this Diary though, it and the subsequent discourse give me a place to start!


    I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

    by The Angry Architect on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:15:30 PM PDT

    •  Well someone has a lot to learn (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thinking Fella, Lorikeet

      but it might not be you.

      It's one thing to attempt to disseminate the component parts of a theory, or system, but quite another to think that there is much to be learned from the act.

      What the Diarist probably knows, yet reduces to a simplicity that does a dis-service, is that Karl Marx was a philospher, rather than a political theorist only.

      He showed us what might be possible with a basic political theory .... "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" ...

       It's up to us to make it work, and in the last 50 years I have yet to hear a better guiding principle.

      It is a useful exercise to take that phrase and rather than applying it globally, calling it Communism and dismissing the possibility, simply apply it to a sub-system, and see how that works.

      Take Health Care .... It simply says that each should be treated according to need, and each should pay related to ability to pay.

      What's wrong with that?

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 08:02:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, to me, these things make sense... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg

        at an intuitive level. But I don't have the academic training to back up my "notions". I guess that is what I find interesting about this discussion.

        The idea that mankind is a part of a natural system, and embodies both altruistic and selfish motivations based on availability of resources and the constraints of sociopolitical structures is all very fascinating to me.

        When I touched on some of these philosophies in high school, I hadn't the perspective to really appreciate them.

        As I am aging, I am swinging further left in certain regards, but also have what might be considered a libertarian streak...

        As you say of Marx:

        He showed us what might be possible with a basic political theory .... "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" ...
        Makes me think of other standards of civilization like seeking the greatest good for the greatest number, or that the success of a society is measured by how it treats its weakest members.

        We may aspire to these things, but we are highly imperfect beings. The goals, and the means to achieving these goal are delimited by these imperfections.

        I agree with comments up-thread. Formulae seem an inadequate shorthand measure of these concepts. However, the Diarist's narrative and especially the ensuing cometary excite my thoughts.


        I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

        by The Angry Architect on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 08:59:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This explains nothing to anyone except (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, Thinking Fella, Lorikeet

    philosophy majors and people who read algebraic equations for fun. By your second "equation" my eyes had glazed over. Perhaps you should rethink the definition of "explaining."

  •  I think your explanation was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nathan Jaco

    a pretty good one.  Capitalists and communists both want to paint socialism as a step towards communism because they have their own agendas.

  •  Consider and characterize societies in which (0+ / 0-)

    workers own shares in the capital stock, all property is privately owned and redistribution of profit via taxation and social benefits results in fairly even wealth distribution, and both debt and equity financing is available to businesses. Are such societies socialist or capitalist?  You seem to confuse ownership of property and capital with equitable distribution of wealth.

    Of course one can argue that certain configurations are impossible but you should make those claims explicit.

    A great many of us who labor or have labored also own debt and equity instruments either directly or through managed plans.  Is there an age-adjusted account value that makes someone a capitalist?

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:29:46 PM PDT

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